Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House today that I am releasing my ministry’s new mineral aggregate resource plan- ning policy. It is a policy we feel is vital to the economic health of our province, for it will help protect Ontario’s valuable aggregate resources.
I am sure honourable members recognize how important aggregates -- sand, gravel and crushed stone -- are to Ontario’s economy. They are needed to construct our buildings and our roads. Ontario currently uses around 120 million metric tons of aggregate each year, or 14 metric tons for every person in our province.
Since aggregates are needed in large tonnages and transportation costs are extremely high -- in some cases more than half the delivered cost of the materials -- it is necessary that these vital resources continue to be available as close to markets as possible. Some areas in Ontario are already facing aggregate shortages with accompanying cost increases. There are indications that by about the year 2010, the Toronto area may be short of readily accessible sources of aggregates.
Our new planning policy recognizes both these needs. It asks municipalities to include aggregate resources planning in their official plans. This provides protection for both existing pits and quarries and potential aggregate resources which may be needed for future extraction. It also asks that municipalities set out rehabilitation policies for pits and quarries in their official plans.
Honourable members may recall that my ministry implemented a 10-point mineral aggregate policy for official plans back in 1979. While the basic intent remains the same, I feel the new policy better clarifies the respective roles of my ministry and the municipalities in aggregate planning and protection. It will apply on a province-wide basis but is flexible enough to accommodate different situations across the province, especially in sensitive areas such as specialty agricultural crop areas.
Like the previous policy, this policy will not require municipalities to “freeze” land where aggregates are located. Rather, it will ensure adequate protection of these important resources through official plans. Municipal officials will retain control over the location of pits and quarries, as in the past, through zoning.
I would like to thank my colleagues in the ministries of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Transportation and Communications, and Agriculture and Food, as well as all the concerned groups and agencies who worked with my ministry in developing this policy.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, in conjunction with the mineral aggregates resource planning policy, which my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources has just announced, I am pleased to announce a series of --
Mr. Speaker, in conjunction with the mineral aggregates resource planning policy, which my colleague the Minister of Natural Resources has just announced, I am pleased to announce a series of revisions to my ministry’s food land guidelines policy. These changes are designed to protect agricultural lands from sand, gravel and other mineral aggregate extraction.
I want to assure the honourable members that this government realizes the necessity of protecting both our productive farm lands and our aggregate resources. These goals are not mutually incompatible; they can be achieved.
My ministry’s new policy recognizes that there are a number of areas in the province with both agricultural and mineral potential. Our policy has two components encompassing our valuable specialty cropping areas and all other agricultural lands.
Under our tightened policy, aggregate mineral extraction -- for example, gravel pit mining -- will not be permitted in designated specialty crop areas unless it is reasonably documented that the land will be restored to produce the same crop at the same production level. Any proposed project must also document that the extraction would not affect the microclimate necessary for specialty crop production.
The policy identifies five areas where unique combinations of soils and climatic conditions allow the production of specialty crops that are important to our agricultural base. The five specialty crop areas covered in the guidelines are these: the fruit-growing areas of the Niagara region; an area in the vicinity of King’s Highway 3 south of Blenheim in Kent county; two areas in Essex county, the farm lands around the towns of Leamington and Harrow; and the Meaford-to-Thornhury area in Grey county.
On all other agricultural land, mineral aggregate extraction may occur only if the land is rehabilitated and the same acreage and soil capabilities are restored. In areas where extraction is permitted on agricultural lands we will be requiring municipal planning policies to stipulate that such land be restored to agricultural use after extraction.
These changes in our food land guidelines will help ensure preservation of our valuable farm lands, particularly our specialty crop areas, while not seriously interfering with the need of industry for an adequate supply of mineral aggregates.
Mr. J. A. Reed: On a point of clarification, Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) did not point out what he is going to do with those municipalities that have already frozen their land under the old 10-point aggregate policy.
My point of privilege involves a grievance arbitration hearing now under way in Windsor, where the policies and procedures of the ambulance operations unit of the Ministry of Health are central to the grievance.
Yesterday and today members of the press attempting to cover this very important arbitration hearing were barred from the hearing room by Patrick Draper, chairman of the arbitration panel, despite the fact that the grievor asked that the hearing be open. I am informed that Mr. Draper --
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I note there is an indication the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) perhaps will not be in the House. I was expecting there would be a statement from him or the Premier (Mr. Davis) to bring us up to date on what is going on, especially in terms of Kilderkin and the events that took place at those offices this morning.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, as the long and winding road of this winter session draws to something of a conclusion, I must say it is great to see the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) sitting here today resplendent in her Liberal red, proving she is not lost and she is not the dark horse spoken of in the morning press.
Mr. Conway: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of the Environment and it concerns his statement in the Legislature yesterday about the presence of dioxin in the waters of Lake Ontario.
Now that the minister has established the presence of either 2,3,7,8-TCDD, or total dioxins, in Lake Ontario, can he inform this House whether his ministry has yet established, or is in the process of establishing, guidelines either for the total family of dioxins or for the most deadly of that family, 2,3,7,8-TCDD?
If the minister has set or is about to set guidelines in that connection, can we assume he will be guided by the report issued in November 1980 by the International Joint Commission? That report recommended in this critical area that “for the protection of all life forms, 2,3,7,8-TCDD should be absent from all compartments of the ecosystem, including air, land, water, sediment and biota.”
