The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
CANADIAN VOLUNTEER KOREAN SERVICE MEDAL
Mr Farnan moved resolution 32:
That in the opinion of this House, the government of Canada should strike a distinctive Canadian Volunteer Korean Service Medal to be awarded to those Canadians who served in the Korean War, 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953.
Mr Farnan: In the quiet and peace of the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in the centre block of Canada’s seat of government lie Canada’s five Books of Remembrance. Together the books contain the names of 114,710 Canadians who lost their lives while serving in campaigns outside Canada since Confederation. The largest and first-created of the books records Canada’s fatalities in the First World War. It contains 66,655 names. In the Book of Remembrance for the Second World War, the names of 44,893 Canadians who died in that war appear. The book commemorating the war dead of Korea has 516 entries and that of the South African war and the Nile expedition combined, 283.
Newfoundland has its own Book of Remembrance in which are written the names of 2,363 native sons and daughters who were killed during war service between 1914 and 1949, the date of the province’s entry into Confederation.
Mr Speaker, I would ask for clarification. I believe the time allowed is 20 minutes, is that not correct?
The Speaker: The rules have been changed this session. It is 10 minutes.
Mr Farnan: It is appropriate that the Memorial Chamber housing our country’s Books of Remembrance should be located in that section of our nation’s Parliament Buildings that is referred to as the Peace Tower, because that is precisely why these men and women died. Together with millions of young Canadian men and women, they had volunteered to protect a way of life, a way of life that was based on peace and freedom.
Today we are discussing the contribution and the appropriate recognition of Canada’s Korean War veterans. We are talking about 26,791 Canadians who volunteered to serve in Korea.
There has never been any doubt as to why Canadians volunteered to serve in Korea. On the title page of the Korea Book of Remembrance, just below the Canadian Coat of Arms, are emblazoned the words “In this book is written the names of Canadians who gave their lives for freedom while serving with the United Nations in Korea, 1950-1953.” There it is in the boldest of print, the words “Canadians,” “serving” and “freedom.”
To further emphasize the point as to why Canadians volunteered to serve in Korea, let me draw the attention of this House to the opening page of the Korea Book of Remembrance. There is the emblem and the symbol of the United Nations. The olive branch, of course, has always been the symbol of peace, as the United Nations has been an organization dedicated to peace.
I have taken some time to underline the motivation of Canada’s volunteers in the Korean War. It is important because my resolution is not intended to glorify war, rather it is to recognize the sacrifices made to uphold freedom and peace and to applaud the generosity of spirit that would inspire young men and women to risk their lives in such a noble cause.
So it is fitting that the Korea Book of Remembrance should be placed alongside the Books of Remembrance for the First World War and the Second World War. The volunteers for each had the same motivation and generosity of spirit. They experienced the same fears and anxieties; they endured the same separation from home and from loved ones; they witnessed the same carnage of fallen comrades; they must live with the same injuries and nightmares; they survived similar setbacks and ultimately won the same victory. The Canadian Korea volunteer is in every way the champion of freedom and peace as were our Canadian volunteers of the First World War and the Second World War.
Among the aims and objectives of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada is the following, “To strive to obtain for veterans of the Korean War the recognition which we feel has not been given.”
What the Korea Veterans Association seeks is recognition by the Canadian government of their contribution to peace, freedom and security. Certainly, the valour, courage and sacrifice of our Korea veterans has been recognized. Korea veterans are the recipients of the United Nations Service Medal and the Commonwealth Korea Medal. Unfortunately, the Canadian government has never honoured our Korea veterans with a distinctively Canadian medal.
The arguments currently put forward to justify the failure of the Canadian government to appropriately recognize our Korea veterans are contained in a letter dated 15 January 1986 from the Honourable George Hees to MP Ian Deans. The minister argues that there are already two medals honouring Korea veterans, and questions why there should be another.
Of course, the minister was only too well aware that there was no Canadian medal, so he attempted to justify this fact by suggesting that the Commonwealth Korea Medal as awarded to Canadians is distinctive in that it is minted of pure silver rather than cupro-nickel and incorporates the word “Canada” on the reverse of the medal.
All of this cannot hide the fact that there is no Canadian Volunteer Korean Service Medal, and our Korea veterans are not satisfied that the word “Canada” imprinted on the back of the Common-wealth Korea Medal can in some way be considered compensation for a distinctively Canadian Korea service medal. They would proudly wear a decoration that clearly indicated recognition by their own Canadian government.
Perhaps the hardest blow of all to our Korea veterans must be the following paragraph in the same letter:
“Certainly, if there were ever consideration given in the past to the idea of striking a third medal for Korea service, I cannot imagine the same consideration being given now or in the future. The cost of producing and distributing 25,000 medals for veterans and their families now, 30 years after the end of the war, would be prohibitive.”
The Honourable Mr Hees is wrong. When one examines the examples of government waste as outlined by the Auditor General, the cost of producing and distributing a special medal to our Korea veterans would be minuscule in comparison to the waste in government spending.
Nor does the passage of time in any way detract from the obligation of our Canadian government. It is only recently that the federal government attempted to rectify the injustices to Japanese-Canadians that occurred during the Second World War. Surely we have allowed sufficient time to pass, 36 years, without proper recognition of Canada’s Korea veterans.
I must stress at this point that the Honourable Mr Hees is universally respected by veterans.
We do not know why the Canadian government has been so intransigent in doing what is right and honourable by Korea veterans. Certainly, I believe that the striking of a distinctive Canadian Volunteer Korean Service Medal would be applauded by all veterans and by the Canadian public at large.
It is my purpose in presenting this resolution to the House to set in motion a process ultimately resulting in our Korea veterans receiving from Canada the recognition they have already received from the United Nations and the Commonwealth.
With unanimous support for this resolution today we, the provincial representatives of the people of Ontario, will send a clear message to our federal government. I will request of the Clerk that a resolution be forwarded to all provincial and territorial governments and I intend to lobby each of these governments to pass similar resolutions. Hopefully, the federal government will then take heed of a unified message coming as it will from coast to coast. Only the federal government has the power to properly recognize our Korean veterans. They volunteered as Canadians. It is about time we honoured them as Canadians.
There is a slogan that is commonly used in circles of Korean veterans. It reads, “Though we are forgotten, we will not forget.” This slogan poignantly sums up the despair that the Korean veterans feel as a result of the failure of the government of Canada to recognize their magnificent and generous contribution to peace and freedom. It is time that we removed the reason that caused such a slogan ever to be phrased.
I want to recognize the assistance I received from Don Randall, CD, the national president of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada in researching this issue. I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of KVA Unit 13 President Alex Ferguson and other members of the unit.
Finally, I ask today for the unanimous support of the House for this resolution. Let our message to the federal government be clear and strong. It is time to recognize these Canadians. It is time to realize that they fought as Canadians. It is time that they were honoured as Canadians.
The Speaker: I did not want to take up the time of the member who is speaking, but the rule has changed and you will have a further opportunity during the 15 minutes for your party to speak, and you also get two minutes to wind up.
Mr J. M. Johnson: As an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 134, Mount Forest, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this debate on ballot item 29, the resolution by the member for Cambridge requesting that the government of Canada should strike a distinctive Canadian Volunteer Korean Service Medal to be awarded to those Canadians who served in the Korean War, the war that started 25 June 1950 and continued for over three years until an armistice was concluded on 27 July 1953.
Our caucus is very supportive of this resolution and I feel quite honoured to speak in support of our veterans of the Korean War.
Perhaps that term “Korean War” should be the first item that needs clarification. Too often, people refer to the Korean conflict when indeed it was a terrible war. I do not know the guidelines you are to use to determine if armed conflicts between nations should be classified as conflicts or wars.
What I would like to remind the members of this assembly of is the terrible cost of the Korean War. The North Korean troops launched a full-scale invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950. The war concluded with an armistice on 27 July 1953, having lasted for three years and one month and having accounted for about 4 million casualties including civilians. South Korean casualties were some 1,313,000. Communist casualties were estimated at about 2.5 million. The United States lost 33,629 dead in action; South Korea, 47,000; and the United Nations forces, 3,194. The estimated losses in action of the People’s Republic of China were 900,000 men; and of North Korea, 520,000. During the war, 43 per cent of Korea’s industrial facilities were destroyed and 33 per cent of its homes devastated.
I would submit that indeed was a terrible war, and to use the term “conflict” to describe the Korean War is to belittle the contributions made by Korean War veterans to the sake of world peace. We have used the term “conflict” too often, and I have even used it myself in the past. Perhaps this debate will help put an end to that unfortunate habit.
What about the Canadian participation? The member for Cambridge has made mention of these facts. I might just mention to highlight it, that 26,791 Canadians served in the Korean theatre between the beginning of hostilities in 1950 and the signature of the armistice in 1953. The names of 516 Canadians are inscribed in the Korea Book of Remembrance displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Parliament Buildings. The same 516 names appear in the official United Nations Book of Remembrance for Canada enshrined in the Memorial Monument for the United Nations force at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Pusan, Korea.
I contacted Ray LePointe, secretary of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, and he very kindly provided me with much of the information that I am using, and also I thank the member for Cambridge. I do thank him for extending to me that courtesy.
On a personal note I would like to tell the members about a lifelong friend of mine, Lincoln McDougall, who was a young man at the time of the Korean War, a young man who served in the medical corps in Korea. I asked Lincoln if it was a conflict or a war, and Lincoln told me about the countless bodies, the wounded, the carnage that he encountered sometimes on a daily basis. In his opinion it was a war -- a hell of a war, and as Lincoln and many others have said, “War is hell.” Do these veterans of the Korean War deserve a distinctive Canadian volunteer service medal? The answer, my answer, my party’s answer, is yes, an unqualified yes.
I discussed this resolution with the president of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, Don Randall of Guelph. He was very supportive of this resolution, and impressed on me the very logical reasons why the federal government should strike such a medal, many reasons that the member for Cambridge has already outlined.
I also might mention that I am privileged to know Gord Bennett, vice-president of the Korea Veterans association, Unit 13, Cambridge. Mr Bennett is also the chairman of memorials and cenotaphs. In 1987, Gord, as parade marshal, very kindly invited me to attend a couple of very impressive services in my riding in the villages of Elora and Arthur, and also Salem in the township of Nichol. The Royal Canadian Legion’s branches 229, Elora; and 226, Arthur, paraded with the Korea veterans to their respective cenotaphs, and on each occasion I was proud and honoured to be involved in the rededication of the memorials to pay tribute to our fallen comrades of the Korean War as well, of course, as to honour our Great World War fallen comrades. I was very pleased to march with these fine veterans and participate in a small way on these two very special occasions.
I might also mention that a few years earlier, I also had the honour to participate in a similar service on Remembrance Day in Caledon East. On that occasion, the consul general from South Korea laid a wreath on behalf of his grateful country. Perhaps it would be of benefit for all of us to reflect on the history of that war and what might have been because of the very volatile world scene at that time. Many of the members were not born at that time, perhaps including you, Mr Speaker, so they will not have the benefit of their memory but will have to rely on history books.
I would like to just make reference to an article from one of the historical publications of the time.
“On June 25, 1950, the North Koreans, on the prompting of the Soviet Union, unleashed a carefully planned attack across the 38th parallel. This was apparently done without the advance knowledge of the Chinese. The United Nations Security Council met in emergency session and passed a resolution calling for the assistance of all UN members in halting the North Korean invasion. On June 27, US president Harry S Truman, without asking Congress to declare war, ordered United States forces to come to the assistance of South Korea as part of the UN ‘police action.’”
I might just suggest that since President Truman ordered American troops into action without approval of Congress, that is likely why it was a conflict and not a war. Congress never declared war. In the eyes of the Americans, it had to be a conflict. That is one of the main reasons our Korean veterans have had difficulty in receiving recognition for their engagement in a war and not a skirmish or a conflict.
After the start of hostilities on 25 June, the North Korean army advanced rapidly into South Korea.
The “South Korean Army was completely defeated, and the four ill-equipped American divisions that had been rushed into the battle were driven all the way back across the peninsula to a small beachhead covering the approaches to Pusan. Then on September 15, troops commanded by Douglas MacArthur made a daring amphibious landing at lnch’ŏn...This brilliant manoeuvre succeeded in cutting the North Korean lines; the North Korean Army was totally shattered, and over 125,000 prisoners were captured by the Allies.
“As the Allied forces now advanced back to the 38th parallel, the Chinese warned that the presence of UN forces in North Korea would be unacceptable to the security of the Chinese People’s Republic and would force the Chinese to intervene in the war. UN forces, however, ignored the warnings and advanced into North Korea with the expressed intention of unifying the country.
“On November 24, MacArthur announced his ‘home by Christmas’ offensive. The next day approximately 180,000 Chinese ‘volunteers’ entered the war, and, by December 15, Allied troops had been driven back to the 38th parallel. On December 31, 1950, the Communists began their second invasion of South Korea, but their attack soon faltered and the troop lines eventually stabilized along the 38th parallel.
“On April 11, 1951, President Truman relieved MacArthur as UN commander and as commander of the US forces in the Far East, because MacArthur openly urged a bombing of Chinese bases, an action which Truman’s advisers felt was apt to bring the Soviets into the war.”
On 10 July 1951, truce talks started; on 27 July 1953, an armistice was concluded.
There you have it, Mr Speaker. How close we came to total war with China and with the Soviet Union. What if General Douglas MacArthur, commander-in-chief, United Nation Forces in Korea, had withstood President Truman’s orders? What if China had been bombed? What then? The Third World War? Atomic war? We will never know, but we know it was close.
And so, may I say in conclusion that to support this resolution calling upon our federal government to strike a distinctive Canadian voluntary Korean service medal to be awarded to those Canadians who served in this historic war is the least we can do to pay our respects to these valiant veterans, and we should urge the federal government to accept the intent of this well-thought-out resolution by the member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan).
We, as members of this assembly, must always be aware of the needs of our veterans of all wars and serve them to the best of our ability, as they have served us so well in the past.
Mr Keyes: As an associate member of Branch 9 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Kingston, I am pleased to rise in support of the resolution just proposed by my colleague the member for Cambridge and also supported by the member for Wellington: “That in the opinion of this House, the government of Canada should strike a distinctive Canadian Volunteer Korean Service Medal to be awarded to those Canadians who served in the Korean war -- 25th of June, 1950 to 27th of July, 1953.” In fact, it is particularly timely to address this issue, since next year, 1990, marks the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean war, an appropriate time, therefore, to officially honour those Canadians who fought in that war.
Before addressing the specific issues concerning a Canadian Korean volunteer service medal, I would like to just go back in history and take a brief look at this whole history of medal giving. All of us are familiar with famous military medals around the world, particularly the Victoria Cross, for an example, which is the Commonwealth’s highest military decoration for bravery. Established by Queen Victoria in 1856 during the Crimean War, it was first presented to a Canadian, Lieutenant Alexander Dunn, for his service with the British army during the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Since that time, some 91 Canadians have received this award, and this total includes at least 20 native Ontarians.
Probably the most famous Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross was the First World War flying ace Billy Bishop, who received the award in 1917. Of course, we are all familiar with the fact that the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa just recently acquired an original Victoria Cross medal at considerable cost, thanks to donations from the private sector or an originally presented medal to a Canada.
And of course, we all are aware of two other world-famous military medals, one from France, the Croix de Guerre, which was established in 1915 and which has been presented to more than 900 Canadians since that time; and the US Medal of Honor or congressional Medal of Honor, the foremost US military decoration, which was established in 1861.
In Canada, we have had a long history of awarding medals, not only for military distinction, honour and bravery but also for civilian bravery and recognition of outstanding contribution to Canadian society. I will just review the highlights of some of those for members.
The Order of Canada was established in the centennial of Confederation, 1 July 1967. Since this order has been established, over 1,800 Canadian men and women have received one of the three levels of award: member, officer, companion. “Recipients have included heroes, artists, engineers, nurses, village tradesmen, philanthropists, tycoons -- even a man who saved the trumpeter swan,” as reported in the January 1989 issue of the Toronto Star, namely, Honest Ed Mirvish -- Alan Eagleson, George Hees and skater Brian Orser.
On a more local note for the city of Kingston, I was present last month when the great Canadian artist André Biéler, at age 92, received the Order of Canada in bed in the Hotel Dieu Hospital, one of the few ceremonies provided outside of Rideau Hall.
The Order of Ontario was established by this government on 15 May 1986 to “recognize those persons who have rendered service of the greatest distinction and of singular excellence in any field of endeavour benefitting society in Ontario or elsewhere;” recipients such as Morley Callahan, June Callwood, Dr Polanyi and the former Lieutenant Governor Pauline McGibbon.
The Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, established in June 1973, was created also “as a means of affording recognition and tribute to citizens whose selflessness, humanity and kindness make this a better province in which to live.”
Canada has also established several military awards since Confederation. Because of our close ties to Great Britain, however, most early Canadian military service medals were issued in the United Kingdom. In fact, we only issued three service medals of our own prior to 1971: in 1885 the Northeast Canada Medal for those who fought against the Riel rebellion; in 1899 the Canada General Service Medal for those who fought against the Fenian raids, and in 1945 the Canada Volunteer Service Medal for all those who volunteered for military service during the Second World War.
I would like now to turn members’ attention to the Korean War and specifically to the fact that there never has been an official Canadian government medal issued to veterans of this war, known in fact as Canada’s last fighting war. Canada’s fighting veterans -- although we as a country, as we know, did not declare war -- were really fulfilling our United Nation’s obligations.
Initially, Canada contributed three destroyers and an air transport squadron. On 7 August 1950 the late Prime Minister Louis St Laurent announced that rearmament measures and plans for a Canadian army special force would carry out Canada’s UN obligations throughout the world. Thus, in December 1950 the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry landed in Korea, followed by the Canadian Army Special Force the following May.
Canadian troops in Korea fought on rough terrain and in an unfamiliar environment. The UN forces established a stable front near the 38th parallel, which was the mission to which they were assigned, and until the war ended on the 27 July 1953, the fighting took place along this line. Canadians distinguished themselves, particularly in a major engagement at Kap’Yŏng in April 1951.
As has been mentioned today by both speakers, over 25,000 Canadians fought in Korea during the war -- 22,000 army, 3,600 navy. A total of 516 Canadians died for the cause of peace in Korea, and 312 of those were killed in action during the war itself. Others died from various causes in training, in transit or in the war theatre.
Between 1950 and 1956, over 1,200 Canadian servicemen were wounded or injured during the Korean War. By all accounts, Canadians performed admirably and yet it is still called “Canada’s forgotten war.” We have a book by that title, and a video as well.
People have said there have been enough medals and pins awarded for Korean veterans. The Korea Medal, known as the Commonwealth Medal in 1950, was awarded to all those forces which took part in the operation between 1950 and 1953. Our issue, worn by one member of this House, was in silver.
Also, the United Nations Korea Medal of 1950 was awarded to those who served with the UN forces during the Korean War. The Ambassador of Peace Medal in 1978 was awarded through the Korean government and issued by the Korean veterans association of Seoul, Korea. Since 1978, approximately 700 veterans have returned to Korea to receive their medals.
In 1987, the government of Canada lapel pin for voluntary Korean service was issued by the government to all who served in the Korean War in response to a lobbying effort by veterans for such a medal, yet we have never struck a distinctive Canadian medal.
Therefore, there are four specific reasons:
The Canadian government has not recognized it officially through a voluntary service medal such as the one given to veterans after the Second World War. It is only recognized through the lapel pin.
Unlike the Second World War, there was no Canadian honour bestowed on Korean veterans when they came home. After the Second World War, veterans were treated as heroes. After the Korean War, veterans had the impression that no one knew or cared about what they had been doing. They felt, and still feel, forgotten.
Korean War veterans are not the same as other Canadian forces since 1953, when people used the argument that any serving veteran should now be given such a medal. The Korean War veterans are Canada’s last fighting veterans and should be recognized.
Again, as I said in the beginning, next year is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, a fitting time for the Canadian government to make amends for past oversight and officially welcome with a medal all those who served in that war. I urge all members of the House to be present to vote in favour of the resolution that has been proposed by the member for Cambridge, “That in the opinion of this House, the government of Canada should strike a distinctive Canadian Volunteer Service Medal to be awarded to those Canadians who served in the Korean War -- 25th of June, 1950 to 27th of July, 1953.” We will remember them.
Mr Mackenzie: I too would like to rise in support of the resolution by my colleague the member for Cambridge, that the government of Canada should strike a distinctive Canadian Volunteer Korean Service Medal to be awarded to those Canadians who served in the Korean War. It has been a long-standing tradition in Canadian history to award service medals to those men and women who, during the course of a war, served their country with distinction, and yet no such medal has ever been awarded to the veterans of the Korean War.
I am convinced that this is simply an oversight on the part of the federal government -- at least I hope it is just an oversight -- and thus I rise to remind members of the important contribution made by Canadian men and women as they fought for the United Nations and for the principle of collective security in our world.
December 1950, the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry landed in Korea, followed in May of that year by the Canadian Army Special Force. They were ready to carry out Canada’s obligations to the United Nations. They fought on rough terrain and in an unfamiliar environment, as has been already stated, but none the less distinguished themselves, particularly in the major engagement at Kap’Yŏng on 23 April 1951.
The 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade was ordered to protect the withdrawal through Kap’Yŏng R valley of the South Korean division, which had been dislodged by a major Chinese offensive. The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, were assigned forward hilltop positions in that engagement. The Canadians were to be on the west side of the valley and the Australians on the east.
The Australians bore the brunt of the initial attack and were forced to retreat, with 155 casualties, late 24 April. The Chinese then turned their attention to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, which managed in heavy, all-night fighting on 24 and 25 April, to stop the advance of the Chinese troops. Canadian casualties in that particular battle were 10 killed and 23 wounded. This particular battle contributed significantly to the defeat of the general Chinese offensive. Indeed, the Canadian soldiers distinguished themselves to the point that even the American government awarded them with distinguished unit citations.
In light of such an important contribution by the Canadian Armed Forces, I ask every member of this House, has the time not come for Canadians to recognize the achievements and sacrifices made by their fellow Canadians on behalf of their country? I suggest that the answer to this ought to be a resounding yes, and therefore I do urge support of the resolution by my colleague in support of striking a distinctive Canadian Volunteer Korean Service Medal.
Mr Eakins: I would like, first of all, to commend my honourable colleague the member for Cambridge for introducing this very fine resolution and giving us an opportunity to rise and speak in support and urge the federal government to strike a distinctive recognition of those who served during the Korean War.
I am pleased to speak today, to rise in my place and speak as one who had the opportunity to volunteer and serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1943 to 1945, and I speak today as a proud member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 67, in Lindsay.
I want to say that whether it is the First World War or the Second World War or the Korean War, Canadians volunteered their service in defence of freedom and the way of life that we enjoy today. This recognition is long overdue for quite some time. I prayed to the cenotaph in my community on 11 November, and I am always proud to see that the cenotaph there recognizes the service of those who served during the Korean War. From a personal standpoint, I am very proud to have in my possession the CVSM, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for the Second World War, and I think it is only appropriate that we recognize those who also served during the Korean War.
It is interesting to note that we have in our assembly one who served with the United Nations in Korea in the years 1953 and 1954, and that is the honourable member for Carleton East (Mr Morin), Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs in this government. He was a member of the Van Doos and held the rank of second lieutenant. My colleague, at the tender age of 22, was a platoon commander for the 3rd Battalion of the Van Doos, and he has very fond memories of his regiment and his battalion.
But we must not only honour those who served and make sure that we keep the memory alive of those who served and gave their all; we also have a responsibility to do everything within our power to promote friendship and understanding throughout the world. We have a responsibility to be windows to the world in this understanding.
At the close of the Second World War, I believe it was General Eisenhower who said, “We have learned to win the war, but we have never learned to win the peace.” It was he who suggested that communities throughout the world should become sister cities in order to get to know each other, in order to keep the peace.
I am pleased to say that the community I represent, and I had the privilege of serving as the mayor of that community, the town of Lindsay twinned with the city of Nayoro, Hokkaido, Japan. I believe we were the second in Ontario to twin with a Japanese city and I think we were the seventh in Canada. Today there are some eight communities in Ontario twinned with Japanese communities alone, and some 32 in Canada. So I believe that many of our communities today are taking up the challenge of keeping alive the spirit of friendship and understanding.
I am pleased, in these very short moments, to rise and to congratulate the member for Cam-bridge for introducing this resolution, for giving my colleagues and myself an opportunity to rise in support and to urge the federal government, with the 40th anniversary fast approaching, to provide a distinctive recognition to those who served during the Korean War.
Mr Kormos: My colleague and indeed good friend the member for Cambridge illustrates once again why I am so proud to share a role in the opposition with him. He shows insight and sensitivity and leadership in bringing this motion before this Legislature this morning.
I, of course, support this resolution enthusiastically and, quite frankly, sincerely. In the communities that I have the honour and privilege of representing, Welland and Thorold in the Niagara Peninsula, we have strong legion branches. In the area of the Niagara region, we have strong Canadian corps units that serve the community well and serve their memberships well. Among those memberships are some of the 21,940 Canadians who served in the army in Korea and some 3,600 naval personnel. We are blessed to have persons in our communities, and certainly in Welland and Thorold, who remember perhaps too vividly -- who regretfully remember too vividly -- the horrors of warfare as a result of their own participation in the Korean War.
