Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable members know, there is considerable concern in Whitchurch-Stouffville about the operation and proposed expansion of the York sanitation landfill site in that community. My ministry has been conducting extensive samplings since 1976 involving more than 18,000 analyses of more than 1,600 samples from on-site observation wells, private wells adjacent to the site and the municipal water supply. The results indicate clearly that no significant contaminants are escaping from the site.
Unfortunately, the evidence from this substantial monitoring is apparently not sufficient to allay the concerns of the citizens now organized in opposition to this landfill. As members are probably aware the group has taken independent samples from five locations in the community and released information on analysis for total organic halides conducted by an independent laboratory.
This is an indicator test, which provides no specific information on any compounds, toxic or innocuous, that may be present. We prefer in situations like this to deal with specifics so that we can deal with any problems that may be detected.
So far the citizens have refused to name their laboratory. Therefore, we cannot check on the methodology used in the analysis. As a result, our scientists find it difficult to assess the data they have produced. However, we have begun regular sampling of those five locations in addition to those we are already sampling on a regular basis. These locations, which are four private wells and the Stouffville municipal supply, were sampled on October 19 and analysed by ministry staff for volatile organohalides, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, organochlorine and organophosphorus pesticides, triazines and dioxin.
All of these samples were taken to the limits of detection using the best technology now available in North America. No traces of pesticides, PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, triazines or dioxin were found in any of the drinking waters. All drinking water samples were free of volatile organohalides with the exception of the chlorinated municipal water supply which, as expected, contained the low levels of trihalomethanes commonly found in chlorinated drinking water.
The ministry’s analyses covered the full spectrum of organohalides from the nonvolatile pesticides to the very volatile haloforms and results confirmed these compounds are not present in private wells tested by the local residents group.
Two water quality problems were detected unrelated to the landfill. One private well supply located downhill from a barn showed a nitrate level above the provincial drinking water objective from sources on the farm. Other wells tested for five years between this farm and the landfill site had no nitrate problems. The York Regional Medical Officer of Health has been advised of this result. The well is being retested by the local health unit and they will advise the owners on the safe use of the water.
Another of the private well supplies which is located at a main road intersection contained a high concentration of chlorides from road salting. The level measured indicates there could be taste problems. However, the resident said he had experienced no problem with that water supply.
I regret that some members of this community have been led to question the validity of our sampling and analysis. However, I am prepared to do anything in my power to remove the least doubt from their minds and assure them their interests are well protected by my ministry.
To this end I have made an offer to the area municipality of Whitchurch-Stouffville. I have invited them to appoint an expert of their choice to accompany my staff on a sampling program, to accompany the samples to our laboratory and to witness impartially the analysis of these samples and the resulting data. It goes without saying we will make all information from this ongoing sampling available on a continuing basis in accordance with our normal practices.
Apart from continuing monitoring activity, there are some decisions to be taken on this landfill operation. There is a request for expanded use of additional landfill capacity on the site. The Environmental Assessment Board is considering the information dealt with in recent public hearings and is preparing recommendations for the director of environmental approvals in my ministry.
There is also the renewal of the certificate of approval for the existing operation. This certificate expires October 30. At this stage I have no evidence which justifies withdrawal of approval from the existing site operations. At the same time I recognize there is considerable concern about the site within the community and I do not want to issue any long-term approval without the best possible assurance that community health is fully protected.
Therefore the ministry is issuing a 90-day interim certificate of approval for the existing operations on the site. When the members receive copies of this statement, they will find attached the conditions of approval for this temporary certificate. Quite simply, my intention is to provide continuing protection through those conditions of the present certificate which are still valid, and to provide for action if our intensive sampling program does show any migration of a hazardous contaminant.
While extensive testing indicates clearly that no hazardous contaminants are migrating from the landfill site, we want to be absolutely certain that local water supplies continue to be safe and that the concerns of the area residents can be answered.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I regret that I have to rise on a point of privilege today to criticize the Premier (Mr. Davis) for not responding to a letter I directed to his office, dated January 28, 1981.
My office made several phone calls to the Premier’s office after Labour Day, inquiring why he had not responded to my letter of July 28, which dealt with interest rates. We were given several different reasons as to why the Premier would not respond. Finally, on October 26 we were informed by Mr. Ferdinand that the Premier was not going to respond to my letter because it was an open letter. Surely the members of this Legislature have a right to inform the people of Ontario as to what activity --
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, in June last year, my predecessor informed this House of his decision to launch a full review of the use of the drug Depo-Provera within Ontario’s facilities for the mentally retarded.
Depo-Provera is an injectable synthetic progesterone, which has been used since 1964 in some of Ontario’s facilities for the mentally retarded to suppress menstruation in severely and profoundly retarded women where personal hygiene represents a significant problem. The drug has been used only in selected cases under the direction and supervision of medical staff.
The review was commissioned by the Minister of Community and Social Services as a result of concerns raised in this House and in the media about reports linking various adverse reactions to the use of the drug. Completion of this review has been delayed because of the need for more research than originally thought and because of the illness of the chief investigator, Dr. Donald Zarfas, professor of psychiatry and paediatrics at the University of Western Ontario.
I would like to inform the House today that Dr. Zarfas’s report, entitled The Utilization of Depo-Provera in the Ontario Government Facilities for the Mentally Retarded: A Pilot Project, has now been received and reviewed by myself and my senior staff. It is my decision, based on this review, to accept all the recommendations in this report, and I have directed my staff to begin implementation as soon as possible.
As a first step I have asked that the author, Dr. Zarfas, meet with doctors in our facilities for the mentally retarded to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations. This is being done at the moment. I have also directed that a copy of the report be forwarded to the Health Protection Branch, Department of National Health and Welfare in Ottawa.
Since the report deals with highly technical matters and the results are somewhat inconclusive, I have arranged for the author of the report, Dr. Zarfas, to join me in the media studio at the conclusion of question period to answer any questions about this report. Copies of the report will be available there or can be obtained by contacting my ministry.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I have been trying for a number of days to answer a question that was asked of me by the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) on October 19, and decided that this may be the most appropriate manner.
I wish to advise the House today on the status of a series of day care initiatives announced by my ministry last December. In the process, I want to remind members that the province enjoys the best and broadest day care system in Canada and that there is a clear-cut commitment to expand and enhance the network of formal and informal care.
This statement is necessitated by a number of questions raised in this House only last week -- long on speculation but short on fact -- that may have left members and the public with an inaccurate understanding of the status quo.
Ten months ago my predecessor announced we were providing an additional 30 per cent in the provincial commitment to day care in the current fiscal year to enable expansion of subsidized spaces and enhancement of different types of day care arrangements. These commitments are being kept, and I would now like to describe briefly the progress to date of each.
Of the approximately $10 million in initiatives announced last December, $3.75 million was allocated to provide for 1,500 subsidized spaces in licensed or unlicensed day nursery programs. Those funds are flowing and have been since the beginning of the fiscal year. We also announced that $430,000 were being provided to expand day nursery services for handicapped children. We are now consulting with district working groups across the province and this process of identifying needs and establishing priorities will allow us to subsidize spaces where they are most needed.
An additional $1.4 million was provided to enable development of demonstration and pilot projects at the local level. These projects ranged from private home care programs to informal care pilot projects and family group care demonstration proposals. Guidelines were developed and distributed with respect to these projects, and our area offices are currently receiving and reviewing proposals. We wanted to give all concerned groups and individuals an opportunity to prepare proposals and this has been done. We will shortly be in a position to evaluate all proposals on a comparative basis and begin the allocation of funds.
We do not intend to rush into these matters without giving all citizens the opportunity to come to us with proposals and projects. The same holds true for the $1.3 million we will be providing in capital assistance and operating costs for nonprofit day care programs operated by parent-boards or employee-employer organizations. Again, guidelines had to be developed. These have been completed, following extensive consultation, and we will shortly be receiving proposals and selecting projects.
Last year’s announcement also provided for an additional $2.4 million to help municipalities deal with inequities in funding subsidized spaces in private day care centres. As of today, more than $1.4 million of that money has been allocated. Other initiatives contained in the day care package, such as the development of a service plan for Metro Toronto and Ottawa-Carleton and a rationalization of subsidy levels among all municipalities, are well under way, consistent with a pace that ensures proper planning and consultation.
The final initiative, an $850,000 public education program, is now in the research and development stage. I might add that, in a question he asked, the honourable member recently accused us of planning a $750,000 television campaign as a component of this particular initiative. I do not know where he got his information, but an expensive television advertising campaign has never been considered in this regard and will not be done.
While I am on the subject of misinformation, I want to clear up some confusion. The honourable member implied that Metro Toronto, which provided spaces for 20 handicapped children this year, has yet, to use his phrase, to receive one red cent from my ministry to enable this program to proceed. That is grossly inaccurate. In fact, we provided by September 30 more than seven million red cents, pennies or coppers, for a total of more than $70,000. In addition, we are working with Metro Toronto to provide for an additional eight spaces for handicapped children. I would think this would set straight the record regarding our $10 million in day care initiatives. Every initiative is under way -- some more advanced than others.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure, after many years, to introduce the first reading of a new planning act for Ontario. This new act is the culmination of an extensive review of planning in Ontario that has involved repeated consultation with municipalities and various other organizations and the submission of briefs and comments on three separate occasions.
The review began in 1975 with the appointment by the former Minister of Housing, Don Irvine, of the Planning Act Review Committee, chaired by Professor Eli Comay of York University. This external committee undertook a complete study of Ontario’s planning legislation and practices and sought submissions from municipalities, planning boards and other organizations. During this process, more than 75 meetings were held with municipal bodies and interested groups across the province.
The committee’s report, published in June 1977, was distributed widely throughout the province and more than 350 submissions were received and evaluated by my ministry. On the basis of the responses to the PARC report and my ministry’s own studies, the white paper on the Planning Act was published in May 1979. The white paper was sent to municipalities and other organizations involved in planning and was followed by the publication of a proposed new planning act for Ontario in December 1979.
The draft act was also distributed for public comment. More than 350 submissions from municipalities, planning agencies, conservation authorities, school boards and private interest groups were received and evaluated by my ministry.
Revisions were made to the draft act and the act being introduced today is the culmination of the total review process. We have found, from this wide-ranging review of the act, that many sections of the existing planning legislation are working well even though the current act is some 35 years old. As a result many of its previous provisions reappear in the new act. However there are several important changes and these are outlined in the briefing material accompanying the bill.
The repeated participation in the preparation of this act by municipalities, planners, lawyers and special interest groups has been unprecedented. As a result we believe the new act retains the time-proven features of the existing legislation which are still working well, while introducing new provisions which will have been well thought out by the various committees. And we think it goes a long way towards achieving this government’s objective of giving municipalities as much planning authority and decision-making as possible.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of my predecessors, the honourable Don Irvine and the late John Rhodes, who initiated and gave direction to the review of planning in Ontario. I think we should also extend our thanks to the municipal associations and to all those who participated in the process by submitting briefs and comments throughout the review.
Special thanks must go to my ministry staff, particularly our legal counsel. I also would like to point to two individuals -- Mr. Keith Bain and Milt Farrow -- from the planning policy branch of the community planning wing of the ministry. They devoted much time and effort to the entire planning review and developed this very important new legislation for our province.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to extend my appreciation to Wojciech Wronski, the assistant deputy minister of community planning in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, for his leadership in the preparation of the new planning act. I would also extend appreciation for his seven and a half years of service in our ministry directly to the people of the province. I am sure most people know Mr. Wronski will be retiring from the ministry shortly. He has made a very important contribution to community planning in this great province. I want to wish Mr. Wronski well in his future endeavours in his retirement.
Later this afternoon I shall be introducing bills relating to the Barrie-Innisfil annexation, the Municipal Licensing Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which have been in the process of development for some years. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I raised a question with the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) relating Niagara River pollution concerns of mine particularly to the Hyde Park dump which contains a great amount of dioxin. I pointed out that representatives of the ministry did not involve themselves in this hearing nor did they fund anyone who was over there acting on behalf of all the citizens of Canada and Ontario.
I will not read the total answer the minister gave me but one point is very appropriate and should be read into the record. The minister’s response ended by saying, “It is true we did not provide funding to any intervention group but we have offered technical assistance and have done so, I understand from my staff, on more than one occasion. To date, to the best of my knowledge, the offer of technical assistance has not been taken up by the participating agencies who are intervening. That offer still stands and we have staff available to assist them if they wish to take advantage of the expertise of our staff.”
We were dealing particularly with Pollution Probe out of the University of Toronto and I must read this letter into the record -- it is very short. It is dated July 27, 1981, and directed to the minister:
“I am writing to you in order to clear up some of the confusion arising out of my original request to your ministry for support in our legal action on the Hyde Park landfill site. The degree of our concern over Hyde Park has intensified over the last two months, during which time we have spent considerable effort studying the settlement agreement and its implications for the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. Because of our concern and the problems that we anticipate in the future, we are still anxious to have your support and your goodwill in our endeavours.
“However, we have had conflicting signals on the extent to which your ministry will cooperate with us on this particular issue. First of all, despite a verbal commitment on the phone from Janet Ecker indicating that the ministry would give us selective help and that a letter would be forthcoming, no reply to my letter has ever arrived.
“Secondly, support that was promised by certain individuals never materialized. For example, a legal opinion on certain aspects of the agreement and a letter detailing the Mirex contamination of Lake Ontario fish were both promised but never delivered, nor was any explanation ever offered to us why this information failed to arrive.
“Thirdly, although we were advised to solicit help from the Stoney Creek offices of the ministry, the technical expertise that we needed in hydrology, biology and law were not available from those offices.
“Therefore, I feel that you should be aware that although your intention seems to have been to help us in this difficult case, no support ever materialized from the Ministry of the Environment, much to our disappointment.
“I would not like to close the door on the possibility of future co-operation between your ministry and Pollution Probe. I cannot stress forcefully enough how complex and serious the pollution problems emanating from the American side of the Niagara River are, and as Canadians we should all be working to muster as much strength as we possibly can to convince the United States that cleaning up the Niagara River must be given the highest priority, particularly in negotiating these settlement agreements.
“Although I realize that you may have heavy demands on your time I would like to request a meeting with you in the near future to discuss the Niagara River situation in general and the Hyde Park dilemma in particular. A meeting would be the most appropriate means for conveying the technical and legal complexities of the Niagara problem. I will be phoning you within the next week or so to see if you are available and willing to attend such a meeting.”
Mr. Speaker, you must realize the gravity of the situation. I would appeal to the minister that if he intends to clean up the very serious pollution of our Niagara River we are going to need all the help we can get. I think organizations like Pollution Probe that give so unstintingly of their time and effort should be encouraged and indeed helped considerably by the ministry.
