Mr. Speaker: By his own hand, J. B. Aird, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, transmits supplementary estimates of certain additional sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1982, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, November 30, 1981.
It will provide municipalities with greater flexibility in issuing debentures, enable municipalities to contract out their staff as well as their equipment and expand a council’s ability to establish transit lanes. It will also remove the ability to establish improvement districts in counties, provide that a declaration of vacancy from a county council constitutes a declaration of vacancy on the local council, alter the contravention of parking bylaw provisions and require local boards to submit to the treasurer of the municipality a statement of the remuneration and expenses paid.
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The minister is continuing to speculate about charging the sick to provide revenues for the province. He is now speaking of taxing them for having the audacity to find themselves in hospital beds.
Will the minister explain why he is considering using that method to find revenue? Does he not realize that the people of Ontario will see immediately that all they are doing is proposing to tax the sick to pay for Suncor?
Without going into all the background, including our concerns about the very large cuts being made by the federal government in its transfers to the provinces, let me just say that this matter has been under review for some time and, in his remarks today to the Ontario Hospital Association, the Premier (Mr. Davis) told the assembled delegates that the government has rejected the notion of additional user fees in the hospitals at this time.
Mr. Smith: I am pleased to hear that the Premier has now decided not to do what the Minister of Health apparently was willing to speculate publicly about. But why does the minister consider at all the notion of taxing the ill and the elderly to pay for his government’s purchases when the interest on the Suncor deal alone in one year would provide exactly the $100 million to $110 million required to restore hospital services to the level they should be at? Why does he not obtain that $100 million by the simple expedient of not signing this Suncor deal?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The record should show that aside from the cuts currently being proposed by the federal government, the only time in my tenure as Minister of Health that anybody has proposed cuts in spending by the Ministry of Health was when the Leader of the Opposition proposed in 1978 that my budget be slashed by $50 million.
Furthermore, let me repeat for the record the fact that during my tenure as Minister of Health spending on health care has gone up by 68 per cent. What is more, in the last two years alone spending on institutional care has gone up by 29 per cent, a $600-million increase. Our hospitals are by no means starved.
I have the Premier’s statement, which says, “For the present, we have rejected user fees.” Will the minister explain why in the past he has refused to share with us information on the budget deficit of the hospitals? And will he make a commitment now to table in the assembly an itemized account of the projected $100-million hospital deficit which, despite all his rhetoric, seems to be just one more burden on an already critically overburdened health care system?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, just to complete the honourable member’s initial gratuitous remark: while it is true that we have reduced the number of acute care beds in the province, at the same time we have increased by even larger numbers the beds in the province dedicated to extended care, chronic care and rehabilitation -- all forms of long-term care. So let us have a complete picture. Of course, we will be getting into that later today or tomorrow.
This $100-million figure is not our figure. I am not sure at this point how it was arrived at, but I do know that in the year 1981-82 alone the spending for hospitals has gone up by 17 per cent, including an additional $118 million which was announced in July in relation to the settlements of the hospitals with their more than 100,000 workers.
If the honourable member wants to compare hospital figures, all he has to do is take the public accounts of Ontario; they are all listed there. At this point, I submit to the member that so-called deficits in many cases are projections of need based on what they would like to add in terms of new programs or embellishments; they are not actual deficits in a great many cases.
However, we have begun to deal with the hospitals in one particular area, and that has to do with the life support programs. As well, and I will be expanding on this in my remarks to the Ontario Hospital Association on Wednesday morning, the Premier has indicated apropos the budgeting procedure we asked them to go through this year -- phase one budgets for their base operations and the phase two budgets for expansions and pressure points -- additional money, over and above of what I have already indicated, will be available in this fiscal year for those phase two budgets.
Mr. Smith: Rather than carry on this peculiar form of government in which the minister speculates about a tax one day and the Premier goes in and says “not for the present” the next day, will the minister just assure us that no further user fees in the health system will be brought in for the province and that if they decide they want to go the route of user fees, an actual bill will be presented to be debated here in the Legislature and it will not be sneaked in by way of regulation?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We have never snuck in anything. In this day and age it is hard to imagine how anybody could even think it was possible; but I think I have already answered that question in quoting the Premier’s remarks to the Ontario Hospital Association today.
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my friend the Minister of Agriculture and Food, who by now undoubtedly knows that his deputy minister has made a statement telling the farmers of Ontario to quit crying the blues and to stop bothering the government while the ministry takes time to develop its programs. In fact, he said, and I tell the minister this from Saturday’s Toronto Star: “Militancy at this time will only alienate cabinet ministers, rather than push for assistance.”
Since we assume that the minister is the cabinet minister that he is talking about, does it alienate the Minister of Agriculture and Food when farmers who are going bankrupt continue to tell him about their problems? Does it put him off in some way?
Does he agree with Duncan Allan that they should just shut up while he takes his own sweet time about coming up with something to help these people who are on the brink of disaster? Does he agree with what Duncan Allan has said? Is he the minister Duncan Allan is talking about, or is it some other minister who is alienated whenever he hears the problems of the farmers of Ontario?
Mr. Smith: Can the minister just take a moment to imagine how it feels to be a farmer who has been losing money on his farm, who is faced with foreclosure, and who is told that he is just going to have to wait while the government takes its sweet time about coming up with a solution when these problems have been brought to his attention over and over again?
What is the minister going to tell farmers? Is he agreeing with Mr. Allan that they should just cool their heels and keep quiet while the minister and his cabinet colleagues get together to come up with some scheme that might assist them? Is it not time for the minister to tell that arrogant prima donna in his ministry to find himself another job somewhere because he does not understand the farmers of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The honourable member is talking like someone who has had experience on farms. It is unlikely that he knows how to start a farm tractor -- and I could tell him many other things. I have lived all my life on my farm, and I am proud of it. If the honourable member would get out on a farm and learn a little bit about it, it would be helpful.
In speaking to 14 farm wives last week, they made it quite clear to me that their problems all came about as a result of the action of the government of Canada with its monetary policies and high interest rates. They made it quite clear to me that if their interest rate were 12 per cent, they would be able to continue. So maybe the honourable member could speak to his colleague in Ottawa and try to get the situation corrected.
I have a specific question for the minister. I do not want any speeches; I just want a specific answer. Last June, 1,000 farmers came storming into the Constellation Hotel and finally broke through the insensitivity of this government and asked the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) whether he had $100 million -- no more; they did not ask for anything beyond that, but $100 million -- but he made only $35 million available. Now that there is the task force from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, is the minister going to come up with at least the other $65 million, and do it before Christmas, or is he going to study and work out, after 10 years of drifting, a policy for agriculture?
The honourable member said that those 14 housewives presented me with a petition that suggested $1 billion was needed. That is correct. But I pointed out to those women that if the federal government, instead of putting $500 million into farm credit loans, had put $1 billion into it, I believe it would have answered the needs of the people. I pointed out to them that the federal government, the party this man over here is associated with somehow --
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It will be a real pleasure, Mr. Speaker. I pointed out that if the federal government had come along with $500 million two weeks ago, at the interest rate it suggested, on the terms that it came down with in its budget, and had put that into Ontario instead of the 10 per cent of it --
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member from the asphalt riding out in the west end of Toronto should have been at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture meeting last Thursday at noon. I was not able to be there because of a death in our family -- and I hear that this honourable member over there made some caustic comments; I am a little disappointed that he does not recognize death as a reason for a person being absent.
At that meeting, the Treasurer pointed out to the farmers -- and I have been told this by the farmers, not by that honourable member -- that we were studying the Biggs report and, after we have made a complete study of what the consequences will be, we will report back.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I hardly think it is a time for levity. I wonder whether the Minister of Agriculture and Food really understands the seriousness of the statements his deputy minister is making. We know farmers are so upset with the present situation that they are forming vigilante groups to see that no one tries to foreclose on farmers. Now he has a deputy minister who further alienates them. Does the minister not understand the seriousness of this? Is he not going to have a talk with his deputy minister and tell him he had better get onside?
Furthermore, has the minister had a chance to look at the emergency task force report which was alluded to by the NDP critic? Is he prepared to take immediate action now to put a moratorium on any more foreclosures? Is he prepared to tell this Legislature what assistance he has in mind which the Treasurer alluded to at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture convention last week? What is he going to do?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I am told this honourable member spoke to the federation at its annual banquet last Wednesday night. He told some off-colour jokes that were not very much appreciated by the farm people, who are pretty good-living people --
Mr. Riddell: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I think the minister has me confused with the guest speaker of the evening, who spent most of the evening talking about this member over here. I did not tell any off-colour jokes about the minister.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, it is pretty difficult to address questions from this member without remembering the great applause he got last Wednesday night for saying nothing. That is the story I get. I just wanted the House to know that.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not know how you are going to cope with this problem, but the minister was asked a question twice, by myself and by the critic from the Liberal Party, and deliberately and in a calculated way he did not answer it.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Treasurer. In his statement to the Legislature the other day regarding the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, he stated: “I pledged 50 per cent of that amount in the form of new money, with the balance to come from redirection...” Then he went on: “All in all, BILD has approved and announced 45 projects designed to stimulate and develop the economy of our province.”
How can the Treasurer make a statement like that when in one area in which we sought information, dealing with the Ministry of the Environment, we requested a breakdown of the $15.9 million and learned that of that amount only $4.3 million, or about 27 per cent, is coming from BILD? How can he say that 50 per cent of the money for BILD will be new money?
Mr. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to get details on any specific project where I can. Some of the 45 projects, we pointed out, have not yet been publicly announced; details of them therefore have not been made available, but they have passed the commitment stage.
Any one project, of course, does not necessarily contain 50 per cent new money; some projects are all BILD money, and some are virtually all from either a ministry or some other source. The sharing ratio will vary greatly. Nor should it be the same from project to project.
Mr. Martel: When the Treasurer said he pledged 50 per cent of the amount for BILD in new money, was he aware with respect to the three projects for the Ministry of the Environment that in Collingwood the province is contributing only $4 million of the total in new money, or 29 per cent; that in Edwardsburgh it is contributing $100,000 from BILD, or 33 per cent; and that in Huntsville the amount from BILD is zero and the province’s share of old money is $33 million?
Mr. Martel: The Treasurer used to use a formula that $1 million would create approximately 10 jobs. Apparently he has now thrown that out and is no longer using that formula. Can he tell me, for example, how many new jobs will be created by the $4.3 million for the environmental projects? What kind of formula is the Treasurer going to use in the future to determine the number of jobs he expects for the commitment he is making?
For example, I do not think the petrochemical industry would create, on average, one job for $1 million of investment today. If we look at Polysar and so on, we will see some of them running to $500 million in original costs and creating about 500 jobs; that is roughly one per $1 million. The fact remains that in the tourist or hospitality industry, $50,000 probably would create one job in Ontario in most cases.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I want to go to the Minister of Labour. The minister will recall that the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety made the following statement in its second annual report: “Since four per cent of the work force may be exposed to 85 dB(A) during a work day, there may be an estimated 430,000 workers at risk at 85 decibels.” That being the case, and although in 1978 and 1980 the minister gazetted the number of dB(A) per eight hours as 85, can he indicate to me why he has now regressed and is going to establish regulations that permit 90 dB(A) for an eight-hour shift? That is a real regression. If there are 430,000 people at risk at 85 dB(A), what are going to be the consequences for workers in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that if the honourable member has read the advisory council memorandum, he will also recall that after reviewing the issue of noise levels with the assistance of a special task force, the council concluded, as I recall -- I have not read it for some time -- that the level should be set at 90 decibels and that there should be indication of movement towards lower levels.
In the regulation that has been proposed, we have endeavoured to accept that approach to things, and that matter is now being considered. But certainly, as the member knows, these matters are open for public discussion. We have endeavoured to have as much public input to all these decisions as we can possibly get. I assure him that the final recommendation will be reviewed by the advisory council again.
Mr. Martel: It is my understanding that it is prepared to recommend 90. Is the minister not aware that in 1978 and 1980 he gazetted the following regulations for maximum durations in hours per day: 85 decibels for eight hours and 90 decibels for four hours? Why are we moving in the opposite direction? Is it because it might cost a few bucks to make the necessary modifications in plants and the government is prepared to sacrifice hearing loss to save a few bucks for some people who might have to invest a little money to make the necessary repairs?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: These are matters we can discuss in estimates with the people who reviewed it. Frankly, as the member knows, a number of issues related to noise were referred to the advisory council and it in turn appointed a task force to look into this.
From a variety of factors, such as what was achievable and what could be done within the time frame we are now seeing, I suppose it came to a conclusion that 90 was a reasonable figure for this stage of our capacity in this province. That was the fundamental premise it recommended to us.
As I say, I have not read the report for some time; however, I will be pleased to go over it in detail in estimates, with or without Dr. Mustard being present. This is not an issue on which I want the member to think there has been any subterfuge about. We had a task force look at it specifically.
Mr. Martel: The minister said some things are being done. He will recall that a year ago, almost to this date, I asked about Workmen’s Compensation Board involvement in the Laurentian Hospital funding and the temporary program to deal with the more than 800 men who are suffering from industrial deafness in Sudbury.
The minister will also recall that he sent me a letter saying the Workmen’s Compensation Board was involved in a rehabilitation program at Laurentian Hospital in conjunction with Laurentian University. I wrote to him and told him that was not factual. To date, in three letters to the minister, I have attempted to find out who fed him that line of information, because there is no program. The only program was a voluntary program by Laurentian Hospital which the WCB would not fund.
With 800 workers suffering industrial deafness in the Sudbury basin alone, can the minister tell me what programs for speech pathology and oral rehabilitation he is prepared to introduce now to assist those 800 workers in the Sudbury basin?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I have not looked at this matter for some time, as I am sure the member knows, but to the best of my recollection, the WCB did meet extensively with Laurentian Hospital. I specifically met with them about this. They did agree on a fee-for-service basis to fund certain programs. That is the last information I have about it. If there is something wrong with that statement, I will be pleased to advise the member about it, but that is my last recollection of detailed discussions I had several months ago with the board on that issue.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. One of the underlying principles of Ontario’s health care system is that the physician is either in or out of the system. If he or she is in, he or she is entitled to bill only at Ontario health insurance plan rates. Given that there are some services, such as phone calls and cancellation fees, for which the OHIP rate is zero, why is the minister allowing some doctors to charge above OHIP rates for services such as phone calls and yet remain opted in?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, since the beginnings of the health plan in Ontario in the 1960s, and I believe this is true in every other province, there have been certain things that are uninsured services, one being phone counselling. One of the reasons is that it is something we could never audit. Also, there are such things as the second and subsequent annual physicals. As the member knows, only one annual physical is a benefit and some physicians claim even that should not be a benefit.
