L001 - Tue 4 Jun 1985 / Mar 4 jun 1985
ELECTION OF SPEAKER
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
FAMILY LAW ACT
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
ROLL OF MEMBERS ELECTED
The First Session of the 33rd Parliament of the province of Ontario opened at 3 p.m. for the dispatch of business pursuant to a proclamation of the Honourable J. B. Aird, Lieutenant Governor of the province.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, having entered the chamber, took his seat upon the throne.
Hon. Mr. Aird: Pray be seated.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am commanded by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor to state that he does not see fit to declare the causes of the summoning of the present Legislature of this province until a Speaker of this House shall have been chosen according to law; but today, at a subsequent hour, His Honour will declare the causes of the calling of this Legislature.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
ELECTION OF SPEAKER
Clerk of the House: Members of the Legislative Assembly, it is my duty to call upon you to elect one of your number to preside over your deliberations as Speaker.
Hon. F. S. Miller moved, seconded by Mr. Peterson, that the member for the electoral district of Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) be the Speaker of this House.
Clerk of the House: Are there any further nominations? There being only one nomination, I declare the nominations closed and the Honourable Hugh Alden Edighoffer to be Speaker of this House.
Mr. Speaker entered the chamber and took the chair.
Mr. Speaker: Honourable members, mesdames and monsieurs, before I take this chair I want to express my sense of deep gratitude for the trust this House has put in me. I am grateful to you, Mr. Premier (Mr. F. S. Miller), and to the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition (Mr. Peterson), for moving and seconding my nomination, and to all honourable members for their support.
From 1977 to 1981, I had the privilege of serving this House as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of committees of the whole House. During that time of service I became very aware that the office of Speaker is an essential feature of the parliamentary system. This office represents in a very real sense the right of freedom of speech in parliament, and one of the hallmarks of this office is the requirement for a high degree of impartiality in the execution of the duties.
As your Speaker, I pledge to be mindful of the rights of every member to express his or her views and to be heard. Some of you may be aware that I have a much larger gavel in my office, and I hope it will not have to be brought into use.
It is my understanding that a Deputy Speaker and a Deputy Chairman will be elected at a later time, and I look forward to working with the members whom you choose.
In this chamber of debate, as well as in the precincts of the House, members can effectively discharge their public duties only if their rights and privileges are safeguarded in an orderly manner. I promise that I shall put forth every effort to fulfil the duties that you have entrusted to me. I will do my best to serve in a fair, impartial but firm manner.
The House will now adjourn during pleasure.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor re-entered the chamber and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon. Mr. Aird: Pray be seated.
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly have elected me as their Speaker, though I am little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If, in the performance of those duties, I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the fault may be imputed to me and not to the assembly whose servant I am and who, through me, the better to enable them to discharge their duty to their Queen and country, hereby claim all their undoubted rights and privileges, especially that they may have freedom of speech in their debates, access to your person at all reasonable times and that their proceedings may receive from you the most favourable consideration.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I am commanded by the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor to declare to you that he freely confides in the duty and attachment of the assembly to Her Majesty's person and government, and, not doubting that the proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temperance and prudence, he grants and upon all occasions will recognize and allow the constitutional privileges. I am commanded also to assure you that the assembly shall have ready access to His Honour upon all suitable occasions and that their proceedings, as well as your words and actions, will constantly receive from him the most favourable construction.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to open the session with the following gracious speech.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Hon. Mr. Aird: Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly, I am pleased to welcome you to the first session of the 33rd Parliament of Ontario, and especially so to those honourable members who will be serving their fellow citizens in this assembly for the first time.
Before proceeding, I want to express on behalf of all honourable members this assembly's sincere condolences to those families who have lost loved ones and friends in last Friday's devastating storm. In co-operation with municipalities and the federal government, my government wants to assure you that a comprehensive program is being implemented to help all those who have been adversely affected and to rebuild those industries and communities that have been so severely damaged.
In the agenda my ministers will place before you, my government is determined to express and honour the mandate for renewal and social progress this assembly has been assigned by the people of Ontario. This is an ambitious assignment and that is appropriate. Our economy is blessed with great potential and our citizens are industrious and have generous aspirations for themselves and for their communities. Through the co-operation and mutual respect of all honourable members of this assembly, this session can make a lasting contribution.
Since government's overriding responsibility is to help individuals achieve a better quality of life for themselves, it is not government's role to make choices for people or try to build Ontario on its own. My government, however, will assume its responsibilities for leadership on those concerns that require effective action in our public institutions.
