The House met at 1330.
Miss Martel: On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I am pleased to welcome the regional advisory councillors of TVOntario to Queen’s Park today. In 1970, five regional councils were established in the province to provide support to TVO. In 1975, the francophone advisory council was developed for the same purpose. Each council consists of 15 volunteers who are appointed by the board of directors to serve for three-year terms.
The councils strive to achieve three goals: first, to be mindful of the educational needs of Ontarians and to bring these to the attention of TVO; second, to increase public awareness of the programming and services of the public network in the regions in which they live; third, to more closely link TVOntario and the people of Ontario, which it serves.
Each council meets four times annually to discuss its work and realization of the above goals. All councils convene together once every 18 months for a three-day conference between themselves, the board of directors and the staff of TVO. Individual council chairpersons also meet with board members twice annually to discuss problems and priorities.
The councillors visiting Queen’s Park today come from across Ontario and represent the diverse nature of our province’s social fabric. They reflect a wide range of linguistic and ethnic backgrounds and a variety of professional and vocational skills. However, their common commitment is to volunteerism and to the promotion of public educational television in Ontario.
I encourage as many members as possible to meet the regional advisory councillors of TVO, and members are welcome to join the host and Friends of TVOntario in welcoming our guests at a reception in the legislative dining room this evening.
Mr Villeneuve: It is time Ontario became more active in supporting the development of alternative fuels, to clean our air. From 75 to 90 per cent of the carbon monoxide in the atmosphere comes from car emissions. That is a tremendous example of why we need to solve the problem. Fuel ethanol is the only way to reduce this source of pollution.
Ethanol-blended gas has a proven track record as an automobile fuel. Ethanol gas sales represented eight per cent of the total gas used in the United States last year. This is equal to 31 billion litres of ethanol gas or the entire Canadian gasoline market. Ethanol-blended gas can be used in all gasoline-powered automobiles without engine modification. In Ontario it is only being marketed by one oil company at present.
The use of ethanol-blended gas makes sense for many reasons. It would improve the quality of our air in large urban centres such as Toronto by replacing environmentally hazardous compounds such as lead, MMT and aromatic hydrocarbons now being used as octane enhancers. It would reduce the need for increasingly expensive megaprojects to increase domestic supplies of light crude oil. Its benefits to agriculture are substantive and could improve farm income in Ontario. It would be a home grown solution to a major pollution problem. Let’s see some commitment from this government to support the ethanol industry in Ontario and let’s clear the air.
Ms Poole: I too would like to join my colleague the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) in welcoming some of our friends from TVOntario to our Legislature today. As Ontario’s primary educational broadcasting authority, TVOntario needs no introduction to members of this House.
Today, TVO’s regional and francophone advisory councillors are beginning a three-day conference with members of TVO’s board of directors and staff here in Toronto. These councillors are all dedicated volunteers and play an integral role in keeping TVOntario in touch with the needs of viewers across the province. The councillors are visiting Queen’s Park today to participate in various workshops so they may better understand how TVOntario’s goals fit into the goals of this province. I have also warned them that they can consider question period as part of their study of early childhood education.
I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the efforts of TVO regional and francophone advisory councillors who are with us today and to applaud these efforts to keep TVO informed of changing educational viewing needs in our province.
Mr Farnan: There is indeed a crisis within our correctional system. There is understaffing and there is overcrowding. I want to give a few statistics to the House.
In the Barrie Jail: accommodates 88 men, daily average 93 men, maximum count 114 men; in the Metropolitan Toronto West Detention Centre: accommodates 312 men, average count 357 men, maximum count 410 men: in the Whitby Jail for women: accommodates four women, average count six, maximum count 11. Just this past week, the Toronto Jail recorded its world record for overcrowding.
There is a vast difference, I put to the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr Patten), between the design capacity of our prison system and the actual population. This is causing untold stress to our correctional officers. It is putting them in an extraordinarily difficult work situation. Indeed. I would suggest to this House that it constitutes a dangerous workplace. We must address this problem.
Mr Eves: Over the past week, this House has seen an excellent example of the lack of respect this government has for medical professionals in the province.
When Dr Nesdoly went public with his tragic story about trying to save Stella Lacroix’s life, he obviously hit a nerve that the government had hoped would not be touched. After refusing to address the issue of unavailability of beds for Mrs Lacroix, the government came out swinging. The government told us that there was “a system in place but the system was not used,” and that “for some reason the people involved did not avail themselves of that service.” This statement clearly indicates that the government is questioning Dr Nesdoly’s professionalism by suggesting that he did not try hard enough to find a bed for Stella Lacroix.
The Progressive Conservative Party is amazed that the government is so willing to shuttle the blame for the unacceptable state of our health care system on to the medical profession, which can only work with the resources available to it from this government. We believe the government has maligned all doctors in the province by picking on one doctor who admirably performed his duties under very trying circumstances created by this government’s policies.
We find the government’s treatment of doctors to be unacceptable. The government should apologize for questioning the professionalism of doctors all around the province.
Ms Oddie Munro: The International Joint Commission held its biannual meeting on Great Lakes water quality and levels last week. Of interest to me was the cleanup and restoration of Hamilton harbour. The complexity of research, analysis and remedial action requires a commitment from municipality, region, province and the industrial and manufacturing players.
In my view, the work of the IJC can only be as successful as the political and community will of local communities. Although millions of dollars have gone into improving the harbour, effluent from sewage treatment plants, landfill contaminants, combined sewer overflows and water used for industrial, commercial or recreational purposes remains a challenge in meeting zero discharge and environmental balance. Before we are able to develop our harbourfront for extensive parks and recreation, we must ensure that the cleanup will lead to a balanced ecosystem. with water quality having no ill effects on human health.
We are making progress. Our Woodward Avenue treatment plant, one of the largest STP dischargers into the harbour, operates within the terms of the Great Lakes water quality agreement. Monitoring technology in the ship canal provides indicators of water quality, seasonal fluctuations and flow. Drainage from Redhill Creek now utilizes a retention basin which remediates 25 per cent of the CSO value to the harbour from Hamilton. Research and development continues on suspended inorganic materials, level of nutrients and heavy metals. Dredging containment is proceeding in the Windermere basin. Remedial action plans call for combined sewer overflow remediation, control of suspended solids and computer-assisted control systems.
Ontario’s municipal-industrial strategy for abatement has targeted the iron and steel industry for effluent process monitoring, starting in 1989, with the municipal sewage treatment plants targeted for 1990. There are no easy short-term fixes for Hamilton harbour. Let’s do it together.
CAPITAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
Mr Hampton: Occasionally, as a member of the Legislature, you have the opportunity to sit down with your local boards of education and discuss with them all of their concerns over education. I am sad to say that this is becoming an unpleasant task because when you speak with your local boards of education, what you are going to hear, and what I have heard, is that capital projects have been cancelled or have been postponed, some of them very necessary capital projects like the replacement of a roof on a school, or you hear that the board is having to make very, very difficult decisions about what program to cut.
Does the board cut special education programs and throw children who really have very serious needs to the wind? That, unfortunately, is what some boards are being forced into. Or does the board go to local taxpayers and say to them: “We know municipal property taxes are very regressive and unfair taxes. We know it hurts those who have the lowest incomes the most, but we’re going to have to increase it by 10 per cent, 12 per cent, 15 per cent.” Or you talk to the board of education, and if it is a rural board of education, it will tell one that transportation grants are now being changed. The Ministry of Education is changing them without any consultation whatsoever with the boards that are going to be affected.
There are some real problems developing out there in local education and this government is making them worse, not better.
Mr Harris: On Tuesday of this week the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Sweeney) announced to the House a comprehensive waterfront strategy which he said would be “part of a greening strategy for the entire greater Toronto area.”
I applaud this announcement and Mr Crombie’s role in particular. I want to say to the minister, however, who is also the Minister of Housing, that his government plans to redevelop the site of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and Humber College lands for housing is in direct opposition to this goal. Of course, I want to see affordable housing built for the people of Metropolitan Toronto. but not just anywhere and not at the expense of preserving an invaluable piece of prime lakefront real estate for public use and preserving it as much needed park land.
I had an opportunity yesterday to visit this very beautiful and unique site. I want to remind the minister that there are a number of other sites in Etobicoke that have been identified as being more appropriate for housing. which also allow all of these grounds, waterfront lands in Etobicoke, to be preserved as park land so that future generations of citizens from Etobicoke, from Metro Toronto and indeed from all across this province will be able to enjoy continuous unimpeded access to the lakeshore from Bowmanville to Burlington.
To make a short-term decision today that jeopardizes future generations is wrong. I urge the Minister of Housing to demonstrate his own commitment to the announcement and to have regard for quality-of-life decisions that would have to be made now and the effect they have on future generations.
Mr Adams: During the recess I had the opportunity to visit northwestern Ontario, specifically, to visit a number of communities in Kenora riding. I had the good fortune to meet with and be briefed by citizens of the Whitedog reserve, Ear Falls, Red Lake, Dryden, Keewatin and Golden, as well as Kenora itself.
I can truthfully say that northern hospitality is everything it is reported to be, and more. Also, I can report that the residents of this important part of the province are enthusiastic, hardworking. well organized and very well informed.
I was impressed by the diversity of this more than self-sufficient region of Ontario. Here we have varied farming with sheep, cattle, hogs. chickens, corn, vegetables and game, and sophisticated tourism, as well as a mixed mining economy, a well-developed hydro-electric industry and a world-class pulp and paper industry.
The region is equally diverse socially, with representation of all sections of our society, from long established native people to the most recent of immigrants. My thanks and best wishes to the people of northwestern Ontario. They are one of the foundations of this province.
An hon. member: Oh, good statement.
Mr R. F. Johnston: What I did on my summer holidays.
The Speaker: This is not Stratford. That completes the allotted time for members’ statements.
Hon Mr Ward: I would seek unanimous consent to recognize a very significant anniversary in this Legislature which takes place, I believe, tomorrow.
The Speaker: Would there be unanimous consent?
HARRY AND BOB NIXON
Hon Mr Peterson: This is not Stratford, Mr Speaker?
I would like to draw the attention of members of the Legislature to a very special anniversary that will take place tomorrow. The day 19 October 1989 will mark exactly 70 years that the people of Brant county have been represented by a member of the Nixon family.
In 1919 the constituents of what was then known as North Brant elected Harry Corwin Nixon as their representative to the Ontario Legislature. Harry Nixon was only 28 at the time, the youngest member by some five years. He represented the riding for 42 years.
An hon member: Forty-two.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It has a ring to it.
Hon Mr Peterson: Boy, that has a ring to it, does it not? The longest period of continuous representation in the history of this Legislature.
Harry Nixon served the people of Brant County and the public of Ontario in many capacities, including Provincial Secretary to Premier Hepburn and ultimately as Premier himself. It is interesting to note that in describing the role played by Harry Nixon the Canadian Encyclopaedia observed, “Nixon’s stability helped balance the Premier’s mercurial temperament.” There is no similarity in that regard --
Mr R. F. Nixon: History repeats.
Hon Mr Peterson: -- to the present situation. He may well have passed that trait down, who knows.
Above all else, Harry Nixon will be remembered as a passionate advocate for Ontario’s farming community. As Mr Nixon himself liked to point out, he was a working farmer, not a gentleman farmer. That is one distinction from his son. In fact, there is a story about the time he was running for office and a heckler yelled out, “If you’re a real farmer, show us the calluses on your hands,” and Harry apparently shot back, “Before I came here I cut 50 acres of oats with a tractor-binder and if my friend is a farmer himself he’ll know the calluses aren’t on my hands.”
When Harry Nixon passed away in 1961 his seat was filled in the by-election by his son and our colleague Robert, and his constituents went from a man who was Premier to a man who has been described, rather accurately I believe, as the best Premier Ontario never had.
Like his father, Bob has worn many hats and all of them well. As the member for Brant-Haldimand. he has made us all aware of the needs of Ontario farmers, like his father, and has helped us to design programs of support to meet their needs. As Leader of the Opposition, he provided always, unlike some present, sound and reasonable and thoughtful criticism and a responsible alternative to the government of the day.
Hon R. F. Nixon: That is what everybody said at the time.
Mr D. S. Cooke: He was the last one in the party to do that.
Hon Mr Peterson: Maybe that was his problem. Who knows?
As Treasurer, his prudent stewardship has steadfastly guided Ontario to a period of unprecedented wealth, thereby ensuring support for our generous network of social programs.
As a cabinet colleague, his sage counsel and wise advice have been indispensible to the governing of this province. Shortly after the cabinet was sworn in following the 1987 election, I was asked, “What does Bob Nixon mean to this government?” I replied then, and I feel even more strongly now that what I said then was accurate, that he is very clearly the single most important member of this government.
A great deal has changed in our province, in our country, since Harry Corwin Nixon was first elected in this Legislature. Back in 1919, Robert Borden was in office, Canada was in transition to peace and Bob Nixon suits were in style, but one thing has not changed and that is that he has provided exemplary representation to the people of Brant county and of this province.
I know that every member will join with me in congratulating Bob, Dorothy, his family and all of his friends on this special anniversary for the Nixon family. The residents of Haldimand-Norfolk and the people of Ontario wish Bob and his family 70 more good ones.
Mr B. Rae: I do not know whether this is the 16th or 17th occasion.
Mr Ferraro: You are waiting for the eulogy. aren’t you?
Mr Breaugh: This is the eulogy.
Mr B. Rae: This is the eulogy. The Treasurer is remarkably like Tom Sawyer who, every reader of Mark Twain will remember, had the unique feature of being able to attend his own funeral and hear on a number of occasions the marvellous things that people had to say about him.
Today we are celebrating not simply the accomplishments of Bob Nixon -- if you will allow me, Mr Speaker, for a moment to use the vernacular rather than the parliamentary title -- we are also celebrating the remarkable contributions of his father to the life of this province and, if I may say so, we are also, I think, remembering Mr Nixon’s mother who contributed both as wife and as mother. We are also celebrating this Mr Nixon’s wife and his remarkable family who I know will in future contribute greatly to the life of Ontario.
The election of 1919 was a remarkable one. It was a historic one. It literally revolutionized the life of the politics of Ontario, a government which had been in power for many years in a two-party system, which had been in power since Confederation and, indeed prior to Confederation. After the end of the First World War, we had the Winnipeg General Strike. We had a sudden transformation of the Canadian political society and in Ontario, the most conservative and traditional of provinces, it was marked by the election of 1919 and the creation of a very different kind of government that lasted for four years.
Mr Nixon went on from representing the United Farmers of Ontario to joining the Liberal Party and to a remarkable career in the cabinet of Mitchell Hepburn, where he was, as the Premier has quite rightly described, according to all accounts, one of the mainstays of a government that knew good times and bad times, that showed leadership and also had extraordinary political difficulties from time to time.
According to all accounts, and I think it is a view universally shared by historians -- and historians are as likely to agree on a subject as are members of different political parties when looking at the past -- in all the literature that is increasingly being written about the history of the province, there is a common view that one member of the cabinet stood out as a remarkably non-self-seeking public servant, an advocate on behalf of his constituents and on behalf of a particular true grit vision of Ontario, whose politician antecedents in our remarkable community go back over a century.
Mr Nixon Junior -- perhaps we should just call him “Junior” from now on --
Hon R. F. Nixon: Doesn’t seem to hurt Mr Felix.
Mr B. Rae: -- is someone whom I have learned to respect and I think everyone in this House has learned to respect his remarkable abilities and capacities as the Treasurer of the province. I also knew him for a time when we shared opposition benches and, of course, I now occupy the role which he himself had to perform for many years and I think he has a sense of the joys that are perhaps unique to this particular office.
I have also spoken in the past about the affection I have for Mr Nixon and I am sure it is an affection that is shared by a great many members. One of the things I think I have learned after 10 years in this life, is the importance of putting things in perspective, the importance of trying, however difficult it may be from time to time, to maintain a sense of respect and indeed, affection for people in other political parties and in other political offices. I like to think that I have many good friends on the other side of the House, as well as in my own party, but I hope I have also been through enough to recognize that cannot always be the case every day.
But seriously, as we celebrate the first 70 years of the Nixon dynasty, when I was asked whether we would give unanimous consent to yet another celebration of the contributions of Nixon Senior and Junior to the life of the province of Ontario, I was only too happy to say yes. On the 75th anniversary, the 80th, the 85th, whatever other anniversaries turn up from time to time, I will be more than glad, whether on this side or indeed perhaps on another side, I will be delighted to pay my tributes to the remarkable contribution to the life of Ontario of the Nixon family.
Mr Brandt: I want to join with my colleagues in honouring Mr Nixon on this very important day of his anniversary. I have to say that the first time I got elected, back in 1981 I believe it was, when I walked into this House, of course the distinguished presence of Bob Nixon was felt, not as leader of his party, since he had been leader of his party just prior to that, but certainly as a distinguished member who had a great deal of influence.
I recall very clearly, when my staff asked me if I would say a few words today in recognition of this anniversary, that since Bob Nixon has always been in this House, to the best of my recall, I thought it was his 70th anniversary, but I understand that his father did have a career prior to his arriving in the House and that for 42 years the Nixon family was in fact represented here by Bob’s very distinguished father.
Let me just say that we all join today in this opportunity to give our very best of congratulations to Fletcher. A lot of people in this House may not realize that Fletcher is Robert Nixon’s middle name. Those of us who know him well, and I have been a long-time friend of Bob’s, call him “Fletch.”
Mr Breaugh: That is close.
Mr Brandt: I just want to say that I have the deepest of affection and admiration for Fletch. He has, indeed, contributed over the years, as did his father, in a very direct, and I think in a very effective way in building a better Ontario, whether in opposition or whether in government. Although there are times when I have had differences of opinion with Bob Nixon, I have the deepest respect for his integrity and the deepest respect for what I know are his intentions to serve his province long, as we well know, and well.
I want to say that one of the things I do in those quiet, contemplative moments that we all get as members of the Legislature, is to sit in the quiet of my Toronto apartment and read old speeches. As the leader of Her Majesty’s official opposition would well know, there is such a dramatic change that occurs with respect to the life of a politician when he moves to the various sides of this esteemed chamber, and I do take, on occasion, the time to read those speeches that Bob Nixon has given in the past, and I want him to know that many of them are indelibly etched in my mind. Many of those speeches rose to great heights in terms of relaying to the government of the day the weaknesses of their position and perhaps the errors of their ways.
For all the differences that we might have on the various issues, Bob, I want to say on behalf of the members of my party who are here today, and many of them who are not here any more today, that we do hold you in the highest respect. You have earned the admiration of 9.5 million Ontarians. You are literally a household word, sir, right across this province, and you are someone who has contributed extremely effectively to this process. I want to say with personal admiration that I raise my glass to you, sir, and offer my congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the Nixon family being elected to this chamber.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I say to my long-suffering colleagues that there will only be two, three, maybe four more of these days for them to suffer through. I thank my friends in the opposition for their interesting and kind remarks, and certainly my good friend the Premier for once again going over this record in his own inimitable way. I appreciate that very much from all of you and the good wishes from all members in three parties. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the election of 1919, when my father was elected as a member of the United Farmers of Ontario. Before that, of course, the party was always rock-ribbed Tory. I do not know whether that brings any comfort to the leader of the third party, whose family was always rock-ribbed Grit. It is just amazing how circumstances alter cases.
One time I was attempting to set down something about my father’s political career, and I got stopped early on because the farmers of the time left the Conservative Party since in the prosecution of the war the Union government of the time decided that the farmers’ sons should be subject to conscription, and when I came to describe that in some sort of a supportive way I find it falls a bit short of what normally makes for good reading in a bestselling history. However, there may come a time when I can cope with that in a more effective way. There are many aspects of those early days in history when the farmers, supported by the Labour Party of the day, formed a government, much to their surprise. My dad, who had never been in this building before, came in as Provincial Secretary, which is an office which probably should not have been abolished. It had even less to it than being Treasurer.
At the time -- I may have mentioned this before -- the Sergeant at Arms who had the responsibility that our friend Tom has presently was the same Sergeant who had the job at Confederation, so that there is a bit of a link there. So I talked to a guy who talked to a guy who was present in the first Parliament, and some of those stories even carried on, and I do not intend to burden members with them again.
I think, however, since we are looking at history, that there was sort of a rejection in the community of the two old-line parties, if I may put it that way, a kind of a slogan that from time to time we still hear, and after the four years that the Leader of the Opposition referred to the party was turfed out, almost without a trace. My father and 11 others survived to become Liberals when the truth and justice of Liberal principles finally burst through upon them.
Just as a passing footnote to history, it is probably long enough ago to refer to my predecessor, the Treasurer of the government of the United Farmers of Ontario, who was subsequently indicted, convicted and incarcerated for messing around with some provincial bonds somehow. Any members who want to read the details of that might find it. When I sit in the Treasury boardroom and think about what might have been, I just look at all of those treasurers along there and when I come to that one, I say. “Be careful.” Fortunately, I have not been put to any test yet.
