QUEEN’S PARK TRAFFIC TRAP
USE OF TIME IN QUESTION PERIOD
HYDRO EMPLOYEES IN ARGENTINA
COUNCIL FOR FRANCO-ONTARIAN AFFAIRS
HURON BROADCASTING DISPUTE
KOZAK TREATMENT PROGRAM
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
COMPENSATION FOR UFFI HOME OWNERS
ROAD WORK SUBSIDIES
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
ANNUAL REPORT, MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES, 1978-79
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
SAVINGS OFFICE ACT
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
The House met at 10 a.m.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, on this day, Friday, April 16, I know that the members of the Legislative Assembly, particularly on behalf of all those we represent, the people of Ontario, would want to officially mark this historic weekend which will culminate just before noon tomorrow in the signing, by Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, of the proclamation which will proclaim the Constitution Act, 1982.
By this action Canada will have its new Constitution, which can be amended in this country and which in all aspects envisages and suggests to us what this country is really all about.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Mr. Nixon and Mr. Foulds, that an humble address be presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, as follows:
“Most Gracious Sovereign:
‘We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario in session assembled beg leave to express the warm affection and loyalty of the people of Ontario and to thank Your Majesty for your gracious act in personally presenting to the people of Canada their own Constitution by proclaiming the Constitution Act, 1982.”
And that this address be suitably engrossed under the great seal of Ontario and forwarded to Her Majesty through the Secretary of State for Canada.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues, I want to express our support for the resolution. It will be an important and, in fact, grand weekend as Her Majesty brings our Constitution to this nation.
We know, of course, that the actual statute will remain an act of the Parliament at Westminster, but that from this time on we in Canada have full responsibility for our own future. I think we can be proud that members of this Legislature uniformly supported the initiative of the government of Canada and the Premiers in moving towards the patriation of the Constitution. Although we had a number of opportunities to express our individual views as the matter came to maturity, it did not become a divisive political issue here. I believe we can all take some pride in that connection.
Mr. Speaker, you may have been present in the House last night when the mover of the motion, the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), indicated clearly in his speech the steps that led, through negotiation, to the final act of Parliament in Canada and to the acts of Parliament at Westminster. To those who were not present, I would recommend that they examine the minister’s speech in Hansard. He had some things to say about the responsibilities that we as members of the Legislature and the government of Ontario face both now and in the future to recognize not only the bilingual aspect of our nation but also other responsibilities devolving upon us now that our Constitution has been patriated.
It is an honour to second this motion.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, we in the New Democratic Party would like to add our expression of warmest welcome to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on this historic visit to Canada. At this time, when the pressures of the international scene on Her Majesty are great indeed in both a personal and a public sense, as one of her own sons is involved, it is fitting that the people of Canada be made aware that she welcomes her responsibilities as Queen of Canada. It may well be said that the hallmark of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II has been the unhesitating sense of unstinting responsibility she has brought to the changing and challenging role of the monarchy in the last half of the 20th century.
Knowing the acumen of the Premier (Mr. Davis) and whoever may succeed him, I suspect we may well have the pleasure of a visit to our province from Prince Charles, Princess Diana and their offspring before 1985. I want to assure this House and the people of Ontario that the welcome of the members of the New Democratic Party will be as loyal and sincere then as they are now.
May I add that the dedication of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II inspires affection, loyalty and admiration in all of us. It is therefore with a sense of deepest honour that, on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus, I join with all members of the Ontario Legislature to welcome Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Canada.
Motion agreed to.
QUEEN’S PARK TRAFFIC TRAP
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I rise on a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker; it may seem a little trivial after the mutual address we have just agreed to, but I did want to bring it to the attention of the House.
Last night as I was leaving the Legislature after the adjournment at six o’clock, I followed a motorcycle policeman. They are using our parking lot as a place to lie and wait surreptitiously, as police sometimes do, for people who may be making potential traffic violations at the corner of Wellesley Street and Queen’s Park Crescent.
Perhaps because of my own paranoia on this matter, I do not like the notion of our property being used as a hiding place for police to undertake their activities. I want to know what our policy is in the Legislature. What is the method for deciding when and where the police will use our property for this kind of activity? Will the Speaker please report back to us?
It seems to me our reputation as politicians is bad enough today in Ontario and in Canada, let alone being known as a basic speed trap and traffic trap for the constituents we serve.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much. This matter has been drawn to my attention. I would like to thank the member personally for making me aware of this situation, because I have inadvertently violated that thoroughfare on many occasions.
Mr. Nixon: Surely not.
Mr. Speaker: As, I am sure, everybody else in this House has.
Mr. Peterson: There is no question that Friday is always the strangest day in this House, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) now that he has returned today. It is obvious that he has put great faith in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to provide the discipline that may be needed in view of these rotating walkouts and the subsequent inconvenience and hardship to a number of patients across the province.
What is the minister’s opinion when a member of the college, of the disciplinary body, participates in those walkouts? Does he not feel he is putting the college and some of the individual members there in a virtually intolerable position with a conflict of interest? It is not reasonable for the minister to expect that they can rule dispassionately and objectively on some of the very difficult matters they have been asked to rule upon. I refer particularly to the case of a Dr. Thomson in Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition should remember that of the 29 members in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, six of them are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council specifically as protectors of the public interest. So representatives of the public are sitting around the table when the disciplinary actions are taken. They are there to monitor the day-to-day operations of the college in matters such as this. I am satisfied the public interest is protected through persons who are not physicians.
Second, I would say the college to date has been most helpful to the citizens of Ontario during this week. We have referred a number of calls to it; most of them relate to matters of refusal to renew prescriptions. In almost every case, after the college has reviewed it and called the doctors who had refused to give the renewal by telephone, the doctors agreed to provide that telephone renewal of prescription.
Through this week, which has been an unusual one and in some cases a difficult one for some patients, the college has been most co-operative and has given no evidence the members are failing to live up to their responsibilities.
Some members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons are seen to participate because they are surgeons whose surgery was cancelled because of the action taken by others, such as anaesthetists. To that extent, some of the members of the college who are thought to have participated in the actions did not; they were, in a sense, just caught up in actions taken by others.
In any case, I would only confirm that to date we are most satisfied by the activities of the college. We will certainly discuss the situation with the members as the days unfold, and I hope not too many more days will unfold. Again, I will reaffirm my high regard for the way the college has handled this difficult matter to date. Speaking as Minister of Health, I would report to the House that I am very satisfied the public is being protected through that vehicle at present.
Mr. Peterson: I have a very high regard too, it is the impossible position that the minister is putting them in that I suspect will result in some great conflicts and some very serious moral dilemmas for a number of those doctors who are asked to sit in judgement on their peers.
Because the minister is now monitoring the college’s operations to make sure they are doing what he wants them to do, which is to keep their eyes on the situation and discipline where necessary, he has now chosen a new tactic, a selective intervention. I refer to the situation involving the Hospital for Sick Children, where he expressed a particular concern because of the unique nature of that hospital. The minister is taking it upon himself to do direct referrals to the college to make sure there are no violations.
As Minister of Health, understanding his genuine concern for the plight of children whose surgery may be cancelled, how can he distinguish between that and the plight of a 20-year-old, a 40-year-old or an 82-year-old whose surgery has been cancelled or postponed? How does he judge between the relative anxiety experienced by a young person and an old person?
How can he, as minister, fairly administer this entire system when he is now asking for special favours from Sick Children’s Hospital and trying to call in a favour from Doctors’ Hospital while there are another 240 or so hospitals across this province that he has not been in a position or prepared to act on?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that I know he has relied on press reports for some of his information.
Let me use the opportunity, instead of rising on a point of personal privilege as I was going to and as I am not wont to do very often in this House, to make it absolutely, totally, 100 per cent clear that I have not contacted the Doctors’ Hospital with regard to the action that is being taken there. I am not familiar with what actions they are or are not intending to take there. I have not made any special request to the Doctors’ Hospital, advertently or inadvertently, directly or indirectly, in any way whatsoever.
Secondly, I might also take this opportunity to point out that yesterday, in my absence, the Leader of the Opposition suggested to the Premier (Mr. Davis) that I had used the word “barbaric.” I had been quoted, he said, as using the word “barbaric” in describing some of those actions. That is what it says in yesterday’s Hansard. I want to make it clear that this was not my word. There were no newspaper reports that used the word “barbaric” with quotation marks around it, quoting the minister. I think it is important to correct the record, because I have been most careful not to use language like that in describing activities that have been undertaken.
I have no apologies whatsoever to make to this House or to the Leader of the Opposition for saying that I believe the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, being the kind of institution that it is, should have been exempted from any job action taken by the doctors. That would have been appropriate and right for them to do, not only because it involves children, because surgical procedures in other hospitals involve children, but also because of the special nature of the activities carried on in that hospital.
The Sick Children’s Hospital deals with a lot of referrals of children from other hospitals. In many cases they have children who have come in from all parts of the province, indeed from all parts of Canada or the world, for surgical operations which in some cases could be deemed to have been elective and to have fallen into the category where they could have been delayed another week, even though the youngster has flown in 1,000 miles.
I have no apologies to make for saying that the Sick Children’s Hospital is a special and unique hospital in our system.
Mr. Peterson: It’s very good public relations too, let’s not deny that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let us not drop to the level the Leader of the Opposition wants to drop to in this --
Mr. Speaker: Just ignore the interjections, please.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let me also take this opportunity to say that the Leader of the Opposition has made a point several times -- and again in his last question, so I will stay on the question -- that we are asking doctors to sit in judgement of their peers. I must say that unless the Leader of the Opposition wants to rise in this House and say that he has no confidence in the college and in that procedure whereby certain doctors run for election to have the opportunity to sit in judgement upon their peers, then he has to and ought to support the current government position. To do anything else means he is saying, and let us make it quite clear, that he believes the self-governing rights passed and given to the College of Physicians and Surgeons by the Legislature of Ontario are inappropriate. That is what he is saying when he says we should not have doctors sitting in judgement of their peers. As a member of the law society, he also ought to remember that he and I, in dealing with our disciplinary body, elect people to sit on our disciplinary body.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: They stand up and they are prepared to say -- the member does not think it works well? Does he think the College of Physicians and Surgeons works well?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes or no? Does he have confidence in them? Have the courage to stand up and indicate you do or do not --
Mr. Peterson: I would be honoured to respond, on a point of privilege, to the minister --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Port Arthur with a supplementary.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, does the minister not feel that it is his obligation under standing order 26(a) to give us a full and complete statement of the state of negotiations between the Ontario Medical Association and the government? Does the minister not recall saying that he would find job action or strike or whatever at the Hospital for Sick Children -- and I believe I am quoting him accurately -- intolerable?
Why does he tolerate the situation that exists at Sick Children’s Hospital today, where that hospital normally has 22 anaesthetists on duty and today it has four on duty and two on call? Does that not signify that, in effect, a strike is taking place at Sick Children’s Hospital?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, having just received criticism from the Liberal Party for being seen to single out a specific hospital for special attention and being too hard on one hospital, I take it the honourable member is suggesting that I am being too easy on that very same hospital. Let me say very clearly that I take the situation so seriously and find it so intolerable that we have referred each and every instance to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
I have written the college, asking it to review each and every disposition of elective surgery at the Sick Children’s Hospital. I repeat -- and I am sure the member at least, if not the Leader of the Opposition, will agree -- that the college ought to exercise and likely will exercise its due responsibility in this regard and therefore we have taken appropriate action.