In this address and in the budget of the Treasurer (Miss Stephenson) on June 25, my government will place before you for the people of Ontario new initiatives and directions to strengthen the climate for private sector employment and economic growth across our province; to eliminate barriers and assist all individuals, particularly women, young people, visible minorities, native people and the disabled, who seek employment and who pursue excellence; to protect our environment and enhance our diverse regional economies; to maintain and expand our investment in essential social services; to introduce and amend laws which serve our community values; and to encourage co-operation and trust by improving the openness and accountability of all our public institutions.
Honourable members, in this address my government will pursue these objectives with more than 90 initiatives ranging from new laws for your consideration to wide-ranging measures affecting all aspects of our vibrant province. Many will require a significant investment of public resources and wise deliberation by this assembly. They will be responsible, as well as responsive, because they will be undertaken within a fiscal policy of rigorous spending control and steady reduction in our deficit.
Securing economic opportunity: 10 years ago Ontario recognized the need to restrain untenable growth in the public sector in order to protect resources for economic and personal initiative. Consequently, the burden of government spending and our deficit is the lowest per capita in Canada. This has been and is essential, but it is not an end in itself. Higher employment growth must remain as the unifying objective of economic policy.
Our programs and our partnership with the private sector ensured that Ontario led the rest of Canada in job creation. With real growth of six per cent in 1984, our economy created 147,000 new jobs. With the positive measures my government will propose in this address and in the budget, my government believes that, with a confident private sector where the entrepreneur knows where government is going and the stable principles it serves, Ontario can and should create 200,000 new jobs this year.
There is no reason to neglect or set aside our responsibilities in encouraging significant and more equitable employment growth. While the unemployment rate declined by more than one percentage point last year, it is still too high, particularly for women and young people. If we agree that we can do better this year, we must intensify our own efforts and represent vigorously legitimate Ontario interests regarding basic policy choices by the government of Canada.
In meeting its responsibilities, my government will work to ensure that national trade and fiscal policies intelligently and pragmatically serve the nationwide employment goals shared in this assembly.
It must be clearly understood that social programs cannot substitute for economic policies that pursue sustainable, competitive growth. Social advance without a strong economy would be a cruel illusion.
Canadians see it as our duty to improve the environment for growth in the economy, not growth in our governments, and also to borrow only for capital investments necessary for our future, not for day-to-day operations. Thus, my ministers remain determined not to take up the new growth in the economy with major tax increases.
Ontario's leadership as a trading economy in sophisticated manufacturing, services and resources belies the stubborn myth of Ontario protectionism. In fact, on a per capita basis Ontarians earn more from and depend more on exports than do the people of Japan. A million jobs in Ontario depend on trade. Nevertheless, Ontarians share the commonsense view of their trading partners. Trade policy ultimately must serve the national interest, not abstract theory.
Our automotive industry is playing a major role in driving Ontario's employment expansion. Our automotive parts investment fund, in its first year, has been energetically and responsibly employed by our private firms. The original and essential intent of placing voluntary quotas on Japanese vehicle imports was to encourage adequate investment in the Canadian automotive industry. This has not yet been effectively accomplished.
While the United States government may be satisfied with the response of Japanese firms in the United States, we have much further to go. Thus, there does not exist a parallel case in Canada for removing this critical incentive at this time. Our government will insist that the government of Canada not back off on these quotas before the Japanese auto firms demonstrate significantly more willingness to invest in Canada.
My government strongly supports the priority the government of Canada has placed on improving trade relations with the United States. However, our people know we cannot rely on the United States alone and realize that multilateral trade expansion is equally critical to our prosperity. My government and this assembly are increasingly concerned about the proposition that there is now a window of opportunity to negotiate bilateral free trade with the United States.
Well before we consider timing and tactics, it is Canada's obligation to research and explore publicly the fundamentals: what both sides of the negotiation would require, the problems which might ensue for working people and many of our industries, as well as the opportunities that might be made available. The Canadian national interest must be defined in public, in Canada, and not at the negotiating table.
My government will propose to the Legislature the establishment of a committee on finance and economic affairs. Consistent with our longstanding commitment to perform a constructive role in Canada, and because of the importance of an informed consensus on national trade, as a first order of business, we will request that this committee address the issue of trade objectives for our economy. In addition, as suggested at a recent conference by the Ontario Economic Council, my government will appoint a distinguished and experienced trade adviser to assist both the Legislature and the government in defining our strategic and negotiating interests in this vital national debate.