I do say it is on occasions like this and certain others, when if partisan differences do not disappear they at least recede and I think all of us on all sides recognize the value of our service here and recognize, also, the motives of every elected member, which tend to be if not identical at least similar. We are here for one purpose only and that is for the betterment of our community and the province of Ontario. We believe in the democratic process and I believe we all feel the great honour that has been conveyed on us to be the spokespersons for our own communities.
I thank the honourable members, once again, and look forward to a continuation of my duties in conjunction with theirs.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
NATIVE LAND CLAIM
Hon Mr Scott: I would like to inform the House that the Supreme Court of Canada, or three members thereof, have today granted leave to the Teme-Augama Anishnabai in their application to appeal the dismissal of their land claim by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
We have also been advised by counsel to the band this morning that the band intends to bring an injunction application in the Supreme Court of Ontario asking the court to halt construction of the Red Squirrel Road.
The government has decided today, as a result of that request, to temporarily suspend construction of the Red Squirrel Road pending the determination of the Supreme Court of Ontario on 26 October 1989.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Before I begin with this statement, I just wanted to say that those who are interested in organizing the next tribute to the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) are supposed to meet in the whips’ office tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock.
CONSUMER WEEK / SEMAINE DES CONSOMMATEURS
Hon Mr Sorbara: It is my pleasure to inform the members of the House that 23 October to 28 October is Consumer Week in Ontario. To celebrate this week. I would like to join the Ontario branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada in proclaiming Consumer Week in Ontario.
Je suis heureux d’annoncer aujourd’hui aux membres de l’Assemblée législative que la semaine du 23 au 28 octobre a été désignée comme la Semaine des consommateurs en Ontario. Pour célébrer cet événement, je voudrais me joindre à la section ontarienne de l’Association des consommateurs du Canada pour proclamer l’ouverture de la Semaine des consommateurs en Ontario.
Consumer Week activities provide an opportunity for all of us to become more aware of the vital role played by well-informed consumers in Ontario’s marketplace. Wise consumers, informed and working with business representatives at all levels, can help ensure that the marketplace operates fairly and effectively.
To commemorate our province’s fourth annual Consumer Week, my ministry is undertaking several activities. Among these is the second annual presentation of awards to two outstanding Ontario consumer educators in separate categories, the one being professional and the other being volunteer. As well, we are widely distributing information and educational materials throughout the province.
Consumer Week provides an opportunity to recognize and applaud the work of the consumers’ association and, indeed, all agencies which promote and support consumer education and awareness in Ontario.
I now refer the members of the House to the gallery where the recently elected president of the Ontario branch of the Consumers’ Association of Canada joins us today: Joan Huzar.
With Joan in the gallery are this year’s two recipients of the second annual Consumer Educator of the Year awards.
Mary Pappert of Waterloo, a representative of the Kitchener-Waterloo branch of the CAC, is recognized for her many years of voluntary service and leadership towards consumer awareness in the province.
John Kwekkeboom of Welland, a teacher with the Niagara South Board of Education, receives the award in the professional category for his contribution and dedication in the field of consumer education.
I ask members in the House to welcome both of them.
In proclaiming Consumer Week for 1989, we urge the people of this province to reflect on the benefits enjoyed by both consumers and businesses in a fair and equitable marketplace. The theme of Consumer Week, “Shop smart -- it pays,” exemplifies the value for consumers of taking the time to understand the marketplace, to comparison shop and to inform themselves about the products they buy.
Le thème de la Semaine des consommateurs « Magasinez l’oeil ouvert. C’est payant. »
fait ressortir que les consommateurs doivent prendre le temps de comprendre le marché, de comparer les prix et de s’informer sur les produits qu’ils achètent.
It is my pleasure to provide my honourable colleagues with a copy of our Consumer Week kit; they will find copies in their mailboxes downstairs. To recognize this specially designated week for Ontario consumers, I invite members to join me in room 113 following question period for a reception with members of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, the award winners and representatives of groups, along with our ministry.
Hon Mr Conway: I have two statements, both of which I offer in my capacity as Minister of Education. The first statement concerns one of the pieces of legislation that I will be tabling.
Later today, I will be tabling legislation that establishes a new basis for sharing local education revenue between coterminous public and separate school boards, the so-called pooling legislation.
This bill addresses a long-standing issue of equity in Ontario’s system of financing education by ensuring fairer access to local tax support on behalf of all students in the province’s publicly funded schools. Under its provisions, separate school boards will receive a fairer share of the education taxes paid by the businesses and factories in each community.
Public and separate school boards that have common areas of jurisdiction will share the assessment of publicly traded corporations and their subsidiaries in proportion to the amount of residential and farm assessment that each board has in a municipality.
The education portion of the funds paid by telephone and telegraph companies, in place of property taxes on their lines and poles, will be shared on the same basis. This sharing of the assessment of publicly traded corporations and telephone and telegraph receipts will be phased in over a six-year period.
As well, business partnerships will be able to direct a portion of their assessment to the separate school system in proportion to the stake in the partnership held by Roman Catholics.
This legislation does not affect the rights of individuals, sole-proprietorship businesses and private corporations to designate school support.
Provincial grants to school boards will be increased to ensure that the public school system, on a province-wide basis, does not suffer a loss of revenue as a result of these changes. As well, additional compensation will be provided so that no public school board will experience a net loss of revenue as a result of these changes. This initiative will be phased in over six years, with annual grant increases of some $30 million each year.
The bill also includes provisions to adjust separate school board boundaries and separate school zones. These measures will facilitate the sharing of the local tax base by aligning the boundaries of separate school boards with their public counterparts.
Where the current system of separate school zones has prevented Roman Catholics from supporting a separate school board, these measures will now ensure that their right to access and support Roman Catholic education equals their right to access and support public education.
The boundaries of existing separate school zones will be expanded so that they cover the whole of a municipality or geographic township. Separate school zones will no longer subdivide municipalities.
The designated area of a county or district combined separate school board will be deemed to be one separate school zone and will be made congruent with the boundaries of the public board. New separate school zones will now encompass an entire municipality or geographic township.
Let me conclude by emphasizing that the purpose of this legislation is to provide all publicly funded school boards with fairer access to the local tax base for the education of all children, wherever they live in Ontario.
Hon Mr Conway: My second statement concerns a second bill that I will be reintroducing later today. I will be withdrawing and replacing Bill 41, An Act to amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, which received first reading last June.
The bill I am introducing today does not differ in substance from the previous bill. Like its predecessor, it is intended to ensure the security of teachers’ pensions and benefits for all present and future members.
I am introducing a new bill because a number of technical details have been modified since Bill 41 was introduced in June. These modifications were made as a result of the discussions between the government and the administrators of the plan and have been reviewed by representatives of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. I have decided to introduce a new bill rather than deal with numerous technical amendments.
As yet, the important issue of how the pension fund will be managed remains unsettled. Three options for governance will be available for consideration by all members at the committee stage of this bill.
I am very much looking forward to the debate which will lead to the establishment of an effective mechanism for governance so that the major policy changes in this bill can be implemented.
NATIVE LAND CLAIM
Mr B. Rae: I want to respond to the statement that was made by -- I do not know whether he was making it as the Attorney General or as the minister responsible for native affairs. It is an interesting combination of roles at this particular time.
I simply say to the minister that he has not stated what I think is the critical question: that is, what will be the stance of the Ontario government in the Supreme Court of Ontario, faced with this particular application from the band?
The fact of the matter is that there is a unique opportunity now for the government to sit down with the band on the basis that the road construction will not proceed, and on the basis of a full discussion on all the possibilities and realities of life in the area to reach a comprehensive settlement with the band, recognizing its claim to land, a financial settlement and its claim to a say in the management of the resources upon which it is dependent.
Just today in the Toronto Star there is a tragic story of two native people who died on the streets of Toronto after drinking something: we are not sure what it was. We face a critical reality in this country and in this province. Either we come to terms with our first people, either we build a province in which their claim to citizenship, ownership and management of their resources is recognized, or we face a very different path, one which will see continued cultural deprivation, poverty, lack of control over resources and the extraordinary personal decline and personal problems that result from that.
We face an opportunity: the question is, does the Liberal government have the courage to take that opportunity?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Let me respond to the Minister of Education’s last announcement first, if I might put it that way.
This is the ultimate in the art of the euphemism. Here we have a bill that is being withdrawn and a new one brought in because there were so many amendments that it would have been absolutely ludicrous to have presented them to us. How many? One can only presume there must have been hundreds of technical amendments, because Bill 20, the other lot levy legislation that has been brought forward, now has 54 amendments being brought forward to a 48-section bill. God knows how many there were to Bill 41.
I notice the past Minister of Education, now the government House leader, the member for Wentworth North (Mr Ward), has slipped from the House. He promised us we had to have this by the end of December. We did not need public hearings on this: everybody knew what this issue was about. Now we find that we have to have a totally new bill.
It was a nicely done announcement today, I think. I must say I am disappointed that the one substantive announcement is that there is no change in the principle, that the teachers are still not going to be partners in the control of their own plan.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The first announcement by the minister deserves equal response. I think it is important to say that the government is hanging its hat on this notion of pooling at the expense of real equity within the whole education system.
The one thing I have learned on the select committee on education this summer is that this move to focal pooling will do nothing to address the major regional poverty problems that there are for boards in the province. My colleagues from northern Ontario will tell the minister that pooling virtually nothing or the assessment of one industry is going to mean either virtually nothing to the boards or substantial damage to the local public boards.
My colleague the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) was saying to me how ironic it is that the Sault Ste Marie public board will now have to share with the Roman Catholic board in Sault Ste Marie, but the Central Algoma board, which serves the area where many people who work at Algoma Steel live, will get not one cent of the assessment from Algoma Steel.
The terrible inequities that lie around the province regarding this matter are enormous. I hope this government does not see this as a first step towards province-wide pooling, but sees that we need a major overhaul of our educational finance system, to make sure that progressive tax dollars are shared in ways that are more meaningful than regressively attained taxation in the province.
I regret I did not leave enough time for my colleague the critic for Consumer and Commercial Relations to make his remarks.
Mr Brandt: I want to respond briefly to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations in connection with the acknowledgement of Consumer Week.
I would like to indicate the strong support of our party for the concept of the work being carried out by the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the need for such an organization in our province and right across this country. I say so in the context of the realization that in an increasingly complex marketplace there is a need, and I think a very real demand, for the kind of educational and informative services that are provided by the consumers’ association. They do act as a watchdog in our society, and they do attempt to make sure that consumers receive fair treatment in the marketplace and value for their money. For that, I would like to congratulate them.
On behalf of our party, I also want to congratulate the award winners for both the voluntary and the professional categories and to recognize that without the consumers’ association there would probably be a need and/or demand for more government involvement, which is not necessarily better. Personally, I happen to think the voluntary sector and an organization like the consumers’ association can in many instances do a better, more equitable and perhaps more balanced job of making sure that the marketplace is conducted in an appropriate and fair manner as opposed to the way in which government may come in, in a rather heavy-handed way, with a lot of legislation that is expensive to police, and we all know how those costs add up in our tax dollars.
Ladies and gentlemen, you save the citizens of this province many tax dollars through your efforts. I applaud you for that, because we need more of your kind of people helping us to make it a better Ontario.
EDUCATION FINANCING / TEACHERS’ SUPERANNUATION
Mr Harris: I want to comment very briefly on a couple of statements that were made today. I certainly echo the comments by the critic for the New Democratic Party on the statement by the Minister of Education on pooling. The very same person who as House leader, as has been pointed out, insisted the teacher pensions item was a top priority and had to be dealt with -- he and the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) said this had to be done -- now comes back and tells us there are over 100 amendments that necessitate withdrawing this bill that was so urgent. The members can appreciate why at House leaders’ meetings we do not take these ministers too seriously from time to time.
I also want to comment briefly on the announcement on pooling. As has been pointed out as well, for low-income boards, for boards in northern Ontario in particular and the region of the province that I represent, the government’s intention to move on pooling will do absolutely nothing for either one of the public or separate school boards and will severely take away from the public boards across this province.
I say to the minister, and to the Premier (Mr Peterson) as well, at a time when this government has had year-over-year increases in revenue of 10 per cent for five years in a row, at a time when this year alone the federal government transferred to him an increase of seven per cent -- two per cent in excess of inflation -- it is a sad day when we are trying to build a society to share opportunity that he squeezes education the way he is squeezing it in this bill. It will not do one single thing to help those boards that need it the most.
Mrs Cunningham: I also would like to talk to the statement on sharing of the local tax base through the pooling. This has been a very controversial change in funding by the Minister of Education. The one underlying fact that all school boards will be looking to be honoured is what the former Minister of Education stated, that no public school board will incur a net loss in revenue as a result of these changes.
The one thing we want to make sure of is that the Ministry of Education and the Treasury, whose estimates already show a $20-million difference, will get their act together so that no public school board will lose because of this pooling of education tax dollars.
Mr Pollock: Mr Speaker, I believe my privileges as a member of the Legislative Assembly have been abused. I have it all documented here. I will ask one of the pages to forward it to you, and I hope you will look through it, refer it to a committee of this assembly and report back to the House. I will read one paragraph of this particular correspondence:
“There is a letter which appears in yesterday’s edition of the Tweed News and the Marmora Herald which makes reference to a personal communication between myself and one of my constituents. A civil servant of the province, on the instruction of the Minister of Energy, has sent a copy of a personal letter addressed to me to several local newspapers. In that particular letter, they mention the name of a constituent, his place of business and refer to the fact that he had been in communication with my office.”
I have instructed my staff at all my offices to deal with things in confidence, and I do not appreciate the Minister of Energy referring to this person’s name or my name and circulating it around the province.
I wish you would look at this, Mr Speaker, and report back to the House.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I understand the matter is referred to you. I just want to point out, having been in conversation with the Minister of Energy (Mrs McLeod) that she has not been made aware of this situation but will look into it also.
The Speaker: I will look over the information. I will remind the honourable member, though, that when there is a member who feels that there has been a privilege breached, it would be very nice if you would inform the Speaker before bringing it before the House. That is the usual tradition.
NATIVE LAND CLAIM
Mr B. Rae: I would like to address my first question to the Premier and I hope he will answer, since he has been written to by the chief of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai band and he will appreciate the importance of the band knowing what the position of the government is as expressed by the Premier.
The Attorney General (Mr Scott) has told us that the construction on the Red Squirrel Road extension is being suspended temporarily. I wonder if the Premier can tell us what his attitude is about the application of the band for no more construction and no more clear-cutting until such time as the Supreme Court of Canada has rendered its decision.
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the Attorney General is more able to comment on these legal matters.
The Speaker: Referred to the Attorney General.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Premier can tell us, is the member for St George-St David answering in his capacity as the Attorney General or is he answering in his capacity as the minister responsible for native affairs?
The Speaker: It was referred to the Attorney General.
Hon Mr Scott: I would like to thank the honourable member indirectly for the question and to observe that what has happened in this case, as the honourable member knows, is that the Anishnabai had made a claim some 15 years ago to essentially 4,000 square miles of the north in which approximately some 10,000 other people live.
The claim has been resisted in the courts and the claim was found unsuccessful after a very lengthy trial and found unsuccessful in the Ontario Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada, or three members of it sitting as a leave panel, decided that the argument should be advanced again in the Supreme Court of Canada and we, of course, understand that and are always prepared to submit to the process.
The circumstances at present are that the chief has let us know that he proposes to bring an application for an injunction. There is no law or requirement that the government should cease construction at this stage of the road, but we have decided that it is in the public interest to ensure that the process takes place in an orderly way and, as a result, we have made the determination that was in my statement today.
Mr B. Rae: The Attorney General has not answered my question. He will know that the legal battle which is now under way is under way because of an application by the government of Ontario to have certain cautions removed which were placed on land by the band in anticipation of a negotiated land claim. The legal action that is under way is under way because the government of Ontario asked that the cautions be removed from title and the court is dealing now with the question of aboriginal title and the nature of that title.
I asked the Attorney General a question. I asked it to the Premier, not as a legal matter, which I am happy to get into if anybody wants to, but as a matter of fundamental policy in Ontario. The Premier has said that he is not interested in dealing with the question and he would rather the Attorney General take the responsibility for it. Therefore my question is this: Can the Attorney General tell us what the position of the government of Ontario will be, faced with the injunction application next Thursday?
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member knows, the dispute is a long one and some two weeks ago we had a request from the chief about what the position of the government of Ontario would be in the event that leave was granted. He was referring precisely to the offer of settlement that the government had made.
I just want to remind the honourable leader that some three years ago, indeed after the trial and after some 12 years of litigation, our government made the first proposal in the history of Ontario to ever settle a land claim with a proposal that was valued at something in the neighbourhood of $30 million, which included $15 million that could be taken in the form of land to be selected from crown lands by the Anishnabai.
Chief Gary Potts of the Anishnabai determined that he would not be prepared to meet until the court proceedings are concluded. Therefore, when the Ontario Court of Appeal proceedings were over, we made the offer again. That offer remains outstanding.
Mr B. Rae: You made a different offer.
Hon Mr Scott: Yes, modestly different because the first offer --
Hon Mr Scott: No, it was an offer for precise --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: You didn’t make it. It wasn’t the same offer.
The Speaker: Order. Final supplementary.
Mr Wildman: With respect, the Attorney General has not answered the question from my leader. The question was, what will be the position of the provincial government before the court in regard to the band’s application for an injunction to stop the road and any logging in the area until the Supreme Court of Canada makes a final decision with regard to the land claim that is before the Supreme Court of Canada? Will the Attorney General make clear now to this House, to the Teme-Augama Anishnabai and to the people of Ontario what will be the position of his government before the court?
Hon Mr Scott: I think it is very important for all of us to do everything we can to assure the Anishnabai and their chief that their interests are fully protected and advanced in the courts. What we have decided today and announced today is that while we are perhaps under no legal obligation to do so, it is appropriate in the circumstances to allow the matter to await the outcome of the courts. I want the honourable member to be absolutely certain that any other determinations that are made will be communicated to the Anishnabai and, of course, to the House.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Premier, which I can only assume he will have to answer since the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) is not here and he has no one else to whom he can slough off the question. It concerns the announcement that was made by his government last June with respect to emergency care. We have raised questions all week, and indeed last week, about the credibility of his government and indeed the Premier’s credibility with regard to a so-called system which is in place.
The last few hours we have been in touch with all the hospitals listed by his Minister of Health in the announcement that she made on 22 June with regard to a so-called province-wide system and we have found on a consistent basis that the people who are responsible for this so-called system say that it does not exist at the present time.
Doctors, of course, are reluctant to give their names because they know what happens to those who put their heads above the parapet in the province of Ontario with the Premier and the Minister of Health taking such shots at them, but I can tell members that spokesmen at the Windsor Hotel Dieu of St Joseph Hospital say:
“We were promised a framework for how we could fit into a regional framework, but we have had nothing. It was a nice announcement in the papers but short on substance. We were designated a trauma centre in 1987 but nothing has happened in the ministry since then.”
I can give and I will give example after example--
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr B. Rae: I would like to ask the Premier where his credibility is when his minister makes announcements, he makes a statement about what kind of a system is in place across the province and the people who are in the field are telling us consistently that the system does not exist.
Hon Mr Peterson: I cannot give the honourable member all the details of the particular system and the minister could, but I can say that that is in the process of being implemented, as she said. That is happening and it is quite clear to everyone else.
Mr B. Rae: His minister stood in this House on 22 June and announced that all kinds of money was going to be spent and that a system was going to be in place. Our staff spoke, for example, to a doctor at the Sudbury General Hospital who is responsible for that service in the hospital. It has been designated and he says: “There was no further contact since the premature announcement was made. No information in response to a request a few weeks ago.”
Thunder Bay, McKellar General Hospital: “Nothing tangible yet. We are waiting for development of policy by the ministry. We have been a trauma centre for eight years.”
Ottawa General Hospital, “No movement at a working level.”
Quote from the doctor: “You are asking people in the trenches what the generals are thinking. We don’t know what they’re thinking.”
I would like to ask the general and chief of this system how he can get up here and tell people there is a system in place and that the doctors and others are responsible for not using a system which is in place, when people who are in the trenches every day trying to save the lives of critically ill people say that in fact the system is not even established at this point.
Hon Mr Peterson: I have listened to the Minister of Health, as has the member, and I think she has told him of the plans for the critical care committee and the implementation that is going on and the process. As I understand it, a number of those things on a regional basis will be in place by the end of the year. There is no secret about that. I think he knows that.
Mr B. Rae: The Premier was not talking about promises when he was up on his feet last week. When he was responding to the immediate crisis in this House and trying to bail out of that crisis, as we have seen him do on so many other occasions, searching desperately for some scapegoat somewhere whom he could hold responsible for his failures and the failures of his government, he did not get up and say, “Nothing’s in place yet, but don’t worry, it’s going to come in December.” No, no. He said. “Dr Nesdoly didn’t use the system which was in place.” That is what he said.