Since the beginning of the health plan, physicians have been free to bill such things; there is a notation to that effect in the schedules, both the OHIP schedule of benefits and the OMA fee schedule, inside the front cover as I recall. It says they are free to bill patients directly because they are not covered by the health plan. I hope the member is not suggesting we should now start to cover some of those things, because the reasons for not including them are pretty obvious.
Mr. Van Horne: Given the Mississauga situation, where some doctors are charging an annual fee of $40 per family in lieu of the extra charges just mentioned, does the minister not realize this could result in substantial increases in doctors’ incomes? For example, if a doctor had 1,000 families in his care at $40 each, there is $40,000 extra revenue.
Does the minister believe this practice should be allowed to continue? Further, when he is negotiating the annual increases for doctors, does he take this factor into consideration? If so, how can he do that and still allow this practice to continue?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the annual negotiations for the OHIP fee schedule, which negotiations have already begun, for our part we do take the stance that -- if the member will recall the Weiler report from last year, I think our position is spelled out there -- total income has to be looked at rather than a straight fee schedule to fee schedule comparison, which from time to time is the position in the medical profession.
With respect, I think the member’s assumptions may be a little shaky. First, in an area like Mississauga, which has a much lower ratio of physicians to population than even the already very low provincial ratios, it is highly unlikely that any physician would have an entire practice that would avail itself -- or themselves -- of this. What is more the fact there are so many physicians in the Mississauga area, particularly family physicians, offers alternatives to people who do not want to take part in that kind of a payment scheme. I repeat, it is for items which are not now, never have been and probably never will be covered by the health plan.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, the OHIP fee-for-service payments have gone up something like 40 per cent in the last two years. Is the minister not aware that despite that, increasing numbers of doctors are charging their patients these so-called enrolment fees? Can he tell us how many doctors he is aware of are charging an enrolment fee, which is a form of payment in advance of service? Can he tell us whether he intends to amend the Health Disciplines Act to outlaw this practice?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, surely the honourable member is not suggesting any practitioner should not charge for those things that are not insured benefits? No practitioner -- be it a medical practitioner, a dental practitioner, lawyer, whoever -- should work for nothing. But that would be the net effect of what he is suggesting. We have no way of knowing --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We have no way of tabulating which physicians would be doing that. What is more, thousands of general practitioners would probably be doing it on a selective basis. I repeat, they are not insured services. We are talking about time that physicians devote on request to their patients for which they should be compensated directly.
Mr. Swart: My question, Mr. Speaker, is also to the Minister of Health. The minister has attempted repeatedly to minimize the seriousness and the numbers of people who are suffering severe health symptoms because of urea formaldehyde foam insulation. In my question on November 19 when I suggested that 10 to 20 per cent of the people with UFFI were suffering symptoms he said, “No, it is nowhere near that.”
Is he now aware that his own report to the federal board of review -- which I had some difficulty in getting -- and his own survey show that residents in 40 per cent of the UFFI homes reported health symptoms because of the urea formaldehyde foam? I am asking him now what follow-up he is going to do this winter with regard to monitoring health conditions, particularly of those with health symptoms. As Minister of Health with responsibility for that, what is he going to do to alleviate those health problems?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all, if the honour- able member will recall the material I sent him, from which I take it he is selectively quoting, and if he recalls the background information on this substance -- and if he takes, too, the rough guideline the federal people laid down, and it is very rough because they do not know whether it is too high or too low or whatever -- in fact the member may be right, give or take a percentage point, that 40 per cent of them are reporting some symptoms, But that is not to say they are caused by UFFI; that is not to say that at all.
If the member will check the background carefully he will find some cases where people report symptoms where there are virtually no traces whatsoever of the substance. Given the way the member has handled the issue that is not surprising.
There was a rather detailed questionnaire carried out in each of the households we tested which was given back to them with the test results. The questionnaires say, “Go to your family physician if you have symptoms or think you have any particular problem.” The follow-up is done through the individual physicians with those patients in trying to correlate this.
Please recognize that with this substance there are many more questions unanswered than have been answered and we are finding out more and more about it all the time. As we learn about it we are passing it on to the medical community.
Mr. Swart: By way of supplementary, how does the minister feel that going to their own physician will provide the necessary answer if they can’t afford to move out of their homes and can’t afford to take the urea formaldehyde foam insulation out? What would the minister’s answer be to this letter addressed to me, which I just recently received from Mrs. R. A. Smart, 3 Athlone Place, St. Catharines, Ontario:
“Dear Sir: I had my house insulated with urea formaldehyde in 1979. In the last year I have come down with sore eyes, headaches, pain in my chest, nausea and want to sleep all the time. I am too tired to do my housework. My daughter comes to visit me and in half an hour she has bad headaches and nausea. My grandchildren are the same so they will not come to visit. If I could move out I would, but I cannot afford it as I am on pension and I can’t keep two houses. I hope you can help me.”
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I repeat that I would refer any individual to his or her family physician to be sure the symptoms are not being caused by something else. If in the opinion of the family physician there is a cause-and-effect relationship, then I would say to listen to the family physician’s instructions or advice as to whatever is appropriate. Finally, I think it behooves us to continue putting the pressure on the federal administration, which approved this substance in the first place. Then where it can be shown that retrofit of some kind is called for, that government should fund a low-interest or no-interest loan program to help those people.
Mr. Van Horne: When this issue was debated a week or so back, we got the distinct impression from the minister that all the provincial government was prepared to offer was a form of welfare. He is not telling us anything different today, and I want to know what long-range plans he has. Welfare of itself is not adequate for those people who will have to relocate.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think the ultimate answer still lies in getting a proper retrofit program, which the federal Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs has several times indicated he is working on. This would assist in those cases where it can be proven there is a cause-and-effect relationship and that it is having an effect on allergies and respiratory conditions, basically those kinds of health problems.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, on November 20, the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) indicated he had information that ARC Industries of Brantford was contracting out handicapped employees in its sheltered workshops to private employers and receiving the minimum wage for this work while paying its employees 50 cents an hour.
As the member knows, the issue of wage permits has been the subject of study. He will have received a copy of the report by Abt Associates on handicapped wage permits. In keeping with the conclusions and recommendations of that report, an interministerial task force, composed of representatives of the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Labour, has been established to identify practical solutions to the very complex issue of the payment of handicapped people in sheltered workshops. I expect to receive its report early next year.
In the meantime I have asked the director of employment standards, who is a member of that task force, to investigate the situation the member has brought to my attention in Brantford and report back to me.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, may I have one brief supplementary with respect to that answer. While Mr. Scott investigates the case I brought to the minister’s attention last week, would he also look into Mississauga ARC Industries? I am advised it is engaged in the same practice of contracting out its jobs to private employers but is paying its workers who are on government programs less than the minimum wage, paying so-called wages in the order of 50 cents an hour.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, last week in my absence the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) asked a question of the Premier (Mr. Davis) related to Irwin Toy and the prolonged strike that has been taking place there.
I do not want to go into great detail about the course of negotiations. I am sure the member and the House are well aware a disputes advisory committee consisting of Mr. Terry Meagher and Mr. Bob Joyce was appointed in September to see if they could facilitate a settlement of that issue.
I met with Mr. Joyce and Mr. Meagher independently last week and have been advised that, although the trade union bargaining agent on behalf of the employees would accept a recommendation from the committee, the employer is not prepared to do so, at least at this time. Mr. Joyce and Mr. Meagher indicate they intend to keep in touch with the parties to see if there can be any change in those positions.
The member also asked the Premier about the viability of the concept of first contract compulsory arbitration in this province. We have discussed that at some length in committee and in the House in the past. I am sure the member knows that, for example, in British Columbia, where that law is in force, few of those imposed first contracts become renewed second contracts. I think that is good evidence that agreements reached between parties bargaining in good faith tend usually to be agreements that go on to good relationships.
It is my belief that in this province we now have a situation where the Ontario Labour Relations Board has shown it can fashion remedies in situations where there is evidence of bad faith. I understand the union has a complaint before the board with regard to bargaining in bad faith which it has not yet reinstituted, but which it can. It is my view the remedies available in this province through the labour relations board are very superior.
Mr. Mackenzie: A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker: Does the minister not realize what we have here is a demise of the basic right of collective bargaining? The company has simply said, “We do not intend to have a union in that plant, period.” What does the preamble to the Labour Relations Act, which guarantees workers these rights, mean to the minister?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I presume the member believes, as I do, in collective bargaining. In this case the issue in dispute is one of wages. There was an allegation at one time of bad faith bargaining which was adjourned sine die. The union has indicated publicly it intends to revive that complaint of bargaining in bad faith. In situations where the board has found evidence of bargaining in bad faith, it has indeed fashioned a remedy which I think the member will agree has been adequate.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, since I am not running for the leadership, and I do not have somebody beside me applauding so hard I can hardly hear the member’s question, I do not have to get into that.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment relating to SCA Chemical Waste Services asking for some modification to the state pollution discharge elimination system permit to relax some of the regulations in the dumping of so-called “treated toxics” into the lower Niagara River.
I wonder if the minister recalls his statement of Thursday, November 26, when he stated: “First, since the SCA request has proceeded to the hearing stage, I have decided that Ontario will intervene on December 1 to voice our concerns. Ontario cannot support a relaxation in these standards; so the ministry will be present to voice its position at the initial hearings.”
While the minister made that suggestion in his statement, he told a member of my staff he was not certain whether he would have legal and technical staff at the full hearings to argue against a relaxation of specific parameters. He gave the impression to the press that he has finally become serious about the Niagara problem. How can he claim to be serious if he will not go beyond making an opening statement to this US hearing?
I wonder if the minister will commit himself to fighting every step of the way through the hearings. Does he realize his December 1 statement alone, without legal action, will lack any credibility, and instead of making a giant step forward he has only started to move in the right direction?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the honourable member at least acknowledged he got his information from me through a conversation I had with a researcher from that caucus. I am very open with his party’s researchers too, as the member is well aware. I would have thought he might have explained it a little more fully in reference to our conversation.
It is correct, as I understand it, that the hearings will be held in two stages, the first beginning on December 1, where the statements and arguments will be of a general nature. The hearings to commence on December 15 will deal with 30 specific parameters that are under review and for which, I think in all cases, modifications are being sought.
In the discussion I had with the researcher -- I have referred to the same individual as a minion of someone else in the member’s caucus on another occasion -- I attempted to explain to him the reason for that decision at this time. The concern we will be expressing basically will be based upon the conviction that any additional loading in the Niagara River is unacceptable. We will be presenting those arguments on December 1.
There is some difficulty in arguing in isolation on the 30 specific parameters. I am not prepared to put our credibility in a situation where, given the limitations of the forum on December 15, we might not be able to argue convincingly on those specific parameters in isolation from the overall question of the loading of the river.
For example, in one parameter I can think of, they are proposing what would constitute a 150 per cent increase in the allowable level. It is going up to an amount that is still small but it amounts to a 150 per cent increase. It would be very difficult on technical grounds to argue that this isolated increase is in itself going to be a hazard to the river. What it is possible to argue -- and we will argue it on December I -- is that any increased loadings, where the decisions may be made in isolation from the overall question of the present loadings to the river, are unacceptable.
The member may or may not accept that position, but I think strategically it is a wise decision we have made. I have also indicated we will be looking at all the other permits coming up for review between now and, I believe, next July. There may be as many as 30 major ones. We are setting up a team to devote its whole attention to the Niagara River, that will collect all the available technical information it can get on the loadings to the river. On the basis of this technical information, we will proceed at those hearings to argue there should be no relaxation, that in fact the permits ought to be tightened up and the standards ought to be made stiffer.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I am sure the minister will agree that attitude is going to be extremely important in making our case. Highlighting a concern I have, on March 9, in an article in the St. Catharines Standard, there was this report:
“Mr. Robert Sugarman, the former United States chairman of the International Joint Commission, reflected on his experiences regarding the Niagara River. He said, ‘Unfortunately, some government officials who sit on the government’s water quality board, particularly officials on the Canadian side, were concerned that the situation not be overstressed as a serious problem.’ Asked to name Canadian officials who fall into this category, Mr. Sugarman named Bill Steggles, research adviser for the Ontario environmental minister, as one of them.”
Since Mr. Steggles is the senior official in the environment ministry responsible for the water quality in the Great Lakes, including the Niagara River, would the minister’s reluctance to intervene legally in the hearings have something to do with his attitude? I wonder if the minister may not talk to him again and decide we have a battle to be fought here, and we are going to have to do it with diligence, perseverance and some real intestinal fortitude.
In answer to the second specific question, I can assure the honourable member that Mr. Steggles has not expressed to me any dissatisfaction with the decision I have taken. If he has reservations, as an individual, with respect to the course of action I have embarked upon, and which I have directed the ministry to embark upon, then he has not expressed that. In fact, it is my understanding he is supportive of the policy decision I have taken.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister without Portfolio in charge of freedom of information. Last night, speaking to an audience in Belleville, the minister indicated he had personally come to the conclusion, and was going to recommend to government, that in the forthcoming freedom of information bill he is shaping, the appeals procedure will finally be circuited back in and the final decision rest with the cabinet.
He went as far as to say the specific review structure he favours depends heavily upon the principles and practices espoused by Dr. Williams, the head of the commission that investigated this issue for four or five years. Since Dr. Williams’ report established a two-tier review procedure, which would be an absolutely independent buffer between the applicant and the government, how can the minister engage in such a gross distortion of what the Williams commission recommended -- indeed, a blatant misrepresentation of what it recommended -- when he is speaking today to audiences across the province?