I think it is also fair to note that the administration at the Sick Children’s Hospital, together with the surgeons involved, did a number of things by way of juggling their operating schedules and expanding them earlier this week to minimize the number of elective cancellations that would happen today.
I do not know with certainty how many surgical procedures ultimately will be shown to have been cancelled, but every single case affected by the job action being taken by the doctors is being referred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons. That is because I find it intolerable and I want each and every one of them investigated.
Mr. Peterson: The minister obviously has faith that the six order in council appointees can keep check on the other 27 or 29 elected representatives on the college, that they will monitor the situation and make sure there is no conflict of interest. What I have said to him in the House before and I will say it to him again is that he, as the minister, has put an unbearable onus on the college, asking them to be involved in a labour dispute virtually, making some very critical judgements about this situation --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, I am not.
Mr. Peterson: Yes, you are.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would have to ask you to place your supplementary.
Mr. Peterson: I am coming to that. I want to say to the minister that he has put them in a situation where it is going to be very difficult for them to rule dispassionately. The case of Dr. Thomson is a perfect example of that. The minister meanders forward blindly from day to day, hoping it just will not get out of hand with, as I see it, no plan.
I want to know what he is going to do for some of the specific people involved, because now we are seeing examples across the province of people who are experiencing genuine hardship. Walter Napier, a senior citizen living in Windsor, called his doctor to seek a repeat of a prescription necessary to his health and was told these things were no longer done over the telephone --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. “Is the minister aware?”
Mr. Peterson: I am going to ask what he is going to do about Mr. Napier’s case.
Mr. Speaker: Just a minute. If you would phrase it in such a way perhaps --
Mr. Riddell: He did. He asked the minister what he is going to do.
Mr. Speaker: He has not come around to that yet. “Is the minister aware,” and then go ahead.
Mr. Peterson: Is the minister aware that a cab fare to the doctor’s office for this gentleman would be $5 or $6 each time, which he cannot afford?
Is the minister aware of Mr. Richardson, who is currently on sick leave and is being treated for nerve problems in Niagara Falls? His wife is working in the interim. A psychiatrist told her he would not renew a prescription over the phone. He is unable to drive and get there himself, all adding to his distress. Is the minister aware of that and what is he going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The Leader of the Opposition has found a unique way of repeating the question. I know he has been having some difficulty in thinking where to come from on this issue. I have answered that question several times before. If the Speaker will allow me to answer the question again, I will be delighted to take some more time.
First, I am not aware of those specific cases, because I have been doing other things than answering the phone at the Ministry of Health to refer those cases to the college. Second, if the member is aware of those cases, I am sure he has exercised his responsibility and forwarded them to the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Or has he? If they are so urgent, and I suspect they are --
Mr. Nixon: He is just bringing them to the attention of the Minister of Health. That’s what he is elected to do. He is calling them to your attention. You are the minister.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Unless he got them just before question period, he had lots of time to call the college.
Mr. Nixon: Oh, baloney! What makes you the judge?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is exactly the point. The legislation --
Mr. Nixon: You are elected as Minister of Health, and he is questioning you.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the minister please resume his seat? A new question; the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have always believed the minister misjudged the state of the medical profession dramatically when he imposed his three-year term. I also believe he has misjudged the militancy of the doctors.
Mr. Speaker: Order. A new question, please.
Mr. Peterson: I come today to suggest a specific solution. As the minister is aware, Dr. Moran referred to the terms and conditions imposed upon the Ontario Medical Association as a long, dark tunnel. Apart from the money angle in the dispute, obviously the length of it at a time of highly uncertain inflation is of great concern to a number of doctors.
Why does the minister not change his position, use his interim position of an 11 per cent increase for the next six months on condition the doctors come back to the bargaining table and stop the rotating walkouts, get back to negotiating in good faith and work this out in a negotiated, reasonable way before we have to take more dramatic action through this Legislature? The minister backs off and they back off. Why does he not do something responsible?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the last time I looked, we had given them an 11 per cent increase. When I left my office this morning, the negotiations were to resume today at 2:30 p.m., negotiations having taken place yesterday afternoon and the negotiators having agreed to resume this afternoon.
Needless to say, I believe the OMA should not have undertaken the job action in the first place. But with the resumption of negotiations, indeed with this government’s offer by way of a statement made originally and a letter sent a week ago yesterday to the OMA to resume negotiations, I believe the OMA should have said clearly to its members, “Let us withhold job action until the negotiations have resumed and are once again concluded.” They chose not to do that.
Every point the Leader of the Opposition raised in his question has been dealt with by this government in exactly the way he has suggested. We have given them their increase, we have invited them back to the negotiating table and we have suggested to them the rotating job actions ought to be stopped. They have chosen not to do that.
Mr. Peterson: I know what they have chosen to do. I also know they have not chosen to follow the minister’s advice in the circumstances. What I am suggesting is that the minister back off from the three-year unilateral imposition of a deal to a more temporary situation for three or six months on condition that they come back to the negotiating table and stop the walkouts. The minister should try to resolve this thing in a peaceful and civilized way to prevent hardship to patients right across the province.
The minister has not responded to my question. Why does he not back off the three-year terms? If he shows some flexibility in this situation, perhaps it can be resolved.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting the OMA has been more flexible than the government in this situation?
Mr. Peterson: I am not suggesting anything of the kind.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I know he is not suggesting anything of the kind. He has not suggested anything. He would not even comment on whether 34 per cent was adequate.
Mr. Speaker: Just address yourself to the question, please.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: With respect, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting I ought to be more flexible in the negotiations.
Mr. Peterson: I am not suggesting anything of the kind.
Mr. Speaker: Just refer to the question, please.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The point I am making is we have said, at each and every stage, that we would prefer negotiations to continue. When the doctors suggested that further negotiations after April 1 would be helpful but they would not make the first phone call, this government took the first step and invited them back to the negotiating table. Not only did this government say last Thursday that we were prepared to have the negotiators meet last Monday, but that we were prepared to have that occur without any preconditions attached, so as to indicate our flexibility.
Once again, we indicated we were making all the moves. Not only did the OMA not meet last Monday or Tuesday, it did not want to meet, or could not meet, until yesterday. We attached no preconditions to resuming negotiations because we did not want to inhibit any opportunity the doctors had to come back to the negotiating table. If I had said, “You stop the job action and we will go back to the bargaining table,” there is no doubt they would have demanded we go back to the bargaining table under any circumstances, and the member would have criticized us for holding them up to blackmail and refusing to negotiate with them except on our terms.
This government has done everything possible to resume and continue negotiations. We have been flexible. As I have indicated, if the member has had an opportunity to read this morning’s newspaper, and I know he has, then he knows that this government was willing to discuss a one-year agreement, a two-year agreement and a three-year agreement. We went back to a two-year agreement and, ultimately, three years at the request of the OMA.
The OMA negotiators know very well all of the options that are available to them, that were available to them three weeks ago, available to them two weeks ago and still available to them this afternoon. I hope and believe that is why they are back to the negotiating table. I find it a difficult proposition for the member to put that this government has been inflexible.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, when the hospital workers went on strike a year ago this government brought the full force of the law against them. Yet today our information is that there is a strike of anaesthetists at the Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital. My question to the minister is, if it is illegal for hospital workers in this province to go on strike, why is it not professional misconduct for doctors to withdraw medical services as part of a bargaining tactic?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, hospital workers in that situation obviously were employees who made certain decisions to break the law and were found to have broken the law. Whether the cases with regard to doctors involve professional misconduct, we are moving as expeditiously in this matter with regard to having the doctors in front of the appropriate tribunal under law as we did with the hospital workers. It is a pretty equivalent situation.
Mr. McClellan: Why is their strike not professional misconduct?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In each instance, we have taken all of the evidence and moved immediately before the appropriate tribunal.
Mr. Foulds: You mean the hospital workers were essential; the doctors are not?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the member wishes to put the proposition that the appropriate tribunal, as set up under the legislation passed by this assembly, is not the appropriate tribunal then that is quite a different issue. I want to make it clear that we are moving as quickly in this case as we moved in the hospital workers case, and in each case in front of the appropriate tribunal.
Mr. Peterson: I am trying to put a suggestion to the minister, Mr. Speaker, which he does not want to talk about. He wants to talk about some other --
Mr. Speaker: May I suggest that you could phrase it, “Would the minister agree?”
Mr. Peterson: Let me put it through you, Mr. Speaker, and perhaps you can assist him in understanding and then answering this question.
It seems to me that if the minister was prepared to back off the three-year term on the condition that the doctors stop rotating walkouts immediately, both sides backing out -- and to respond to his original charges, frankly, from what I can observe, I think both sides have been kind of childish in this matter -- then he may have some new grounds to at least start the negotiation process, both sides having given something, and hopefully resolve this by way of negotiation at the end of that expiry period, be it three months or six months.
That is a constructive suggestion towards solving this thing rather than seeing the minister involved in a great game of trying to mobilize public opinion through the various oblique and overt ways that he employs, as well as the doctors running ads in the newspapers and everybody wasting a lot of energy trying to mobilize public opinion and get involved in a great public fight where the patients will be the victims.
Surely the minister sees that. Surely there is some room to move, to get back to the bargaining table and negotiate. There is room to give. Is it not his responsibility as the man in charge to take the lead in that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I say I know it is easy for the Leader of the Opposition to stand up and say, “You are both wrong in this instance.” But I have to say I have a responsibility. I have stood in this House on other matters where he and others have had the luxury of saying, “What are you doing about -- ”
Mr. Peterson: I would be happy to change places with the minister.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member complains to the Speaker about the length of my answers and he will not sit there and listen to them.
I have had the responsibility of standing in this House before and having to explain matters to the House. The House has generally understood that negotiations cannot, in most matters, be conducted through the media and should not be conducted through the media. I have adopted that stance in the Chrysler negotiations. Massey-Ferguson negotiations, the Volkswagen negotiations and others I have been involved in.
Obviously it would have been more comfortable for me at very many stages, particularly in this matter, to have negotiated through the media. But I have chosen not to, because ultimately my responsibility is not to make sure that in the short term the government looks good or bad on any given day during this week or next week; my responsibility is to make sure we have a medical profession in this province that feels it is treated fairly and in a responsible way by government. That is occurring in our day-to-day discussions.
For the Leader of the Opposition to be offering advice with regard to flexibility, with all due respect, strikes me with some irony since his Health critic, who has not yet found a way to ask a question relating to this strike and this job action in this House, is well on record as saying the government’s original offer of 10 per cent was generous and that the doctors should accept it. That is his Health critic’s position on this matter.
The Leader of the Opposition should not be up lecturing this party with regard to flexibility or telling us how to negotiate when he begins from a position where his Health critic says 10 per cent was a fair government offer. He says he will not even comment on whether 34 per cent is a reasonable offer. His former Health critic thought our 10 per cent offer was inadequate. That is where he is coming from and that is the member’s problem. He has to live with it and he also has to live with his opinion of the members who serve on the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
I have to live with the medical profession and try and negotiate with them privately, not through the media or through public relations stunts, but in a responsible way. That is what we are going to do and that is why the health care system in this province will be protected.