I want to ask the Premier this question again. Just where is his credibility on this matter when in fact it is perfectly clear the system he said was in place does not exist yet?
The Speaker: The question has been asked once again.
Hon Mr Peterson: My friend continues on this line about credibility and he stands here in this House pretending he takes the high road all the time and everyone else who discusses him is taking the low road, even though he has kept after this day after day after day, or he has tried to, without success. He should know that by now.
I have quoted in this House a letter from Mr Stoughton that gave a number and said there were critical care beds available in this city. There were some who were alleging -- probably the member -- there were no critical care beds available and they were there. Obviously, there is an investigation, there is an inquest to look into why that particular number. It was there from Mr Stoughton to tell everyone else. The minister said at the same time that they are working on the critical care situation across the province. There is nothing magic or even complicated about the situation.
MINISTER’S INTEREST IN COMPANY
Mr Brandt: The Premier will be aware of media reports which indicate that the Minister of Health has a personal financial interest in a company which does extensive business with the province of Ontario. For the past two years Extendicare, which is the company that the Minister of Health has an interest in, has in fact had an ongoing relationship with the government. There has been some response in the paper with respect to actions taken by the minister, but I wonder if the Premier could indicate when he became aware of the situation and what particular steps he may have taken as a result of this potential conflict that has arisen?
Hon Mr Peterson: I heard about it some time ago. I cannot give the member the particular date. I am sorry, but as I understand it, everything has been turned over to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. If the member has any problems with it, I would invite him to file a complaint, as he has a right under the legislation, with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and get his advice on this matter. My understanding is that he has pronounced judgement on this and can give the member any advice he wants on the matter. That is why he is there.
Mr Brandt: I want the Premier to be assured I am not making any accusations. These are media reports. What I want the Premier to do is be aware --
Hon Mr Scott: You’re making a media report, are you?
Mr Brandt: If the Attorney General would like to ask questions, he can come over to this side of the House.
The Speaker: Order. This might be the appropriate time to ask all members to direct their comments through the chair.
Mr Brandt: My supplementary to the Premier, sir, is with respect to the same matter, of course. I want the Premier to be aware that Extendicare operates a number of nursing homes, as well as the chronic care wing of the Queensway General Hospital, just to name a few of its interests. In fact, according to a description of the company that appeared in the Financial Post, about 50 per cent of the total business that it does apparently is with the province of Ontario.
I wonder, to ensure that there are no questions, and I appreciate what the Premier says with respect to the filing with the conflict commissioner, will the Premier ask the minister to table with this House any relevant documentation or material pertaining to this specific case so that there will be no suggestion or any innuendoes with respect to conflict?
Hon Mr Peterson: The only innuendo is coming from the member. He is entitled to do this. He stands up and pretends he is not making innuendo and he is only trying to get to the bottom of the matter when it has already been pronounced upon by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. Let’s be very intellectually honest about this at least. But I appreciate the member bringing to the attention of the House this matter which, as I said, has been around for some time.
What the member should do -- we passed a law in this House and we have an independent Conflict of Interest Commissioner who does not deal in innuendo, who deals in facts and pronounces judgement. As I understand it, the member supported that. Now what I would recommend he does, to satisfy himself, because I know he has a curious and engaging mind, is to file a complaint with the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, to ask him to give the member his judgement on all the relevant documentation. I am sure he would he happy to accommodate the member.
Mr Brandt: I would ask through you, Mr Speaker, to the Premier, that the Premier be intellectually consistent with respect to his approach to these matters. I would bring to his attention that just a few days ago the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr Patten) had what he believed was a perceived conflict, brought it to the Premier’s attention and brought it to the attention of the public through the media. The matter died as of that point, frankly because he came clean right away with the problem and revealed at that particular time any documentation or details pertaining to a perceived conflict.
Why will the Premier not be consistent and do the same thing when a minister has had two years of ownership in a company that does business with the province when in fact he followed another course of action with regard to another ministry?
Hon Mr Peterson: Surely my honourable friend understands the difference of these two situations.
Mr Brandt: Oh sure, there is always a difference with you.
Hon Mr Peterson: We have to assume a reasonable level of understanding of the facts and the knowledge. The member has said, standing up in the House, that he is only reading a newspaper, he does not really understand it and he does not want to engage in innuendo even though he does, but that is okay.
When we deal with a situation with respect to financial holdings, his, mine and everyone else’s are dealt with by the commissioner of conflicts. That is why he is there. He passes independent judgement about this matter. There are no secrets about this matter. The member should file a complaint with him.
Mr Sterling: Based on phoney rules. Based on a phoney act.
Hon Mr Peterson: My friend thinks it is a phoney act. I thought he supported it. Maybe he did not.
Mr Sterling: It is a phoney act. That is why we voted against it. That’s how much you know about it.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Peterson: We think it is one of the most progressive acts anywhere on this matter. We have a system in place to deal with that. When we dealt with the situation from the Minister of Correctional Services, it was not a similar situation at all. It was appearing at a tribunal, which I say to the member technically was not a violation of the guidelines.
It has nothing to do with the conflict-of-interest act, but a particular set of guidelines known as the Davis guidelines. But because one could make the allegation that there it violated the spirit of that, all the facts were made clear for everybody to deal with. That is the situation. We have mechanisms there in place to deal with it, and I think most people understand it.
LOAN TO TENANTS’ GROUP
Mr Harris: With the permission of the Attorney General (Mr Scott), I would like to ask a question to the Minister of Housing. I understand that his ministry has agreed to loan $60 million to a group of tenants to purchase their own buildings near Carlton and Church streets. I understand this money will come from the $3-billion budget of the Homes Now program announced in the 1988 budget of the Treasurer.
On page 6 of the Treasurer’s budget statement. he said “over the next three to five years, this initiative” -- Homes Now -- ”will add 30,000 non-profit rental units to the existing stock.”
I wonder if the minister can explain to me how yesterday’s $60 million transaction will add one single new rental unit in the extremely tight city of Toronto rental market. I would have thought, given the Treasurer’s statement, that to meet the program criteria that the $60 million -
The Speaker: Order. The member has placed his question.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The Homes Now announcement made it reasonably clear that there were three different ways in which nonprofit shelter would be brought on to the market. One, and by far the most numerous, would be the creation and the building of new stock, and of the approximately 30,000 units I believe the last figure I saw was that about 23,000 or 24,000 would be brand-new buildings brought on the market.
Of the other two options that were available under that program, the second to acquire existing stock from the private market and make it nonprofit. The third one was to subsidize people who are in existing private buildings.
Those latter two will amount, under the existing numbers, to something like maybe 2,000 or 3,000 units. There are still another 2,000 or 3,000 units that have not been allocated at the present time.
In this particular case, we had a combination of three nonprofit organizations in Metro that came to us and said these three buildings were available through the receiver -- I understand they were part of the former Greymac package and consist of approximately 700 plus units -- three buildings near Maple Leaf Gardens in the core of downtown Toronto that would be able to be part of the total supply of nonprofit units, that would remain more affordable and that would be a worthwhile project for us to be involved in, and we agreed.
Mr Harris: I would suggest the minister has not added a unit.
Tenant spokesmen commenting on this $60-million announcement in this morning’s paper said that this deal will protect the tenants from higher rental increases that would otherwise result from the Liberal rent review system. The tenant spokesmen argue that they would prefer to pay nine per cent increases in each year for the next five years under this deal than risk the increases that might come from the minister’s rent review’ system.
I would ask the minister, if his government is now helping tenants to buy their own buildings to protect them from his rent review system, is he not admitting that his system is not working, that it is not protecting tenants and that he now has to use tax dollars to protect people from his own rent review legislation?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Not surprisingly, I would not agree with the comments of my honourable friend. As a matter of fact, what the group of tenants in this situation are discovering is the various factors that go into arriving at a rent.
They have admitted themselves that although the province’s maximum rent without going to rent review for the last couple of years has been less than five per cent, in order to manage this building by themselves, they are going to have to pay a rent increase in the neighbourhood of nine or 10 per cent. That kind of firsthand economic awareness for a group of tenants is a worthwhile experience.
I would point out to the honourable member that less than 30 per cent of the over one million units across the province go to rent review, that some 70 per cent in fact adhere to the minimum guidelines. As the member knows as well as I do, those that do go to rent review end up with an average of about 11 percent. I would say that this particular group of tenants is facing a very realistic situation and it is not an indication at all that the rent review system in this province is not working.
Mr Harris: I appreciate the minister’s interpretation. Let me recap. This government has given a $60-million loan to a group of tenants to buy an existing building from a fund that was designed and quoted to create new housing stock. This minister is helping tenants buy their own building to protect them, as they say, from the ministry’s own rent review system.
I would like to ask the minister this: In 1986, when the Ontario Tenant Action Coalition wanted to buy its own buildings in High Park, in Bretton Place and in Cedar Grove, with its own money I might add, this government slammed the door shut. I ask the minister, how can he justify today using $60 million of taxpayers’ money for the people at Carlton and Church when the government denied, just three years ago, this very same opportunity for the tenants of Cedar Grove, Bretton Place and High Park to do the very same thing with all their own money?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Again, I think my honour-able friend would appreciate that the situations are a little different. In the case he originally raised with me, we are talking about a group of tenants who through the assistance of the provincial government are going to be able to keep three buildings as rental buildings. The other situation he describes was a request to convert rental accommodation into ownership accommodation. Given the very, very tight rental market in this Metro area, the decision of this government was not to permit that.
Mr Harris: So what are you doing now? This is ownership. “Tenants to Buy Buildings.”
Hon Mr Sweeney: No, private rental to nonprofit rental. It will still be rental; it is not ownership. The group as a whole owns the building, but they are still rental components. In the other case, we are going from rental ownership. It is a very different situation.
I might also say to my honourable friend while I am on my feet that Ontario is one of the few provinces in Canada in terms of its nonprofit program. In fact, it is using the majority of its money to build new units. In all other jurisdictions, particularly our sister province Quebec, to the east of us, the majority of the nonprofit units are simply subsidized from existing landlords,
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member knows that we just do not have the capacity to do that.
The Speaker: That seems like a fairly complete answer.
Mr Harris: How about a supplementary? It was not very complete, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: I beg your pardon.
Mr Harris: Is there consent to have another supplementary? I do not think it was complete.
The Speaker: Perhaps the member for Nipissing might discuss that with the House leaders and change the rules.
Mr Allen: I have a question to the Premier with regard to the homemaker program, which he of course glowingly described for this province during the last election. The government is now distributing some moneys to homemaker agencies in order to assist them to reach the magnificent wage of $7 for their homemakers. The Premier is probably aware that benefit deductions, travel costs and the new employers health tax levy all have to come out of that, so significantly less than $7 is going to find its way into the pockets of the homemakers, but the Premier’s interministerial committee in 1987 recommended, as a basic minimum response for the survival of that system, $7 in 1987 dollars plus 20 per cent for benefits.
Why would the Premier not give the homemakers some of the best news they have had in years of uncertainty, honour the basic minimum of his interministerial report and give then a decent wage break?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the highly esteemed minister could help my friend out with that.
Hon Mr Beer: I would say to my honourable friend that as announced last spring by my predecessor, a fund was set aside to raise the salaries of a number of different groups, including the homemakers. There have been ongoing discussions and consultation as to the best way to distribute those moneys and particularly to address wage issues as they affect homemakers. We are in the process of completing that review. I hope to be making an announcement very shortly.
I believe we will be able to make a real impact on the whole area of adjustment for homemakers. We certainly agree with the honourable member that this is a critical and important element of our long-term care strategy, which we are also working on. At this time particularly -- it is homemakers week -- we want to focus on the kinds of problems they have had. I believe we will do so.
Mr Allen: We have been treated to a remarkable charade over the last two years with respect to homemaker services in this province. There was a specific plan that the Premier had in 1987 with respect to this program. There were to be 20 new regions of integrated homemaking established in the province. Since then, we have seen capping, restraint, studies and near bankruptcy in the system. We have seen anxious homemakers uncertain whether they would be able to hang on in the job and we have seen clients who are terribly distressed. We had a Price Waterhouse study last spring with no recommendations whatever. Now we have a smoke and mirrors show going around the province called “long-term care,” which nobody has any precise information about.
Would the minister please tell us, is the integrated homemakers program still alive somewhere? What is the name of this movie --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Allen: -- that we are supposed to be guessing the name of in this charade’? Nobody knows.
Mr Speaker: I believe the question was asked.
Hon Mr Beer: I think there are some real changes that are going to be forthcoming that are going to address this, specifically the commitment that was made around salaries and benefits. We have addressed that. We have also said that will be retroactive to 1 September and that will be announced before too long. We have also said that in the review of long-term care we are looking at exactly where we want the integrated homemaker plan to go and indeed to address a much broader range of issues.
We are going to be speaking very specifically to a number of issues on that during this session this fall. I believe there is a commitment here where we understand that the homemakers play an extremely important and critical role in long-term care, and we are going to begin by recognizing that in very specific and real terms with changes to salaries shortly.
HEALTH CARE FINANCING
Mr Brandt: I have a question to the Premier. In the last spring budget the Premier indicated that OHIP premiums would be eliminated as of January 1990. I would like to bring to his attention a letter that was sent to a Brampton woman, which I would be happy to share with him, signed by the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) on Ministry of Health stationery, indicating that this lady is to pay $89.25 for the OHIP premium, which is to cover January. February and March. Can the Premier explain the apparent contradiction when the premiums are to be discontinued as of the first of the year, and yet this particular taxpayer, as well as many others, are being asked to pay for the first three months of 1990.
Hon Mr Peterson: The Treasurer has explained this to my honourable friend before and would be happy to do it again.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am glad to have the opportunity to have another go at the honourable member and his correspondence. Actually, the member will know that the budget announced that the insurance concept of providing medicare will come to an end, if the House approves, on 31 December of this year. so there will be no premiums and there will be no coverage. We will then go into the concept of medicare that was recommended by the original proponent of medicare, the Honourable Mr Justice Emmett Hall, who recommended strongly that it be universal and free of premiums.
It will be without premiums and at that time it will be supported on the broad tax base of the province with about 38 per cent contribution from the government of Canada, in spite of the fact, of course, that its promise was to pay 50 per cent. The member may want to talk about that at some other time.
I think that my best information to give to the honourable member is that from the standpoint of the Treasury, there is absolutely no duplication of payment. In fact, if the correspondent with the member feels she in this instance is covered for next March, she will be aware that beginning 1 January no further premiums will ever be paid in support of her insurance, her family’s or anyone else’s. There will no longer be insurance, but there will be universal coverage.
If you will permit me, Mr Speaker, one further comment, as far as the consolidated revenue fund is concerned, the amount coming in month by month remains precisely the same with the addition of three per cent that is part of the budgetary plan for the financing of medicare.
Mr Brandt: That response, frankly, is totally inconsistent with the copy of the letter I received from the Ministry of Health. It says, “As announced in the 1989 Ontario budget, OHIP premium payments will he eliminated effective January 1, 1990.”
Now, effective that same date, the Treasurer is going to introduce the payroll tax in order to pay for OHIP, or that difference, which is about $1.8 billion and for which he is going to raise about $2.1 billion. There is no way he can get around the reality that there is a double collection going on here for the first three months of 1990. The Treasurer is asking people to pay their OHIP premium plus he is demanding that employers introduce a payroll tax. He is collecting from that system, by our estimate, something in the order of $300 million and it could be considerably higher than that.
How can the Treasurer possibly say that he is not collecting a double charge for OHIP premiums?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Because we count the dollars, and they are not doubled, I can assure the honourable member that the cash flow coming originally from the insurance premiums that end at the end of December and the tax that begins 1 January will be identical except for the three per cent increase that is associated with moving the support from 13 percent, which is where we are now, to approximately 16 per cent, where we will be next year.
I think the honourable member should also be aware that the constituents who write to him and who write to all of us will never again have to make a premium payment. For those people who pay their own, which includes no one in these blue seats, it will mean a saving of $714 a year. For those of us whose generous employer, the taxpayers, have in the past paid our premiums, we will not have to report that as a taxable benefit on our income tax returns later on and we will make a saving there.
I simply draw to the attention of the honourable member that in Ontario in 1990 there will be an overall saving of just over $900 million which will remain in the pockets of the taxpayers and the residents of this province, and the ones who write me have expressed their gratitude for that particular innovation.
Mr Ruprecht: I have a question for the minister responsible for the provincial anti-drug strategy. The illicit drug trade in Ontario seriously disrupts and even destroys the lives of many of our young people. The parents and teachers who attended the Parkdale anti-drug rally would like to know just when the recommendations the minister proposed in his 1988 report are going to be implemented. Specifically, when will he implement his recommendation that talks specifically about the provincial co-ordinating body, which will establish a visible leadership in the fight against drugs?
Hon Mr Black: In the report that was presented in this House last October, there were 29 recommendations. I can tell the members of the House that approximately 15 of those 29 are at sonic stage of being implemented at the present time. I can also say that the organization of the co-ordinating body is well under way and we will have a secretariat in place in a matter of a few days.
At the same time, co-ordination is being provided at three other levels. We have a working group that has been meeting since last May which includes representatives of eight different ministries on it. The deputy ministers from those eight ministries have been meeting for the past month and the ministers’ co-ordinating committee is also meeting.
Mr Ruprecht: I am certainly delighted to hear this.
My supplementary question is concerned with another recommendation of real merit. It deals with the prevention and treatment of those afflicted by drug addiction. What is the status of the recommendation, “That the Ministry of Health, through local district health councils ... develop a long-term plan to ensure the availability of a full range of comprehensive intervention, counselling, and treatment programs accessible to all residents of Ontario”?
Hon Mr Black: I am pleased to tell the member that last spring the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) wrote a letter to all district health councils and asked them to begin the process of looking at intervention, counselling and treat-merit programs in their respective jurisdictions. The intent of that review was to try and identify the current programs that are in place, to identify needs that need to be met in the future and to develop some long-term plans to meet those needs.
My conversations with district health councils would indicate that this process is ongoing at this time. We are looking forward to their reports being received by the Ministry of Health.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Miss Martel: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. The question concerns the Robson Lang Leather tannery in Barrie and the associated tanneries in Oshawa, Cobourg and Kitchener.
Yesterday afternoon, my staff had a discussion with Dr Jim Stopps of the health studies services of the ministry to determine the exact scope of the investigation that is going on now of the tanneries. We were disturbed to discover that the scope is in fact quite limited and that the focus is to determine the cause of death of ex-employees. The whole matter of tracking ex-employees who have not died to determine whether or not they too in fact have industrial diseases arising out of the tannery is not included.
I would like to ask the minister why the scope of this investigation has been muted in this way.
Hon Mr Phillips: I assume that because we are asking for all the names of ex-employees and for them to be part of the study, the study must include both deceased ex-employees and living ex-employees, so I make the assumption that the study will include both groups.
Miss Martel: There seems to he a bit of a problem in the communication of what is actually happening. Dr Stopps told our office that it was not an investigation but in fact a feasibility study. They have requested a record of tannery workers. Once this employee list has been compiled, a mortality search will be done and this will determine the cause of death of ex-employees. If the study progresses to the stage where consent forms would be required to look at industrial disease, this would be done, but in fact at this point this is not contemplated within the scope of the current study.
I ask the minister again why the scope of this investigation is being limited, in particular because the Kitchener plant is still in operation and in fact there could be many people in that plant working with similar dyes and chemicals who could in fact develop industrial disease, if they have not yet.
Hon Mr Phillips: I make the assumption that the study will include both living and deceased employees and that the study will include that so that we will be assembling the names of ex-employees and ensuring that we look on a broader basis than just those that, unfortunately, have passed away.
Mr Pollock: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. I am sure that she is aware of the zebra mussels condition in Lake St Clair and also Lake Erie. People who are studying this situation estimate that they will be in Lake Ontario in 1990.
Would the minister meet with the mayors of Trenton and Belleville, the wardens of Hastings and Peterborough county, Rick Morgan from the Ontario Federation of Hunters and Anglers and myself to discuss the zebra mussels and what, if anything. could be done about them’?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Certainly I would be quite prepared to meet with the member and people who would be concerned about the issue and as well to have people from the Ministry of Natural Resources who would be involved in the management be part of such a meeting so we can ensure that the problem is going to be dealt with very actively.
Mr Pollock: When the minister’s staff meets and she and her staff meet with these people who I mentioned, would they survey what could be done in as far as protecting the Bay of Quinte and the Trent-Severn waterway is concerned, and bring any information that they have on how we can stop the zebra mussels, if we can do anything, and estimates of what damage they might do to the Trent-Severn waterway and the Bay of Quinte?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think the honourable member, in his question, identifies the number of issues that would have to be recognized and that would certainly be the point of a meeting -- to determine just exactly what the nature of the problem is, what the concern will be and what could be done about it.
BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS
Mr Mahoney: My question is to the Minister of Housing. As he is aware, I represent a riding in the city of Mississauga where over the last number of years we have been experiencing --
Mr Wildman: Oh, oh.
Mr Mahoney: Thanks, Bud. I’ll invite you out there some time.