Hon. Mr. Sterling: I was not happy with the way the paragraph indicated my intention, so I wanted to clarify it to the group that was there. I think it says the review structure I favour depends on some of the principles and practices espoused by Dr. Williams. That is, there is an independent review process in the model I put forward, a model which employs an information commissioner and has some independent review of requests for information from a minister. The next sentence refers to the fact that I support the maintenance of the tradition of ministerial accountability.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the minister interpret his own speeches, which he finds a little bit confusing. He should write his own speeches and not have somebody else do it. Then he will not have to interpret them.
Mr. MacDonald: The minister has come to his own conclusions on what the review procedure will be and it will ultimately get back to a cabinet making the decision, in violation of all independent review procedures. How can he justify coming to that conclusion and speaking across the province about it when he has set up a task force as a substitute for the study he promised in June and did not deliver this fall, a task force that presumably is going to report in the middle of December? Is he coming to his own conclusions before the task force has reported? What sort of charade is it if that is the case?
Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, if the member read the press releases I issued when I set up this task force, I said it was not a study group; it was a group to put forward the legislation as I thought it should be. That, of course, is my prerogative as a minister of the government.
Mr. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister explain why he has decided that in the last instance in any sensitive matter we are now to be left with a decision of the cabinet just as we were in Re-Mor, in Suncor, in Argosy and in Co-op? Can he explain why that is his idea of freedom of information?
The reason he gives in his speech seems to be that he feels that whereas a minister is responsive to public concern and criticism, “the same principle does not hold true for a court, which may decide unwisely or in a manner which is inconsistent to the public good.” He goes on to say he thinks the courts have power in the American system of checks and balances, but here Parliament ought to be utterly supreme because it is ultimately elected and responsible to the people.
How does this hold with a government that has gone whole hog in favour of an entrenched charter of rights? Does the minister not realize that Sterling Lyon argued exactly that the Parliament must be supreme over and above the courts? That is the argument he made, and yet the minister’s government said we should have an entrenched charter of rights over and above the Parliament.
If the minister is in favour of an entrenched charter of rights and is willing to trust the courts with those important matters, why does he insist that only cabinet ministers are sacrosanct enough to deal with freedom of information?
Hon. Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, the number and type of different decisions that might be made under a piece of legislation like this would be significantly different from the kinds of issues that would be decided under a charter of rights. A charter of rights would basically determine the rights as between two litigants in a court situation or between the state and an individual, but in this case it is impossible to sever the fact from the policy part of a particular decision.
It is my feeling, and some of the other jurisdictions have also felt, that you just cannot put the court in the position of deciding what is policy and what is fact or what is to be decided under the law. Nor does the court take kindly to receiving this kind of jurisdiction. My feeling is that the government should place itself in a position of being more accountable through the legislation, so that we would be in a position of being embarrassed if the information commissioner or the Ombudsman said we should disclose information and the cabinet decided that it should not.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the estimates of the Provincial Secretariat for Resources Development, now referred to the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments, be transferred to the standing committee on resources development to be taken last in sequence; and that the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, now referred to the standing committee on general government, be transferred to the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments be authorized to sit Monday evenings, Thursday mornings and Thursday evenings to consider estimates referred to the committee.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to travel on Wednesday, December 16, 1981, to Mimico Correctional Centre in Etobicoke and Stanford House in Toronto.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I thought I should announce to the House that it has been agreed to by all the House leaders that the votes on consideration of Bill 7 in committee of the whole, which will begin tonight at eight o’clock, will be stacked until 10:15 tomorrow evening.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, first of all I might indicate we are having distributed a revised sheet which indicates the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs estimates as revised by motion of this House a short time ago.
In other words, the original estimates that were presented when the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague) presented the estimate books earlier in the session had the municipal affairs section still in the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. They were transferred to Municipal Affairs and Housing and this is the revised estimates which we are considering at this particular time.
This estimates debate marks for me two important occasions. First, it gives me a chance to focus on the more exclusive integrated function of the reorganized Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. Second, it provides an opportunity for me to make a progress report on our French-language programs in my new role as minister responsible for French-language services.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please. First of all, do all members concerned have copies of the opening statement? No, neither do I. Is it possible to get a copy so we could read along with the choice words of wisdom?
Mr. Chairman: All right. You started off wonderfully and I have interrupted. I feel so bad about this. I just want to bring to the attention of the Solicitor General and Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman), it is distracting for us to listen to the minister who is bringing forward his opening statement --
Members will recall, Mr. Chairman, that last July the responsibility for relations with municipalities was transferred from me to my colleague who became Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) at that time. That was done in keeping with a pledge made in the speech from the throne last April.
On May 1, the Premier (Mr. Davis) explained how he intended to honour that pledge and he said, “By putting together at this time, under a single minister, the important programs of municipal affairs, community planning and community development, we increase our capacity to work with municipalities to achieve our mutual objectives.
“One great advantage of this arrangement is that the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs will now be able to focus its attention on Ontario’s relations with other governments, particularly within Canada. It is clear that the scope and intensity of intergovernmental issues on the immediate horizon will make this area a matter of the highest priority for the government.”
Before I go on, I would like to say a few words in appreciation of the work done by my former parliamentary assistant, the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg). He is continuing to ably discharge similar duties for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
While with me, the member performed a difficult and demanding job with great dedication. His understanding of municipal politics was a constant source of help to me and I would like to thank him publicly for his assistance.
I would also like at this time to express my sincere appreciation to Eric Fleming, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs, and to all his staff for the wonderful working relationships we enjoyed during my time as the minister responsible for municipal affairs within the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Mr. Fleming, along with Mr. Gardiner Church, the executive director of the municipal operations division and all the directors, managers and other personnel performed a difficult task with great professionalism. I am pleased to have been associated with them.
The total 1981-82 budget for the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs is $4,323,500. Over the course of this debate we shall be seeking the approval of the House for $3,271,000 of this total. The difference is accounted for by $1,024,800 which was secured by special warrants and $27,500 of statutory appropriations.
Because of the ministry’s relatively small size and limited staff, our organizational chart is quite simple and very straightforward. All branches within the ministry report directly to the deputy minister on their day-to-day operations. This allows all our senior managers to stay in touch and be directly involved in all aspects of our work.
As members know, I have a new parliamentary assistant, the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy). His vast experience in Canadian political life and his interest in all matters related to the area of intergovernmental affairs make him a very useful addition to this ministry.
In our new organization, Don Stevenson, of course, remains as Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Don has vast experience in this field and his dedication to his job is of the highest order. Don also supports me in my role as minister responsible for French-language services. As the government’s co-ordinator in this area, he brings to bear both credibility and enthusiasm.
In addition to the staff in the co-ordinator’s office, I now also have the benefit of the advice of the Council for Franco-Ontarian Affairs. As part of our reorganization, responsibility for this council was transferred from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation. I would like to express my pleasure at the appointment of Monsieur Roger Regimbal as chairman of the council. He has already played an important role in the life of this country and this province and I look forward to a long and fruitful association with him.
On the intergovernmental affairs side, many members of this House are aware of the senior staff who are responsible for advising me on Ontario’s relations with other jurisdictions both in Canada and abroad. Ed Greathed, formerly executive director of the office of intergovernmental affairs, has taken on special responsibilities as senior adviser to the deputy minister. These responsibilities include bringing an intergovernmental perspective to bear on the economic and fiscal issues that are now such an important item on Canada’s federal-provincial agenda.
Gary Posen heads the federal-provincial and interprovincial affairs secretariat responsible for advising on such matters as constitutional reform, relations with other provinces and the intergovernmental implications of policy and program initiatives across the full range of our government activities.
John Carson is in charge of the external activities co-ordination secretariat. He and his staff focus on such matters as the advancement of Ontario’s interests abroad within the framework of Canadian foreign policy, the coordination of national and Ontario policies as they relate to foreign affairs, and the administration of the international disaster relief fund. In pursuing these activities, the branch works closely with the federal Department of External Affairs.
The office of protocol, under Walter Borosa, is responsible for promoting Ontario’s interest in services to people rather than strictly in policy terms. In this regard, the office is our point of contact with foreign consulates and trade missions located in Ontario and the administrative focus for receiving a broad range of important visitors to this province.
Two other units provide a service function to the ministry as a whole. The planning and management group, headed by Sam Clasky, offers administrative support and overall coordination with Management Board and the other agencies of the cabinet and government. Information services, under Denis Massicotte, handles public requests for information and relations with the media. In the past year, it has concentrated on promoting Ontario’s views beyond the province and publicizing the government’s French-language services program.
Why has this more exclusive focus become necessary for the ministry and for Ontario at this point in our history? Throughout the 1970s, co-operative federalism was the dominant but by no means exclusive characteristic of this country’s federal-provincial relations. The deconditionalizing of the major shared cost programs under the established programs financing agreement, federal-provincial co-operation to combat inflation, joint exercises to disentangle federal and provincial activities and prolonged discussion on constitutional reform were all examples of this approach. In contrast to the preceding decade, the federal government showed greater respect for provincial jurisdictions, and provinces were able to pursue their responsibilities more effectively.
However, in 1980-81 this trend began to be reversed. The federal government became increasingly concerned about the decentralist direction in which Canada seemed to be headed. It was frustrated by its inability to promote equal opportunities in all parts of the country. It was alarmed by the heightened regional consciousness which had developed.
In Quebec, the Parti Québecois had been elected in 1976. Late in 1979, with the publication of its white paper on sovereignty-association, it began actively to pursue its independence objective. In the west, the windfall revenues from steeply increased energy prices were contributing to a growing disparity in interprovincial fiscal capacities. As individual provinces pursued their own economic interests, new barriers were erected in this country to the mobility of goods, services, labour and capital.
Moreover, at the end of the decade, as the federal government became increasingly preoccupied with regionally contentious issues such as energy, Quebec separatism and constitutional reform, its attention was deflected from national leadership on economic problems, such as inflation, unemployment, interest rates and slow economic growth.
As a result, in the fall of 1980, the federal government decided to secure and broaden its role in the face of these strong regional, economic and cultural pressures. It determined that it would reassert the national interest. As federal ministers have expressed it, this role takes the form of decisive action by the federal government to assert its influence forcefully, aggressively and, if necessary, unilaterally.
The provinces have thus generally found themselves faced with a federal government less concerned about clear definitions of powers and less concerned about respecting provincial jurisdiction. Parliament, rather than federal- provincial conferences, is claimed to be the means for defining and determining the national interest.
1. After extended deadlock with Alberta over energy pricing and revenue sharing, the federal government introduced the national energy program, designed to give it access to energy revenues through a new unilateral scheme to tax provincial resources directly.
2. As a response to the size and growth of its deficit, the federal government has decided to terminate or severely constrain funding in shared cost programs and to reintroduce controls and ceilings in the areas of unconditional financing covered by the 1977 established programs financing agreement.
3. The federal government decided to proceed with a limited package of constitutional reforms in the wake of intergovernmental deadlock, in spite of the active opposition of eight provinces. I will have more to say about this later in my remarks.
These federal initiatives in energy, fiscal and constitutional matters now show signs of being extended to other programs. Based on evidence with regard to regional development, pensions, bilingualism grants, manpower, energy conservation and emergency planning, the federal government intends to set the priorities in these areas.
As well, the federal government is demanding the right to set the goals and objectives of nationally funded programs that the provinces have recently executed with increasing independence. Federal ministers have stated three general objectives: visibility, high-profile federal expenditures directly impacting on the public; credibility, federal programs consonant with federal priorities; and accountability, measurable, immediate results of a program’s efficient performance.
These developments have posed a serious challenge to Ontario’s implicit objective in intergovernmental relations to balance the contending forces of province building and nation building. As a result, we have been drawn into both supporting and challenging the various centralizing and decentralizing influences.
On some matters, such as the constitutional resolution and energy pricing and revenue sharing, Ontario has backed the federal position. On others, such as the threatened federal cutbacks in health care and post-secondary financing, Ontario has opposed the federal government’s position.
These differing positions are not contradictory. Rather, they are fully consistent with our historical concern for finding the appropriate balance in this province between federal and provincial powers in Confederation.
Unlike some other provinces whose strategies increasingly have tended towards a single objective such as sovereignty-association, rejection of federal leadership or maximum control over provincial resources, Ontario’s intergovernmental approach has been more complex and multifaceted.
The interests of this province require both a strong and active federal government and cooperation among the provincial governments. Yet, over the past two years, such federal activism has too often tended to be unilateral and too much of the interprovincial collaboration has tended to detract from a cohesive federalism.
We thus find ourselves facing a paradox. There is a tide in the economics of Confederation that requires greater intergovernmental co-operation, yet a fragmentation in politics that finds provinces frequently unable to agree with one another or with the federal government.
In the past, it is fair to say the intergovernmental relations of most provinces formed no identifiable pattern. They consisted of discrete functional interests and agreements. At any one time, certain issues would suffer from conflict among governments, while others would be handled harmoniously. What is dramatically different today is the much greater integration that many governments have imposed on their various positions on intergovernmental issues.
The overall effect of this trend has been to narrow the scope for compromise and to link agreement in one area with concessions in others. The consequence is that program ministries find issues beyond those of their functional responsibility now tending to impede the achievement of solutions in their particular areas. An example that could be cited is the communications area.
The need to understand and anticipate the overall direction in Confederation is, I believe, now more important than ever before. The relationship of functional issues to these directions will have to be increasingly considered. Moreover, in the face of more aggressive activity by other provinces to further their own interests both in Canada and abroad, and the shifting economic strength among Canadian regions, Ontario will have to undertake a more active role to ensure that its needs, views and objectives are understood and more forcefully promoted.
It is for this reason that the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs has been given a new mandate and a new focus. It is our job to ensure that the whole government and all its ministries are aware of the changing trends in Confederation and that ministries understand the relationships between their functional concerns and these broader trends. To this end, we report to cabinet regularly on these issues. It is also our responsibility to ensure that governments and opinion leaders in Canada and abroad are fully cognizant of our policies and concerns.
Debate on the substance and process of constitutional reform has, of course, dominated the federal-provincial scene for some 18 months. I am certain all members of the House are heartened by the agreement that was reached among the Prime Minister and nine Premiers during the first week of November. It is my expectation that the formal resolution which is based on that agreement will be approved by Parliament before the end of this very week and will then be quickly on its way to the United Kingdom.