December 1950 was when the second battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry landed in Korea, and in May of the following year the Canadian Army Special Force arrived to supplement its contribution. As a result of the courageous and valiant participation by these Canadian military personnel in Korea, the threat, the potential -- and others who spoke about this this morning have already spoken of that -- the real fear that existed at the time of yet a third world war was averted.
The Canadian participation in this United Nations peacekeeping role and support for South Korea was an action that was supported by the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation here in Canada, the predecessors, the fathers and mothers of the New Democratic Party, and supported enthusiastically. Indeed, it was at their urging, among other things, that the Canadian government finally relented and agreed to participate in this call by the United Nations.
There were indeed sacrifices. Eleven officers and 300 others died, left their lives in Korea. Let’s remember they were young people, many of them but teenagers. They never came back to see the Canada of the 1950s, of the 1960s or indeed of the 1980s. They never came back to see their children grow into adults and to see the course of events as we have seen them unfold here in Canada. So over 300 young Canadians left their lives behind in Korea, again a sacrifice that is unparalleled, and some 1,200 others were wounded or injured.
From all sources to which I have referred, one gleans the basic fact that the Canadians performed outstandingly, indeed admirably, among other places in a major engagement at Kap’yŏng in April 1951. It is not just regrettable but thoroughly unacceptable that our federal government cannot see fit to honour these persons who so fearlessly were prepared to give so much for the sake of a freedom that we enjoy so thoroughly today.
I join with the member for Cambridge, compliment him and thank him for his leadership in producing and presenting this resolution to the Legislature today. I am confident that there is not a single member of this Legislature who would not follow the leadership provided by my colleague the member for Cambridge and indeed support this timely and most appropriate resolution.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Mr Speaker, I do not intend to speak again but the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) had intended to speak and support the resolution. She is tied up in committee. With the consent of the members of the House, I would like to see our two or three minutes’ time remaining go to the sponsor of the resolution.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): The honourable member has asked for unanimous consent for the third party’s time to go to the member presenting the resolution.
Mr Farnan: I thank my colleague the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson).
I was born in Ireland and, of course, born during the war so I have no experience of what war was like. However, we had quite a number of people living in our household -- there were 13 besides my mom and dad -- and I did share a bedroom with three brothers and my uncle, Uncle Denny.
Uncle Denny was my mother’s brother who had served during the Second World War. He had gone to war as a young man and after the war came back to live with our family as my grandparents had died. We could never talk to Uncle Denny about the war. He would never speak about it and whenever we attempted to ask him about it, he would have his own way of ending the conversation. We knew he did not want to speak about it.
However, I can tell members that one of the most vivid memories of my childhood was my Uncle Denny waking up in the middle of the night screaming. He would be sweating, nervous, anxious, his knees closely tight into his chest and his hands up around his head. My brothers Des and Jim and I would comfort him and bring him back to the reality of our home, of his home. He never had to tell us much about the war. Somehow or other, these incidents had the most profound effect on us, the horrors of war.
It is not just those who volunteered and died who are the heroes of war. It is every single young man and woman who for the cause of peace and freedom and security put his or her life on the line. I think that is what we are talking about today.
We are talking about a significant number, over 25,000 young men and women, who in the cause of peace and freedom, volunteered to serve in Korea, and the reason they volunteered for Korea was exactly the same reason that young men and women volunteered to serve in the First World War and the Second World War.
They had the same call and they responded in the same generous and magnificent way. They provided the same service so amply described by my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie). Surely they deserve the same recognition and the same honour.
One of the most universally respected ministers of veterans affairs is the Honourable George Hees. Any veteran I have spoken to holds this minister in the absolute highest respect. I venture to say to the members of this House that Mr Hees has been arguing the case for Korea veterans to receive the proper recognition, the recognition of a distinctive Canadian medal, and he has been arguing this case in cabinet. If there is any possibility at all that Korea vets will be recognized, I think it will be under the leadership of George Hees as the federal Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Next year, marking the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, would indeed be a most appropriate time for the government of Canada to make good on what has been a negligent and sad situation, the failure to recognize these men and women.
There have been two arguments that have been put forward. Perhaps they have been articulated by Mr Hees, but it is my belief that he simply is putting forward the position of the government and not his own personal view. The two arguments that have been put forward, as I said, were expressed in a letter to Ian Deans back in 1986, a letter of 15 January 1986.
One argument was that too much time has passed. That argument does not hold up. It was only last year that we recognized the injustice of the Canadian government to Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. A much longer period of time had passed before we recognized the injustice to Japanese Canadians and we attempted to rectify it. Now, 36 years have passed since the end of the Korean War, 39 years since the beginning of the Korean War. It is time that we recognized the injustice and did what was right and proper by these Korea veterans.
The final point is that it would cost too much. I do not want to diminish the tone of this debate, because I want to say on behalf of the Conservative and Liberal members who spoke in the debate -- and I want to commend all who spoke and contributed -- that it has been a very high level of debate. But I look at today’s clippings, Thursday 23 November, an article in the Toronto Star, and I find that a strip club in Ontario got a federal grant of $500,000.
How on the one hand can we say to our Korea veterans, “It costs too much to recognize you and to strike a medal in your honour,” when we have here, “Strip Club in Ontario Got Federal $500,000”? It says, “This brings to three the number of strip clubs financed by the Federal Business Development Bank to the tune of about $2 million.” There is so much waste in the federal government that has been pointed out by the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr Keyes), yet the federal government says to our Korea veterans, “We cannot recognize you honourably because indeed we do not have enough money.”
I too have had the honour of being involved with the Royal Canadian Legion. I am an honorary member of Branch 121, an honour I received shortly after my election and one that I treasure highly. Perhaps what convinces me more than anything else about the correctness of honouring our Korea veterans is the view that is taken by the veterans of the Second World War themselves.
When I speak to the veterans of the Second World War, they hold in the highest esteem the veterans of the Korean War. When they sit down and get together as friends and have their recollections and sharing of friendship and experiences, the stories are the same: the carnage of their fallen comrades, the disabilities they have to carry through life, the nightmares they have. They had the same separation from home and loved ones. My friends, the experience is the same. The only thing that is different is the recognition and the honour.
As it appears this resolution will be unanimous, Mr Speaker, I hope you will undertake on behalf of this House to forward the resolution to the federal government. It is my intention to lobby all provincial and territorial governments to pass similar resolutions. It is my dear hope that with resolutions passed from coast to coast there will be a clear, strong and very vigorous message the government of Canada will accept and that for this coming year, the 40th anniversary of the Korean War, it will pass and bring into legislation a special medal, a Canada Volunteer Korean Service Medal. Our Korean vets deserve it. They are Canadians and they deserve a Canadian medal.
Mr Eves moved resolution 26:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing the shortages of health manpower in certain health care sectors in this province, including nurses, physician specialists, technologists and technicians, and the shortages in all types of health professions in northern Ontario, and recognizing that there is no effective means presently available to monitor the province-wide supply of health professionals, and recognizing that government and all health care professionals should work co-operatively to remedy these shortages and to identify the short-term and long-term needs for the supply of health man-power; the government of Ontario should support the establishment and funding of an independent Health Manpower Planning Institute with representatives of the health care professions, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Health to plan for the future health manpower needs of the province.
Mr Eves: My reason for making the motion and resolution here today is really pretty simple. I think we have seen over the past several months problems with respect to the area of health manpower supply and demand. I think it has become very evident throughout the province, especially in certain areas and in certain special-ties, that there is the need for more co-operation and co-ordination of manpower planning among both the government and health professions.
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario recommended some time ago, in February of this year as a matter of fact, an independent institute for manpower planning, in its report on the nursing manpower shortage. This proposal envisioned membership in such an institute that would include representatives from all the regulated health professions, to be set out by the health professions legislation review, and from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Education.
As I said, having received no commitment from the Ministry of Health to support its proposal, this past February the RNAO went ahead and held a meeting with interested representatives from the various professions and the provincial government.
Presently, manpower planning is fragmented with each health care profession having its own committee for planning, but these committees seldom, if ever, talk to each other and they exist in isolation from one another. Since the RNAO’s February 1989 meeting, the professions have come together. They now realize there is a need to establish some co-ordination with respect to health manpower planning. They have come to the conclusion that some sort of co-ordinating body is desperately needed.
The institute or co-ordinating body must determine how to define need for specific health care professions and help health professions determine where they fit into the overall health picture in Ontario. Interested professions to date include physiotherapists, psychologists, the Ontario Medical Association, occupational therapists and nurses, among others.
We have had many examples to prove that a more co-ordinated effort is needed in the health manpower field in the last several months. I think every member of the Legislature is probably aware of the nursing manpower shortage in Ontario. There were four separate studies, each of which came to remarkably similar, if in some cases not identical recommendations as to why we have a nursing shortage in Ontario and what could be done to alleviate it.
We only have to remember the problems we have had in the province’s health care system, in particular with respect to intensive care unit nurses the huge backlogs we have had with respect to cardiovascular surgery and the problems we have had with neonatal care. Many of these are due primarily to a shortage of qualified nursing staff in those specialties.
We have seen the closing of some hospital beds, particularly in the Metropolitan Toronto area, some for budget reasons but some also, quite frankly, because there are not enough nursing specialists available to be able to conduct the procedures that have to be done. In the long run it is the people of Ontario who really suffer because they get put on a waiting list and cannot receive treatment when they need it.
We have also seen, in the last several months especially, a shortage of radiation therapists and technologists. We have gone through the experience of Princess Margaret Hospital, and unfortunately in other cancer treatment centres in southern Ontario as well, where we cannot fit all the patients that we need into our system, even though the system perhaps would have the capacity to do it. Because of a shortage of radiotherapy technologists, we have had to start sending these patients to other centres in Ontario, or in some other cases even outside the province to other provinces, to Halifax and in some cases to the United States of America as well.
It is plain to see that we need a more co-operative, thoughtful approach as to our future needs in health manpower in the province. What I am suggesting here is anything but political. I ask members of the Legislature here this morning to treat this as a nonpartisan matter, because that is certainly the intent with which the resolution was drafted.
I am not going to stand here today and ask questions or talk about issues we talk about in question period or other debates. I think this issue rises above partisan politics and I really think the independent suggestion of the RNAO for a Health Manpower Planning Institute is a very valid one indeed.
According to Ministry of Health statistics, in northern Ontario there is one doctor for every 756 people. The World Health Organization says the ratio should be one doctor for every 600 people. According to the 1988 OMA report on recruitment and retention of health care professionals in northern Ontario, there is a shortage of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropodists, audiologists, mental health workers and nurses with psychiatric training.
Many of these shortages reflect province-wide shortages within these professions, but there are also many northern communities with vacancies for doctors and even general practitioners. In my own riding of Parry Sound, I can tell members that communities such as Powassan and South River have been agonizing over getting doctors and medical practitioners to come to their community for a long time.
I think the underserviced area program of the Ministry of Health is a very valid program, but when we talk to many health care professionals, they indicate that although they too believe it is a good program, there is much more that can be done in the way of incentive and much more that can be done to try to achieve a proper ratio of medical practitioners for population.
The community of Burk’s Falls in my riding has a very small hospital that originally was started by the Red Cross and is now run by the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital. They have a problem in that they have six physicians trying not only to staff the hospital, but also to cover a rather large area in terms of geography in several communities representing approximately 15,000 people.
As members can see by the ratio the World Health Organization suggests, six physicians to cover a population of 15,000 people is not very suitable. Because of that, about a year ago Burk’s Falls had to shut down its emergency department. I think the hospital itself is in danger of not continuing. This is just one small example in my own constituency. I am sure there are others especially from members who are from farther north in northern Ontario than I am. I am sure there are many other similar circumstances that exist throughout the north.
For generations, Ontario has also relied on immigrant physicians to fulfil its needs in the north, but new licensing requirements, both by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada generally throughout the country, have virtually cut off this source without compensating increases in the domestic supply of physicians.
I think a good example of this problem was the problem with respect to the cancer treatment centre in Sudbury, which I and other members raised in the Legislature a few months ago. Last May, the Sudbury cancer treatment centre lost one of its five specialists who returned to Britain after futile attempts to gain recognition as a cancer specialist in Canada. We also know the example of Dr Ho, who we are trying to get accredited so that he could run the research division of the cancer treatment centre in Sudbury.
Two other British cancer specialists in the Thunder Bay regional cancer treatment centre face the same problem and may have to leave as well. There are only three other cancer specialists in Thunder Bay.
Presently, there are only 12 psychiatrists serving the entire northwestern Ontario region that has a population base of 230,000 people. Only one of those 12 is a child psychiatrist. The recommended ratios for psychiatrists are one general practitioner psychiatrist for every 7,500 people in population and one child psychiatrist for every 35,000 population. These figures indicate that northwestern Ontario is currently short at least 18 psychiatrists, and it has only one child psychiatrist where it should have 12.
Rainy River has a population of in excess of 1,000 people. It has existed for over eight years now with one doctor. An American doctor, through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, sought to establish a practice at Rainy River for at least three years, but her attempt became so bogged down in red tape that she eventually gave up.
Last year, during fee negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association, the Ministry of Health indicated reports that said there were too many doctors in the province. The amazing fact is that nobody really knows how many doctors there are in the province. The ministry says there are 19,900. OHIP says it was billed by 17,245 in 1987. According to the Canada Year Book, there are 19,481. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says that as of 5 November 1988 there were 24,750 registered doctors holding licences to practise in the province.
The OMA does not agree with the government’s statistic that there is one doctor for every 470 patients. They claim that stat includes doctors who do not practise medicine, such as the Deputy Minister of Health himself, Dr Barkin.
In the past 10 years Ministry of Health figures indicate that the number of doctors has increased by 22 percent while the population has grown by only 5.7 per cent. However, other statistics do not agree with that.
I think this is another reason we have to have such an institute, so we can get to the bottom of these problems. I will defer the rest of my remarks until later.
Mr Grandmaître: I would like to congratulate the member for Parry Sound for bringing forward such a resolution. I think he is absolutely right by saying this is a nonpartisan issue and we would like to deal with this issue in a very civilized way.
I would like to remind the honourable member or members that this is not new. This has been thought of before. I suppose that is where the member picked this up or is trying to rekindle this idea. He is absolutely right, but at this time I would like to point out to the member what the government has done in the last three or four years, or in the last 24 months, and what we intend to do in the future to rectify the situation.
I agree with him that in this province many doctors are not practising. He gave a perfect example of the Deputy Minister of Health, who is not practising. I can tell the honourable member that maybe this is the reason so many lawyers are not practising; most of them are in this House as politicians. I did say I will would keep this discussion at a civilized level. I would like to continue to point out or amplify my reasons for not supporting the resolution.
The timing is not right for the establishment of a Health Manpower Planning Institute in Ontario at the moment. I would like to take this opportunity to give the members, first, some background, and second, the reasons the Ministry of Health does feel a new institute would serve us at this time.
Mr Pouliot: Frank Miclash, are you going to let this go by?
Mr Grandmaître: Ontario has been gathering health personnel statistics since 1977.
Mr Pouliot: Don’t let him get away with that.
Mr Grandmaître: I said I would try to keep this discussion civilized, so maybe the member from Manitouwadge could keep his comments until I am --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): We have a point of order, now that you have provoked him.
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: By tradition and convention it is customary in this House that honourable members refer to other members by their riding and for the member’s edification, with respect, it is the riding of Lake Nipigon.
The Acting Speaker: Now that we have had that interjection, I would like to remind all members, of course, that remarks are to be made through the chair.
Mr Grandmaître: Thank you for reminding me, Mr Speaker.
These were needed by planners attempting to determine how many health professionals are necessary for Ontario to provide the quality of care its citizens are accustomed to. May I remind members that quality care and quality services are words often spoken in this House. As the member for Parry Sound has pointed out, he agrees with quality care and quality services and I must say that he has provided the government with some of his knowledge about quality care. We take this opportunity to thank him, and to continue the work he has done as the critic for the Ministry of Health.
That is why, for example, the Ontario Physician Manpower Data Centre was established in 1977, to collect data on the physicians, medical interns and residents.
The Ministry of Health, of course, keeps records on health personnel. Unfortunately, they are not comprehensive because as pointed out by the member, not all groups or organizations in the health field provide accurate counts of personnel. The licensing bodies that govern physicians and nurses do, but the figures we have are not good enough, I must point out, to provide a complete picture of who is in the field and where.
For instance, some of the problems in cardiovascular surgery that we have been experiencing are not due to shortages in the supply of surgeons, but rather a lack of health support staff. This problem could have been addressed if we had a better picture of our projected resource needs based on accurate data. However, unlike the doctors’ and nurses’ professional bodies, which keep tabs on their people, no one has been keeping counts on the many other health professionals. In this instance, it would have been very valuable to know the numbers of cardiovascular profusionists.
As the member opposite is aware, the government has undertaken the health professions legislation review, which will mean self-governance for 24 health professions in Ontario. We anticipate the new Health Professions Act will include a requirement for regulatory bodies to collect a standard set of information on their personnel. Once we have the numbers, we will be able to use them to draw up the planning that avoids shortage scenarios and personnel pitfalls.
There is also, I am sure members will be happy to learn, a review under way of the Ontario Physician Manpower Data Centre. We want to see if the government can learn from the centre’s 12 years of operation whether its organizational structure can be applied to centres that would collect data on other health professions.
Recently, the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) announced a new project that is being undertaken in conjunction with the College of Nurses of Ontario. The CNO will conduct a manpower planning project to identify the college’s role in addressing personnel issues related to the field of nursing.
It will also look into the future possibilities of how nursing will change. What new tasks will nurses be expected to perform? The CNO is also examining questions of jurisdiction and I am pleased to note that the government is negotiating with the College of Nurses of Ontario and the University of Waterloo on a major project that would result in a nursing data centre.
Members can see that the first priority is to collect data on health care workers to know where we stand. The government is collecting data in other less specific areas, as well. For instance, the Ministry of Health is assessing manpower capabilities by disease categories in the areas of cancer co-ordination, critical care and cardiovascular care.
It is no longer a matter of assuming that having a specific number of cardiovascular surgeons or oncologists ensures that the supply is sufficient, that by having X medical personnel we meet the needs of heart or cancer patients. These types of conditions require team efforts to provide the optimum quality of care. Therefore, we must assess how well our existing teams deal with their workloads.
Health care personnel needs are also being examined by geographical locations, as pointed out by the member for Parry Sound. At the moment, the Northern Health Human Resources Committee is looking at health manpower issues in that part of the province. Our district health councils, through an enhancement of their roles in the communities they serve, are also looking at the manpower needs of their respective districts. The ministry recognizes that there are unique requirements and unique situations in each area.
Both the district health councils and the Northern Health Human Resources Committee report to the Minister of Health. The information they provide will help us tailor-fit their manpower needs in the future.
All this is well enough, but specific health manpower planning has to fit into a bigger, broader picture. That is where the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy comes in.
As the architect of the new vision of health for Ontario, the Premier’s council has set up a subcommittee which deals specifically with health manpower issues. It is chaired by Roy Aitken, who brings to his role a wealth of experience and the added perspective of the private sector. Under his leadership, the health manpower subcommittee is looking at ways to integrate our planning structure and co-ordinate our planning.
Those sitting on the subcommittee also provide a great deal of expertise, representing the health care provider community, the business community, district health councils and the community at large.
I believe it would be untimely to establish a health manpower planning institute in Ontario when all of this work is already going on. I am not saying that such an idea is unthinkable. The Premier’s council may well decide such an institute is just what we need.
Now that I have given my reasons why we will not consider the member’s resolution this morning, we will continue to, as he pointed out, co-ordinate and co-operate with professions in all categories. I can assure members that the government, the Ministry of Health, is very much aware of the pitfalls, the shortages, but we would like to point out that the government is serious about resolving the situation.
Mr Pouliot: I take some pride, although obviously to no avail, in supporting the resolution of the member for Parry Sound. I have, over the past five years, come to respect a great deal the propositions put forward by the member. He knows what he is putting forth. His heart is inevitably always in the right place. He has a social conscience, is most reasonable, and I think his resolution, his private member’s ballot presentation, reflects that for it is most civilized, the least that a member of this House could ask for when it comes to recognizing an essential service.
On the other hand, one can only be appalled and shocked by the repetitive argument and refusal from the government to recognize what is an acute need up north, what is a critical shortage. To have the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health, a person who is intelligent and educated, stand in his place in this House and -- it is nothing short of this -- attack the people of the north and try to make them believe that the government of Ontario is working on their shortages is nothing short of incorrect.
Last Saturday, for instance, in the community of Terrace Bay, located some 800 miles north of the greater Toronto area, I met with Reeve Jim Ziegler of the township of Terrace Bay; Reeve Michael Cosgrove, township of Schreiber; Reeve Gerald Brennan, township of Nipigon; Reeve Douglas Mowat, township of Red Rock; Mayor Malcolm Rogers of Geraldton; Reeve Roger Beauvais, Nakina; Reeve Silvio Cortolezzis, Manitouwadge; Reeve Ollie Chapman, White River, and the chairmen of the hospital boards of Terrace Bay, Geraldton and Marathon.
The reason for the meeting contradicts in its entirety what the parliamentary assistant has been saying. I quote from the telegram sent on 20 November, three days ago, to the Minister of Health:
“Dear Madam Minister:
“We are urgently requesting a meeting with you to discuss the critical shortage of physicians in the hospitals on the North Shore of Lake Superior.”
They want to be paid the compliment of an audience with her grace. They want to tell the minister that the programs of recruiting and retaining medical specialists in the north are simply not working. They come well armed; they are well experienced. They have been facing this dilemma for decades.
They are proposing to the minister that a northern medical school should be established in northern Ontario. At present, we have five medical schools in Ontario. Ironically, or not so ironically, they are all located in the south. Statistics prove that people tend to practise in or near the community in which they were trained; it makes a lot of sense. What we are asking for is one part of the faculty, and not necessarily the whole course -- for doctors, for instance, say the first two years or the last two years -- so that the students would have a chance to appreciate the climatic conditions, become familiar with the medical needs of northerners and become familiar with the geographic location and the mentality of people in the north.
We are asking, because it is a crisis, that the government of Ontario, in co-operation with the feds, the departments of immigration and external affairs, immediately reinstate the foreign doctors program to address, on a short-term basis, the critical shortage of doctors in the north. Those people who are qualified in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, among others, who have all the qualifications to dispense that essential service in southern Ontario, should be invited to come to northern communities, to remote and isolated communities, to provide that service.
My, my, the government has done it for miners, foresters, electricians, bricklayers, die-makers, but when it comes to doctors, there is nothing. I suspect it is the influence of the cartel, the monopoly, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Ontario Medical Association, leaning on the parliamentary assistant and on the Minister of Health and convincing them that we do not have a shortage of medical specialists in Ontario but that what we have is a matter of distribution.
I do not believe this. I do not believe those statements. I think they are deliberate, they are systematic. If people could not make $150,000 or $250,000 in Toronto, the laws of economics would indicate that they should gravitate to the north. That is not happening. The doctors in Ontario are doing very well. It is not a matter of distribution; it is a matter of real shortage. We can address that shortage by measures that will work quickly short term and measures that will pay dividends long term.
What about offering incentives to municipalities in the event that they would be so fortunate as whether they will be able to retain those people. The problems are twofold. What about incentives to municipalities for recruitment? Where will she or he, the doctor, stay? They want housing. Those small municipalities do not have the tax base to provide shelter. They do not have the money. They need incentives. What about incentives for recruitment so that the townships of Marathon, Manitouwadge and Terrace Bay can exchange lists of candidates, people in the third year or fourth year of medical school, with the township of Kenora? Why can we not? Because we do not have the resources to do it and because the government refuses to say, “This needs to be done.”
I find it most difficult that a person who is educated, a person who has a social conscience, a person who should know better, would stand in this House, be the spokesman of the majority party, and adopt the policy of the ostrich, completely refusing to accept the statements of people in the field, doctors, workers, sociologists, nurses, unanimously saying, “We do not have enough specialists.” He talks of one more study. All they are doing is buying time. They are not sincere in rectifying the problems. They do not want to deal with the nuts and bolts.
I was at Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital for my second visit about a month or six weeks ago. There is a 237-bed hospital; it should have the services of 11 psychiatrists. It has one. Of course the person is a chief of staff; he is the main paper pusher. So if you are a patient, inpatient or outpatient, you are not going to see anyone. My colleague the member for Parry Sound has illustrated better than perhaps anyone can do in this House that Dr Kevin Nugent is the only child psychiatrist for a population base of 230,000.
Everybody will say: “This does not make any sense. We do not have enough people.” This man from Parry Sound wants to address that problem. He wants to address it because his constituents are telling him that this is a critical shortage, not because he fancies that it is his turn for a private member’s bill and he needs something to talk about. He knew all along. He wants to help people with the right tools. Yet that man on the other side refuses to believe what the people of the north unanimously, regardless of political affiliation or stripes, have been telling him. I want him to be well. I want his help to be well, very well, and may he never have to experience the dilemma, the impasse, that the people of the north are enduring on a daily basis simply because, above all, there is a lack of political will, nothing short of this.