We have been experiencing a very substantial building boon. We are now finding that many of the builders who are working out there are proceeding without building permits or even foundation permits. It is creating a serious problem both for the residents and the municipality.
In a corporate report from the city solicitor Bruce Thorn dated 5 July, he points out that during the period of 1 April 1989 to 30 June 1989, the number of convictions for builders contravening the Ontario Building Code was 78, and yet the total amount of fines for all of those violations was only $10,700. Today, when homes can range up to $1 million, the maximum penalty that can be given to a corporation is $10,000 and to an individual, $2,000. Even with this set maximum, the courts often decide on lesser fines, and as such the builders feel free to proceed without a building permit or any fear.
My question is, can the minister advise this House on what a municipality can do to deter builders from proceeding without building or foundation permits once the courts have decided on a minimal fine?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable colleague is correct that the building activity in certain places in the province, and certainly in Mississauga, could lead to the very activity that he described. At the present time, under the existing code, which has been in place now about 15 years, the only recourse that a municipality has is to issue a stop work order and/or, if the builder refuses to heed to that, he can be taken back to court again. That is not very much at the present time and because of that the code is currently under review.
Mr Mahoney: I wonder if in that review the minister could tell this House if he would be prepared to look at the level of the fines in the Ontario Building Code, and whether or not they are appropriate today given the value of the construction and the amount of the deterrent?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I can tell the honourable member that there are approximately 38 amendments already prepared with respect to the code and one of them deals with the fines. The proposal is that for an individual the fine for the first offence would go to $25,000 and for a second and subsequent offence to $50,000. For a corporation the fine for the first offence would be $50,000 and up to $100,000 for subsequent offences. So those are very significant.
I can add to my honourable colleague that the other activity the ministry is engaging in is to streamline the whole approvals process and therefore speed up the building permit process, as well. We are hoping that working in conjunction with our municipalities we may be of some assistance to get those permits out a little bit more quickly. But there will be very substantial fines when the code is amended and I am hoping to move forward with it fairly quickly to assist the municipalities that are doing the best they can under the existing legislation.
FOREST SPRAYING PROGRAM
Mr Wildman: I have a question to the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister will know that the spraying of Ontario’s forests with insecticides is an issue of great concern to the people across the province and that the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio), her immediate predecessor as Minister of Natural Resources, had committed the ministry since 1985 to a policy of spraying the biological insecticide Bt, and only Bt. Can the minister now reaffirm that position of her predecessor as we look forward to the ministry’s spray program for 1990 and beyond?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I can certainly reaffirm that continues to be the position of the ministry and the government. Obviously we are looking at the results of the Bt spraying program to determine its effectiveness. We have some concerns about indications of renewed outbreak of spruce budworm in certain areas of the province, but I think, as the honourable member knows, it does take a period of some years for the Bt spray program to be fully effective. We are extremely concerned about the health of the forest, we are continuing to monitor it, but spraying with Bt only continues to be our’policy.
Mrs Grier: When I raised this question with the previous Minister of Natural Resources I asked if any studies and the results of any monitoring program would be made available. We have not had those made available to us as members of this House and I wonder if the minister would agree to table or make public whatever studies have been done and the results of those studies, so we could perhaps lay to rest once and for all the controversy about this program.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I hope my earlier answer did not imply that there had been a formal study done and completed. The studying that I referred to, the monitoring, consists of the ongoing monitoring that we are doing through our forest resources group, in concern about the health of the forests generally. The Bt program does require a period of years for it to be effective and it requires optimal weather conditions in order for it to be effective. I think that as we have information that would be indicative of the effectiveness of the Bt program, I would certainly be most happy to share that on an ongoing basis with members of the opposition party.
CONSERVATION AUTHORITY POLICY
Mr Villeneuve: Also to the Minister of Natural Resources: A young couple in my riding has had the misfortune to lose their home to fire recently. When they applied to the municipality for a building permit they were advised that because the house would be in a designated flood plain -- and it is at the very same place as the one that burned -- the building permit was refused by the conservation authority. The refusal was appealed and the judge ruled in favour of my constituents and also allowed them costs. The conservation authority lawyer states the following: “We reserve the right, however, to take appropriate action following the High Court decision.” The judge’s ruling was appealed. Is it a normal procedure for conservation authorities and for his ministry to appeal against individuals once a judge has decided?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would be hesitant to comment on a very specific case, which clearly involves some legal proceedings, without having the details of that case. It certainly is normal procedure for conservation authorities to be concerned about protection of areas that are on floodplains, but within that general context I would want to be able to investigate the specific case to respond more directly to the member’s question.
Mr Villeneuve: This young couple had fire insurance coverage, of course, and it has a rebuilding clause. Neither the conservation authority nor the ministry have said that they would compensate. Right now, they are sitting in the middle of nowhere with winter coming on. They cannot build a house on the lot they have, a lot, I emphasize, where there was a house before. Certainly when rebuilding a house, if indeed it is in a floodplain, they could try to reinforce foundations or use special measures. Could the minister provide some assistance, some guidance to these people so they would at least know what is happening pending an appeal or maybe it could drop the appeal?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think the honourable member would realize that I would not be able to comment and intervene in a case which may in fact be before the courts from the member’s description of it to me today. If there are underlying and future policy issues which the member would like me to review with further information, I could do that, but I could not intervene in a court proceeding.
Mrs Fawcett: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. In my riding I have a blind constituent who would like to pursue a career in the Ontario public service. She is educated, articulate and eager. She is also frustrated. In order to apply for a position, she must first be able to access the employment listings as advertised in government publications and newspapers. As the minister knows, this means that she needs to find someone willing to spend the time reading aloud, word for word, the classifieds. Can the minister inform the House what her ministry is doing to allow bright, young individuals, like my constituent, who wish to contribute to the life of this province, access to government job listings?
Hon Ms Collins: People with communications-related disabilities often find it difficult to communicate with ministries and agencies. In October 1987, my office began sending audio cassette recordings, along with any correspondence, to people we knew to be print-handicapped. In February 1989, Management Board issued a policy directive, which stated that every ministry and agency must make every reasonable request to comply with requests from print-handicapped persons for access to government publications. Access can take a number of forms, including audiotape, large print, Braille and the services of a reader. I can tell the member that this has helped to open up the public process to disabled people.
To address her specific question, in February 1988, the issue of making Ontario public service job advertisements accessible to print-handicapped persons was referred to the Human Resources Secretariat to be included in the Ontario public service employment equity initiative and this action resulted in job advertisements in Topical and Job Mart being made available on tape via phone-in connection after business hours.
Mrs Fawcett: In 1987, the Chairman of Management Board announced that the Human Resources Secretariat would study the issue of employment equity in the Ontario public service, but that was two years ago. There are disabled people in this province who are ready, willing and able to contribute meaningfully to Ontario by working within the public service. Can the minister inform the House what she is doing to hasten this long-awaited and necessary policy?
Hon Ms Collins: Well, again, the member raises an extremely important issue which is a priority with this government. Fair and equitable employment opportunities for everyone in our society is one of those principles we can all agree on.
As the honourable member points out, we have already announced an employment equity policy for the Ontario public service and we have been moving forward in the development of an implementation strategy for the policy. Toward this end the Human Resources Secretariat has undertaken a number of initiatives, including the completion of a survey of the Ontario public service, to develop a workplace profile. I expect that the data collected through the survey will be made available in the near future and that numerical employment equity goals and timetables will be announced.
The Human Resources Secretariat is also revising the Ontario public service corporate staffing policy in areas such as bias-free testing and selection criteria to reflect employment equity principles. I can assure the member this government is living up to its commitment to employment equity in the public service.
FOOD AT CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES
Mr Farnan: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. When the parliamentary committee travelled to Penetanguishene, food was ordered in for the committee. When the minister visited the Guelph institute recently, food was ordered in for the minister. In the light of the fact that the ministry has put so much stock on its kitchens and the training of cooks within that program, why has food been ordered in for the minister’s visit’?
Hon Mr Patten: I do not know where the member got his information. I have not visited Penetanguishene so I do not know what happened there. In terms of my visits to Guelph, yes I did, and we had a meeting with some of the senior staff and some probation officers. I am not sure where the food came from. I suspect it was probably made in the institution itself.
Mr Farnan: Nurses at Guelph have monitored the kitchen and have registered concerns. Correctional officers have passed on concerns to the deputy superintendent and the shift supervisors, Mr Graydon and Mr Grottenhaler. These concerns include: “maggot in the chili,” “rat faeces on bread” and “stone in food.”
Would there be any relationship to this and the minister’s ordering in food? Secondly, a medical inspection was made of this institution just a week ago. Will the minister table the results of this inspection in the House and will he carry out a full inspection of a situation that is certainly untenable, both for the inmates and for the correctional officers of Guelph institute?
Hon Mr Patten: I appreciate the information that the member for Cambridge has passed on. I would assure him that the food arrangements and the sanitation arrangements are of the strictest possible order. The diets are, in fact, standard across the system in Ontario. The Canada food plan is the basis of the meals for the inmates and, indeed, the staff because usually the staff have meals at these institutions as well. I am led to believe that they are of the highest quality.
The member can appreciate that we receive complaints quite readily if the food is not up to standard and I am assured that, in fact, it is a fairly high standard throughout the organization. However, in this particular instance, if the member has some information that suggests that some inspection had been done by some medical authorities, health authorities, then please share it with me and I will be happy to look into it.
Mr Sterling: Quite frankly, I smell a rat in that last answer there. Anyway, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister has now had the Burgar report for some two years, and in that report, as the minister knows, one of the major recommendations dealt with the merging of conservation authorities in our province.
Many conservation authorities are having difficulty in making plans for their future because the minister and her government are failing to respond to that report. Is the minister, or is she not, going to require the amalgamation of conservation authorities in our province?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think the honourable member is well aware that that report has been receiving a great deal of attention; that, in fact, the former parliamentary assistant in the Ministry of Natural Resources has done a great deal of work across the province with the conservation authorities consulting with them and determining the best direction to go.
I currently am reviewing the work that the former parliamentary assistant did. As a new minister, I want to just have some further consultation with both the conservation authorities and the municipalities. Once I have had that consultation, we will bring recommendations forward. It will be done as quickly as it is possible to satisfy myself that there has been full consultation.
Mr Sterling: I want to ask the minister whether, in dealing with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, where it has presently lost its general manager -- it is in a quandary as to what steps it must take next. They cannot wait around, quite frankly, for the minister to hesitate on this decision for much longer. Therefore, in a responsible reaction to the Burgar report, they are saying, “We are not going to make a permanent designation of a general manager until we hear what the ministry is going to do to our conservation authority.”
I would ask the minister, will she give direction to the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority so that it can in fact properly run its conservation authority in the future? We want to know, and it is very important. The minister has had this report for some two years; it is time for a decision.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I think that even prior to our determination in terms of the response to the Burgar report, there was and will continue to be a great deal of work between the ministry and the conservation authorities and that there will be an emphasis on continued co-operative work between conservation authorities. If there is a period of uncertainty at the present time, I am sure the ministry would be happy to work with that particular conservation authority to provide whatever assistance it can in the interim.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr Ward moved that Mr MacDonald and Mrs E. J. Smith exchange places in the order of precedence for private members’ public business.
Motion agreed to.
WITHDRAWAL OF BILL 41
Mr Ward moved that the order for second reading of Bill 41, An Act to revise the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983 and to make related amendments to the Teaching Profession Act, be discharged and the bill be withdrawn.
The Speaker: There seem to be quite a few comments. Members must have listened well to the motion.
Motion agreed to.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Harris: I am very pleased today to have the opportunity to present a petition that does not please me at all, on subject matter that does not please me at all.
It is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned. petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“We, the undersigned students, are unanimously in favour of an immediate settlement to the dispute between the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Ontario Council of Regents for the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. We feel this immediate settlement would avert any such action as that taken by Laurentian University students.”
It is signed by 160 students, all attending -- or at least formerly attending, until this government’s mishandling of the whole affair -- the Canadore Community College in North Bay. I have affixed my signature thereto.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Mr Epp from the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly presented the committee’s report on confidentiality provisions and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
Mr Epp: In 1987, this Legislature passed the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. That came about because various statutes in this province have confidentiality provisions. That is the way the various things in the province were protected, and still are.
As a result of that act, the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly was charged with looking at approximately 130 statutes and seeing which amendments should be recommended to this assembly.
The subcommittee of the Legislative Assembly committee met early in September, worked with a number of people from Management Board of Cabinet, consulted with members of other ministries, and as a result of that, we then made a report to the full committee. That committee’s report has been tabled by me today.
On motion by Mr Epp, the debate was adjourned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EDUCATION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Conway moved first reading of Bill 64, An Act to amend the Education Act and Certain Other Acts relating to Education Assessment.
Motion agreed to.
OTTAWA-CARLETON FRENCH-LANGUAGE SCHOOL BOARD AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 / LOI DE 1989 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LE CONSEIL SCOLAIRE DE LANGUE FRANÇAISE D’OTTAWA-CARLETON
Mr Conway moved first reading of Bill 65, An Act to amend the Ottawa-Carleton French Language School Board Act, 1988.
M. Conway propose la première lecture du projet de loi 65, Loi portant modification de la Loi de 1988 sur le Conseil scolaire de langue française d’Ottawa-Carleton.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Hon Mr Conway: I might just say by way of explanation that those two bills, as I indicated in a statement earlier today, are the legislation that give effect to the pooling of assessment that was outlined by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) in his budgetary address earlier this year.
TEACHERS’ PENSION ACT, 1989
Mr Conway moved first reading of Bill 66. An Act to revise the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, and to make Related Amendments to the Teaching Profession Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Conway: If I might, by way of brief explanatory note, I will indicate, as I suggested earlier this afternoon, that this bill does in no way change the substance of Bill 41, which was withdrawn. It simply incorporates, admittedly, a number of technical amendments that have been happily worked out over the course of the past three or four months as between representatives of the plan and the government on one hand and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on the other. I think it will satisfy all concerned. It has been a very constructive dialogue, despite what was said earlier today.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
INDEPENDENT HEALTH FACILITIES
Mr Ward moved that the standing committee on social development be authorized to conduct public hearings concerning the grandfathering under Bill 147 of independent health facilities charging technical fees that were set out in a column denoted by the letter “T” in regulation 452 of Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1980 made under the Health Insurance Act; that the committee consider the matter for a maximum of four days; and that the public hearings be concluded no later than Wednesday 8 November 1989.
Mr Reville: I am pleased to rise in my place to share a few of my comments on government notice of motion 22. The former House leader allows as how he knows what this is about as he departs from the chamber, and so that there is no mystery, I will speak briefly to what this is about.
In June 1988, the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) was pleased to table in the House a bill in respect of independent health facilities which would set up a regulatory framework for primarily medical services provided outside of doctors’ offices and hospitals. The Progressive Conservative critic, and I on behalf of the New Democratic Party, had occasion in the House over the last year and a half to comment on the government’s policy thrust.
This summer we had some rather extensive public hearings in which members of interested groups and individuals came before the social development committee and put their case and shared with that committee the views they had about the regulation of independent health facilities. I will not discuss that matter on this occasion, because there will be an opportunity to do that later.
During the course of the proceedings, some representations were made to the committee which resulted in an amendment that I put, and such amendment was carried by the committee unanimously at that time. In fact, the subject matter of that amendment is described adequately in government notice of motion 22. Since the passing of that amendment, the bill was reported back and was scheduled for committee of the whole House examination imminently.
In the intervening period, a number of interest groups, as they are wont to do, collected a copy of the bill from the Clerk and read the same and began to have concerns, particularly about the amendment to section 7 that I had moved. I am sure that many members of the Legislature will have heard primarily from people who do diagnostic radiology but also from respirologists and cardiologists in their communities and in general as they represent their respective professional associations. Quite a to-do has been caused by this amendment.
What is happening on this occasion is quite historic. I am not aware of many occasions in the history of legislative activity in the province in which a bill has passed the public hearing stage and has rested in committee of the whole, and then was sent back out again, back a step, to further public hearings. Quite frankly, there are many bills for which I would have been delighted to have seen such a procedure followed. For instance, Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act, would have been a very good candidate to have gone back out for further public hearings. Many of those who wished to speak to that bill were not able to because the hearings were circumscribed.
In this case, as I say, it is a historic kind of event. It is not entirely unexpected. It was within a day or so of the passage of the amendment that my colleague from the third party began to indicate that he had second thoughts. I understand there may even be those in my own party, but they would not be having second thoughts; they would be having initial thoughts, which in the formative stages are not always congruent with those of the critic. Since then, I have beat them all into line and they now have exactly the same thoughts as I do, mostly because of how trenchant and mordant my arguments were.
I suggested, perhaps roguishly, to the media as long ago as a couple of weeks that there was a good possibility that the government would chicken out on this amendment. For those members who like to track down these pithy predictions of mine, they can find that in the Toronto Star of 10 October. The government, of course, alleges that it is not chickening out. What it says it is doing is providing an opportunity for participation by an interest group in a matter that concerns that interest group.
That, of course, is a laudable objective. It is an objective which I support and I know my colleague in the third party, my friend the member for Parry Sound (Mr Eves), will support it as well. In fact, as late as yesterday, he called for reconsideration of Bill 147 in a delightfully worded press release which he shared with me. Would that I were a wordsmith half as accomplished as my colleague the member for Parry Sound, a member of this Legislature from the north. In fact, we should point out that he is responsible for Parry Sound’s being in the north in the first place. We give him credit for that and for his wordsmithing as well.
I would hope that the government will not take it amiss if members of this party rise from time to time in the future, particularly when labour groups have been shut out of public hearings and a bill inimical to their interests is at committee of the whole House, and say, “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we referred this bill back to public hearing?” I know the government House leader will be the first to rise in his place and say: “Absolutely. We shall send this back and we will travel the province and hear from those injured workers and those legal clinics and those union officials who didn’t get a chance to speak to this bill the first time.”
Never let it be said that this Legislature made special arrangements for physicians. Never let it be said that Bill 94 -- the Premier (Mr Peterson) stood and said, “Let there be no physician in this province who does not come forward to the committee to share his or her views with the committee.” There are members of this House who are still alive today who sat through Bill 94. Members remember in those heady days of the accord, when the legislation went ring, ring, zing and all the breaths of fresh air were just squirrelling around the chamber.
We sat there as doctor after doctor came forward and suggested that we belonged to political parties that do not exist in this province. They said to us that we were in the tradition of Mussolini, Franco and Hitler, and many of us sat there squirming. hoping that might not be true. There are indeed right-wing members of this Legislature, but there are none so right wing as the names we were called by those last deputants to the Bill 94 exercise.
Here we go again, creating a special process for physicians. While I will support this motion, I certainly hope that kind of process will be available to all Ontarians.
Mr Eves: I am glad to see that my colleague the critic from the official opposition and the member for Riverdale is just as eloquent as his predecessor and as eloquent as always.
I also would like to make a few comments about government notice of motion 22 because I think it is important that people understand how this rather unusual circumstance occurred, and I would quite agree it is rather unusual.
The amendment that was put forward in committee stage by the member for Riverdale to subsection 7(7) of Bill 147 indeed was dropped on the committee at the last moment. We did not have much of an opportunity -- a few moments in my case -- to consider the amendment. We were assured by officials in the ministry that the Ontario Medical Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario supported the amendment. We were told that the Ontario Hospital Association requested the amendment.
Having agreed initially to the amendment at the first instance, as did all other members of the committee, we then soon found that there was some opposition to the amendment. The reason for the motion here today is because the people who are most affected by the amendment – ie, physicians who are radiologists in the province -- were not given the opportunity to appear before the committee.
Hon Mr Ward: They weren’t denied it.
Mr Eves: No, they were not denied it, the government House leader is quite right, but they were informed by officials in the ministry, in some cases in writing, that their presence before the committee and making representations to the committee should not be necessary because it was not the government’s intention to include them under the auspices of Bill 147.
I think what the government is doing here today is eminently fair to those people because ultimately it did include them in the legislation. I think it is only fair that they now have an opportunity to make their representations before committee, as every other group that is to be affected by Bill 147 had the same opportunity.
I might say that since the committee stage the bill was brought back into the House. I cannot remember whether it was the first or second day that we reconvened -- the first day back. I stood in my place and asked that the bill be referred to committee of the whole because I had a concern about subsection 7(7). Now this concern will be addressed by this opportunity for further public hearings on the specific subsection, so that individuals concerned or affected will have an opportunity to let their viewpoint be known, and lo and behold, the committee may even decide to change its viewpoint with respect to this particular subsection.
I want to point out, though, that after we went through the committee stage I had the opportunity of meeting with those very groups I just mentioned here. I have had the opportunity of meeting with representatives from the Ontario Hospital Association who told me, subsequent to the committee hearings, that the subsection, the way it is worded, is not exactly what they had requested of the government.