Federal-provincial consensus on this matter was achieved even though the underlying tensions in Confederation actually militated against it. What made agreement possible, in my view, was the combined effect of a series of factors that emerged during the year-long drama. What is remarkable is that many of these factors and the outcome itself would have been impossible to predict a year ago.
The drama began with the failure of the first ministers’ conference to reach any consensus on reform in September 1980, only four months after the Quebec referendum in a summer of unprecedented intense discussions by ministers and officials from both the federal and provincial governments. This was the third occasion in a decade when success on constitutional issues had eluded Canada’s first ministers, and it marked a total of 54 years of frustrated efforts.
In spite of the deadlock the federal government decided to introduce a resolution on constitutional reform in Parliament in October 1980. That resolution provided for patriation, an amending formula, a charter of rights, a commitment to the reduction of regional disparity and to the provision of equalization, and clarification of provincial ownership and jurisdiction over nonrenewable natural resources. It was considered clause by clause in public hearings involving hundreds of Canadians over a three-month period by a joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate. As a result it was significantly amended.
Throughout this period Ontario and New Brunswick were the only provinces to support this resolution. In response the other eight provinces met on numerous occasions in the early months of 1981, and in April they announced agreement on an alternative constitutional reform proposal consisting of only patriation and what is called the Vancouver amending formula, so named in spite of the fact that it had originally been put forward by the province of Alberta. This agreement came to be known as the group of eight accord. After a strong and concerted fight on the part of the Progressive Conservatives in the House of Commons the federal government decided to wait for a Supreme Court decision before bringing the resolution to a final vote.
On September 28 the Supreme Court of Canada declared that action by the federal government to forward its constitutional resolution to the United Kingdom Parliament would be legal but that traditional constitutional practices or convention in Canada required that such action be undertaken with the approval of a significant number of provinces. The most important aspect of this ruling was, I believe, that it determined for the first time unanimous consent by the provinces was not necessary.
After the Supreme Court decision an attitude of concern developed in the United Kingdom. Even among members of the Commons and the Lords sympathetic to the federal resolution, a number began to believe they were being asked to make choices with regard to constitutional reform that more properly, in their view, should be made in Canada. Public opinion polls reported consistently that a strong majority of Canadians across the country favoured the protection of their basic rights and freedoms in the constitution.
The most recent introduction of this attitude was contained in a poll published by the Canada West Foundation in the latter part of October. This poll showed, for example, that more than 80 per cent of western Canadians favoured a charter of rights in spite of the opposition of their provincial governments.
A deep feeling developed in those weeks in many parts of Canada, including Ontario, that the constitutional confrontation had to be settled by means of compromise for the good of Canada. What was required now was a compromise package that could be broadly supported by most governments around the table.
All of these factors were necessary, I believe, to set the stage for the final successful outcome, and all of these factors provided a background to what happened at that final successful meeting. We might or might not have had constitutional reform in the absence of agreement, but the intergovernmental atmosphere or the relations between the governments of Canada would probably have been filled with rancour and bitterness if we had not. What was achieved was a compromise, a good Canadian compromise, but compromises are never perfect.
For Ontario, the price of consensus was the acceptance of an amending formula which was not our first choice, and a charter of rights which in some of its provisions could be overridden by Parliament and provincial Legislatures.
I want to remind members that the Ontario government argued in favour of a charter of rights with no legislative override during all the time we supported the federal package. The inclusion of the notwithstanding provision to allow such an override was accepted by us only to achieve federal-provincial consensus. However, as the Premier stated after the conference, this government has no intention of making use of this provision.
It was our understanding of the federal- provincial agreement that no change would be made to section 28 on male-female equality. We were pleased this understanding was finally confirmed a week or so later as a result of intensive post-conference discussion. We are equally pleased by the decision to restore the aboriginal rights section to the resolution.
For our Premier, this agreement was the fulfilment of a personal dream that went back to the initial first ministers’ conference he attended as Premier, in Victoria in June 1971. Ten years and countless meetings later he had the intense satisfaction of playing a crucial role in finding an acceptable compromise.
The Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and I and all our officials, both those with us in Ottawa and those in Queen’s Park, shared in the Premier’s satisfaction. For all of us it was the culmination of many years of concerted effort and hard work. The achievement of a consensus was of paramount importance. I believe it was necessary as a means of restoring the confidence of Canadians in our political institutions and of removing a potentially dark shadow that continued deadlock would have placed over many aspects of our discussions, particularly those concerning the economy.
In a very personal sense, it represented one of the proudest moments I have known in political life. It meant we would soon be able to take another symbolic step in our country’s development. We now will be adding to our flag and our national anthem a truly made-in-Canada constitution that will be at home in Canada. I believe we will finally have achieved, after 114 years, a true and independent nationhood.
My discussion on the constitution would be incomplete if it did not note my profound regret that the Quebec government was not a party to the agreement. Ontario’s aim throughout the constitutional discussions had been to work for a package of amendments broadly acceptable to the people and governments of Canada.
This province attended the conference in the first week of November with the explicit aim of finding a compromise between the then federal resolution, which we fully supported, and the accord of the group of eight. Our Premier made this aim very clear in his opening remarks to the conference.
It was not our objective, nor the objective of any conference participants, as far as we know, to isolate the Quebec government or to ignore the needs of Quebec. It was up to each government to represent its own interests, and to place its own views on the table.
In his opening remarks to the conference, Premier Lévesque demanded that the federal government not act unilaterally on patriation, but accept the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada which called for a significant consensus of provinces to honour the convention on constitutional amendments.
It is now clear that all governments, except that of Quebec, came to the first ministers’ conference prepared to work out a reasonable compromise, and they did so. The federal government is not now acting unilaterally. Nine provinces and the federal government support the resolution as revised. Surely this is a significant consensus, as any reasonable person would understand the term.
Nevertheless, Mr. Lévesque has cried foul and is now demanding that the project be stopped. While I can understand the stance adopted by him and his government, given its objectives, I find it difficult to follow their reasoning. In past attempts at constitutional reform there was an assumption that the approval of all provinces was required, the so-called tyranny of unanimity, as some have called it. However, it was never clear whether this assumption was based on a legal requirement or just political necessity.
Last spring, the government of Quebec was a party to an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in which this very issue was considered. A majority of judges, including those from Quebec, decided that “a substantial measure of provincial consent is required.” Moreover, the court said, “It would not be appropriate for the court to devise in the abstract a specific formula which would indicate in positive terms what measure of provincial agreement is required for the convention to be complied with. Conventions by their nature develop in the political field and it will be for the political actors, not this court, to determine the degree of provincial consent required.”
Moreover, last April 16, the government of Quebec signed an understanding with seven other provinces in which it accepted an amending formula based on the equality of all provinces and in which neither Quebec nor any other province had a veto over amendments. It thus seems strange to read Premier Lévesque’s interpretation that this principle of no veto was to apply to future amendments but not to the current one. If the veto was of so little importance that he was willing to accept the formula without it, surely it is hard to argue now that it is of primary concern.
Ontario is concerned, as I said earlier, about the situation in Quebec but we are heartened by the distinction we believe that is being made by Quebeckers between the views of their government and the benefits of the constitutional resolution to them as individuals. As the federal Minister of Justice, the Honourable Jean Chrétien, said in the House of Commons on November 20: “It is essential to distinguish between the interests of Quebec and the interests of the Parti Québecois ... so we have chosen to listen to those who ran as federalists and were elected to serve Quebec...”
Ontario remains committed to finishing the job of constitutional reform. We assume the provinces and the federal government have other issues they will want to raise in the next stage of this process. That stage will take place after the resolution is passed in the United Kingdom and has been proclaimed in Canada. The Quebec government, along with all other governments, will have a further opportunity at that time to press for the changes that they believe are necessary.
In addition to the constitution and other domestic intergovernmental issues, the ministry has also been active in advancing Ontario’s interests in the international scene. At the outset, I want to make it clear that our initiatives in this regard are taken within the framework of Canadian foreign policy and are closely coordinated with the federal Department of External Affairs. As foreign relations have come to encompass a broader range of governmental activities, including those in the economic, social and cultural fields, the federal government has been obliged to consult and cooperate with the provinces, which have jurisdiction for many of these functions.
By the same token, the provinces have found that to pursue their constitutional responsibilities effectively, they have had to strengthen their liaison with External Affairs and they have had to develop direct contacts with counterparts in other countries such as the United States and in international organizations. Thus, Ontario is consulted by the federal government for its views on the ratification of a United Nations agreement on social matters or on possible projects to be considered for bilateral co-operation in such forums as the Canada- Belgium cultural committee or the Canada- Germany committee on scientific and technical exchanges.
Ontario, by the same token, is anxious to make the federal government aware of its concerns on issues such as acid rain and to contribute to Canadian efforts on this subject in the United States. The focal point for the increased contact between Canada and Ontario on such matters has been the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
During the past year, we have continued to develop our capacity to advise Ontario ministries on the international implications of their activities and to represent their concerns to External Affairs. As on our domestic side, our aim is to ensure that External Affairs has a co-ordinated, integrated view of Ontario’s interests.
A recent innovation in this regard, for example, has been the loan for two months of one of our ministry’s staff to the Canadian embassy in Washington. This has permitted the embassy to increase its efforts to explain Canada’s and Ontario’s concern with regard to acid rain, both to the administration in the United States and to Congress. It has ensured that Ontario’s views on this complex issue are available on the spot to the embassy staff and that any additional information required can be quickly and effectively provided.
A second important international initiative undertaken by the ministry has been the decision to establish an Ontario office in Brussels. With the exception of Ontario House in London, the Ministry of Industry and Tourism offices abroad concentrate on trade and tourism. The Brussels office, however, will represent the Ontario government as a whole. In addition to economic matters, this office will reflect Ontario’s social and cultural interests in its dealings with the European community and with the Kingdom of Belgium. Mr. Omer Deslauriers has recently been named head of post --
Hon. Mr. Wells: He is a very distinguished citizen of this province, former president of l’Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario. He has recently been named head of post and it is our intention for the office to be operational early next year. At about the same time, we hope to complete arrangements for the expansion of the Ontario office in Paris and the naming of an agent general there.
I also want to note briefly our responsibility for co-ordinating Ontario’s contribution to international disaster relief programs. Working in co-operation with External Affairs and agencies such as the Red Cross, Ontario has committed $700,000 for reconstruction efforts and aid to refugees in Italy, which comes in the wake of last year’s devastating earthquake, as well as $50,000 for immediate relief in a similar disaster in Algeria.
Through our office of protocol services, the ministry is in contact with the 62 foreign government consular missions in Ontario. It is interesting to note this number is a 100 per cent increase since 1971. These consular missions are responsible for the development of trade and cultural relations within their assigned jurisdiction. The number of missions in the senior level of representation attests to the importance foreign governments give to the economic and cultural activities of this province.
Last summer, for example, we organized in co-operation with the Ministries of Northern Affairs, Natural Resources and Industry and Tourism a tour of northeastern Ontario to give these foreign officials, including consuls general and trade commissioners from 19 countries, a close look at the vast resources and potential of that very important part of Ontario.
In addition to almost daily contacts with the consular corps, the ministry offers annually two seminars to brief consular officials on major national and Ontario issues and on our government programs. This kind of activity enables them to deal more effectively with the Ontario government and with the business community here.
As part of this government’s program to promote a greater awareness of Ontario’s objectives and policies, the office of protocol services organizes official visits to Ontario. During the fiscal year 1980-81, Ontario played host to 58 distinguished visitors, including heads of state and government as well as senior ministers and other top officials.
Already this year the number of VIP guests has totalled 80. In addition to playing host to world political leaders the government and people of Ontario are of course always delighted to welcome members of our royal family. Last summer we were honoured by the visit of Her Majesty the Queen Mother and Her Royal Highness the Princess Margaret. I am most happy to report that these two visits were both highly successful, and our two royal visitors were enchanted by their welcome. The Queen Mother took part in many engagements, including one in front of the Parliament buildings here and including the celebration of the bicentennial of Niagara-on-the-Lake, while Princess Margaret visited Cambridge, Timmins and Port Carling.
In 1980 we were pleased to participate in the arrangements for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh’s fifth Commonwealth study conference, which brought together 318 men and women from every part of the Commonwealth to discuss their involvement in the problems of industrial communities.
As part of its hospitality role last year the office of protocol organized 148 functions to better acquaint our visitors and guests with various aspects of Ontario life. Protocol officers also arranged more than 50 ceremonies and public events ranging from the installation of our Lieutenant Governor, to Canada’s birthday picnic, to the At Queen’s Park series of exhibitions in the Macdonald Gallery.
Last spring I succeeded the Honourable René Brunelle as the minister responsible for French-language services. Mr. Brunelle is now retired, of course, from active political life. However, I would again like to pay tribute to him as an able advocate of Franco-Ontarian interests. Under his leadership significant progress was made in the province’s ability to offer its services in French. I am committed to building on his efforts.
There is a tendency in this House and elsewhere to criticize the government for the constitutional obligations and comprehensive legal framework it has not accepted. What I think is unfortunately ignored are the moral obligations we have accepted and the comprehensive programs we have and are developing. I am pleased to report that the government’s capacity to fulfil its program commitment has been greatly increased in recent months. Moreover, our progress and organization have attracted the provinces of New Brunswick and Manitoba to study our system as an example of the way in which they can effectively deliver French-language services.
In addition to the core of people in the office of the co-ordinator working full time on French-language services, there are now full-time French-language services co-ordinators in the Ministries of Health, Community and Social Services, Culture and Recreation, Environment, Labour, Industry and Tourism, Municipal Affairs and Housing, Consumer and Commercial Relations and the Attorney General.
There are, of course, also the staff in the office of the Assistant Deputy Minister for Franco-Ontarian Education, the translation bureaus in the Ministries of Government Services and the Attorney General and the French-language services section in the Civil Service Commission. An increasing number of ministries, including my own, now also have bilingual information officers. While the greatest expansion of French-language services has generally taken place in those ministries with full-time co-ordinators, significant developments have also occurred in other ministries, each of which has a senior staff member in the position of part-time co-ordinator.
I am not going to take up the time of the House this afternoon to describe all the recent initiatives undertaken by each individual ministry. These will be outlined in the annual report of the co-ordinator, which will appear early in the new year, and in forthcoming government policy statements. At this time, however, I might just mention several specific items.