Hard experience teaches that modern economies do not and will not grow naturally to acceptable levels of employment. Purposeful government action is required. Furthermore, it is well appreciated across our society that governments must undertake this task in partnership with ambitious individuals and enterprises. Good and sensitive government means serving, not substituting for, the creative energies of the private sector.
Also, there is general agreement that our efforts should be directed primarily towards progressive small and medium-sized Canadian enterprises. Not only do they generate the lion's share of new jobs, there is a social reality that should not be overlooked. We want economic growth because we want to improve the quality of life in Ontario. These enterprises are making that contribution by building self-reliance in our communities and providing the individual with a unique opportunity for self-expression and accomplishment.
Consequently, along with new measures in this address to stimulate training and job creation, the budget will propose to the Legislature further employment incentives by reducing the tax burden on growing small enterprises. My government believes the most effective way to create genuine new jobs is to allow successful small companies to put their earnings back to work. Our interest is not to stimulate the bottom line or dividends, but to strengthen the collective wellbeing of the firm and its employees.
If industries are to secure greater resources for modernization from government, they in turn must accept public interest in whether their employees are provided with reasonable opportunity for secure employment. Consequently, a major feature of my government's enterprise technology fund, which will be introduced in the budget, will be the advance requirement that firms which seek its assistance present appropriate training and retraining plans for their employees along with their proposals to upgrade technologies and equipment.
Last year my government introduced a three-year, $600-million employment, experience and training commitment to enrich opportunities throughout our society, particularly for young people, women, the disadvantaged and older workers. These programs contributed directly and significantly to last year's substantially improved job creation performance. Also, they made it possible for 108,000 Ontarians to participate in training and upgrading so critical to their development and our collective wellbeing.
My government is gratified by the growing number of firms and individuals making use of these programs and will carry forward its funding commitment to the Ontario skills fund and Ontario youth opportunities. These initiatives have been consolidated in the new Ministry of Skills Development.
In the light of strong growth in the economy, my government has the capacity to build on the success of these programs. Since the need is great and the private sector has demonstrated it will provide greater opportunities, it is our intention to include in the budget an additional $100-million employment and training supplement that will permit the new Ministry of Skills Development to take further action in four key areas.
First, a further 75,000 training and upgrading opportunities will be provided in our public institutions and in industry. Second, a further 30,000 work experience opportunities will be secured primarily for high school graduates. Third, co-operative education and links to the private sector will be expanded in our secondary schools. Fourth, a $10-million training access fund will be set up to meet both the urgent need to create more extensive training programs in industry and to reduce those practical barriers such as child care, transportation and accommodation costs which discourage many energetic people from improving their work skills.
To assure more equitable access to training, this financial assistance will be provided according to the circumstances of the individual. This last initiative is in addition to the 7,500 subsidized child care spaces and other child care programs recently announced by my government.
The people of Ontario look to us to ensure that economic benefits are shared fairly and that our laws keep up with changing realities in the work place. My government will reaffirm its commitment to working people by introducing 11 major reforms to enhance security and justice at work.
Lack of equality for women in the work place, caused by institutional barriers or outdated attitudes, makes no sense and is not fair. My government, in its own activities and in its relationship with the private sector, will take further action necessary for our economic and social advancement.
Employment equity programs will be extended in our public sector to crown agencies and transfer payment recipients, including hospitals, municipalities, school boards and post-secondary institutions. Employment and training services for special needs groups, including women, minorities and the disabled, will be consolidated in the new Ministry of Skills Development.
Compensation equity for women in the work force will be pursued on several fronts. First, my government proposes to appoint a compensation equity commission representing business, labour and government to address the elimination of pay inequities for women. Immediately, the commission will assist my government to implement equal pay for work of equal value in the Ontario public service and in crown corporations and the broader public sector, commencing March 31, 1986. My government will also adopt a policy of contract preference for contractors of goods and services of over $200,000 per year who already have implemented, or undertake to implement, an effective employment equity program for women, visible minorities, native people and the disadvantaged.
My government made a historic contribution in securing the Charter of Rights for Canadians. It will act vigorously to enforce and extend accepted and concrete principles of equality across our jurisdiction. Anything less than equal pay for equal work constitutes clear discrimination and is already illegal. My government believes that it would be premature for the state and its officials to define "value" in the work place, particularly of small and medium-sized firms, without far more information and broader public understanding. Consequently, the compensation equity commission will also be asked to encourage wide public discussion and to advise my government on the appropriate application of the concept of equal pay for work of equal value in the private sector.