Most of the problems could be addressed expeditiously, on a short-term basis, but the government has to say to some of its friends: “You cannot have it all. You cannot practise in Toronto. You should do well, and that is okay; it costs $450,000 or more to bring one doctor to graduation, but that is okay. The taxpayers will dig in the left pocket and in the right pocket and make sure that you get an education, for they know that you are helping them. You are providing an essential service.” What about the social responsibility? What about reciprocity? I do not mind paying as a taxpayer, but I want service. I will even put doctors as a society on a pedestal and treat them as gurus. Some people in a weak moment may even mention the name of Gandhi, en passant, in passing.
I am going to tell my friend, he should stay down south, because every venue, every intersection, once he gets past the rows of condominiums -- and the parliamentary assistant knows what I am talking about -- he should come up north and ask people in the municipalities, “How do you like it up north?” They will say: “We chose to be here. We like it a lot.” “What scares you the most?” and they will say they fear for their young people, for the toddlers, for the elderly, their mothers and fathers, because of the lack of medical services: “As I am getting older, I am not so sure. I want to preserve my dignity, but I want to do it with the services that you are taking for granted.”
Mr Grandmaître: You can’t be serious.
Mr Pouliot: The member shouts, “You can’t be serious.” Jim Ziegler of the township of Terrace Bay is serious; so are Michael Cosgrove and Gerald Brennan; they represent their people and they are deadly serious. They wonder about the minister’s seriousness. It is appalling and shocking that the most essential of services for the people who contribute so much to the economy are not being provided by this government, with its huge majority, when it has an opportunity to do so, more so because of the wealth that has been experienced since 1982. The economy has been upscale. We have all benefited. Why not put a few real dollars -- I am not talking about nickels and dimes here -- to address what is really a black eye, what is a dismal performance on the part of the government?
Most members here do not enjoy getting up at their posts and dumping on the government, not on private members’ bills. This is supposed to be nonpartisan. But how can you not be emotional when the mail pours in by the metre, a foot, two feet high, month after month, regarding health problems: “What am I going to do to get to Thunder Bay? I was diagnosed as having X.” “Doctor, is this cancer?” He said: “Yes, but we are going to fix it. You need therapy, but you are going to have to wait six months. Your treatment should have started yesterday.” If you have some money, you can go to Minnesota. That is a northern state. They have addressed the problem a lot better than we have. So has Finland.
The parliamentary assistant has just returned. He could not stand in shame of the performance from his boss, having received his marching orders. I can understand that. I respect the fact that at least it penetrates.
I go back to the resolution, which is most palatable. This is the easiest thing in the world to do, to say, “Yes, Mr Eves, we as civilized people will address the number one problem in our society, our number one concern, the ultimate gift of health.” This is not sending someone to the moon, this is not subsidizing a company, this is people who are talking to the minister and she has said no to them.
I want to congratulate the member for Parry Sound because he has said yes.
Mr McLean: I welcome the opportunity to say a few words in support of this resolution from the member for Parry Sound, which I believe should be read into the record at least one more time. This resolution reads as follows:
“That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing the shortages of health manpower in certain health care sectors in this province, including nurses, physician specialists, technologists and technicians, and the shortages in all types of health professionals in northern Ontario, and recognizing that there is no effective means presently available to monitor the province-wide supply of health professionals, and recognizing that government and all health care professions should work co-operatively to remedy these shortages and to identify the short-term and long-term needs for the supply of health manpower; the government of Ontario should support the establishment and funding of an independent Health Manpower Planning Institute with representatives of the health care professions, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Health to plan the future health manpower needs of the province.”
It is a very well worded resolution and one, I think, that should be supported by all parties.
The Minister of Health and her government have no choice but to agree with this resolution. It has been proven quite categorically that there is a health care crisis in Ontario, and we know there is a shortage of hospitals. We know we need more acute care and chronic care beds in Ontario as our population continues to age and bed space is at a premium. We also know there is a growing shortage of nurses, physician specialists, technologists and technicians.
I know there is a crying need for health manpower in certain health care sectors in the province of Ontario. The people of Simcoe East also know about this health care manpower shortage. The minister may ask, “How do they know this and what do they think the answer is to this growing shortage?”
Well, I can tell the minister that the people of Simcoe East know about this manpower shortage because they are unable to get the care and treatment they require, they are unable to get the care and treatment they have come to expect from what was once considered to be a world-class health care system, they are unable to get the care and treatment they deserve.
The Minister of Health may wonder what my constituents think is the answer to this manpower shortage, and I am going to help her out by giving her the answer. Actually, all she has to do is to read this resolution again and the answer is right there before her in black and white. Her government should support the establishment and funding of an independent health manpower planning institute with representatives of the health care professions, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and her own Ministry of Health. That is the answer and that is what my constituents are telling me. I am certainly listening to them and I think the minister should be too.
My time is limited so I would like to focus on the nursing shortage, because that is what my constituents are most familiar with and because nurses are highly visible in the front lines of Ontario’s health care delivery system. I understand that 35 per cent of trained nurses work part-time, another seven per cent work only on a casual basis and another 18 per cent of trained nurses have left their chosen profession because of low pay, stress and long hours. According to Ontario Nurses’ Association statistics, 45.9 per cent of its 1987 membership is working part-time; this compares to only 28 per cent in 1973.
Ontario requires at least 1,143 more nurses, and of that number more than 800 of them are needed in Metropolitan Toronto. But in small-town Ontario there does not appear to be a shortage of nurses. It is in the large urban areas where the problem is, where the higher cost of living is.
Many of our nurses have been attracted to hospital jobs in the United States because of good working conditions, higher pay and hospital training programs that allow them to earn advanced degrees while they work. Right now in Ontario, if nurses want to take an upgrading course, they have to do so on their own time and without help from their employers.
The shortage of nursing manpower is affecting many hospitals, programs and services. I have provided the Minister of Health with many examples of people in my riding who have been faced with surgery delays and cancellations. Babies requiring intensive care have been flown out of the province and departments and beds have been closed as a result of health care manpower shortages. The shortage puts increased pressure on nurses and other hospital staff because they have to meet increasing demands with less manpower.
The Minister of Health has been aware that there is a problem in this area for several years. When my party was in power, we set up a nursing manpower advisory committee which reported to the minister’s predecessor in the spring of 1987. The report, which was based on 1985 statistics, concluded that there would be a shortage of nursing manpower in the near future. The committee’s work was virtually ignored by this government and the committee itself was temporarily put to sleep.
Two years ago, this Minister of Health revived the committee and it was asked to report on why trained nurses are choosing not to work in their profession and to make recommendations to solve the problem. The committee turned in its report and we still see nurses leaving their profession in droves or beating a path south of the border. It has been estimated that at least 6,000 of Ontario’s 80,000 practising nurses will quit this honoured profession within 10 years of entering it. They have clearly had enough and they are voting with their feet.
This shortage has hit other areas of health care and I think the time has come for the government to establish and fund the independent health manpower planning institute that my colleague the member for Parry Sound is recommending. It is critically important that this institute has representation from the health care professions, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure that the future health manpower needs of the province of Ontario can be mapped out and met effectively and accurately.
I urge all members in this Legislature to support this resolution for the benefit of the people of Ontario and for the survival and benefit of this province’s health care profession.
For many of us who are healthy, health care really does not seem important, but I have got to tell members that for those who are ill, for those people who are waiting to get knee operations, back operations, hip operations, heart transplants, heart surgery, until you are in that position, nobody really realizes how important the health care is.
Over the past few years, we have observed what has taken place in this province with regard to health care. Our critic, the member for Parry Sound, has been asking questions constantly with regard to the health care crisis in this province.
We had a $30-million project approved on the day before the election in 1987 for a new addition in Orillia. The community went out and raised over $6 million for its share of that facility. Where is it today on the books? The minister wants to talk in broad terms about how she is looking at the health profession and how it is going to be better, but I have got to tell members I find it unrewarding when I read the answers.
When I talk to people in Orillia, they ask me: “What is happening with our hospital? We’re not getting any answers from this minister.” This minister has abdicated her responsibilities to the people of this province. I can tell members that when the next election rolls around, I hope that the people of the province will not forget the minister of destruction of health in Ontario and the millions of people who have been involved and the people who are waiting today for operations and cannot get them because of the attitude of this Minister of Health.
Mr Miclash: In the few minutes that I have remaining, I would like to first of all say, as a member representing a northern community in this House, that I share the concern of the members opposite. It is one reason that I stand in the House today to fight for the rights of Ontario residents of northern, rural and remote communities.
For many different reasons health care professionals have chosen to work mainly in larger centres, cities rather than towns. Very few choose to work in the north. As a result, for many years we have experienced a shortage of doctors, nurses, therapists, dentists and health care workers in the north.
The problem of access is not a new one and it is a problem that will not be solved overnight. The government has already put into place a good number of important incentives to attract health care workers to the north. May I just look at a few of those?
The underserviced area program, for instance, was established in 1969 to help many of our northern communities which are designated as underserviced places obtain medical and dental services. As well, we have many tax-free grants which are provided over four-year periods to family practitioners and dentists who come to the north and establish their practices in our underserviced areas. We have similar incentive programs which are also provided to other health care professionals.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines work together by providing bursaries to health care professionals, including some 130 Ontario residents each year, and for each year that they provide those bursaries the recipient agrees to practise in our underserviced areas for a year in return. As well, the ministry has recently announced a $1.5-million bursary program for nursing students -- that is, registered nurses and registered nursing assistants -- who agree to work in areas designated as underserviced.
Besides providing provincial financial incentives, the government actively recruits health care professionals for the north. There are annual recruitment tours, which many of my people from the north have participated in, that have been very successful in recruiting doctors and other health care professionals to come up and serve with us in the north.
As well, there is a committee that is a co-ordinating body for manpower and planning activities, and it has many responsibilities, including the compiling of an inventory of health manpower across the north. It also identifies what resources are needed, including financial and personnel resources. It also develops recommendations and sets priorities for corrective action to get health care people into the north.
We are doing a great number of things for health care in the north, and we believe that the problems of health care manpower planning can only be solved at the community level because each community has its own unique needs and resources. Therefore, based on that fact and based on the fact of the many things that the government is doing today, it would be imprudent at this time to duplicate the work being done by this important and timely committee that has been set up.
Mr Eves: It is a pleasure for me to be able to finish my remarks here this morning. I would like to put on the record, I suppose, that there are many shortages in health care professions throughout the province of Ontario. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists -- they are all experiencing shortages in addition to the ones I have mentioned here this morning, and so have other members of the Legislature participating in this debate.
All of these professions will be in increasing demand in the future, because of our ageing population and more chronic diseases. The proposal that we have introduced here this morning is one that I think has received the support of almost all health care professions. I believe it is a sound proposal in that planning for the effective delivery of all health care services has to be co-ordinated among educators, legislators and professionals, each in their own field.
This proposal was recommended by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario initially and also, by somewhat less of a coincidence, by the Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto and supported as well by the Council of Ontario Nursing Executives in a position paper on nursing manpower. I am not suggesting that this was my novel idea, but I do think it is a very worthwhile one and one that the government should act on. I would just like, for the purposes of getting it into the record, to read from the RNAO’s proposal for its health manpower institute.
First of all, they point out that we have many problems in our society today with respect to health care, both with respect to oversupply and undersupply, and both of these result in and can lead to patient harm. Shortages can result in patient harm and unnecessary increases in patient costs. This is all because of the inability of government institutions or agencies to institute some sort of long-range planning with respect to our population. There is going to be a 55 per cent increase in the number of elderly people in our society over the next 10 years, and certain specialties, as I have already indicated, are definitely in short supply.
Scope of practice: The health professions legislation review reforms that are suggested now and in the future will impact on the scope of practice of all health care professions. Health economics force government to seek lower-cost alternatives for delivery of services and there is a shift towards direct access to nonmedical health professions and the emergence of alternative funding mechanisms that will have a direct impact on manpower demands. There is also a big change in utilization patterns of health professions.
It is the RNAO’s proposal to establish this independent institute for co-ordinated health manpower planning to develop a long-range human resource strategy based on the analysis of the professional labour market and health care economists in order to provide government with expert advice from health professionals in an independent co-ordinated manner.
The second step that the RNAO proposes is that each profession accept, reject or amend the report of the interprofessional steering committee. Then they have a very concrete proposal -- all the ministry really has to do is follow it -- for the proposed structure of such an institute. They propose that the board of directors would be composed of one representative from each participating health profession, that there would be an executive committee of eight representatives of health professions on a rotating basis, on one-, two-and three-year terms, and that associate members could include the Ontario Hospital Association, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, deans of medical schools, ALOHA, the federal Department of Employment and Immigration and so on.
They have even solved the problem for the ministry of where they are going to get the money to do this. They suggest several possible sources already in existence, such as the Premier’s health innovation fund. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Skills Development, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, professional associations, employer groups and colleges could all be asked to participate.
At last glance, I believe it is fair to comment that the health innovation fund announced by the Premier (Mr Peterson) some months ago has not spent nearly any of the money that was suggested or promised at that time. What more worthwhile purpose could there be than an independent health manpower planning institute?
In the parliamentary assistant’s comments with respect to the proposal, we heard about steps that the ministry is taking with respect to -- the example he gave, I believe, was the College of Nurses of Ontario and how the ministries co-operate with the college of nurses to address nurses’ needs. We also heard a comment about the statistics that the medical profession has. I do not disagree with any of those comments, except that I think it only further sheds light on my resolution and that proposed by the RNAO, and that is that the ministry is doing this with one profession at a time and there is no broad, overall, co-ordinated picture. I think that it is very important that we do have this broad, co-ordinated, overall picture.
The parliamentary assistant also mentioned the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy. The Premier’s health council has many things on its plate. I presume that the main function of the Premier’s health council is to plan for the future policy of the government, but I think that one thing that this proposed institute has that the Premier’s health council does not have -- well, it has several things actually. First of all, it has independence, it has entire political independence. It would not be controlled by political people; it would be controlled by the people who work day to day in the trenches of our health care system. Who better to ask for future planning manpower needs and the future direction of what is required than the people who do it every day themselves?
I also think that we have the luxury of having the specialties all included in such an institute, which is not necessarily the case with the Premier’s health council. I think the Premier’s health council is perhaps too broad a body, it is too political a body and it is not independent enough. I feel very strongly, as do the RNAO and others, that this proposed planning manpower institute has to be independent from government. Government deserves and should have, no doubt, representation on such an institute, but I do not believe the government should control such an institute. That is the whole point of the proposal in the first place.
I really would again ask all members of the Legislature here this morning, regardless of their political stripe or what side of the House they sit on, to seriously consider supporting this resolution. I think it is one whose time has come, and unless we plan the future of our province’s health care system effectively and with some foresight, we are going to end up in a day-to-day crisis situation as problems occur and react to them as opposed to planning for the future.
Again I would urge every member of the House here this morning to support this resolution.
CANADIAN VOLUNTEER KOREAN
The Speaker: Mr Farnan has moved resolution 32.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Farnan: Mr Speaker, I have a request to make of you.
The Speaker: I presume it is on a point of order.
Mr Farnan: On a point of order, as you suggest, Mr Speaker: Given the unanimous support of the House for this motion, could I ask that you, on behalf of the House, forward this resolution to the federal government? I would appreciate that very much.
The Speaker: Well, it seems to be the wish of the House that the resolution is carried; therefore, I would be most happy to forward it.
The House divided on Mr Eves’s motion of resolution 26, which was negatived on the following vote:
Allen, Bryden, Charlton, Cousens, Elliot, Eves, Farnan, Faubert, Grier, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Kormos, Laughren, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, McCague, McLean, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Pouliot, Wildman.
Ballinger, Cooke, D. R., Cordiano, Curling, Daigeler, Eakins, Epp, Fawcett, Furlong, Grandmaître, Keyes, Kozyra, LeBourdais, Leone, Mahoney, McClelland, Miclash, Miller, Neumann, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, Owen, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Roberts, Ruprecht, Sola, Sullivan, Tatham.
Ayes 22; nays 30.
The Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his chambers.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour has assented:
Bill 18, An Act to amend the Ontario Municipal Improvement Corporation Act;
Bill 20, An Act to provide for the Payment of Development Charges;
Bill 147, An Act respecting Independent Health Facilities.
The House recessed at 1210.
The House resumed at 1330.
MARGARET HUDACK, LEAH JINKS AND CHARLES LYON
Mr Kormos: I want to talk about three outstanding members of the Welland-Thorold riding, specifically people who live in the city of Welland. On Friday 3 November just past, all three of these persons were in Ottawa where in recognition and as an acknowledgement of their years of contribution to the work of the Order of St John they were invested to their respective orders.
Margaret Hudack from Welland and Leah Jinks, another Wellander, were invested to the Order of Our Serving Sister of St John, and Charles Lyon, once again of Welland, was invested to the Order of Our Serving Brother of St John, all of them by the Vice-Prior of the Order of St John, and that is, of course, the Governor General, Jeanne Sauvé.
All of these people have long histories of service to their community. They are people who have given far more than they will ever take out. Their work is not limited to the work of the Order of St John, that is to say, St John Ambulance, but is impressed upon the community in a variety of areas and acknowledged by all in the city as being contributions far in excess of what any normal person could be expected to provide.
I congratulate them. I pay them tribute. I recognize their outstanding achievements and I know that the members of the Legislature here in the province of Ontario join me.
UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Mr Jackson: I rise to draw attention to all members of this House to a singular historic event which will occur next week in Rome.
Next week, the world will witness a meeting between Pope John Paul II and the Premier of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, during which the Pope will formally ask Mr Gorbachev to legalize the underground Ukrainian Catholic Church which has been without rights to function publicly since 1946.
The Ukrainian church has reaped the fruits of its endurance of persecution and suffering. Today, it counts more than six million communicants. Ukrainian youth look to it for moral leadership in the struggle to regain Ukraine’s independent statehood, and even Russian Orthodox Churches with legal status are joining it en masse.
This Sunday 26 November has been declared a world-wide day of prayer and fasting so that God may so move the heart of the Soviet Premier as he moved the hearts of the Egyptian Pharaoh of old in response to the plea of Moses, which the Pope shall repeat next week on behalf of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, “Let my people go.”
With their church free once again, the Ukrainian people will indeed receive great inner strength to hope and dream of that coming great day of their nation’s political resurrection as a free republic.
May the loud ringing of our united voice exclaiming, “Our Father, Thy will be done,” be heard by Premier Gorbachev when he arrives in Rome next week.
SUPERINTENDENT ROBERT GORDON
Mr Miclash: It gives me great pleasure to rise in the House to pay tribute to a very outstanding individual who has greatly contributed to the policing of this province and in particular to many small communities in my riding.
Superintendent Robert Gordon, a 31-year veteran with the Ontario Provincial Police, will be celebrating his retirement from the force tomorrow. It must be noted that Bob has moved through the ranks, from constable to corporal to sergeant to traffic sergeant to detective inspector with the criminal investigation branch and then on to superintendent, all in the district of Kenora.
Might I mention that Bob has chosen to take up a new job that will keep him in the Kenora area. We are very grateful for this as we will continue to benefit from the contributions made by him, his wife Marlene and their two children, Ryan and Bobbi Lynn, to our area.
The people of Red Lake, Emo, Vermilion Bay and Kenora -- places in the district of Kenora in which Superintendent Gordon served -- have asked me to have the House recognize this outstanding contribution of a great northerner.
I ask that my fellow members in the House today join me in recognizing this contribution that Superintendent Gordon has made, not only in Kenora, but across this great province of ours.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Allen: Family instability, child abuse and poverty are taking a terrible toll on children and youth in Ontario. If a child becomes physically ill or disabled, there is a right to treatment, but if mental illness results from abuse, violence or neglect, there is no guarantee of treatment for Ontario children.
Children’s mental health care services have become the lost orphan of Ontario’s health and social services system. They have been shuffled between ministries, downgraded, ignored and underfunded. In 1982, there were some 2,000 children on waiting lists. Now the figure is 10,000 waiting for treatment. Such children are often shuffled off into residential care without active treatment. Tragedies like Krista Sepp result.
Shifted a decade ago from health to social services, centre staff have salaries that have fallen 20 per cent behind comparable health care professionals with disastrous results in staff turnover and recruitment. Yet, in the recent government salary top up for workers in community-based agencies, the children’s health centres were completely ignored.
The government has to take a radical new look at its commitment to children’s mental health and to children’s welfare generally. The United Nations has advanced the declaration of rights of the child, but in David Peterson’s Ontario the condition of childhood is in alarming decline.
Mr Jackson: I am sure Lord Grey could not have imagined the future of the trophy he donated to a winning football team in 1909. Here we are 80 years later and the Grey Cup is an honoured Canadian tradition bringing east and west together in friendly, athletic rivalry.
Toronto is host to the Grey Cup game for the first time since 1982 and festivities for Grey Cup Week are already under way. We are delighted to welcome the teams, their fans and all the visitors to our city and to our province. This year the game takes place in the SkyDome, where players and spectators alike will be spared the caprices of bad weather. Think of it: No more mud bowl, no more snow bowl, no more fog-delayed games.
There have been suggestions about the demise of Canadian football, but I believe the league will survive and prosper. Look at the wonderful spirit of the Hamilton Tiger Cats under new owner David Braley. In the few months since taking over, he has done an outstanding job to revitalize the club, asking the fans for their ideas, and conducting an impressive marketing campaign. Hamilton and Hamiltonians are used to winning teams and have rallied behind the Tiger Cats in an impressive show of civic spirit and pride.
We would also like to congratulate the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, the western representatives, who completely ignored the experts last week and beat out the favoured Edmonton Eskimos. Sunday’s game will be an exciting contest when the two best teams in our country battle for the coveted Grey Cup -- the symbol of supremacy in Canadian football. I would ask all members to join me in their support for the Hamilton Tiger Cats this weekend.
Mrs Stoner: I would like today to celebrate a constituent of mine who recently published a book. What makes it such an achievement is the author.
Elizabeth Nesci created the book as a gift for her family and friends to mark her 10th birthday. She has written and illustrated a book entitled the Little Princess’s Adventurous Wishes. Elizabeth is selling her book for $3 a copy and donating the proceeds to the Ajax and Pickering General Hospital, where she was born.
My congratulations to Elizabeth on her achievement and also to the Ministry of Education and to Durham Board of Education who have helped to make this sort of thing possible.
GOODS AND SERVICES TAX
Mr Laughren: On Tuesday in this assembly, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) of Ontario indicated that he intended to amalgamate the Ontario sales tax with the federal goods and services tax. He indicated that quite clearly.
Yesterday afternoon, in response to a question from my leader, he indicated he had no documentation on the effect of the GST on Ontario. So here we have the Treasurer of Ontario going to Ottawa, having consultations with the federal Minister of Finance with no documentation whatsoever, apparently, to determine what the impact of the GST would be on Ontario.
Here we have the Treasurer going to Ottawa to negotiate how to amalgamate the GST with Ontario’s sales tax and he feels that he does not even need to have any documentation to back up any of his arguments. At the same time he is doing this, the Premier (Mr Peterson) of Ontario is saying, “Well, you know, the GST is so offensive that we might have to fight an election on this issue.”
While he is saying that, his Treasurer is down in Ottawa saying, “How can we work together to impose another regressive tax on the citizens of Ontario?” It says something about this Treasurer that he would be doing something to negotiate the sales tax and the GST being amalgamated while his Premier is saying that it is such a bad tax that he might have to fight an election on it. The front benches of the Liberals are in disarray.
LENGTHS OF TRUCKS AND TRAILERS
Mr Cousens: The Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye) announced at a luncheon today his intention to increase the maximum allowable length of tractor-trailer combinations on Ontario roads. Truck lengths will increase from the present 23 metres to 25 metres, which is 82 feet. Trailer maximums will increase from 14.6 metres to 16.2 metres: that is from 48 feet to 53 feet.
Fortunately, perhaps, for the minister, he is presently on his way to Thunder Bay. He wisely decided to leave town instead of listening to what the public has to say about longer trucks. Trucks can barely shoehorn themselves around tight intersections in most cities as it is. The minister now wants to add another five feet of rear overhang on these monster rigs. Trucks will interfere with other traffic when cornering, throw up more splash and prove more difficult to pass on two-lane highways. Longer trucks mean heavier trucks, heavy trucks cause ruts in our roads which contribute to the frequency of accidents. Cars are becoming increasingly smaller each year; yet the minister is pushing for monster trucks. For someone who has declared war on unsafe driving, he is sending out a mixed message.
Our party strongly opposes the minister’s decision to increase the allowable length of trucks on Ontario roads and highways. Our party strongly supports the minister’s decision to leave town.
FUNDING FOR NATIVES
Ms Oddie Munro: Early in November I met with the president of the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association, Charles Recollet, to discuss two issues: First, the federal government’s 20 percent reduction in 1989-90 funding of its native citizens’ directorate and second, the programs in the aboriginal representatives and organizations programs. In my view, the continuous cutbacks over four years have resulted in significant pressures on the organization, management and services provided by the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association. Indeed, the reduced funding seems discriminatory, with insufficient rationale communicated, and it certainly flies in the face of supportive statements made by the Prime Minister of Canada in 1985. I think it is fair to say that this action also represents a disturbing trend of federal offloading of responsibility to provincial governments.