I also would advise him there was, as I think the letter confirms, a communication with respect to offering technical assistance. I was not aware that in the opinion of Pollution Probe this assistance had not been provided. It was my understanding there would have been a lack of follow-up on the part of Pollution Probe. But I assure the member I will check into that with the staff who were engaged in that communication.
Mr. Riddell: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Public funds are used to provide information to the people of Ontario about events that are either sponsored or partially assisted by this government. Therefore I think it is regrettable that in this release put out by the Ministry of Industry and Tourism entitled “‘The Royal’ -- World’s Biggest Indoor Agriganza,” the Queen’s Guineas 4-H Competition was not given any mention, even though it is the highlight of the Royal Winter Fair.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, in response to questions, the Premier said a statement would be forthcoming on our government’s stance on the question of Polish self-exiles. In meeting this commitment, and in order to provide this House with the most up-to-date and accurate report possible, I have personally contacted during the last 48 hours Mr. Paul Hartling, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva; the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Employment and Immigration, Ottawa; the League of Red Cross Societies in Geneva; the Austrian Red Cross; and the Canadian Red Cross.
From these contacts the story emerges in the following way: A large number of Polish citizens have left their homeland during the past year because of political and social unrest in their country. I am told that in the last few months alone, Polish authorities have issued 285,000 exit permits. Although the self-exiles have moved to many countries in Western Europe, by far the largest group has gone to Austria. The Ministry of the Interior of Austria has made no attempt to block the flow into that country and is not planning a change in that policy.
Many of the Polish citizens who have gone to Austria have been able to support themselves, either with reserves they took with them from Poland or by finding employment. Those who have not been able to sustain themselves have been accepted into settlement camps. It is estimated that at this moment there are about 18,000 Polish men, women and children in those camps, with the largest number in Camp Traiskirchen.
For a number of reasons these self-exiles are not regarded as bona fide refugees and do not fall within the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Included in these reasons are that they have left Poland on exit permits and of their own volition. It is also generally thought by close observers that they could return to Poland without fear of reprisal.
The Austrian Red Cross has confined its activities to assisting individuals outside camps with food, clothing and small cash grants. I think it is very important to point out that the people who have come out of Poland have come out in good health and that, up to this moment at least, there have been no requests for international material assistance in this situation from either the Austrian government or the Austrian Red Cross Society.
As members know, in the past the government of Ontario generally has supplied material assistance through the International Red Cross, but this government has always supplied such assistance in response to a request. In keeping with that policy, we will not offer material aid in this situation unless or until we have had a request.
While there have been no requests for international material assistance, the government of Austria has asked other countries to allow Polish citizens staying in that country to resettle. So far, only Canada and West Germany have responded positively. I think Canada’s response is very much in keeping with this country’s humane record in this field.
Last summer the federal Minister of Employment and Immigration increased the quota of government-assisted East European refugees who would be admitted to Canada in 1981 to 5,000 from 4,000. Most of this increased quota is being filled by Polish self-exiles living in Austria. On Tuesday of this week the minister announced substantial new initiatives that would accommodate the immigration of Polish self-exiles to Canada. Among these initiatives, I think one of the most important is a provision that would encourage greater family reunification of Polish self-exiles, as well as Poles still living in Poland, with their relatives here in Canada.
The honourable members will remember it is the government of Canada, and not the province, that is responsible for establishing how many immigrants will be admitted to this country and for processing their applications. It is only after those immigrants arrive that our provincial settlement services begin.
When the government of Ontario was approached by the government of Canada to help with the reception and settlement of people from Poland my colleague the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) stated in reply, “As it has in the past, Ontario will do its share in welcoming all those who choose to come to this province.”
It has been our experience that about half the members of any immigrant group to Canada tend to settle in this province. Although it is impossible to estimate precisely how many Polish immigrants conceivably could be coming to Ontario as a result of these new federal measures, the potential is in the thousands.
Since 1957 approximately 19,300 people have come to Ontario from Poland. Many of them still have relatives in Poland today. Under federal provisions which open up substantially the sponsorship of members of the extended family, there could be significant movement.
The branch of the Ontario government that is responsible for receiving and helping these newcomers to settle is the newcomer services branch of my ministry. We meet new arrivals at Toronto International Airport. At Ontario Welcome House our counsellors, working in the newcomers’ own language, help with guidance and referrals to community organization and other agencies. Documents newcomers need for employment or for continuing their education are translated free of charge. Language training is made available. We also produce a variety of practical materials designed to help both the newcomers and the volunteers working with them.
In anticipation of an increased flow, we have added to the number of staff with a Polish language capability. We will also be publishing updated print and audio-visual materials that will help the new arrivals become acquainted with life in our province. All of these services are in addition to all provincial government services that are available to all residents of the province.
I think it is vitally important to note that while my staff provides these services to newcomers directly, most of the province’s newcomer services are carried forward by the outstanding voluntary agencies in the community with financial assistance from the province. In the past when a major influx of immigrants has placed unusual demands on the services of these voluntary organizations, the government, through my ministry, has made additional resources available. We will continue to monitor the Polish situation closely. Should the need arise, I know that this government will be able to respond in the same humane and effective way.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston), I would like to rise on a matter of privilege concerning the statement by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) accusing the member for Scarborough West of being long on speculation but short on fact with reference to the question of day care.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The standing orders on page 18 say, “On days when private members’ public business is taken up, except as provided in standing order 63, the time allotted to ministerial statements shall not exceed 30 minutes without agreement from a majority of the members.” It now being 23 minutes to the hour, I would suspect that rule is being violated.
The member for Sudbury East has raised a valid point and he is indeed correct to a point. Nine minutes of the statement time have been taken up by points of privilege and I was extending the period for ministerial statements by nine minutes to compensate for the --
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I appreciate the ruling you have just given us with regard to extending the time for ministerial statements because of points of order and privilege raised during that time. I assume, therefore, you will consider extending question period when points of privilege and order are raised during question period. I would assume further, in view of the rule that has been established about the half hour with regard to ministerial statements on Thursday, that you will be extending the debate on the private members’ matters by the nine minutes you have indicated.
Hon. Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I would like to provide to the honourable members a progress report on the processing of 1981 Ontario tax grant applications and the mailing of property tax grant and sales tax grant cheques to seniors.
During the first week of September we fulfilled an earlier commitment and mailed applications for the second instalment of the 1981 property tax grant to all Ontario seniors whom the ministry considered eligible. As of October 22, 493,989 completed property tax grant applications had been accepted by the ministry for processing. Of these, I am now pleased to report that 342,159 have been approved and the cheques mailed to seniors throughout the province.
An additional 88,441 grants have been approved for payment by the ministry and cheques for these households will be issued the week of November 9. The remaining 63,389 applications are presently being processed for payment and cheques will be mailed in due course. As well, on October 5, the Ministry of Revenue mailed out on schedule sales tax grant cheques of $50 each to some 845,000 eligible senior citizens.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my satisfaction with the delivery of this year’s Ontario tax grants for seniors program. We have made the public commitment through the media that a maximum turnaround time of eight weeks is required for application processing before a property tax grant cheque can be mailed. In those instances where the application is filled out correctly, this schedule is being adhered to. Our public information program is paying significant dividends in the form of a reduced error rate in completed applications and a marked decline in the number of public inquiries.
The honourable members will appreciate, however, that in a program of this magnitude and complexity there are bound to be a number of technical difficulties. In this instance, I would specifically acknowledge problems experienced by some seniors who have turned 65 in 1981 and have received an insufficient property tax grant cheque. This situation was quickly identified by my ministry and corrective measures implemented. Cheques for the full entitlement will be sent out to these people the week of November 9.
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a very simple question for the Treasurer. How does the government of Ontario or the Ontario Energy Corporation intend to finance the Suncor deal? The Treasurer will recall that Malcolm Rowan, at the time the Premier (Mr. Davis) held his original press conference, said the second $325 million would be obtained by means of notes from Suncor and that the money needed to repay the notes would be generated from the profits of Suncor, presumably to be taken in the form of dividends.
When I raised the matter the other day and pointed out that such a dividend policy would result in an additional $300 million a year being channelled south of the border in a company that previously never declared a dividend, the Treasurer said I jumped to conclusions. In fact, he told the Globe and Mail that the matter is still up for negotiation and will not necessarily be by notes at the 17 per cent interest rate.
The Treasurer himself said on October 15, 1981, and this is in Hansard: “The second $325 million will be borrowed through devices as yet to be finalized. I believe the member will find the moneys required to handle that $325 million may well be generated, hopefully, by dividends or cash flows during the 10-year period.”
Would the Treasurer answer in a very straightforward way why he has suggested that the money for the second $325 million would come from dividends out of Suncor if that is not what is going to happen, and what are the options presently being considered by the government of Ontario to finance the second $325 million?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I think the statement the honourable Leader of the Opposition read in the latter part of his simple question was basically accurate. I left myself two options, the way I read his comments: “may well be paid by dividends” and “by instruments yet to be negotiated or arranged.”
Those statements still apply. The potential for receiving dividends still exists. The fact that dividends have not been paid does not mean that dividends will not be paid. Negotiations are under way, and until they are completed I think it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on the final form of the debt instruments.
Mr. Smith: Since the two options seem to be either dividends or some other debt instrument, would the Treasurer admit that if it does go by way of dividends, in order for Ontario to receive dividends of $100 million a year, $300 million a year will flow south of the border out of the company and out of the country, in a company that previously never did dividend its money out for common shares to its parent company south of the border but left the money in this country?
If some other debt instrument is to be chosen will the Treasurer simply admit that it will, via the Ontario Energy Corporation, essentially increase the net cash requirements of the government of Ontario at a time when Ontario Finances, which was just released today I believe, shows that the net cash requirements have already increased to 75 per cent higher than the 1980-81 situation and, in fact, to 47 per cent higher than his own budget?
Hon. F. S. Miller: The Leader of the Opposition is aware that there are provisions to find at least another 26 per cent Canadian content in Suncor. I would assume if that takes place, and it probably will, then at least his calculations are wrong. Assuming that the other 49 per cent remains American held, then at the very worst a dollar of dividends in Canada would be matched by a dollar of dividends in the United States.
The decisions or discussions about whether the dividends are covering the interest costs will be found only after the negotiations are completed some time in November. I point out that when I reviewed his $2.4 billion cost, which he put forward the other day, I found that he nicely slipped in $1.3 billion worth of interest on interest in his calculations.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: What instructions does the government intend to give to its nominees on the board of directors of Suncor with respect to the dividend policy of the corporation? Could the Treasurer share with the House in what other ways the government of Ontario’s representatives on the Suncor board will seek to have changes made in the corporate policies of the company that will benefit Canadians or Ontarians?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I suspect that both of those questions would best be answered by my colleague here, since once this deal is completed the real management of it will be through the Ministry of Energy, not through Treasury.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I think as the honourable Treasurer has attempted to emphasize on several occasions here, the dividend policy of this company is to be put in place. The parent company clearly acknowledges that there will have to be a dividend policy in place. It is part of the negotiations that have led to the letter of intent, and it will be finalized in the final documents. There will, in fact, be a dividend policy in so far as Suncor is concerned. As part of that agreement we will, through the Ontario Energy Corporation, have nominees on that particular board and obviously we will be --
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I note with some interest that the Suncor profit has fallen to 95 cents a share from $4.86 for the comparable nine-month period last year. I also note with great interest that the Treasurer’s net cash requirements have just gone up 47 per cent higher than projected and roughly 75 per cent higher than a year ago. I also note --
Mr. Peterson: -- with great interest that one of the key advisers in this deal, one of the key economic advisers to this government over a number of years, Mr. Tom Kierans, past chairman of the Ontario Economic Council, a director of the Ontario Energy Corporation just resigned, president of McLeod Young Weir, a leading financial agent to this government and author of the secret study outlining the merits of the Suncor purchase, now says --
Mr. Peterson: As the outgoing chairman of the Ontario Economic Council said in his speech yesterday, public support for nationalist policies such as the new energy and industrial programs would not be supported by Canadians if they knew the cost. Is it because the minister listens to him that he has no bloody idea what is going on and has completed fouled up the economic policy of this province?
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I will ask a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. The minister is undoubtedly aware a press release has been issued at the Brantford plant of Massey-Ferguson announcing that 600 hourly-paid employees are being put on indefinite layoff.
Is the minister aware this matter was announced with no advance notice given to the minister himself, nor apparently to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie)? The notice was given only today. The workers have had only one week’s notice, contrary to the way indefinite layoffs are supposed to be dealt with.
Does the minister not recall that in the agreement with Massey-Ferguson, where much public money has been used to try to assist that company, the only understanding was there might be temporary layoffs as a result of economic conditions, but there was certainly no understanding at all that indefinite layoffs would be tolerated?
Why is the ministry now saying the layoffs are temporary when they have been announced as indefinite? What is the minister’s understanding of the status of these layoffs? How does it jibe with the agreement reached with Massey-Ferguson?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as we were informed only shortly before the public was informed this morning, we do not have the answers to some of those questions. The ministry is seeking at the present time some clarifications that are necessary under the agreement.
Mr. Smith: I appreciate the brevity of the response of the minister, but may I ask him how it is that even as late as three o’clock today he is still unaware of the nature of this layoff of 600 workers at Massey-Ferguson, a matter of very grave importance indeed?
Can the minister assure this House that either a date will be given for the recall of these workers, and it will be truly a temporary layoff, or, if the matter will be indefinite, it will be seen by the minister to contravene the agreement and action will be taken to rescind certain aspects of that agreement and also to make sure the company complies with the laws of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I would say to the Leader of the Opposition, as I said to the excellent and interested member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) when he contacted me and we chatted about it extensively this morning, the ministry, unlike it has been pictured by the Leader of the Opposition, knows of the layoffs, and the simple question now is whether in the agreement the definition of “temporary” and the description of “indefinite” are the same or different.
If these layoffs are in violation of the agreement because they are indefinite as opposed to temporary under the definition of “temporary” in the agreement, then I can assure this House and the member for Brantford, as I did earlier today, and the Leader of the Opposition, that every action will be taken to enforce the agreement to its fullest: but it does depend upon the legal definition of the layoffs as described in the agreement versus that described in the press release this morning.
Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister tell us, inasmuch as many of the latest number of employees to be laid off probably will not even qualify for unemployment insurance and as a result are going to end up on the welfare rolls, whether or not his government is now willing to take a look at the reconstituting of the plant layoff committee so that we can have things like justification and proper notification of workers involved in plant shutdowns?