Amendments will be introduced to enhance collective bargaining rights. A procedure will be proposed to enable first agreement arbitration to be requested when the normal processes of negotiation, conciliation and mediation have failed to produce a collective agreement following the acquisition of bargaining rights.
To protect unorganized workers, my government proposes to amend the Employment Standards Act to give all employees with three or more years of service the right to contest an unjust dismissal before an impartial tribunal. As is now the case in our public service, an amendment will be introduced to enable part-time workers to elect to receive employment benefits on a prorated basis.
Furthermore, greater protection and participation for workers affected by significant technological change will be assured by amending the Labour Relations Act to require advance notice and consultation.
To address health hazards posed by toxic substances in the work place, right-to-know legislation will be prepared to require employers to identify toxic substances in the work place and to explain their potential hazard. My government will continue to protect workers against dismissal for reporting occupational hazards in the work place.
In the second phase of its comprehensive review of the Workers' Compensation Act, my government will bring forward recommendations to provide compensation for permanent disabilities, pensions, adjustment and reinstatement rights for injured workers.
Based upon a consensus with other senior governments, a pension benefits act will be introduced in this session. Reforms will include vesting of pensions, assured pension portability, minimum employer contributions, improved survivor benefits both before and after retirement, the extension of private pension coverage to part-time workers and the removal of sex discrimination in the calculation of pension benefits. Ontario will also initiate further discussions with other governments and the private sector on fair and acceptable methods to ensure that retired members of pension plans receive regular inflation protection.
Building on our heritage: The diversity and abundance of our natural resources are vital to our communities, our economic security and our future quality of life. The responsible management of our natural environment and the development of our regions, farm lands, forests, mines, tourist and recreation resources is a public trust for our immediate wellbeing and for future generations. Across these responsibilities, my government proposes over 25 initiatives for this session of the Legislature.
Our province has in place the most extensive and rigorous environmental laws of all the industrial jurisdictions in North America. This has been accomplished because this assembly represents a community that cares deeply about its natural environment. To honour this obligation to our province and our children, my government will propose to this assembly a series of initiatives that will extend Ontario's leadership.
My government proposes to have the draft regulations, particularly regarding certain absolute liability features, of the part IX amendment of the Environmental Protection Act sent immediately to the standing committee on resources development with a view to proclaiming the amendment on January 1, 1986. This will ensure vigorous public protection for spills of dangerous substances and compensation to those affected by those responsible.
Also, to protect the public interest in the transportation of dangerous materials, my government will immediately proclaim amendments to the Environmental Protection Act which will impose stricter conditions on industry to ensure the safe storage, transportation and disposal of dangerous industrial wastes. In co-ordination with the federal government initiative, my government will proclaim the Ontario Dangerous Goods Transportation Act.
To strengthen the effectiveness of Ontario environmental regulations, a new investigations and enforcement branch will be set up and maximum and minimum fines for environmental offences will be increased.
Our efforts to reduce acid rain will be intensified both in co-operation with other governments and where we have direct responsibility. While we all recognize that most acidic precipitation is generated from beyond our borders and that we must be forceful with our neighbours to reduce this menace to Ontario, my government is determined to extend its leadership in addressing this problem in our own jurisdiction. My government proposes to amend control orders to ensure that Ontario Hydro and Inco accelerate their emission reduction programs and install modern acid rain reduction technology. In addition, the Ministry of the Environment will introduce a lake restoration program to rehabilitate seriously acid-damaged lakes.
In order to accelerate the cleanup of Ontario beaches and tributaries, the Ministry of the Environment will set up a $20-million beach protection fund. Also, a shoreline protection task force will be created. My government will continue to impress upon appropriate American governments their responsibilities regarding potentially unacceptable pollution levels in the Niagara River. My government is already committed to take further action before the courts, if necessary.
After completing a comprehensive review of waste management practices initiated in 1982, my government has decided to establish a $100-million environmental protection fund to clean up waste sites and provide stronger enforcement of our environmental regulations. In order to finance equitably this expensive and essential undertaking, the Ministry of Treasury and Economics is designing, for introduction at the federal and provincial level, a special tax on dangerous toxic substances. This would also help discourage needless and excessive use of these commodities.
I am pleased to advise this Legislature that my government will soon formally proclaim the Niagara Escarpment plan. This undertaking will be of immense value to the province and provides a worldwide example of co-operative and responsible management of our environmental heritage.