I would ask all members in this Legislature, many of whom have been contacted by Mr Recollet, to petition the federal government to reconsider its funding decisions and to ensure that 1990-91 funding is adequate and realistic. Mr Recollet also asked for a resolution to his proposal for core funding from the province of Ontario to the OMAA and its five zones. The core funding proposal is separate from the work being done on self-government for native peoples. It is intended as outreach to zones and provincial issues such as education, child welfare and justice and is supportive of our government’s increasing the role of local communities. I urge the minister responsible for native affairs (Mr Scott) to consider this proposal at the earliest opportunity.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted number of members’ statements. Just before I call the next routine proceeding, I would ask all members of the assembly to recognize in the Speaker’s gallery some of the members of the House of Commons standing committee on elections, privileges, procedures and private members’ business.
They are Chuck Cook, the chairman; Peter Milliken, the vice-chairman; Steve Butland; Joe Fontana; and Scott Thorkelson. Please join me in welcoming our visitors.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
CHILD CARE / GARDE D’ENFANTS
Hon Mr Beer: I would like to inform members of the House about some steps my ministry has taken to ensure a continuing high quality of licensed child care throughout Ontario. As members know, we are nearing the end of the first three-year cycle in the development of Ontario’s child care plan called New Directions. During the past five years, the child care system in Ontario has grown at a rate without precedent in Canada. The licensed system will have grown by approximately 55 per cent, from 74,000 licensed spaces in March 1985 to an expected 115,000 spaces by the end of March next year.
Le budget que mon ministère a consacré à la garde d’enfants pour l’exercice financier de 1985 à 1986 s’est élevé à 88 millions de dollars ; en 1989-90, il atteindra les 347 millions de dollars.
Afin de garantir que le personnel des établissements de garde d’enfants suit de plus haut calibre, nous avons alloué 61 millions de dollars en subventions d’exploitation directes à ces établissements. Ainsi, le travailleur moyen a vu son salaire et ses prestations sociales augmentés de 3400 $ par an.
Enfin, nous avons plus que doublé le nombre d’établissements de garde d’enfants subventionnés : soit de 20 000 en 1985 à 45 000 cette année.
En raison d’une croissance aussi remarquable, le système s’est trouvé soumis à des contraintes considérables et tous les participants ont dû déployer des efforts soutenus pour continuer d’assurer des services de qualité.
As part of that effort, and as part of our New Directions for Child Care, my predecessor announced a review of the ministry’s enforcement practices as they relate to the current laws and regulations concerning child care. The review will be completed and made public early in the new year.
However, I know that within the child care community there is a great deal of interest in the work of our enforcement practices review. As well, members of this Legislature, in particular the member for London North (Mrs Cunningham), have expressed a desire to be kept informed about the progress of the review.
As a result, I want to inform members of some interim measures my ministry is taking as a result of the review’s preliminary observations and findings. These measures are designed to ensure that all licensed child care operators comply with Ontario’s child care regulations, in that way providing a consistently high quality of care across the province.
Here are some of the interim measures we are taking:
1. Checklists that set out the regulations under the Day Nurseries Act will be used in every licensing inspection.
2. After the inspection has been done, the operator will be required to sign the completed checklist. The ministry will then be assured that the operator knows about any action that must be taken to improve that child care operation.
3. The ministry will require operators to correct minor violations of the child care regulations quickly. Operators will be given a maximum of two weeks to correct shortcomings. If the required improvements are not made within the time limit, only a provisional licence will be issued.
4. To make certain that child care operators comply with all regulations as quickly as possible, provisional licences will be issued for a maximum time of three months only. If the needed changes are not made within that time, the ministry may withdraw the licence.
5. Finally, we are reviewing my ministry’s local management policies to ensure that investigations of unlicensed child care operations are carried out as promptly and effectively as possible.
These interim measures have already been put in place by staff of my ministry. It is through measures like these that we shall continue to make improvements in licensed child care.
I expect further changes will be made in light of the ongoing work of the enforcement review committee, which as I said earlier, will be completed in early 1990. I look forward to receiving the committee’s final report, and I also look forward to sharing it with this House.
Maintaining quality in child care to keep pace with the rapid growth in the system is both a goal and a challenge for my ministry, a situation that compels us to take action on many fronts at the same time.
To improve the child care system further, we are, as I have already explained, concentrating on our enforcement practices. We are also revising child care accountability and management systems, and will continue our commitment to provide community supports for small centres.
I want to assure this House that this government remains committed to making sure that children whose families entrust them to licensed care operations receive the highest possible quality of care.
Mr Allen: In the members’ statements, I just completed a statement which referred to the fact that Ontario children’s mental health centres now have waiting lists of 10,000 children awaiting treatment as against some 2,000 seven years ago.
I would have thought that given the problems of families in Ontario, of children in the midst of family instability, of changing patterns of family life that have issued in major personal, mental, socio-psychological problems for children, this province would at this time have had in place a full and complete, universally accessible, non-profit, ;affordable child care system to defray and avoid so many of those problems that children who get bounced around in the interstices of social and family life -- would have some base in their lives which they do not have now.
What the minister has given us in the place of any major new announcement in developments in child care is something that is simply a reflection of past announcements, of procedural matters, nothing that goes beyond the New Directions for Child Care program of 1987; nothing, indeed, that addresses the problem that existed in Toronto, in my community, over this last year or year and a half in which, for example, there were spaces available in some parts of the system, inadequate subsidies to enable working families to access them, the appearance of waiting lists, in my community for example, for the first time in the history of that community; obviously an immense unmet need of children, of families, working families in Ontario, who simply need to have adequate and accessible child care in order that their family life may be regularized and their children supported adequately.
It is not without significance, as I said in my own statement, that the United Nations has recently moved forward with a major new statement of a declaration of rights of children. Yet for children still to be finding themselves, in Ontario -- notwithstanding the fact that many of them do find themselves in stable family circumstances, in school situations that are healthful, etc. That there are so many in growing numbers who are in trouble in our province suggests to me that the minister really should be making an announcement of a very different order today, one that would be telling us that he was embarking on a bold new campaign to provide not only subsidies but a complete system.
We know that the Canada assistance plan provides him open-ended funding in terms of federal support for as large a system as he wants, unlike the facts of the Canada child care program that the Tories were talking about with the minister and which almost got under way previous to the past election.
That funding is available. This minister can access it. This government can access it in order to provide an adequate, fully accessible child care program for all of Ontario if it wishes. The fact that that announcement has not been made today, that we have not heard that it is coming, tells us that we can expect no such directions from this government. The old program was entitled New Directions for Child Care. New Directions is now passé and we are looking for new directions out of this government, and to date, we have not seen them in the field of child care.
Mrs Cunningham: I would like to commend the minister for this amount of progress, especially with regard to procedures for quality inspections in the day nurseries across the province of Ontario. I am certain that the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, which especially has been involved in working with his ministry with regard to this improved inspection process, will also be very pleased with the progress he is announcing today.
However, I have to assure the minister that I am aware that this is just a beginning. Checklists have been used as part of the procedure over the province for the last five years. Certainly we know that we have always asked the operators to sign these checklists in the past. The new part will be the time frame, and we approve of that, of course. A maximum of two weeks to correct shortcomings is long enough; and after a provisional licence, if it must be offered, three months later is long enough for parents to wait for the inspections to be redone and the quality to be reassured.
I would just like to assure the minister that we will be continuing to watch his progress. We are anxiously waiting for the conclusion of his inspection review so that we can be really assured that the quality of our child care across the province of Ontario is at the very top that can be expected and we can improve it even further.
Mr Cousens: I would like to thank our member the member for London North for the excellent job that she has been doing as critic in this area to draw attention to these needs and, indeed, in setting a standard for the government to move towards.
On the one hand, we are pleased to see a statement from the ministry that explains the direction it is going to be taking, yet on the other, we are not seeing progress on actions that the ministry should be responding to. On 23 October, I raised an extremely important matter with the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Beer) and, to date, there has not been any action on the York South Association for Community Living.
On the one hand, the minister can make new statements, but what can be done right now to improve upon the situation that exists in our ridings to the north of Toronto? The shortage of qualified staff because of inadequate salaries and unaffordable housing in our areas has become a crisis situation in group homes. I have received numerous letters from concerned parents of residents of High Point, one of the group homes under the York South Association for Community Living, and they are justifiably concerned that their sons and daughters will be displaced from their residence if this situation is allowed to continue.
Christmas is going to soon be upon us, and here he is making other announcements, yet not looking after the existing programs. Some of the residents in the group homes will be fortunate enough to spend the holidays with their families. Of the remaining residents, plans are under way to uproot and amalgamate them under several facilities, because there is not enough staff to work over the holidays.
Every attempt to enhance staff salaries by the association has been thwarted by the ministry, including confiscation of rental revenue from the homes, which would have been applied to salaries. Funding from his ministry is simply not sufficient to attract or maintain necessary staff reserves.
The current waiting lists have now been stopped at 150. I am disappointed with the Minister of Community and Social Services in his lack of response to this crucial situation. Action must be taken immediately to resolve the staff shortage for the sake of residents of High Point, as well as all residents of the 11 group homes in my area.
On the one hand, I am supportive of decisions that he is taking to do something about child care. On the other hand, we have to be genuinely concerned with the existing programs that his ministry is responsible for, and we cannot sidestep them. He can come into the House and make fresh announcements, which we appreciate, but he should please not let himself believe that we are going to allow him to forget about the services to those people who are depending upon him and his ministry to come up with a solution.
We want to be grateful for improvement, but we cannot allow ourselves to slide into the habit of saying, “Hey, we are satisfied with what’s going on out there.” I have a crisis, which is a crisis for all those families, for young people and young adults who are at High Point and other group homes.
Would the minister please do something about it? There is a need in our community that has to be addressed, and it is not even being answered by this minister. He has not even got back to the people. They are waiting for an answer. Would he please put that as a high priority, along with child care and the other things that have to be done?
Mr B. Rae: I have a question this afternoon for the Minister of Health. Over the year, I have asked the minister on many occasions whether she agrees that there is a nursing shortage in the province. I would like to ask the minister: Is she aware of information coming from her ministry that shows that in 1983 the province was short some 98 nurses? There were 98 nursing vacancies in the province. As of March 1989, there are 1,891 nursing vacancies in the province.
I wonder if the minister can tell us: Is it still her view that there is no province-wide problem with respect to nursing shortages?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I met recently with the ministry’s Advisory Committee on Nursing Manpower. The information they gave me, which I believe to be accurate, is that overall across the province there is an average vacancy rate of about 1.8 per cent, which is considered to be a reasonable vacancy rate for labour market movement. However, there is a particular problem in some communities, and particularly in downtown Toronto the vacancy rates are too high.
Mr B. Rae: There is a serious crisis in acute care and critical care in this community, in Toronto. There is a serious problem with respect to care in northern Ontario, where vacancy rates are up well over five per cent.
I want to ask the minister, is it still her view, since she has told me on any number of occasions since 1987-88 -- on 7 January 1988, she said that as far as she is concerned, it is a cyclical problem. She later on said that one should not have a knee-jerk reaction. There is no problem. She said, “These vacancy rates go up and down, nothing unusual.” That is what she has been saying for the last few years.
My question for the minister: Does she regard a trend line starting in 1983 with 98 vacancies and a line now in March 1989 where we have nearly 1,900 vacancies -- can she tell me what is circular or cyclical about that kind of trend?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition that I understand the issues facing the nursing profession and nurses in this province. In fact, I understand that they are societal issues and they relate very much to the changing world of women in our work force.
I am also a strong advocate for improved working conditions and greater professional recognition for nursing, and that is why I think I have taken positive and progressive steps, as announced recently, to address these issues: the announcement of a nursing co-ordinator; the announcement of a number of steps which include a $5-million nursing innovation fund over five years; $1.5 million for ongoing nursing programs; bursary programs and on and on.
I will say to the Leader of the Opposition that in fact these issues which affect nursing and nurses are not unique to Ontario, but we are taking action here to do what we can to let the nurses of this province know what important partners they are in the health care system.
Mr B. Rae: I want to point out to the minister that when she fast told me she recognized there was a problem -- let’s take for a date June 1987 or March 1988. We were looking at 1,283 vacancies in June 1987. That is when she said she recognized there was a problem. In March 1988 it went to 1,372. In October 1988 it skyrocketed to 1,875.
Since the minister has said there was a problem, the problem has become even more severe. The Princess Margaret Hospital, the centre of cancer treatment in this province and indeed the centre for cancer treatment, in many instances, for the whole of Canada, has had to close 40 of its beds because of the shortage of nurses. That is the reason; that is the explanation; that is why.
I could take her through the Hospital for Sick Children, I could take her to Toronto Hospital, to the intensive care unit at St Michael’s Hospital -- case after case. What is happening with respect to care in this province is that it is deteriorating because the minister has failed to act on the nursing crisis.
Can the minister confirm the simple fact that since 1983, the number has deteriorated from 98 vacancies to 1,900 today? Can the minister just confirm that?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, the issue that the Leader of the Opposition raises is a very important one. The fact is that in downtown Toronto there are very specific and unique situations in areas such as intensive care, areas such as highly specialized areas of nursing. Part of the difficulty, we know, is that the negotiations between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ontario Hospital Association -- the union and the employers address as best they can through those negotiations the issues affecting nurses in this province.
I want the member to know that I am very concerned. As well, I am taking action to address those areas which I believe will in fact lead to an improved relationship between employer and employee in the hospital environment, leading to improved working conditions, because one of the things we know is that where there is a good working environment, where quality of work life is improved, hospitals are not having difficulty attracting nurses.
YORK REGION LAND DEVELOPMENT
Mr B. Rae: A question to the Premier: I asked the Premier some questions yesterday which he referred to the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Sweeney). The question I would like to ask the Premier today is, why is his government afraid of a commission of inquiry into the concentration of land ownership in the York region?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am not afraid of a commission of inquiry into anything, any subject the member thinks is worth while, but let me say, if he has some ideas about some wrongdoing or things that are improper, then obviously we should look at those situations. But if they are policy matters, then obviously we should look at them here.
Mr B. Rae: The Premier has before him now, after I put it to him yesterday, a clear recommendation that came last January or February to his minister stating that in the view of the ministry and a recommendation to the minister, there is a problem with respect to the concentration of ownership of land and that it does pose problems for the development process, for the decision-making process in terms of how decisions are made. I have a simple question for the Premier: Does he have information, does his ministry have information with respect to concentration of land which leads them to believe that it is a problem?
Hon Mr Peterson: I am not aware of any special information in that regard. I know what the member knows, what I read in the newspaper, with respect to who owns what. I have no specific knowledge of individual developers owning particular pieces of land. But if he thinks there is something untoward or something illegal going on, then I think my friend has an obligation to stand up and say so. He may say the same thing in other communities around the province as well. Perhaps there is a generic problem. If there is, obviously we should look at it from a policy point of view.
Mr B. Rae: On page 3 of the memorandum which went to the minister, it states as follows, that issues have been identified, and it states the following identifications.
“Land ownership is concentrated in a few hands; sewer capacity is distributed by the Region in a preferential manner; there is no regional official plan to guide development; there is a need to review the structural financing and functional responsibilities of the region; citizen input into the planning process has been frustrated; the relationship between developers, councils and municipal officials needs to be explored; allegations of fast-tracking development proposals of friends by provincial and local officials; decisions with respect to planning and development often appear to have been made behind closed doors and at the expense of the community.”
Those are statements that are made within his own ministry with respect to an identification of issues that staff members have assembled from various evidence they have. What is it going to take for this government to understand that it is sitting on a problem and that it has a responsibility to do something about it?
Hon Mr Peterson: The minister responded yesterday and told the honourable member the actions that his ministry has taken in that particular regard. As I say to my honourable friend, if he has some suggestions or evidence of something that has gone amiss or some specific evidence, then obviously we are very interested in that. We do not fear an inquiry into anything that is going to be productive, but the member has to establish that there is going to be something productive coming therefrom.
PROPOSED HOSPITAL MERGER
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. It concerns the proposed merger between the Toronto Hospital and Women’s College Hospital. Could the minister tell us whether she considers it appropriate that the boards of both hospitals have passed resolutions approving the merger without consultation with medical staff, without consultation with nursing staff, without input from the community and without input, most important, from the patients of Women’s College Hospital?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows, governance of our hospitals is by independent boards of trustees. I frequently describe our public hospitals in Ontario as being private, nonprofit corporations governed by boards who represent the community and who have as part of their mandate the assurance that the interests of their community are considered in any of the planning and undertakings that they take in the hospitals.
I received a communication from the chairman of Women’s College Hospital with a request that I undertake a review of the process that they underwent, and I would be pleased to share with the member opposite that I sent her a letter indicating that I would be pleased to initiate an independent review of the process that was carried out at Women’s College Hospital.
Mr Eves: I am quite aware of the facts that the minister has just reiterated. What we asked her was whether or not she thought it was appropriate. She says she has asked for an independent review. I have a supplementary for her on that very point. Why is the medical officer of health doing her independent review, as opposed to the district health council? Could she tell us what role the district health council has to play in this proposed merger?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Frequently in this House I caution the members opposite about ensuring that any information that they share is accurate. Surely the member opposite is not suggesting in fact that I abolish the boards and run all of the hospitals of this province. What I have said is that I have asked the ministry to appoint an independent review team. If the member wishes, I will share with him the names of the members of that review team as soon as they are confirmed and I am sure that he will support that approach.
Mr Eves: The Minister of Health is quite aware of the fact that she is supposed to direct the health system in the province. She supplies hospitals with 81 per cent of their money, and I do not think that she can avoid her responsibility in that regard.
My final supplementary to the minister is that last year, family practice patients seen by Women’s College Hospital were in excess of 40,000. Toronto Hospital only saw 26,000. How does the minister propose that in her system all these patients are going to receive the same type of care they deserve in the future as they have received in the past?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows, my priority is always patient care, effective quality care and ensuring that we do everything possible that we can in partnership in this province to plan for the future for a healthier Ontario. I want him to know as well that I have great confidence in the boards of trustees of our neglect, there is no guarantee of treatment for responsibilities of acting in the public interest very seriously.
I know that Women’s College Hospital is just one of a number of hospitals across this province which has always attempted to be on the leading edge of changing times. I would say to the member that I have been supportive of hospitals working together. I want him to know that I have initiated a request of the ministry officials to establish an independent review team and I am looking forward to hearing what that review team has to say about the propriety of the process that was carried out by the board of Women’s College Hospital as it reached its decision.
ELECTRICITY DEMAND AND SUPPLY
Mr Cureatz: I say to the Premier, in the most restrained manner possible, that the passage of Bill 204, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act, has given his administration wider opportunity of intervening with Ontario Hydro and its policies in regard to, among other things, the demand/supply options study that should be coming forth soon.
It was indicated that Ontario Hydro would come forward with the study in October, but that decision was postponed. When will the Premier and his administration and the Minister of Energy (Mrs McLeod), who is absent today, direct Ontario Hydro to come forward with its demand/supply options study so Ontario residents can be assured that there are plans to make available enough electricity for people in Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: Let me thank the honour-able member for his very thoughtful and well-phrased question. I am glad he has brought this matter to my attention. I will discuss this with the Minister of Energy, who I know is right on top of the situation. That being said, it is my under-standing it will be coming along very shortly.
Mr Cureatz: With the Premier’s understanding that it will be coming forward very shortly, does he anticipate an active role for the select committee on energy in terms of reviewing the proposals under Ontario Hydro’s demand/supply options study under our new illustrious chairperson, the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan)?
Hon Mr Peterson: The member for Halton Centre is indeed illustrious, and I share the honourable member’s very high opinion of that particular member. I am sure that when it comes forward the Minister of Energy will have ideas on how to review the entire matter. Decisions about future energy supply are decisions for all members of the community and indeed all members of this House. We would want the fullest input all along the way.
Mr Cureatz: Mr Speaker, you will notice as a result of the graciousness of the various lunches that you provide for other members through your offices, how much more subdued I am in terms of asking my questions.
My final supplementary is to the Premier. It is indicated that Hydro-Québec is foreseeing a serious shortfall in its electrical production, and as a result Ontario Hydro will not be in a position to buy as much electricity as it has normally done in the past. What kind of guarantee is he going to give us and the people of Ontario, first of all, that Hydro will be in a position this winter to meet the electrical demands of Ontario?
Second, as the Premier and I both know, we have discussed in other situations and in other places, the fact that his government has yet to decide, and I am asking him when his government is going to decide about the kind of major electrical-producing plant that is going to be built and where it is going to be built.
Hon Mr Peterson: I am delighted my honourable friend had a good lunch with you, Mr Speaker. I guess the question is, what did you put in his peanut butter sandwiches?
My friend raises an important question and, as members know, in regard to Ontario Hydro’s long-term plans, decisions will have to be made about future generation and the mix of that generation. All of those options will be available for people to look at and to have their input on. There will be the widest public hearings and discussions on those matters.
That is a round of decisions that according to Ontario Hydro’s current plans probably do not have to be made for another two or three years, in that time frame, but obviously those discussions must start in the near future. That will start with the review of the demand/supply options study and there will be full input challenging all Hydro’s numbers. We will use the best independent authority that we can to establish the programs for the future.
As I said, and as my honourable friend will be aware, we value very much his input on these matters as these questions unfold. Indeed, I think they are a matter of priority for all citizens of this province.
Mr Kormos: I have a question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Back in February 1988, this government retained Harry Kitchen to conduct a review of regional Niagara. A report was indeed prepared after Dr Kitchen conducted extensive interviews of persons throughout the Niagara region. Indeed, the report has been in the minister’s office, printed undoubtedly on glossy paper in both official languages, some 600 pages and almost half a million dollars later, and the report is being kept under wraps. It has been buried; it has been hidden away. The question is, if the ministry cannot stand the heat, then why did it hire Kitchen?
Hon Mr Sweeney: In his very colourful language, the honourable member asks, what we are hiding. We are not hiding anything. It would be, quite frankly, impossible to hide it. The region is as aware as we are what the contents of that report are, and the only things that are holding it up now are the two elements that the member spoke about, that is, that the report is to be translated and the report is to be printed. As soon as both of those are done, it will be distributed. There is nothing else holding it up, absolutely nothing else.
I could also say to the member that there are two other regional reports being done at the same time and this one is part of those three.
Mr Kormos: That is remarkable, because Dr Kitchen tells the press that in the first week of November, he happened to be in the minister’s office when the report was returned from the printer, having been translated, having been printed in both languages, in excess of 600 pages, and that the only way he, Dr Kitchen, obtained the report was not through the courtesy of the government but because he happened to take one from the top of the pile of 2,000 reports that Dr Kitchen says were sitting in the ministry’s office.
Now this excuse just does not wash any more. It remains that this report was due in June 1989. The government, quite frankly, should not have jobbed out or contracted out the translation. If there were problems, it is undoubtedly due to the fact that they contracted it out. The region has asked for the report. When is that report going to be delivered to the regional municipality of Niagara?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I make it a practice of going through my office at least once a day. I can assure the member that there is no such pile of reports as he is talking about. However, if in fact it is complete to the extent that the honourable member says it is, it will be in the mail tomorrow.
INTERVAL AND TRANSITION HOUSES
Mr Jackson: I have a question to the Minister of Housing. When he was the Minister of Community and Social Services, he did extensive work and advocacy for Ontario’s battered women. I personally believe that the work he did at the cabinet table was helpful when his government made a statement on 14 August 1987 in which the then Minister of Housing said that Ontario was committed to a program for support of community living which targeted specifically vulnerable groups including battered women.
The minister will recall that the program was to construct 1,000 new units and to modify 2,500 units. He is now also aware that for every one woman and child housed in a battered women’s shelter, there are one or two who are turned away. My question is, how many specific units for battered women, in the two years since that announcement, were created through the Ministry of Housing’s Supportive Community Living program?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member will be aware of the fact that -- I believe it was two years ago but I am not absolutely certain -- a decision was made by the Ontario Housing Corp, supported by the ministry, that women who were victims of domestic violence would go right to the top of the list in terms of being eligible for any units that became available within the OHC.
In addition to that, this ministry has been developing somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15,000 new units of nonprofit housing in Ontario. I might add that that is equivalent to all the units developed across the entire country of Canada. The various areas of the province have a common eligibility list for what we call deep-core need, and victims of domestic violence are part of that deep-core need.
So not only have we put them at the top of the list with respect to existing Ontario housing, but we have created a significant amount of new housing through the nonprofit housing program and they are eligible for that list as well. But they are not specifically targeted just for that one group.
Mr Jackson: That is a cruel way of comparing apples to oranges. The truth is that not a single unit was built for battered women under that program in those two years, not a single unit. On June 1988, the federal government announced a $22.2 million program specifically targeted for transition homes to house battered women. The federal funds flow through CMHC and Ontario’s allocation is 177 beds.
To date, the only three provinces to not accept that allocation are Ontario, Prince Edward Island and the Yukon. All the other provinces have accepted their allocation. In fact, five provinces have requested to take Ontario’s allocation because Ontario is unwilling or unable to accept it. While the minister was the solution years ago, he has now become the problem as the Minister of Housing.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Jackson: The federal government has given him 30 days to give it an answer. So my question to him is --
The Speaker: I hope you will put it.
Mr Jackson: -- now that he is Minister of Housing, will his government accept the federal government allocation for those 177 beds so that they will be built in the next year here in Ontario where they belong and not sent to other provinces?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would suggest to the honourable member that he speak to the Ontario Association for Interval and Transition Houses because --
Mr Jackson: Don’t blame them, though. They didn’t ask for it.
Hon Mr Sweeney: Just a minute.