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: It concerns me that the welfare of the 600 workers laid off seems to be hanging on the legal interpretation of a term in the agreement that the minister has signed with the company when he put forward the large guarantees that enabled it to continue operations. What assurance can he give us, even if it is a temporary layoff or an indefinite one, that all of the provisions for the assistance of the workers that are required under the terms of the agreement will be carried out?
Is he going to depend on legal interpretations of specific words and subclauses in the agreement, or is he going to take some action to safeguard the jobs of those people at Massey- Ferguson and others in Brantford who seem to be in more jeopardy than in other communities of this province?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member, again as I assured the member for Brantford this morning, that every action will be taken within the legal framework of the agreement and outside of the legal framework, in terms of the general undertakings and the spirit of the agreement, to make sure that every protection possible is provided to those workers.
I should add that my staff has been in constant contact with Massey-Ferguson, trying to monitor its success over the last period of time. Obviously Massey-Ferguson, White, International Harvester, everyone in the industry except John Deere, are having a very difficult time, and I can only assure the members of this House that this government will do everything possible to ensure that all of the workers affected in this situation are not only protected by the firm within the context of the agreement, but this government will provide all the assistance possible, through the Ministry of Labour and my ministry, to make sure that is done.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, I have two points of privilege. I will get them both in this one point here. Number one, I am concerned about the fact that you are always trying to take the part of the government in this House. I am concerned about that.
Mr. Sargent: I know the Minister of Industry and Tourism is quite a hotshot now, dealing with Ford and all the big companies, but my point of privilege is that when I have called to speak to him numerous times he has been too busy to return my calls and he has an exec or somebody call me. I know he is a hotshot, but I want some answers.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the question with the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Since the minister now acknowledges the crisis which has hit the farm implement industry right through southwestern Ontario and since the automobile industry -- with both parts producers and car manufacturers in southwestern Ontario -- is having similar problems, will the minister say when this government is going to respond to the economic crisis which is now overtaking almost every major community in Ontario west of Hamilton?
Mr. Cassidy: Since there has been no announcement with respect to the auto parts centre, and no announcement with respect to the microelectronic centre proposed for Ottawa and for Cambridge, what are workers who are now being put on the street to do with empty promises that came from a cynical government seeking re-election back in January; which government was prepared to promise the moon at that time but is not now prepared to lift a finger despite all the minister’s statements? At a time when workers are going out of work and do not know where their next job is going to come from, when is there going to be action from the government?
In the last two years there have been 307 major new plants or expansions in Ontario, 90 of which, by the way, involved some direct assistance from this government. Does the member not call that assistance to industry? In the auto parts sector, there have been 67 new plants or expansions. He knows there is no government anywhere that has done more.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I say that in a situation in which the largest industry in this province, the automotive industry, is undergoing worldwide stress and is having its worst year ever, for this province to be in a situation where it has over 100,000 new jobs this year; where our unemployment rate remains well below the national average; where our manufacturing investment is very strong this year; where our manufacturing jobs are up over last year, it is an absolutely astonishing record for this government, for this Treasurer and for this Premier, to be able to point to that record -- and those people who are going through a difficult time as well -- and say that every possible step has been taken by this government in this economic situation to provide literally more job opportunities than any equivalent jurisdiction at this period of time. With BILD, the picture can only get better. No other government has made those kinds of forward-looking investments.
Mr. Riddell: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I believe the minister was incorrect when he said the auto industry was the largest industry. The agriculture and food industry is the largest industry. I believe he sat in cabinet yesterday when the head of the farmers’ organization said that farmers were facing a crisis situation.
Mr. Riddell: My question to the minister is, in view of the fact that his government can come up with $10.6 million for a jet for the Premier to fly around in, and can come up with $3 billion over 10 years to buy a slice of an oil company, knowing that neither of these will lead to the creation of one single job in this province, why can he not convince his cabinet colleagues to find some money to introduce an emergency low-interest loan program to help our farmers facing --
Mr. Gillies: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister follow up on the initiative he took by introducing legislation in this House to assist Massey-Ferguson -- legislation that was opposed by the New Democratic Party -- by bringing every possible pressure to bear on the federal government in its upcoming budget to do something about the insane interest rates that have led to this crisis in the farm machinery industry?
Mr. Martel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The practice has been that there is a question from the leadoff or the leader; that individual gets a supplementary; it then goes to the opposition parties, and it goes back to the original party. Once again -- having read Hansard for last Friday -- I remind members that this matter was disputed last Friday. And here we are again on Thursday going through the same ritual.
Yes, I am afraid that no supplementary has come back here, and the nonsense you have just accepted from the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) was not even supplementary to this question; it was supplementary to the previous question; it did not even deal with the matter that was raised. You allowed it to be answered, and then you allowed the minister to get up --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order. I would point out to the member for Sudbury East I did not allow the supplementary. I did call it as a final supplementary. I heard it; it was out of order, the same as the previous one.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary deals with the original question of the crisis in the southwest. The Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) indicated in the debate we had in this House on interest rates on October 13 that the federal government could do nothing in the short term and that he supported the high interest rate policy in the short term. I would like to ask the Minister of Industry and Tourism what his government can do when he considers that Brantford has a 10 per cent unemployment rate plus the layoffs announced today and that St. Thomas has more than 3,000 layoffs at Ford alone.
Does he realize the repossession rate of homes in Brantford is 94 -- there have been 94 foreclosures in that city so far -- that in Chatham 65 homes that have been repossessed are on the market and five more are coming in each week, that these cities are being hit with high unemployment and high interest rates at the same time, and that --
I know even the members opposite understand that the basic problem in this economy is high interest rates, because I have heard their candidate for leader on this subject. They were out campaigning with him in Brantford yesterday; instead of providing solace to the workers they were campaigning for Bob Rae in Brantford. He has been in the House of Commons lecturing the federal government about the insane high interest rate policies and putting the blame squarely where it belongs: on the federal government of this country.
That is their candidate for leader. He understands where the responsibility lies; he understands the reason those people are losing their homes; he understands what the problem is. When he gets to this House -- he never will get to this House, but if he did -- we would insist he remember what he said when he was in Ottawa, and the members opposite should remember what their candidate stands for.
Mr. Martel: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker: The minister made an allegation that my colleague was in Brantford yesterday with Bob Rae about certain matters with respect to leadership. He does not have a right to make a statement like that if it is not factual.
As I suggested to the Speaker about a week ago, when someone gets up and makes a statement like that and they are wrong, it is time they withdrew. Otherwise you leave us no alternative except to say he is misleading the House.
Mr. Speaker: Let me just clarify one point for all members of this House. They are continually rising on points of privilege asking me to make a judgement. I have no idea whether the information is factually correct or not. I cannot express an opinion and I am not allowed to enter into a debate.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I believe I said the member was in Brantford campaigning with Bob Rae yesterday. I wish to correct the record. I think he was just there campaigning for him -- not with him.
Mr. Cassidy: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. You allow that kind of comment but then you cut off the member for Windsor-Riverside when he simply wished to clarify the record. I think that is a biased policy on your part. We see it every week and every day.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. In January of this year, the task force on rail policy headed by the member of Parliament from Rosedale called for Ontario to play a strong role in the revitalization of rail services. It called for Ontario to take a stronger and more forceful role and called for the full participation of the government of Ontario in the planning and development of the rail system on behalf of the people of Ontario. Presuming that is the position the government intended to take, would the minister say just what strong steps he and the government have taken with respect to the Via Rail cuts in this province apart from having two meetings with Mr. Pépin?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I believe I have had at least two meetings, probably three meetings with Mr. Pépin, and a number of discussions with my ministry staff and the staff of Mr. Pépin’s ministry. I have certainly put forward the position of the government of Ontario with regard to the Via Rail cutbacks and I do not know of anything further I can do beyond that.
Mr. Cassidy: A supplementary: Passenger services on three lines that go into Toronto from Peterborough, Stouffville and Barrie are being cut and this affects thousands of people. The main line rail service from Ottawa to western Canada is also being cut. Given these facts and the way cutbacks are being imposed on services in northern Ontario in the riding of my friend from Sudbury East, is the minister saying a few talks with officials is all the government of Ontario is going to do?
What about the recommendations in the report that Ontario should act as a catalyst to help implement new rail services, that it should serve as a mediator where there are disputes, that Ontario should act as a spokesman and intervene on behalf of the users of rail services where problems like this have emerged? Are there any studies the minister can make public that will contradict the trumped-up figures with which Mr. Pépin is trying to justify the shutdown of Via Rail passenger services in this province? Is the government of Ontario going to take any other steps on behalf of these passenger services or just sit there like a lump of wet spaghetti?
I and my ministry have intervened at every opportunity when there have been proposals for rail cutbacks in Ontario. We have appeared on behalf of the citizens of Ontario at Canadian Transport Commission hearings on many occasions. Since Mr. Pépin announced his cutbacks I have met personally with him on at least two occasions -- I believe there have been three occasions -- when I put forward our position and violently opposed a number of the cutbacks he is proposing.
I have not had an opportunity to appear before any CTC hearings on these particular cutbacks because, as I am sure the honourable leader of the third party knows, there have been no CTC hearings. I believe I have been as effective as possible in putting our position before the minister and have been as effective as any of his federal colleagues in Ottawa have been. But I admit that none of us has been very effective in getting Mr. Pépin to reconsider.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, concerning the report on the Ontario rail policy, can the minister inform the House how many of the recommendations in that policy report have been implemented by the Ontario government and at what cost?
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Communications how he is going to answer this question from the Ontario Progressive Conservative riding association for Lake Nipigon:
“On behalf of the Lake Nipigon Riding Progressive Conservative Association, we would like to voice our objection to the proposed closure of passenger service in the north. We who reside in small communities in the north rely on passenger service, especially with the rising cost of fuel. It is a vital link in keeping our country united. Please reconsider your actions.”
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I will be answering the letter from that very important organization in the honourable member’s riding. I will be telling them that unfortunately they must have misunderstood the discontinuance of these services. I will be reminding them I will not be reconsidering my actions as far as discontinuance is concerned, because I took no action --
I will be telling these members of the Lake Nipigon Riding Progressive Conservative Association that on their behalf I did appeal very strongly to Mr. Pépin, when I was in Ottawa, to maintain daily service on the line where he proposes to continue only a three-times-a week service. I made a strong presentation to Mr. Pépin that the service should be maintained on a daily basis. That is what I will be telling the Lake Nipigon Progressive Conservative Association.
With the upcoming federal-provincial constitutional conference starting next week in Ottawa, and with the press reports where we keep reading about Ontario’s position -- in fact the tag he has been given these days is “the honest broker” -- will the Premier enlighten the House as to what areas Ontario is taking leadership in to show some flexibility?
For instance, in what areas is he prepared to amend or change his position on the question of veto in the amending formula? What changes is he suggesting in the formula or in the charter? Is he prepared to change his position on that, or is he suggesting the Robertson-Pickersgill formula of opting in or out? Can the Premier enlighten the House and tell us exactly in what areas he is proposing change to arrive at some consensus?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. I may have one or two observations tomorrow morning. I have said this several times to the press and I reiterate it. In simple terms, my approach to this is fairly obvious. We are prepared to consider, work with and endeavour to create a greater measure of consensus. We are prepared to see refinements of the charter. As I said almost a year ago we are more than prepared to find alternatives with respect to the amending formula. I think it is also important to point out I said this to the press and I am not trying to hide anything or in any way --
Hon. Mr. Davis: They can laugh if they like. Those people may not take this matter seriously, but frankly I am not negotiating in public prior to next Monday. We face a situation where every other Premier knows basically what my position is. I have a rough idea what, as a group, the group of eight feels its position is. I have a rough idea what the Prime Minister’s is and what the Premier of New Brunswick’s is.
What has to emerge at this conference is some understanding that everybody, or a larger number of people, have to move somewhat from their present positions. I cannot be more definitive. I am not refusing in that sense of the word, but I really am not prepared to negotiate in that sense prior to the meetings on Monday.
Mr. Roy: I quite appreciate that sometimes one is not as effective as one could be if one negotiates publicly but once in a while it may be advantageous. Even though the Premier has a majority government I suggest he could take the Legislature into his confidence for such important things as the constitution.
The Premier talks about showing some flexibility so may I ask him whether he is prepared to show some flexibility in the area of the charter of rights and freedoms dealing with language rights? Would he change his position on that as it involves language rights in this province, therefore making the federal package on the charter far more saleable in Quebec?
Does the Premier not realize that if he does not, not only is an injustice being created in this province but the federal people may have to back off in Quebec on the question of language guarantees, with the English minority in Quebec losing its guarantees under the charter?
Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, I think the honourable member perhaps does not totally understand the issue or the positions taken, particularly by the Premier of Quebec. Ontario went a very substantial piece in terms of initiating the entrenchment of education within the charter.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, come on, he was facetious at the beginning of his remarks and he knows it. He always spoils a good question by being silly at the outset and I am trying not to reply in that fashion.
As it relates to past and present discussions, the traditional position of Quebec has been -- and I have seen no evidence of any change -- that its opposition to the charter with respect to language is not related to what point of view we may or may not have in this province. It relates to its point of view there should not be provisions with respect to language in the charter that in any way conflict with its internal governmental policy. That is what the Premier said. He has said it a dozen times and I want to make that abundantly clear.
I will just reiterate what I said. I am not negotiating in public. I am delighted to share my points of view on this issue at appropriate times with members of this House. I have never been reluctant to do it, but I think this meeting on Monday is a critical one. It really is going to mean that people are going to have to change their points of view. Otherwise, no success will be achieved. In general terms we can see some refinements in the charter. I am not married to the crossing of every “t” and the dotting of every “i” that is there. The resolution, at least initially, was less than it is at this moment. In other words, it was the federal House of Commons that added a great deal of what is in the present resolution. We could have lived with the former resolution and we have said we can live with the present resolution, so quite obviously we can see some areas of refinement.
I think the amending formula is very important. We were part of -- not a consensus -- but we raised no objections to the Toronto consensus formula. I am sure the honourable member remembers it in detail. Then there was the Vancouver consensus and the Banff consensus. I know the member very carefully reviewed all those options and I know he understands the existing option. From Ontario’s point of view -- if that is critical, as I believe it is to some of our sister provinces -- I feel as Premier of this province that we can be flexible. But it would be unwise to say exactly what our position is in the present situation, prior to the other first ministers reassessing their own positions in approach to this next Monday.
Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Even with revisions in the charter of rights there will be aspects of the charter that a number of the eight provinces will have great difficulty accepting. They have indicated their opposition up until now. So could the Premier explain the double standard that exists right now, whereby Ontario is supporting the federal package because it has been able to negotiate its way out of having to have section 133, French language rights, applied to this province, whereas those other provinces are being asked to accept the charter of rights despite the fact they find it very difficult to accept?