I have also had the opportunity to meet with the Ontario Medical Association, and its representatives say that they did not ever agree with the subsection and the amendment. I have had the opportunity to discuss the amendment with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and representatives of that body indicate that while there are certain aspects of the amendment they agree with, there are other ones they perhaps may not agree with. I have had the opportunity to talk to the radiologists’ association, and of course it has a lout of concerns about the proposed subsection.
So I think it is only fair that those groups have an opportunity to come and present their point of view, and lo and behold, some of us on the committee may even be persuaded to change our minds. I do not think that is a bad thing in democracy. I think that initially, when somebody is precluded -- I am not suggesting any malice or ill intention on the part out the government. As I said, this amendment made by my colleague the member for Riverdale was dropped on the committee at the last moment and I think perhaps we did not appreciate the fact that these people (a) were missing out on an opportunity to appear and (b) had in fact been told that there was no need for them to appear.
We will be supporting this motion.
Mr Mackenzie: I will be extremely brief. I just want to say that it seems that some people who had no difficulty with it to begin with, although there may not have been the presentations that should have been held, are all of a sudden running for cover. That always makes me suspicious.
Mr Mackenzie: No, I am not running for cover at all.
Hon Mr Ward: You were last week.
Mr Mackenzie: No, I do not think I was either. I think the minister should be very, very careful on that.
I think what really strikes me, and the point I wanted to make and I wanted on the record, is that I do not know when -- and there have been controversial bills and bills where there has not been a full discussion -- the labour movement has ever had the kind of support or been granted the right to send a bill back out for further hearings that we are now seeing after only one week of pressure from a number of doctors and specific occupations that these doctors have as well. I just want that on record: I am hoping that the government’s willingness to send this bill out to deal with an issue that it feels, after some heavy pressure for a week, was not adequately discussed is not denied to other groups in our society that sure as blazes have asked for it and not had it before.
Hon Mr Ward: Just very briefly, I would point out to the members that the motion before us is under standing order 105(a), which empowers committees, at the direction of the House, to examine and inquire and report any matter and is in fact not a recommittal of the bill or of the clause but an opportunity to provide for public input, because after all there are a number of issues that will have to be resolved with regard to the implementation of the very substantive amendment put forward by the member for Riverdale in committee after very careful consideration. It is true that there is a significant amount of support for the amendment. Indeed, I can say without any reservation that the government members very much support the intent of the member’s amendment.
The difficulty that arises, though, in this particular situation, as I understand it, is that those groups that were particularly affected by the amendment had previously communicated with the committee and with the ministry in reference to Bill 147. They were told it was not necessary for them to come forward and give a presentation because they were not covered by this. The committee, as is its right and indeed its obligation, after hearing a considerable amount of input, saw the merit in expanding the parameters of the bill, and that is what transpired.
A lot of parallels have been attempted to be made with regard to this, references to other pieces of legislation which have been advertised, which groups throughout the province have had an opportunity to provide input into, have been granted that input. As on most issues, that does not mean that every individual, given the timeliness of the need for various pieces of legislation, may have a completely unmitigated time frame or right to present his point of view, but I think the references to Bill 94 and Bill 162 are not appropriate comparisons. My recollection, as a matter of fact, is that the member for Hamilton East used to stand in his place and argue against the length of time it was taking with regard to hearings on Bill 94, for instance. I just make that point.
I appreciate the fact that the members are very much supportive of the intent of this motion. I think clear indication of that was given when the suggestion was put to them yesterday, and both went running out with their press releases, that it must be an appropriate course of action.
One of the things that concerned me greatly, I guess just prior to the recall of the House, was hearing the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen) and the member for Hamilton East walking into a meeting with those who are affected saying that they were appalled by the process and would in no way support either the bill or its amendment because of the denial of process.
Hon Ms Collins: I remember that. I was there.
Hon Mr Ward: I was joined by my colleague the member for Wentworth East.
I am happy that we were able to provide a resolution for what I believe was truly a denial of process and I am glad to see that we finally brought the member for Hamilton East back on side with his colleague the member for Riverdale and we look forward to some very constructive input.
Motion agreed to.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 208. An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Deputy Speaker: If I remember well, the member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell) had adjourned the debate. Not seeing him around today, I presume we shall go to the next speaker, the member for Sudbury East.
Miss Martel : Before I begin my abuse of the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) on Bill 208 here this afternoon, let me say that I am sorry that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) is not here at this point in time. I flew in yesterday from Sudbury after trying to convince our chamber of commerce that it should support this particular bill and why it should. I arrived in the chamber to find that, lo and behold, the other minister who is having a great deal to do with this bill was actually in the chamber and listening to this debate. As my colleague the member for Sault Ste Marie (Mr Morin-Strom) put it so well, I was surprised that in fact the minister was not sitting up beside the Minister of Labour so that they could both quarterback this bill together, because it seems to me that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is having as much, if not more, influence into the provisions under this bill than the Minister of Labour himself.
The second thing in that regard is that of course I have a few comments to make about some of the comments made by that particular minister; that is, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I had some questions as well that I was going to raise during the course of my discussion here this afternoon to the bill. I am very sorry that he will not be here to respond to some of those questions, which concern how it is that the employer lobby has affected him so greatly and what proof does he have to show that workers are going to abuse the right to stop work, which has been his contention certainly, at least in the press as reported in the Toronto Star some weeks ago. I am sorry that he is not here to share in this particular discussion, but I am sure that during the course of the public hearings he and I and other members of this Legislature will have a great deal of time to go through some of those concerns.
I want to deal with four items under this particular piece of legislation this afternoon. The first will concern the process itself. Second are the changes that have been introduced in no small way by the Minister of Labour in his speech on second reading in this chamber last week. Third, I want to spend some time on the whole provision of the right to shut down unsafe work. Finally, I want to deal a little bit with the internal responsibility system in this province when it comes to dealing with health and safety matters.
I propose to spend some time on this. I am hoping to leave some time for my colleague in the Conservative Party, but I think this is a particularly important debate and I do hope to get some of my points on record. I can tell the minister, though, that I have no intention of going on as I did on Bill 162, so that we will not be here for the next three hours and 15 minutes on this.
I think in beginning I want to deal a bit with the process itself in terms of consultation, both the consultation around this bill and the whole question of public hearings. I was surprised yesterday to hear one of the Liberal members, in his remarks on this particular bill, talking about -- ”mealy-mouthed” was not so the term he used, but the flip-flopping around and the shiftings of positions that he noted in terms of this party’s position on amendments and the hearings process, etc. Of course, he was referring to Bill 162.
I would like to point out at this point in time that we did request the amendments on Bill 162. There is no doubt about it. We were in the process of heading out to public hearings. Only two weeks before those hearings were to begin, the minister announced in this House that there were changes. We felt that the groups that should be involved should have access to those changes and so we suggested that they should be here before us. There is no doubt about that.
Let me also point out to him, and I will during the course of my discussion, that the whole process around both the public hearings and the consultation on Bill 162 is far, far different from what we saw in Bill 208 and what we are seeing on Bill 208. So if there is any bit of two-facing going on in this particular situation, I certainly think it is on the part of this minister and on the part of this government, because there is no one who was involved in the process around Bill 208 who can deny that there was very adequate consultation and that there was a commitment struck and a deal made where both sides compromised.
By the announcement of changes to Bill 208 that will come about at the committee stage, much of that has been undone by the government. I do not think that can be denied. I think that if anyone takes the time to go through what the original bill states and looks at and compares that to the changes that were announced in here by the minister on Thursday, there has been a shift. It has not been a shift on the part of labour, but has been a shift on the part of this government due to increased lobbying on the part of employers in the province.
Let me deal with the question of consultation. It was well stated in this House by myself and others during the course of Bill 162 that there was no consultation around that particular piece of worker legislation. That was very evident. This bill was drafted between the Ministry of Labour and the Workers’ Compensation Board, keeping in mind the very serious pressures that had been applied by the employer community in terms of high costs of compensation. While it might not have been at the table dealing with the bill, certainly the board and the ministry kept in mind the very intense lobby that had been going on by the employer community around costs and around the need to reduce the costs.
But as we went out on public hearings and we talked to group after group -- labour councils. unions, legal clinics, even employers -- and asked them the question, “What kind of input did you have on Bill 162? Who consulted you, or did you just see the draft after it was introduced?” we heard again and again that there had been no consultation, absolutely none from the people who are most concerned about this system and from the people who deal with the compensation system on a daily basis, who know best what kind of changes are required.
We travelled about Ontario, we asked all those groups and found there was no consultation. But I compare that to what has happened on Bill 208 and some discussions that I have had with representatives from the Ontario Federation of Labour. There was a lot of discussion and indeed the former Minister of Labour, the member for York Centre (Mr Sorbara), himself has stated that there was discussion, that he was involved in very intense negotiations between labour and management concerning the provisions of this bill.
The agreement that was reached some months ago was not an agreement that made either side particularly happy, but both sides came to those discussions and compromised and negotiated and there was an agreement that arrived, in the form of Bill 208, in this House in January of last year. No one can deny that. And I want to just quote the former Minister of Labour, whose comments about this bill and about this process appeared in an article called Stand By Me written by Lee-Anne Jack, and it is in the Occupational Health and Safety Canada publication for July and August 1989.
The minister made the following comments. and Lee-Anne Jack has talked about the criticism around the consultation process. “One complaint,” she says, “is the perceived inequity in the consultation process.
“The minister” -- that is, the former Minister of Labour -- ”dismisses this -- along with the violent criticism from labour over his equally controversial Bill 162....
“He embarked on a new series of year-long consultations, during which the unique authority to shut down dangerous workplaces was given to labour and the bipartite health and safety agency was conceived. Sorbara insists business representatives were involved in the process from beginning to end.”
That is the former Minister of Labour and some of the comments that he had about Bill 208. It certainly cannot be said there was consultation on Bill 162, but in terms of Bill 208 the minister and many of those involved in the trade union movement and the employers have already confirmed that there was discussion that took place and give and take that took place.
So I was really surprised when on Thursday 28 September I picked up the Toronto Star and I saw in the business section, called Business Today, the headline “Ontario Backing Off On Worker Safety Act.” I was even more surprised, given that I had read what the former minister had said about the consultation process on Bill 208, to find that the comments coming from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology were completely different. In fact, his comments were diametrically opposed to the comments made by the Minister of Labour who, I take it, would have been involved in those consultations themselves. “‘We had a breakdown in communication when cabinet approved the legislation,’ Industry and Trade minister Monte Kwinter told the Star in a recent interview. ‘We were led to believe there had been consultation (with business) and that they were on side.’”
Well, I ask in this House, reading both of those comments from ministers of the crown in this Parliament, who are we supposed to believe, who is telling the truth? We have got two very different stories about what happened. But we also have a story, at least from my perspective, from the federation of labour, which I have talked about. It is that they were there, that they could produce dates of when they were meeting and discussing and some of the changes that were made during that consultative process.
Mr Mackenzie: And names.
Miss Martel: And names as well, as my colleague the member for Hamilton East points out, of who was there both from the employer community and from labour, and who from the ministry staff also happened to be there.
I do not think the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology was at those meetings. So I really cannot understand where he gets off now telling this House and the public in general that there was no consultation on this bill. I suppose that concerns me even more because I can see to what in fact and where this is going to lead.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is going to trump this all over the province of Ontario and say, “We and business now demand changes because in fact we were not consulted.” It is going to be really interesting to watch during the course of public hearings how that all unfolds.
I suppose what is going to be even more interesting is to see how the majority Liberals or the committee, the majority of whom are Liberals, are in fact going to buy that line because it seems apparent to me that the government has already bought it, hook, line and sinker.
If they had not, there would not have been any changes introduced in this House when second reading started last Thursday. If we were dealing with the same piece of legislation that had been agreed upon during the negotiating process between management and labour, we would have that bill intact in its original form. That is not the form that is coming back into this House and we will not be dealing with the same bill when we start the hearings process.
It amazes me no end to see the difference on two pieces of labour legislation, both worked upon in this House within the last number of months. First of all, Bill 162, which I had a little bit to do with: no consultation, it was rammed through this Legislature in July after it had been shut down and debate shut down in committee and in here.
Then I am going to look at Bill 208, where there was a consultative process, where now that consultative process is being undone at the hands of employers who have been lobbying this government and at the hands of this government which has bowed to that pressure. I do not think that labour has gone back and started lobbying for those changes. I do not think that any of these changes are going to benefit labour.
It is interesting to see that in two bills, both important to labour, we have really witnessed this government bowing to the employers in Bill 162, a bill that labour and the legal clinics and the New Democratic Party were totally opposed to, and now on Bill 208 we start to see the shift of the government because of the intense employer lobby.
I am really concerned about that because I can see how the public hearings are going to be. I can see that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology will have all his contributors to his various fund-raising things in his association, all his business friends, lining up at the door for the public hearings, which is completely legitimate. But I can also see how this committee is going to deal with the whole question of how long we will sit, to how many communities we will go, how many presenters we are going to hear from, and I can guarantee that the public hearing process on Bill 208 is going to be dramatically different than the one we saw on Bill 162. I do not think it is because the Liberals learned anything from Bill 162. I do not think so at all.
But I want to deal a little bit with the whole question of public hearings because I think it is really important to go back and see just the difference in this whole question of having public hearings and how open and how receptive the present minister seems to be around the whole question of hearings, which I might add was a complete contrast to the government’s position on Bill 162.
Let me just go back to some of the questions that I raised in this House almost a year ago today, in fact, concerning public hearings and this was on Bill 162. I asked the former minister because we were so concerned about public hearings, “Will the minister commit himself today in this House to guarantee there will be full public hearings across the province on Bill 162?”
The honourable ex-Minister of Labour said to me: “Let me say this about public hearings: I think she knows very well what the rules of the House are. The committee that considers the bill after a debate in this House on second reading will determine its agenda.”
I find that very interesting because the standing committee on resources development has not met yet to deal with Bill 208, yet the minister has come forward and told us how open the process is going to be. We will have full and open public hearings and yet the committee has not even sat down to talk about it. I find the contradiction very strange.
Let me go on and go back to the question of public hearings. Here I asked the minister again, on 19 October:
“Let me go back to the minister for round three on the question of public hearings. I am going to put it very simply to him once again. He can tell his House leader that he wants public hearings. He can direct the six Liberals on the standing committee on resources development and advise them that he would like public hearings. Will he not today commit himself to doing that so injured workers will know that there will be full public hearings around the province on this bill?”
The minister did not respond. as usual; that happened on fairly frequent occasions. The minister did not respond. On the same day as we were witnessing a storming of the Legislature by injured workers, my leader as well got up and put it to the former Minister of Labour that we needed public hearings on this bill and it would be the right and proper thing for him to do that day to guarantee that that would occur.
Let me just go back to what the former minister said because I think it is so interesting to contrast what happened on that particular piece of legislation and what is happening now. The minister said this:
“He knows” -- that is, my leader – “that I have no objection to there being public hearings, but I just want to tell him, quite frankly, that I do not want to subject a committee of this House to the kind of antics we have seen today.” That was when the workers were coming in and demanding public hearings. “I do not want to put members of this House in a situation where we can have public hearings so that we can delay the bill or have demonstrations that bring a great deal of press attention to a view of this bill I simply do not share.
“Certainly, as the bill proceeds through second reading debate, it will obviously go to a committee. The committee will have a view as to how extensive it wants the hearing process to be; the various House leaders will have views. I certainly have no objection to that process unfolding.” He thought it had to be organized and completed, given the legislative agenda that had to be done before Christmas.
It is interesting that at the same time -- because the Minister of Labour got up again and said that he was not willing to commit himself, that the committees had to decide, that we were under-mining the right of the committees to set their own agendas, and blah, blah, blah -- the government House leader jumped up at that point in time to try to save the former minister and said that he wanted to make it absolutely clear that the government had no objections to public hearings. He said they would sit down with their colleagues once the bill has passed the second reading stage and work out the process and then they would let the committee organize its own affairs.
Is that not interesting? I find that so interesting because I know that the Minister of Labour did not want public hearings on this bill because he did not want to hear the criticisms about the bill. But we are seeing a really different thing in Bill 208, and not because labour is going to come and criticize this bill. Labour is probably not, except for the sections where it has had the rug pulled out from under it, which the minister is fully aware of.
But I will tell the members that we are going to see all the employers there, and it will be a full and open hearing, and will it not be wonderful for the Liberal members on that committee to have all the arguments made for them so that they can justify the changes that the minister has already announced in this House? Is that not a wonderful process? Too bad it did not happen on Bill 162, when the overwhelming majority of groups that came before the committee said, “Scrap the bill,” and the bill went through with all the amendments as proposed by this Liberal government intact.
What a disgrace, what an absolute disgrace, that on one piece of legislation that was so bad for workers, we shut down that process of all the groups that wanted to be heard, and on this tune, mark my words, we will be travelling everywhere, all over, which is fine for me because if the people opposite thought labour was organized on Bill 162, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
But let me tell the House that the minister will have all his friends at the door, using those same five changes that the minister has talked about in this House. They will be decrying how there was no consultation and how the five changes, as proposed by the minister, must be implemented, and that will let the government off the hook. That will be the excuse the government will use to change, in particular, those five sections, which, I repeat, were agreed upon in a consultative process and a negotiating process between management and labour before this bill was introduced in January this year.
Mr Fleet: Be sure you produce the management people to say that too.
Miss Martel: I hope the member will be there. I think it is going to be a wonderful process. I just cannot wait.
To go back to the point I made in terms of public hearings, I think it is going to be very interesting in committee to see how many communities the Liberals move that we should visit, how many presenters we are going to see, because I will bet my bottom dollar it is going to be more than 300.
The other interesting thing we are going to see is that when there is a long list, long beyond the cutoff like we had on Bill 162, I would guarantee that everyone who wants to be heard on this bill is going to be heard. All the employers are going to be heard, as all the doctors were heard on Bill 94. The contrast is really apparent.
I say in particular to the member who spoke yesterday, if there is anything two-faced and mealy-mouthed about this process, it is the difference between what happened on Bill 162 and what is going to happen on Bill 208.
Mr Dietsch: Such a nice girl to be making comments like that.
Mr Laughren: Did you say “girl”? Did I hear you say “girl”?
Miss Martel: That is OK, my colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren). I do not bruise easily, not in this place any more.
Let me deal with some of the changes that were introduced by the minister in this House last Thursday. I go back to the very important point that the changes are not ones that labour would have wanted to see. I can only conclude that the intense lobby that has been going on for the last eight months has forced the government to this position, that it will in fact change some sections that in many ways are major foundations for labour’s initial support.
For us to say that the minister has pulled the rug out from under them is absolutely correct, because that process was very structured. There was a great deal of input and give and take, and the minister has changed the rules of the game. If he cannot understand or his colleagues cannot understand why that makes that trade union movement so angry, then I suggest that not very many people over there have an understanding for the negotiating process in this province.
Let me deal first with the Workplace Health and Safety Agency, which is a new provision and extremely important. There is no doubt about it. If we are going to have labour and management work together in the workplace in terms of health and safety, and not only health and safety but other issues around labour relations, then we have got to have in place in this province an agency that is bipartite in nature, where management and labour can come and negotiate as they did on this bill, and arrive at a solution where both of them may compromise, but come to a solution they can both live with.
We have had a change now from two full-time directors, one set in place by labour, the other by management, to a full-time neutral chair. A full-time neutral chair now makes this committee tripartite, not bipartite. We now have involved in this process -- we assume it may be a government appointment, we are not sure -- but certainly another member who takes away from that whole structure of what this government said it was trying to achieve, that is, having management and labour work together to resolve problems in the workplace.
When we have a neutral chair, we have to expect if we get into the position of having a tie, we are going to have that supposedly neutral chair -- and we do not know where they are coming from yet, of course -- breaking some of those ties. I can guarantee that what we have tried to get away from in this whole process as we talk about the internal responsibility system is the need to have a ministry inspector, a government official, in the workplace trying to resolve disputes.
This minister went on record as saying we are trying to improve the internal responsibility system. Well, he is not going to improve it when we have got a neutral chair that takes away the right of those two groups to fight it out together, to compromise and make reasonable changes. That clearly was a major change from what labour and management agreed upon in this process.
It was a change, and for labour now it is a tremendous change. They accepted that with a bipartite committee they would be fighting it out head to head, but they agreed to that. They did not want another ministry person or another person involved in what should be a resolution by both parties to things going on in the workplace.
By implementing that particular change, the minister has changed the whole structure that they went out and sold to their membership. Not only has the minister changed that, he has added some full-time vice-chairs. He has added some four members representing health and safety professions, and we are not quite sure where they come from, if they are from unorganized, organized or management, where they are going to be drawn from. Then the small business advisory committee, which is a new provision as well, was not agreed upon and was not a part of the original offer on this bill.
I hardly think the change that has been put in place would have been one agreed to by labour. I hardly think that. I hardly think it was labour that came down and lobbied hard to get a full-time neutral chair. I do not think so at all, because as I said earlier, they were quite willing to go head to head with the employer and resolve issues in the workplace. They did not feel they needed a neutral chair and they certainly did not feel the process was not going to be efficient without a neutral chair, so the only place it could have come from was, of course, the employer side.