First, in the field of justice, the government is building on its existing guarantees to provide a criminal trial in French to anyone in the province by extending its bilingual services in the civil courts, as the Attorney General just recently announced. This capacity will now cover areas containing more than 80 per cent of the francophones in Ontario.
Second, the translation of selected statutes is proceeding quickly. More than 70 of the most important statutes are now available in French, including such widely used acts as the Highway Traffic Act and the Education Act. Third, I am happy to report that the French-language College of Agricultural Technology in Alfred opened its doors in September and is now providing specialized instruction for more than 50 young Franco-Ontarians. Fourth, the French-language secondary school in Penetanguishene will be completed in time to open after the Christmas break.
Almost all ministries now offer services in both languages in their regional offices in the designated areas while a growing number of ministries now have formally adopted a French-language service policy statement for their specific programs. The office of the coordinator has been instrumental in much of this activity. The staff of the office meet regularly with ministry co-ordinators. Submissions to cabinet, the deputy ministers’ council and other government-wide bodies are regularly prepared with recommendations for further means of meeting the government’s policy commitment in this area.
The co-ordinator’s office has been active on some specific points this year. In the area of information, it has been developing new means of ensuring that Franco-Ontarians are aware of government services that are available in French. It has prepared listings in French for the blue pages of local telephone directories of all government offices where French-language services are available.
Last autumn, it inaugurated the program Renseignements Ontario, which provides free telephone access in French for information on all government programs, not only those normally offered in French. It has been very well received by the francophone population. For a period, the staff answering the toll-free telephone lines were getting up to 50 calls a day. The ministry undertook an advertising program a year ago to ensure that francophones could take full advantage of this program. A follow-up program, with a slightly different message, will commence shortly.
The office of the co-ordinator undertook this summer, with the aid of the federal Commissioner of Official Languages and outside researchers, a major study of the current organization and scope of French-language services in the province in order to identify gaps and suggest improvements. When this is completed, I will be happy to report on its major findings. Funding for these two new activities has come from a special $1 million fund which has been added to the budget of the co-ordinator this year to improve French-language services.
In addition to government-wide projects, the fund has provided about $500,000 for some 60 worthwhile initiatives within the francophone community. For example, $100,000 was made available to Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario to finance a project to recommend ways of improving the economic prospects of Franco-Ontarians. The sum of $35,000 was granted to a newly formed Ontario association of French-language lawyers to prepare a guide to the practice of common law in French, a project that has just been completed. I will be pleased to provide any further detail on these grants during the course of this debate.
By assuming the reporting function for the Council on Franco-Ontarian Affairs, the ministry now has responsibility for policy advice, co-ordination of service delivery and the main channel of communication within the Franco-Ontarian community. Through this streamlining, we are now much better able to respond quickly and completely to the expressed needs and desires of francophones in this province.
I can assure Franco-Ontarians, and I can also assure this House, that the government’s policy and budget commitment to the expansion of French-language services is a high priority. Our commitment is real and we are determined to ensure that it is based on a solid capacity to deliver. Mr. Chairman, that concludes my opening remarks. I will be happy, of course, to respond to any questions that are raised by the members or answer any concerns that they may have during the course of this debate.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, my colleague the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) is not immediately available, and I thought I would take this opportunity to make a few remarks in response to the minister’s opening address and to express some views of my own in connection with the operation of his ministry.
Personally, I regret that we will not have an opportunity to have a debate on the constitution itself. In so saying, I do not represent a majority of my colleagues. My main regret is that I have some things to say about the administration of the ministry and certain of its other responsibilities. When we talk about those at the same time as we talk about the successes and accomplishments by the provinces and the government of Canada in the constitutional matter, the two simply do not fit very well.
It appears we will have an opportunity to discuss the constitution in these estimates and those of the Premier (Mr. Davis), and evidently it was discussed in the estimates of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), which is fine. My only objection is that talking about mundane administrative matters does not fit very well when we want to embark on some flights of constitutional review. That is my only regret.
I express my personal congratulations to the minister and his colleagues for the role they played in this year-long negotiation. There were times when my Conservative friends in the constituency of Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, in approaching me about the matter, were not quite as pleased as I was. It should have been seen not necessarily as support by the Premier and Ontario for Pierre Trudeau and the Liberal government but simply as a realization that Ontario for a good long time has played a significant role in the move towards constitutional patriation and reform.
Mr. Nixon: My honourable friend is anxious that I get to a more important section of my speech, having to do with the rights of the natives who so far have been good enough to support me in my electoral attempts in that constituency. If he is able to contain himself for another hour and a half, perhaps we might get to that point. By so saying, I in no way want to downgrade the importance of that matter because, as you will see if you can withstand this particular test of time, Mr. Chairman, it will be a principal part of my remarks. I and my father before me have been concerned about that for a long time.
Mr. Chairman, as you and the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) know, both of us were given Indian names by our Mohawk brethren. My Indian name is Shadegarenhes, which, roughly translated from the original Mohawk, means Trees of Equal Height. Even the translation requires interpretation. It really means that from the standpoint of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and his predecessor, the eminence of individuals means nothing and we always reduce things to truth, justice and verity. That is just a rough translation from the Mohawk, but it suits me. I can only have sympathy for the fact that the member for Lake Nipigon does not have a similar Indian name.
“The compromise that ended 114 years of having our constitution in British custody was made possible by the goodwill of nine of the 10 provincial Premiers, but it was Trudeau who had to move the farthest and give up the most. The accord of November 5, 1981, will be carved in this country’s history as one of those rare moments when our political leaders realize what the people of this country have known all along, that Canada is and always will be greater than the sum of its parts.”
“In the process, every part of the patriation package was improved. The new amending formula requires not only the approval of the federal Parliament, but of legislatures representing at least two thirds of the provinces with half of Canada’s population. This will ensure a far greater measure of consensus than was possible in either of the original Victoria or Vancouver formulas.”
I was interested in the minister’s careful delineation of Quebec’s position now that they have placed themselves sort of outside the family of provinces in approval of the constitutional package. The minister has indicated that by Mr. Lévesque’s signature on the approval of the procedures and the position of the group of eight, he abandoned once and for all Quebec’s historic right of veto.
I have a feeling his argument is a bit of wishful thinking in that connection, because obviously the position of the group of eight was not accepted by the Prime Minister nor by the assembled Premiers, who had changed their position somewhat. In my own view, Quebec was fully absolved from having made a signature that might be called ill advised. Certainly anybody interested in the politics of Quebec should so call it ill advised. It was a mistake, no doubt about it.
If Mr. Lévesque was going to the conference only with the goal and aim of disrupting it and seeing that no agreement was reached, he might have thought that his signature at that time in consolidating the position of the group of eight would finally put the kiss of death on the whole constitutional negotiations. Of course, that is not the way it turned out, though he was manoeuvring even at the end with the Prime Minister on some sort of a peculiar procedure that might have resulted in a referendum. That was abandoned, and I believe it was the good sense of all concerned that led to the abandonment of that alternative.
The minister further responds to the argument about Quebec’s position by saying the Supreme Court has found that amendment is quite possible without unanimity. For that, we all breathe a sigh of relief. Yet there is a feeling that a residual argument might be made, if there were a court to which it could be made, which is that this argument applies to the amendment once it comes back to Canada in its new form and for the next 100, 200 or 1,000 years, but not necessarily in the time of transition.
For that reason I am a bit concerned that the minister and his colleague the Attorney General have taken a position with regard to Quebec which absolutely admits a discussion of perhaps a kind of arm’s-length concern but no action that might still at least alleviate the situation. I do not believe it would be possible to persuade the Premier of Quebec and his government colleagues to see the good sense in an alternative, since politics down there have certain realities that the minister pointed out on about page 27 of his prepared remarks.
I do believe that Ontario is giving up its historic role of being an actual partner of Quebec in the development of constitutional and other matters in this country. The minister’s colleague the Attorney General took an even stronger stand in dismissing the position taken by the government of Quebec. On page four of his opening remarks in his own estimates he says as follows:
“The people of Quebec are not isolated; the government of Quebec is -- and that is because of its refusal to bargain in good faith, its refusal to compromise as all other governments have done. In the months ahead, as we bring this matter to a conclusion, it is important for us as public representatives to keep reminding the people of Quebec of one undeniable fact: 10 governments were prepared to bargain and bend in the interests of national unity; one government was not.”
My own feeling is that the position is perhaps more inflammatory than it need be. It could be that the time is long since gone when we have to be too careful about what we say about Mr. Lévesque and his colleagues in government as long as we continue, as the minister is, to show the kind of goodwill towards the people of Quebec and the function of the province that we always have. Yet to almost throw down the gauntlet as far as the government of Quebec is concerned is probably ill advised.
It is not the sort of thing the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs would tend to do on his own. Even in his prepared remarks here, his arguments were reasonably drawn as to why we really do not have to give further consideration to the position Quebec finds itself in. He says it has signed away its right of veto. My own feeling is that is not a good argument; it was ill advised. It was done in the heat of the kinds of negotiations which Mr. Lévesque may well have thought would play out to his benefit in the long run.
Quebec’s action in accepting that amending formula is one where one might feel there was an ulterior motive rather than putting forward a united front of eight Premiers which it was hoped, from Quebec’s point of view, would result in agreement. I do not believe it hoped for agreement. It was its judgement that agreement was impossible.
Even the ruling of the Supreme Court that unanimity is not required does not sit well when one looks at the traditions of our nation where the French-speaking people were very much a founding group. Many people, myself included, have certain fears in our minds that if the whole basis of our new constitution is based on the argument put forward by the minister and his colleague the Attorney General, we are not on the strongest ground we might hope to be.
I want to return briefly to the historic association that Ontario has had with Quebec. I feel very sorry indeed that we find ourselves in this past year having no special position vis-à-vis Quebec whatsoever. This is the first time since Confederation that is so. We can look back even on pre-Confederation arrangements which allowed the politicians from Ontario, Upper Canada or Canada West, to have a special rapport, political and otherwise, with their opposite numbers in Quebec.
We can think of the historic twinned names Baldwin and Lafontaine, whose portraits stand each side of the front door of this Legislature. That is probably the best example. They were not dealing with a federal government in those days, but in a sense they were dealing with the Colonial Office of the United Kingdom. In their fight for responsible government, they were able to put aside differences that were as deep and as far-reaching as the differences we have now. They established a kind of friendship among the principal political people, Baldwin and Lafontaine themselves, which we should have been able to maintain with Quebec.
I feel that the minister, his colleagues and the Premier of Ontario have established those close working partnerships with individuals across Canada but, unfortunately, not including those in Quebec. This is regrettable and very important for the position that Canada finds itself in now, particularly the isolated position that Quebec finds itself in.
It could be that Quebec, as a matter of policy, has been searching for this position and feels it is the one square on the checkerboard of politics from which it can move into sovereignty. We would regret that and we feel we are prepared to do almost anything to prevent it. But I express again my regrets that the government of Ontario has not been able to maintain its historic position, either officially with Quebec or on a personal basis.
I have jotted down a few names. I am not going to talk about the historic importance of them all. There was Macdonald and Cartier, of course. There was Brown and Dorion. There was Baldwin and Lafontaine, as I have already mentioned. Jumping to more recent times, there was Premier Hepburn and Premier Godbout. As a matter of fact, Hepburn and Duplessis had the kind of close working relationship which, while we need not copy all of its personal aspects --
Mr. Nixon: I might; but perhaps my friend would not. It still had the kind of relationship which at one time was called an axis by its detractors, the Hepburn-Duplessis axis, which did not exclude Quebec from taking a position strongly against the government of Canada but allowed Quebec to lean on its ally, Ontario, and vice versa in days when, in my view, it was not to the detriment of national unity.
We can move on to the association between John Robarts and a succession of premiers ministres, particularly Lesage, Sauvé, Johnson and certain others. I see somebody shaking his head over there. We will probably pursue it over a cup of tea on another occasion.
Of course, we can only presume from the number of times the then Premier Robarts and his junior staff travelled to Quebec that they must have been doing it for some purpose other than to visit the principal restaurants of Lower Town. To be fair, the association between the heads of governments and their staffs was excellent. It really meant that even though governments changed in Quebec and even though, God help us, they did not change here, the relationship between the provinces was healthy, growing and a counterbalance to the federal authority, which in a way does not have a similar counterbalance at the present time. If it has a balance, it is Ontario on the same side of the scales as the government of Canada, while certain other provincial leaders, particularly in the west, provide the counterbalance.
It really started to fall apart, I suppose, in 1971. The minister referred to the meeting of first ministers in Victoria. We have talked about it in this House before, and I do not apologize for talking about it again. I was invited as Leader of the Opposition by the then new Premier (Mr. Davis) to go along as part of our delegation. The first thing decided was that the meetings would be in camera. I had a glorious week taking pictures of flowers in Butchart Gardens.
Having had as close an association as an outsider could have had with what happened under those circumstances, I was very impressed by the fact that under the leadership of the relatively new Prime Minister of Canada and given the political situation at the time in which the new Premier of Ontario, who was gathering his flags and bunting around him and charging his cannons with all the political gunpowder he could find, was the only one in any kind of political system that might have been in balance -- and I suppose I contributed as much as anybody to the fact that he was not unnecessarily out of balance -- it was possible for the other Premiers and the Prime Minister to reach an agreement. In fact, all of them signed the accord, and it was not until Mr. Bourassa got back to Quebec City, sat down with his colleagues and, I suppose, was given a lesson by them on political realities that they withdrew from that accord.
The basis of their withdrawal, as I recall, had nothing to do with an amending formula; in those days the Prime Minister was not talking about the entrenchment of a bill of rights. But Quebec decided that for them to move forward in the cultural way they expected, they would need to have control over communications. The minister mentioned this in his speech as well, or I recently heard him talk about communications as a provincial responsibility. They wanted overall control of social programs such as family allowance and certain other programs. I believe there was a third thing of equal importance, which I cannot think of at the moment -- and I cannot get help although it is being offered.