Would the Premier not be prepared to do away with that double standard by going into the negotiations on Monday and indicating he could accept section 133? If there is an agreement, he could say as part of that agreement Ontario will take courage, with the support of the opposition parties -- which support has been there for a long time -- and will accept the obligations of section 133 of the British North America Act for Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The leader of the New Democratic Party is factually incorrect. Ontario did not negotiate its way out of anything. That is not the way the process worked. It was not a case of that in any way, measure or form. I make it abundantly clear the position of Ontario was not to negotiate its way out of anything. Our position during the discussions on the charter was to add one or two things we felt were fairly fundamental. One of them did relate to the question of mobility rights. That happened to be an Ontario initiative, along with the other one I mentioned a few moments ago. We were not negotiating our way out of anything during that process.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Her government has systematically planned for underfunding the universities for the last five years. The federal government’s response to Ontario’s continuous underfunding of its system was to threaten to cut back on its established program financing commitments. In view of this will the minister assure this House that: (a) the principle of accessibility is going to be maintained or even improved, and (b) tuition fees are not going to increase by 100 or 200 per cent as students today are suggesting?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am not at all sure I could agree with the honourable member’s presumption regarding the motivation of the federal government. I do not believe the motivation had anything to do with what Ontario did, except that the federal government apparently felt very strongly it was not receiving sufficient credit for whatever it did in the area of post-secondary education from coast to coast.
The assurances required by the honourable member are interesting. I believe we have made a very definite attempt not only to maintain accessibility but to enhance it through the past several years, particularly through the best student assistance program in Canada, which is what we have in Ontario. I do not believe I should even begin to answer the question raised by the honourable member because no suggestion of that sort has ever emanated from this government. It was the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada that suggested very strongly there be a major increase in tuition fees for all students in Canada. In comparison with all western jurisdictions, except a few Socialist states and West Germany, education at the post-secondary level in this country is the biggest bargain in the world.
Mr. Grande: Does the Minister of Colleges and Universities know that between the fiscal years 1976-77 to 1979-80, the Canadian average spent on universities was 33.9 per cent and Ontario spent 20.7 per cent on its universities? Would the minister not show good faith with the federal government in terms of the possible cutbacks on established program funding grants by making up its mind as soon as possible, and before the federal budget, on the recommendations of the committee on the future role of universities?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that is a totally unrealistic suggestion by the honourable member. In the first place I have already made very clear that the examination of the entire post-secondary system is in process at the present time. That report is considered to be extremely important but it is being considered in conjunction with two other major reports -- the report on polytechnic education and the one on continuing education. I will promise the honourable member that the government position in that area will be available very early in the new year.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary to the minister. Will the minister make a commitment to this House and to the students of Ontario now that no matter what the federal government should do, this government will immediately reverse its policy on post-secondary assistance? This policy has seen the provincial share of post-secondary financing for the operation of universities drop from 18.5 per cent in 1977-78 to five per cent in 1980-81, during the same period when the federal government’s spending went from 66 per cent to 80 per cent and tuition fees remained constant at 15 per cent. Will the minister make a commitment today to begin to reverse the trend where Ontario pays less and less each year?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is unfortunately falling into the trap that has engulfed so many others before him. I would remind him there is no specific directed allocation for post-secondary education from the federal government to the provincial governments of this country at the request of the federal government in 1976-77.
Before that time, the federal government decided it was spending far too much money in cost-shared programs and made the decision that it should persuade the provincial governments to accept block funding for certain established programs with no direction at all. The honourable member is using some kind of sleight of hand, or some kind of imaginary figures, to determine the position which he has presented. What I will promise is that as the minister responsible for colleges and universities I will do my very best to ensure that our institutions are funded adequately for their future, for the future of this province and the future of the students.
To clarify the record, I would like the minister to know there is no sleight of hand involved in the figures produced by my esteemed colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich. He has simply taken the amount of money that came into Ontario’s hands as a result of the change in the established program funding when the arrangement was made and the same percentage of that money which previously went to universities, admitting it could have been used however the province wanted. They were not legally obliged to use it for universities, but had it continued to finance universities at the same rate as before the established program funding was changed, the government would have kept up the 18.5 per cent funded formerly. Now that has been reduced to five per cent --
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. In view of the fact that five months have passed since the minister assured the House he was working on a means by which he would make nursing home inspection forms public --
Mr. Van Horne: Can the minister explain why we were recently told by an official of his ministry that they were still working on the kind of form and they were not sure what the criteria should be? Why is his ministry stalling on that when he gave us assurances in May?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is stalling. The staff are working on it. They know the direction I have indicated I wish to go. They are to report to me this fall on how that can be done. With respect, that could not reasonably be called stalling.
Mr. Van Horne: I ask the minister to check and report back to the House, because we were told within the past week that not only were the criteria a little hazy but also they were considering dispensing with the thought altogether. Now the minister is telling us a different story. I wish we would get the story straight. Will the minister report to us as to when that form will come to us?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: When the staff have completed their work and I have had a chance to review it and discuss it with my colleagues, I will announce what the system will be. There is no question that there is going to be a new system.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services concerning the report he tabled today on the use of Depo-Provera. Even though there are some shortcomings in the report, one thing sticks out: The rate of death occurring in these institutions by breast cancer is 25 times the norm. Given that information is from the minister’s own report, is he now prepared to ban the use of this drug in his own institutions?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I thought I made it plain when I gave the statement an hour or so ago that I would adopt the recommendations of Dr. Zarfas, and I have done so. Dr. Zarfas does not recommend a ban in our institutions. He does not recommend a ban outside our institutions.
What Dr. Zarfas has recommended is that his entire report be directed to the 38 or 39 facility physicians -- physicians who practise primarily in our facilities -- and then be published in the medical journals for the information of all medical practitioners across the province.
He has also recommended that this study be sent to the health protection branch of the Department of National Health and Welfare and that that branch do much more investigation because, as the honourable member will note from the report, the people who have been studied here are a relatively small sample.
To come to the particular point, because I know the member would want to ask it in a supplementary, I consulted with Dr. Zarfas across my desk and asked him if he would recommend that this pharmaceutical be banned in our facilities. Dr. Zarfas told me, “No.”
Mr. Breaugh: I would like to ask the minister if he has an explanation for the simple fact that, just shortly after I asked the initial questions about the use of this drug and just prior to the undertaking of this particular study, more than 255 women in these institutions were immediately taken off the drug.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I was not the minister at that time. Therefore, I will consult with the people responsible in these facilities and so forth and take that question as notice. The member will get back a reply in writing.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, the minister may recall that his predecessor assured the House when the matter was raised that there was no risk with respect to Depo-Provera, that it was extremely safe and that there were no reports of adverse reactions.
I want an answer now from the minister as to why 230 female residents of the Rideau Regional Centre who were on Depo-Provera before the question was raised in the House were immediately taken off the drug as soon as the question was raised.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I am hardly in a position to carry around in my mind the events of last June when I was not the minister responsible. I have answered quite candidly that I will take that question as notice. I will reply in writing to the member for Oshawa, who originally asked the question, and I will reply directly to the member for Bellwoods.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Is the minister aware that one of the largest realty firms in the city of Windsor, Major Realty of Windsor Limited, has gone into receivership and that the realty agents employed by Major who have money forthcoming from sales made are therefore not going to be able to receive their moneys? I would like to know what steps the minister is going to take to ensure that these agents will be paid.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the problem that has existed in Windsor with Major Realty. In fact, when Price, Waterhouse moved the receivers in at five o’clock last Friday our ministry inspectors were on site at that very time, making sure that the trust fund was in order. At that time, five o’clock on Friday, we were able to ascertain that the trust funds of Major Realty were in order; so we can at least say that much, and that is the context in which we were there at that moment.
The only thing I can say in regard to looking after the actual agents and what moneys will be forthcoming to them is that if any of their proceeds were contained within the trust funds then they are protected. Our only area of inspection at that moment was the trust funds. To the extent that they would cover off any expenses or income the agents would normally receive, we can say for sure that is there. Beyond that, we would have to determine the individual cases.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would make reference to the petition I presented to this House two days ago, a petition signed by more than 2,600 people from London and district and asking this House to assist in the removal of urea formaldehyde foam insulation.
I was informed after I presented the petition that it could not be properly presented to the House because, according to standing order 29(f), “no petition shall be received that prays for any expenditure, grant or charge on the public revenue...”
I would argue that the wording “to assist in the removal” could suggest that the government use its influence with manufacturers, which is the idea presented in the private member’s bill brought to this House on Monday through the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), and that the petition does not clearly or explicitly or directly ask for the expenditure of funds and therefore should be left as a petition rather than forwarded to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett).
I know that it would be difficult for you to rule on the point I am raising now, Mr. Speaker, but I would like you to look into it if you would, please, and discuss it with the Clerk of the House. I have a very strong feeling that the people affected by urea formaldehyde foam insulation are going to be shuffled from federal to provincial to municipal government with no one having the courage to stand up and speak their case for them. I think we have a duty to do that, and I would like you to look into it, please, Mr. Speaker.
Ministry administration program, $5,586,000; agricultural production program, $93,743,700; rural development program, $5,325,900; agricultural marketing program, $12,765,600; agricultural education and research program, $27,967,800.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the proposed legislation is to implement the agreement between the city of Barrie and the township of Innisfil on a range of boundary planning and financial issues.
The agreement results from a negotiation process similar to the one conducted two years earlier in the city and area of Brantford. Negotiations and agreement followed years of protracted confrontation by the municipalities before the Ontario Municipal Board and the various courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, which left the boundary issue unresolved.
I would like to congratulate the negotiators for the city of Barrie and the township of Innisfil and Mr. Gardner Church and Brian Isaac of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on a job well carried out.
I would like to thank the staff of the ministry, Mr. Bain, Mr. Wojciech Wronski and Mr. Farrow and others, and to respond in the House to a question that has been asked by a number of organizations, which is: How long will the new planning act take to come to completion and royal assent? I have no idea, obviously.
I have indicated to many organizations throughout the province that we were hoping for second reading in this House this session and that the bill will go out to committee for a fairly lengthy period of time for review by all those interested.
The bill I am introducing today to amend the Public Commercial Vehicles Act will replace Bill 54 but will include the amendments that were included in Bill 54, which I removed from the Order Paper today.
In addition, the bill will include a number of amendments implementing recommendations of the Biggs review of farm-related trucking matters. They will also implement a procedure for intercorporate trucking between related companies, where the companies are owned a minimum of 90 per cent by the parent or sister company.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, there are two points in the bill. It is similar to the one introduced by the former member for Beaches-Woodbine, Mr. Wardle, in 1973. A second point is that Arbour is spelt in accordance with the Oxford dictionary.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 140, 142, 144, 146, to 149 and 168 and the interim answers to questions 151, 153 to 167 and 170 to 172 standing on the Notice Paper. (See Hansard for Friday, October 30.)
That the Lieutenant Governor in Council appoint a committee to be composed of the Speaker and not more than seven members of the House, with consideration to the composition of the House, and others who may be deemed appropriate, to advise and make recommendations with the intent of preserving the architectural integrity and heritage of the Parliament Building of Ontario, its grounds and contents therein in order to make preparations for an appropriate celebration of the centennial of the building as the seat of the Legislature and a symbol of the living heritage of Ontario.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, in moving this resolution, I believe we should pay more attention to Ontario’s heritage as preserved in this particular building. It is a building of great significance for several reasons. Each reason ties in to our most primary values.
This building embodies the finest work and craftsmanship that we have anywhere in Ontario, and it is one of our oldest buildings. It is a working, functional, historic monument, the seat of our deliberations as we manage the affairs of Ontario through the democratic process.
It is an education, I suppose, in the meaning and the working of democracy for thousands of people who visit this building and its grounds each year. It is one of our most popular tourist attractions. I know that as I was entering the House prior to question period this afternoon, and as other members may have noticed, we had three or four buses from as close as North York and from Owen Sound and other parts of the province.
A building of such great significance deserves the finest attention, care and, although it may sound a little corny to say, even love that we can give it. We have to remember that we are torch-bearers, if you will, only for a time; we will pass our system of democratic government on to our children and, in turn, to their children, and they will receive it in the condition that we leave it in. We are the stewards.
This building and its grounds are the actual seat of our government in Ontario and therefore merit our highest respect. By respecting our seat of government ourselves, through that example we can teach our children to respect it in turn and the democratic freedoms that we intend to pass along to them, in their turn, when they are old enough to bear that responsibility.
I guess as much as anything it is the educational function of Queen’s Park that impresses me the most. Each of us has his own feelings as we think in terms of this building, but I know mine is the extension of oneself and the education it means personally to each of us. For my part, as I have people visiting from my riding of Mississauga North, and I particularly mentioned the school tours, I see them in the halls and in the gallery, and I see them watching us from the gallery if the House is in session. One has to appreciate that that is an opportunity that is so unique and so important that the building that permits it all to be possible has a very special meaning.
From my office over in the Frost Building, I get a unique bird’s-eye view of this gracious building. I have a chance to look down at the building and across the gardens. I see people wandering and enjoying the park, the trees and the gardens. One probably all too often takes it for granted, but the fact is that it is a lovely building.
One cannot help but be moved by the people and the activity that one observes. One sees the people reflecting on their history as they look at the sculptures that are on the grounds and as they look up at the building. I suppose and hope that they are seeing democracy as a living process, whether it be on the grounds or within the confines of the building.
I say that we are trustees, and I believe that to be true. It is in that capacity that I want to ask all honourable members of this assembly to consider whether we are according to Queen’s Park the full measure of care and attention that it deserves as the focus of our provincial government.
Are we doing as good a job as we might of showing our visitors the history of our province? Are we conveying a sense of the great achievements of Ontarians? Are we stimulating as much respect for freedom and the democratic way of government as we can here at Queen’s Park? Are we treating the building and its rich collection of art and furnishings with the attention they deserve from the point of view of historical preservation?
My personal conviction is that we could and should do much more than we are. With all due respect to the constant procession of custodians, and I see our former Speaker is in the House and perhaps will be joining in the debate, I know the kind of feeling that many people who have had the responsibility for this building have inputed to it and have added to it. The new customs and the preservation of those things we treasure most about the building have been having, as I understand it, a constant upgrading. But I always say that, with something as precious as this building, we probably could admit that there is yet more we could do.