I have yet to fathom why the government would change the proposed structure, the original structure under Bill 208, if the intent of the government was to get some of the ministry people out of the workplace and allow management and labour to work out those differences on their own. The minister has said that is a cornerstone of this legislation, to improve the internal responsibility system, yet we now have the appointment of a neutral chair. That is a major problem for the labour people, certainly one they did not come down and lobby about. So I have to assume we have catered to the employers on that one, and I am not sure why. I am sorry the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology is not here because perhaps he could answer that for me.
Let me deal next with the employer safety associations and the workers’ training centres. Under the original bill as drafted, the health and safety agency was to administer and oversee the operations of the safety associations, the operations of the health and safety medical clinics and the operations of the occupational health and safety training centres, according to prescriptions in the regulations, etc, concerning the way that the rules of the operation and changes in the organization could be accomplished.
That process, that changing of the structure of the associations, the bringing into the fold of the health and safety associations, the health and safety sections and the health and safety centres, clinics, was to be done within one year. The agency from that point on was to have some control over what happened in those associations and organizations in a manner that we would prescribe later on.
I guess the point is, when dealing with some of the labour representatives, and particularly with the director of the health and safety centre in Sudbury, their whole sense was that in fact they had hoped that the agency would have had the power to determine the process for selecting representatives to the various associations and committees; that in fact it would be the association that would set in place the mechanism whereby representatives would be elected or appointed to the boards of directors of those various organizations to ensure that they were, in fact and in reality, bipartite in nature, a true representation of both labour and management on all of the associations that the Workers’ Compensation Board pays to operate at this point in time.
They did not say that the agencies should have the power to select the representatives them-selves, only that the mechanism should be set in place and that the mechanism should provide that the representation would be truly bipartite, and that type of mechanism would apply to each of the safety associations and it would also apply to the workers’ health and safety centres and their training centres.
The change that has been proposed is extremely significant, and I want to go through it for members who are here today. The change that will be proposed and has been proposed by the minister is this: that the organizations themselves. the safety associations and the workers’ health and safety centres and clinics, etc. will themselves decide on the composition of their own boards of directors as long as 50 per cent of the representatives are from workers employed in that sector. It will take up to two years to provide that change, and second, we will have an umpire in place who is going to resolve some of the disputes.
I want to point out to the minister that by doing something like he has really undercut trying to put in place a truly bipartite board of directors on all of those associations and safety centres. Let me tell him why. Labour would have liked the agency to set in place the mechanism for determining the selection. They did not have to do the selection themselves in terms of the representatives, but at least put in the mechanism to ensure that labour could put their representatives on the associations and management would have the right to put their representatives on the boards of directors and they would be truly bipartite.
What the minister has done by giving each of the associations that ability, on the employers’ side all the safety associations and on the workers’ side the health and safety clinics and centres, is that he has left in the hands of the boards that are already in place, which are not bipartite in any way, shape or form, the power for them to determine the mechanism of selection.
So it is going to be just as easy for the board of the Industrial Accident Prevention Association to say, “Yes, we will have a bipartite structure, but in fact we choose the workers’ representatives and we choose the employer’s representatives,” and it would be just as easy for them, because they are not going to go to a unionized shop and pull workers’ representatives, to go into the workplace, select company union people and put them on, and then continue on their merry way implementing policies and getting as much money as they ever did from the Workers’ Compensation Board again.
The minister has not put in place in any way, shape or form a truly bipartite structure where those organizations are truly represented by management people selected by management and by labour people selected by labour. The problem that flows from that, of course, is that the safety associations at this point in time receive about $46 million from the Workers’ Compensation Board compared to the $4 million that the workers’ centres and workers’ clinics receive for their training, etc.
By really keeping the mechanism in the hands of those associations, the minister guarantees that they determine the composition of the board, which is not going to be much different from the composition now. They will continue to receive that same kind of enormous funding. $46 million on the one hand for the safety associations, while the workers’ associations will receive $4 million.
Surely, when we talked about having all of these associations, the centres and the clinics under the umbrella of the agency, we did that to ensure that there would be an equitable division of the funds and that the agency itself would have the power to ensure that all the boards of directors were truly bipartite, and if not, the agency itself, which would be truly bipartite, would then put into place the mechanism where they could make those changes, change the structure so that each association, sector by sector, and the workers’ centres and the workers’ training centres would in fact have equal representation and equal access to funding.
They will not under this system. We have not moved to change what is a gross inequity in this province, that employers’ associations can take in $46 million a year from the board for their training and workers are left with $4 million. There is something dramatically wrong when that is the only type of resource and those are the inadequate types of resources workers can access in this province for training their people in health and safety to keep them alive in the workplace.
I want to deal with a third change that has come in terms of the construction industry. I suppose I should not be surprised that we are seeing some of the changes that we are in the construction industry because we saw the same type of response to construction in Bill 162, and that is initially complete exemption out of the right to be reinstated because of all kinds of special and unique this-and-that types of mechanisms that operate in the construction industry that would not allow employers to take their workers back.
It was only with a great deal of pressure put on by the construction industries that the minister removed the exemption, but now they are somewhere out in limbo and some kind of negotiation process will have to go on to determine how those construction people will be brought into the bill and given some kind of rights of reinstatement. Of course, there is no time line on that process, no deadline, so we can assume that for the moment the construction industry itself is safe and will not have to deal with the question of reinstating those people.
Let me go to the changes here in terms of construction that really disturb me as well. Initially in the construction industry we would have had joint health and safety committees on every project with more than 20 employees when those projects were to run for at least three months. We would have had further to that, an important step forward, the certification both of a manager representative and a labour representative, coming off of that joint health and safety committee.
Second, and following from that, another very important provision: Given that on a construction site at this point in time a lot of the trades are not regulated, that there is not a great deal of emphasis on health and safety and that we have a lot of people who are contract people getting hurt and killed, the joint health and safety committee itself would have the ability to establish a workers’ trades committee for that particular project and the members on that committee would represent the various trades and would be selected by members in the trades themselves.
That committee would report safety concerns to the joint health and safety committee and that joint health and safety committee would undertake action and certainly, I assume from that, would use their own right to shut down some of that unsafe work in the trades if the need arose.
So I was extremely concerned when I read through the changes to this section because there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that changes in terms of health and safety in the construction industry are badly needed. In this province we only have two joint health and safety committees on construction sites, one at the SkyDome and one at Scotia Tower, only because two workers were killed there.
When I look now and see that in fact the certification will only occur if there are 50 workers on the site and a project lasting six months, I have to really say, “You know, they did it to you again. They came here and lobbied hard and said: ‘It’s not enough. We can’t do it. We’ve got to have more than 50 workers because of the specific nature of the construction industry. We’ve got to have a work site lasting at least six months before we can have a joint health and safety committee.’”
I do not have the figures in front of me, but I would like to ask the minister how many of those projects would still be in place after six months and are we in fact going far beyond, to the point where we are going to be excluding more of those projects than we are actually including, and excluding more of those workers than we are actually including under the provisions of this bill?
It is not noted in the bill and I am left to wonder who in fact is going to establish the joint training board that is going to ensure there is some kind of pool of certified members in the industry. I looked through the bill and I could not quite figure out who was going to do that. We also will now have a constructor who must have a certified management rep on site. Finally, with the phase-in requirements for certification, there will be a phase-in of requirements for certified members in order to develop this type of pool.
Let me say to the minister that I do not know why he changed what was in place already, because what was in place was good stuff. He would have protected all those people who, in that industry in particular, are extremely vulnerable and where a lot of the serious injuries that are taking place in this province are occurring. By making the stipulation that you cannot get certification until after there are 50 workers and after the project lasts for six months, he has effectively cut out all those people who should really be protected and who need protection.
I take it that if you do not have certified members, the joint health and safety committee cannot shut that site down or cannot shut the trades down, although I stand to be corrected from the minister and perhaps he can respond. If you have no certified labour rep on site, who is going to protect those workers? I guess I cannot understand why it is going to be an obligation on management to provide a management rep, but there is no obligation for management to provide a worker rep on that site. Even if you develop a pool of certified labour reps, what is the likelihood that one of those labour reps is going to be on that construction site to represent those trades?
On the one hand, the minister has made it an obligation to have a management rep on that site and not an obligation to have a worker rep, and I cannot understand why there is a difference. I cannot understand why there is a discrepancy and why the onus is not on the employer to have both, so that both can have the power to shut down an unsafe workplace, so that both will be there to shut down unsafe work and so that he is not protecting one vested interest at the expense of another.
Certainly, my overwhelming concern is that if you have only a pool and you do not have reps right on site, how do you ensure that within that pool you are going to have a representative from the workers’ side on that site at all times? It should be an obligation on both parties.
I am not sure why there was a change in this section. I think what we had in place before was more than adequate. I think it was extremely important that the government moved in that regard, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why it would back off now and put into place some of the changes that it has, because the overall impact, mark my words, is that there are going to be far fewer people who should be covered actually covered. In an industry where there are such high incidences of injury, serious injury and death, we should have been making those major steps forward to keep those protections and put those protections in place. I think the minister has really and truly undermined some of the protections that would have been in place with these types of changes.
The fifth change I want to deal with concerns the certification process itself. Under the bill, of course, that whole structure is going to be developed. We did have at least, on each joint health and safety committee, a requirement that there be at least one certified labour and one certified management rep, and that was a good thing.
I get really worried when I look at the changes now, the section in terms of certification that says the bill will provide for the phasing in of certification requirements. I suppose my fear goes back to the article in the Toronto Star. I am not sure who leaked what type of information to the Star, but in any event, I go back to the article and I note one of the proposed changes concerns certification standards and the analysis that in fact the phasing in period will be so excessively and unduly long that you will delay the whole process of allowing workers to shut down unsafe workplaces. The article itself says, “Making certification standards so tough for these representatives that the new system couldn’t go into effect for at least four or five years.”
That is a real concern because under the present act workers at least have the right to protect themselves and they can refuse to do unsafe work. We looked at the bill and the bill expanded that to include work that might make someone else or put someone else in an unsafe position, but we do not have anywhere the provisions for workers to shut down unsafe machinery or shut down an unsafe workplace because of chemicals or anything else to protect all of the workers in that workplace. So you have to assume and you have to hope that worker by worker they are going to stand up together and they are all going to exercise their right and they are going to shut down the plant or they are going to walk out.
Surely it is about time we moved beyond that. You put the people in place who are certified, who understand the laws, who have been trained to deal with health and safety and contravention of the act and give them the right to do that. I worry that we are going to be making the certification process so tough that it will be four or five years in this province before we move to that next step, which is to allow certified reps to shut down unsafe work. It is not good enough any more that in this province workers can only exercise an individual right. If you have the certified and the recognized people in place, they should have that right to protect others. It should not be four or five years in coming.
Just as an example in terms of my concern over the fear, I called last night the director of the health and safety centre in Sudbury who is the regional representative for all of northern Ontario. They have been running that centre for some two and a half or three years now. I asked him if he could provide to me some type of proposal on training that they use in terms of certifying worker representatives in the workplace and certifying people in proper health and safety standards and knowledge of the act, because I wanted to put on record what we thought might be a legitimate beginning for a certification process, certainly not the end but a beginning, one that was not going to take undue and excessive time to put in place, so that in fact we move to that step of allowing workers to shut down the workplace.
He gave me some of the guidelines that the workers’ health and safety centres use now when they train their own people. They have records that have led to over 30,000 health and safety representatives trained in a 30-hour certificate program. This leads, in their opinion, to accreditation as a certified health and safety representative. For total accreditation, which goes beyond health and safety to look at unsafe products or chemicals, etc. under right-to-know legislation, that training exceeds 150 hours and consists of core curriculum along with sector- and industry-specific materials, depending where their people are coming from and being trained for.
The curriculum for the health and safety centres, which are in place and providing training at present, is as follows: A 30-hour level one basic health and safety course. It looks at the legal duties and responsibilities of both workplace parties and provides a recognition of workplace hazards. Those people who participate in the 30-hour course learn of basic health and safety and how workplace exposures can affect them in the long and short term. They also learn principles of control and strategies to reduce their own health hazards and safety hazards.
Next, they have a 30-hour level two joint health and safety committee program. It focuses on how to make a joint health and safety committee work. It develops their own skill and knowledge to read technical reports and investigating reports on incidents and fatalities, and to work in consultation with employer reps to achieve consensus for workplace improvements.
Next, there is a 30-hour level two health and safety law course. That equips health and safety reps with the skills to read and interpret health and safety legislation, sectoral regulations, workplace hazardous materials information system, transportation of dangerous goods regulations, hazardous waste regulations and so on.
Next, there is a 60-hour work process and job hazard communication course. This training is specific to industry. It develops a knowledge of communication and essential skills in each specific industry sector. They look at chemicals that are used in that sector, machinery, processes that are specific to that sector, and how to deal with health and safety problems that result, how to identify health and safety problems so that they can advise a worker to refuse to work in those conditions.
Together, all those lead up to about 150 hours of accreditation for what they feel is a very good start and basis for accredited health and safety reps. I think it is important that the government take a good look at what they have in place because they have been training people for at least the last three years in Sudbury and longer than that here in Metropolitan Toronto.
The point I want to make to the minister is that when I look at the newspaper article, which I hope is not correct, and look at the four and five years, I say to myself that is only a mechanism to block the whole process of shutting down a workplace which the employers in this province have been so bitterly opposed to; not all employers, but some, and certainly those have been making their concerns known to this government.
I raise the point of what the health and safety centres use to start to consider appropriate representation and training, and say we should be looking at that basis and that basis starts at 150 hours. Certainly, when we get into the public hearings, if I start to hear four and five years, I am going to seriously wonder where it is coming from and why, because some of those people who are providing training now are certainly doing a hell of a job and it is not taking them that long to get people in place to protect others in the workplace.
The next change I want to deal with concerns the written health and safety policy. Under the original bill, as drafted, each employer was to prepare and review annually the health and safety policy. The employer was to provide this to the joint health and safety committee if there was one established, or he was to provide it to a health and safety representative at the plant if there was no health and safety committee in place due to numbers. He was also to make available any kind of report on hazardous substances and any kind of testing that went on to the workers in that workplace.
I notice that in the change that has been announced by the minister there will be no requirement of a written policy in workplaces that have less than five employees. I do not understand why not. Certainly, it would be to me a fairly simple matter of establishing a policy, looking at dangerous chemicals in the workplace -- how to respond, what the processes are going to be within that workplace -- and writing that down and having that policy available, and run off the copies if you are rehiring people.
It does not seem to me a very difficult task to demand that the employer sit down and do that and that the policy will be in place and the workers will have some knowledge of what is expected of them, what their rights are, how the workplace should operate, and if it does not, where they can go for recourse to make those changes. It seems to me that while the government may have said, “If you have less than five employees, you might not have a very dangerous workplace,” you are still going to be dealing with people who work, for example, in cleaning. I am thinking of clothes cleaning where they are exposed to chemicals and toxic substances that they may not know the effects of.
Surely, it is not an onerous burden on employers for them to produce a health and safety policy that they can live with, that can be applied for the next couple of years and that can be handed out if they have got new employees coming in. I do not think that is too much to ask. Then you set out, in concrete terms, what their expectations and responsibilities are and the employees can be aware of that. Again, I do not understand, although it is not a major point in terms of the whole bill, why we have a movement on that and why we would change something as responsible as that type of action on the part of the employer.
The last and final change I want to deal with in this section really is the one that is very important to me. It is the authority to stop work and the whole question of how that should be done in a workplace in this province. I go back to the original drafting of the bill which said that each joint health and safety committee would have a certified labour and management rep, and that if and when the act was contravened and danger resulted, the reps would have the responsibility and the obligation to shut down that unsafe work, whether it be a piece of machinery or a sector of the establishment or the whole establishment.
The employer was to comply with this and immediately investigate with the rep, whether it be employer or labour. If a disagreement arose, an inspector could be called in and the inspector or either of the safety reps could rescind the order if the workplace was shown to be safe. Further, put into the bill was a very specific provision that if employers felt there was abuse, then there was somewhere where they could go to have their case held and heard.
The agency would have the opportunity and would swiftly look at the merits of the case and make a determination as to whether the right to shut down that unsafe work was abused or not. If it was shown to be abused, then that worker or rep, either management or labour, would lose his certification.
I look now at the changes that are proposed and I really think in this sector and in this section, which the minister is proposing, they will really gut that whole right. I really do.
I look at the approach that the minister has talked about and what he has said in his statement. which is that in fact there has been a great deal of concern around this issue, and no doubt there has been, no doubt the employers have been out there arguing this is all going to be abused. I notice that in fact there has been a major change, in my opinion, and I think that anyone who sits down and really seriously reads it would see the same thing.
What the minister is proposing, the approach he is proposing, is significantly different from the one that was in place with the bill originally. Now we have a system where in fact he is hoping that if the internal responsibility system is working well, then management and labour are going to come together and they are going to decide to shut down an unsafe work site or an unsafe piece of machinery, etc.
I want to say, does the minister really think that if there was not a problem, that if there was not something that was unsafe, that the worker representative would in fact be moving to try to shut that down? If the internal responsibility system was working and there was a process in place whereby the concerns were raised to the joint health and safety committee and they were adequately dealt with, does the minister think we would ever get to a point where either side would want to shut something down? Surely if the system is working as it is supposed to, the recommendations or the problems would be raised at the joint health and safety committee, recommendations would be made, the employer would comply and everyone would be happy. There would be no need to go out and exercise a right to stop work.
But by saying that the minister is expecting that system to always function and that in fact he should expect the worker representative and the employer representative to come and sit down together and decide if they should shut something down is a little ridiculous. I do not think the minister is taking into account what is happening in the workplace and that is that the responsibility system is breaking down and recommendations to joint health and safety committees to the employer are being ignored and the unsafe piece of machinery or the chemicals are still being used.
When you get to all that and there is no other option and as a rep you should have the right to shut it down, because it seems obvious to me and it is going to seem obvious to that rep that the employer does not care, that the employer’s rep does not care and there is no point to fooling around with some kind of joint consultation any more because you are putting people’s lives and their health at risk.
I cannot fathom, as I read this little section called authority to stop work under the minister’s proposals that he put out here on 12 October, I cannot understand why he would think that we are going to get to that point where they are going to sit down together, in the middle of a crisis when you have dangerous work, and calmly negotiate if and how they should shut down that workplace.
I really think that by expecting that to happen in good companies with good health and safety records, the minister is living in dreamland because workers, either representatives from labour or management, are not going to go out. If they could resolve the problem, they would, but if they get to the point where they have to shut something down it is because they cannot consult with each other any more, it is because one side or another is not listening and is not willing to make the changes that are required.
I say in this section I really think that the minister has gutted the whole intent and the whole strength behind the notion that if there is unsafe work and unsafe machinery and chemicals then a worker rep who knows all about that, who is trained, who has studied, who is responsible should have the right to shut that down, from either side, although I hardly expect management is going to be out there shutting down unsafe things in contravention of the employee’s wishes. I hardly think that is going to happen but I remain to be surprised.
I am worried when I go from that because I see a complete gutting in that whole section. I move on to the next section which says that if you have a bad health and safety record, we have two alternatives for you. The first one is to give a certified member the authority to stop work in immediate danger -- and I note that immediate appeared in terms of the background paper -- and I have to say I do not think these reps would be shutting down something that was unsafe if in fact there was not an immediate danger.
They are going to risk being decertified by the health and safety agency if they pull a stunt like that. Surely to God, with the training they are going to get, and the obligation and responsibility placed upon them, they are not going to be capricious in their use. They are not going to go out and shut something down unless it is an immediate danger.
But the minister has said as well that if it is imminent danger, we will allow them to do that, if, of course, there is a bad record for the employer. I say again, I think he is dreaming if he does not realize that there is a problem and the mechanism that he is putting into place, the one approach he is going to put before our committee as a real alternative, then there is something really wrong. I do not think he really understands what is going on out in the workplace when the internal responsibility system breaks down.
I guess the second alternative he gave us, if the health and safety record of the company was bad, is that we should perhaps put an inspector in the workplace, full time, if need be at the employer’s expense to try to get some of those necessary improvements. I say to the minister, he is going to have representatives or inspectors in the workplace all across this province, and we are not going to be able to hire enough inspectors in this province to monitor that type of system. Surely that flies in the face of his stated intention which was in fact to have management and labour work it out in the workplace and resolve the difficulty.
When you put an inspector in there, the only thing you do is undermine that whole process and you tell both parties -- it does not matter if you negotiate or not, because the inspector is going to decide and the inspector is going to run the workplace and we put in more ministry people, totally contrary to the ideals which are set out in this bill, which is to try to make management and labour negotiate, compromise and work together.