USE OF TIME IN QUESTION PERIOD
Mr. Swart: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I want to say on behalf of myself and I think all other back-benchers, that our privileges are being abused by the length of the questions and answers of the leaders, particularly the Leader of the Opposition. According to my watch and that clock, we have spent more than 25 minutes on the first two questions. In spite of the admonition you gave them, they kept on.
You have a responsibility -- I suggest this respectfully -- to shorten those answers so that back-benchers can also get some questions in during the question period. Most of the answers were simply political rhetoric and we as back-benchers have some rights in this House. I would respectfully suggest that you see we are entitled to them.
Mr. Speaker: That is a very interesting observation. The member is as aware of the standing orders as I am. I do not write them. It is the will of the House that establishes those standing orders. I interpret them and try to enforce them.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour about affirmative action. The minister will recall his speech of April 3, in which he argued the co-operative approach was the best approach and that significant and accelerating process was being made. Is he aware his own statistics indicate that in seven years only 175 programs are in place? That is an average of 25 a year.
Is he aware that to date his program has resulted in only 0.053 per cent of Ontario companies implementing affirmative action? How many years does he think would be an appropriate number of years for us to see companies in Ontario implement affirmative action programs?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the 175 companies represent a substantial number of employees. They are major companies. They also represent a network of employers who are supporting the program and encouraging other companies to come within the program.
Considerable progress has been made. I am still convinced that affirmative action is the route to go. There are some interesting facts to substantiate that progress is being made.
Mr. Foulds: Would the minister hazard a guess about what would be an appropriate number of years for the companies of Ontario to achieve affirmative action? Does he not realize that, using his own statistics of the rate of progress that we have had in the last seven years, it will take 13,300 years for every company in Ontario to implement an affirmative action program? Does he not think that is just a little long for us to wait, even for a Tory government?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: It certainly is if one wants to look at the figures in that context, but I am not looking at them in that context at all. I am looking at it in the context of acceleration, and I am convinced that we are going to see acceleration here.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, since members on all sides are interested in government policy on affirmative action, would it not be a matter of concern to the Minister of Labour that in the whole education establishment, aside from the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) at the very peak, the role of women in senior positions, either as directors or as principals of schools across this province, is in the same area statistically as the acting leader of the New Democratic Party has brought to his attention? Would he not feel it is at least partly his responsibility to discuss this serious and continuing matter with his colleague the Minister of Education?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: We discuss it with the boards constantly.
Mr. Wrye: But you don’t get any action. A lot of talk.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Labour has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, the affirmative action committee of the Toronto teachers’ association -- in fact I believe it is an umbrella that is larger than just the Toronto teachers’ association -- has just published a very interesting booklet. That is not encouraging, I agree with the member, but I read that booklet this past weekend and I think progress is being made there too. I would be happy to share their results with the member. I will send him a copy of that report.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, during 1981-82, the ministry spent less than one cent for each working woman in the province on affirmative action, and only 15 new programs were initiated, seven of which were in the public sector and eight in the private sector. Does the minister consider this significant and accelerating progress? Does it not convince him of the need for some kind of legislation to require employers to initiate affirmative action programs if we are going to achieve real progress?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am not convinced that legislation is required. I do agree, though, with the member that the results to date are not satisfactory. Additional emphasis has to be placed on the program.
HYDRO EMPLOYEES IN ARGENTINA
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), I would like to put a question to the government House leader, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Is he aware that Ontario Hydro has 13 employees working on a nuclear reactor in Argentina? Does he not think it would be appropriate for the government to request Ontario Hydro to withdraw those employees from Argentina before that nuclear reactor is completed in an expression of solidarity in view of the Queen’s visit this weekend?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that Ontario Hydro has some employees in Argentina. In so far as the second part of the question is concerned, I would have to take that under consideration. It is certainly not something we have considered. I have had no discussions with anyone about it, except that when we learned these people were there, their safety was of concern to ourselves and the government of Canada. It was indicated to me that was under control.
Mr. Foulds: In his role as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, is the minister not aware that Dr. Miguel Ussher, an assistant to the president of Argentina, admitted at a panel in Knoxville, Tennessee, on November 3, 1981, that one of the reasons his country was proceeding with the electrical nuclear power option was that it intended to consider the nuclear military option?
In view of the present international circumstances, does the minister not think it appropriate for the Ontario government to ask Hydro to withdraw those employees from Argentina before the Candu nuclear reactor is completed, so that any possible use of that reactor and its byproducts could not be extended to the military option?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The sale of Candu reactors by the government of Canada is an important part of a total export strategy of the government of Canada. It has always been done on the premise that the Candu reactors, the technology and all that goes with it, are for the benefit of the country and the people of the countries those reactors are being built in, and that there will be no military nuclear offset from that program.
I see my friends laughing over there. I do not know if that means they would like Canada not to be trying to sell Candu reactors in the world. I am sure we all think this is an area where Canada stands at the top of the heap in technology in the Candu nuclear reactor field. We, Ontario Hydro, the government of Canada and everyone have believed that in selling these we are doing everything that is humanly possible to be sure there is no military nuclear offset from anything connected with the Candu programs in those countries.
Beyond that, I cannot say any more than I have said. We know there are Hydro employees there. They are safe at the present time. In the event of any hostilities, they will be taken out of Argentina. That is as far as I can go.
Mr. Foulds: Would the minister not agree that in the present circumstances -- his government is very fond of interfering in international affairs when it benefits them politically -- this is not a time to proceed with business as usual with regard to the production of nuclear power in Argentina through Ontario Hydro?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We will assent to and agree with the policy of the government of Canada and the Department of External Affairs as expressed on behalf of Canada as a whole in regard to any trading matters with Argentina. I believe the Minister of External Affairs has taken a very strong stand on that. We support that stand completely. Whatever the government of Canada decides in that regard we will support.
COUNCIL FOR FRANCO-ONTARIAN AFFAIRS
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who is responsible for the Council for Franco-Ontarian Affairs.
I draw the minister’s attention an article in today’s Le Droit, which I have before me and which reports that the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Piché) exerted influence on the cabinet to ensure that one of his friends from Kapuskasking was appointed to the Council for Franco-Ontarian Affairs, thereby making two appointments from that region. Meanwhile, apparently the Sudbury area is not going to have a representative on the council. According to the same article --
Mr. Speaker: Could you ask the question, “Is the minister aware?”
Mr. Boudria: Is the minister aware of this situation? Is he also aware that the article says the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) appears to be angered by this? Can the minister clarify the situation to ensure that the credibility of the council will not be damaged by such action?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to say that the honourable member to whom the member for Prescott-Russell is referring is an outstanding member of our caucus and represents the Franco-Ontarian viewpoint on a number of matters. I would be very remiss, and this government would be remiss, if we did not ask him for his suggestions on a number of matters concerning Franco-Ontarian affairs and policies of this government.
When I asked, he suggested the name of a person who could serve on the council. I understand that very fine person has agreed to serve and he will be appointed. It may be that someone else from that area will be appointed, someone who happens to live in the area, who has general concern and can be a benefit to Franco-Ontarians from all areas of Ontario.
The council is not a body that represents particular geographical areas. I am also going to appoint someone from Sudbury, so I do not know where that story could have originated.
Mr. Boudria: Is the minister not concerned that asking a member of his caucus to make recommendations for appointments to this council tends to undermine the independence and objectivity of such a council? In my view it is not supposed to represent only the views of government members. If such a practice is going to be followed, would he also entertain suggestions from opposition members for people to sit on such a council?
Hon. Mr. Wells: My answer to what I think is really a slightly ridiculous question is that it absolutely does not interfere with the independence of that council. I would be very remiss if I did not ask a member of a particular community who is in our caucus, and who is a very good spokesman for that community, to suggest members for the council. If the member for Prescott-Russell wishes to give me suggestions, I will be quite happy to look at them.
HURON BROADCASTING DISPUTE
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware of the imposed settlement of the first-contract dispute at Huron Broadcasting in Sault Ste. Marie where the employees had been out for a number of months, and is he aware that the federal labour board awarded wages considerably higher than the last company offer and acted on the basis that no real negotiations were taking place?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, yes, I am aware of the circumstances.
Mr. Mackenzie: Would the minister not accept this action by the federal Department of Labour as a further substantiation of the need for first-contract legislation in bitter first contract disputes, and will the minister consider bringing appropriate first-contract legislation before the House in the interests of fair and stable industrial relations in the province?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I do not think there is sufficient demonstration, federally or in the other provinces that do have that condition, to justify bringing it in here at this time. I understand that in the case of Huron Broadcasting Ltd. that was only the second first-contract imposition by the federal government.
I understand that in British Columbia there have been 22 cases but the level of first-contract compliance -- I do not have the exact figures; I know there have been 22 but the records of those companies which have had a first contract put upon them is very slim.
KOZAK TREATMENT PROGRAM
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Health. Did he read recent reports, I believe in the Toronto Sun, that the West German skin specialist Dr. Pavel Kozak is considering an appointment in Chicago in preference to the unique and expensive program the Minister of Health previously announced for the University of Toronto? Can he assure us that a definite offer has been made to the skin specialist and that the minister’s initiatives to bring this eminent world-class specialist to Toronto will not founder simply for lack of leadership at some level?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as indicated at the time, we made what we consider to be an important and fairly generous offer, an arrangement which would ensure that our people would have access to Dr. Kozak’s procedures and the methodology whether he comes here or not. The honourable member will recall that the terms of the arrangement we worked out did not hinge upon Dr. Kozak’s decision to move here. It did depend to some extent on hope that he would choose to come here in some consulting role to assist in development of the methodology he had already shared with our people.
In short, the procedure is going ahead; the Kozak treatment, as it were, is being developed, studied and used by our physicians already, or will be in a number of weeks. We expect Dr. Kozak will be here on a consulting basis because of our aggressive leadership, whether or not he ultimately decides to stay in West Germany, locate in Toronto or locate in Chicago. In fact, if he took the Chicago offer he would be even more accessible and I am sure would want to participate in the Toronto experiment.
Mr. Nixon: I gather it is true then that the minister’s aggressive leadership did not result in a specific offer to Dr. Kozak to take up some position of leadership in the new $900,000 to $1-million initiative being inaugurated at the University of Toronto, and it is true that no specific offer has been made to him personally to participate in that way.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, there was a specific offer. The specific offer was to be a consultant to the hospitals involved and at the University of Toronto in further developing his process so that it could be applied at the three hospitals involved. So there has been an offer put. It has been made possible by virtue of the Ministry of Health grant. The offer has been put to Dr. Kozak. The program is in place whether he comes here or not. Obviously if he comes here as a consultant, as the offer calls for, the program will work more quickly and it will be easier. But in any event the Kozak treatment will be available. The offer has been put. We hope he will attend here. Nothing has changed since the original offer.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I would like to ask about the Angelo lannelli case discussed during the supplementary estimates. Is the minister aware that the Social Assistance Review Board has ratified its decision to withdraw workmen’s compensation payments from family benefits but at the same time recognizes the position of Mr. lannelli as a disabled person? Is the minister aware that his ministry is appealing this part of the decision of the board despite the fact the minister has promised that this distinction would be abolished?