We consulted with them as to how we should be using the resources that were available and they told us two things very clearly. One was that not only did they need the physical space, but they needed all the support mechanisms, the resources and the staff in order to operate those physical spaces properly. Therefore, whatever additional resources we had --
Mr Jackson: Don’t blame the battered women.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Sweeney: Whatever additional re-sources we had should be used to boost up the existing spaces. When we talked about building new spaces on the basis of the federal program, it clearly was spaces only, not the additional supports that would be necessary.
The second thing they said to us was that in addition to the initial spaces, the primary spaces, if you will, the battered women they were working with needed secondary housing and that therefore we should put our second line of resource into secondary housing. We have done both of those things exactly as the Ontario association has suggested we ought to do them.
RENOVATIONS TO APARTMENT BUILDINGS
Mr Velshi: My question too is for the Minister of Housing. I would like to point out that over 20,000 tenants in the riding of Don Mills are presently affected by varying stages of rent review applications. Recently, members of this House, including my colleague the member for Eglinton (Ms Poole), addressed questions to the minister regarding the issue of unnecessary renovations.
In light of the fact that his ministry has indicated that a recent proposal to amend the Residential Rent Regulation Act of 1986 would be ruled ultra vires, can the minister tell me what his ministry is doing to address this issue?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Last Wednesday or Thurs-day, I am not sure which, I met with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations and among other items on our joint agenda was this particular issue. I had asked them to come in advance, bringing me some suggestions as to how they thought we should deal with it and they gave me some good ones. Later this week, I had a meeting with the Ontario Landlords’ Association and asked them essentially the same question, that this was a joint problem between these two particular groups, and they also gave me some suggestions and recommendations as to how we might deal with it. My staff is now in the process of taking these two sources of information and putting them together and trying to come up with a solution.
I might add, however, that one of the things the Metro tenants said very clearly to me was that while today the concern of the tenants might be rent increases, within two to three years their major concern would be the deterioration of the buildings. “Please,” they said to me, “don’t do something today that is going to make that problem worse tomorrow.”
Mr Velshi: In view of the discussions the minister is having with the two groups, I think I am referring to unnecessary repairs. This is what the tenants are concerned about rather than the necessary repairs. What changes to the act will be made by the ministry to allow tenants to have some input into the question of unnecessary repairs, which is the urgent question facing all tenants now?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The essential element of both series of recommendations was that we need to find a way to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary. The proposal that has come from both groups is that necessary should include those repairs that are necessary to maintain the integrity of the building, in other words, plumbing, wiring, windows, roofs and these kinds of things, and that a whole series of other things could be not called unnecessary but are not in the same category.
Where the latter were involved, they both recommended dialogue between the landlords and the tenants in which the landlord would clearly identify for the tenants what he or she was proposing to do and, through a dialogue between the two of them, try to come to some agreement as to what ought to be done and what perhaps ought not to be done.
The other thing that the landlords’ association drew to my attention is that there is a provision within the existing legislation which has not yet been fully proclaimed -- or the regulations are not there; I should put it that way -- that would allow them to negotiate on a unit-by-unit basis with their tenants for things that some tenants would want done and others would not want done. So we are looking at it from both those perspectives.
Mr Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Northern Development with regard to the fact that 90 per cent of the water wells in Algoma Mills in the township of North Shore in my constituency and the constituency of Algoma-Manitoulin need to be upgraded. The water is brown in colour and has a foul odour. People cannot drink it, they cannot cook with it and they cannot wash with it. They are having to haul water from Blind River, about 10 miles away, yet the Ministry of the Environment refused to provide the grant that was originally promised to the municipality to upgrade these wells.
Can the minister indicate what is going to be done with the new application to ensure that in 1990 we will be able to end this problem and have good water for the people of Algoma Mills?
L’hon. M. Fontaine : Je tiens à remercier mon collègue le député d’Algoma de sa question. First of all, as the member knows, my ministry helps small communities with a top-off grant, but on this one I will ask my ministry people to look into it and work with them for the application and try to discuss this with the Ministry of the Environment to be sure they are on top of the list.
Mr Wildman: I appreciate the commitment of the minister and just would like him to recognize that this has been an ongoing problem since 1983. The council first passed the resolution to get assistance in 1986. They were refused in 1988 for 1989 funding and they have now reapplied.
Can the minister ensure that his colleague the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) is aware of the need for an 85 per cent grant to assist the residents of Algoma Mills, and will his ministry also look into topping up, as he indicated, to assist in upgrading the water for the residents of Algoma Mills?
Hon Mr Fontaine: I would like to say to the member for Algoma that my ministry will be presenting to me a list of projects in the north, the ones that are being finished and the ones that are in the making. They will be presented to me on Monday. From this, I will meet with my ministry. I am going to meet with the minister and his ministry to see how his budget will fit the demand in northern Ontario.
Mr McLean: I have a question for the Premier. The April throne speech contained a reference to the establishment of a new Cleantario lottery to finance efforts to protect the environment. This announcement was made about seven months ago and we still do not know what kind of numbers game he is considering for environmental protection. A government document titled Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy, Future Items, dated 24 July 1989 suggests that Cleantario would be discussed in the fall. What is the status of this report that reduces environmental protection to a game of chance?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think my honourable friend mischaracterizes the entire matter. I think Cleantario is an excellent idea to involve the public in environmental matters. It will be an add-on to the already existing appropriations for environmental concerns. As he knows, it takes some time to develop games by the Ontario Lottery Corp, but it is in the process of being done. I am sure my friend will want to be the first to buy a ticket when it is available.
Mr McLean: I am sure I will.
During the estimates, the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) indicated to my colleague, when questioned with regard to this very subject: “I am saying that we should have one which could be devoted entirely to the environment. As you know, all of the lotteries come under the auspices of the Ontario Lottery Corp. It operates them, and I want those funds devoted exclusively to endeavours of the environment.” Does the Premier agree with the minister on that statement?
Hon Mr Peterson: I agree with every single thing that every one of my ministers says most of the time.
HOUSING ON GOVERNMENT LAND
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Government Services. A couple of weeks ago, the Minister of Housing (Mr Sweeney) described a number of affordable housing projects in Peterborough and these involved the release of government lands. There is concern in some quarters about the impact of such a large release of land on the local real estate market.
My question is this: What is the minister doing to address concerns expressed in my constituency about the impacts of the government’s Tower Hill Road subdivision on the real estate market in Peterborough?
Hon Mr Ward: I appreciate my colleague’s keen interest in this particular development within the Peterborough area. I want to assure him that development of the Tower Hill property will be done in a responsible and well-considered manner.
The marketing of this subdivision will be under the Ministry of Government Services’ residential land sales program. Senior officials from both my ministry and the Ministry of Housing have recently met with executives from the Peterborough Real Estate Board and the Peterborough Home Builders’ Association. The marketing of these lots will be managed and targeted in such a way as to meet the needs of a full range of builders within the Peterborough area. I can assure the member that my ministry and the Ministry of Housing are very sensitive to his concerns indeed.
Mr Adams: I am grateful for that explanation and I am very pleased to hear that the lands will be released in a responsible fashion.
My supplementary is this: Is this a long process? How long are the people of Peterborough likely to have to wait until these affordable housing units, which involve government lands, come on to the market?
Hon Mr Ward: When the government is involved in the development of residential lands, it too operates under the parameters of the Planning Act. It is expected that draft approval should be complete by the end of December. The project will be phased over a prolonged period of time. The first phase, I believe, involves some 325 lots. Servicing design is currently under way. It is expected that the servicing will actually take place during this spring and summer and that lots should be available for sale on the market in the 325-lot phase 1 by late next fall.
ONTARIO CENTRE FOR RESOURCE MACHINERY TECHNOLOGY
Mr Morin-Strom: In the absence of the Minister of Northern Development (Mr Fontaine), I would like to ask the Premier a question with regard to the disposition of funds from the Ontario Centre for Resource Machinery Technology. This technology centre, which was located in Sudbury, was phased out of operation by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology earlier this month. However, the indications from the most recent financial statements were that there was a buildup of cash and investments that came back into the technology centre. It totalled over $6 million earlier this year.
I would like to ask the Premier whether those funds have been committed to northern Ontario, and in particular whether they have been committed to the heritage fund so that they will continue to be put to use for investment in that very important industry for northern Ontario.
Hon Mr Peterson: I apologize that I do not know the specific answer to the question, but let me tell the member my guess: My guess is that the northern Ontario heritage fund is separately financed. We have committed, I think, $300 million to that over a period of time as a separate and independent source of financing, so it is not anticipated that there are additional funds going into that.
Mr Laughren: The agreement was that the surplus funds, which were somewhat in excess of $6 million, were to be transferred over to the heritage fund, as I understand it. What the member for Sault Ste Marie (Mr Morin-Strom) is asking is whether or not that has happened and what is going to be done with it.
My supplementary to the Premier is that since in this country we are the number three producer of minerals in the entire world, and yet we still import more resource machinery than we export, just what does the Premier have in mind to create an indigenous mining machinery industry in that part of the province?
Hon Mr Peterson: As the member knows, there was a substantial amount of funds committed to that centre in Sudbury. I am told there was general agreement that it should be closed down, that it was not achieving the results expected of it. Obviously we will support other people who have ideas in this particular regard. I can tell the member that I think the original dream of sponsoring an indigenous industry through the centre has not panned out the way people thought it should in the circumstances. Obviously our role has to be a supportive one to others who are in the business.
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini). I just sent over to him a package outlining some details behind a company called the Lansdowne Distribution Centre in my riding that is proposed north of the Thousand Islands Bridge. I received a letter, which I sent to his deputy last week in his absence during his visit to Italy, that outlined the company’s desperation with respect to the fact that it may have to abort the project because of the industrial assessment factor that is applied to that particular municipality. We have talked to the regional assessment commissioner. There is apparently no relief available through the minister’s office.
What is going to happen is that this significant industry in that rural area could be lost if his ministry does not act. Does the minister have any response to that?
Hon Mr Mancini: Just by chance, I am going to be in the Ottawa region tomorrow. I will be meeting with senior officials from the Ministry of Revenue and I will have this matter added to the agenda. I will have a full discussion on the matter and report back to the member.
Mr Runciman: I want to re-emphasize the importance of this. The government is continually telling us about its commitment to eastern Ontario and here is an opportunity for it to really back up that rhetoric with action. This company is going to be facing an increased cost of $500,000 a year. They cannot be competitive with Mississauga or Oakville. This is a rural community in eastern Ontario. His ministry up to this point has said: “Put in a private member’s bill. That is your only option.” That could take years, if ever dealt with.
I want a commitment from the minister that he will look into this next week and act upon it as quickly as possible.
Hon Mr Mancini: I want to reiterate that I will have this put on my business agenda for tomorrow. If in fact the answer to the problem is a private member’s bill, I will consult with the honourable member and we will see what can be done in co-ordination with the three House leaders that meet on these subject matters.
If there are other ways we can resolve the problem, I want to assure the honourable member that I will do whatever I can to be of assistance. When I return from Ottawa on Sunday, I should be in a position to be able to tell the honourable member more than I can today.
Mr Tatham: My question is to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues. In my riding we make a very active and innovative family violence co-ordinating committee work and I am pleased to participate with it. A women’s emergency centre has been established for over 16 years. It was the second in Ontario and the third in Canada.
We strongly support the government’s message that wife assault is a crime that we all have a responsibility to prevent. Recently, I read an article focusing on what is called the inadequate response of the criminal justice system to the needs of assaulted women. What is the government doing to address the response of the criminal justice system to the issue of wife assault?
Hon Mrs Wilson: Our government is committed to ensuring that the criminal justice system is sensitive to the needs of assaulted women. It is essential that assaulted women be treated with the respect they deserve when they turn to the criminal justice system. Wife assault is a crime. The Solicitor General (Mr Offer) has issued a directive to police forces across this province that where reasonable grounds exist, the police shall lay charges.
There are other programs to assist assaulted women. The victim witness assistance program operates in 10 crown attorneys’ offices and provides support to victims and witnesses as they go through the criminal justice system. The domestic assault prosecutor program provides a specialist in each crown attorney’s office throughout the province to provide assistance on wife assault cases in every office. Police training programs are offered to every police force throughout the province. In correctional services, professional training programs are offered. In addition, there are programs in communities for male batterers, data collection resources for the criminal justice system, victim crisis assistance and also referral programs.
Mr Jackson: Mr Speaker, do I get about a third of the time she gets?
The Speaker: I feel like responding but I will not.
Mr Tatham: I have witnessed the recent media campaign against wife assault launched by the minister, which includes very graphic commercials on television. Should we not be focusing our initiatives strictly on programs like those addressing the concerns regarding the criminal justice system instead of TV commercials? I know our police force works with this group, but should we not be doing more of that?
Hon Mrs Wilson: Our government has more than doubled the funds that are committed to services for assaulted women in the last four years. Wife assault is a vicious cycle that must be broken. It must not be tolerated in our society. We cannot focus only on crisis intervention. Our goal must be to prevent wife assault from happening in the first place. In order to achieve that goal we must change attitudes. We change attitudes through education. Those commercials are educating people that wife assault is a crime, that it is not excusable. Wife assault is never a private matter. We must each be responsible for preventing wife assault.
I believe we still have a great deal more to do, but I believe we are on the right track. We have developed programs that are sensitive, sensible and operating in a strategic manner. I know we can make a difference.
Mr Kormos: I have a question of the Minister of Financial Institutions. This government’s new threshold insurance scheme is going to generate windfall profits for the insurance companies. Insurance premiums are going to continue to go up and the compensation paid out to innocent injured victims is going to be reduced drastically.
My question to the minister is that surely the government has undertaken an actuarial analysis of the impact of its new threshold regime, so when is he going to make that actuarial analysis public?
Hon Mr Elston: Part of the analysis provided for us the information that delivery of the program would require no increase to premiums in the rural areas and only an average eight per cent increase in the urban areas. I have been very frank with the member on that. However, the longer the member wishes to delay the passage of the bill, obviously the more difficult it is to manage. We are going to manage that and we are going to deliver that product.
I can tell the member that the actuarial evidence we have right now is that product is going to be reasonably priced and reasonably delivered under the current systems, as I said before.
Mr Kormos: Once again it is incredible that the minister should respond in the manner he does. He has made all sorts of bold, indeed outrageous claims about this pathetic new package written by the insurance industry. All we are asking him to do is to show us the facts and figures that back up his claims. Surely that cannot be that difficult, if indeed he is telling the truth about it.
Hon Mr Elston: I want to thank the after-lunch speaker. That was a great presentation.
Let me respond by saying that this program was put together on the basis that there is an issue present about affordability, about which the New Democratic Party organization toured the province. We have responded in a way that has been both reasonable and balanced in presenting to the people not only a package of insurance reforms to maintain costs at a level that will ensure availability, but also with a package that is much more comprehensive in going right to the heart of the problem, and that is eliminating accidents.
I will take some time on another occasion to explain it for the gentleman, who is unable at this moment to comprehend our overall program. First and foremost, the first part of our program is to reduce accidents; second is to punish bad drivers; third is to make sure that the insurance product that is in place for those people who are unfortunate enough to be in accidents provides reasonable compensation and redistributes the premium dollars that are in the system now so that the injured victims get more money than they are getting out of the current system.
That man stands up and assists the lawyers in their arguments about how they should retain the present system. I cannot apologize for not wanting to retain the status quo. That is the NDP’s position.
Mr Pollock: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, better known as one of the globe-trotters. Can the minister tell this House when the date of approval for sidewall venting of oil heating equipment can be announced by his fuels safety branch.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am glad the member for Hastings-Peterborough is interested in, among other things, sidewall venting. I cannot give him a specific date but if the member would indulge me for a couple of days, I am sure I could get back to him, perhaps with even the exact date.
Mr Pollock: Other provinces have approved it, plus there is the fact that the minister has a letter -- I have a copy of it right here -- that went to him. All he has to do is read his mail and he will be able to supply the answer. Can he give me that answer?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I think the member just repeats the same question. He refers to a letter. I want to tell him that having just returned to this House after a few days’ absence, I would be happy to provide him with a specific response within a couple of days.
COLLEGES OF APPLIED ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Education and Minister of Colleges and Universities. About a month ago, I held a public forum in my riding on the review of our community colleges. With the fact that the strike has now been settled, I think we can go back to some of the very important questions as to what our community college system should look like in the next 25 to 30 years.
I understand that the previous minister had instituted a program called Vision 2000. In the study that was done by the people who were at my forum, they spoke in particular about the need to bring together the universities and the colleges to have a better interchange between those two educational institutions.
Can the minister advise this House where the Vision 2000 program is at, and in particular what time frame is the minister looking at in terms of the revisions to our community college system that I think are overdue?
Hon Mr Conway: I want to thank the member for Nepean for his interest and to say that he raises a very important issue about the future of our community colleges. Certainly this government expects much from that system as we face the challenges of the 1990s and beyond. As my friend will know, we are heading into a future where the economic prospects of this community are going to be increasingly in the area of technology and we expect our community college system to help us in a real and material way to meet that challenge.
My predecessor, the member for Fort William (Mrs McLeod), initiated a review of the mandate and the future prospects of the community college system. That is what is known as Vision 2000. I am expecting to receive, in the next few months, at least an interim report from Dr Pascal.
Mr Daigeler: The minister has mentioned in particular education in the technology field. As far as I know, and I stand to be corrected, the enrolment at the community colleges in the technology field has dropped substantially. This is of great concern to me, and I am sure to many other members in the House, in view of the need of the technology disciplines for our economy in Ontario. I am wondering, am I in fact correct, does the minister have any information on the technology enrolment in our community colleges, and if there has been a drop, is the minister equally concerned and does he have any plans to address that problem?
Hon Mr Conway: I can, unfortunately. confirm that in recent times enrolment in the technology programs at the community colleges has in a number of cases been declining. That is a trend that we certainly must reverse. It is my view, quite frankly, that we are going to have to proceed on a multipronged approach. Certainly we are going to have to, at the elementary and secondary levels, make plain to young people in school in Ontario the future careers that are available in increasing numbers in the technology area.
I am expecting that as a result of a number of the programs we have begun in Education and in Skills Development, as well as the advice that will be offered by Dr Pascal, we are going to be able to reverse this trend, because reverse it we must.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Reville: My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I am sure members of the Legislature have been advised by the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres that since the Liberal government took office the number of children waiting for mental health services has tripled. The same association has a three-part demand for legislation guaranteeing access for adequate funding so that it can do its work and for service standards so that the work is of the highest quality.
What is the minister’s response to those demands?
Hon Mr Beer: As the honourable member notes, the association for children’s mental health centres has expressed a number of concerns with the way the system has been functioning. We are, as a ministry, actively involved with them at the present time in discussing some of the changes and some of the recommendations they would like to see.
We are very much aware of the pressures that are on that system, and even with an increase of some $25 million that we have been able to put into that system over the last couple of years, we recognize that in the broad area of children’s services there has been this demand.
Some of the initiatives that we have taken of late, through the committee which my predecessor set up regarding children’s services and with the Better Beginnings project, have helped us in focusing on particular issues, but we recognize, and this is a central part of our discussions with the association, that there is a great deal still to be done. We are going to work with them and, indeed, are doing that now.
Mr Reville: One of the strategies recommended by the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres is to have the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy undertake a review of all the issues around children’s mental health. I am sure they have put that strategy to him.
Will the minister be recommending that the Premier’s health council undertake such a review?
Hon Mr Beer: This is one of the suggestions that has been made. At the present time we are working with the association in looking at a number of specific things we would like to do to improve the system which, frankly, we believe we can look at and make some progress on without necessarily getting into a longer scale review.
As the honourable member knows, the Premier’s council is looking at a number of strategic issues that go over a somewhat broader time frame than I think we would like to see in taking actions with respect to the issues that are currently before us. With the amount of money we have been able to move into this system over the last number of years, and with the working together of ourselves and the association, it is our belief that we can actually do some things in the short run which will not necessitate a longer --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Runciman: I have a question for the Minister of Health in respect to a press report this morning in the Toronto Sun, headlined “Peanut Butter or Sex, Folks?” This was in respect to a survey being undertaken by her ministry. It asked female respondents how old they were when they lost their virginity.
I wonder if the minister could comment on the appropriateness of that kind of question, and the fact that it is asked only of women. The Ministry of Health is spending $5.7 million on this health survey. In eastern Ontario we have a number of sewage treatment plants spewing raw sewage into the waterways of this province, endangering the health of all those people around those communities, and the ministry is spending $5.7 million to ask women when they lost their virginity. How can the minister justify that?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The issue that the member raises is extremely important. On the advice of both the Evans panel and the Spasoff panel, the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy is undertaking a health status survey so that we can establish benchmarks and goals for good health planning and monitoring of the health of our population.
Specifically, the member asks about the question around women’s health. I want him to know that all of the questions in this survey are on the advice of health planners and health policy experts. The reason for this question is because the risk of cervical cancer in women is increased in women who have sexual intercourse at an early age. The question in this survey is designed to ensure that we have information so we will know how large the population at risk is.
Hon Mrs Caplan: This is a very serious question. This is about women’s health and women’s health needs and I am very surprised that the member opposite would not take this seriously. I want him to know that the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy takes the health status survey very seriously. It will give us data and information to ensure that our goal of a healthier Ontario in the future can be achieved.
Mr Elliot: I have a petition, with 32 signatures, to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It has to do with the repealing of the French Language Services Act, being Statutes of Ontario 1986, chapter 45. I have affixed my signature to it because I am required to do so by the standing orders.
Mr Pollock: I have a petition to the Premier and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario -- “We the undersigned beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario, as follows” -- and this is a petition in regard to Bill 8. They are totally opposed to it, and I have affixed my signature according to the standing order.
Mr Owen: I, too, have a similar petition addressed to the Premier and the Legislative Assembly on the same matter with 18 signatures from my area, and I will file it.
Mr Henderson: I have a petition from a number of constituents who say:
“To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario that the government of Ontario enter into a partnership with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, joint sponsorship of the teachers’ pension plan and an arrangement which provides true negotiability and resolution of disputes. We therefore request that Bill 41 be appropriately amended.”
That is signed by about 280 of my constituents and I have added my signature.
Mr Epp: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that deals with Bill 8. It is my duty to present this petition, but I want to say I do not agree with the petition.
Mr Runciman: I have two petitions also related to the way Bill 8 was handled by the Legislature and is being interpreted and implemented by the Liberal government of Ontario.
Mrs Stoner: I, too, have a petition from a number of Durham residents addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly. It is requesting the repeal of Bill 8. I have signed my name to it only because I am required to do so under the standing orders of this House.
Mr Lupusella: On behalf of the member for Wentworth North (Mr Ward), I am presenting a petition regarding Bill 8.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE OMBUDSMAN
Mr Velshi from the standing committee on the Ombudsman presented a report on the expansion of jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
The Speaker: Would the member have any comments to make on the report?
Mr Velshi: I have no comments, Mr Speaker.
On motion by Mr Velshi, the debate was adjourned.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Offer moved, on behalf of Mr Scott, first reading of Bill 81, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
MINING AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr O’Neil moved second reading of Bill 71, An Act to amend the Mining Act, 1989.
Hon Mr O’Neil: Since I last spoke in the Legislature about this bill on 24 October, we have continued to involve the mineral resource sector and other interested groups in discussions about this new legislation. After first reading, the ministry distributed an information package to all interested parties which included my statement to the Legislature and extensive background details on the new Mining Act.
Consultation has also involved members of the opposition parties who have played a key role in bringing this much-needed legislation closer to implementation. Their co-operation has been essential in moving this bill forward.
Throughout the development of this legislation, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has stressed consultation because we are aware of the impact our legislative actions have, not only on the province’s mines and minerals industry but on the province’s overall economy as well. We know that legislation can create a favourable investment climate from which industry can respond and grow. We know, too, that the mineral exploration and mining sectors are of vital economic and social importance to Ontario.
Mining, mineral exploration and related industrial activity contributes more than $7 billion a year to the provincial economy and provides jobs for more than 85,000 people. It helps fuel our economic growth. In 1988, for instance, the mining industry spent about $260 million in capital costs and created about 700 new jobs, opening eight new mines.
Just as the province relies on its mineral resource sector to generate wealth in employment, however, so the industry relies on the province to provide an equitable legislative framework for responsible mineral development. This new Mining Act provides such a framework. It reflects current conditions and concerns and will put the province and its mines and minerals industry in a competitive position for the 21st century.
At the same time, this legislation speaks to the environmental and social concerns of the people of Ontario. It encourages the ongoing development of, and investment in, our mineral resources, while protecting the interests of those who are concerned about the impact of mining on the environment and their communities.
The need for a new Mining Act has long been recognized in Ontario. While the Mines Act of 1906 served the province well in its time, today’s increasingly complex world demands more from us as legislators. Mineral exploration and mining have changed significantly since we first put our legislative framework in place. Today’s industry is using high-tech techniques and equipment. Its professionals are among the most highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable in the world. As part of a fast-paced global marketplace, it faces pressures unknown to the legislators of 1906 -- pressures of cost, competition from abroad, environmental concerns and social requirements.
Recognizing the need for change, this government committed itself to a thorough review of mining legislation two years ago and last December released a green paper on Mines and Minerals Policy and Legislation. As a result of the extensive public consultations that followed the release of the green paper, we were able to introduce a bill that addressed the industry’s major concerns -- such as the licensing of prospectors, security of title, staking practices and ways of measuring assessment work -- while taking the public’s environmental concerns into account.