It is interesting; I go back to a comment that was made by the former Minister of Labour on this very question about inspectors in an article, again, in Occupational Health and Safety, Canada, which I alluded to earlier. On this whole question of inspectors, which it now seems this minister is intent on putting into this bill in terms of unsafe work, the former Minister of Labour said this:
“Either we can hire every fourth person in the province to serve as a labour inspector or we can begin a process which, in the fullness of time, when fully in bloom, will give us a system where the workplace parties themselves are taking more responsibility.”
It is not often that the former Minister of Labour and I ever agree, but I think he had it right; I really do. If you are talking about putting in place an effective internal responsibility system, you are undermining that process completely by saying: “If you’ve got a bad health and safety record, we won’t give you the right to unilaterally shut down. We’ll put an inspector in there and he can monitor the whole system.” You will not get any significant changes and you are going to have a fight in that workplace all the time. You are going to have labour, on one part, relying on the inspector to enforce and ensure the workplace is shut down if it is unsafe, and you are going to have management, on the other side, lobbying the inspector not to shut anything down, to let the abuse continue, and you are not going to get any further ahead in having the two parties that should be responsible for workplace safety actually getting around to the business of doing that.
I am concerned about the whole section; I am concerned about the change, which I think has effectively gutted the strength that lay there before. I am concerned because I do not think the minister has a realistic sense of how this whole thing is going to be used. In fact, if we are coming to a point where there is an immediate danger, then, yes, the place should be shut down and people are not going to frivolously shut it down without taking into account that immediate danger.
We should go back to what we had in place before, the system that was agreed upon by management and labour, that is, a system to allow certified people to shut unsafe work down, because I think, in the end, that is the only protection that working people have and that is the only way you are going to ensure that the workplaces in this province are going to be safe and people can expect, when they go out to work during the day, they are going to come home at night to their families. I think what the minister is proposing, this proposal that the committee is going to see, is not workable, and I am sure it comes only from the employers’ large and vociferous lobbying on this particular section.
The third section I want to deal with really comes out of this specific focus on the right to refuse. I have dealt with some of the changes and I think some of those changes really do gut the whole intent of the bill. But I want to spend a little bit of time on what I think the big lobby is right now, the big area of concern to employers, and that is the right to refuse.
I should just point out one of the letters that I received, and I know members in this House have received the same type of thing, but I guess it really makes me wonder sometimes where the employers in this province are coming from and why they have so little respect and so little faith in the people they employ, the people who make money for their various companies.
I will not say where I got the letter from, only to say that it is basically the same as some of the employer letters we are all receiving. It says, “We regard Bill 208 as an unjustifiable and completely unacceptable intrusion into the employer’s right to manage.” Never mind the worker’s right to expect to work in a safe workplace.
“In particular we foresee not only the potential, but the virtual certainty, of abuse of the powers you wish to give to individual certified workers to close down a construction project. Your stated position is that these powers would not be abused by workers, but it is unrealistic to assume that such a powerful tool will not from time to time be used for improper reasons.”
I have to say I have more faith in working people than that. I really do, because I do not think it is in the best interest of a worker to go out and frivolously shut down an unsafe workplace and risk losing their employment if they are in an unorganized place, or risk never being promoted, or enjoying any of the benefits in that company again for doing something like that.
There are three things that I want to say. I find it really strange that employers think that workers are going to be so irresponsible in terms of health and safety, but they do not find workers irresponsible when they talk about making money for the company. I find it very strange that workers who have an interest in their protection, by shutting down an unsafe site where they may in all likelihood get hurt, would not benefit the company in terms of no accidents, less compensation, less premiums being paid to the Workers’ Compensation Board.
The third thing is that I do not think anyone, not those of us in the New Democratic Party, the government or workers in general are out to put the companies out of business. But I do think again and again that where there is unsafe work, machinery and chemicals that workers should have a right to say, “We have got to put in place a process that starts to change that.” If the employer does not want to listen and the ministry inspector does not want to come in and shut it down, but then for God’s sake surely we have some right to expect that we can go to work and not be put under those kinds of conditions and not anticipate being hurt or killed on the job site.
I do not think that is unrealistic and I am amazed that the employer lobby around this issue has been so fierce. I say, again, I have more faith in working people and it surprises me that employers have faith in working people when they are making them money, but they have no faith in their responsibility when it comes to health and safety.
We should really look, then, in terms of dealing with this issue at what the real situation is in Ontario and what the facts are. I want to deal with a couple of things. I think employers are dead wrong in their assumptions, and I say it for a couple of reasons.
First I will look at Australia. The state of Victoria in Australia has had right-to-stop-work legislation in place for some time now. In the first year of that legislation, when it was in effect, they had 22 work stoppages. They had 21 upheld by their labour ministry. There was no abuse in that particular system. Then I will take it a little bit closer to home and look at the mining industry in particular, because the mining industry for one, is one that learned a long time ago that if they were going to reduce workers’ compensation costs, then they had to put health and safety in and make it a priority in their workplace.
My friend the member for Nickel Belt is right when he talked about the tour that the standing committee on resources development took. I was not part of it, but certainly the internal responsibility system in mining was working, because many of those companies came to the conclusion that it was not a bad thing to have worker reps, and that in fact it was not a bad thing to be able to shut down unsafe work and that they might protect some people and they might have fewer people on compensation and they might reduce some of their premiums to the board.
We talked to two groups in particular. We dealt with the United Steelworkers in Sudbury and we dealt with the United Steelworkers in Elliot Lake. I asked for some information about this whole process of worker reps and the right to shut down unsafe work and asked if it had been abused or if it had not. I just want to give the members of this House some idea of what has really happened in the mining sector in particular.
When we went to Sudbury we talked to Don McGraw. He is in charge of health and safety. He has said a couple of things. “There are 12 worker reps. They have been in place for over two years now. They are paid to be worker reps. There is a verbal agreement with the company that those reps can shut down unsafe operations.”
The right is not in their contract at this point in time, but in fact what they have found is that there have been no complaints by management. There have been work stoppages, but there have not been any complaints by management. That right which was not in their contract has not been taken away, and the employers have not bucked that system.
In fact, a lot of the managers are trained by lnco health and safety trainers, and in fact as well, they have found that there has been a real influence on workers, because when the worker representative goes in, his colleagues are responding to him to exercise their right to refuse or to get out of that unsafe workplace. They have found that in fact it has worked extremely well in Inco operations in Sudbury. They have no complaint and they certainly have had no experience of abuse. I remind members again that they do have a gentlemen’s agreement in terms of the right to shut down unsafe work.
I then spoke to Wayne Glibbery, who is a health and safety representative in Elliot Lake. In their case, there are two full-time safety inspectors and one full-time environmental inspector per site. There is a letter of intent in their case that allows these people to shutdown unsafe workplaces. They also have the right to go to an operator of any piece of machinery and advise of his or her right to refuse unsafe work because that piece of machinery should be either fixed or repaired and they should not continue to work on it any further.
He has told us that the shutdown for unsafe work is very unusual. It has barely been exercised in their situation. The company has had no problems with it and they are using the health and safety representatives more than they are using their own inspectors underground. They also have management representatives trained by the steelworkers.
So in fact we have got a process in place in the mining sector in this province which is working well, which does not have a long history of abuse even though the rights are being exercised. But the rights are not being exercised unduly and even management has come to agree with that. If there would have been any problem, I would have thought that Rio Algom or Denison or Inco would have withdrawn that voluntary right that they gave and they would not allow workers to shut down unsafe work if there was a problem. I can only assume that if they have not done that, there is not a problem.
In fact, we have a clear example. which should be an example shown to other employers, that it can work and it can work well, and they have no justification for this out-and-out attack which states that workers are irresponsible and will abuse it. I have great difficulty when I receive these kinds of letters and when I hear comments that in fact workers are going to abuse it and we have got to change the section. There is nothing in place in this province that shows it is going to be abused. I am sorry the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is not here today, because I would have been interested in hearing his comments as to why he might think or what kind of cases the construction industry in particular has brought forward to show that this abuse might well happen.
I want to deal with another piece of legislation that this government introduced to show again that the hue and cry about abuse is not legitimate and it is not justified. In this case the legislation is not health and safety but it is labour legislation. It was the first contract legislation that was put in place in this House in 1986.
During the estimates of the Ministry of Labour, my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie) asked about this particular piece of legislation, given that we have had it in place four three years, and if the ministry, which is monitoring this program, has noticed any abuse.
What the legislation does is it allows unions to approach the Ontario Labour Relations Board to seek some kind of direction in an arbitration of a first contract if there is a dispute between an employer and the union. In almost all the cases. the ministry did tell us it was a new union in place which was first testing their right to organize, testing their right to have a first contract in the workplace.
It is interesting because my colleague the member for Hamilton East asked if there had been any abuse, and the ministry officials themselves commented and said this, that in fact during the period of May 1986 to December 1988, a total of 1,061 first contract agreements were settled without any reference at all to first agreement legislation. Bear in mind that the employers said the workers would be out there abusing it, trying to get to the labour relations board at every attempt, trying to say that the employer was undermining the legitimate bargaining process and trying to exercise undue pressure at the labour relations board for their side and their contract to be accepted.
The ministry went on to give the figures, 71 that actually proceeded to arbitration, and how they broke down and how many were settled even before outside arbitrators became involved. The ministry said that out of a total of 1,132 first agreements, only eight went to arbitration. As a percentage, this seems to be less than one per cent, actually, about 0.7 percent, that ever went to arbitration.
I point out to members in this House that during the debate on that particular bill, there were a number of members who raised concerns coming from the employers that there would be abuse: that the union would want to exercise its rights a little bit and would unduly go to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to try and get its contract put in place.
We saw, and the ministry said to us quite clearly, that there was no abuse. In fact, when my colleague the member for Hamilton East asked if the ministry had come up with any case that it considered frivolous, the Minister of Labour at the time said, “None that I know of,” and the director of that branch said, “I really cannot say, but it doesn’t look like it.”
I say to members in this House, and I guess to some of those employers out there who are lobbying so hard against this provision, that there is nothing in place in this province which justifies the overwhelming concern they have in terms of possible abuse.
I would be anxious to have the government provide us with some of the arguments that employers have provided them in order to shift the government’s position on the unsafe work, that is, to recommend the policy change it has recommended in the debate last Thursday, because I have more faith in workers and, for the life of me, I cannot understand what good, concrete arguments could have possibly been presented by employers to have the government shift in this regard, and shift the government certainly has done in terms of the right to refuse unsafe work. I cannot imagine why there is such hysteria.
I hope that the minister, if he responds to me, will tell me why it is that he has felt that it is necessary to change this particular section of the bill; why it is that he feels now that the unilateral right can only be exercised where the record of the employer is poor, and why it is that he would prefer to put inspectors in that workplace instead of allowing a certified management or labour rep to shut the workplace down, as originally proposed. I think, as I said before, the minister guts the whole purpose and he certainly provides a slap in the face for his own provision that the purpose of this bill is to put into place an effective internal responsibility system where in fact management and labour have to bargain together.
The fourth section that I want to deal with concerns just that, the question of the internal responsibility system. When I got back here yesterday afternoon I was hearing some comments about how effective that system was proving and I might agree that the system has worked rather well in the mining industry because again, as I have said, employers, the companies and the unions have come together to provide training to allow provisions to stop unsafe work. But I do not think that is the typical case in Ontario workplaces and so I was surprised to hear one of the Liberal members yesterday talking about how the system can really work, how well it is working and in fact how the provisions of this bill are going to make that system work even better.
I want to raise in this House a couple of cases. I think they are important to show that we have a long, long way to go in terms of putting into place an effective internal responsibility system. We may have it with some of the bigger mining companies. but we do not have it in the rest of this province. That is why the right to refuse unsafe work becomes so important and that is why the right to have a unilateral right for either the worker rep or the employer rep is so important.
Let me just raise with some of the members in this House some of the cases that my predecessor heard when he conducted his first health and safety tour in this province in 1983. As health and safety critic at the time, he decided that there seemed to be such an abuse of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in this province that it was worth going out and finding out what was wrong and how we could provide effective change. Let me point out to the members here just how the internal responsibility system is not working in this province and why the right to refuse unsafe work is so important.
Let me give people the example of work refusals at Dresser Canada Inc. Workers at a fabrication plant in Cambridge found through experience that work refusals are no guarantee that unsafe workplaces will be cleaned up. The workers, members of Local 5475, United Steelworkers of America, make valves, gauges, cranes and, until recently, drilling rigs.
In March 1982, a ministry inspector noted 38 lost-time accidents in a three-month period and 45 accidents in another three-month period. One ministry inspector noted this was far in excess of anything reasonable for this type of operation. That was a ministry inspector. Workers began to exercise their right to refuse unsafe work as a means of cleaning up immediate dangers in the workplace but they found that even rights given to them under section 23 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, such as the right to an investigation and the right to wages lost due to work refusals, were not respected.
In May 1981, a worker refused to move a heavy load by means of a pushbutton-controlled crane because the area he was to work in was hazardous. He followed the proper work refusal directives, but Dresser management refused to investigate and rectify the problem. Instead, the company sent the worker home and docked his pay. It required Ministry of Labour intervention at the union’s request to reinstate his lost wages. Even then, although the inspector agreed section 23 had been contravened, no charges were laid or orders issued about contravention.
In November 1981, a worker refused to work inside of a crane suspended by wire five metres above the ground. There was no safety harness and no one safeguarding the controls on the plant floor while the worker was suspended. He was threatened by his supervisor with loss of wages and he returned to the hazardous work.
In March 1982, 38 workers refused to work in an excessively smoky area of the fabrication plant where tests by the Ministry of Labour had found welding fume levels above the Ontario guidelines and where ventilation had been found inadequate. Again, instead of following procedures under the act, management suspended the workers’ pay and sent letters out 12 March 1982 threatening dismissal if the workers were to exercise their legal right to refuse unsafe work again.
The union had to take the matter to the labour relations board before the company reinstated the wages. The Ministry of Labour took no action to restore the wages and only transmitted a message to the company that it could not take away a worker’s statutory right to refuse unsafe work. No punitive action was taken against the company for the letters threatening dismissal or for the lost wages from the 38 work refusals.
In this case workers were forced to use work refusals because of the complete breakdown of the joint health and safety committee, yet even the work refusals did not guarantee the hazards in the plant, including concerns about welding fumes, carbon monoxide, noise, asbestos, zinc, lead, aluminum and isocyanates were reduced. The ministry issued 82 orders in 1982, 10 per cent of which were repeat violations, yet the ministry never laid a charge. The day after the local made its submission to the task force the fabrication plant was shut down and the workers were indefinitely laid off.
That is one example of how the internal responsibility system is not working and even workers exercising their right to refuse --
Mr Fleet: On a point of order. Mr Speaker: I would like to call to your attention the provision of rule 23(d) about members reading unnecessarily from verbatim reports. I timed this last episode, which was just exactly three minutes, and the member is about to start going into it again, as I can see. I would ask, Mr Speaker, if you would point out this rule and its importance to the member. I do not think any member wants to be restraining another member from quoting in short instances, but this one, in my view, was excessively long. I think that in light of the other people who want to join in this debate, it would be helpful if we could stick to the point.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): That is an extremely valid point of view. I appreciate the assistance that you have tried to give the chair, since I am new on the job. But I would like to point out to you that if we stop people from reading after three and a half minutes in this chamber, there are going to be a lot of members who will be embarrassed by the fact that they have nothing to say after three minutes. So I think we will let the member for Sudbury East proceed.
Miss Martel: I appreciate the comments from the member for High Park-Swansea. However, I will ignore them.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Willowdale has a point of order and it had better be a good one.
Mr Matrundola: In case the member runs out of stuff to read, we can give her the business section of the Globe and Mail of today.
The Acting Speaker: You have just been invited to read the Globe and Mail. We thank you. I think you could proceed with your speech now.
Miss Martel: I think what I have to say in terms of this report is far more important and I wish some members would take it a little more seriously.
In any event, let me deal with a second case, because the point I am trying to make to members in this House, which is obviously being missed, is that there are provisions in the act now for workers to refuse unsafe work individually. Even those provisions are not being reinforced by the minister and the employer is ignoring them totally, and if the minister does not under this bill reinstate the unilateral right of either worker reps or employer reps to shut down an unsafe workplace, the situation and the condition in this province ain’t going to get any better.
Let me deal with the second case, and wait, because I am coming to some of the problems under the Liberal government and the members should be interested in those as well. In this case the division we are talking about was of Maple Leaf Co Ltd. This is a company that was producing high-protein feed meal.
In January 1982, a worker believed he was instructed to climb into a feather pit and remove frozen feathers from a large beater. While he was working, the foreman, not realizing he was there, turned on the beater and the employee became entangled. He required more than 200 stitches with deep gashes near his eye and jugular vein and missed six weeks of work. The employer gave him a week’s suspension.
The Ministry of Labour inspector would not come to the accident because he did not consider it a critical injury. Eight days after the accident, another worker exercised his right to refuse to enter the feather pit because there was still no warning device attached to the starting system. When the inspector was called in, he initially thought it was the company suggesting to the worker it was an illegal work stoppage. Only after considerable protests by the union did the inspector retract his interpretation and issue a stop-work order.
When the ministry finally did a full inspection of the plant on 26 January 1982 with the health and safety reps, the resulting report was 17 pages of recommendations and 72 orders, including failure to put guardrails over cookers, vats, pits, failure to have functioning eyewash fountains next to chemicals, no startup warning devices on conveyor belts, etc.
Two months later, the company wrote to the ministry and said 31 of the 72 orders had been complied with. The union protested that the company had misinformed the ministry on more than 20 of those. The union received no response until the New Democratic Party raised the matter here in the House, and when the ministry finally inspected again, the inspector refused the union’s request to inspect 53 of these outstanding violations.
I point out to members the problems that we have had and the problems that we are going to continue to have in this province if workers are not allowed to exercise their right and be assured that inspectors are going to comply with that and if certified reps are not allowed to shut down unsafe workplaces, because we have seen time and again in the quotes that I am using that in fact for the majority of workplaces in this province, the internal responsibility system is just not working. It is not working well at all and there is no reason to continue with this act if we are going to make changes to put in provisions that are going to ensure that type of inaction continues.
I have two other cases, one concerning Westinghouse, and this was under a Liberal government I should add. In this case there were PCBs all over the Westinghouse transformer plant on Beach Road in Hamilton. In October 1984, three months after the workers complained, the ministry investigated and conducted tests. The workers were not informed of the test results until February 1985. At that time, the Ministry of Labour ordered the company to clean up the PCB problem forthwith.
In mid-March 1985, the hazard was not corrected. None the less, a visiting ministry inspector gave the plant a clean bill of health and praised the internal responsibility system. Not only did he ignore the outstanding PCB order, but he also failed to note that the PCB hazard was not corrected. On 26 April 1985, workers refused to work because of the continuing contamination and the lax attitude of the ministry. Testing disclosed 540 gallons of PCB-contaminated oil in a trench under the factory floor. It was drained and filled with concrete in August 1985, but more tests revealed further contamination. Further efforts to seal the floor followed until December 1985.
On 7 March 1986, nearly two years after the initial complaint, a ministry inspector finally recommended that the company be prosecuted for violating the act and for not complying with the previous orders issued. This issue was raised in the House on 27 May 1986. At that time, the company still had not been prosecuted.
The point I have been trying to make, and I appreciate that members do not want to hear it, but in any event the point I really want to make is that we have a serious problem out there in the workplace. If the minister undermines some of the provisions that are in the act as presented in this House, he is not going to make it any better. I am trying to convince the minister that that right to shut down unsafe work will not be abused and it is a very necessary right that worker and management reps must have.
I just go back to the summary of the task force because I think it is really important that people understand where some out our concerns come from. The task force that did the second report -- this one of course reported to the House in July 1986 -- said the following:
“ ... the only way to protect the health and safety of workers in Ontario is to give them the authority to make decisions which directly affect these vital concerns. The task force recommends that health and safety committees be given the power to make binding decisions with respect to all health and safety matters in the workplace, that health and safety worker representatives be given the power to shut down unsafe operations, and that labour organizations be provided with funds at least equal to those provided to the employer associations. These measures will guarantee that the authority for ensuring workplace health and safety will be placed where it surely belongs -- in the hands of the workers that the act is designed to protect.”
Mr Speaker, you may not want to listen to all of that, given that it came from an NDP task force and has a certain bias concerning the act, but let me then provide to you some of the statistics put out by the Ministry of Labour in 1986. The Ministry of Labour at that time did a study looking at, first, the compliance to the act by companies and, second, the functional ability of the joint health and safety committee to respond to problems in the workplace and to make necessary changes. I just want to give to the members of this House some of the results of that study done by this government in 1986:
“The ministry found more than 200 workplaces with more than 20 workers did not have a joint health and safety committee in direct contravention of the act. Thirty-four per cent of small workplaces had no committees in place, although they were supposed to under the act. Thirty-five of the worker representatives were selected by management where there was no union in the plant. Fifty per cent of the information that was provided to the joint health and safety committee by the employer about reports on toxic substances, etc, were inadequate or lost. Sixty-one per cent of those companies had only a single chair. Seventy-three per cent of the management dominated the joint health and safety committee meetings. Seventeen per cent of those failed to meet every three months although they were supposed to under the act. Ten per cent had no inspections,” and it goes on and on.