Hon. Mr. Drea: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware. I am trying to recall the case. It was not in supplementary estimates this year. It must have been in supplementary estimates last year, because the honourable member was not here for supplementary estimates this year. I will look into the case and, if the person is declared to be disabled, obviously that person should get the proper allowance. I will report back on Monday.
Mr. Di Santo: In view of the fact that the minister’s unconscionable decision affects 1,100 injured workers, does he not think that he should change regulation 10(3) of the Family Benefits Act so that the injured workers who are receiving miserable pensions should not have their money subtracted when they receive family benefit, especially in view of the fact, as the minister has admitted, that family benefit payments are much below the poverty line?
When he comes back to the House, can the minister report how is it that his legal services people can spend money writing long letters -- the letter of appeal was signed by Leslie M. McIntosh -- while denying $50 a month to a disabled person?
Hon. Mr. Drea: I will tell the member what I am going to do. On the day that Monique Bégin lets me change that section, I will do it. If he has got all the influence and all the clout that he says he has, why does he not give her a little call? When she changes the rules of the Canada assistance program, I will change the section on the very same day.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. A few days ago the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) brought before the minister the problem of the Ontario farm adjustment assistance applications going directly from the local banks to head office before meeting with the local agricultural representatives and staying there for a considerable time. The minister said to him, “If they hear of this kind of thing, they should let us know, and we will make darned certain within hours that the manager knows where he is going wrong.”
I know of applications that have been with the Bank of Montreal head office for two months. I called Peter Hart, the Bank of Montreal’s head agricultural man. He agreed it is ridiculous that applications asking only for a rebate go to their head office, but he said this is government regulation and is set up with the Canadian Bankers’ Association.
He told me a change would have to be made by the government to allow this practice to stop, and he said it would probably take the government two months to make that change. I said I had more confidence in this government than that and I figured they could make that change just like that. So I said I would ask the minister how long it would take.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the people on this side would say the member’s confidence is well placed. I will be back in my office in about 20 minutes, and I will make sure that Mr. George, who is in charge of the program, contacts the Bank of Montreal right away, because I think the member has been given misinformation.
Basically where the problem has arisen, in individual cases I have followed up, is where a bank manager has a limit placed on him or her by the regional office or the head office of the bank as to how far he can go on credit applications. When he reaches or exceeds the limit, he ends up having to refer to regional office or sometimes --
Mr. McKessock: It’s not credit applications, it is just applications for the rebate
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: With respect, the problem is not with the program. The problem is that each bank deals with its managers and puts limits on its managers in a manner different from all the others.
We will certainly follow up directly with the Bank of Montreal to see that is straightened out.
Mr. McKessock: If it were a credit application, I could understand it; but it is simply for the rebate so there is no reason why it should go to head office, other than that the Bank of Montreal is telling me it is government regulation.
To allow farmers to get some money in their hands before seeding, will the minister consider making the Ontario farm adjustment assistance program retroactive for the year prior to the application approval date, if the farmer so desires?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No. The program is for 1982, not for a retroactive period.
COMPENSATION FOR UFFI HOME OWNERS
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Revenue. In view of the fact that he has repeatedly stated he will not seek out and reduce the assessment on homes with urea formaldehyde foam insulation, even though that policy is contrary to the policy of the Assessment Act and even though New Brunswick has now given a 20 per cent blanket reduction on UFFI homes, will he give the same right to UFFI home owners that he now gives to home owners in the city of Toronto on the assessment appeal matter; that is, to deem their assessment has been appealed whether or not a formal application has been made?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: No, Mr. Speaker, that change will not be made. There is no doubt that we have counselled and worked with all UFFI home owners who have come to our attention, whether directly or indirectly, and have advised and assisted them in the appeal process. I have not had one person in that category contact me on the basis that he has had a problem vis-à-vis his appeal.
As far as the situation New Brunswick has got into is concerned, the honourable member may feel that is the route to go, I do not. To assume everybody has had an equal change in the value of his property because of that foam insulation, I think is a decision that is falsely reached; the review process of the assessment review court will properly allow the evidence pertaining to each and every property to be brought before it, and some will be lower than that and conceivably some will be higher.
Mr. Swart: Does the minister not realize that he is making fish of one sector of the home owners and fowl of another? Does he not realize the magnitude of the injustice of this situation? A survey done by us shows that, of those home owners who asked for the test because they had urea formaldehyde foam insulation, only 39 per cent have appealed their assessment. Of the total home owners in this province, that means only 20 or 25 per cent of them have appealed their assessments.
What is the ministry’s stand on these appeals? Is it supporting them? If not, why not? Will the minister apply the principles arrived at by the court as a result of those appeals and make a reduction to all UFFI homes in this year’s assessment for next year’s taxes?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: We purposely made the decision to go the route of the assessment review court to try to determine the extent of the problem as it related to a change in market value. When we have had the results of that exercise this year from the review process, we will look at the possibility of any changes that might be appropriate for 1982 assessment for 1983 taxation.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, real estate agents are now making it compulsory for their customers to list on real estate forms whether their homes have urea formaldehyde foam insulation, thereby ensuring the value of those properties is automatically diminished. That is the side effect of that kind of action.
Can the minister tell us why he is so reluctant about an outright reduction of the market value assessment based on things like section 86 which indicate that a home with less value should be taxed less? Homes which have that indication when they are sold do have less value. Would this not be logical?
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, everybody has his own sense of logic --
Mr. Swart: Yours is distorted.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: That is a matter of opinion. I have always known yours is.
The assessment review process is designed to do exactly that. Few people would argue that there is probably some kind of change to value, perceived or otherwise. That is part of the question. When we are working with these people and assisting them in preparing for their appeals and what they will have to show and bring to the assessment review court, that obviously is one of the factors, an indication that market value has been affected. There is no doubt that the extent of the effect on market value will be the factor that will be considered by the assessment review court in its deliberations and, ultimately, in its decision. I think that is the fair way. You are putting it to a tribunal that is set up as a third party, and in my view that is much fairer than an arbitrary change that would be fair to some and unfair to others.
ROAD WORK SUBSIDIES
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I am sure the minister is aware of the ad valorem tax on gasoline and that in the past 12 months that tax has increased from 20 cents a gallon to 29. Since the Treasurer stated in the House that he does not intend to rescind this ad valorem tax, will the minister increase the subsidies to municipalities for road construction and maintenance through the largess his government is now receiving from this tax?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I think the answer to that would have to be yes, in general, because I believe the maintenance subsidy and, in most cases, the construction subsidy to all municipalities, have been increased this year as they have been each year for many years. As the honourable member has been around this House even longer than I have, he will know that income sources go directly to the Treasurer and do not have any real bearing on the direct allocation of budgetary funds to the operating ministries.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, just to have the record straight, I would not want the minister to insinuate I am that old. I came here the same year as he did.
Is the minister aware that many municipalities have to pay 100 per cent of the cost of construction and maintenance of their roads owing to the government’s continued failure to pass along the large increases in gasoline tax? The end result is that property taxes are rising to unreasonably high levels.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I would like to read that supplementary in Hansard to be sure, but I am certainly not aware of any municipality that is paying 100 per cent of its road maintenance and construction budget. I just do not believe there is any municipality in this province that is doing that.
Some municipalities may very well be spending an amount over and above the formula which my ministry’s subsidy balances. In other words, if they are on a 50 per cent grant basis, they get a $500,000 subsidy if they would normally spend up to $1 million on their road program. If they spend $1.1 million, they are going to be spending $100,000 of their own money; but to me that is a long way from paying 100 per cent of their road construction costs, and the member very well knows that.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have received an answer to a question I asked the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) last Thursday. He sent the answer in a letter. I appreciate very much the detail with which he answered. But would it not be more appropriate for a minister to answer a question asked in the House through a ministerial statement as well? I request you to ask the minister to do that on Monday.
Mr. Speaker: Any minister may answer a question as he or she sees fit. We have had complaints. I do not know the length of the answer, of course, but perhaps it would be more appropriate under statements; I am not sure.
Mr. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I waited until after question period so as not to interfere with the time, but yesterday the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) indicated that Chrysler Corp. had a $500-million surplus of trade between Canada and the United States.
I wish to point out to the minister and to the House that last year Chrysler sold 117,000 cars in Canada while they produced 69,000 cars in Canada. Considering that engines and transmissions account for 20 to 30 per cent of the value of a car and that they are all imported for Chrysler Canada Ltd., the minister has obviously provided incorrect and inaccurate information, which could have a very negative effect on the relationship this government and the workers should have with Chrysler to get it to produce more parts in Canada.
I wish to point out further that we contacted the federal government, Mr. Gray’s office, after yesterday’s question period and were told by officials in the federal government that they could not understand how the Minister of Industry and Trade could possibly make such a silly comment in the House yesterday.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I was making some general comments.
While we are on that point, the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) -- I called it humble Riverside in view of his vast capacities -- raised a question yesterday about whether Chrysler Corp. had made a decision to move the vast majority of its purchasing department out of Windsor to Detroit.
I implied that the honourable member was perhaps somewhat in error in his approach to the question. After checking into this matter, it would appear I may have been assessing that incorrectly. Upon checking, I have determined that his facts were entirely wrong; in fact, he was totally out to lunch on the question.
Chrysler is not moving its purchasing department from Windsor to Detroit. It is moving it from Detroit to Windsor. The actual fact is that Chrysler Canada is not moving the vast majority of its purchasing department to Detroit. The reorganization that Chrysler announced on March 11, 1982, involved the moving of senior officials from Detroit to Windsor to establish a new purchasing function in Canada. Rather than reducing the purchasing function in Canada, Chrysler has actually increased it.
For the first time, Chrysler has appointed a vice-president to be responsible for, among other functions, increasing the level of Chrysler purchasing in Canada. Also for the first time in its recent history, Chrysler has established a Canadian officer to be solely responsible for actively seeking out new Canadian suppliers.
Just two hours ago, I spoke with Mr. Kiborn, the vice-president and treasurer of Chrysler Canada Ltd. From the information we have, under the reorganization no jobs or functions are being transferred from Windsor to Detroit. This was a reference by Mr. Kiborn, and the member’s statement is entirely wrong.
Under the new organization, Mr. F. J. O’Reilly has been appointed the Canadian vice-president for manufacturing, procurement and supply. Reporting to him are Mr. R. J. Grieves, director of Canadian supplier development and Mr. A. C. Clarke, director of procurement and supply. Mr. Grieves’s sole function is to find new Canadian suppliers and help them to sell to Chrysler Canada and Chrysler Corp.
The member has to get his facts straight in this House if he is going to come in here and say that kind of thing.
Mr. Speaker: I sincerely hope that clarifies the record.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think this is degenerating into a debate. We are obviously having a difference of opinion.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, this is not the same point of privilege. It is based on what the minister said, which was not my point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: I realize that.
Mr. Cooke: He attributed comments to me yesterday that I did not make. I think that point should be made. I never once said yesterday, or in the open letter and press release I put out yesterday, that one job was being lost at the sales department in Windsor. That was made very clear. What I said was that North American mandating and the division of sourcing meant that the United States would make the vast majority of the decisions on the T115 and that is correct.
Mr. Speaker: I think this would better be handled by a ministerial statement on Monday.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I am simply responding to the --
Mr. Speaker: I do not think it requires a response at this time, with all respect.