We set out our intentions clearly. The bill states that the purpose of the act is to encourage prospecting, staking and exploration for the development of mineral resources and to minimize adverse effects on the environment through rehabilitation of mining lands in Ontario. To that end, prospectors’ licences will no longer be required to hold an interest in a claim and they will no longer be required by companies. Validity will be extended to five years from one year. Also, claim tags will no longer be tied to an individual licence and are transferable.
To provide security of tenure, the bill specifies that a claim cannot be disputed after being in good standing for one year. This provision will be extended to claims staked under the old act. To improve staking practices, details of approved claim-staking methods will be covered in the regulations, allowing flexibility and full client group input. These consultations are already in progress. Priority of staking will be based on the completion time of staking in the field rather than the time of commencement, as at present.
To bring assessment work practices into line with those of other provinces, the bill moves to a $1-per-hectare basis instead of the man-days system used under the old act.
In addition, the new legislation deals with related issues of concern to the mineral exploration and mining industries such as the inclusion of certain industrial minerals in the Mining Act, the use of regulations and the retention of section 104, which calls for domestic processing of Ontario’s mineral resource.
The bill also recognizes that the people of Ontario place a high priority on environmentally sound mining practices. These environmental concerns have been addressed in part IX of the act, which has been expanded to cover the environmental effects of advanced exploration, development and closure. Notice to the public will be required of advanced exploration and mine development. Closure plans and related financial assurance will be required to ensure that adequate rehabilitation takes place.
These are just a few of the changes contemplated by the bill, but they will give a flavour of the extent of the revisions we are undertaking. As we ready ourselves for the challenges of the new decade and a new century, we require a new legislative framework for responsible mineral development. With members’ co-operation and assistance, this bill will provide that framework.
Mr Pouliot: Mr Speaker, our party was ready to tackle the issue yesterday in its usual positive manner. However, the orders of the day were sort of -- not mixed, but some expediency was given to lot levies. You will recall that, for you were sitting in the Speaker’s chair. Consequently, we just seemed to run out of time. It being six of the clock, we were invited to recess and to come back today.
The Mining Act has not been amended since 1906, so by consensus it could well withstand waiting an extra day. This is partly a reflection of the administration, of the government’s attitude towards the mining sector.
I do not want to take too long of the House’s time to say that we welcome, with some anxiety and certainly a good deal of sincere interest, the long-awaited amendments to the Mining Act. At long last, a chance to reflect on the importance of the resource sector.
Members will be most familiar with the $150 million in provincial revenues expected this year and next year, compared with a mere $13 million, if you go back two or three years.
The throne speech of 1987 committed the government to reflect the realities of mining. Then a short while after that, a green paper was presented, briefs and consultations with parties with vested interests took place for a period of 90 days and people were invited to put their best foot forward, to examine in detail, clause by clause, the existing Mining Act, again dating back to 1906, to keep what they thought they could live with, and still reflect the operation of a modern era, the needs, and make some positive amendments that would make the operative clause a little better.
For instance, in this day of Our Lord 1989, is it right, for instance, for a prospector who has a licence for a year’s duration, to go in the bush and see if there is any rock formation that may be conducive to mineral exploration, or at least look for a showing, something that he can take back to the lab, something that will give him the opportunity to stake, to say, “This little area surrounded by posts is my claim,” but be unable to do it? Sure, he can live in sin under the existing legislation. If it so happens it is in July that his licence for one year expires, and it also happens that under the existing act if the licence expires he cannot stake, how the heck, if I may be so bold and we are talking about working people; in front of such a challenge, is he going to get an interest in the claim? If the requirement to acquire an interest is that his licence has to be in good standing on 11 July, and his licence expired yesterday or the day before, how can he do it? It simply does not make sense.
The minister has recognized that. So now he is saying that actually you do not really need a licence to establish an interest, but we will help you; we will give you a five-year licence. Instead of going back and forth every year, you will take it for five years. It is a small, small thing, if you wish, but certainly it recognizes that it needed to be done.
Our party will be supporting the proposed legislation. There were some loose ends; a few small amendments will have to be introduced. So in view of the minor flaws, we took the liberty of going to the minister’s office and visiting with his so-called mine rescue team, and pointed out the error of his ways, but only in terms of a housekeeping matter to make the bill more functional. We availed ourselves of the opportunity to point that out and they have assured me that will go to the minister’s desk and that he will be presenting amendments to this House when we reach clause-by-clause. I understand, tentatively, there is a tacit agreement that will be perhaps next week, next Wednesday, reminding, of course, about next Wednesday being, as you well know, Mr Speaker, the day before our historical convention to take place in Winnipeg. So if it is not next Wednesday, it will have to go to the following Monday.
The highlight of the bill, certainly, is before you extract, before you take that first shovel out of the ground, you will have to have a plan of attack. You will have to tell the people, the government, the people of Ontario, the people in those respective neighbourhoods, what specific plans you have to address the environment. That is before you are even allowed to do so. I guess, above all, that is the focus, the highlight of the bill. I have listened really long and hard, and I have watched the minister carefully, and I was somewhat shocked.
The departure of yesteryear that industry welcomes, welcomes that vision, by and large is appreciated. There was some caution, some people said: “Well, I do not know how it is going to function. I do not know if I am willing, on a marginal operation, to commit that much money for the day when it ceases to exist.” By and large those movers and shakers, if you wish, people who will invest in those mines are saying, “Well, yeah.” In fact, I have heard someone, and I will not divulge the source, say, “It is about time. We are ready for it. We are ready to tell you in 15, 20, 25 years, when we are looking at gravel, when you can no longer extract copper, zinc, silver, lead, platinum, nickel and other minerals that Ontario is so blessed with, that we will leave an environment that we can all be proud of.”
There is a realization that when you stake a claim, you do assessment work because the existing act requires that if you work a claim, which is a certain area, that in order to keep your claim year after year, you have to do some work. Over the years, people were very innovative, very imaginative, in devising all kinds of rigmaroles, of schemes, of scams, that would abide, perhaps, by the intent and the spirit of the agreement, but had little significance in terms of assessment dollars.
The minister says to those people: “You are going to work your claim. It is a condition, but the assessment work will be gauged on a dollar basis.” I think that is a good move because it is no longer an invitation to sin, if you wish The minister has to mean what he says, put his money forward. Let’s get the calculator out, then we want to wish him well.
Another aspect of the bill which is interesting is the staking practices. It is quick moving. The world is not perfect. Mining is very expedient. It has been said, it has been reported and recorded that some people, some entrepreneurs in haste would stake a claim. Another entrepreneur, with equal haste, would jump the claim. It is called claim jumping, and if you have an interesting find, some showing, this could be a mine today.
Well, hypothetically of course -- I should be so fortunate -- I could let you do the work and a year and two years after, when you tell me that you start bunching your holes and you come up with assays that are very, very interesting and your tonnage multiplies quickly, I could jump the claim. Let’s say you have another Hemlo gold mine, you have a sediment formation. Your holes are coming up, a testing shows that you have an intersection showing 0.29 gold to the ton so for every four tons that you get out of there, you will get one ounce. So you go to your geologist and you ask him: How big is that? How extensive is that body? He tells you that it still open-ended but it is a sediment formation.
We can use the base mining method. We do not have to chase the proverbial vein. Our cost is US$116 an ounce. So you take a look at the paper, the futures market, and you see where London is opening this morning. What did it close at in New York last night? It closed at four hundred and some odd dollars an ounce. Then remember, I could jump that claim. I could let you do all the work and then I could say that your staking has not been done properly.
The Minister of Mines (Mr ONeil) knows that, so he now tells me that I can only do it for one year, that I cannot take advantage of the entrepreneurial spirit, and wait until they do all the work and then claim that the policy was the order of the day and that it is my mine, not only the interest in the ground, but that it is my mine. Again, well done, very simple.
It brings to mind, why has it not been done before? It is not the minister’s fault. It would be unfair to say to the previous administration that was there for 42 years. But when you go back to 1906, mind you, there was no need to rectify or to amend the legislation. I think it means that the mining industry has been successful in dealing with a somewhat archaic act, a somewhat, as we say in French, « désuète, démodée » act that reflects yesteryears.
You know the minister almost jumped a century in his opening remarks and I heard him; he mentioned that as we enter the “21st century.” I mean this thing goes back to 1906. He has almost jumped one. The minister carries his age very well. But again going back, those people should be commended. They have been able, in spite of the obvious flaws in the Mining Act, to keep the show on the road. They have been able to keep mining alive.
Not departing from the subject matter being addressed which is second reading of Bill 71, An Act to amend the Mining Act, I want to present an announcement that is on the press at the present time and it was faxed to me. We are so appreciative of modern technology. The Thunder Bay Times-News/Chronicle-Journal, I know there is a member in the gallery who pays us the compliment of a visit, who knows where Thunder Bay is, a former councillor, member of the school board, and we are getting some of the money back --
Mr Philip: I know where Thunder Bay is.
Mr Pouliot: The member knows where Thunder Bay is.
Mr Philip: I used to teach in Thunder Bay.
Mr Pouliot: Perhaps the future Ombudsman of the province of Ontario.
But the announcement deals with four-laning to Nipigon starting in 1993 and I want to make this public. I want the good people who have the patience in northwestern Ontario to listen to their representative. They know the kind of mission, the kind of crusade we have been mounting for the past five years over which we have asked the government for the money that comes out of resources. We want some of the money back that comes out of forestry and mining, two of the most important economic components of this province, and we are resource-based.
Life is full of surprises. I am very happily surprised. I have said before when I have asked the government, that I would be among the first ones upon being the recipient of good news and I know that this is official -- I know the government cannot deny this, that four-laning to Nipigon, that is from the city of Thunder Bay and it starts in 1993. Maybe there is a mistake and it should read 1990 or 1991.
I think this should be an official document now because the Times-News has been informing people of their duty for a number of years. The Times-News is aware of the massive tax dollars that go from the northern economy to enrich the lives of people in southern Ontario.
The people in northwestern Ontario have been talking about four-laning for a number of years and today they have asked me on their behalf to hold the government to their commitment and to commend the government because a portion of what we have been sending down south for years is finally coming back. What a coincidence that, on the very same day, well done, systematic and deliberate, there is not one, but two, pieces of good news.
I have to give it to the minister. I am very proud. The minister is standing tall today. On the very same day that he introduces significant amendments to Bill 71, to the Mining Act, he ups the ante, he goes one more time and he says we are going to spend $270 million to four-lane, in recognition of service from the mining industry to the south where some of the money is coming back.
My hat goes off to the minister for a job well done.
Mr Philip: That is only because we have a good member in Lake Nipigon.
Mr Pouliot: I do not intend to take credit for lobbying. I have done my job here. Much more important, the people will be getting the services they deserve. Members come and go, it matters little.
We have some concerns that were not ad-dressed in the proposed legislation, in Bill 71. I shared half an hour with Frank Beardy, member of Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, Treaty 9. He has also been the chief of Muskrat Dam in northwestern Ontario. Muskrat Dam is not a band. They evolved some years ago from band to reserve status.
I want the minister to share with me a true story concerning Chief Levi McKay, Big Trout Lake. There are 1,000 people there. Chief Harvey Yesno is chief of about 800 people in Fort Hope. Levi McKay is in Big Trout Lake. Chief Frank Beardy, is one of the most respected members of the native community, very progressive, always willing to encourage peaceful co-existence, most anxious to join the economic mainstream, with no wish to assimilate, and I cannot blame him. They should not have to, but they would welcome some integration if they had a better say in running their economic affairs.
A short while back, coming back to Mr Beardy and Muskrat Dam, our first Canadians noticed that drilling activity was taking place right outside of the reserve. Imagine the audacity of a company going very near in remote areas near native land, a place you can call your home in a small community, without informing the natives. Were the elders ever notified? Were they advised of how they would be impacted by the proposed mining development? Were the members of the band council, the Matriach, ever consulted? Were they ever offered to have their own state? No, no, no, no. Suffice it that one mining company, among others -- and there have been others -- saw fit, simply because the ground, after geophysical survey, some groundwork, was right outside the reserve.
Well, the population is the fastest growing of all stocks, if you wish, in that context in North America. Our native population is exploding, and I think that is good news. The community is not a land base. The reserves barely suffice. They cannot accommodate people under Bill C-31. People who have established a recent connection cannot go back to the land. It is a small community. They are looking for a land base. Many of their land claims have not been addressed. They take years, decades, but it is coming, and so is self-government.
Is it not normal that when you have -- well, take yourself, Mr Speaker. Put yourself as chairman of an exploration company. Your dream is to open a mine one day or to have enough showings so that you can sell the interest that you have on that ground to the big guys so that they will put that into operation. No problem. Would you not be advised, if you are going to have, you know, a clear conscience, and also for the good functioning of your operations, that you would have the major players in place; that you would invite them, you would inform them, you would assist them because you are on their land? If it is not today, it may well be tomorrow by virtue of the settlement of a land claim.
I would have liked to have seen a clause, or even in the preamble, in the compendium, if you wish, dealing with the need to recognize what has taken place today and will continue to take place tomorrow. Not only is it a normal reaction, I think it would have shown some innovation, some imagination on the part of the ministry. The industry would have welcomed it, because the people -- back to Muskrat Dam -- have been asked to leave. They folded their tents and out they went. Maybe there was potential for some reserves, for a mine there, for economic prosperity. What I am saying in matters of this kind is, you let the people who are in place decide, because it is their land.
You know, Mr Speaker, if you have a prospect in your backyard, you assume, I am sure, in the great riding of Oshawa, that you must own mineral rights on your property. I am sure that you could speak at some length regarding mineral rights in the municipality of Oshawa, but, no, please. I know that each has a duty to perform, and with respect, I know that you certainly have the answer and you could offer some good advice to the House as to the right of an owner to potential mineral wealth -- oil, gas, gold, silver, platinum -- on their his property.
On behalf of our caucus, I have been asked to review the proposed mining act. We have, I am sure, many speakers from the Progressive Conservative Party who would wish to participate. It is my understanding that they are at the present time having a caucus meeting to review the order of speakers. It is a complex bill; it is not easy. It is not easy for those who do not have an interest in mining activities in Ontario; and why should they? People are busy. Not only do they claim so, but they are quite busy. I know that in their frantic search to associate flaws, shortcomings perhaps, and some pitfalls with the proposed legislation, they will be hard pressed to find any. Our party will be supporting.
It is my understanding that there has been a tacit agreement to review the proposed legislation on a clause-by-clause basis. The minister is aware of our participation with his mine rescue team, if you wish, or people working in the ministerial office. They are aware of our concerns. There are minor concerns and will surface in the form of amendments. The minister will present the House with our concerns in the form of minor amendments, I am told, next Wednesday. We will readily recognize those amendments. Well, very much so, and why not? We know they will make the legislation a better piece of work.
I want to encourage the minister to highlight -- and I challenge the minister to do that because this is good work -- and print the document. I know it is going to cost a few dollars. I try to appreciate the minister’s concern about value for money, but simplification of the highlights in the northern press, and elsewhere perhaps where mining is a possibility, would do a great deal to say, “Look, we’ve done something right here.” It is not too often that the government has the opposition in this House, because we seldom have the opportunity to agree with it. I mean, this is not a damage-control document. This is a document that goes forward.
I have presented those thoughts to our friends from the third party and have invited them to look seriously at our amendments, and they have assured me that they would be meeting. In fact, they are meeting right now to find some ways of siding, of perhaps making this unanimous, a voice vote.
I could on for a long time. I like mining. I have spent 20 years of my life working in the mining sector. You do your job. You punch the clock, if you wish. My job was one of a tradesman flotation operator; well, separating metal. You know you would depress and promote minerals in a base metal mine, a very good producer, a very good contributor to the Ontario economy. Copper, fairly high grade, very good proven ore reserve, good established rate of production; zinc, lead, very high silver and a trace of gold that barely pay for transportation; 4,000 tonnes a day, about 235 to 240 tonnes an hour. I am sure the people who have closed circuit of the committee as it reviews the Mining Amendment Act are listening very intently.
Back to Noranda mines, Geco division, located in Manitouwadge, sometimes when we had some time off work -- at work, that is. I can maybe have a secret with members that things were fairly well mechanized. Sometimes we would have time for a coffee break. We were saying: “What do we do? Look at the trailer court that we have. Look at our sewer and water system and look at all that money that is being taken out of here on a daily basis.” Every shift there is a lot of money being taken out. Where is it going? We could say, “It’s going nowhere, except to southern Ontario. When are we going to get some back?”
Again, as I mentioned at the beginning, when I see that the government will be spending -- and I have talked this afternoon to the Minister of Education, who is the former Minister of Mines -- this is no more than one hour old, and I am asking one of the most respected members in this House -- I have asked him for the past four and a half years, the short time that I have been here, when we have had a chance to chat, about the money leaving the north with our forestry, our mining and coming down south. We always have to get up on our feet and say, “When is justice, when is fairness going to prevail?”
So I was very happy to command one of the front four, as they are so often referred to --
Hon Mr Conway: Do they still call us that?
Mr Pouliot: -- and mention to the former Minister of Mines and government House leader, now the born-again Minister of Education -- I understand he has problems with different bank accounts that are going to be descending upon him later on, like two bank accounts, one with $14 billion of teachers’ pay -- it could be northern teachers whose husbands work in the mines -- and not having the présence d’esprit to transfer from the $14 billion to put into the other account, as you would do, Mr Speaker. It is common sense, is it not? You have two accounts, one is overdrafted, you put it in the other.
Again, I said to the minister, “I will be the first one, member for Renfrew North, Minister of Education, one of the, let’s say, four most respected, powerful politicians in the province of Ontario, a future candidate perhaps for the leadership” -- rumour has it that we could be shocked in the not-too-distant future. A draft would be very popular, and the Premier, who has just returned from an extended holiday, I mean a trip, to promote Ontario mining and industry in Europe -- I said to the former Minister of Mines, “The money is coming back, thanks to you,” and to the Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye).
When I saw this afternoon by fax this firm commitment of the government that four-laning to Nipigon starts in 1993, I mean, now this is a commitment. Well, 1993, yes. We would have preferred 1991. It should have started five years ago, but we have learned to be patient and we have also learned to recognize when a project of $270 million -- and this is what the Times News, whose mandate is to inform the public in a nonpartisan way.
I am really privileged this afternoon. Not only, first, good news; we are here to lend support to the government for the introduction of its mining act and we are here to celebrate the declaration that we will have a four-lane highway between Thunder Bay and Nipigon, at the latest, in 1993.
It is somewhat embarrassing, but I must say that $270 million is slightly more than a pittance. I am thinking of the men and women who extracted the mineral out of our mines, who chose to go up north to make a contribution to work in our forests, to work in our mines, who wanted perhaps to stay one or two years and ended up passing five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years, exporting the work, if you wish, the resources; a few years after, exporting their sons and daughters to the colleges and universities of this great province because we did not have the population to justify facilities. As a grand finale, if you wish, after their life of toiling in those mines, where are those people? They are in other communities.
They remember the contribution that they made. They know it has not been made in vain. They went with their forte. Many of the communities are 20, 25 years old. The mine is 25 years old. It is their reason for being. It is the reason for the community’s being there. If one is more than 25 years old, one was therefore not born there.
Unfortunately, because of infrastructures not being what they should be by way of not having always received the recognition that we deserve for our contribution, if one is more than 65, one sort of does not belong there. It is a place for work. We were given little chance to establish roots. The mineral went. We are that much closer to extinction. Members should remember that. We went through that. The minute that we take one shovelful out of the ground, it is one shovelful less, and then we are that much closer. It is a condition that one accepts in advance.
Sometimes one’s work life, or one’s expectation of a work life, will pretty well match the duration of the mine, but one came here to work in the mine. Most people do not gravitate towards the north for the climate or, although we are getting more, to be exposed to culture. It is difficult to have theatre plays. It is difficult to have operas. It is impossible to have universities in small places. A full-fledged hospital is nonexistent in others. We want those services; not all of them, but some of them.
We are proud of what we do. We are proud of our contribution. We work hard. We enjoy our friends. We are very resourceful. We are very close as communities. But we know and we appreciate what is going on down south and we welcome some reciprocity. We welcome some recognition, recognition for our effort, recognition that we need to diversify our economy. That is not the duty of the Mining Amendment Act, I know, but we need to be ready for the day when that last shovelful gets out of the ground, because they will close the mine. We cannot make copper out of gravel.
When the last ounce of gold is gone, this mining act refers to an operative clause “with tailings.” That could go a long time. I am sure the government House leader, if he will bear with me, would signify to me which part of the contribution to society that he wishes to be addressed. Could we go on to talk about something else?
Mr Pouliot: I know, but by convention -- not by convention; by tradition, Mr Speaker, sometimes you have allowed some flexibility, and you are at your best when, in accordance with the rules, the human dimension was mentioned in this House.
We were talking about people; in this case, the people of the north, about their contribution, about wanting the chance, while the Mining Amendment Act is being talked about, is being debated in the House, to mention: “Give us the resources to go past the Mining Act. This governs the operations, the finding and operation of mines. Give us the tools so that when we go past this, when there is no longer a mine, what do we do to diversify our economy?”
We only have the five, 10, 15, 20 years -- if we are lucky a few more years -- to do it. We have to do it when our forte is going strong, not when we are weak; when tax money is being generated from the mining revenue and from the people who work in those mines, to put some back in the communities for the day when the mine is no longer in existence so that we will still be able to look to the future with confidence and we will not have to board up our houses. Because, like you, Mr Speaker, we have sunk part of our bodies in there, part of our souls, part of our toiling, part of our labour in sheltering. But if there are no takers because the law of supply and demand has been located, has been altered, there are no takers because the law of supply and demand has been dislocated, has been altered, it is becoming a ghost town. Then we walk away, and that is not good.
It means we have not done our homework totally, that product utilization has not been employed to its fullest, that we could have done better during good times. During those fat years, we could have put some money aside, established land banks, had some infrastructure, to see what we could do for secondary industry; also to see what we could do to find more mines, to develop tourism, to develop a road component, a road network, as an important component. We could have done all that. It is called planning.
This begins to, but only with certain parameters, only with the mining. The same effort should go beyond that. Our problem is not where we are going to be in five years. The geologists will tell you where we will be in five years. That is their job. But where are the communities going to be after the mines close?
The problems with the north that we have are economic problems, and our population is decreasing. It is decreasing because governments have not -- not that they have refused to do it -- paid enough attention to sound planning: resources, land banks, economic incentives, things that are reasonable, using Ontario Hydro as a tool for economic investment. When you have a surplus capacity, you tell people: “We will give you a little bit of a bonus so you can live there. It is going to be easier for you to live there.”
What about a tax break for the citizens and for the small corporations, the small business people, the middle class that feels saturated, that feels under a state of siege? They feel the world has descended upon them, that they have responsibilities to support everyone, that they have less tax dollars to grow and it costs more to live up north. That would work very well, thank you.
Look at provincial tax on gasoline. We need a car up there. What is wrong with taking two cents off every litre in provincial tax? It would not affect the revenues of the province a great deal but it would mean: “One second here, I am a northerner. Those people are helping me. Those people realize that it is colder up north. I have to warm up the car. The car is a necessity and the distances between towns, villages and cities is greater than anywhere else.”
My colleagues from the Conservatives, who are still meeting frantically to address the mining bill, would agree with me. So much needs to be done. I could not miss this opportunity to talk about -- when we talk about the mining bill, automatically we have to talk about mining communities. We do not have a General Motors across the street. That is all we have. You have a paper mill in some towns; in some other towns you have services. They had a mine yesteryear and the mine closed. The government has been cognizant and has recognized the need to establish sort of a district system of services so that they stay alive; they are very rich. But they could have done better. They could have done a lot better.
I recently met with the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce. They wanted to talk about forest utilization. They wanted to stop mining the forest. They wanted to keep farming it in some parts. They wanted to know why one mill in Nipigon, Multiply, would have to go elsewhere to find quality product, because that quality product on somebody’s wood reserve was being used for pulp. It does not make any sense. People have to get together, have to see where we are getting the best utilization of the product, so that in terms of forestry, it regenerates, so that tomorrow will look at least as good as today and give us more time, more opportunities, more resources to plan and to diversify.
It is not too often in this House that the opposition has a chance to agree with the government on legislation affecting human lives. Not too often. It is certainly not the fault of the opposition, I am convinced of that. Either the legislation being proposed has been influenced by powerful interests, yes, or it is so badly flawed that it has been cast in haste and in hell and requires 50 -- oh, the words are strong, Mr Speaker, but believe me, you too have been on your feet speaking sincerely, diligently, about flawed legislation where once you went through the amendments, you could hardly begin to recognize the original bill.
Remember housing? Oh, that was one of them. Yesterday right here in this House, 24½ hours ago, the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) and I think it was Bill 147. I was having a chat with my colleagues, and we were talking about the virtues of that bill. A colleague, an honourable member was on his feet trying to justify a bill that was flawed, and we were absorbed, talking about the many amendments here. There were three of us talking -- that often takes place in this House -- and we agonized over that bill because as we looked at the amendments, we could not recognize the original bill. Even in intent and spirit, we could not recognize it.