Mr. Jones: I recall that during Canada’s centennial celebrations in 1967 we designated century farms, and as we travelled throughout the province we always saw that distinctive emblem telling us those farm buildings had been in existence for 100 years or more. I think all of us perked up, paid some attention and probably reflected on our heritage when we saw those signals of our past as we went across the way.
Mr. Jones: No. The member ought not to mix the two debates. We have a strong rural base in this province, of which we are so very proud, and it makes sense to me that as we think of the heart of the province and its democratic process we should give the same care to our farm communities as we did to those properties that were designated as being 100 years old or more.
We encourage preservation of historically important properties, scenic lands, works of art, books, artefacts and other cultural properties throughout the province under the Ontario Heritage Foundation. As you know, Mr. Speaker, it is guided by a group of about 30 private citizens appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council because of their expertise in heritage conservation. The Ontario Heritage Foundation was established in 1968, and it has received over $10 million worth of gifts. Some are used as museums or senior citizens’ centres, and they thus serve a very useful workaday purpose as well as being preserved as part of our heritage.
I think the Canadian centennial gave a lot of people the opportunity to pause and reflect on the importance of conscientiously preserving our historical buildings. Many centennial projects involve the restoration and renewal of other buildings throughout Ontario, and it was as though we suddenly realized that unless we acted, much of value would be lost.
For whatever reasons, there is no doubt that we are taking a wide variety of concrete measures in Ontario to ensure that the heritage properties, objects and buildings are preserved. Many governments, heritage organizations and individuals have joined forces. I suppose a landmark in Ontario is the Ontario Heritage Act of 1974, which promotes local initiatives and involvement. We have wisely adopted the decentralized approach in many areas where jurisdictions overlap, such as education and land-use decisions.
The Ontario Heritage Act puts the legal instruments for such moves as the designation of an individual site or heritage district in the hands of local governments, which are in close touch with the needs and wishes of the people whose property rights will be affected by such measures. Obviously we as the assembly are the local government with respect to Queen’s Park.
When visiting Europe, or even when we look at movies or travelogues, we always tend to sense that Europeans take great pride in the living presence of their history. It seems to be everywhere. The preservation of their heritage for many centuries is something we can learn a lesson from. Just as they sense their social continuity and stability in the form of their physical surroundings, we should certainly do no less for a building we hold in such high esteem as the building we speak about today.
It is very positive that Canadians have begun in earnest to conserve whatever historical artefacts we have. We have been proud of this building on many occasions, but maybe we have expressed it on too few occasions. As we walk the halls and see the pictures of personalities of the past, unique sculpture and paintings that have been brought forward so that the public can have an opportunity to share them, we reflect on it, but perhaps there are other things we can still be doing.
This afternoon prior to the debate I was reminded, as I spoke with the member for St. David (Mrs. Scrivener), who was a former Minister of Government Services, of the fact that during the time she was in that ministerial role, Eric Arthur put out a book called From Front Street to Queen’s Park. For my part, when I first read that during a break from the Legislature, I enjoyed the pictures. I learned of the tremendous historical importance of the background that was conveyed to us in that book. Fern Bayer, who currently has the responsibility for the government of Ontario’s art collection, is another person whom we can be extremely grateful to for the work, the constant interest and commitment we have here assisting the trust that is ours in the form of this building.
No building so well illustrates the need to preserve Ontario’s architectural heritage as the Legislative Building here at Queen’s Park. It has been described in various ways. One critic has affectionately referred to the Legislative Building as “a noble red pile.” Others have been less charitable, calling it dull, uninteresting and an unsuccessful example of artiness. Whatever the description happens to be, it cannot hide the fact that the Legislative Building is a tribute to our past and a symbol of our collective heritage in Ontario. The descriptions, too, cannot hide that the Legislative Building has a fascinating history. I would briefly like to capsule my understanding of it.
The facts about the building are fairly straightforward. The first Parliament met on April 4, 1893. That was the third session of the seventh Legislature. The Premier of the day was Sir Oliver Mowat. The new building replaced an older one that was located at the corner of Front and Peter Streets. As we read that book by the eminent Eric Arthur we were all taken back to that windswept day of the opening. That new building had its trials and tribulations. Until recently, this building has been very much overlooked by historians and architectural critics. The building was brought forward in Alan Gowans’s famous book, Building Canada, which I would commend to the members.
It is curious that it took so long for an appreciation of the Legislative Building to develop. Perhaps it was because people found the building’s architecture dull. I certainly do not think it is. Perhaps there are lingering bad feelings that the architect, Richard A. Waite, was not a Canadian but a Briton living in Buffalo, New York. Or it may be that the building was constructed with fairly little fuss, on time, and close to the budget. Whatever the causes of that lack of interest in the past, the neglect is beginning to fade and a new appreciation for the Legislative Building is starting to develop, and we should seize that.
The building Waite designed was to be made of sandstone and brick in the exterior portions, and wood in the interior. The exterior was to be made of red sandstone from the Credit Valley quarries of Carrol and Vick. In the end, other stone had to be used in addition to the Credit Valley material. Some came from Connecticut and was used in the south facade. Other stones came from the Orangeville area, but it is not certain where they were used.
When the west wing was rebuilt following the bad fire of 1909, the stone used was New Brunswick number one River John brownstone. It can be seen in the west wing as having a deeper pink colour than the stone elsewhere in the building. Despite some of the problems and delays with exterior building materials, construction proceeded on schedule. In 1893, public works commissioner Fraser wrote a glowing tribute to the builders, praising their ability to keep work on schedule.
The exterior carvings have always fascinated me as I look to the building from the exterior or, for that matter, from the interior. It is interesting to know that the carving was carried out before the blocks were put in place.
The largest amount of carving is located on the south facade. There are three elaborate sections to that. The firm that carried out the carving was Holbrook and Mollington. Sadly, however, the carvers seem to be lost to history. It is a pity they are anonymous because their work is rich in detail and highly inventive.
Over the main entrance is a frieze with figures representing philosophy, art, engineering, commerce, architecture, literature, science, agriculture and music. On each wing are friezes of prominent Canadians and the honoured group consists of eight people, each of whom advanced the cause of government in Ontario. On the east side, workers carved the images of William Hume Blake, John Graves Simcoe, John Beverley Robinson, and John Sandfield Macdonald. On the west side are the likenesses of T. B. Pardee, Sir Isaac Brock, Robert Baldwin and Matthew Crooks Cameron.
The carvings are interesting because they are about things that do not exist. Apparently, Waite originally intended to make all the friezes symbolical. As they stand now, there is no direct connection between them. Waite’s plans were either ignored or discarded because of their cost.
The second interesting point is that the Legislative Building has no cornerstone. That certainly fascinates me. Given the importance of the building the omission of a cornerstone certainly seems unusual. The only item to commemorate the construction of the building was a symbolically set keystone in the east arch of the main entrance.
Like the exterior, little is known about the people responsible for the finishing of the interior. The master wood carvers who executed the work in the legislative chamber are unknown but for one person. The ironwork is thought to have been carried out by the master smith Angus Macdonald, who worked for the St. Lawrence Foundry Company here in Toronto. There is conflicting evidence on that point. It can only be supposed Macdonald was responsible for the many exquisite railings on the stairs of the Legislative Building and in the lobby of the main entrance.
This work, while we appreciate it, we take for granted all too often. It is a rich heritage. As we look back and chronicle the steps of the building coming into being, the fascination of the details lost and the details known about that history -- I suggest that from 1893 to the present, the Legislative Building has been a symbol of parliamentary government in Ontario, and it is a viable and solid link with our past. I believe this unique and very special example of Ontario’s architecture requires the special attention that is proposed by this resolution. Even as fall sets in with the leaves, we can enjoy a special building. We ought to preserve it with special attention.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak in support of the resolution which the member for Mississauga North has brought before the House today. Honourable members may recall that in 1979 I presented a private bill to the Legislature which would amend the Legislative Assembly Act in order to create the post of curator of Queen’s Park. This follows the theme being advanced today in this resolution.
The person whom I would have in mind to take on that responsibility would be the same Mr. Eric Arthur, the author of the book From Front Street to Queen’s Park and certainly one of the most distinguished architectural conservers and historic persons within the province and within Canada. In the work he has done and in the advice made available to the Legislature, Mr. Arthur has clearly shown a very strong interest. I take the opportunity of commending the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) who as Speaker of the Legislature was personally interested and concerned about the preservation of the fabric of this building and in ensuring there were no changes to that fabric which would interfere with the architectural whole.
I suggested at that point this honorary post of curator would give an opportunity of offering advice to the Speaker of the day or to the government of the day in order that preservation of the building, the working out of changes, the suggesting of colour schemes and such matters would all be done in a harmonious style.
The sponsor of the resolution reminds us that the building was first opened on April 4, 1893. For those members whose memories do not go back that far, the Premier of the day, the Honourable Oliver Mowat, was a Liberal. He was Premier of Ontario from 1872 until 1896, in those days when a lengthy term meant good government as opposed necessarily to government being in power too long.
In any event, during those years and the years following, in his position not only as a federal cabinet minister but finally as Chief Justice of Ontario and Chancellor of the University of Toronto, he always evinced a great interest in the history of Ontario and a great interest of developing for the future but preserving the past.
I, too, have been struck by walking around this building and seeing the kinds of details, the carvings we see in this chamber or the various parts of the frieze and the architectural designs on the outside that have already been referred to. It is indeed a building of great worth and value. It may not be one of our approaches to say that the design of this building is what would happen in this day and age, but it was a monument of its times, it has meant a lot to the people of Ontario and it is worthy of preservation.
It does not take many important things -- I think of one thing I recall Mr. Speaker Stokes doing. It may not seem very impressive at this point, but it is certainly much more pleasant sitting inside this chamber to have those curtains removed from the front doors. When one looks at the lights, dealing with those bevelled pieces that make up a very intricate design, that is a very handsome item, one we are now able to see and which is of benefit, not only to those on the inside of the chamber, but one which makes a much more pleasant and enlightened view of the main doors leading into the chamber.
I had suggested that a curator of Queen’s Park would be an idea that would lead into this same sort of pattern we have here today. I suppose I could also refer to Bill 94, which I brought in in 1980, an act respecting the use of the expression, Queen’s Park.
I will not go into the details of that because of the apartment building that has developed. It followed the same theme that saw, in Ottawa, private member’s legislation suggested to set a tone with respect to the use of the term, Parliament Hill; not just a commercial term, not the name for some hotel or whatever, but something that is set apart, that is understood and that relates to the history and the seat of government of the province, setting the Queen’s Park theme in the same way the term Parliament Hill has a special meaning which I think is worthily being maintained and developed.
We are all interested in seeing the changes which have now taken place to the East Block on Parliament Hill. I have not been in the building since it has been restored but it is said that, while the lighting may be a bit dull and while there may be a strange green colour of paint on the walls that may not be what people do now, it is a restoration of exactly how the building looked when it was first put up in the 1870s.
That is an excellent kind of thing, to my mind, because the restoration of that area, the Prime Minister’s offices, the offices for the Governor General as they were then, and the restoration of all these themes, is an important commitment to the generations of Canadians who are going to relate to how government was in those days.
We, too, have that opportunity and I suggest the appointment of this committee to plan for some appropriate centennial and for the maintenance of the fabric of this building is a most useful thing. These things do take time and planning and we have some 10 years to get ready for appropriate celebrations. Since the time must be taken and used well, following through with the idea of a committee of assistance to Mr. Speaker, however it might finally be decided, is something I certainly approve of and would be happy to be involved in personally, if that should develop.
We have the important remembrance in this building to maintain its architectural integrity. I recall when room 228 was going to be turned into another committee room, which was badly needed, there was some thought of taking out the wall between room 228 and the next. This would have destroyed a marble fireplace and a very fine mantel, and I believe Mr. Speaker Stokes was instrumental in making sure this did not happen. Again to give credit, when we look at the restoration of what used to be the old post office into what is now the Amethyst Room, which serves as a committee room and as a reception room for the larger delegations and which can be handsomely set up in a variety of ways, we find the kind of thing that should exist in this building.
Mr. Breithaupt: Except in special circumstances, because in this circumstance to preserve it and conserve it is a most valued thing. It not only is valued by those of us who have the responsibility and opportunity to live and work in this building, but also is important, of course, as part of maintaining the historical fabric of the province and as an opportunity for those who visit -- for school children, for the guests who crowd our galleries on occasions such as this, for the members who crowd the benches on some occasions -- to share.
I think it is a worthy idea. I hope the House will approve this in principle, because the planning does take some time and members will come and go and elections will take place long before this centennial is reached.
Mr. Stokes: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the member for Mississauga North for having the foresight and concern to bring in a resolution of this nature, and I would like to thank the member for Kitchener for his kind remarks.
I think that, all too often, if we do take a look into the past we do not learn from the mistakes of the past; we stumble along with the present and really do not give sufficient respect and attention to those people who have provided us with the heritage that goes with a building of this kind and with the nature of the things we do, sometimes not very well, in this building.
I agree in general terms with the concept that is loosely expressed in the resolution, but, given the fact that it seems to be motivated by a wish or desire to prepare for an event that is not going to take place for another nine years -- namely, 1992 -- I think we should not only have a sound foundation for an appreciation of what this building means to us as members of it and, indeed, to all the people who work in this building; I think we should carry it much further and recognize that this is a symbol for all of the people in Ontario, a symbol of a free, institutionalized democracy.
All too often we not only take all these things for granted -- the milieu in which we find ourselves, the architectural and historical integrity of a building such as this; all too often we neglect to pay enough attention to the institution of Parliament. If you look at a map of the world, Mr. Speaker, and you say, “All right, there is a place that looks to democracy in much the same way we do as Canadians and as Ontarians,” I think you will find that the number of countries that enjoy the kind of parliamentary democracy we do here in this jurisdiction are getting ever and ever smaller. If we ignore that fact, I think we do so at our own peril.
I would like to join with the two members who have already spoken in paying tribute to what has gone on, particularly since 1977-78, in the persons of Bob Brockington and Fern Bayer from the Ministry of Government Services, who have really done an excellent job -- a part-time job, but nevertheless an excellent job -- of reminding us what this building should mean to us. They have taken very positive and concrete steps to provide a showcase for the works of art, the portraits, the paintings, the sculptures, in fact the architectural integrity, and in at least beginning to compile a historical background of everything there is to see in this building.
I am not sure whether we should be setting up a committee composed of the Speaker and a number of members of this assembly in order to begin to prepare for something that is nine years off in the future. I think we have an excellent background and we do have the expertise in Mr. Brockington and Fern Bayer to continue to build on what they started, with the encouragement of the Office of the Speaker, over the last four or five years.