Hon. Mr. Walker: I was going to respond with the very words the member used.
Mr. Speaker: The minister can draw his attention to that on Monday.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I want to give notice that I am dissatisfied with the irresponsible answer given by the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe), and under rule 28(b) of the standing orders of this House we will debate this next Tuesday night.
ANNUAL REPORT, MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES, 1978-79
Mr. Shymko: I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As chairman of the standing committee on social development, I would like to seek your guidance and clarification on a matter that was raised before the committee by the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), namely, the discussion by the committee of the annual report of the Ministry of Community and Social Services for 1979.
My understanding is that the annual report of the Ministry of Community and Social Services was referred to the committee by a petition of 20 members on March 30, 1982.
Standing order 33(b) provides:
“The statutory annual report of each ministry and of all boards and commissions and other agencies reporting to each minister for the immediate past reporting period, shall be presented to the House before the consideration of the minister’s estimates unless reasons are given to the House for noncompliance. On the petition of 20 members any such report shall be referred to a standing or select committee of the House.”
It is my understanding that standing order 33(b) permits this procedure only for statutory annual reports. Apparently, nothing in the Ministry of Community and Social Services Act or in any other statute has any requirement that the ministry’s annual report be tabled in the assembly. Accordingly, that particular request is against standing order 33(b).
I would like to have clarification or guidance before we proceed in the committee. I understand that there is no statutory provision that this report be tabled. Is the report therefore properly before the committee, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. R. F. Johnston: On that point of order, Mr. Speaker: I was advised by the Clerk’s office to use that particular approach. The interpretation of the rules is not unlike that which the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko) stated.
However, we do have a precedent of other ministries’ annual reports that do not come through statutes being debated or brought before committees for debate. I think the report of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is one example. Therefore, this was something for which there was a precedent and this was one approach we could take to this matter.
Because there were a couple of technical problems with it, I presumed some discussions were taking place between the table and the chair and yourself since I tabled this. I am surprised that this has been raised in the House in this way instead of being negotiated as I understood it was going to be done.
Mr. Speaker: Contrary to what your understanding may be, I say to all honourable members that I will have to take this under advisement. Although it is an interesting point, I am not aware just what are statutory annual reports and what are not. It may be interesting to look into what are and what are not. I will be happy to consider this over the weekend and report back to the House; I guess the beginning of the week would be the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Nixon: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker: It seems to me almost incredible that a ministry with the budget of the ministry under discussion would not have a statutory requirement that its annual report be tabled. They do have an annual report. The fact that the law does not require it to be tabled in the House, and therefore available for debate, is the sort of oversight I would hope government representatives would take note of and correct by some minor amendment, without too much delay.
Mr. McClellan: I have an additional matter, Mr. Speaker. The petition of referral was accepted in accordance with precedent and referred to the committee; not for the chairman of the committee to decide whether or not it was in order, it had already been accepted as being in order, it was referred to the chairman of the committee for arrangement of the discussion and debate. I hope you will simply instruct the chairman to carry on in accordance with our traditions and practices.
Mr. Speaker: That is also very interesting, but I will have to take a look at it. It has been drawn to my attention. I will have to speak to my advisers, seek their advice and report back to the House, probably at the first of the week.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: A gag attempt.
Mr. McClellan: A little tin pot dictator.
Mr. Conway: Why the Kremlin would ever want you I can’t imagine.
Mr. McClellan: Maybe Yuri should get a little uniform for himself.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Why don’t you put on a little uniform, commissar?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think you have made your point.
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, I object to these remarks. As the chairman of a committee I am advised. I seek the advice of the clerk and I have been given this information.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: You get up and defend ministers when you are in committee. Now you come in and try to obstruct us.
Mr. Shymko: Mr. Speaker, there is no intention of any obstruction. It is only the responsibility --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Thank you very much. I point out to all honourable members it does nothing for the reputation of this chamber or of the individual members to get into a name-calling session. I am not pointing the finger at anybody; I am drawing it to the attention of all honourable members.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Mr. Treleaven from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill Pr11, An Act respecting 373800 Ontario Limited.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on general government be authorized to adjourn to Thunder Bay and North Bay, Ontario, on Wednesday, April 21, 1982, during its consideration of Bill 159, An Act to revise the Planning Act.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
SAVINGS OFFICE ACT
Mr. Philip moved, seconded by Mr. Di Santo, first reading of Bill 64, An Act respecting the Province of Ontario Savings Office.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, this bill provides for an expanded Province of Ontario Savings Office with the power to make loans and other financial services as well as receive deposits.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the interim answers to questions 32 to 51 inclusive standing on the Notice Paper [see appendix, page 893].
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, since my remarks last night took a little longer than we had counted on, it appears we will need some extra time for the debate on the speech from the throne. As I indicated in the statement of business on Thursday, the House could meet on Monday night. It would seem expeditious to have a night sitting this coming Monday.
Mr. Conway: I intend to make use of your precedent.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Does the honourable member mean to use my precedent to expand the time he talks?
Mr. Conway: No, I will follow your guidelines.
Hon. Mr. Wells: If the member quotes as many prominent Canadian politicians of the same political stripe as I did, I will be happy to listen to his remarks.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I will have to make this fairly short because my pilot is leaving in about one hour and 15 minutes and I would like to leave with him. I did want to make a few remarks in this debate on matters that concern me deeply, since I am not going to be able to be here on Monday. Forgive me if I do not refer specifically to too many of the matters in the speech from the throne but there is so very little substance to refer to.
In the very first paragraph of the speech, the government said, “We must nevertheless devote our abilities and our energies to putting Ontario on a more positive track;” 28 pages later I really wondered why it bothered to write that first sentence.
I want to talk for a minute about my concern as a fairly newly arrived member about what I consider to be the undermining of the relevance of this institution. I want to give two examples while the government whip is here.
First is the unacceptable attitude of the government with regard to the speeches from the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party. For two years now, I have watched and stood by while the main replies by the leaders of the two opposition parties have been watched by a group of government members numbering, at times, no more than four or five. I find it insulting.
If we are going to have a relevant institution we are going to have to begin to understand there are three parties with three points of view here. These points of view, especially on the important matters of the day, and the main points of view of the parties as expressed by the leaders, should at least be listened to. It does nothing for this institution and it does nothing for the way in which the members of the public -- through the press or through their presence in the gallery -- view this institution, to have four or five government members, often without even a cabinet minister, here to listen to the remarks of the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.
The remarks did not last for two or three hours. They lasted for 35 or 40 minutes. I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the member for Oriole (Mr. Williams), they were relevant, since they represented the point of view of 33 or 34 per cent of the people of Ontario. It is almost as if this government believes it won a 100 per cent vote in the last election. It did not.
While I am at it, let me speak briefly about the matter that came up yesterday on the resolution of my friend the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney). It denigrates the private members’ hour and the importance of that hour, and ultimately of this institution, when a general resolution expressing the general will of the House is blocked by this government or by the members of any party. If the members opposite do not agree with it -- the member for Oriole and the member for Cambridge (Mr. Barlow) spoke against the resolution, and presumably would have voted against it -- then let them stand in their place in the private members’ hour and vote no.
The resolution was of a general nature. It was not a specific bill which got into a great deal of specifics. It would have been nice if the members of this House could have indicated, in a general way in the private members’ hour, whether they felt the thrust of the resolution was a fair one.
I notice not all members of the government stood in their place. The member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) did not stand. I do not believe the member for St. George (Ms. Fish), who is in this House today, stood. Presumably that is because they would have wished to vote in favour. I do not know whether all members of both parties would have stood and voted in favour of the resolution, but it would have been nice if we could have put those votes on the record so the people of Ontario and the people of the individual constituencies could see the general views of their members. I think it is regrettable. I think, again, it undermines the importance of this institution and of the private members’ hour.
I do not want to spend any more time on that because I have a number of other matters I want to talk about.
The first is the future of Ontario, and particularly of my own community of Windsor because I suppose we are a symbol of what is happening now in Ontario. Provincial unemployment is as high as it has ever been in recent years. Windsor’s unemployment is into a crippling third year of double digits. StatsCanada’s unemployment figure for Windsor in March was 14.6 per cent. The Canada Employment Centre in the city said the figure was even higher, that it was 17 per cent with some 22,000 men and women out of work.
Let me assure members at the outset that the men and women of Windsor are not out of work by choice. They want jobs and they want them now. It is not good enough for this government to stand up and, member after member, flail away at the federal government as if there are no responsibilities in this House. If there are no responsibilities, then why do we not just close up and go home? I suggest in a couple of specific ways there are responsibilities and there are means this government could take to get some of the people of Windsor back to work. I will give a couple of very specific examples.
For 11 years now, Windsor has waited for a 300-bed chronic care hospital that was approved in 1971 and then stopped when capital funding and spending were frozen. Why does this government not move ahead on the chronic care facility? Why does it leave 150 people in a 60-year-old converted school that is probably a firetrap, and leave the remainder of the people who need the chronic care facility sitting in acute treatment beds in hospitals all around Windsor while, for example, patients needing those acute treatments beds lie in hospital corridors, according to the chief of staff of Metropolitan General Hospital, for up to three days? Not three hours, not 24 hours, but three days.
If the government wishes to move and wishes to get a few of the people of Windsor back to work -- I remind the members opposite that Windsor still is in Ontario -- why does it not build the 300-bed chronic care hospital starting tomorrow? The construction industry would be delighted, even the supporters of my friends across the way who so generously contributed to the campaign. Some of them have since gone bankrupt because the government will do nothing to get Windsor back to work.
While we are talking about specific ways to give Windsor some employment, let us look at the number of government jobs we have in Windsor. Currently we have a total of 509 government jobs, which is probably rock-bottom. The government probably cannot put any fewer jobs in Windsor. If it could, it probably would try. Let me give a couple of comparisons to show how fairly we are being treated by a government that continues to wring its hands and talk so greatly and generously of its concern for the unemployed of Ontario.
There are 2,961 government jobs in London, 1,814 in Hamilton, over 1,800 in the riding of the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) in Kingston -- and more are moving there every day -- and over 2,000 in the city of Thunder Bay. I point out that Kingston has one quarter of the population of Windsor and Thunder Bay one half. Yet we have 509 jobs. I am not suggesting we hire new civil servants so we can put them in Windsor. What I am suggesting is that it makes no sense at all, ultimately for the taxpayers of Ontario whom the government says it is so concerted about, to continue to move jobs out of Windsor. Yet that is exactly what this government has done.
Just recently the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe), who told me last July when I wrote him a letter that he had no plans to move the retail sales tax offices from Windsor, did just that. Another nine jobs - two of them accounting jobs that could be filled by business graduates from the University of Windsor another nine jobs went running 110 miles down the road to the white-collar city of London.
Three years ago, when this government moved to rationalize and regionalize its Ontario health insurance plan operations, 46 of the 51 OHIP jobs in Windsor went down the road 110 miles to London. In a city starved for white-collar employment, with the highest unemployment rate in all Ontario, why does the government continue to take jobs from that city? How can anyone in that city believe this government has one iota of concern? Is it because we have four Liberals and one New Democrat from Essex county? Is that the way it works?