My government will undertake innovative forestry initiatives under our tending Ontario's forests program. This $10-million program will enhance the $150-million commitment already in place for our forest management programs. It will benefit our communities and, equally important, will generate substantial job opportunities for students and young people in areas of high unemployment.
To protect the resources and environment which are necessary to the development of Ontario's tourism industry, my government will create a $10-million special resource fund to support fish restocking, community programs, research into improved fish and wildlife habitat and management techniques for lakes and forests. In addition, a new tourism development board will be established to focus more aggressively my government's assistance to our vital tourist industry.
The Ministry of Tourism and Recreation will also intensify its efforts to attract tourists from Quebec and the United States, which will have immediate benefits for employment growth and development, particularly in eastern Ontario. Recognizing the increasing value and need for wider public access to public recreation facilities, our existing public investment in such facilities will be enhanced by the creation of a $15-million recreation capital construction program. Lottery revenues will be used to fund this program.
My government is committed to remain an active partner in securing greater prosperity and economic diversity for northern and eastern Ontario.
To that end, we propose to improve the very successful Nordev program in northern Ontario and double its funding to $20 million. We invite the federal government, which shares with us the responsibility for regional economic development, to cost share this initiative as it has with previous initiatives in northern Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. In addition to the increased funding, and subject to negotiations with Ottawa, the program will be broadened to include assistance to small capital projects in the tourism industry and other service sector industries. Many small enterprises would then be better able to expand their employment and facilities.
The government will also renew its commitment to economic development in eastern Ontario by entering negotiations with the federal government for a program to replace the successful eastern Ontario subsidiary agreement, which will expire in September of this year. Ontario proposes a $40-million, five-year, cost-shared program to extend the many successful components of EOSA. The new program will provide assistance for agricultural development, small business, tourism and forestry.
To enhance development in regions which are experiencing high unemployment, my government will accelerate northern and rural road construction and maintenance and will carry forward, in the budget, last year's successful community economic transformation agreement program.
Improved access to venture capital in all our regions must be a priority if economic opportunity is to be shared fairly across Ontario. In this regard, the budget will increase the regional funds of the small business development corporations program and will broaden eligibility for SBDC investments in northern Ontario. As we have recommended, my government is pleased that the government of Canada has decided to permit registered retirement savings plan and private pension funds to invest in small and medium-sized, Canadian-controlled firms. In addition to these measures, our task force review of financial institutions in Ontario will be directed on a priority basis to consider how our private lending institutions can better serve growing enterprises in all of our regions.
In order to assist our vital agriculture industries face their immediate difficulties and seize new opportunities, all governments have a responsibility to improve access to credit and to better stabilize farm incomes.
For its part, my government is setting up a farm operating credit assistance program. A fund of $40 million over three years will reduce the cost of credit and provide necessary loan guarantees. Ontario has played a vigorous role in attempting to design a tripartite stabilization program for the red meat sector. We believe the federal government should also be able to contribute this year. However, my government has allocated $15 million for a bipartite program with the industry if we must proceed on our own. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food will carry forward with its new crop development fund to encourage our farmers to take advantage of emerging market opportunities.
Building on our efforts to conserve vital agricultural lands, the soil conservation and erosion program will be extended to assist municipalities in constructing and repairing agricultural outlet drains. To assist women and young people in rural areas find training and employment opportunities in their own communities, new resources will be dedicated to a rural employment assistance program.
Our ability, along with our obligation, to set new directions and serve fundamental community values requires steady attention to the basic essentials people pay for through modern government. In this session, my government will propose a wide-ranging and historically significant program of more than 25 reforms and initiatives in education, in health, in support for the elderly, in the protection of tenants and in building our transportation system. You will have the opportunity to advance and represent our society's commitment to fairness, compassion and excellence.
My government will introduce for debate, open public discussion and resolution, legislation necessary to extend public funding for secondary Roman Catholic schools beyond grade 10. We are not proposing to create a new public institution but to support equitably a school system which has been an integral component of public education in Ontario ever since Canada was founded.
This is a major and complex undertaking. Therefore, my government is committed to provide full public participation, without arbitrary time constraint, for all those who wish to express their views on this legislation.