I agree with what has been said concerning Mr. Eric Arthur. His work adds to the lore of what we have started to build up in Ontario. But it is really just a fine picture book rather than digging into all the detailed historical background; for instance, what the mace means, how this building was constructed, all the historical documentation that has already been started but, because of scarce resources and because we really do not have anybody associated with the Office of the Speaker or with the Office of the Assembly, for which we have to rely on those fine people over in the Ministry of Government Services.
Rather than needing a curator or an ad hoc committee under the chairmanship of the Speaker, I would hope we would have the wit and wisdom to employ the services of a full-time art historian with an architectural and historical background. We have those people right here with us over in the Ministry of Government Services. I do not know whether it would be the wish of the assembly to move them over here under the aegis and auspices of the Office of the Assembly -- I think that would be a good idea -- but I think it would be a mistake to cut them off and say, “We are going to take over as Speaker and as a representative committee made up of members of this Legislature.” I hope we do not lose sight of the excellent work those two people have done.
It is not common knowledge, but I think I should pay tribute to somebody most people in this House probably have never even heard of, in the person of a Mrs. Beatty. I do not know whether she is still associated with the Premier’s office, but I know on many occasions she would see a work of art down in a furnace room, or in a closet or cupboard some place. Nobody had an inventory of what it was we had by way of an art collection in Ontario. If it were not for people like Mrs. Beatty, we would not be walking around the halls today enjoying all the wonderful works of art that are on display, not only for our own benefit but also literally for the benefit of the thousands of people who want to visit this building on a continuing basis.
I subscribe to the fact we must pay more attention to what it is we have in this building. I invite the members who do not have offices there to go up to the fourth floor of the west wing of this building. There are some excellent portraits. They are really masterpieces. I am sure most people have never taken the trouble to go up and see them. What they are, what they represent, what they mean is an excellent documentation of what those people have meant in building up the collection we are so privileged to have.
We have started an inventory and a cataloguing of this whole collection but, because of a lack of human and financial resources, the process has been extremely slow. While I agree with the concept of the resolution proposed by the member for Mississauga North, I think we should build on what we have with Mr. Brockington and Ms. Bayer. I think we can have a building around here that not only we ourselves will be proud of, but also everybody in Ontario will be proud to be part of.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, let me begin my remarks by offering my complete concurrence with and approval of the remarks made by my colleague the member for Mississauga North. The history and grandeur of this building is a source of pride for all of us who conduct the business of government within its walls. It stands as a continuing symbol of our province’s heritage and, as such, is deserving of our admiration and respect.
I am sure all members will agree with me that our respect for this building and its historical importance can be measured in part by the care and attention given to its maintenance. As chairman of the standing committee on members’ services, I have a special interest in ensuring this building is treated with the reverence and care it so rightly deserves.
I wish to bring these observations to the attention of the House today as I believe they may escape the notice of those who have worked here for many years and have grown comfortable in their surroundings. Such include the dedicated people who have cared for the Legislature building so well for so many years.
First of all, I have a few housekeeping notes. I think it certainly is to the credit of the member for Lake Nipigon that during his term as Speaker of the House he made sure those fabulous chandeliers now hanging over our heads were taken down and rebrassed. They are a thing of beauty. They truly are.
But I have to wonder why it took so long to get it done to begin with and why, once the precedent was set, the rest of the brass in the building was not given the same care and attention. I need only direct the members’ attention within this chamber itself to the brass handrails and the screens around the visitors’ galleries on either side of the chamber; surely they too deserve a little spit and polish. But, for the most part, the brass fixtures in this building have gone unattended. I am compelled to ask why that has been allowed to occur.
Speaking of the unattended, I draw the members’ attention to the drapes that cover the windows leading up to the Legislative Library. In the whole of this building, I do not think there is a more beautiful walk than from the front doors up the majestic red-carpeted centre staircase to the marble hallway of the Legislative Library.
But to cast one’s eyes on the drapes in that hallway is to be sadly disillusioned. The experience is an unpleasant one. The reality is that those drapes were once a snowy white. They are now a sorry shade of grey which would bring detergent manufacturers to their knees. They are a product of many years gone by, I am sure, without a good and productive cleaning. Again, I have to ask why that has been allowed to occur.
On the topic of cleaning, I must also point out that if one looks at the majestic red carpet that adorns the first-floor centre staircase one will see that it is covered with coffee stains -- stains that may well have been there since the brew was invented.
While we are discussing the carpets in this Legislative Building, it cannot go unmentioned that while the new carpet installed on the third floor is a definite improvement, just as the one installed before it on the second floor was and just as the one on the main floor has been, I am still at a loss to explain why the carpets on the first, second and third floors are all different from each other. The fourth floor forecourt has no carpet whatever; it still has the original and very attractive mosaic tile.
Certainly it must give some visitors pause when they realize that a government charged with the responsibility of making important decisions for Ontario and her people every day keeps changing its mind about which carpeting best suits this building. I have to wonder if we do not run out to see who has it on sale from time to time. I regret to say, but I must point out, that carpeting --
I regret to say that carpeting is not the only area that has been overrun by an absolute lack of continuity and style. A quick perusal of any five rooms in this building will clearly reveal that hardly any piece of furniture matches any other. The furniture in this building should reflect the tradition and heritage we stand for as Ontarians. Surely it would be more appropriate and more in keeping with the historical traditions of this building if we were to replace our current hotchpotch of mismatched pieces with period furniture made in Ontario.
I know that kind of cost normally would be prohibitive, but the Ministry of Correctional Services has a pool of qualified craftsmen in its minimum-security institutions who, I think, could do the job, perhaps with the help of plans drawn up by students from Ontario’s design colleges. These men could be set to work producing period furniture, perhaps over the next 10 years or so, that we could be truly proud to display in this Legislature. Imagine the difference this would make to the aesthetic value of this building, not to mention its value in reflecting Ontario’s true heritage.
On the subject of Ontario’s heritage, the fourth floor of this building, the one the member for Lake Nipigon spoke of a few moments ago, seems to have been transformed into a repository for every existing copy of a copy of an unknown original never attributed to an anonymous European artist. If you walk around there, Mr. Speaker, you will notice that it is extremely heavy by subject on cherubim and seraphim.
I would like to read to you just one inscription from a painting on that floor, and I invite you to go and seek it out for yourself. The work is obviously entitled Carnivale in Rome. The inscription reads: “Copied by the artist after his original version, painted in 1837, which he frequently reproduced thereafter.” It altogether escapes me how a work of art that has that sort of background, that sort of prominence within the world art community, has any place in or anything to do with Ontario’s heritage.
Surely it would be better to turn the fourth floor into a gallery for the display of works by current Canadian artists. What about the McMichael collection, which is still looking for a home while its gallery is being refurbished?
Mr. Robinson: Even he will agree with me that sometimes when I wander through these halls I feel somewhat like Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities: I seem to be continually counting disembodied heads, which also seem to change with some degree of regularity.
Mr. Robinson: The member for Port Arthur has been here since about 1952. Before the current display was put there, I understand there was a long period when those cases were completely empty. Surely it would not be too much trouble to change these displays with some degree of regularity. Certainly there is a great wealth of Ontario arts and crafts to draw from. As a matter of fact, I know this government is particularly anxious to promote all the good things Ontario has to offer. Take our “Good things grow in Ontario” advertisement.
Mr. Robinson: The member for Port Arthur is going to enjoy this part, and I ask for his kind attention for a couple of minutes. I draw his attention and that of the House to the sorry collection of plastic plants just behind the main stairwell. Surely these plastic horrors were not grown in Ontario. There must be some deserving real plants somewhere they could be replaced with.
That brings me to my last point, which has to do with the outside of the building. No longer do we have the award-winning flower beds adorning our building that we had a few years ago. I also draw to the attention of the House that on the west side of the main building there is a dying tree that has been left in that condition for almost a year.
There are very appropriate gestures that could be made to mark the centenary of this building. When this building was originally designed, its tower was meant to house a clock. That design was never fulfilled and I ask, Mr. Speaker, what could be more fitting than to unveil a historic timepiece for Ontario in the centenary year of this building? What would be a more fitting symbol of our living heritage than the symbol of time?
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on the resolution moved by the member for Mississauga North. I have been waiting for some time to find the correct forum to remark on some of the deficiencies of which all members are already aware. When one does raise some of these concerns in the chamber, sometimes staff or other people take action.
We are never going to correct the problems mentioned by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere until the Legislative Building comes under the control of the Speaker. We have too many chiefs in charge of this building. There is the Ministry of Government Services, which on its own has made plans for the expansion of the building into the two north wing parking lots. There is the Speaker, who is in charge of part of the building. I believe in some parliaments the Sergeant at Arms may be in charge of the dining room and other facilities.
Basically, the point I am trying to make is that we will never get anything resolved until the Speaker is put in charge. I am really saddened to find a government that has been in office for 40 years still has not been able to decide that the Speaker should be in charge of the building.
I question the wisdom of the standup urinal in the north wing of the parliament buildings being left unrepaired for more than two years and boxed in. I am not sure a health inspector would have allowed that to continue if he had witnessed it. I am not sure if the Speaker of the House would have allowed that gross-looking repair that was done to the north wing men’s washroom to remain the way it is. It really is an obscenity.
Second, I am sure that the offices that are given to members to use would not be of the same type and in the same condition as the ones the members use today. I wish all the members of the Legislature could have travelled with the standing committee on members’ services to Quebec. The member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean) was with us when we went to Quebec and visited the National Assembly. He saw how they are going to refurbish the members’ offices over the next two or three years. Yes, they are going to spend considerable sums of money, but they view their National Assembly as a monument to their heritage and something that should be shown off, something that could make all Quebeckers proud.
Just to give an example, I can recall before the last election when the members of the Liberal caucus occupied the entire first floor of the north wing. Many members had to stay in the inner offices. However, when the legislative research library was moved into that part of the north wing, and the members of the Liberal caucus were dispersed elsewhere, there were all kinds of activities there to try to fix up the offices and make them better looking. They erected glass sound barriers across the top of the offices which were not there before. Why was all this being done? My heavens, the legislative research department was going to occupy those offices. And why was it not done before? My goodness, it was only the members who had use of those offices. I submit that these things would not happen if the building were under the control of the Speaker.
Have you gone up into the library lately, Mr. Speaker? Did you ever go into the library prior to the recent election? If you had the opportunity to do that, you would have noticed that at the back of the library were placed several nice desks, appropriately right next to the windows. It was like a working area that was semi-private. I can recall I went there myself on occasion and picked out two or three books, or had two or three reports from my office. I liked to sit there and read and work in a very comfortable atmosphere. That has all been eliminated now. Do you know what has happened to that space, Mr. Speaker? It looks God awful. They have broken it all up, cordoned it off and now it is some type of office for the staff. Over at the other far side of the corner they have a half-moon-shaped room that is supposed to be a members’ reading room. There is absolutely no privacy there. I am surprised --
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I had so little time to address the House. There were several other important things I wanted to bring to the attention of the Legislature. We are going to solve these problems only when the Speaker takes control of the House.
That this House direct the standing committee on administration of justice to immediately conduct an examination of the capabilities of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to license, monitor and investigate the financial institutions of this province.
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, the question of the capabilities of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has been a continuing issue in this House for more than a year now. We have had occasion to witness in the past year several terrible calamities in relation to financial institutions in the province. These are well known to the members, I am sure, but let me repeat the names of those catastrophes.
First, the Argosy companies collapsed. These companies were primarily Argosy Finance Company Limited and Argosy Investments Limited, whose collapse in March 1980 led to approximately 1,600 investors losing upwards of $30 million. Following shortly after that was the collapse of the Montemurro empire, including Astra Trust Company, Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation and C and M Financial Consultants Limited, which cost more than 500 individuals upwards of $10 million.
If that was not enough, in February 1981 there was the collapse of Co-operative Health Services of Ontario, including its subsidiary, Delta Dental Plan, which affected approximately 140,000 of their dental and extended health care subscribers in Ontario.
Taken as a whole, this group of collapses brings into question the capabilities of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations through the business practices division, the financial institutions division and the Ontario Securities Commission to deal with the monitoring of the licensing and continued operation of these various financial institutions.
What is even more disturbing is the response to these collapses by the ministry and various other segments of the government. The government has made every effort it can to shift the blame for these collapses to various other areas that may have had some responsibility in dealing with the monitoring of these institutions. It does not seem to want to come to grips with the fact that these institutions, which were in operation in Ontario, failed in Ontario. It failed to give protection to the various consumers who were investing in their operations.
In the case of Co-operative Health Services, the minister at the time of the collapse in February 1981 went out of his way to congratulate his staff for uncovering what he called a scam. Despite the fact that Co-operative Health Services had its licence to operate renewed by the ministry less than a year before its collapse, and despite the serious concerns of the staff of the ministry at the time, the operation of that firm was allowed to continue by the minister.
He congratulated his ministry despite his ministry having monitored the operation of that company. They discovered during the monitoring period that the firm’s surplus to cover claims had dwindled from $1.3 million to about $11,000 in eight short months. The minister at that time had the nerve to congratulate his ministry for uncovering this scam, and yet he allowed the company to continue its operations.
He congratulated his ministry despite the fact that Delta Dental Plan in another corporate form had been closed down by the ministry in 1976 because of the same sort of practices that led to the ultimate collapse of Co-operative Health Services in 1981.
In the case of Astra and Re-Mor, the government has tried to place the blame on the federal government for having granted a trust company charter to Astra in 1977, despite the fact that the ministry granted Astra a licence so it could operate in Ontario, despite the fact that Astra supposedly was monitored by the registrar of loan and trust corporations for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and despite the fact that both C and M Financial Consultants and Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation were granted mortgage brokers’ licences by the registrar of mortgage brokers for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
This organization presumably was monitoring these various companies. For two years prior to the Astra and Re-Mor collapse, the ministry, with the Ontario Securities Commission in the lead, was investigating the operation of these companies.
It would be enlightening to examine in some detail the depth of the Argosy collapse and the government’s response, because it highlights the government’s view of its responsibilities and, more specifically, its lack of response to the problem in this area.
The sad aspect of the Argosy fiasco is the amount of misunderstanding that exists among the media and the public in general concerning what happened. It seems to be the common belief held by the public and by the media that the investors lost their money because they bought into high-risk mortgage situations. It seems to me that this misinformation, spread in whatever fashion, is very important, because it really means the general public feels that the Argosy investors were after the quick dollar and therefore should not be considered worthy of the very support and protection that the ministry ought to provide the various honest investors in Ontario.
It seems to me that, with the creation of the impression that these people were high-risk gamblers, the Tories could appear as champions of the interest of all Ontarians when they adamantly refused the demands of these investors for justice during the election of March 1981.