My point is not to give a full list of those differences but to show that even then Ontario could have done more, calling on the basis of goodwill which then went back more than 100 years and was reinforced by the high regard the government and people of Quebec had for John Robarts and were quite prepared to transfer to the new Premier of Ontario. We could have moved into an agreement at that time if Ontario had done more. Even if we had said we supported the movement of those powers from the federal government to the provinces and sat down as the linchpin province, as we considered ourselves to be then, and insisted that an agreement recognized the problems that Quebec had enunciated, we could have moved forward at that time.
Now, a decade later, we find ourselves not quite in such an advantageous position. I do not think the people in Quebec are interested in what we think. We have lost a good deal of our credit. They feel we have not responded in what they consider to be a fair and equitable way to serve the francophones in Ontario. We can argue that, but we are simply talking about the way it is perceived by the people in Quebec.
Perhaps we also do not understand their commitment to maintaining the French language and culture in Quebec, come what may, whether it be by the constitution or appeals to courts or whatever. Those of us in Ontario looking at the provisions of certain relatively new legislation that prevents people even using English on signs and so on tend to throw up our hands and ask, “What can you do with that sort of unreasonable approach?” Personally, I do not consider it unreasonable. I believe that the government and the people of Quebec, or at least their principal spokesmen, feel their language and culture are under some threat.
For more than a decade, the planes bringing immigrants from many countries in the world, but particularly European countries, were landing, day after day, unloading hundreds of immigrants who considered they were coming to an English-speaking country and were more interested in learning English than in learning French, which was the basic language of Montreal, the community in which they had decided to make their homes. The writing was on the wall. The statistical changes were there. The dilution of French language and culture was obvious.
Whatever we thought about it, if we thought about it at all, the government of Quebec was certainly concerned. The politics of Quebec made it possible for it to move forward with the kind of legislation that protected the French language, even at the reduction of the ability of English to be used in commerce and in the general community. I do not believe we properly appreciate the pressures the francophones in Quebec felt during that time. As far as we are concerned now, there is a tendency for us to underestimate the conviction of the government of Quebec, whether it is separatist or otherwise, in rejecting the principles that have now been agreed to by all the other Premiers and the Prime Minister.
We should not completely write off the possibility that the government is truly sincere in its rejection of the proposals, which it may feel will still leave the people of Quebec living under a threat to their language and culture that they find unacceptable. It could be, and I suppose it is now possible, that the government of Ontario has rejected any move that it might make either now or in the future to ameliorate the situation.
It looks to me as if we have forever abdicated our special position vis-à-vis the government and people of Quebec. It might appear ridiculous if the present Premier and the present government undertook some special initiative. They might be afraid of what they would consider to be a misunderstanding of their inadequate approaches to certain francophone attitudes and initiatives here. It might be misunderstood and they would go to Quebec City or the province of Quebec only to be jeered at and laughed at. If that is the case, then things are much more tragic than even I had supposed.
We, as members of this Legislature, have long had a great community of interest with our opposite members in the Legislature of Quebec. Some of us, I suppose, are interested in the amenities offered in the Legislature itself; but far beyond that is the fact that our budgets are roughly comparable, our populations are roughly comparable and the problems we have should be, and always have been in the past, roughly comparable.
I believe that we have failed in our duty to see that our close association with the Legislature and the government of Quebec has been kept up. In my time, and it is only 20 years, we used to experience interprovincial visits from the Premiers, the cabinet and large delegations from the province. I can recall the Premier of Quebec being asked to address the assembly from Mr. Speaker’s platform on at least one occasion.
We have certainly had the kind of visite interprovinciale in the other direction, which really is the only way we can have the personal relationships that have somehow faded out of existence and are now no longer there for us to draw on. If anything, we are considered more a foreign province by the government of Quebec and the members of the Legislature than any other province. We are seen as the antifrancophone ogres. Nobody is really too interested about what I am saying about this anyway, and I do not mean to throw anything into the fan, but more than anything else I must say to the minister that the cause of this has been the attitude of the Premier.
We can talk in this House, and we certainly will for many hours this week as these estimates continue, about the initiatives taken by the government towards French in the courts, French services and phone lines where you can phone in and somebody will answer in French and so on, but I suppose the thing that galls is the attitude of the Premier that an antifrancophone attitude is a possible stance for a politician in Ontario.
As I say, I do not intend to labour this but simply to recall to the minister’s mind and yours, Mr. Chairman, the occasion when a bill was put forward by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), which was not revolutionary in any sense of the word but which would have established the rights for the French-speaking people in Ontario to be served in the French language. It was approved by every member of this Legislature except the Premier, who was absent but who then called a press conference and said that as long as he was Premier, the acceptance of the concept of that bill was simply out.
Now, we recall the situation, and I say again it was no doubt a sincere emanation of his view. It did not get widespread publicity in this province, because I suppose everybody knows where the Premier stands with regard to francophone rights -- he is very generous, unless it is a matter of right -- but it certainly got widespread emanation in Quebec. Everybody knows about that, and I suppose at one stroke he lost a century of goodwill. Anyway, that is gone, and Ontario as a balance in these constitutional discussions was lost.
As a matter of fact, we were not very influential. We were not really a balance; we were agreeing with the Prime Minister, which was the position that I and my colleagues were prepared to support, and the constitutional fight really never came into this Legislature. As somebody said, it was not an issue. We all agreed essentially that the package put forward by the government was supportable and, while we have not got it in total or in perfection, still we have a package that is acceptable and that in some respects, frankly, I like better than what was put forward originally.
I want to move on to some of the matters that are specifically in the package. I was glad to hear the minister say that Ontario does not intend now or in the future, which may be some months away as far as they are concerned, to use the “notwithstanding” provisions. It was suggested by some, my colleagues among others, that if that were the case, we should have it removed from the package as far as Ontario is concerned. We might even have a piece of legislation here that would lead to a debate in the House saying, I suppose, that we are not going to use it in this province and we are putting it as far as possible beyond the reach of legislators to come so it is clear that Ontario’s position is one of acceptance for the bill of rights, which is generally accepted to be the best in the world except for those rights that are entrenched in the constitution of the Soviet Union. The experts tell me that is a fact.
That is also a commentary on just how useful entrenched bills have been in the past. While we are glad those rights are entrenched, we still must realize and recognize that it is the men and women in government, as well as those in the courts, as well as those on the bench, and their interpretation of these rights that actually give them flesh and meaning and reality. We can still do something about the notwithstanding area.
I was also interested in the minister’s remarks when he indicated he felt there was no question about the rights of men and women under the constitution and it was only when the debate really got going in Ottawa that it became apparent some Premiers were not prepared to accept those as they had been described and generally accepted. Some of the negotiations following that have re-established them on a Canada-wide basis with the possibility of opting out remaining.
I was interested to read an article by Richard Gwyn in the Star a few days ago, in which he described how Premier Blakeney was dragged, somewhat against his better judgement, into accepting those rights, and it described the role of his cabinet ministers in persuading him so to do.
The other matter I want to deal with at some length, members will be glad to know, has to do with the rights of the native people, the aboriginal rights of the Indians in Ontario. I do not believe we have any Inuit, do we, Patrick?
Mr. Nixon: We do. I am corrected by my colleague from Rainy River. This minister will know, and the chairman will be glad to learn, that the largest Indian reservation in Canada is in the constituency of Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. A section of it, the New Credit reserve, is in the constituency of Haldimand-Norfolk.
Mr. Nixon: Right, right, right. It is the largest Indian reservation by population. A number of my constituents were not pleased when the text of the Attorney General’s letter to the government of Canada -- he wrote it to Mr. Chrétien -- having to do with native rights, was released. It is interesting that it was a northern Indian chief who obtained a copy of the letter and expressed his own great concern when he made the letter public.
I suppose to be fair, the Attorney General was not saying he was opposed to granting those rights, but expressing his concern that because the rights were so ill-defined, to entrench them in the constitution would lead to the kind of litigation which would be never-ending.
The Attorney General has not been loath in the past to come forward with legislation that might be a field day for lawyers. That is not one of his principal concerns, but in this instance he went so far as to suggest that the Indian people might even lay claim to Parliament Hill and most of the precincts of the city of Ottawa itself as an indication that the rights were so ill-defined that to entrench them would be a matter of bad judgement.
Frankly, I am very glad that pressures, political and otherwise, have led the Prime Minister and all of the Premiers to now accept native rights with the addition of the word “existing.” Even that, to the Indian constituents in my area, was a bit galling. The addition of the word is fairly meaningless, but in their minds it is simply kind of a weasel word which will allow the governments of the provinces and the government of Canada to object and drag their heels through the courts when the rights of the Indians, whether monetary or otherwise, come to judgement. Many of these areas should have been settled by now.
The Supreme Court found just about a month or two ago that the Indians’ right to hunt and fish is based on the oral commitments made by our predecessors in reaching an agreement with the Indians that they would have the right to hunt and fish without the proscriptions of the laws that were not there when the Indians handed over the title to their property. They have the right to hunt and fish, according to the Supreme Court, without the bag limits or species limits that we as a Legislature have imposed on the rest of the population.
This is a grave problem and a concern for the minister and his colleague the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and maybe the Attorney General. They have indicated they are going to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. But these are matters we should move towards settling.
It could be the Indian people are going to have the right, as long as the wind blows and the grass grows, to hunt and fish as they please, and we are going to ring it around with some kind of strange wall of special regulations, saying: “Okay, you can hunt deer when you want, but heaven help you if you sell it or if you give it to a friend. That means you are breaking the law.” We have to settle these things.
Maple Mountain was one of the projects of the government of Ontario a decade ago. It was going to be like Ontario Place, only in the north. The government had even made some expenditures and plans, until the Indians placed a warning, or whatever you call it, in the registry offices, indicating they had a claim to those lands. That claim was serious enough that the government abandoned any projects it had in the area. It might have had a few other reasons as well, but at least that was one and the Indian claim rests there unresolved.
The government of the United States has gone a long way to buying out the claims of the native people in Alaska and in certain other areas. Quebec has in some respects led the way at the provincial level in buying out the rights of the native people in some of the areas in the northern part of that province, particularly the part affected by the large hydroelectric developments in the La Grande area.
It costs money and it is going to cost us a lot of money. It may be that an agreement is not reachable, but so far we have done absolutely nothing to move in that direction. The frustration of the Indian people has been apparent. In many respects, the “generous” white community, through their elected legislators, has done magnificent things for the Indian community, has given them financing for a good education. As a matter of fact, on Friday last I attended the opening of a medical centre on the Six Nations reserve which is second to none, paid all dollars and first dollar by the government of Canada. It is well administered, I should say --
Mr. Nixon: Very well, by the son-in-law of the member for York South, who was the master of ceremonies at the opening procedures. He did not call on the local member to speak, but I will get him for that on another occasion. As a matter of fact, it may have been because there was not a dollar of provincial money involved in that, not a dollar. We are going to have to do something about the medical facilities down there.
Perhaps I will just take a moment, Mr. Chairman -- I know you are interested in this -- to talk about the medical facility. It is not a hospital, but it is an excellent building with facilities for dentists and doctors, presided over by an administrator, Mr. Johnson, and also by a nurse-practitioner, a most capable lady, Mrs. Porter, well trained and with the confidence of the community in no uncertain terms.
But the great need there is to provide for the senior citizens and those who, because of health problems, cannot care for themselves. The hospital the Indian community used to have, opened by Lady Willingdon when her husband was Governor General back in the 1920s, is now well beyond its functional use. It has been designated as not being entirely safe as far as fire is concerned, which is putting it mildly, and it is clear that a new facility for a nursing home is necessary.
The federal government says: “We do not build nursing homes, even on Indian reserves. We build hospitals and we build medical centres for doctors. The province builds nursing homes.” The Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) said, “Right, we build nursing homes, but not on Indian reserves.” That is the kind of catch 22 the minister and his colleagues are going to have to solve. For us to sit back and say we are not responsible while this building, largely a frame and brick construction, gets older and older -- and it is well-kept, believe me -- is, frankly, a risk we as members of this House should not take much longer.
The Indians themselves have every right to our enthusiastic support. Historians would tell us, even some who are not historians like Pierre Berton, that Canada would not exist if it had not been for the Indians in the War of 1812. Those particular Indians, the Mohawk and the Six Nations who now reside in southwestern Ontario, are the ones who were the allies of the crown at a time when we did not have many allies in this part of the world.
Without them, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we would have been prey to the doctrine of manifest destiny. We would now be a state of the union and our governor would have responsibilities other than those he has at the present time.
The Indians look back on these things, at the fact their title to the land was removed under various circumstances, and they cannot understand why their rights are not safeguarded and settled with alacrity.
One matter that gives me a good feeling in this connection is that the first ministers, when they decided to remove the entrenchment of native rights from the constitution, said they were going to have a first ministers’ conference as a matter of priority and deal with this between the government of Canada, the provinces and the leaders of the native community.
I would certainly hope the fact that native rights are now entrenched or will be entrenched by act of Parliament, both here and in Westminster, does not mean the Premiers and the first minister will simply forget about the unfinished business having to do with the Indians, both in southern Ontario and elsewhere. That federal-provincial conference should go forward with a minimum of delay.
I would also say that we, as members of the Legislature, should not permit ourselves to sit back and say, “This is a responsibility of another level of government.” It clearly is not. The requirements for the nursing home on this large Indian reserve, the largest in Canada, is simply one of the matters we must come to grips with.
I would suggest to the minister, if his ministry continues and he continues in the ministry, an initiative should be taken involving the members of this House in assessing with the Indians themselves what the differences of opinion are and what the treaty rights are which have been unfulfilled, and that we in this House should be moving to establish a position in Ontario, as was established in Quebec and, I suppose -- it is a terrible thing to contemplate -- put a price tag after a line is drawn at the bottom.
It may be these rights will never be bought out, but some of them certainly could be as we see the continuing disruption in both the white and native communities in those areas where the matter is such a major issue.
I want to say further, when I speak about the ministry continuing or the minister continuing in the ministry, that in my view the ministry is not necessary. I have a feeling the minister himself would agree. It is not just that the budget is relatively inconsequential because so much of the responsibility has been removed. In fact, all the jobs the minister now does could well be done by some of his colleagues.
My own feeling is now and always has been that intergovernmental matters pertaining to the provinces and the government of Canada should be handled by the Premier himself. If he wanted to have a special office within the Premier’s office to do that, that would be acceptable and understandable.