I suggest that the 18.8 per cent of the people of my riding who voted for the government in the last election, as is their right in this democracy, are also suffering from its callous disregard for Windsor. I suggest to the government if they wish to maintain some relevance in Windsor, if they wish to be able to say to the people of Windsor at election time, “We offer you some programs and some policies,” they had better start to prove to those people in desperate straits -- dire straits does not even begin to describe it -- that they care.
It is not good enough to blame high interest policies and the federal government. The federal government has its responsibilities and let me be the first to acknowledge them. I acknowledged them to my colleague the federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce in a meeting less than two weeks ago. I have spoken with a number of my federal colleagues and expressed my personal concern. I have spoken in this House on the matter. But this government cannot duck its responsibilities.
As the new Labour critic for this party I want to briefly touch on two areas. One of them came up yesterday; the whole area of justification for plant shutdowns. I intended to make these remarks in the debate yesterday had there been time. It seems to me we have reached a point where we must begin to work together. Working together means that when a company is in trouble and faced with hard decisions, perhaps even closure, not just management or shareholders but the workers who are in the front lines deserve a chance to be heard.
We have had far too many examples in recent years of situations in which the workers are simply informed that the company is shutting down or cutting back and that massive layoffs will result. There are options that companies should explore with the workers. The federal government has just initiated a program called a work-sharing program. I have some concerns about it and it may not always work, but it has proved that in some cases the workers may wish to get together to discuss the matter among themselves and with management, and to share the limited amount of employment available. That cannot happen when a company unilaterally announces layoffs or, worse, closure.
My concern is that some of the closures are simply not justified. They should be justified not only to the workers but to the community. As my friend the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) pointed out yesterday, the community infrastructure that is put in place for companies is often very expensive and often done for the benefit of those companies in the first instance. For the companies somewhere down the road to pick up and flee to another community, very often in another country, is at best unfortunate.
The other area I want to address very briefly is the whole issue of severance pay. I notice there were some comments in the speech from the throne about equal pay. I guess we will have to wait for the specifics. I think by now it is obvious that the severance pay legislation is simply not working well enough. It is not working well enough for the very reasons that we suspected last year and pointed out to the then Minister of Labour, now the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie), when we debated Bill 95. The minimum standard for severance pay, which is 50 workers, is far too high; and the minimum level for payment, and that is five years’ experience, is too high; and the 26-week cap that has been put on is unfair. There are other concerns which need to be monitored, but those are concerns which can be addressed immediately. It seems to me they should be addressed immediately.
A company in the city of Brantford, which has about the second highest rate of unemployment in this province, was laying off 26 workers, two of whom had over 40 years’ experience. Because the company did not have 50 workers, those people will walk out on to the streets with eight weeks’ notice. In fact, they will even have to work those eight weeks -- with no employment prospects, not in a city with 14 or 15 per cent unemployment. This was exactly the floor that the former minister spoke about. Yet in small companies with fewer than 50 workers -- and there are hundreds and thousands of them in Ontario -- the floor is denied, totally denied. I just do not think that is fair.
Why should a worker in a company of 25 not be treated as a worker would be in a company of 200 when he is laid off by a closure of a company in a city like Windsor or Brantford or St. Catharines, which has unemployment that is so high it makes the prospects of quick new employment almost impossible? I think those are just two areas that I might want to touch on that need redress and need it quickly.
I want to say a word or two about my former area of criticism, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. We have now waited nine or 10 months for the government to respond to the Fisher report, and the universities have waited nine or 10 months. They got a little bit of an ad hoc increase of 12.2 per cent but the problems are not going away. I hope the minister will move very soon to indicate whether she has an interest in maintaining and restoring the universities of this province to, and I will admit it, their former greatness. But I hope she would move before some of those universities get to the point that was warned of by the former head of the advisory commission, Dr. Winegard, that they will literally get to the point of being in bankruptcy.
While I am talking about the universities, let me just touch for a minute on the hypocrisy that we have heard from this government about federal cutbacks, especially in this area. I am using tables which were provided to a federal-provincial conference by the provinces themselves. In terms of operating expenses -- and this is the provincial view -- in the year 1974-75 the federal government provided 48 per cent of those expenses, the provincial government 35 per cent and the rest was made up of others such as endowments, student fees and the like. By 1981-82, this year now ending, the federal share had risen nine per cent to 57 per cent and the provincial share had dropped six per cent to 29 per cent. That is on a Canada-wide basis.
I want to bring to the attention of the House the sorry track record of this great province which has certainly made its contribution to the overall, country-wide sorry track record. In 1974-75, the federal share was 46 per cent, the provincial share was 34 per cent and others, through fees and endowments, were 20 per cent. Eight years later, the federal share had climbed 14 per cent to 60 per cent, $6 out of every $10, and our friends opposite were contributing all of 22 per cent, down 12 per cent, down by one third in eight years. The federal government has come under scathing attack from this government for its deficits. That is how it got them, trying to keep the universities of this province afloat.
The federal government has announced a modest cutback and they hold up their hands in despair and say, “Ottawa is about to cripple the universities of Ontario.” I am afraid not. The figures do not lie and they are this government’s figures. The crippling effect has been caused by this province and by the chronic underfunding of the university system.
Mr. Grande: Are you supporting federal cutbacks?
Mr. Wrye: I heard the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande) say a few words. Let me say to him it is really unfortunate in terms of fed-bashing that he and the members of his party never gave the federal government any credit for all the money it has put in over the years. I have never heard a word of credit, but enough said. He must have missed some of my comments on --
Mr. Riddell: They do not know what credit is all about over there.
Mr. Wrye: No, I suppose not. I think the cab is waiting so I want to wrap up with a couple of comments on a matter which I want to bring to the attention of the House in as much of a nonpartisan way as one ever can.
It is an issue that has affected me quite deeply the more I have learned about it. I would hope the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) might pay some attention to these remarks and bring them to the attention of her colleagues. Perhaps we might get some action on them. I do mean quite sincerely that I bring these to her attention in a nonpartisan way.
These are examples of people, like a 45-year-old man in my riding who has not worked for two years. He cannot mow the lawn, paint or do average household chores. He was an avid reader and now he is forced to abandon books because his memory has deteriorated to the point where he forgets the first sentence on the page by the time he reads the last.
There is another member in my riding who was once a skilled labourer. He still looks well on the outside but he has so many internal disorders he seldom knows the time of day. I think the Provincial Secretary for Social Development will probably be aware I am talking about the degenerative brain disease known as Alzheimer’s disease.
An estimated 200,000 Canadians over 65 suffer from this disease, including 73,000 in Ontario and 3,000 in my own city of Windsor. It causes some 10,000 fatalities a year and is believed to be the fourth most common cause of death. The disease was initially diagnosed 75 years ago. It attacks the brain cells, impairing memory, judgement and intellect. Related to these effects are anxiety and depression.
As many members will know, there is at present no known cause of or cure for the disease. I raise this matter because people from the Alzheimer Society have brought to my attention the need for a change which I believe is justified in the current Mental Health Act. I would like to spell out where the change should occur.
By law, the provincial public trustee is responsible for taking over the financial affairs of an individual judged to be incompetent and placed in a psychiatric hospital. Provincial regulations allow the public trustee to take over the affairs of these patients without considering the close friend or relative who obtained power of attorney prior to that time. Under the Mental Health Act the following applies, “Upon the public trustee becoming committee of the estate of a person under this act or by an order made under this act, every power of attorney of such person is void.”
The section of the act should be seriously reconsidered for the following reasons. The patient should not have to incur the additional expense to the government when he has been responsible in awarding power of attorney to a friend or relative while competent, because a fee is charged for the services that a public trustee provides, two and a half per cent on assets coming in and two and a half per cent on assets going out.
The president of the Alzheimer Society made a point, and I would just quote her comments, “We have grave doubts about the operation of the office of the public trustee because of the number of bad experiences -- rent not being paid, income tax not being paid, no personal effort to invest at the best rates, etc.” This is clearly a concern on their part, and they have a number of examples. Obviously, the public trustee’s office has a high case load. The case load would decrease if individuals with responsible powers of attorney were left alone to manage the estate. By doing this, a more concentrated, adequate job would be administered to individuals in need of assistance from the public trustee. The quantity of work would decrease and the quality of work would increase.
I also want to make the point that as things stand now it is possible, and I have heard of examples, where friends or relatives holding power of attorney over incompetent persons may feel the need to hide those incompetent persons from an institution for fear of losing the power of attorney. This will only hinder the patient, who may be in need of provincial psychiatric services and is unable to attain them because of the secrecy of the situation.
Finally, I believe it is ethically and morally wrong to revoke the power of attorney from an individual who has been trusted by a once competent person. The government is showing no respect towards the patient and his family by automatically taking over the estate. As the provincial secretary knows, certain individuals throughout Ontario have spoken out on the existing problem. Lawyer Hugh Fraser, who is handling an Alzheimer patient case, would like the government to recognize the power of attorney given before the donor becomes incompetent. Fraser states, and I quote: “If you are competent when you gave it, then it should remain valid when you are no longer competent. Wills don’t become invalid if you later become incompetent.”
Fraser says an alternative would be streamlining and simplifying the existing legal proceeding to regain control, to cut costs and time; or he suggests a period before the public trustee steps in during which the family could apply in a simpler manner to retain control. He agrees that safeguards are needed to protect the incompetent person and does not think relatives would object to reporting to someone. To get control now, relatives must apply through the courts to show they will faithfully administer the estate. Once all the legal paperwork is completed, most who apply get control. However, the expense is high and I am told the time is lengthy, sometimes as long as a year.
Before I go any further, I would be remiss if I did not say that the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) has spoken out on a number of occasions and quite eloquently in this regard. He has suggested he does not object to the public trustee moving in if there is no one else to manage someone’s affairs, but he has also suggested, and I am quoting him, that it is “downright stupid to have the public trustee take over when someone is already managing with a power of attorney.”
The member suggested the province should have to show cause why the public trustee should move in and take over the financial affairs of a psychiatric patient who had given power of attorney before. As it stands now, the onus and expense rest with the individual to go to court and prove that the public trustee is not needed, rather than the other way around.
The executive director of the Royal Ottawa Hospital, Mr. Peter Roberts, says the situation could be improved by injecting a little discretion into the system. He suggested that before psychiatrists judge whether a patient is incapable they meet with family members to see if someone is already managing the patient’s affairs. If so, Mr. Roberts suggested, perhaps there could be changes made to allow family members to retain control without the high legal cost.
A number of other proposals have been made. Social work students in masters degree courses at the University of Windsor did an in-depth research study of the role of the public trustee. They came up with a number of recommendations which are too long to go into, but I hope the Provincial Secretary for Social Development will take this request to heart and take another look at what is indeed a tragic situation.
Just two weeks ago I had a constituent come to my office who used to be a senior official at Hiram Walker in Windsor. He has been forced to retire because of the disease. He has turned over power of attorney to his wife, and he is adamant that she retain the power of attorney. He knows exactly what he is doing.
The couple have been married for more than 30 years, and he recognizes what the future has in store. He simply believes he should be allowed to make provision for the future as he sees fit in this regard. After a long discussion with him on this matter, I could not agree more. I hope the Provincial Secretary for Social Development will take a look at this matter and that some changes will be forthcoming.