The point I am making again is that it was not only us out there on the hustings who found out there was a problem with this bill but also the ministry, and the problem has a lot to do with the inefficiencies of the internal responsibility system. Those inefficiencies are not going to be resolved if the government proceeds with some of the changes that this minister had announced in this House last week.
I go back -- because people have said and I have heard them say: “You are talking about history. Let’s deal with what is happening now” -- and I just want to enforce or reinforce the point one more time for the members who have just said that. This concerns accidents that happened this year:
“On 21 April 1989, Dennis Ladasseur died instantly crushed by a compression strapper he was operating for MacMillan Bloedel in Sturgeon Falls. The strapper had jammed as it routinely did. Ladasseur had gone under the machine to clear the obstruction. Apparently the clearing procedure was also routine. Unfortunately, a lockout system had not been part of the procedure and not put in place by management. Dennis Ladasseur is survived by his wife who is expecting their first child.”
A second one: “One week after this, Larry Newfield, 30, was helping to retrieve bales of pulp that had fallen from a forklift parked four feet above at the loading dock’s edge. Somehow the one-ton forklift teetered over that edge. The truck’s lifting mechanism struck Newfield in the head and killed him. Employed by Canadian Pacific Forest Products, the Dryden division, Newfield was the fourth person killed in two years at the mill. Two others suffered critical injuries during the same period.”
I say to members once again that there are some serious problems. I appreciate that this Liberal government thinks it is working to resolve them. But I tell them they had better look again because the internal responsibility system is not working half as effectively as they would like to believe. If they are putting in place the premise that because they think most of the workplaces are working well, they will jointly come to the decision to exercise the right to refuse unsafe work and that is going to work, then they are sadly mistaken.
Most workplaces do not have an effective system in place and if there is not a unilateral right, then the same kinds of injuries and the same kinds of deaths are going to continue to occur in workplaces across this province again and again. It is an Important right and it is a right that effectively has been gutted with the proposals that the minister put forward last week.
Mr Callahan: Not so. In fact, the delay is going to cause more of these tragedies.
Miss Martel: No, the problem is going to be that if this Ministry brings in four- to five-year certification requirements, we are going to have a delay of four to five years before that right is even exercised. Second, if the right to exercise and authorize shutting down an unsafe workplace is tied to joint agreement between management and labour, there are not going to be very many places shut down and there are going to be a lot more people that are killed because their representative could not exercise that right on their behalf.
Anyone who thinks that is not going to happen clearly has no understanding of what is happening in the workplace, and I suggest the members might want to read some of these reports because they might have their eyes opened as to what actually is happening in this province at this point in time. I will tell the members that in fact they are dreaming and living in technicolour if they think that by gutting that particular section that they have, things are going to get any better. They just will not.
I say to the minister again, why he changed from a proposal that was agreed upon by management and labour before this bill was introduced is beyond me. Perhaps he can tell me the justification for doing that and the justification for putting forward the proposal that he is, which significantly alters the right we had expected and the right trade unions sold to their memberships in order to accept this bill.
There are some questions in terms of the workers’ compensation aspects of this, but I do not think they are the overwhelming problem with this bill. I would much prefer that when we get into the course of public hearings, which I hope to be involved in, I will deal with them at that time.
I do want to say in closing a final thing that I think is important to be said. I was listening to the Liberal members who were speaking in this House yesterday, and one in particular who said that this is the most progressive piece of health and safety legislation we have seen in a very long time. For all those Liberal members who are so busy patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves on putting this bill into place, I ask them to recognize this: It was not this Liberal government, either this Minister of Labour or the member for York Centre (Mr Sorbara) or even the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr Wrye) who introduced Bill 106 in this House before the last election who really gave the impetus to changes in health and safety, badly needed changes in this province.
During the course of this whole debate and indeed in the introduction of this bill either in January or again on second reading, I have been really sorry to note that in fact there has been no credit to my predecessor who spent the last five years of his time in this place fighting on behalf of workers and fighting to change the Occupational Health and Safety Act in this province.
He took his colleagues in this party around the province on two major tours dealing with occupational health and safety and made a number of recommendations in this chamber from 1983 until the time he left in 1987 on the changes that were needed. I remember when he introduced Bill 149, his version of what kind of changes were required. It was one of the happiest days of his time in this place when that bill passed second reading in February 1987.
I am sorry that he only got to deal with that twice in hearings before the election was finally called, but I say that there was no better champion -- of course I am biased -- for the rights of injured workers and the rights for people to be safe in the workplace than he was in the last five years in here.
I think Liberals in this House who were here when he was here certainly would have to acknowledge that and some small credit should be due to him for that kind of fight, because we would not have had a change in either the Tory government or this government had there not been some of those revelations in the different reports and had not his fight continued.
I was sorry we are so partisan in this House sometimes that we cannot acknowledge the contributions of others who are no longer here, granted, but certainly for the tremendous contributions that were made that bring us to this place where we are today.
I would say that I have enjoyed this particular debate. I am sure I will enjoy the public hearings even more. I look forward to hearing the response from the minister on why he feels the changes he has talked about are so important. I certainly look forward to putting back into place the type of bill we had before this minister came into this place some weeks ago and before we had a bill introduced concerning the changes that there are.
I thank the members again for their attention and I certainly look forward to public hearings.
Ms Bryden: I want to say that we have just heard one of the best analyses of Bill 208, by the member for Sudbury East. She has clearly pointed out the hopes for general improvement in the protection of workers in this province through the proposed new joint labour-management system in the original act. She has pointed out how the government’s proposed amendments will gut the act, indicating we will continue to have thousands of unnecessary deaths in this province because of this gutting of the act. I congratulate the speaker on her excellent analysis of the situation and her concern that workers will not be protected under the new act.
Mr Callahan: I would like to comment. How can a member possibly comment on the speech of the member for Sudbury East, which I thought was pretty good, when she is not even here? Can somebody answer that for me’? How can she come in and enter into the debate when she is not even here?
Mr Farnan: I too would like to add my voice to that of my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden) in lauding the speech that we have just heard. It is a theme mentioned by my colleague at the end of her remarks, in terms of recognizing with some generosity of spirit the contribution of opposition members. I think I mentioned this the other day when we talked about the contribution made by Mel Swart, the former member for Welland-Thorold, to consumer protection reform in automobile insurance and also the bereavement sector.
I just want to say one thing. I have been an admirer of Elie Martel for many years. He is a man who has been totally committed to the improvement of conditions for working people in this province. When he resigned from the New Democratic Party, I thought to myself, “What an extraordinary loss.” However, I want to say this and I mean it sincerely and with all my heart: The New Democratic caucus could not have found a more worthy successor, a champion who can be compared to the previous member who had this role. I think it is very fitting that I should say that the predecessor of our present critic was the member’s father, an outstanding contributor to this House, and there is no doubt in my mind that the present member is doing exactly the same kind of job.
The Acting Speaker: I thank the Clerk for mentioning to me that the time had run out. Are we into any further comments or questions?
There is still time available, but I see none standing, so we now have the wonderful opportunity of recognizing the distinguished member for Brampton South.
Mr Callahan: I want the people of Brampton South to know that there was an applause sign held up when that happened.
I want to rise and get involved in this debate because, to begin with, I want to give the member for Sudbury East her due and her father his due. They worked hard on the question of workplace safety. Maybe it is the nostalgia of the day, seeing my predecessor come here and have his picture hung in the hall that makes me less partisan. I think that in the final analysis there are two things in this House that I found. Nobody has a priority on workers. Nobody has a priority on sensitivity to people.
One of the things I discovered when I was elected in 1985 was that we had problems with workers’ compensation and it was not something where you snuck around the halls and said: ‘This is government policy. This is opposition policy. This is third party policy.” It was a question where all members, and I think legitimately so, were concerned about the workers of this province. If I thought for one minute that one party in this House was the only one that cared about workers, I would resign because I came to this Legislature to serve those people who were being injured.
You look at the numbers. I have a briefing note that says “$1.45 billion in benefits were paid out.” That is not important. What does that $1.45 billion represent in terms of agony to people, families and children? Again, the note says “$700 million lost to the economy.” I say that is important but not as important as the question of those that represent the loss of families, their children and so on.
I praise the former Conservative government for recognizing that 10 years ago and bringing in occupational health and safety legislation. I praise the member for Sudbury East and her predecessor, who was a dear friend, her father, who fought to improve it. I recognize, as well, what goes on in this House. The opposition’s job is to tell the government that it has not done enough, but politics is really the art of the practical. What can be achieved? How can it be achieved?
Ten years have gone by, and in 10 years the machinery that we are using is very different from what it was before. The chemicals we are using are very different from those used before, so what does the government do? The government, in carrying on this sensitive approach to looking after workers of this province, looks at it and says, “You can’t achieve that through giving one side the heavy hand, or the other side the heavy hand.”
It has to be a partnership. If it is not a partnership, we can pass all the legislation we like in the world in this province and what we will find is we will never solve or accomplish the solution to the problem that we as legislators are duty bound by the people who voted for us to try to accomplish. It would be great stuff for the government over here to throw out things that are lopsided, and we could go to the polls and say, “We did this for you, Ontario, and if the stuff does not work then we are phonies. We are all phonies.”
Now, surely to heaven I am not suggesting any member of the House is that. I think the member for Sudbury East and her father or predecessor had a passion about the question of injured workers. but they do not have exclusivity on it, or at least they do not in my mind and I do not think in my colleague’s either. I think my colleagues and the government of the day, as the government of the former day, cares as much as those people do. If we do not, then we deserve to be trashed because that is what it is all about.
Look at some of the things this legislation does bring in: the question of partnership, the question of training and the question of understanding the new technology of the day, so that some member does not have to stand up here when I am gone, and who knows, that could be very shortly, to read dollar signs. Members know that $1.45 billion is paid in benefits to workers who suffered workplace injury or illness. I would like to see that gone. I would like to see that zilch, and I think the member would as well.
I think all members of the House would, and again I say I understand the opposition’s job is to try and improve legislation, but they do not improve it by making it lopsided. They do not improve it by giving a leg up to one group as opposed to the other. We try to create a compromise that is going to work, otherwise, right behind that gentlemen, the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz), the Speaker, is a whole host of statutes.
Members can go through those statutes and look at things like the Warble Fly Control Act, and maybe that is very important to some people in Ontario, but if it does not prevent the warble fly from doing whatever he does, then it should not be back there. All it is doing is holding up the Speaker’s chair.
In the final analysis, and I would hope that the parliamentary system perhaps should be reformed because I find that when opposition is simply thrown at you because you are over there, and we want to get over there, and the name of the game is to be critical so you can get over there, well, if that is all it is about, then I think we serve the people of Ontario badly.
I am not suggesting for one minute that the member for Sudbury East is doing that, nor do I suggest that her father did, but from time to time in this House, it angers me to have to sit here and grow old and grey, and get frumpy listening to attacks by the opposition on the basis that the government has done nothing right.
I have got to tell members that I am proud to serve on this side of the House and I would be equally as proud to serve on the other side of the House with my government there if it was in opposition, because I think what is happening is the government is bringing --
I am glad the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr Villeneuve) is not here, because every time I stand up and speak like this he says, “You want to get into cabinet, you want to get into cabinet.” I want to tell Noble that I am sitting in the same seat I was sitting in when I was elected in 1985. I have come full circle. I am chairing the same committee, so he should not throw that one at me. But he is not there.
Another statistic that is given to me, which I would like to see wiped away -- and I think all members would -- is that there were 360 men and women who died last year in accidents. This bill may not be perfect. Let’s face it, no bill is going to be perfect. We are all imperfect human beings, but we do the best we can. Every day that we delay the implementation of this bill, the horror stories that have been read by the member for Sudbury East, which for any sensitive member in this chamber would bring tears to their eyes, are continued. The name of the game is to try to stop that and to try to keep some member after me or some member in this House from having to read out that 360 men and women died; and we do not hear about the children who were left orphaned. That is really what it is about.
There are problems. It is going back to committee to try to solve those problems.
The member for Sudbury East says that the employee representatives on this committee should be able to stop work on the job. I have no doubt in my mind that the large majority of workers out in Ontario would exercise that right correctly and fairly. But think about it. Do not get tunnel vision that they are right and the employers are wrong. The employers suspect that it might be used in the negotiation process to try to get some extra advantage.
As I said when I started, politics is the art of the possible. It is to try to put Legislation in place that is going to work. It does not do any good on the dusty shelf in the Revised Statutes of Ontario of 1980 or 1990, it has got to work.
The New Democratic Party, who state that they are the only defenders of the worker --
Mr Farnan: As long as there’s cash in the Liberal coffers, you don’t give a damn.
Mr Callahan: Mr Speaker, there seem to be Irish tones floating over here from the member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan). I listen to him when he speaks endlessly. I will try to be brief.
Mr Farnan: As long as there’s cash, the workers can be forgotten about.
Mr Callahan: I was not going to get partisan on this at all, but the member for Cambridge requires me to do so.
I think the member for Sudbury East does a fine job, as her father did, in representing our looking after the workers, but for some reason the official opposition seems to think that they have a God-given right to look after the workers of this province. That is not the case. When we have the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) going out on to the floor of this Legislature and stirring up the workers of this province, so much so that we have to reinforce the floor because they figure they are going to fall through on it, and telling these people not what Bill 162 was all about but what he wanted to tell them. That to me is shameless, absolutely shameless. That does nothing to enhance, to create a good worker and employer environment.
I am not going to say a great deal more except that I think if Ontario is to maintain its competitiveness, if Ontario is to maintain safety for those people who work in those jobs, if Ontario is to have an employment system that works properly, then I suggest that maybe you guys and gals and so on should go into the back room and think about what you do by delaying this bill every day, because the longer you delay it -- the deaths, the injuries -- the meaningful things to workers of this province are being delayed. You are delaying and denying them natural justice. I suggest maybe you think about that and that this not just become a chamber where rhetoric is the important thing, where you try to swap seats.
I will tell you what: I will make you a deal. I know this is naive, but if we could ever get consensus in this House whereby the opposition did not just try to flail us on every bill we bring forward, I would be prepared to go over and sit in your seat. That does not mean I would join your party, but I would take your seats and you could sit over here.
The Acting Speaker: Order. Colleagues, there is less than 10 minutes left for the day. We will just ask you to restrain yourselves so the honourable member can continue. I will ask the honourable member to be so kind as to direct his comments through the humble chair.
Mr Callahan: Let me finally close by saying that the important watchwords of the day with reference to this bill are workplace partnership -- I have already spoken on that -- education and training, which is key for all of us, including members of the Legislature, rights and responsibilities, bigger penalties and responsibilities on directors of corporations. You could not pierce the corporate veil before and now you can with performance incentives and a continued government role.
I am a believer that government has no place in the free enterprise system, other than where it is required to try and deal with the 360 deaths or the injuries and soon. If government has a role, it is to try and make certain that we have a fair, safe employment situation.
I think government has a role here in Bill 208. I think that was recognized by the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr Villeneuve). His government recognized it 10 years ago. We are recognizing that times have changed. Let’s get on with it and let’s make a place safe for workers in this province.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to address the honourable member who has been indicated to me by the House leader for the opposition. You had taken your place, but if you would like to continue on during comments and questions, I think the honourable member for Algoma wants to participate.
Mr Wildman: I just want to make a comment. I was watching with interest the comments of my friend the member for Brampton South (Mr Callahan) on the television. I understand that there was a lot of discussion back and forth in the House during his remarks. Perhaps he was being somewhat facetious, but I do want to correct, and I would hope that he would correct, a very wrong impression he gave about the participation of my leader with regard to the injured workers and the demonstration that took place outside of this door on Bill 162.
As I heard the member, he said that it was a bit much, I think, for the Leader of the Opposition to “stir up workers” -- that was the term he used -- outside the front of this door to the point that the Legislative Assembly would have to strengthen the floor because it was unsafe. Any one of us who was in this assembly at that time knows that was so far from the truth. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition went out there because he was trying to calm the workers who were so stirred up by what this government was proposing to do that it was he who saved a very difficult situation in that circumstance.
Mr Villeneuve: In the short two minutes for reply to the member for Brampton South, I was kind of pleased to see that he was participating in this debate. Quite obviously, the previous government was very, very concerned about the health and safety aspect for all workers across Ontario, and we still are.
The problem is that Bill 208 in its present form will create confrontation no end. Of course, this government knows how to create confrontation on many, many issues and 208 will simply make that even worse. Those are some of the comments I want to put on the record in reply to my friend and colleague from Brampton South.
Just so the record will show, I was on the select committee on education. We are finishing up our report and I am pleased that he referred to me, quite obviously --
Mr Callahan: I know that.
Mr Villeneuve: Yes, I know that, and we know he is aiming for cabinet. There is no doubt about that. When he alludes to it, he just reinforces that conviction he has, and if he behaves and minds his Ps and Qs, some time he may make it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Be realistic.
Mr Villeneuve: This chamber has not always been known for its realism. However, I am just pleased to participate for this short period of time and tell the member for Brampton South it is not the ghost of the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry he is seeing. He is here in real life.
Mr Farnan: I am going to be very brief. I just want to point out that the previous speaker, the member for Brampton South, talked about politics being the art of the possible. I want to say to the speaker, what is the art of the possible for the Liberals? I suggest that the art of the possible for the Liberals is what their business friends will allow them to do.
That is precisely how this legislation is drawn up. The workers will be cast aside. The workers will be sacrificed because the Liberal coffers have to be fattened by the contributions of the employers who will say to their friends, “Look, we don’t want this legislation,” and it is not going to go through because the Liberals want that cash from the business interests out this province.
Mr Callahan: Point of order, Mr Speaker: I find it absolutely reprehensible that he would attribute to any member of this Legislature -- I withdrew my comment with reference to his leader.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. I allowed the opportunity of listening to your point of order and I do not think it is a point of order, so we now recognize the honourable member for Sudbury East.
Miss Martel: In the time I have, let me respond to this whole issue of delay because the member could not be further from the truth and what he said in here he should correct.
I go back, and before the recess of this House, even in July and in fact beginning last spring, my House leader went to the government House leader at House leaders’ meetings and said that we would be willing to deal with second reading of Bill 208 in this House. He went week after week and asked for this House to deal with that bill at this time.
We even suggested that we could do second reading on Bill 208, and because that Bill 162 was in the resources development committee we would agree to have another committee study that bill so that it could be passed and we could put into place the changes that labour and management had agreed to with the previous bill.
The delay we see now is coming from his government and his party because it is that group over there that wants the public hearings. If he goes back and checks the record, he will see that the day this bill was introduced in this House in January 1989, our party gave support to that bill. We said clearly at that time that we would be supporting this bill because it had been drawn up with consultation and negotiation between labour and management and we accepted that.
We would have dealt with it then. We would have had it passed and in place now. But what has happened is that the lobby by the employers has started over there and those people have now decided, without the committee even seeing it, without the committee even meeting to discuss it, that we will have full public hearings that will go on and on and on. If there was ever a group that is delaying, it is those people.
The reason is because they are now getting so much pressure by the employers that they want to get that into committee. They want to have as many employers as possible in there so they can tout the government line and they can change this bill from the bill that was presented and agreed to by this party. Shame on their heads because it is those people who are going to ensure more workers are hurt and killed in this province in the next few months.
The Acting Speaker: I would like to indicate to my honourable colleagues -- I see the honourable House leader. I was thinking the honourable member for Brampton South might have approximately two minutes left and he could adjourn the debate and we could turn to the House leader for indications of next week’s House proceedings.
Mr Callahan: I can accept the sincerity of the emotion of the member for Sudbury East. As I said, she and her father have fought this long, but I want to say that if we do not get on with this -- I have a resident in my riding; I am not going to give his name, nor am I going to give the disorder he is involved with, but to me it is very important --
Mr Callahan: I can understand why people turn off their sets when we are on. I mean when you get people making comments and acting like children --
Hon Mr Ward: I like watching him so much I got a 28-inch screen,
Mr Callahan: In any event, I have a member in my riding who will not have his problem solved under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Yet some of the advances that are being made, some of the investigations that are being made, some of the education that is being done, may solve his problem or may prevent it from happening to somebody else.
I find it significant that if we can educate our workers and create a better workplace for them, then we create a better environment for Ontario. I would think that the official opposition should care more about the question of the workers of this province than advancing their own cause.
On motion by Mr Callahan, the debate was adjourned.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53. the business of the House for the upcoming week is as follows:
On Monday 23 October, second reading of Bills 47 and 46 and resumption of the second reading debate and conclusion, I hope, on Bill 208.
On Tuesday, a motion for interim supply, and resuming second reading debate on Bills 47 and Bill 36.
Wednesday will be a continuation of unfinished business of Monday and Tuesday and committee of the whole on Bills 2 and 3.
Thursday will be a continuation of any previously unfinished business and second reading of Bill 36.
The House adjourned at 1804.