Little wonder then that the opposition, invited to criticize in a positive way and to make positive recommendations, sometimes -- especially with this government, because it has been said that the government that prevailed for 42 years, to 1985, was perhaps viewed as an arrogant conglomerate, if you wish, or group of politicians that had been there for so many years that they took governing for granted, a divine right. But you could always tell where they stood. They had a plan of action. The present government cannot be painted, if you wish, with the same brush.
Back to the mining bill. The minister says, “I thought we were going talk about the mining bill.” I have talked about the mining bill for 20 years. When the minister said, “I thought we were going to talk about the mining bill,” it was never done from the comfort of an office at a first ministers’ conference on mining.
We will be supporting the bill in its entirety. We will recognize and look forward to the amendments that we will reach on a clause-by-clause basis. I stand today on behalf of our party to say, yes, we are supporting it and we will welcome the comments from the minister.
Hon Mr Ward: I am delighted to have this opportunity to take part in the second reading debate of Bill 71. As honourable members will know, I do not have a lot of mines in my riding, but I certainly do appreciate just what a contribution the mining industry makes to the entire province. Both my colleague the member for Wentworth East (Ms Collins) and I represent a very important industrial district in this province, the industrial heartland indeed of Canada, with two of the major steel mills in North America. Naturally, the mining industry here in Ontario contributes greatly to that industrial heartland and to those particular industries.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel with my colleague the Minister of Mines to Sudbury where we were opening at Laurentian University the site of the new Ministry of Mines’ facilities and some of the testing laboratories. It happened to be just a day or so after he introduced these very important amendments to the Mining Act, and certainly the response up there was absolutely overwhelming.
I read with interest the comments of my colleagues from both opposition parties. There is no question that these amendments are long overdue and they certainly reflect the interests of the mining industry, being the result of very extensive consultation, no doubt begun by my colleague the member for Renfrew North (Mr Conway) during his tenure as the Minister of Mines.
This bill has indeed had a long history. The green paper, I believe, was produced some three years ago. The bill was introduced last spring and, frankly, the government feels that it is of such importance that it should be proceeded with as quickly and as expeditiously as possible. Yet at the same time we want to ensure that there is plenty of time for additional inputs from people such as the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot) and the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope) who was sitting in his -- oh, I guess he is not in his chair right now.
But clearly the contribution that this industry makes to the province is not insignificant at all. As the minister indicated in his opening statement, some $7 billion a year goes into the provincial economy through the mining industry and over 85,000 jobs are created through this industry. I am delighted that the minister has seen fit to bring forward amendments that will continue to ensure that this industry in Ontario remains competitive. He has brought in legislation which ensures that the environmental protection that my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon has talked about will be built into the requirements of the industry.
Now, I know that there are many members in this House who would like to continue to take part in this debate, and I too have some further comments. However, due to some arrangements and some scheduling matters that were discussed earlier today by the House leader, I think it would be appropriate at this time if I adjourn the debate.
On motion by Mr Ward, the debate was adjourned.
TEACHERS’ PENSION ACT, 1989
Mr Conway moved second reading of Bill 66, An Act to revise the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983 and to make related amendments to the Teaching Profession Act.
Hon Mr Conway: I would like to take some few moments this afternoon to address the issues contained in Bill 66, a matter that I know has been of lively interest to members in the chamber and indeed to a number who joined us this afternoon in the gallery.
The whole question of pension reform is something about which this government has expressed a desire to reform. The Treasurer’s budget of earlier this year indicated that in both the areas of public service and teachers’ pensions we wanted to make a number of changes, a number of reforms that would have as their essential characteristic the strengthening of, the securing of very important benefits that I know every member of the Legislature wants to join in support of.
I just have to indicate to you, Mr Speaker, and to my colleagues in the House that there has been much debate over the last number of months. I dare say that out in those Kendal hills, you perhaps have received some correspondence and some representation yourself from concerned teachers and others in the community who have wanted to impress upon you their views about this aspect of public policy.
I know that I can speak for all honourable members when I say that over the last number of months, there has been, as I said earlier, a lively interest, particularly in the teaching profession, about this whole question of the pension reform that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has indicated as recently as in his budget of this spring.
I want to make plain at the outset, through you to the House, Mr Speaker, and to anyone who should be reading these debates, that the purpose of Bill 66 is essentially to put the teachers’ pension plan in this province on a sound financial footing and to ensure that the benefits that have been secured, particularly the very important benefit of inflation protection, is in fact properly secured into the future.
We are, of course, in this policy initiative, looking at other aspects of reform, and one of the very important aspects of this initiative is a new model for the governance of the teachers’ pension plan. It is a matter that has been much talked about over the last number of months and in fact for some time before that as well.
We want in this legislation as well to ensure that the teachers’ pension plan meets the standards that have been set by the Ontario Pension Benefits Act, 1987. I might add that the legislation and the policy which informs it seek to provide some important benefit improvements.
I want to take a few moments this afternoon to indicate to you the kind of discussion that has been undertaken over the past number of months by the government of Ontario in respect of the issue before us this afternoon. I want to pay tribute to my colleague the Minister of Government Services (Mr Ward), the now House leader, the member for Wentworth North who, as Minister of Education, played a very important role along with the Treasurer in bringing the pension policy, particularly the teacher area, to the point where I could receive it in August 1989.
There has been, quite frankly, a very active dialogue over many months between the government and the teaching profession about how we might proceed to do the things that certainly we in government particularly but, to be fair, I think the teaching profession also were anxious to address.
I repeat, for me, as I have said earlier, the single biggest objective in this policy is to make sure that a very good pension plan is put on a very solid and secure financial footing so that it can meet the expectations of it into the future. There should be no one in this House or outside who should imagine anything else. This is, in our view, a very good plan. It is a defined benefit plan, and we want to ensure that the benefits which it offers are going to be properly secured into the future.
There has been a very lively discussion, as I said, between the government and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation at the corporate level and a very active discussion between local members of the Legislature and local representatives of the teaching profession at the community or constituency level over the past number of months.
There have been other very significant manifestations of interest in this policy as well. My mind turns to a day earlier this year in the city of Hamilton where a goodly number of people gathered to indicate their interest in the policy issue before us this afternoon.
I think it is fair to say that when the government entered into these negotiations, we expected there would be a lively interest. We have certainly not been disappointed about that. We were very anxious to resolve the financial issues as we saw them. We were particularly interested in addressing a number of the concerns teachers have made over the years about the governance of the plan and a number of the aspects of plan administration.
Discussions, as I indicated, have touched upon benefit improvements. I might add that the desire of the government has certainly been real in making sure that we make changes in this plan that conform with the requirements of the Pension Benefits Act passed a couple of years ago by the Legislature.
I think it is also fair to say that there was progress on a variety of these issues. I want to say how much I personally valued the participation of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, not just at the corporate level but at the local and regional level as well. I can tell members I have benefited from the submissions made to me at the local and regional level, as I know my friends the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke), the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) and the member for Durham East (Mr Cureatz) have as well.
I also want to commend the staff of the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Treasury and Economics, some of whom are with us this afternoon, because they too have worked long and hard to bring about a satisfactory resolution to the several issues that were before those particular groups.
I myself have met as recently as last week on 15 November -- that was last week, I think -- with the representatives of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation where we discussed a number of issues.
I think it is fair to say that at this point, after months of discussion and with significant progress on a number of the issues, there remain a couple of key areas where we are not at one.
Those two areas, I think, are best described as that there is not yet agreement as to a model for the partnership alternative in terms of plan governance, though there has been a lot of discussion, and a second area of outstanding dispute or nonagreement remains on the whole question of a formula for resolving what we believe to be the growing financial difficulty or problem that has been pointed to by a number of people who over the past number of years have looked at the issue.
Now, I think it is important to say to you, Mr Speaker, and to my colleagues in the House that we are going to hopefully have a good discussion at second reading. I can see my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, preparing to enter this debate, and I know there will be other members next week who will want to participate at second reading. After the second reading debate I hope we are going to proceed with some dispatch to the standing committee on social development, I believe, to take the matter to the committee stage. We are very anxious to have a good discussion about the policy and about the issues that are before us.
But I must say, and I say it in the absence of my friend and colleague the Treasurer, that the government is anxious to proceed because in our view there are financial issues that must be addressed. There is simply no doubt in our mind that if we do not move with some dispatch to resolve these questions, the so-called unfunded liability mounts as we speak. It is a very real concern to me as a responsible minister of the crown that in the face of the evidence we have, this pension plan, particularly on its indexation account, has now a multibillion-dollar unfunded liability.
I am even prepared to say that in the business of actuarial analysis, there is probably some room to debate just how large an unfunded liability there is, but I do not think there is any question, certainly in the view of the government, that as of now that unfunded liability is in the billions of dollars and it grows as we speak.
One of the most important things the government of Ontario has done in the discussions over the past number of months has been to say to the teaching profession that we, as the government, will accept full responsibility for the unfunded liability that has developed from the mid-1970s, from 1976, through to this point, and that is a very substantial obligation that the government is accepting.
On behalf of the people of Ontario, we will pay that obligation, however great and it is great in our view, but we must move with some dispatch to address the problems in this plan that have given rise to that unfunded liability.
So that the House has an understanding of just how serious this matter is, if we were not to address it this year, but let it ride for months and perhaps for another year, we would only experience very substantial additional hundreds of millions of dollars added to that obligation we are going to accept on behalf of the people of Ontario.
I want to talk about a number of the issues that are addressed in Bill 66 with respect to the policy that underpins it. The first issue is the funding methodology for this plan.
We propose in this policy and in this legislation to combine the basic teachers’ pension fund with the indexation fund. As we combine those two elements of the teachers’ pension arrangement, in light of the concern we have about the indexation, a very significant benefit that was agreed to over a decade ago, and in light of the fact that our assessment of the data strongly supports the argument that this indexation is not properly secured, we are going to be increasing, as a result of this legislation, the contribution rate by one per cent for both the members of the plan and for the government.
I want to underscore why it is we are increasing the contribution rate. It is our view that contribution rate must be increased to more adequately provide for and sustain the current level of inflation protection that is part of this plan, or to put it another way, if we do not increase the contribution rate, the indexation capacity of this fund will be exhausted soon after the turn of the century.
I simply feel that in the light of the Rowan, Coward and Slater reports, all of which in their own way indicated the inadequacy of the existing funding arrangements, we must make this change to ensure that this important and good plan is able to meet the expectations of it into the future. Not to do so, I think would be a very serious abdication of our responsibility as members of the assembly.
I know that there are those in the community, certainly those in the teaching profession, who will say, “To have a contribution rate without a benefit increase is very difficult for us to accept.” I will talk a little bit about some of the benefit improvements this policy incorporates a little bit later, but I want to make the point again that one of the most significant benefits that I believe any pension plan can offer is inflation protection. It is none the less a very expensive benefit to maintain. We in government believe on the basis of a fair bit of outside analysis that we do not now have a teachers’ pension plan that has in it an adequate financing capacity to meet the indexation that has been offered.
I think it is also fair to say that when one looks back to the mid-1970s -- I think this decision was taken before you, Mr Speaker, or our friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale or myself joined this assembly.
Mr Philip: When was that?
Hon Mr Conway: We joined, as I remember, all three of us, on 18 September. If my memory serves me correctly, and I might be out a little bit on this. I think this arrangement predated our arrival by a little bit. One might wonder why, but I simply have to point out that when one looks back to the establishment of what we call SABA, the Superannuation Adjustment Benefits Act, and when one looks at the way in which that arrangement was established, one could wonder about what kind of financial planning honourable members, particularly the then executive council, were guided by as they put in place a plan which in the mid-1970s offered full indexation to all teachers who had retired and who were part of the plan at that point in time. That is a not insignificant benefit, and of course it is now part of why it is we are here making the changes we are making.
My friend the member for Middlesex (Mr Reycraft), who unfortunately is absent this afternoon, is someone who you know, Mr Speaker, as I do, is much more expert on matters of pension policy than I shall ever be. He has pointed out to me situations where friends of his in the teaching profession who retire -- I think one case comes to mind.
One teacher retired in 1974 with a pension of something like $14,000, who then benefited because of the indexation provisions of SABA a few years later without paying anything additional for that benefit. That teacher, who retired pre-SABA with a $14,000 pension, has seen over that 15-year interval his pension rise from something like $14,000 to about $31,000. That is a very significant benefit. I am very happy to know that there is a teacher, I think in Middlesex, who has had that experience. I simply want to say that it is that kind of experience that has put the fund in the financial difficulty in which we now find it.
I said the other night when I met the OTF that I do not in any way mean this past experience as anything of a criticism of OTF. In fact, I think it is quite clear, when one looks back to the mid-1970 situation, that one is quite impressed at how well, in the interaction between government and the teaching profession, OTF did in those negotiations. I repeat that I have some genuine admiration for that encounter. I must say I am not happy about now having to make changes in this plan that come as something of a shock to teachers out there who are understandably concerned about having to pay an additional amount of their salary towards securing, in our view, the very important indexation into the future.
I also want to say to members of the assembly, because I know they have faced what I have faced, how is it that the government is being fair in all of this? I think our friend the Treasurer has been extremely fair and very generous in one very important regard; that is, we all acknowledge, I believe, that as a result of the problems I just spoke about there is an unfunded liability. Our most recent estimates of that unfunded liability that built up between 1975-76 and 1989 are, I believe, in the $4-billion range.
Good old -- I cannot refer to him by name but our very good friend the member for Brant-Haldimand (Mr R. F. Nixon) --
Mrs Sullivan: I remember him well.
Hon Mr Conway: -- of happy memory to the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan), has said, “Listen, we as government will accept that entire obligation.” I say to anyone watching this debate that I think it is a very generous thing when a minister of finance says, “I will accept a $4-billion obligation that has developed as a result of a pension arrangement in which two significant parties -- government and, in this case, the teaching profession -- have a very real interest.”
For any honourable members who have to speak to their constituents, particularly teachers who might rightly say, “What have you done?” I want it said in Wellington, Don Mills, Ottawa-Rideau or Oxford that the government has by virtue of Bill 66 done some very important things. We have secured a good pension plan and we are going to make it strong and viable into the future in a way that it can meet all that is expected of it, this defined benefit plan.
Moreover, the government has accepted fully the responsibility for the multibillion dollar accrued unfunded liability of that intervening 13-year or 14-year period. I think that in Wellington, Don Mills, Rexdale and Oshawa that would be viewed by the tax-paying public as not a bad deal, as a very generous compromise indeed.
I want to repeat that I do not want to force upon my good friends in the teaching profession an additional contribution rate. I would rather not do that. But I have accepted the analysis that says to me that without an increase in the contribution rate, the plan that is now in trouble will become even more shackled by difficulty because it will not be able to meet the inflation protection it offers, particularly through a decade where the attrition rate within the teaching profession is going to accelerate.
The bill and the policy also touch upon one of the irritants that I think have bothered teachers, at least in my experience over the time I have been a member. That, of course, is what it is this very significant pension fund can invest in. I dare say, Mr Speaker, that around the tea rooms you might frequent in Oshawa, you have probably heard it said that government is almost in a conflict of interest because this very substantial fund, I think the second largest pension fund in the country, can only invest in government paper. It is not free to invest in marketable securities.
It has been felt for some time by the members of the teaching profession that it would be a fairer and better say if the teachers’ pension fund could invest in nongovernment securities, in marketable securities, and that is a change which we are making as a result of this policy and of this legislation. I gather it meets with the favour of my friend from Mount Forest.
In recent times the fund has done not at all badly by having only the option of investing in government paper, as I like to call it. I think over the last couple of years the fund has done very well indeed by virtue of that relationship, but we have accepted the argument that has been advanced by many, and many in the teaching profession, that it would be appropriate to allow this fund to invest in something other than government securities.
As my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale looks sagelike upon the Treasury bench, I want to turn to the next issue, and perhaps the most contentious issue for some in this debate; that is, the whole question of governance. There I think it is fair to say that we have had a very good discussion, a very active discussion indeed.
What the government has essentially said is that we are more than willing to explore three options. In fact, this legislation will have as part of it three governance options that will be put before the committee so that people who come to make presentations to the committee will have the opportunity to address the policy and to indicate which of the three options is of greatest appeal to the individual group.
Mr Speaker, as you smile, I want to quickly review the three proposed governance models that we have developed for plan management.
The first is a member-run plan, wherein the plan members would bear all of the rewards of future surpluses and the risks of future deficits. All plan management decisions would obviously be made by plan -- read “teacher” -- representatives. That is one model. Under that model, of course, the government simply makes the employer contribution and the management of the plan is entirely in the hands of the plan members.
I meant to do this a little earlier. One of the elements we sometimes forget in this whole debate is the annual contribution by the people of Ontario to the teachers’ superannuation account.
I know the chairman of the standing committee on public accounts is a very assiduous reader of the financial statements of this and any other government in the Dominion, and he will know that on an annual basis the government of Ontario is contributing, according to budget paper F in the most recent Ontario budget, an annual amount now in excess of $500 million as the employer contribution to this fund.
That is not an insignificant contribution. When one looks at the expenditure profile for various departments in the government of Ontario, one is struck by the fact that if we look at our teacher pension contributions, I think for 1989-90, of something in the neighbourhood of some $570-odd million, one realizes that is more than we will spend this year for the entire Ministry of Agriculture and Food, more than we will spend on the entire Ministry of the Attorney General, more than we will spend for the Ministry of Correctional Services, more than we will spend for Culture and Communications and, interestingly, more than we will spend for the Ministry of the Environment by a very substantial amount.
I think honourable members and people out there watching this debate or reading this Hansard would want me to repeat that: that we are making on their behalf an annual contribution, as the employer’s share, of now in excess of a half-billion dollars, which is more, by a substantial amount, than the annual budget of the entire Ministry of the Environment. We view that as a very important contribution to a very worthwhile objective and a very good plan, and a plan that we want to maintain in its strength and in its traction.
The first of the government’s options is, of course, the member-run plan. The second option, and I think it is fair to say this is the option about which we have been most actively engaged in terms of discussion, is the partnership option. I suspect you, Mr Speaker, have heard some of these discussions.
Essentially, in a partnership model, we would imagine that would be a plan where future surpluses or deficits would be shared equally by plan members and by the government. There would be equal sharing of the responsibility for managing the teachers’ pension fund and a regular consultation about benefit provisions and the contribution rate and with some kind of feature to resolve differences that could very well develop as between the partners.
As recently as last week, when I met with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, it was clear to me that we were still not together on that concept of partnership, though I have to tell you, Mr Speaker, the government is very interested in the partnership model. But to be fair and to be clear, Mr Speaker, two things that I know you would want me to be, I want to tell the House that the government is interested in a partnership that is a real partnership, and I really mean that. If partnership is going to be an option, and I believe it is, it has got to be a real partnership, sharing the risks and rewards and accepting the status of equal partners in the entire management of the plan.
We have had quite a lot of discussion about the last point I mentioned in outlining the partnership model, and that is, is there some kind of mechanism that we could agree upon to resolving differences of opinion in so far as plan management is concerned under that partnership model?
The final, or third, option that we have considered and that will be part of the package is the government sponsorship model, wherein government would remain the sole sponsor with the responsibility for future deficits and the right to any future surpluses. Under that arrangement government would have the majority control of the plan and fund management. I want to say that when we get to the committee, and certainly in the course of the debate at second reading it goes without saying, as the responsible minister I am going to be very interested in what honourable members have to say about the models of governance that I have indicated.
I have an open mind. In fact, I have some private views that I would not force upon the House, but I am very reasonable and I am very anxious to hear from members in the assembly, to hear from the committee, and particularly from people who will be submitting their views before the committee.
We must understand what we are talking about. We are talking about a very substantial pension fund from which much is rightly expected by hundreds of thousands of teachers, both teaching and retired. We cannot fool around with this, it seems to me. We have to be very clear and very serious about what it is we are going to do because, I repeat, this is a defined benefit plan. People who participate will expect, and rightly so, that the benefits which are defined are going to be received.
I will tell members, when I have debated this with my friends in the teaching profession and colleagues in the House, there is a lot of agreement; but on areas like dispute resolution, areas like contribution rates, benefit improvements, there are clearly differences of opinion that in some cases remain significant and that in my view simply must be settled before we complete the discussion because I, for one, will not see this multibillion-dollar fund placed in any kind of confusion. We cannot take that risk for the teachers out there who are going to depend very much on this plan to deliver what it is expected to deliver.
I have to tell members that if we cannot work out, as I hope we can, the first two alternatives, then we are certainly as a government going to be prepared to endorse the government-sponsored option because we feel that we simply cannot debate this for ever. To allow this debate to go on unresolved for additional months and perhaps years is only to transfer to the general taxpayer an even greater obligation than the $4-billion unfunded liability obligation which that taxpayer is already going to have to accept as a result of the already-announced position of the Treasurer on the unfunded liability matter.
Bill 66 has been written in a way that if we were not, let us say, able to work out in the next while the partnership or the member-run model and that we were to go to the government-sponsored option, certainly Bill 66 contains a provision that we could perhaps very quickly evolve into the member-run or the partnership option at a day, hopefully, not too far into the future; the bill has been drawn to provide that flexibility.
I want to talk briefly about a number of other aspects of this particular policy and the change that it contains. Another area that I would like to quickly mention is that the bill will allow amendments to the plan in the future to be made without a return to the Legislature, and we feel that is consistent with good pension management. Certainly, if we find ourselves in a partnership situation, if the two partners can agree on changes, then they as mature adults should be allowed that opportunity and the time of the Legislature ought not to be taken up giving sanction where, quite frankly, under those arrangements sanction would not be required.
Moreover, there is the whole question of the need for greater speed than we have had in past arrangements where the Legislature is not always available to do some of what the plan managers might like to do. Just very briefly again, this legislative change will allow the plan to be amended in the future without recourse to the Legislature.
I mentioned at the outset that two years ago this Legislature passed the Pension Benefits Act, and since January 1988 the teachers’ superannuation fund has been, as I understand it, administered in conformity with the PBA. But we now want, as a result of this legislation, to ensure that the teachers’ pension plan is in fact in all respects in conformity with those changes that were enacted a couple of years ago. That now means the changes that were occasioned by the passage of the Pension Benefits Act, 1987, the two-year vesting and the locking-in provisions, the 50 per cent cost-sharing rule, the 60 per cent survivor factor, will all be incorporated into this plan. I think many plan members will view that as a very positive step indeed.
I am not going to bore the House this afternoon by going through the buyback provisions in detail, but suffice it to say that there are improvements, in my view, contained in this legislation that will improve the buyback provisions. It has to do with such things as a new limit of seven years for any combination of leaves of absence plus a new parental leave factor that I think is very appropriate indeed.
I just want to point out that the legislation contains improvement in the buyback provisions which I think will be seen by plan members as not unimportant, as will the changes that make this a more portable pension plan. The portability factor is enhanced in a number of ways that we will talk about later, but the increased portability is a benefit that I view with some importance.
I am sorry that my friend the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) has left us. One of the changes this legislation contains is very important. It would allow you, Mr Speaker, if you were a retired teacher with a certificate, to now teach for up to 95 days without there being any negative effect upon your pension. That is a very substantial improvement from the 20 days that was in place beforehand. Perhaps the member for Oshawa, when he returns to teaching, if that is his desire -- it may not be; it is well understood that the --
Hon Mr Conway: That is not fair.
The re-employment of retired teachers, allowing retired teachers to teach up to 95 days in a school year without any negative effect on their pension, is a very real benefit to teachers and a real benefit, as far as I am concerned, to education because, as members know, we have had enrolment growth and in some communities we are facing a hit of a shortage in terms of qualified substitute teachers, for example. I think this change will be seen as a very positive one, particularly by retired teachers.
We have made other improvements having to do with the way in which the plan will treat part-time teachers and the way in which refunds are going to be paid out much more expeditiously than in the past.
Mr Speaker, I know you are a very reasonable fellow and you will understand that any policy which has the government accepting a multibillion-dollar unfunded liability, a policy which offers a range of management options, one of which is a member-run plan, another of which is a true partnership model, a policy which improves the benefits having to do with refunds, the treatment of part-time teachers, the improvements in portability, the treatment of retired teachers in so far as how much they can teach without there being a negative effect or any contribution being expected towards the pension.
I think that policy is fair and reasonable and in some respects quite generous. I want to recommend it to colleagues in the House this afternoon. I want to invite the House to look very carefully at what is contained in the legislation and, as I repeat, the policy that informs it, because the changes that are being spoken of here are also in some real way a factor in the public service pensions that are being debated in this session as well.
I know very keenly of the interest in the teaching profession and I want to conclude my remarks this afternoon by indicating to the teachers of Ontario the government’s view that this is a good plan. It is a plan that is in trouble. It is in trouble because of decisions taken a decade and a half ago that have led to an indexation that is simply not adequately funded, not nearly adequately funded, to meet the obligations this fund contains. We must make change and the change must be sooner than later.
We are very anxious as a government to ensure that this good fund that has performed, all things considered, rather well over the decades will continue in good health and prosperity as it meets the challenge and the expectation of the 1990s and beyond. The policy will visit a number of benefit improvements to the thousands of plan members out in the community. In terms of governance, the executive council is quite prepared, seriously prepared, to look at those three options. I would repeat again that I am particularly interested in the partnership model, but I repeat, for me a partnership must be a partnership in a genuine sense.
Over the coming days and weeks we will look and listen to the responses that are offered in the chamber and in committee, as we move forward this sitting to conclude this matter and ensure, as the new year dawns, that this reform we believe is so important to ensure the protection of a very important part of our social and economic wellbeing in this province is able to meet the several tests that have been placed before it.