There were a number of other things I wished to talk about. This speech ran a little longer than I thought it would, but there are so many deficiencies in this province it is surprising one can even begin to document them in just a few minutes.
Although I do not expect there will be any change in thinking on the part of this government and the members on the back benches, I hope that because this speech from the throne is deficient, they will join with us in supporting the amendment to the speech from the throne. Then we may go back and try to come up with a speech that begins to address the very real problems we have in this province.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to participate in the throne speech, particularly in view of the fact I now have a new portfolio assignment from our new leader, Bob Rae. That assignment is to spend my time exclusively on the very important area of women’s issues.
In effect, this is one of the largest portfolios in this province, but it does not have a government member opposite who has been assigned that responsibility specifically. It does cover a great many areas, from day care to employment standards to the problems of battered women and violence in the home.
An infinite number of areas that come under provincial jurisdiction affect the lives of women in this province. I am very glad to be able to devote all of my time to trying to improve the legislation and the conditions under which women live in this province.
Women constitute slightly more than half of the population, but they are disadvantaged in many ways. They do need a spokesman, and I would have hoped all parties would have had a spokesman in this area. Women need a considerable amount of legislative assistance to achieve a position of equality in our society.
Eighteen months ago, a New Democratic Party member, the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton), introduced a private member’s bill entitled the Women’s Economic Opportunity Act. This contained a very comprehensive program for achieving equality for women in the work place. When it was debated on November 13, 1980, 32 Conservative members -- I think that was all who were present -- including the Minister of Labour, stood up and blocked a vote on it. This is allowed under the rules of the House. If 20 members do not wish to have a subject voted on, they can rise before the vote occurs.
These are the kinds of proposals that those 32 members, including the Minister of Labour at the time, opposed or refused to allow the House to express an opinion on: (1) equal pay for work of equal value, (2) universal and affordable day care, (3) an end to sexual harassment in the work place, (4) opening up nontraditional jobs to women by giving them access to apprenticeship and skills training, (5) affirmative action programs, both in the public and the private sector, and (6) creation of an equal employment office in the Ministry of Labour to deal, in an overall way, with the question of removing barriers to equal opportunity for women in this province.
New Democratic Party members have advocated these programs on a piecemeal basis for a number of years. One of our former members, Ted Bounsall, brought in a bill for equal pay for work of equal value several years ago. His version actually passed second reading in the House in 1979 and went through extensive public hearings at which many groups of women and men spoke in favour of the bill. Some employers spoke against it. Despite widespread public interest in this bill, the government refused to call it for third reading, which is the last stage before it could become law.
We also adopted a very comprehensive day care policy at our June 1980 party convention and have been advocating that policy in this House. The policy calls for a diversified and comprehensive day care program, enabling all those who wish access to day care to have it on a universal and affordable basis.
We also pointed out for a considerable time that the wage gap between male and female earnings will not disappear until we open up nontraditional jobs to women and give them equal access to skills training. The present gap in Ontario for full-time employees is 37 percentage points; that is, women working full-time earn, on average, 63 per cent of what men earn. When we take part-time employees into account, the gap is larger. Unfortunately, more women than men work part-time, either because of child care responsibilities or because of a lack of opportunities for full-time work in their communities and their skill fields.
Since that day 18 months ago when 32 government members blocked the NDP’s comprehensive bill, An Act respecting Economic Equality for Women in Ontario, let us look at what progress, if any, has been made.
When the then Minister of Labour spoke in the debate on the NDP bill, he said he did not really oppose the principles of the bill, only the means of achieving the objectives. That statement was made before the election, when the government was nervously looking over its shoulder at the voters.
The minister also outlined some of the means he might adopt by way of legislative changes in the equal pay laws or a beefed-up voluntary affirmative action program. He asserted that the government was actively and vigorously pursuing all the matters dealt with in the NDP bill in its own way, which was his reason for not supporting the bill even though he agreed with its principles.
Now that the election is over and the government has a majority, the government’s “active and vigorous pursuit of the objectives of the bill” has become as active and vigorous as a bear in hibernation. For example, we have not seen any of the promised amendments to the equal pay laws. While the ministry did step up the advertising of the existing laws and hired more investigators to deal with complaints prior to the election, the actual results in terms of equal pay complaints and awards over the past year are not very encouraging.
The throne speech held out no hope that the government has been converted to promoting the concept of equal pay for work of equal value, which is the only way we will end the female wage ghettos. Until we start comparing dissimilar jobs and examining them in the light of the skill and effort required, the responsibility required and the working conditions, we will not arrive at a fair remuneration system for work done by both men and women.
The present Ontario equal pay legislation provides only for comparison of “substantially the same kind of work performed in the same establishment” and work which requires “substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility and which is performed under similar working conditions.”
This wording is much too narrow and explains why so few complaints are brought in or are successful. It implies all four elements mentioned must be the same before two jobs can be considered the same. For example, many women will argue that two jobs could be considered of equal value if working conditions were different but more skill was required for one than the other to offset that difference.
The actual evaluation system for determining equal pay for work of equal value is a matter of a somewhat complicated technical nature, but I am confident that it can be worked out if the legislation is not too restrictive and the principle of equal pay for work of equal value is accepted.
The 1982 throne speech vaguely promised to strengthen existing equal pay provisions. When the media asked the new Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) to elaborate the day after the speech, he appeared flustered and evasive. So far we have not seen any legislation or any precise outline of the changes which the government has in mind.
We have not yet succeeded in this province in following the federal example of introducing the concept of equal pay for work of equal value into the Ontario Human Rights Code. This has been used at the federal level to achieve some significant breakthroughs for women who are doing work which can be considered of equal value.
The story is the same in the field of affirmative action programs. There is practically no progress. In the public sector, the government has appointed women advisers in the various ministries to carry out affirmative action programs. These are supposed to move women ahead or get them into the better paying jobs. Unfortunately, the annual report from the women crown employees office which evaluates the process is so delayed that all we have is a 1979-80 report. It is so out of date, I hardly consider it worth quoting.
What I am afraid of is that the later reports will show as little progress as the 1979-80 report showed. It would appear the government does not put a very high priority on the evaluation process or perhaps it is ashamed of the figures.
Recently, we did get a report which came to this caucus containing a summary of staff development in the Ontario public service for the years 1979-80 and 1980-81. This was prepared jointly by the women’s bureau, the Civil Service Commission and the Ministry of Treasury and Economics and was presumably released in January 1982.
As the deputy leader of this party told the House recently, this report shows that on staff development training the amount spent per person for male employees was almost twice that figure for female employees. Males got 73 per cent of the total money allocated and 68 per cent of the total days off with training. The report also showed that males got almost 70 per cent of all managerial, technical and professional training paid for by the government.
If the government does not set the example for affirmative action within its own ministries, how can it expect private employers to follow affirmative action programs?
The throne speech of 1982 said the government would bring forth proposals “to further the advancement of women in the work force in both the public and private sectors.” In the last few weeks we have been drawing to the minister’s attention that the progress in the private sector is almost nonexistent.
Under the government’s voluntary program of approaching employers and trying to encourage the institution of affirmative action programs, only 175 affirmative action programs have been put in place over a period of seven years. Of these, 141 relate to private companies; the rest are public sector employers.
As my colleague the deputy leader pointed out today, this rate of establishing about 20 new affirmative action programs a year in the private sector means it will take more than 13,000 years for an affirmative action program to be established in every Ontario work place.
In 1980-81, 60 firms were contacted, but only eight initiated affirmative action programs. Despite this low success rate, the minister still firmly opposes any sort of mandatory requirement on firms to undertake affirmative action. He has rejected the proposals for contract compliance, which is one form of requiring action from companies which receive government contracts or government subsidies. We have been advocating this for some years. We are joined by the government’s own Ontario Status of Women Council, which has been strongly advocating affirmative action with teeth in it; namely, contract compliance.
It has been used to some extent in the United States with some success, and with some problems, but I think we can learn from their experience. There certainly appears to be a need for some sort of legislated action in order to move beyond this snail’s pace of eight new firms a year, which is what happened last year.
The Globe and Mail published an article on March 25 which stated that the managers of six branch plants in Ontario had told the federal Department of Manpower that their American head offices have vetoed affirmative action programs. Does this not further convince the government of the need for legislative action to overcome this kind of barrier which comes from a foreign source?
I have dealt with two areas covered by the New Democratic Party’s comprehensive bill, namely equal pay and affirmative action. The question is, have they done any better in other areas? I am afraid I have the same report for the areas of day care and the opening-up of nontraditional jobs to women.
In the day care field, the Ministry of Community and Social Services brought in some new expansion initiatives in December 1980. The initiatives totalled approximately $10 million. Recently, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) reported in the House that there was still $3.6 million of that money unexpended. This is almost 16 months after the initiatives were started. Yet, in the throne speech, the government said it is maintaining its strong commitment to the establishment of day care.
In the throne speech it did not give any figures as to what “maintaining” means. The word has a sense of just keeping up the present programs and not providing for the need, which is very great.
In Metropolitan Toronto alone, at least 4,000 new spaces -- that is subsidized spaces -- are needed in order to enable many women who are being forced to go out to work, or who wish to work in order to exercise their equality in the work place, to obtain day care. They are unable to obtain affordable day care of the kind that they need. We need a very diversified service.
We need day care which will meet the needs of shift workers. That does not mean every day-care facility must be open 24 hours a day, but we do need one or two facilities in different parts of the city to be open at hours other than nine to five, which suit only a portion of the labour force. It may be that some shift workers will be helped through subsidized day care in the home, but the point is that we do not have equality of opportunity for working women if day care is available only for the 9-to-5 or 8-to-6 workers.
Yesterday, the leader of the New Democratic Party appeared before the Metro social services committee to discuss the need for day care in this area. Let me quote one paragraph from his statement in which he states the reason we need day care.
“Let me first make clear my party’s commitment to universally accessible, high-quality day care. We are talking about basic rights here: the right to work, the right to raise a family without sacrificing careers and income, and the right of children to a healthy environment where their physical and mental development can flourish.”
The present Minister of Community and Social Services has suggested that perhaps day care in the work place would be among the innovative arrangements for day care. Certainly that is happening in some areas. There is day care at city hall now and day care at the University of Toronto. But where is the day care at Queen’s Park? We do not have one.
I understand that when the Ontario Public Service Employees Union was negotiating for its contract this year, it proposed four day care facilities in four different complexes operated by the provincial government where there were substantial numbers of employees. It suggested this could be part of the collective agreement. This was the route the Minister of Community and Social Services had suggested was one way of solving some of the day care needs.
The government negotiators have stonewalled this proposal completely. It has become part of the unsolved requests which have been sent out for arbitration. It does not appear the government is practising what it is preaching when it says, “You should negotiate day care needs and obtain some facilities from your employer in cases where there are large numbers together and where suitable facilities can be provided.”
Another area covered by the NDP comprehensive bill, as I mentioned earlier, was the question of opening up nontraditional jobs to women to enable them to move out of the job ghettos which, unfortunately, are the low-paying clerical and stenographic jobs. We have not seen very much of an increase in the number of apprenticeships open to women, nor have we seen any great extensions in skills training open to women.
The federal Department of Labour and Manpower is providing some skills training, but I do not think there is any provincial subsidy provided for it to assist the women who wish to take these courses.