It seems to me that, by portraying these investors as authors of their own fate, the government is ducking the responsibility of telling the people in Ontario what it is doing to ensure that it does not happen to the honest people of Ontario who are trying to invest in the future of various projects and trying to provide themselves with some kind of income security.
It is incredible how insidious this approach is. They spread the word that these people were speculators, like investors in penny-ante mining stock, and immediately all public sympathy for their plight, all public outrage at the inequity they have suffered, disappears.
The Tory government took advantage of a public myth that there were numerous classes of people out there waiting for a government handout. It manipulated the public opinion to believe that the Argosy investors were just one more part of a very avaricious mob. It is a shame that this sort of public manipulation was used.
The government members of this House should talk to the Argosy investors. I would like to see how many investors they could find who thought they were buying into a high-risk mortgage. On the contrary, the great majority of them thought they were buying good first mortgages on properties where the appraised value of the property was well above the value of the mortgage.
Far from being speculators, a great majority of them were motivated by the desire to find a safe investment for their savings. How similar to the Re-Mor/Astra situation. They were people looking to secure their future, looking for a way to make sure their lifelong savings were not evaporated in the inflationary times we are living in.
It was only after the Argosy collapse that these Argosy investors discovered the mortgages in question were third, second and even fourth mortgages on properties where the total mortgage value grossly exceeded the appraised market value. What a travesty. These people had been misled and misled very badly.
That is only part of the story. Looking at the documentation that the Argosy investors received, one would be led to believe that the investors had bought no part of any mortgage whatever. The investors thought they were one of the mortgagees; that is to say, one of the people who had lent the money to the mortgagor with the property as security. In fact, the only mortgage that existed was held in the name of a corporation called Argosy Investments Limited, and these people had no security whatsoever.
What they got was nothing in terms of security. All they had was a piece of paper called a trust agreement with Argosy. The investors had lent Argosy Finance Company Limited money for which Argosy agreed to pay them a stated interest rate. Loans were totally unsecured, without even an expiry date. Indeed, when some investors asked for their money back, they were told they would have to die first to get it. Similar to the situation with the Re-Mor/Astra Trust people, many of them may very well die before they get it back.
This was at a time when the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations was telling the people of Ontario that they were monitoring and licensing and making sure that the financial institutions in this province were sound and good for the people of Ontario.
If members are among those people who got burned, they may say, as the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) intimated during the election campaign, that a fool and his money are easily parted. I do not say that. I say Argosy Investments Limited was licensed as a mortgage broker by the Ontario government. I say Argosy Financial Group of Canada Limited was registered as a securities issuer by the Ontario Securities Commission. I say London Loan Company Limited, an Argosy subsidiary, was licensed as a loan company by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
When finance companies are so licensed and are required by law to be licensed in order to do business in Ontario, I say there is a justifiable expectation on the part of the public that they are being policed and supervised by the regulatory agencies which license them. I say there is a corresponding obligation on the part of the government of Ontario to see this elementary trust is not misplaced. That is the very problem we hope to get at. We hope to find out whether the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations is in a position to ensure this very basic obligation they have to the people of Ontario is being carried out.
Let us look specifically at one of the many issues reflecting on the regulatory performance in the monitoring of the Argosy companies: In October of 1979 the Ontario Securities Commission accepted a prospectus from Argosy Financial Group of Canada Limited which allowed the company to sell $3 million worth of unsecured debentures. So often we have heard the former minister (Mr. Drea) say the investors were warned in that prospectus that these debentures were high-risk investments. Indeed they were so warned. But what Mr. Drea did not say was that the prospectus contained a gross misstatement of a material fact.
It contains an Argosy financial statement which provided only $360,000 as an allowance for doubtful debts. In fact, as we now know from the report of the receiver, loans and mortgages totalling almost $30 million were in default at the time that prospectus was accepted. It was $30 million in default at a time when this company was being monitored.
The Ontario Securities Commission requires a financial statement submitted with the prospectus be audited only for the latest recording period. The Tory government has maintained that Argosy investors should have known what they were getting into. What should they have known? That the public watchdog, the Ontario Securities Commission, had accepted an Argosy prospectus which was grossly inaccurate and misleading?
Let me raise another question: Argosy Investments Limited was licensed as a mortgage broker with the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. On December 10, 1973, the chairman of the commercial registration appeal tribunal issued the following order: “That the continued registration of Argosy Investments shall be subject to the condition that John David Carnie shall forthwith surrender and give up” --
On questioning in the House last spring, the then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations indicated this condition was in effect for only one year. That is the explanation why Mr. Carnie was able to get back, in a substantial way, into the operation of the firm from the mid-1970s up to its ultimate collapse.
Mr. Elston: These various points, Mr. Speaker, lead me to believe there has to be an inquiry by this House as to whether or not the ministry is able to direct its attention to these important matters.
Mr. Foulds: I would like to welcome to the gallery his wife, Thelma. It happens to be their anniversary and I think he is going above and beyond the call of duty being in the House today -- but I would like to welcome his wife, Thelma.
Mr. Swart: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank the member for Port Arthur for welcoming my wife here on our forty-third wedding anniversary. I assure you I am not going to be here this evening.
Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I rise to speak in support of the motion that is before us. I think it is no surprise to anyone that the Liberal member for Huron-Bruce moved such a motion and it will come as no surprise to anyone that those over there on the government side are going to oppose it -- either block it or vote against it, so it will not get anywhere in the House tonight or, for that matter, at any time in the future.
I immediately want to make two contradictory comments on this; and both of them are true. The resolution calls for the conduct of “an examination of the capabilities of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to license, monitor and investigate the financial institutions of this province.” It is really not necessary to have this investigation. When one has three corporations, like Re-Mor, Cooperative Health Services of Ontario and Argosy, which have gone under and taken their investors down with them in a period of one year, it is self-evident this ministry is not capable of conducting the affairs of financial institutions and perhaps of the whole province.
The second contradictory comment I want to make is that the ministry is of course capable of licensing, monitoring and investigating the financial institutions of this province. It is simply that they lack the will to do it -- and they lack the willingness to admit the colossal bungling, or worse, that has taken place with those three and, for that matter, with a number of other financial institutions as well.
I support this resolution. I think we should have this investigation -- and not just in the interests of openness of government, although that is exceedingly important. We do not have any legislation from the government yet, but they keep talking about freedom of information. Maybe you could implore them on some occasion to actually do something about it and live up to their lip service. I think it is good for a democracy to know what is going on in the government.
I think it is important, too, that the members of this Legislature, including our colleagues across the hall, be able to make decisions on the reforms that are needed on the basis of what has happened in the past. I think it is pretty important that members know what has happened in the past so they can make the necessary reforms, because surely they must agree that tremendous reforms are needed in that ministry -- and particularly in that section of the ministry.
But most of all we can really only determine whether society, through this government and its bungling, has incurred an obligation to compensate those victims. To make that determination, everybody in this House should know the degree of the incompetence, political pressures, bungling or whatever happened on that side of the House that permitted these situations to come into being.
I think it is good for democracy that the people know; I think it is good this House knows; and I think it is good that investors know what actually did take place. Even a partial investigation, the bit that was carried out last January and February until the plug was pulled, really had some beneficial result. I think the members opposite must admit that. The Premier (Mr. Davis) said during his election campaign that if the government were proved negligent they would reimburse the investors. He would never have made that commitment if they had not had that investigation -- no possibility.
Of course, the government is not living up to that commitment -- at least it does not appear they are going to. They are backing off. They are now telling us such things as we are going to have to prove bad faith, which is a very different matter. But because we did at least a partial investigation in one case, the Premier expressed an opinion there was responsibility on the part of the Ontario government.
I ask my friends over there -- particularly those sitting in the back benches who perhaps have not yet become so completely clouded in a partisan way that they can still exercise the facilities they have above the shoulders -- if it proved beneficial to have half an investigation of one item, do they not think it would be good to investigate all three and really find out what happened? If they found that out and it became public knowledge, the government of this province might think, “My gosh, maybe those people deserve some compensation.”
I know the government would not go that far -- not when it has a majority in particular. The majority on the justice committee has blocked every attempt we have made to do a thorough investigation. I do not need to go into that in any depth. The heading on Hugh Winsor’s column back on Friday, May 29, was “Coverup of Tory Mistakes” and I quote: “There is no question it was the guillotine the Conservative government wanted to cut off any further discussion about what is known in short form as the Re-Mor case and it was prepared to use its majority on the justice committee to be the executioner.” Some of the back-benchers were presiding over the execution.
“That majority has blocked every suggestion put forward by the Liberals and the New Democrats on the committee relating to the scandal involving several related financial companies controlled by Niagara Falls promoter Carlo Montemurro, regardless of how simple or how profound. They would not even permit the trustee in bankruptcy to be called to indicate what, if anything, he has been able to do for the several hundred investors who lost their life savings.” That is carrying it a bit far -- to prevent us from even finding out that information.
“The Tories didn’t even try to counter the arguments put forward by the opposition members. They merely reiterated the arguments they tried to use to block the inquiry last fall and were outvoted on -- as if the wide-ranging inquiry that was cut off in mid-breath by the election had never happened.” That was an independent columnist who made that comment and I think it carries a lot of validity.
I would think they would not only want to live up to the commitment of the Premier but they would want to live up to other commitments that were given a little bit later. I have here a letter that was written by the member for Carleton East (Mr. MacQuarrie) to the secretary of the Re-Mor investors committee, Mrs. L. Barabas. Let me read just briefly from the paragraph he wrote in his letter dated --
Mr. Swart: -- June 25, 1981. He makes this comment, “It is hoped that the situation will be clarified by fall and well on the way to being justly resolved. In the event that matters have not been greatly clarified by fall, it might well be appropriate for the committee to consider a review of its own.”
That is what the resolution asks, that the committee consider a review of these matters, not only Re-Mor but even the more scandalous situation we have never got to in Co-operative Health Services and in Argosy. I say that advisedly -- they are scandalous. In the case of Argosy, where the president of that corporation had been ordered not to trade by the brokers department seven years in advance and he kept on for those seven years and was president of the company, that deserves investigation -- as do all the rest of them.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, I cannot personally accept the request of the honourable member in his resolution, “That this House direct the standing committee on administration of justice to immediately conduct an examination of the capabilities of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to license, monitor and investigate the financial institutions of this province.” That is one that cannot be accepted.
Licensing, monitoring and investigating must be viewed in the context of the province’s ability by law to regulate the activity of such institutions. By and large the financial institutions operating in the province in the insurance, loan and trust field are federal corporations. At this point one should point out, since it has been raised, that Astra Trust was the keystone for the house of cards that has been talked about by other members here.
It is my understanding that the board, if not the membership of Co-operative Health Services, had accepted the very financial statement that was used to close down that organization. If we are talking about the solvency of such institutions the select committee on company law has already recognized that the federal government has the prime responsibility for solvency of these institutions.
Relatively few insurance, loan and trust corporations operating in Ontario are provincial corporations whereby solvency is the responsibility of the provincial government. I think it should be pointed out that provincial licensing is basically to submit such institutions to those areas which are of paramount provincial concern, such as submitting them to a common form of reporting or to bring them under a common system with respect to their contracts with the public they serve.
It should also be borne in mind that while this divided jurisdiction exists, we in Ontario have been well served over the years by the relatively few number of failures that have existed. We do not have the capacity to prohibit such companies from operating within the province, but it is fair to say that we do have a great deal of contact with the federal government. And the standards for our own institutions are basically similar to, if not more stringent than, the federal requirements.
Such a request must also bear in mind recent developments in the economic climate in which such institutions find themselves. Rapidly- escalating interest rates have created a strain in the system. Many of the traditional methods of operating with respect to investments backing up the obligations of such institutions have created situations where we now have reduced profits on operations. In effect companies are endeavouring to stay in the marketplace to preserve the business they have bought and paid for on their books by utilizing reserve funds. Unfortunately, we are in a no-growth situation and over the years the capabilities of our institutions to respond to our citizens’ needs will be reduced.
Many of these institutions will survive and be stronger. We are fundamentally committed to the belief that solutions to these problems will come from sound decisions of boards of directors and management of the institutions concerned. That has always been our philosophy and by and large this has served Ontario well.
One of the unfortunate features of the government’s role in licensing is that where there is a breakdown in the system it is basically where boards of directors and management do not operate in the best interest of the public they serve. The sound, fundamental principles of business are broken. It is then our responsibility to remove their licence and ability to deal with Ontario residents. That has happened and there is no way any committee or this House can guarantee against this ever happening in the future.
Management of these institutions represent their shareholders and/or members. That is their prime role. Simply taking away a licence as some members would advocate is not the solution for the customers of these institutions. Indeed, they are the ones who will suffer most. There are no simplistic solutions and at the present time there is a heavy demand to find answers in light of our current economic conditions.
It is essential to characterize the nature of any problem. As long as we have human beings in charge of financial institutions mistakes will happen. Most mistakes, if honest, can be rectified and are rectified by the institution itself. Our role in such instances is to work with them and assist, wherever possible, towards the solution. We feel we do have the people who can do this and in a spirit of co-operation results will be achieved. There are many saves that are never known. It is only the failures that become public.
It is fundamentally important at this time that we have confidence in our financial institutions. By and large these are run by mature, responsible people who want to succeed for all interested parties. Both the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Walker) and the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) have illustrated their confidence in the credit union movement by providing a guaranty to the Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation as outlined in the Credit Unions and Caisse Populaires Amendment Act which was recently introduced in this House.
Accordingly, I say there is no need to conduct an examination of the capabilities of the ministry because it would be unwarranted. Further, to launch into such an examination can only reflect on the integrity of the financial institutions in the province and much of the information could unnecessarily reflect on the capabilities of these institutions. Accordingly, I will not support this resolution as it would be irresponsible to do so.
The estimates of the ministry are coming before the standing committee on administration of justice and, in the proper framework, the purpose of this resolution can be served. As the minister has already indicated to the justice committee, the ministry is in the process of introducing a new computer system to serve all agencies, divisions and commissions within the ministry. This is moving rapidly towards the implementation stage. There will be four stages until final implementation at a cost of some $350,000. Direct access to names will be made available to all operating divisions. All corporate structures will be able to be traced. All major players are subject to police checks, name checks, credit checks and sheriff’s certificates. Increased investigative powers are available within the ministry and there is a free flow of information between investigators.
As to enforcement, from June 30, 1980, to September 30, 1981, there have been 1,281 regular inspections in mortgage broker areas. Accountants have reviewed 789 financial statements and there have been 24 in-depth financial investigations. There have been 383 terminations of registrations in the past 15 months.