Mr Philip: I always enjoy speeches of the present Minister of Education because he is always eloquent and, I think, a formidable opponent in debate. Therefore, I enjoy listening to him in the same way I used to enjoy listening to his colleague Dr Stuart Smith when he led that party.
I would like to start off by dealing with some of the comments the minister has just made and then I would like to deal in more detail with some of the contents of the bill. The minister talks about the need for a dialogue, the need for a partnership. As I listened to him I did not count, but he used the word partnership at least a dozen times. I may be wrong and it could be six or seven times, but it seemed to me that it was a word he used fairly frequently.
It seems to me that he says: “We have a crisis here. The crisis has been identified. We are an open government. We are giving three possible options. We are willing to enter into a partnership based on the desires of the two parties, namely, the government and those affected by the pension plan directly. A lot of what is done from here on depends on what is going to happen in that committee and on which of the three options we jointly decide.”
I remind the minister that around this time last year -- he was not the minister at the time, so I cannot blame him and indeed I cannot even blame him now, because one who understands the politics of this place realizes that it is not the Minister of Education, but rather the Treasurer who is calling the shots on this.
I recall that about this time last year, with maybe a month’s difference -- it was in the month of January as I recall -- it was the government that broke off the negotiations on the superannuation, and specifically, it was the government representatives who failed to deal with the principle of a dispute-resolution mechanism as an essential element to an equal partnership. While this minister talks about partnership, in fact if we look at the chronology of what has happened in the so-called negotiations, or “dialogue” as the Treasurer prefers to refer to them, we see that it was a one-way dialogue in which the government walked out when it did not like what it was hearing.
In his opening speech, he talked about the various reports, the Coward report, the Slater report and the Rowan report, yet he failed to mention that it was the Slater report that accepted the general view that the government should accept responsibility for the unfunded liability related to the superannuation adjustment fund, and should enter into an amortization program over a period of some 15 to 25 years.
He talked about how the Slater report, and indeed the other reports he mentioned deal with the essential problem that there are liabilities in the fund right now and that this therefore is the justification for this legislation. But what he fails to deal with is that Coward, Slater and Rowan went beyond that and dealt with a number of other matters that could be called the methodology of dealing with the problem not just of the deficiencies in the present plan, but also with the running of the plan and the smoother operation of the plan.
To simply ignore or to take out of Slater what the government wants to take out to justify this legislation, and to ignore the other recommendations in Slater and to pretend they do not even exist -- the minister did not address them -- is somewhat less than one would expect. Of course, we will have an opportunity in committee to deal with that.
The minister has talked several times about reform, but reform in the democratic sense means consultation and consultation means more than simply sitting there and listening to the other side and saying no. Every day we see discussions about perestroika. We see a system where so-called democracy was really a form of manipulation and has not worked. In a democratic system, then, reform has to take into account not just the dialogue, not just the listening, but also action based on what is heard.
It also takes into account, if members look at perestroika, an idea of flexibility. Without flexibility and without a constant dialectic, if I may use a university or political science term, the rigidity comes in and the system breaks down. I think it is fair to say that we look at either capitalism and certain corporations that have failed, or indeed the communist system, we see that it is probably the lack of flexibility and the lack of consultation that has broken down the system. Even on paper, if actuarially you add up, if we do not deal with those other things, then the system breaks down.
The minister talks about the need for a new model, but any model that I have looked at suggests that you have to have an input. The most recent models that I was looking at and that we were struggling with, some 500 of us, on Monday and Tuesday of this week, were at the Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation conference where I had the pleasure of addressing one of the sessions and at which we had some pretty high level -- and I would say perhaps “brilliant” would not be an unreasonable term -- people: deputy ministers and provincial auditors, not just from Canada, but also, as some of the members may have met today, from Australia and from a number of other countries.
I found it interesting that the provincial auditors had gone, in the development of their thinking, first from a kind of balancing the books which I would call a very statistical kind of actuarial approach, if you like, to a more of an auditing type of approach that deals with the concepts of comprehensive auditing and, more recently at our conference, with the whole idea of developing models by which evaluation can take place. The concept of evaluation in the models which they are struggling with only takes place if you have an input and an output that are constantly being evaluated and checked and touched on.
The member for Wentworth East (Ms Collins) will tell you that I guess I am one of the few members in this House who can actually take an interest in studying actuarial tables. I am not going to do that to the House today because of the time, but I hope we will have an opportunity in committee to deal with some of the very specific actuarial problems which I think the government and the teachers are facing in this bill.
What I would like to deal with, though, are some of the concepts which I believe have been addressed in the three reports that I mentioned earlier and that the minister dealt with in his opening comments, and to deal with some of the principles which I think have been missed by the government in what I would call an actuarial rather than a proper auditing approach to this problem, because to me proper auditing means human beings, consultation, finding out what is workable and where people are at and what will result in a human sense, not just in the mathematical sense.
This bill is an example of how this government has failed to bargain in good faith with just under 150,000 of its citizens: 115,000 teachers in this province and the 33,000 teacher pensioners who have been basically betrayed by this government.
The Liberal government has betrayed our teachers in this legislation in the same way in which it has betrayed its own public servants, vis-à-vis fairness in the management of their pensions. Without being overly dramatic, I think we have an example of bargaining in bad faith. The Treasurer, of course, never admitted that he was bargaining; he always said that it was a dialogue. But if we were honest with one another, it was an attempt at bargaining.
The government has argued that the bill is necessary and that in referring to the Coward report, the Slater report, the Rowan reports, that it can justify its action. We will see how it can justify its action when the bill is in committee.
In the past, when the Liberal government decided to force legislation contrary to the wishes of large numbers of citizens, the members on those committees, the Liberal members, sat quietly. That is not dialogue; that is simply waiting people out, and this government with its large majority has not really entered into dialogue with those people with whom it disagrees; it has simply waited them out. In the case of the Treasurer, he was more direct than that. He simply walked out on the teachers.
It was obvious that the government was inflexible on this issue. It was the Ontario Teachers’ Federation that, in frustration, requested binding arbitration by an independent third party. That is a procedure which the government, be it Liberal or Conservative, has never hesitated to use when it came to teacher and school board disputes. But when it came to resolving its own issues, it refused to accept arbitration. It is okay to have arbitration if you are a medical practitioner in this province, it is okay to have arbitration if you are a teacher dealing with a school board, but it is not okay if you are a teacher dealing with this Liberal government.
The minister says that he has all the facts and figures -- I listened to him very closely; he did not give us any of those facts and figures, but I am sure we will be dealing with them in committee -- to justify the actions of this bill. He said that he wants to form a partnership. If all of the evidence is so much on the minister’s side -- or, I should say, on the Treasurer’s side, because it is not really the minister who is calling the shots on this. If it is really on the Treasurer’s side, then why would the minister not want to present his arguments, which this minister says are so self-evident, which St Thomas Aquinas would have no trouble arguing before the greatest courts of the highest bishops of the land? One would think surely a mere mortal like an arbitrator would be able to understand very clearly these cogent arguments, this overwhelming evidence that the government claims it has on its side.
But the government decided not to. Instead, it decided to act in an arbitrary way and to impose legislation, not to have it arbitrated, not to present its case in a tribunal of the arbitrator, not to have an independent opinion. One must ask the Minister of Education, does he really believe the arguments are on his side? If they are, why did he not have the courage to test them before an independent arbitrator?
This government likes to preach to private enterprise about the need for fairness in the workplace, but it shows in this legislation that it is prepared to behave a little bit like, if I might say in the presence of these young people -- I will use as discreet a language as possible, but this government, in this bill, reminds me of the wayward preacher who preaches honesty and chastity before spending the collection funds in a house that shall remain unmentioned.
Mr Faubert: He didn’t pick that one up. I gave you the words.
Mr Philip: Having been at one time a high school teacher, I am careful with my words when children are around. Perhaps it is the Jansenism in my upbringing that makes me somewhat purer. I can see the smiles on a number of members’ faces, and I accept that they may have a different view as to my character, but that is for them.
What we have is report after report by this government, study after study on the matter before us. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on those studies, the Liberal government chooses to ignore the major recommendations of its own reports. Let me just take a few minutes. I do not want to deal with all the reports, but let me just deal with a few of the three reports, since the minister himself mentioned them.
The Coward report deals basically with the core, I think, of what our problem is today. I will just quote from one section, page 3. It says:
“The PSSF and TSF are invested in deposits or debentures with terms of 20 to 25 years. Historically the return on such investments has been poor if changes in capital values are allowed for. Investment of the cash flow in marketable securities would be expected to increase the rate of return of the fund. Such a policy would remove the criticism that the government obtains a subsidy through investing members’ contributions at less than competitive rates and would improve the employees’ understanding of investment realities.”
We have a deficit which the government is claiming, a deficit, which if we check the Coward report, and which the minister himself admits, is caused by the investment policies of the government running this program. Now, of course, we have a new investment policy, over which the recipients of the benefits will not have a say in how these investments are made.
I found it interesting. If we read the release of the Treasurer on 11 February, it says:
“Two reports that recommend substantial changes in public sector pension investment and the funding of index benefits for teachers and public servants were released today by Ontario Treasurer Robert F. Nixon. These reports raise major financial investment and policy issues that affect thousands of people and involve a substantial outlay of money,’ Nixon said. ‘Before we move on any recommendations, we want the input of the parties involved, particularly the Ontario teachers and the public servants. We would like their opinions on methods of funding indexed pensions for teachers and public servants, how public sector pension funds are invested and the role of plan members in the decision-making process.’”
Those were the words of the Treasurer at the time the Coward report was released.
We have had the input from the teachers, we have had their desire to be a partnership, to take part in the decision-making process. and the Treasurer walked out of the negotiations.
If we look at the other part which I mentioned, the Slater report, perhaps I should deal first with the release of the Treasurer at that time. I do not want to read the whole release. He says, “Dr Slater has served both the employees and the government well by synthesizing the opinions and recommendations of affected interested parties.”
If we look at that synthesis that the Treasurer is so laudatory of, then we see a number of recommendations. Yes, we see the recommendation which the minister is very proud of, to invest the pension funds in marketable assets. But if we look at some of the other recommendations, the recommendations that the Minister of Education has not dealt with in his opening remarks, we see other recommendations: to place the pension program on an arm’s-length basis to the government; to increase the level of formal plan member involvement; to have the government pay the cost of the large unfunded liabilities for pension rights arising from past service.
What we see is an ability of the government to pick and choose from its own reports. It says: “Aha, here is something which appeals to us. We will take this recommendation, but to heck with the rest of the recommendations, because they are not on our agenda.” So we have the second report-
Hon Mr Conway: What we have is a member-run plan. Wouldn’t that be just terrific?
Mr Philip: Let me continue, Mr Speaker.
Hon Mr Conway: That is an option.
Mr Morin-Strom: Oh, yes, sure, it is an option.
Mr Philip: If it was an option, why did the minister not let it be dealt with in an independent arbitration proposal?
Hon Mr Conway: That has nothing to do with it.
Mr Morin-Strom: You want the final say in the matter.
Mr Philip: Come on.
Hon Mr Conway: Arbitration is an issue under the partnership model, but if you go the member-run plan, you don’t have to worry about government.
Mr Philip: If we look at the Rowan recommendations, we see a number of other conclusions. Says one, that the “$16.7 billion or 45 per cent of all public sector pension fund assets, is invested in non-market government debt and at rates of return below that which could be achieved if invested in a diversified portfolio of market investments.” The minister has admitted that, but that is also an admission of the government having failed in the plan.
“Economic enhancement can best be achieved if public sector pension funds are invested in the capital market.” Fine. It took so long for the government to come to trying to recommend that. “Public sector pension fund investment should not be further centralized.” I ask the minister, if this bill does not centralize it, what does?
“Public sector funds should be governed by the same rules as private sector funds.” In private sector funds, there really is a partnership, and the funds belong to the members, and there are rules that are accepted. There really is a partnership, not the kind of unilateral partnership that this government wants to call a partnership and impose on the workers, but a real partnership, a negotiated partnership; not a partnership where the government walks away from the bargaining table; not a partnership where the government does not even admit that there are negotiations but prefers to call it a dialogue. A dialogue: “Let’s have a chit-chat with our teachers, with our 150,000 or so employees. And if we do not enjoy what they are saying in our chit-chat, well, we will walk away from the table.”
“Plan members should participate in pension fund decision-making.” We see legislation that does not do that. The government likes to pick and choose what it wishes in these rather expensive reports that it spends the taxpayers’ money on. It is not just in this. We see it over and over again in the various things that it studies, and then has a study on top of a study, and a study to study the study. The Minister of Education and a number of the other members should apply for OSAP grants; they undertake more studies than any graduate student.
Bill 66 combines the existing teachers’ superannuation fund and the teachers’ superannuation adjustment fund. The TSAF was created to provide inflation adjustment, and supplements the other. The government and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation have had an actuarial dispute about the surplus or the deficit of these pension funds. The government says that its case is solid, but it is afraid of an arbitration.
Briefly, it seems that there is a surplus in the TSF, although the government seems to keep on changing its estimates about that, and an unfunded liability in the TSAF. Again, we get different views as to how much.
The teachers are saying, and their accountants and insurance experts are saying, that the surplus in one should not be used to offset the liability in the other when the plans are merged but that the surplus should remain part of the assets, and the government is responsible for the liability.
The bill calls for an additional one per cent in the employer-employee contributions in the fund, but one has to look at what is happening. The Ontario teachers now pay 7.9 per cent of gross salary to the fund, the highest teacher contribution rate in Canada. The teachers’ federations oppose the increase but have argued for some time that they are prepared to increase contributions to 8.3 per cent if they get specific improvements in the benefit package. For example, they want increases in the pension of teachers or their survivors who retire prior to 1982 and some other changes as to when teachers can retire without penalty. So there are some concrete proposals which the teachers have put forward.
The bill sets out what the Liberals think is their version of an equal partnership. The teachers have argued that the partnership, as set up in Bill 66, does not give them an equal voice in establishing administrative policies for the plan, determining the levels of benefits to beneficiaries of the plan, setting the contribution levels or establishing actuarial assumptions.
It is interesting that when we listen to the arguments of the teachers, we have the same arguments being made by the public servants and both have been negotiating -- oh, I am sorry, I should not have used that word, the Treasurer objects to it -- dialoguing with the Treasurer.
Mr Pelissero: You’ll learn.
Mr Philip: The Liberal member for whatever interjects that I will learn. The problem is not that I will learn. The problem is that the Treasurer has not learned. The Treasurer in this case has had 150,000 teachers and he still cannot learn. He has had some of the best management consultants on the public service side, some of the best personnel trainers, and he could not learn from the public servants either.
The bill does not provide a fair disputes resolution mechanism in the same way as it was not provided in the public service superannuation bill. The cabinet, through order in council,. controls the composition, the duties, the power of the pension board, maintains control of the actuarial assumptions and the future surpluses, and this means the teachers are not in control of their own pension plans.
What we see in the negotiations with the teachers is an identical pattern to the rather centralized, authoritarian approach to the public servants. I said somewhat facetiously that I thought my speech dealing with the public service superannuation bill, which is now in committee, could be given on this bill by simply substituting “teacher” for “public servant” because the pattern is the same. It is one of not negotiating; it is one of not listening; it is one of not really being open to an equal partnership with the very people that they are relying on as their employees.
Millions of Canadian employees have the right to decide their future to pension negotiations. The teachers’ superannuation fund was established in 1917, and 72 years later the Ontario government will still control the plan. Teachers and the government are at loggerheads over a simple issue.
The teachers say: “We want a say in the management of our pension plan. We want a say about how much we pay. We want a say about how much we get for what we pay and we want a say about how the assets of our funds will be invested. Indeed, we even want something as simple as a say as to what the assets are, an ability to actually have our people analyse and come to some conclusion as to what the assets are.
What we see with this Liberal government, not only in this but in so many other things that we have documented over the last three years, is a series of broken promises. When the Treasurer invited the Ontario Teachers’ Federation to enter into discussions or dialogue to strike a new pension deal, he set the agenda for the pension discussions. Teachers and the government should be equal partners in the amount they contribute to the plan, in the way they share risks and the rewards and in the role they play in the management of the pension in the future. If that promise had any validity at the time in which the invitation was made, then it should have the same validity today. If one examines this bill, one can see that the Treasurer has broken his promise.
When pension discussions began in the spring of 1988, the surplus of the TSF stood at $461 million. Last fall, the Teachers Superannuation Commission actuaries discovered that they underestimated the actual annual salaries and the surplus fell to $33 million. But before Christmas, the government and the OTF representatives agreed that the commission’s actuarial assumptions were too conservative and, during the pension talks, the government actuaries set the TSF surplus at over $1.8 billion.
Here is a government, here is a Minister of Education, who starts off and says, “We know exactly what is going on.” That was part of his argument. Mr Speaker, you came in a little late, but in the early part of the speech by the Minister of Education that is what he was saying. He was saying: “We have examined this closely and it is a good deal. It is a good deal for the taxpayers but, more important, the teachers should accept it because it is a good deal for the teachers.”
One must ask, if the deal is so good, if the figures are so solid, then how can one have these kinds of fluctuations? One has to wonder about the competence of a government that can have these kinds of fluctuations from one month to the next.
I pointed out in the debate on the public servants’ pension legislation that there have been a series of court cases, not all of them recent but many of them more recent, that basically have concluded that pensions belong to the employees. We dealt with the problem of the Conrad Blacks of this world. My colleague who sits beside me fought a tremendous war in this House and I think the workers of Ontario have some right to be proud of the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie) and his fight on behalf of pensioners against the Conrad Black fiasco.
This government came kicking and screaming then to try to bring in some kind of pension reform and the employees took Black to court eventually. It was in the courts, in 1986, that they won. Then, of course, we had the government representatives preaching at Conrad Black and saying how terrible and how naughty he was to be doing this to the poor workers. But the basic principle in the Conrad Black case and the basic principle in all of the cases that we have had recently is that the pensions belong to the employees. If the pensions belong to the employees, then this legislation is a farce because it does not really recognize that. There is no partnership set up in this pension.
I read through the various statements of both the Minister of Education -- I have not read his statements before on this but I listened to his statement today -- and certainly the Treasurer, who seems to be the one who makes all of the statements on this. The Chairman of the Management Board (Mr Elston) is always terribly scarce when it comes to public servants’ pension statements. The Minister of Education, at least in this case, is carrying the ball for the Treasurer today.
What we basically see is statements like this, which is a statement by the Treasurer on 11 February 1988:
“The deficiencies in financing we are facing today are the result of two key decisions made more than a decade ago. First, it was decided to fund indexation payments on a pay-as-you-go basis. Put simply, this means that contribution rates are set at a level sufficient to pay for the pension benefits of plan members as they retire.” Then he goes on to say, “The second decision was to extend indexation retroactively.”
But what we have is a series over the past 70 years of government mismanagement. A lot of that mismanagement is created, I submit to the House, because it failed to deal, to even have a dialogue let alone negotiations, with the people who own the plan. This government, with all its rhetoric, may have identified some of the problems that are faced by the plan, but it has not dealt with the causes of the problems.
It has not dealt with what the auditors have so clearly pointed out as they search for ways of running government more efficiently, namely, efficiency only comes if you bring in a model in which there is a participation and a consultation and a constant evaluation. You do not have that when you have a unilateral, old-style, Moscow type of decision-making. Be it in Moscow or be it Conrad Black in Toronto, the centralized decision-making does not work.
It does not work in Moscow, it does not work on Bay Street, it does not work in Washington and it has not worked --
Mr Furlong: It works in Winnipeg.
Mr Philip: Well, Winnipeg has a minority government, and everything seems to work an awful lot better under minority government, as the people keep telling me when they compare the previous minority government with the last three years that we have had in this province.
The government has failed, the teachers do not accept this, and I think that any reasonable person who looks at this will see that this bill is not worth supporting.
Hon Mr Conway: Having listened to the entire address of my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, I would like to observe two or three points. One is that he does not seem to understand, my good friend from Rexdale, that the government policy contains within it three options for the management of the plan. He rightly concerns himself with a management option wherein there is going to be the involvement of the plan members. That is a perfectly understandable objective and, I repeat, the policy before the House at the present moment provides for three options, one of which is, of course, the member --
Hon Mr Conway: Well, it may be nebulous, but we can certainly work it out. I just simply repeat to my friends opposite, particularly to my learned colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, that in fact there is an option for a member-run plan and that, I think, together with the partnership option, is one that he would perhaps want to examine very carefully.
Now on the partnership model, I want to take the opportunity this afternoon to repeat a message that I am going to have to repeat on several occasions, because there is abroad in the land the idea that under the partnership model, the only issue of dispute is some mechanism to resolve issues as between the partners. That is not so.
In the meetings with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation -- we had a very good meeting a couple of nights ago -- it was very clear to me that there are a number of issues that flow from the partnership model that remain unresolved. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale touched parenthetically on one of the critical questions, and that is the whole issue of whether or not the partners to this debate accept (a) that the plan is in real difficulty as a result of improperly funded indexation, and (b) the whole question about contribution rate and benefits.
There is a very real difference of opinion between the teachers’ federation and the government on the question of contribution rates and benefits. This is understandable and I do not complain about it, but I want to make the point to my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale that it is not fair to represent the debate over partnership as only an outstanding issue of dispute resolution, because there are other very substantive issues not yet resolved.
Mr Morin-Strom: I would like to compliment the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale for the outstanding opening address he has provided on behalf of our party in this debate. Certainly, the issues that are before this Legislature are of tremendous significance to the teachers of this province.
We are really doing a disservice to the teachers of this province by ramming through this kind of legislation, legislation that includes theoretically the opportunity for several other models to be put in place, either a joint plan or a completely teacher-operated plan, but in fact does not provide the teachers with the right to negotiate. One would have to question why this minister is trying to ram through this legislation in the deficient form it is in today, with flaws throughout, rather than sitting down with the teachers, providing the legislative authority to negotiate a fair and reasonable pension plan and negotiating a pension plan.
One has to question why the minister wants to ram through legislation that cuts the rights of teachers, that demands increased payments from teachers at the present time with no benefit improvement whatsoever, and that asks teachers to pay for the mismanagement of the plan over the years. Certainly, any problem with respect to deficits, as has been clearly indicated by report after report to this government, is clearly the result of the mismanagement plan that has been solely in the government’s hands.
It is the government that has to take that responsibility. The teachers want the responsibility in the future. Let’s give it to them.
Hon Mr Ward: Would this be an appropriate time --
Mr Philip: No, it would not.
Hon Mr Ward: Oh, I am sorry.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Does the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale care to reply?
Mr Philip: I was afraid the government House leader was going to use the same kind of closure on me that this government has used on the teachers.
The government’s Minister of Education, who has to act as an apologist for the Treasurer, is trying to indicate, as evidence that he is willing to have a partnership with the teachers, that there are three options in the bill and that they can choose one of the three and he will consider it. But in fact, if we look at the options, the options are extremely vague. The government has said it wants this bill to go out for hearings, but it wants it to be back by Christmas and passed by Christmas.
If the government had some legitimate options to deal with the teachers, why did it not deal with the teachers? They have had years of negotiation -- pardon me, dialogue; they do not like that word “negotiation” -- with the teachers. Why did they not put them on the table then? Why did they not flesh them out? Why did they not give them the details of it? The teachers presented certain specific programs that the government refused, walked away from the table and would not hear of.
This is the minister’s idea of dialogue, to put three rather vague little items into the bill because he is being criticized for the fact that he is not negotiating in good faith, that he is simply saying no. I remember how the former leader of the Liberal Party was called Dr No. Now the minister is saying no to the teachers. He is not prepared to listen, is not prepared to dialogue. Then when he sees how that gets him into a political jam he says, “Well, as evidence of my interest in having a proper partnership I am going to throw out three ideas, three vague little ideas. You have exactly a couple of weeks to come to your conclusion which one of these vague Gestalts you are going to choose.”
Hon Mr Ward: Do you even know what that means?
Mr Philip: I know what “Gestalt” means. “Gestalt” means kind of a view of the world, and these things are so vague that they might as well be called a view of the world.
If the Treasurer had had some good Gestalt therapy, maybe he might have negotiated in good faith with the teachers -- I do not know -- rather than in the very linear manner in which he approached those negotiations. I am very disappointed that the Treasurer of Ontario has not learned the value of perestroika and prefers instead an earlier model.
The Acting Speaker: Is there any further debate on the matter?
Mr Morin-Strom: Yes, Mr Speaker, I am very anxious to continue the debate on this item. However, given the lateness of the clock and understanding there may be some minor government business to be completed today, I will move the adjournment of the debate and hope to continue on Monday.
On motion by Mr Morin-Strom, the debate was adjourned.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53, next week’s business is as follows:
On Monday 27 November we will resume second reading debate of Bill 71. At the conclusion of second reading debate on Bill 71, we will resume the second reading debate on Bill 66.
On Tuesday 28 November we will resume second reading debate of Bill 68, and on Wednesday 29 November third readings of Bills 39 and 40. At the conclusion of these third readings, we will move to second reading of Bill 53, to be followed by committee of the whole on Bill 71.
On Thursday 30 November the House will not be sitting, as agreed to earlier.
The House adjourned at 1743.