As it is, the present minister is a bit redundant. When we see the constitutional discussions taking place, there is a most unseemly rushing and flailing of elbows by the minister and the Attorney General as to who gets to the camera first.
Mr. Nixon: The Attorney General always wins because he is more strongly motivated, for reasons we do not clearly understand. He does not understand about the hare and the tortoise, and while he is elbowing his way to the camera his colleague, all bruised and battered, is simply chatting with a few of his Tory colleagues and seeing if they have any problems he can assist them with. I am not going to stick with the hare and the tortoise because it may be more than a race of just two.
It occurs to me that if the Premier is going to give his old football buddy such a prominent place in intergovernmental matters, he might, with a certain degree of understanding, simply close down Intergovernmental Affairs or simply make it an office of the Premier. The office of intergovernmental affairs could be transferred holus-bolus with this lean staff he talks about.
By the way, I looked them all up in the blue book a year ago, and nobody gets less than $40,000. I presume that the poor, downtrodden deputy is still not making do with only $64,000, that he has really had a raise since then. But the ministry is getting to be pretty well fixed. I would not exactly call it lean when I look at the budget. We will have a chance as we get into the votes to have a look at some of these travel expenses and things like that. But the word “lean” does not leap to mind when I look at the salaries we are paying the staff for the ministry.
Now that municipal affairs has been shucked off properly in response to the Liberal demand going back to the election of 1975, I believe it is a good thing. Not that this minister did not handle his municipal affairs responsibilities at least as well as they are now being handled, but I think many of the municipalities feel a certain relief that there is a ministry -- perhaps we will even get back to calling it a department some time -- where there is someone with sole responsibility for dealing with their matters of importance and their legislation. But that means a large area of worry and concern has been removed from the minister.
In looking through the briefing file, I see that many of the administrative functions of the ministry are shared with the Treasury, which probably means the Treasury does it. I certainly hope so. This leaves matters of protocol and entertaining visiting dignitaries to this minister. He also has something to do with searching for people who should be given the Order of Ontario. That is still in the ministry. And, naturally, he is required to go along to federal-provincial conferences with all the problems I have described.
Although the minister is shaking his head, when the grand public shake-up of the ministry comes some time in the next few months, as come it must, this would be a neat way to move a bit further away from the report of the committee on government productivity, that old report that messed up the cabinet for lo these eight years, almost 10 years now. It is time we put aside the recommendations of that great platoon of fat-cat Tories who were on that committee and let them do the jobs they are now doing in the various emanations of government and get back to a practical allocation of the responsibilities of the cabinet.
We do not need a Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. It would be completely sufficient for it to be an office within the Premier’s responsibility. I am not saying in any way that we do not need the minister. The minister may or may not have what you call a personal agenda; I sincerely hope he does, in the political meaning of that phrase, but that is up to him. Meanwhile, he is the classic tortoise -- not quite as good looking, but in the genre. As far as I am concerned they are the guys who win the race.
This time next year, after the leadership of the New Democratic Party is settled -- and we are watching the new leader, the present member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) exercising his responsibilities, the leadership of the provincial party will be settled from among these many great contenders --
Mr. Nixon: Right. Then we will be in a position to see what happens to the race over there. When one of the principal contenders has as his main method of catching the public eye reading the business of the House for the following week every Thursday, I really feel it is not fair when his colleague the Attorney General is on television making statements of policy and being asked by the Premier to welcome visiting football players and so on. The Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) with all her charm and suavity --
Mr. Nixon: -- and tact, is running one of those huge ministries that impacts on every community day by day. The Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) with his new-found reasonableness and family and his new tailor -- it does not seem fair that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is forced to back out of so many public involvements.
For him to go out and speak to the good Tories east of Toronto and all he has to talk about is the constitution, I am telling you he cannot win votes that way. There are bound to be Tories there who are going to blame him for the position that the province has taken when they should be blaming Roy and the Premier. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs does all the work, he is pushed out of range of the camera and then has to go to defend it to Tories. Mr. Chairman, we on this side stand for justice. In this instance, we tell you that the minister is not getting justice.
The best way is to abolish the ministry. He can get something else. The Ministry of Correctional Services needs a new hand at the tiller in my view. He can have some other responsibilities which would fairly put him in the race that will lead to the leadership of the great old Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. They have only a few more months in office. The honourable minister has earned the changes I am prescribing and I would say in this instance the changes are only fair. He has earned a right to compete. In that instance, I would resume my seat.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, this is the first time I have been the critic for the ministry which used to be known as Intergovernmental Affairs, but now I think it is known as MIA, which probably means the same thing.
The ministry has certainly shrunk greatly from its previous size in the budget. Whether that indicates its importance has also shrunk is something we will have to look at. Its budget, because it had municipal transfer payments in it, used to be $650 million; now it has shrunk to $4.3 million. If the minister had any ambitions for leadership to succeed the Premier when he decides to step down, it would hardly be expected that a minister who only handles $4.3 million would be in the running.
In spite of the fact that the ministry’s budget is now down to $4.3 million, it is showing a 38 per cent increase over the amount spent last year by the branches that have been left in MIA after municipal affairs was clipped off. Actually, that percentage increase is a little low because they have started a new policy of putting in for disaster relief, a one dollar entry, although last year they spent $149,000, so that the estimates are somewhat under what the anticipated expenditure will be if there are any disaster expenditures in this coming year. Unfortunately, there probably will be.
However, now that the ministry has been cut down to really dealing with intergovernmental affairs and no longer has its municipal responsibilities, it has about six areas to focus on. Perhaps it will be advantageous if the ministry does focus on these areas more precisely than it has in the past.
The six areas I see are, first, relations with the federal government, which will include in this coming year the very important area of new equalization arrangements and new fiscal transfer arrangements under the EPF, the established program funding agreement.
Second, it has relations with the other provinces. Judging by what went on in the constitutional negotiations, its relations with the other provinces are not entirely amicable or clear. There were certainly great differences in the constitution.
Third, it has relations in the constitutional sphere, involving both federal and provincial, which is a very specialized area. While the constitutional debate may end this week as far as the resolution that goes to Westminster, the constitution is an ongoing thing. Once we have patriated it, there will still be amendments to it. So this is a very big area for the ministry.
Fourth, the ministry deals with what might be known as its external affairs department, dealing with visiting people, diplomatic corps, offices abroad and things of that sort. We will be looking into services and expenditures in that field as we get down to the detail.
Fifth, the ministry should have a responsibility in its relations with the Third World. I fail to see any real reference to that in either the minister’s remarks or in the estimated expenditures. We all know that Prime Minister Trudeau has been flitting around the world, talking about north-south relations and Third World considerations, and our need to see that peoples of the Third World do not remain in the state of abject poverty that many of them are in. If we want to have our world developed so that all peoples are able to share in world resources, we will have to address this problem. If we want international stability we have to consider the needs of the Third World. If we leave people in states of poverty, unemployment and exploitation by the other parts of the world, we will be building world unrest.
Sixth, the minister’s relationships with people and organizations, which mainly come under the hospitality fund and protocol activities. We will be looking into that later on as we get to those votes.
The minister mentioned on page eight of his comment that on the matter of transfer payments, the federal government appears to be “less concerned about clear definitions of powers and less concerned about respecting provincial jurisdiction. Parliament, rather than federal- provincial conferences, is claimed to be the means for defining and determining the national interest.”
I am not sure this province has been that concerned with determining the national interest, because the way it has used the EPF grants for health and post-secondary education distorts the whole principle of them. The principle of those grants was to ensure more or less equal standards across Canada for people needing health care and for people attending post-secondary institutions.
Programs were worked out by the federal government where approximately 50 per cent of the costs were shared with the provinces. It enabled the poorer provinces to provide standards of services somewhat close to what the better-off provinces could establish. But the Ontario government took the money and, instead of seeing the citizens of Ontario got the services intended in those national programs, it diverted the money to other needs, probably to keep down its growing deficit.
As a result, our health services are not universally accessible, which was the aim of the medicare program when it was brought in. Our hospitals are facing deficits of more than $100 million, which means that hospital services are not going to be available to the people of Ontario at the standard intended by the program. All of these things are happening, not because the federal government cut back its share in the last five years but because the provincial government diverted parts of that money to other services.
Now we are talking about user fees in hospitals. If the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) would restore what he has taken away from the hospitals out of those federal grants, he would not have to consider user fees and he would have been able to keep our hospitals in the black instead of the red.
In the field of post-secondary education, the universities have been suffering from serious underfunding in the past four or five years. This is largely the result of the provincial government diverting funds from the EPF payments for post-secondary education and putting Ontario close to the bottom for the provinces as far as per capita funding of universities is concerned.
Ontario’s share of that will be $1.9 billion. There will be some tax increases from new federal taxes in which Ontario will share; so the net loss to Ontario will be $1.1 billion over the next five years. All that this can mean is Ontario will either have to cut services further or to raise taxes, unless we can persuade the federal government to abandon this cutback program. Certainly, the transfer payments are intended to ensure that services in the social field will be more or less equal, or at least not below a certain basic standard for all Canada.
I ask the minister what he is doing in terms of his responsibility to negotiate with the federal government to change this federal policy, to speak in the national interest. I must admit he goes to the federal government with a very weak case because of the way he has been diverting its money in the past. It makes it very difficult for him to fulfil this role, to overcome these cutbacks.
If he does not succeed in overcoming these cutbacks, he will be a member of a government that will have to impose higher taxes. It has already imposed more than $600 million in the last budget on the ordinary individual. It could probably put some more on its friends in the corporations and the resource industries, but it does not seem willing to do that.
The minister is going to face a very serious cutback in services in this province over the next five years if he does not succeed in reversing that federal program and in getting the other provinces to join with him in that initiative.
It might be a good idea for Ontario to host a conference of all the provincial ministers in the fields affected by these transfer payments, to come forward with a united position to present to the federal government.
It appears the federal government is really trying to balance its budget on the backs of the people who share in those transfer payments. This includes not only people who need health care and post-secondary education but also people receiving assistance under the Canada assistance plan and, generally, provinces that need equalization payments to bring them up to the national average.
The Ontario government has always taken the position that it did not object to paying equalization payments for provinces that were the so-called have-not provinces. But if we do not unite with the other provincial Premiers and ministers affected to ask for retention of the present equalization level, we will not be fulfilling the commitment we made to see that there are equal services across Canada.
It might be possible also, in such an interprovincial conference, to exchange ideas on delivery of services in the fields of health, post- secondary education and social assistance. Some useful sharing of costs could be made, and some interprovincial reciprocity on matters, to see that Canadians, no matter where they move, are entitled to national standards in these fields. I have not seen very much initiative from this province in this field. Are they trying to see that our national approach and our national goals and objectives are achieved in these fields?
The federal government is talking about putting a sort of penalty clause on provinces that do not maintain the national goals and objectives. Presumably it would put a penalty on Ontario if it continued to allow extra billing in medicare, because that is contrary to the national goal of equal access to medicare.
Surely the approach should not be one of penalties but of consensus that these transfer payments and social cost sharing between the provinces and the federal government are still very basic to our national unity and to our sense of being Canadians, rather than parts of individual provinces with different standards.
Moving on to our role in the external affairs world, I notice that we do have two offices abroad, in Brussels and Paris. I wonder whether we need both of them, whether these external offices are not rather expensive operations to provide some nice jobs for some friends of the government. Do they actually provide us with very much in the way of contacts or services that we cannot get through the Canadian External Affairs offices or through the Ministry of Industry and Tourism offices?
I would prefer that sort of money to be spent on another initiative that the ministry mentioned, which was to maintain a person in Washington to fight the acid rain battle. I see the minister sent somebody there for two months on loan to the Canadian embassy to work on this problem of acid rain, but the problem is of such serious proportions and requires international action and pressure on such a large scale that it would be more useful, if the ministry is in the business of setting up offices, to set up an office in the United States just to deal with the acid rain problem and to work with the International Joint Commission in this field.
Another area of external affairs, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, is involvement in the Third World. Mr. Chairman, you will recall that there was a United Nations conference in Paris in September of this year which concluded that the poor were getting poorer and the rich richer throughout the world. Then there was the Cancun summit of a selected group of countries which also came to the same conclusion.
At the Paris conference, Canada agreed to double its rate of foreign aid but did not set any deadline for reaching this and did not take inflation into account. Basically, the agreement left it up to the donor countries to do what they could do on their own to increase this assistance.
Canada’s record in foreign aid is abysmal. It fell from a high of 0.56 per cent of the gross national product to 0.43 per cent of the GNP in the last year. The United Nations target for all countries is 0.70; so we are a long way from there. The government pledged to get back to 0.50 by 1985. What I am suggesting is that Ontario could do a small part in helping Canada as a whole to get to that target of 0.70 of the GNP for foreign aid. I submit that in the long run it will pay off in terms of trade contacts, in terms of products and services that we may be able to sell to Third World countries, but it will pay off even more in world security and our moral obligation to the people in the Third World.
I think the minister in his opening remarks mentioned our moral obligation in the field of French-language services, but I submit that we have an equal moral obligation to do our part in assisting the Third World. I want to draw his attention to a bit of ancient history he may have forgotten about, or he may not have been in this ministry when it came up.
Back in 1975, a group of 11 churches banded together as the Ontario Council for International Co-operation and asked the provincial government to match the amount of money they could raise for international development and Third World aid. They came to see the government and embarked on quite a lobby. They mentioned that the governments of several other provinces were doing this. The provincial government finally appointed Mr. T. R. Hilliard, former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, to survey this question; and while he made an impressive case for provincial involvement in his report, he opted for leaving the problem to Ottawa, primarily to avoid duplication of effort.
There would be little duplication of effort if the provincial government would match the efforts of the church groups that try to bring some aid to the Third World. They would do most of the money-raising for their half and the administration and development of the projects. A great deal of voluntary labour is probably involved in the projects, and it would really be good business. But after the government looked at this question, especially before the 1977 election, and indicated it might consider it, it was finally turned down.
I suggest to the minister that he look at a program of that sort again. If he does not want to get involved in his own aid programs, this is a relatively small way of helping programs in the Third World. I think in 1975 the churches were spending about $9 million a year. Matching that figure would not have been a great amount. I commend that to the minister.