Another area where we must be training women is in meeting the microtechnology revolution. The estimates are that when that takes full effect, the chip, as it is called, will displace as many as 30 to 40 per cent of present clerical workers, who are mainly women. The government should be looking into this question in great detail.
An all-party select committee has been suggested as one possible route that should be taken. It is a good idea, but a select committee can take as long as two years to come up with a report. While I think we should have this to look into the repercussions in the future and seek innovative solutions to the problem, the government should not delay in instituting clerical retraining courses for women now being displaced by word processors and computer- operated services.
In that context we must make sure, if there are health hazards such as radiation from the video display terminals, that they are adequately measured and remedial action taken. Certainly the figures that came out of the courthouse office on miscarriages seem to be alarming and I am glad the pregnant women in that office have been transferred. Until the facts are in on this question I think the government should institute a policy of offering transfers to all pregnant women working on video display terminals.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I would like to remind all members that they are rustling their papers awfully loudly. It is most distracting.
Mr. Ruston: We want to keep people awake.
Ms. Bryden: This government has a tendency to try to deflect criticism of its lack of activity in any field by appointing advisory committees and study groups. While I have been advocating a select committee in a new area, I would like to look at a couple of initiatives in this field which appear to have turned out to be duds.
When opposing the NDP women’s economic equality bill in 1980, the then Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) stated that the government had appointed a joint labour-business equal opportunity advisory council back in April 1979. That was three years ago. It had the dual function, he said, of advising the minister on how equal opportunity could be encouraged and promoting affirmative action initiatives in the private sector. Since only eight new affirmative action programs were initiated in the private sector in 1981-82, the council does not appear to have been very successful in the second part of its program.
To date, no report has been issued by this council so we have no idea what sort of initiatives it has suggested to the minister to carry out his responsibility of promoting equal opportunity. I hope the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) will shortly let us know how many meetings this council has held and what initiatives have been recommended. If they have not recommended any, I think there should be a sunset law for such advisory committees.
In the same speech the minister referred to another report on women’s employment strategy which he said was being prepared by the Ontario Manpower Commission and the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission. In October 1980 he said the report was expected within a month or two. Fifteen months later I am told the report has still not emerged.
In the meantime, jobs for women have shrunk at a faster rate than for other workers. Latest figures show that at the end of February, 147,000 women were unemployed in Ontario out of a total of 343,000. Next to young people they are the largest single group of unemployed persons in the province. We all know that in time of recession women are often the first to be laid off and the last to be rehired because they often lack seniority as a result of their shorter work life or interrupted attachment to the labour force due to child-rearing. If the Ontario government really placed a high priority on the economic needs of women it would speed up the issuing of this women’s employment strategy report or would undertake one of its own. We are still waiting to hear what its solution is to the problem while the problem grows.
There are many other areas I would like to deal with, but some of them were not covered in that particular bill I mentioned. I think I have illustrated from it that we have made very little progress in what were considered the key areas at that time.
There are two new areas that have become very high-profile lately. One is the question of maternity leave. I think the Ontario government does provide 17 weeks of maternity leave without any provision of compensation beyond that which unemployment insurance provides. That is a step in the right direction, but the real problem with maternity leave is, since women have the biological responsibility of carrying children, they should not have to pay for it in the work place by lower wages. They should be compensated, not just at the unemployment insurance rate, but at the full rate. Some unions are now starting to negotiate the difference between the unemployment insurance rate and the wage rate.
It seems to me eminently fair that if we are going to ask women to carry on the responsibility of providing us with a younger generation they should not be penalized when they do fulfil this responsibility. Therefore, during the period when they must take time off work they should be receiving full pay. For small employers this can be quite a burden. They may have only one or two employees and if a person is away for several months it can cost them quite a lot in replacements. What we must look at is a government program that will put this on a fair basis for all.
Right now certain unions have been able to successfully negotiate maternity leave provisions. I think they have shown the need and the moral justification for this kind of provision, and the employers who have granted it have indicated that employers have agreed women should not be penalized in this way. But it is not fair that some employers should pay for it and others should not, that some women should get it and others should not. I think the next step would be for the employers as a whole to contribute through a government scheme to a universal maternity grant that would raise the maternity leave pay to the level of regular pay. I hope the government will be looking into that, and perhaps we might see something in the budget speech on that question.
One other question I want to raise is the government’s treatment of domestic workers. They are treated as second-class citizens in this province in that the minimum wage that applies to them, which was extended to them rather belatedly just before the last election, is 50 cents less than the minimum wage that applies to other workers. They are not covered whenever there is an increase in the minimum wage. They still stay at the $3-an-hour minimum wage that was established just before the election.
Not only are they discriminated against in the minimum wage, but they are also discriminated against in the control of their hours of work. All other employees are covered by hours-of-work legislation which states overtime must be paid after 44 hours a week and after eight hours a day.
All the domestic workers’ legislation does is guarantee 36 hours a week off. The rest of the time they can be on call but they are still paid only their $3 an hour for a 40-hour week. It is the only legislation that controls simply the hours off and not the hours on. This again is very discriminatory.
The federal government has also started to allow some domestic workers who come from offshore to obtain landed immigrant status if they are able to achieve certain skills and qualifications. But in order to take courses, the domestic employees will need time off to attend the classes.
I think our hours-of-work legislation must cover the right of domestic workers to have additional time off to take training courses. This will ultimately enable them to upgrade their skills and be eligible for landed immigrant status and entry into all kinds of occupations in Canada.
Finally, I wanted to deal with the high-profile subject of women who are victims of domestic violence. This is not a matter of employment standards. It is a matter affecting all women whether they work or not. Are there adequate laws to protect those women? Is there adequate training of our police forces in handling domestic disputes? Is there adequate assistance for the women if they are required to leave home or if they feel they have to leave to avoid battering or possibly even more serious things such as assault or murder?
I know we do not like to look at these problems. We say that what goes on in a family’s home is its own business. But when it comes to actual assault on individuals, we do have to take the responsibility to protect those individuals. First-aid emergency help is now being provided in many areas through interval or transition houses as they are called, where a woman and her children can flee if the situation in the home is impossible. But these houses do need funding.
They operate under the hostels legislation of Community and Social Services and are subsidized by the province on the same basis of 80 per cent to 20 per cent as other welfare services are subsidized. The problem is that the per diem rates are too low. They are very labour-intensive operations and, of course, costs are going up steadily not only for labour but for all costs of operating a home or a facility of this sort.
Very many of these houses are having great difficulty staying open or providing enough spaces. This is an area I think we must look at very carefully. I am speaking of it mainly as a woman’s problem. There can be battering on both sides, but it is human rights legislation and human rights assistance that we have to face up to.
I placed a motion on the Order Paper calling for an all-party committee to study this whole question and the means of preventing it. That is one of the most important parts that we must study as a Legislature and we must bring in legislation that will prevent this kind of thing happening. It will bring in counselling and measures that can prevent the home situations from developing.
Our serious lack of housing can be considered one of the causes of some family quarrels and domestic upsets. That is another area we should be looking at. I hope the government will give serious consideration to this idea of an all-party committee so that we can look into all aspects of this question.
There are many other areas which I will be bringing forward in my new position as women’s critic for the New Democratic Party caucus, but those are enough for the government to look at for the moment.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join with other members of the assembly to participate in this, one of the most important and significant throne speeches that has been presented in some time.
The difficulty I always have in participating in this debate is that, as in this case as well, there are so many positive, good and realistic things that are presented in the speech from the throne, indicating the number of initiatives that are going to be taken by this government, it makes it difficult to try to prioritize the items that one wants to select to elaborate and elucidate on. That is the occasion here as it has been in previous throne speech debates.
This particular throne speech is a very positive one. It indicates a great number of initiatives that are going to be and are being taken by this government to deal with the realities of the economic times before us.
The fact that we are in difficult times is spelled out sincerely and honestly in the speech from the throne. It recognizes that it certainly is not a bed of roses that we have at this time, as far as the state of the economy is concerned, not only within this province and throughout all of the provinces and across the country, but indeed on a global basis.
The speech does forewarn that the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) is going to have the very awesome responsibility of bringing in a very tough budget that will be complementary to the difficult economic times we are experiencing. It is not going to be an easy one for him but it is one which will realistically deal with the monetary issues.
There is no question from what the Treasurer has been saying in recent days that there are going to be further tax impositions, but what he has stated and referred to and what the speech from the throne addresses is the fact that the difficult times are highly aggravated, as far as fiscal arranging and budgeting is concerned, by the unilateral and arbitrary action the federal government has taken in adjusting its transfer payments to the provinces. As a number of people have stated before, it appears that cooperative federalism is at an all-time low, particularly in the areas of fiscal and financial responsibility in interaction.
It is interesting that co-operative federalism evolved in such a positive way when we look at the constitutional issues. By contrast, it has deteriorated alarmingly with regard to fiscal matters. Clearly, because of that one situation alone, the presentation of a provincial budget is going to be just that much more difficult, and the unilateral action taken by the federal authorities will reduce transfer payments to the provinces over the next five years by an amount exceeding $5.7 billion.
During the first year alone, the reduction will be close to $1 billion for the 10 provinces -- $910 million is the calculation -- and almost a third of that, in the neighbourhood of $290 million, will affect Ontario. Over and above dealing with inflation, the Treasurer is going to have to cope with the additional responsibility of plugging the hole left by the $290 million that has been taken away from us without consultation and co-operative discussion.
While the speech from the throne emphasizes these particular difficulties, nevertheless it addresses itself primarily to the initiatives that lie before us and that this province is going to embark upon. As I said at the outset, there are so many initiatives here to speak to in a positive vein it is difficult to select the ones to emphasize.
However, I will limit myself to two issues in the time I have available to me over the next day or two. The one that I want to address myself to first is --
Mr. Stokes: How about 10 o’clock tomorrow morning?
Mr. Williams: My mentor over here, whom I am trying to emulate in the House, understands what I am getting at, although I do not know if I can speak quite as long as he is able to do, knowing how articulate he can be on both provincial and local issues. But the issue I want to address is of universal concern, provincially speaking, to all of us -- the matter of energy.
One paragraph in the speech from the throne just leaps out and cannot help but evoke comment. The paragraph stating that Ontario’s electrical power system continues to be a cornerstone of the provincial economy and the envy of other jurisdictions requires elaboration.
Its continued vitality and development to meet our needs is essential to sustaining economic growth. I think it goes without question that Ontario, through the good offices of Ontario Hydro, is in the forefront of energy development and the provision of energy, and will continue on a global basis to sustain itself as the leader in that field. We are most fortunate in this province to have a utility resource such as Ontario Hydro.
There are three areas of activity within Ontario Hydro I specifically want to speak about because they are really the backbone of our energy activity and they demonstrate the philosophy that has been expounded in the way of development of policy by our Ministry of Energy.
Given the time, it may be appropriate if you see fit, Mr. Speaker, for the debate to be adjourned since I want to touch on those matters for a number of minutes. Rather than interrupting those specifics, it might be appropriate to deal with them at the first opportunity on Monday.
The Deputy Speaker: That is fine. If you wish, the chair will recognize that it is one o’clock.
On motion by Mr. Williams, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 12:57 p.m.