My government remains confident that the first phase of this reform can proceed this September and is gratified by the progress of the planning and implementation commission. The commissioners have already forwarded to my government 30 implementation plans for Roman Catholic school boards, according to the principles outlined by Premier William G. Davis on June 12, 1984. Despite uncertainties which accompany any significant reform, this assembly can be assured, in legislation and in administration, that capital facilities will be responsibly managed, that non-Roman Catholic teachers will have fair access to employment and tenure in Roman Catholic schools and that this extension of funding will not in any way be financed by undermining our commitment to public schools generally.
My government guarantees that adequate funding of our excellent public school system will be maintained. With the assistance of its commission of inquiry into the financing of elementary and secondary education in Ontario, my government will take all necessary new measures to assure excellent curriculum and teaching in this basic system. This will not be borne by the property tax. Indeed, my government will gradually increase, through general legislative grants, the province's share of public school financing.
While my government does not accept the recommendation of the Bovey report regarding tuition fees, it recognizes that additional resources are required to enhance the quality and vitality of post-secondary education. Accordingly, my government will establish a $100-million quality education fund. Working with our colleges and universities, it will be used to stimulate research, renew capital and equipment, upgrade critical programs and improve staff and academic development.
Mon gouvernement continue de croire qu'un accroissement et un élargissement soutenus des droits linguistiques et des services en français sont préférables à toute mesure qui ferait de l'Ontario une province officiellement bilingue. Au cours de cette session, nous déposerons de nouveau des amendements à la Loi sur l'éducation en ce qui a trait à la gestion des écoles de langue minoritaire. Ces amendements détermineront les conditions dans lesquelles les conseils scolaires pourront compter des conseillers de langue minoritaire élus par des électeurs de langue minoritaire. Les services de santé offerts en français seront élargis. L'office des affaires francophones fera partie intégrante du bureau du Conseil des ministres.
My government continues to believe that a steady upgrading and expansion of French language rights and services is preferable to any move which would make Ontario officially bilingual. In this session, we will reintroduce amendments to the Education Act dealing with the governance of minority-language schools. This will determine the conditions under which school boards can set up minority-language trustees elected by the minority-language voters. Health services available in the French language will be extended. The office of francophone affairs will be made an integral part of our Cabinet Office.
This parliament has inherited the responsibility to sustain what is widely regarded as the finest health care system in the world. It is my government's obligation to maintain health care quality and universality by continuing review and new initiatives. Extensive changes are called for during this session.
First, as part of tax reform, to ensure more equitable health care financing, my government will freeze Ontario health insurance plan premiums and steadily raise premium assistance. My government will progressively employ tax sources less onerous to low-income families in order to finance this essential service.
In order to make sure residents in northern Ontario receive equal health care benefits, my government will provide incentives to increase specialist services in the north and will proceed with its program to subsidize significant transportation costs for those requiring hospital care. Further, air ambulance services will be extended.
Our aftercare program, addiction services and public health programs will also be extended. Our assistive devices program will be expanded to help adults also enjoy better access to these supportive devices. Bearing in mind the unique and extensive health care needs of women, my government will establish a distinguished advisory task force to review health care services for women in Ontario. Along with other specific initiatives, my government will provide an additional $73 million for hospital capital projects. Also, we will establish additional beds in chronic care hospitals, homes for the aged and nursing homes in order to provide services for those requiring extended and long-term care.
The growth in our aged population and their challenging and changing needs for services present challenges for my government. We will develop a far-reaching, community-based care system that will expand community programs and limit the growth of unnecessary institutional services so that our senior citizens can remain in their communities, in a manner that respects their dignity and their lifelong contribution to society.
The development of an overall plan and a comprehensive network of community and health services for elderly persons living in their homes is essential. To meet this task, a minister for the elderly will be appointed to supervise the consolidation of the full range of elderly services now undertaken by my government.
Consistent with my government's emphasis on community-based care, significant new funds will be provided for our homemakers program to increase services available at home for the elderly and disabled adults.
My government is concerned about the impact of the federal budget on the incomes of the elderly. My government will increase its tax grant program for seniors to help compensate them for inflation-related losses in income. In addition, we will make strong recommendations urging the government of Canada to compensate fully for inflation those pensioners receiving the guaranteed income supplement.
In facing the challenges of high inflation and population growth during the last decade, Ontario earned an enviable record of both public- and private-sector achievement in providing fair access to rental accommodation. As Ontario keeps growing, new challenges must be addressed. My government's commitment to rent review and adequate rental supply will be reinforced in this session.
For deliberation this month, you will be asked to consider basic reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act to reduce to four per cent the maximum rent increase permitted without review and the establishment of a workable rent registry, along with other important measures of benefit both to tenants and to responsible landlords.