Regarding the constitution, I too regret we are not having a formal constitutional debate. It would have focused our comments on the accord, the subsequent amendments and what we expect from patriation and future changes in the constitution. To divide it up among the estimates of three ministries really indicates the government is not very interested in focusing attention on what went on. I can understand that when I look at the accord of the nine Premiers and the Prime Minister, because I think they should be ashamed of that accord.
They destroyed the inclusion in the charter of rights without an override of some of the most important areas of that charter, namely, the ones dealing with women, who represent about 52 per cent of the population, and the handicapped, who had to fight to get themselves included in the draft resolution during the hearings of the parliamentary committee.
In the override, they included such fundamental freedoms as freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and some other very important freedoms to all Canadians. They included in the override legal rights, the right to habeas corpus, to a fair trial and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty -- all very fundamental freedoms, which were intended when they were put in the charter to guarantee to Canadians that they would have rights across the country equal for all Canadians in these fields.
For Ontario to have gone along with that accord indicates it did not consider those rights very important. As far as women’s rights go, the Premier admitted in this House that he did not recall there being any discussion on women’s rights, certainly not on clause 28. As regards putting the override on the clause prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sex, namely, clause 15, it is lumped in with the protection against discrimination for people on grounds of race, religion, handicap and so on.
It did not appear that any of these groups was considered more important or less important than others but that they were all considered expendable. It does not sound from what we have heard as if there was any great discussion of whether any of those groups should be subject to override through the federal Parliament or the legislatures of the provinces.
It appears these groups were just dealt out in the poker game. If the provinces that say they do not want those dealt out, particularly in the fields of aboriginal rights and women, had perhaps stood up a little more strongly and prolonged the conference a bit longer, they might not have dealt those out. It seems to me they gave in very quickly on the negotiating and bought an accord at a very high price. I am afraid we may pay for it in the future.
For instance, in the case of women, we have on our statute books a law that presumes to provide equal pay to women. But we know, in its application and enforcement, it has not resulted in equal pay; women are now making about 58 per cent of what men make, and the number of cases that are won under that act is so minuscule that it is not an effective instrument for overcoming cases of discrimination against women or for moving women out of the ghetto occupations, the low-paid occupations, into the higher-paid occupations and overcoming that wage gap.
Let us suppose there is a court decision under section 28, which the women’s lobby managed to get back in after the accord and which says, “Notwithstanding anything in this charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.” If there is a decision that says our equal pay law does not guarantee no discrimination on account of sex, which is in section 15 of the charter, then the province will have to decide whether it wishes to bring in new equal pay legislation which will guarantee the rights and freedoms equally to male and female persons or whether to bring in an override clause which will say that our kind of equal pay law overrides section 15. Then they have five years to renew that law. That is the situation they will be in if the courts should decide our law is against the charter of rights under section 28.
The minister’s quoting of the Premier’s statement that he would never use the override clause is, to my mind, something that one cannot accept. I can see all sorts of cases where the province finds that its present laws are challenged in the courts, and it will put in an override to make sure that those laws stay as they are rather than amend them to remove what the courts have found discriminatory.
I think we have to recognize that the poker game would have worked if some of the groups who were dealt out had not organized tremendous lobbies to win back the rights that were dealt out. I refer particularly to women and native peoples. But both of those groups had organized tremendous lobbies and presented very good briefs to the parliamentary committee back in January and February of this year. They felt they had won their battle then. So it was pretty galling to both groups to find that their hard-won gains, which were made after the parliamentary committee reported, had been lost and that they had to start all over again after the accord.
Members will recall that the parliamentary committee did improve the wording of section 15, bringing in mentally and physically handicapped people and improving the antidiscrimination clause, but it did not bring in the clauses guaranteeing full equality for men and women or the protection of native rights. It was a New Democratic Party amendment, moved by Stanley Knowles in April in Parliament, which brought in those two additions to the constitutional resolution. That was then part of the package that was sent to the Supreme Court.
Those two groups felt, as of last April, that they had won fairly substantial protection for their rights under the charter. Of course, there was no override at that stage. They were extremely disappointed by the actions of the nine Premiers and the Prime Minister in dealing them out again and forcing them back to the position where they have to fight for a definition of what is being protected.
The women are now subject to the override which also applies to all of those very important areas that I have mentioned -- fundamental freedoms, legal rights and discrimination against women, handicapped and people on grounds of race, religion and age.
I am not sure whether what we have is a very good charter of rights worth sending over to Westminster. At least we have section 28 and the native rights added in. If we cannot get rid of the override provisions by further amendments during the next few days they will have to be eliminated ultimately by constitutional amendments after patriation.
But I hope that in the next few days the Premier and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs will get in touch with the other first ministers and make one further effort to take out the override clauses, particularly on section 15, which affects so many people and which is the main antidiscrimination clause. I would also like to see them take out the word “existing” from the native rights resolution. If, as the government says, it does not really mean anything or add anything or take away anything, then why leave it in? So although time is running out it is still not too late for an initiative from this government in these fields to improve the final draft that goes to Westminster.
I notice that in his opening remarks the minister said the whole point of the accord was to restore the confidence of Canadians in our political institutions. I very much doubt whether the dealing that went on and the results that came out of the conference that reached the accord have really restored our confidence in our political institutions.
There is one other little matter on the constitution that will come up when we go over the details, but perhaps I could raise it and get a comment on it from the minister. We have an advisory committee on Confederation, which has been working for two or three years and producing reports. At least, I understand that it has produced two reports on aspects of Confederation. I have only one here, the first report of April 1978, but I understand that there was a second one which was to deal with the division of powers. I am not sure whether it is out yet or not.
I wonder whether this is not one of our committees that should be under a sunset law. Now that we have reached this stage in the constitutional debate we do not really need to carry on with an advisory committee. The amount of money involved is fairly small, but no doubt staff and research contracts are required, and I think the ministry might look at whether or not that committee could be retired.
I wanted to spend a little time on the question of the program to provide services in the French language to Franco-Ontarians. The minister has mentioned it is now an important part of his ministry, and the estimates provide $978,000 for this program. That is close to a million dollars, and it is a very substantial sum of money.
The background paper mentions that $257,000 was spent last year on a publicity campaign in this field. I am not sure, but I think it was charged to this ministry through a special warrant or Management Board order. I would like to know what sort of campaign that was spent on. There is a tendency for this government, when it is asked to put in programs, to start off by spending a lot of money on an advertising program which may indicate to the public they are thinking of doing something, but often the advertising program is as much as is done. I hope the actual program is going to be more substantial.
It will depend on how many ministries have full-time co-ordinators. I see in his statement he mentions nine have them. He does not say how many have part-time co-ordinators to bring French-language services to the people of Ontario. We would like to know that too and how soon he expects to have full-time co-ordinators in all ministries. If it is worth doing for some ministries it is certainly worth doing for all to provide services to Franco-Ontarians. I notice he boasts that the Penetanguishene French high school is almost ready, but of course we know it is mainly over the dead body of the provincial government that it is being built at all.
Ms. Bryden: It certainly took an awful long time and an awful lot of agitation to get it built and to get it accepted. I also note the background paper talks about the French-language services as having -- let me just quote the exact phrase -- “the overall objective to co-ordinate the implementation of integrative, complementary programs and initiatives designed to create better mutual understanding and co-operation with the francophone community of Ontario.”
I am not quite sure what he means by the use of that word “integrative” because I think this is a bilingual country. We live side by side with people who speak French and English. We should not be talking about integration. It sounds too much like assimilation. We should be talking about the preservation and protection of both languages and services in both languages.
The other thing I wonder about when I look at the $978,000 they are going to spend is that almost half of it, $425,000, is going to go into the private sector. This government’s way of delivering services seems to be to hand out money to private companies where you may not get exactly the program you want or where you do not have as much control over the program. Particularly for a new program like this, I just wonder what kind of private sector activities they are subsidizing to this extent.
With regard to the government’s interest in developing French-language services, I share with the previous speaker from the Liberal Party, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, the feeling that the provincial government is ready to spend some money on services, but it is not ready to declare French an official language in Ontario, as it should be. I cannot see why it balks at that step. Having French as an official language in Ontario means we extend section 133 of the British North America Act to Ontario. We then have French as an official language of this Legislature, have our statutes published in both languages and we have French available in the courts. Those are the three things.
I know the government is moving on getting the statutes translated, and I know it is moving on providing French court services in some areas, and I know a person can speak in French in this Legislature and have it reproduced in Hansard. So what is the reason for not declaring French as an official language of Ontario? I think the only reason is that the Premier of this province, and presumably his colleagues, want to continue to cater to bigotry in this province for electoral purposes, by refusing this symbolic step.
They are not showing any sort of statesmanship when they do that, because this refusal is being interpreted in Quebec as an anti-French move, and as a reason why Quebec should separate from Canada. “If French is an official language of this country, and the biggest province in this country is not willing to recognize it as an official language under section 133 of the British North America Act, then does the rest of Canada really want to keep us here?” That is what the people of Quebec are thinking.
Some people may say that will not appease Mr. Lévesque, who wants more in the way of language rights. But as long as we refuse that step, we cannot approach the people of Quebec with clean hands. We must say to them that we are prepared to recognize French as an official language across Canada so that Quebeckers can then move, if they wish, across Canada and have an opportunity to use their language in the legislatures or in the courts.
While some people will say we cannot do this overnight or we cannot do it in areas where there are a very small number of French-speaking people, we can work these things out over a period of time. We do not expect to do it overnight, when we declare French an official language, but we can phase it in and make arrangements for judges to be moved around the province until such time as we have developed a bilingual judiciary and a bilingual court system in full detail.
I would like the minister to use his good offices with the Premier to recognize that he and the government are doing a great disservice to Canadian unity and to the opportunity to get Quebec to consider that it is important to stay in Confederation. We have an opportunity to do this if we recognize French as an official language. It is very important for our future that we continue to make overtures to Quebec as to why it should be part of Canada, and not just concern ourselves with talking to Mr. Lévesque, who is very much determined to find fault with anything that is done by the rest of Canada, because it seems to fit his separatist bent.
We must talk to the people of Quebec as a whole, and let them see we are prepared to negotiate with Quebec and to consider a certain amount of special arranging for Quebec as far as opting out goes, as far as programs to enable them to maintain their culture and programs they think contribute to their culture are concerned. In that way we will be able to prevent any further referendums from going for separation. We will be contributing to separation if we continue to persist in this narrow and very bigoted approach to recognizing French as an official language in Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would like to respond to a few things, Mr. Chairman, and I will respond in reverse order. I appreciate what my friend the critic for the New Democratic Party has said about the status of the French language in this province, but I see no indication that a change in status in this province would have any effect on current relations between this province and Quebec.
I think back to what happened in this province in the early years of the 1900s when the French language was assaulted, particularly in education, and various regulations were passed that wiped out many rights of the French language that have consistently been restored by this government and by Progressive Conservative governments before it since 1943.
Although one can argue, as the member has done, for a greater official status in this province, I think we can say without causing any great uprising on anybody’s part that in recent years we have established and provided services that certainly equal those provided in any other province. The services provided in Ontario are the equal of those provided in New Brunswick for the francophone peoples, and I think the education system particularly is one we and Franco-Ontarians can be justly proud of.
We are mixing a lot of things up. The fact is that section 133, the status of the French language, was not on the table during the discussions on the constitution. I do not think it has any particular relevance or is of any particular importance in the argument and discussion going on between us and Quebec in so far as the constitutional accord at the present time is concerned. It is not in any of the things Mr. Lévesque has put forward in his resolution in the Quebec House.
I am impressed with the kind of historical relationships the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk brought up and the names he reminded us of: Baldwin, Lafontaine, Macdonald, Cartier and so forth. I am also reminded that even though an assault was made on the rights of Franco-Ontarians in the early part of this century the relationship between Quebec and Ontario did not get any better or worse.
We have always maintained a relationship with Quebec, notwithstanding some of the battles that have been fought for or against the rights of the minority language group in each province. That is why I do not accept the argument that it will help Ontario-Quebec relations at this time or help the total relations among the other nine provinces and the federal government and the province of Quebec in what we happen to do about the official status of the language in this province. It is not on the table now.
But the relationships between this province and Quebec, I think, are of great importance. I support the contention of my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I recall that in the debate we had in this House just before the Quebec referendum I made a very lengthy speech and I referred to many of the historical relationships, the same kinds he talked about, between Ontario and Quebec. The only thing I would say is that the difference that has occurred since 1976 is that we are now dealing with a Premier and a government in Quebec who are committed philosophically and policy wise to separating that province from Canada.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend is completely wrong. The relationships between this province, the Ontario-Quebec commission, the kind of projects that were going on, the visits, and the co-ordination and co-operation between ministries was of a very high nature. When I was Minister of Education for a number of those years, I can recall my relationships with the Minister of Education in Quebec, a man who became the --
What has happened is that we now have a government in Quebec committed to the very opposite of what the government of Ontario, the government of Canada and the governments of the other provinces are committed to. We have a government --
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, we have a government that is committed to separation. I just ask the member to stand up in this House and say if he is philosophically on side with the government of Quebec and its policy of separation.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am just saying that the present government of Quebec is committed to something that we do not believe in. And I tell the House that my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk does not believe in it, and that makes it a doubly difficult thing to establish the kind of long-term and binding relationships that we have always had. They have suffered because of this philosophical and basic difference between our governments and the government of Quebec.
I say to members we have never neglected and we will never give up on our relationships with the people of Quebec. All right, we do not have the kind of relationship that goes with the Baldwin-Lafontaine relationship, but we have relationships with people like Jean Chrétien and the Prime Minister of Canada in so far as the constitution is concerned. I could read to you some of the things that Jean Chrétien has said.
“I want to speak now to my fellow Quebeckers and I want to tell them it is essential to distinguish between the interests of Quebec and the interests of the Parti Québecois. The people of Quebec, whenever they have been asked to choose, whenever the people have been asked to choose, have always come out clearly for Canada, and so we have chosen to listen to those who ran as federalists, and were elected to serve Quebec, in this House, as opposed to those members of the government of Quebec, who act as separatists after they are elected, but who can only get elected when they promise not to bring about separation during their mandate.”