In addition some 20 mortgage broker operations have been examined to see if they are using agreement forms on mortgage syndications that imply to the public that a trust company is involved or that trust company duties are being assumed. Two cases have been referred to the crown law office for possible prosecution. I think it is fair to say the ministry has curbed the kind of events that happened some time ago, but again, a rehash of this whole process at this time will serve no useful purpose.
Mr. Cunningham: I want to comment on this briefly. At the outset, I would say I really find the position taken by some of the members opposite with regard to their role as members of the assembly to be somewhat strange. To think for one tenth of one second that we can set aside our obligations and responsibilities as members of the assembly because a certain case in law may be taking place down the street, either at the county court level or at the Supreme Court level, is, as my Ottawa colleague suggested, a cop-out.
We have very real responsibilities to the people of Ontario and, I would think, even to taxpayers and citizens of other jurisdictions who choose to invest in Ontario or to invest through our Toronto Stock Exchange as governed by the Ontario Securities Commission.
What I find particularly disappointing in this issue is the insistence on the part of the government ostensibly to cover up the entire matter of Astra Trust, Re-Mor and the failure of C and M Financial Consultants since the government obtained a majority. Perhaps the most disappointing feature in the discussions we have had is the total and absolute reluctance on the part of government members to look at the painfully obvious inefficiency in one ministry.
Many of the members now here were not members of the assembly at the time, but when the matter of Astra Trust and Re-Mor was first addressed, the then minister, the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea) said, “This is another pickle that your federal friends are in.” He left the illusion for members of the assembly that this was a federal matter and that the deficiencies, albeit very apparent, were entirely federally-oriented. Nothing could have been further from reality.
The harsh facts are that many of these companies were licensed under Ontario statutes, under the Mortgage Brokers Act or, more specifically as in the case of Astra Trust, under the Loan and Trust Corporations Act. These are provincial items of legislation and areas of responsibility that we have before us. The existence of some case in law should not in any way prevent us from a very detailed examination of what is going on.
I think members of the assembly should be brought up to date with what is going on with the Ontario Securities Commission. More and more investment is taking place in Ontario and the public interest requires that they be properly staffed and any areas of duplication, any areas of confusion, be eliminated in their entirety.
What is really disappointing is the reluctance on the part of the government to accept the advice it received in a letter dated February 24, 1981, during the course of the election, from the receiver, the vice-president of Deloitte Haskins and Sells Limited, Mr. Barry Brace, CA. Mr. Brace took great time and effort to indicate some of his concerns in this letter, which was addressed both to Mr. Crosbie, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, who is down in the estimates at this moment, and to the federal superintendent of insurance.
In that preliminary report to the creditors on the subject of Re-Mor he made a number of comments. I would like to share some of them briefly with the members, mindful, of course, that Mr. Brace had no political axe to grind whatsoever and must be, I think, determined to be objective. He said in part:
“A comprehensive investigation is being carried on by the various receivers and liquidators, several police departments, ourselves and others into all aspects of the affairs of Re-Mor, Astra Trust Company and their affiliates. A few of the findings of that investigation have recently been made public in hearings before the justice committee of the Ontario Legislature, and we are facing increasing pressure to issue an interim report on our receivership.
“There are a number of major issues which have not yet been fully resolved, including questions of possible criminal activities. However, we will confine ourselves in this letter to civil matters. They include the quantum of the realization of the mortgage portfolio of Re-Mor and the recoveries on the ancillary damage claims in tracing remedies. Two, the precise extent of the liability of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation to pay the insurance to the investors in Re-Mor. Three, the liability of the federal crown and the provincial crown in respect of alleged negligence in licensing, monitoring and regulating the operations of Astra Trust and Re-Mor. Finally, the extent, if any, of any improprieties in the licensing and regulating of Astra Trust Company and Re-Mor.”
Mr. Brace went on to say: “With respect to allegations of negligence by the two levels of government in the licensing and regulating of Astra Trust and Re-Mor, we were led to conclude that: One, there were facts available to various government officers which if they had been properly integrated would have suggested that neither Astra Trust nor Re-Mor should have been licensed. Two, there were from the beginning repeated incidents, breaches of undertakings and breaches of licence conditions which indicated a clear and present danger that the principals of the trust company were functioning without any concept of fiduciary obligation. Opportunities were presented by these warnings to conduct a thorough investigation, rigidly control the operation, correct the improprieties or ultimately close the operation, and they were not taken.
Finally Mr. Brace stated: “There was jurisdictional confusion between the responsibilities of different levels of government as well as those of different departments and authorities. This confusion was a major contributor to the damage that occurred.”
Quite clearly, while he did not articulate it in his letter, Mr. Brace speaks of the continuing difficulties that are experienced between the Ontario Securities Commission and the ministry itself. I believe these inefficiencies and deficiencies have not been corrected. I have no reason to believe otherwise.
I am impressed with some efforts to update the operations of the Mortgage Brokers Act. That is long overdue. In all sincerity, unless the government involves itself in a very real way to re-evaluate and reappraise this entire situation and possibly to look carefully at what Mr. Brace has suggested in his final report, I am afraid we are going to wake up some day, pick up one of our morning papers and find that yet another financial institution has collapsed and yet again hundreds of people who invested their money in good faith have lost their life savings.
I have these constituents in my own riding, as you are well aware, Mr. Speaker. There is a couple around the corner from where I live in the village of Waterdown who are now 74 and 75 years old. They are unwell. They have lost their life savings in this financial fiasco.
I will not prejudge or comment in any way that would violate the doctrine of sub judice. I did not do so as a member of the standing committee on administration of justice when we involved ourselves in these discussions earlier in the year. I hope this government takes it upon itself to involve itself in a very real way to correct this mess.
The operations of this ministry in the last two years have been a litany of failure after failure. There was the failure of Co-operative Health Services, which the minister would say was taken over by sharks. Then he blamed the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. He would blame almost anybody he could except look in the mirror and face the responsibilities he, as the minister, should accept.
The failure of Argosy has taken with it the life savings of possibly hundreds of people. Finally, we have the issue at hand, the subject of Astra and Re-Mor, which has been the necessity for this resolution.
I hope the government supports it. I hope we can stop playing partisan games in this Legislature and get on with the responsibilities we are delegated to discharge here; that is, to make sure we set up and effectively monitor legislation that is in the best interests of the taxpayers of Ontario. Anything less than that is an abrogation of our responsibilities and a failure to discharge them. The time is overripe to see we get on with the job.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this motion. As chairman of the standing committee on administration of justice, I had the responsibility of presiding over the committee in its deliberations and investigation into the travesty that happened during the Re-Mor fiasco.
We turned in an interim report knowing full well that in a matter of hours there would be an election called and knowing that our work in that committee would be interrupted by that election. In the interim report, we regretted that we were not able to complete our inquiry. There have been attempts since then, time and time again, by both opposition parties to continue the work we were given by the Legislature at that time, to continue our inquiry into the maladministration of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
All of us who sat there day after day, be they Conservatives, Liberals or New Democrats, were impressed by the fact that there was overwhelming evidence that serious maladministration of relevant provincial laws occurred with respect to protecting investors in this province -- ordinary people, not the high rollers the Conservatives like to pretend we were trying to protect as they spread their election propaganda.
They were ordinary people who had invested their life savings and sold their homes because they could no longer keep them up. They were moving into apartment buildings and depended on living on that income for the rest of their lives. They were ripped off in a province that supposedly has laws to protect ordinary people.
We pointed out in our interim report there was evidence that Mr. John Clement, the former Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and the former Attorney General of Ontario, had exerted political influence on provincial officials to obtain the provincial registration for Astra Trust.
This party, both myself and other members, as well as the Liberal Party, have asked, when is this government going to come to grips with conflict of interest? When is it going to introduce laws and rules regarding conflict of interest, not only of ministers but also more particularly of ex-ministers and former high-ranking civil servants?
The government refuses to deal with that question, and this incident may only be one of a series. Indeed, if we look at what has happened in the last year, in one year’s time we have seen three major financial scandals in this one part of one ministry -- in 12 months, three institutions.
The first such scandal was the failure of John David Carnie’s Toronto-based firm, Argosy, which went down with a loss of some $26 million in mortgage and debenture investments. Then came the messy collapse of Re-Mor, which the justice committee had started its investigations into, and C and M Financial Consultants Limited and Astra Trust, in which more than $10 million was lost or stolen in the Niagara Falls area.
About 1,600 investors lost savings in Argosy’s default, and more than 600 were stung when Mr. Montemurro’s companies failed. But a far greater number of persons have been put at risk in the collapse of Co-operative Health Services of Ontario. How many disasters do we need in a 12-month period to convince members on that side of the House that an inquiry is needed?
What we are dealing with is the incompetence of the government and not a matter before the courts. When we first introduced our resolution in this House, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), who is supposed to be above party politics and who, as the chief law enforcement officer in the province, is supposed to protect the rights of individuals, introduced the whole argument of sub judice. It was so ridiculous that it was laughed out of the newspapers, and finally he had to back off on that.
When that did not work, they tried to convince everybody that the justice committee was so incompetent that documents would be leaked and the work of the court would be interrupted. When the justice committee showed over and over again by the very responsible way it operated that this did not happen and that the paper tigers the minister had floated were nothing but paper tigers that did not materialize into anything, they tried something more. They went around in the election and tried to say, “Well, the NDP and the Liberals are trying to protect the high rollers, the speculators.”
Of course, there were no high rollers and speculators in these cases. If one looks at the investment, if one looks at what Mr. Montemurro and his gang were paying, they were actually paying a percentage of one per cent more than the going rate in any trust company or bank or reputable operation that elderly people and others -- working-class people -- would invest their money in.
Then, of course, we have the promise by the Premier, along with all the other promises he has since reneged on, that justice would be done to these people. Well, we have seen what kind of justice would be done. A few days after the election, we had the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations saying that he would fight it all the way in the courts and that they were going to fight it on technical grounds. Where is the justice, then, to these people? We know that in the present system under the act, justice will not be done to these people and that the Premier is backing off from another promise.
What is before us surely must be important to Conservatives. What is before us is the issue of confidence in the investment system. If the government were to get out of licensing and say that it is not going to bother licensing mortgage brokers, that it is not going to bother protecting people under the Insurance Act and that the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations is not capable of offering those protections, at least it would be honest with the public and then it would be a case of saying, “Let the investor beware.”
When that happens, I say that what is required is not a judicial investigation but rather a political investigation, because it is political incompetence that is before us; it is the incompetence of this government to provide the kind of protection, the incompetence of those key people who were working under the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations that allowed one disaster after another. They had so many red tags over in that ministry, it is a wonder they did not bankrupt their stationery allocation with red tags. They red-tagged it, red-flagged it, but did nothing.
Then we look at the case of Argosy; isn’t that a beautiful one? Mr. Simone, the registrar of mortgage brokers, wrote to the president of Argosy Investments describing their mortgages as being, in effect, a cross between an umbrella mortgage and a blanket mortgage with an unconscionable twist. Where was the securities commission when all of this happened? Why do we have these three disasters in a 12-month period? Then this government has the audacity to say that no inquiry is necessary.
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to wrap up on this particular matter, and I am encouraged to see in attendance in the House a large number of members who wish to hear the remaining portion of my summation. I just want to remind the individuals that, in fact, we dealt at length with some of the matters that caused us concern in relation to the Argosy problems.
I am more pleased to note the attendance in the House of several of the members of the former standing committee on administration of justice which dealt with the inquiry concerning Re-Mor. The member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) was instrumental in proceeding to deal with that matter. The member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), who has not yet arrived, was also instrumental in dealing with this matter and keeping it and bringing it in front of the public’s attention.
It seems to me I must answer the position put forward by the member for Carleton (Mr. Mitchell) because, as has been the case many other times when resolutions and motions have been brought to the justice committee, he has again managed to display an ability to deflect attention from the real issue involved in the matter of Re-Mor/Astra, Argosy and the Co-operative Health Insurance problems. He has caused the attention of the members to be deflected to the idea that the various parties in opposition have no respect for the ability of the financial institutions to operate in a successful manner.
This resolution does not deal with the successful operations of financial institutions in this province; it deals with the problem of the lack of regulatory supervision by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It is in respect of this particular problem that I direct the attention of this House to the various defaults which I spoke about earlier, those three particular ones: the Co-op, Argosy and Re-Mor situations. I remind the Legislative Assembly members that the justice committee might well have considered this on their own, with the exception that I want to point out the long list of problems that have arisen since the March 19 election decision.
Before that time there was great co-operation among the members of the committee from all sides. But recently, motions on May 7, May 20, May 27, May 28, May 29 and later, in the past two weeks, have been disturbing to the people who represent the various ridings in Ontario where members of the public have lost in relation to those very serious collapses. The members of the government party blocked every attempt to deal in a public manner with these particular collapses and get at the problem.
It is in relation to those difficulties that I bring to the attention of the members that they ought to direct the justice committee to investigate these very serious public matters to ensure that the people of Ontario are being protected by the various regulatory bodies that have been set up and established by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to do the job of protecting the people who invest in these various bodies.
It seems to me that when the committee has been blocked in the way it has over those past several weeks and in the spring, that the Legislative Assembly should take it upon itself to direct that justice committee to deal with those very important matters and encourage the public of Ontario to think that in fact there is a move by the members of this Legislature to ensure that they are protected against the very collapses that have been witnessed by the province over this past year or so.
It seems to me that the efforts of people like the former member for Lincoln, Mr. Hall, who was instrumental in having this matter brought to the public’s attention, the member for St. Catharines, the member for Kitchener and others who were in the justice committee when they were able to delve into the matter of Re-Mor, should not be terminated; they should be continued.
Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Breithaupt, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Copps, Cunningham, Di Santo, Elston, Epp, Foulds, Kerrio, Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McEwen, McKessock, Newman;
Andrewes, Baetz, Barlow, Bernier, Birch, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Havrot, Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Mitchell;
Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Shymko, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Williams, Wiseman, Yakabuski.
On Tuesday, November 3, we will do second readings of Bills 2, 53, 55, 150 and 93 standing in the name of the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and then, if there is time, committee of the whole on those bills. At 8 p.m., we will do second readings of Bills 94, 137 and 142 standing in the name of the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Ashe) and then, if there is time, committee of the whole on those bills.
On Thursday, November 4, we will have private members’ ballot items standing in the names of the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) and the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt). At 8 p.m., we will resume debate on the motion for adoption of the third report of the standing procedural affairs committee on agencies, boards and commissions; then, if there is time, we will begin debate on the motion for adoption of the report of the standing committee on social development concerning urea formaldehyde foam insulation.