Because of its tremendous social importance, ongoing regulation of the rental market must remain in the public domain. Through wise and responsible consideration, regulations can be designed to the mutual benefit of all concerned. This is a grave responsibility for this assembly. Along with the interests of tenants, we must be mindful of the circumstances of small landlords and the vital contribution of the private sector generally. Excessive or irresponsible regulations would drive out the private sector and thereby harm both tenants and taxpayers.
Bearing in mind our concern for the supply of rental accommodation as well as its cost, my government has decided that it must introduce a major new program to ameliorate, substantially, unacceptable shortages of rental accommodation, particularly in our urban areas. Accordingly, a five-year, $400-million rental supply fund will be initiated to stimulate private, cooperative, nonprofit and convert-to-rent projects. The popular Ontario housing rehabilitation program will be reintroduced, and assistance will be provided to help tenants purchase their first home. Not only will these programs create significant employment, they are essential to avoid rental shortages, particularly for those with modest incomes. From both perspectives, we look to the government of Canada to participate responsibly, as it has in the past.
To enhance the growth and integration of this great province, my government will be undertaking new initiatives over the next five years to improve major transportation systems in Ontario. Commuter rail services, using the most beneficial technology, will be put in place from Oshawa to Burlington, and after consultation, ultimately to the city of Hamilton. Work will commence on extending Highway 400 north and Highway 416 from Ottawa south to Highway 401, and on the new Highway 407 north of Toronto. Recognizing the importance of public transit to the urban environment and working people of Ontario, my government will maintain its strong support for municipal public transit improvements.
In representing what is most decent and civilized in the character of our province, this assembly will have an opportunity in this session to consider and amend fundamental laws regarding our respect for the individual.
With the proclamation this year of the equal rights provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an omnibus bill will be introduced shortly to bring Ontario's statutes into closer conformity with the letter and spirit of the charter and the Ontario Human Rights Code. Just as my government dedicated itself to help secure an entrenched charter for all Canadians, we are equally resolved to ensure that it is applied effectively.
As well, the Attorney General (Mr. Pope) will introduce today substantial amendments to the Family Law Reform Act to ensure that partners in a marriage are treated as equals in the event of divorce and that enforcement of subsequent support obligations is more effective and efficient. They will provide for a new, more equitable and more certain method of dividing assets at the termination of a marriage. Also, my government will establish a special office to ensure effective enforcement of maintenance and custody orders.
My government remains concerned that the Child and Family Services Act sensitively addresses the important subject of adoption information respecting the needs and rights of both individuals and families. Therefore, my government has initiated a review of these provisions that affect the disclosure of adoption information. A commissioner has been appointed, and recommendations should be available for the consideration of this assembly by the fall.
My government proposes to increase awards available through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to victims and witnesses. Also, to aid those innocent citizens drawn into the criminal justice system, victim assistance projects under the supervision of the crown attorney in every county and district in Ontario will be established.
To improve the usefulness of the small claims court, my government proposes to raise the jurisdiction of its cases from $1,000 to $3,000 throughout Ontario. Bearing in mind our shared concern to reduce drinking and driving on our highways, our highly successful public education programs will be intensified in the summer months. Accompanying those initiatives recently announced by my government, expanded public education activities will be initiated to fight the intolerable crime of family violence in the home.
During this session, my government will introduce a new Loans and Trust Corporations Act, which will establish a more contemporary framework of laws and regulations for this growing Ontario industry. It will require all loan and trust corporations to maintain the same high standards as will be required of Ontario corporations generally, including tighter controls on such practices as self-dealing. Their investment powers will be expanded and financial stability improved by placing greater responsibilities on the boards of directors, a number of whom will have to be from outside the corporation.
For the benefits of equality to be fully realized by all our citizens, government, recognizing the pluralistic reality of our society, must help new Canadians become full members of the community. Along with equality before the law, programs and institutions in Ontario should respect our diverse cultures. This year, my government will expand our Welcome House program for immigrants and broaden multilingual services in our ministries.
My government believes that the quality of our society and, indeed, its economy will be shaped directly by our commitment to culture and the arts. Consequently, my government is establishing a $30-million fund to modernize and extend our community and cultural facilities. In cooperation with the government of Canada, it will also invest in our vibrant film and entertainment industry.
The challenge for leadership is to meet vigorously the changing needs and circumstances of Ontario while maintaining the confidence and trust of the people. Better ideas will be found, and partnership and co-operation will be enhanced, if we further open up decision-making and public accountability.
To improve our capacity to lead responsibly, my government proposes a series of reforms for consideration early in this session. A government order will be submitted embracing most of the proposals of the standing committee on procedural affairs from the last parliament. Further, a new and expanded approach to the structure, operation and powers of committees of the Legislature will be brought forward.
The powers and scope of the public accounts committee and the Provincial Auditor will be expanded. As well, the resources of individual members to fulfil their responsibilities will be enhanced. Also, appropriate committees of the Legislature will be requested to review appointments to the chairmanships of major public boards and commissions. To enhance their relevance and sensitivity, my government will intensify its determination to assure greater representation of minority groups and women in these important public institutions.
Legislation will be introduced shortly to enhance the rights to privacy of the individual. Better access to information about government activities will be secured by introduction of freedom-of-information legislation, which will provide for independent review.
Government must not be hardened to the diverse claims of society but must be hard on itself in the management of public resources. My government will proceed with a series of changes to strengthen accountability and efficiency in public spending.
In keeping with my government's commitment to open government, the management of our various agencies and boards will be available to appear before those committees of this Legislature which may wish to review their activities.
The entire public sector must be accountable to its constituencies. My government publishes senior civil service salaries in the public accounts. We now propose to introduce legislation requiring publication of salaries of senior staff in crown agencies, municipalities, school boards, colleges, universities, hospitals and all those agencies funded principally from taxes.
Electrical generation has been an essential public utility for most of this century. My government therefore proposes to the Legislature the establishment of a select committee on Ontario Hydro. Also, my government will introduce legislation in this session to empower the Ontario Energy Board to set, as well as review, electrical power rates in Ontario.
My government reasserts that our continuing ability to meet new opportunities will not be borne by new taxes but primarily by careful management of our resources and significant productivity gains in our services.
While the provision of essential public services by our government does not and cannot in the future permit our public servants the right to strike, their sense of public duty and their competence have been central to Ontario's public sector productivity gains. This should be well appreciated by this assembly. While our growing population has increased the need for our services, public sector employment has steadily declined. My government intends to make further progress.
As part of our fiscal plan for the next five years, my government is committed to achieve a five per cent reduction in the civil service by 1990. This reduction of 4,000 positions will be accomplished by normal attrition and early retirement. Further, my government is convinced that substantial savings can be gained by trimming the management hierarchy of our ministries and by ongoing program review.
Honorables membres de l'Assemblée législative, je tiens à répéter que la gamme d'initiatives que mon gouvernement propose dans le présent discours et qu'il entend prendre cette année fournit à cette Assemblée l'occasion unique et la responsabilité d'accélérer le développement de l'emploi, à titre de priorité absolue, d'améliorer les conditions de travail des Ontariens, de protéger l'environnement, et également de préserver la dignité des personnes moins favorisées, la vitalité de nos nombreuses collectivités et la qualité de la vie démocratique en Ontario.
Honourable members, I want to reiterate that in the range of initiatives my government proposes in this address to act on this year, this assembly has a unique opportunity and responsibility to expand employment growth as our first priority, to improve the working conditions of our people, to protect their natural environment and, as well, to serve the dignity of the less advantaged, the vitality of our many communities and the calibre of democratic life in Ontario.
Compassionate and lasting reform in Ontario has been won by building consensus and the patient consideration of diverse interests. This is particularly relevant now regarding the regulation of small businesses, the application of wage compensation and new environment laws. My government believes this assembly will best represent the people through moderate and balanced deliberation.
It is my government's expectation that the directions we will now undertake will be judged on their merits by this assembly and in the future as worthy of the spirit of our times and the opportunity for progress inherent in this good society.
May Divine Providence attend your deliberations.
In our Sovereign's name, I thank you.
God bless the Queen and Canada.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that to prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy of His Honour's speech, which I will now read.
[Reading dispensed with.]
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
FAMILY LAW ACT
Hon. Mr. Pope moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Timbrell, first reading of Bill 1, An Act to revise the Family Law Reform Act.
Motion agreed to.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved that the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration on Thursday next.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved that the House not sit in the chamber tomorrow, June 5, 1985.
Motion agreed to.
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that Mr. Peterson, the member for London Centre, is recognized as leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition.
ROLL OF MEMBERS ELECTED
Mr. Speaker: I also beg to inform the House that the Clerk has laid upon the table the roll of members elected at the general election in 1985.
The House adjourned at 4:12 p.m.