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, there is an implicit assumption in the formulation of that question which is not entirely accurate, and that is that we can say with any degree of certainty we have found dioxin present in the waters of Lake Ontario. What I indicated yesterday was that on the basis of the preliminary results of three tests out of a total of 22 taken at the same time, there was ultimately determined to be minuscule trace levels of dioxin in the sample as tested. It was impossible to determine the particular member of the dioxin family.
As to those minute levels, we are now talking about parts per quadrillion; we have taken another quantum leap. The scientific opinion is that it is possible the contamination, having been found in those three samples, might well have been introduced inadvertently through handling of the material. We did not come to a conclusion on that one way or the other. We are therefore proceeding to do confirmatory tests with even more highly concentrated samples of water.
With respect to human consumption, it is also important to bear in mind that samples taken from treated water as opposed to raw water from those same areas failed even down to a level of 0.005 parts per trillion, which is the detection level limit, to reveal any signs of dioxin in the drinking water.
As far as the question with respect to guidelines is concerned, the answer is that at this time there are no guidelines, but I have instructed staff to proceed as quickly as possible with our medical advisers and the best medical advice available to develop guidelines. We have recently completed the development of a guideline for dioxin with respect to air, and we are the first jurisdiction in North America and, to the best of our knowledge, in the world to have such a guideline in place.
That covers the total family of dioxins as well as furans. and probably in the case of water it would do the same thing. The way we treat the standards that have been set with respect to air -- and I would assume the same would be done with respect to water -- is that we assume any evidence of the presence of dioxin involves the most harmful, in other words 2,3,7,8-TCDD, and the standards are based on that.
With respect to the air contaminant standards, a safety factor of 100-fold was built into the level initially, which is based on the results of extensive laboratory testing of this chemical on animals, plus a number of other safety assumptions that actually result in a several-hundredfold safety factor.
Is it possible to say we can guarantee, if in fact there are even five parts per quadrillion present in the water, that somehow it can be eliminated? I do not know whether that is possible, but I can assure the member it obviously will continue to be our objective.
Mr. Conway: Given the great public interest and the greater public concern that have developed as a result of his statement in the House yesterday about this very important environmental question, surely the minister will agree that he would not want to somehow downplay the knowledge that this most toxic of the family of dioxins is present in raw water in this province.
We now know dioxin is in the raw water of this province, specifically in Lake Ontario. We know it has been in fish. Yesterday the minister indicated that concentrations of dioxin and furan, which were 10 per cent above his guideline for ambient air, were detected at the solid waste reduction unit incineration plant in Hamilton.
Can the Minister of the Environment tell us whether he has tested other liquid waste incinerators, such as the Syntath plant in St. Catharines and the Tricil plant in Sarnia, for similar dioxin emissions, which have now been determined to be over his guidelines for ambient air in the Hamilton situation? Has he or his ministry undertaken similar such tests at those two places, St. Catharines and the Sarnia plant?
Why has it taken the minister so long to understand that this might be a problem, since he and his ministry have had reports now for two years which indicated this kind of difficulty was very likely to arise?
Hon. Mr. Norton: First, I would not for a moment try to downplay the possible significance of the information included in yesterday’s statement. By the same token I think it is incumbent not only on me but also on any responsible member of this Legislature to deal with matters of this nature in the most rational and factual way possible, and I implore other members to approach it in that way.
Any statements I have made with respect to the uncertainty about what it was we actually found because of the minute traces are not some effort on my part to shape the communication but, rather, are an effort to be as accurate as possible in relaying the best-informed opinion of the scientists who are involved in this exercise. If others wish to snatch on to a factual tidbit and exaggerate it into something that cannot be factually supported, then I have no control over that. I urge the member to maintain the discussion on a rational and reasonable basis.
About the reference to the stack gas situation with respect to the solid waste reduction unit, we are in the process now of testing stacks. One of the reasons it has taken this length of time to produce these results is that once again we are breaking new ground. The methodology that had to be developed and the protocol of testing for trace levels of these chemicals in stack gases have taken 18 months or more in the evolution. It is now hoped our future tests can be done in a shorter period of time.
For example, on each of the individual tests that have been completed with respect to Swaru, there are some 100 parameters within that protocol. At each stage we had to develop the protocol in consultation with other scientists, not only within our own jurisdiction but elsewhere as well. So we are, in fact, breaking new ground. It does take time. We have to be as certain as possible that the protocol we are following is reliable and producing accurate information.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, in relation to the minister’s comments about the air guidelines that were set for dioxin and furan and his comments about the 100-fold safety margin, surely the minister is aware that one of his own staff -- Mr. Martin of the air resources branch -- does not agree with the guideline that has been set and said in his report to the environmental assessment hearing in London: “Based on Dr. Harding’s report, the guideline is certainly less stringent than the values I had tentatively suggested previously.”
Based on what is obviously disagreement in the professional community about what might be safe and what might not be safe in terms of dioxin in air, and based on a very limited knowledge about the dangers of dioxin, and that in the case of Hamilton the Swaru plant has been operating for some 13 or 14 years, in past years far less efficiently than it is at present, will the minister ensure that some action is taken to go into the community surrounding Swaru and ensure the community by some kind of sampling process that there has been no health effect as a result of dioxin emissions over a rather lengthy period of time? Will he, as well, ensure that there will be regular monitoring of that stack from this point on?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Dr. Harding happens to be one of this province’s most expert people in the area of toxic contaminants. If the member chooses to take an offhand remark from a lawyer and place that in priority to the opinion of one of this country’s leading experts on toxic contaminants, then let him go ahead. I would prefer to rely upon the advice of doctors.
As I indicated yesterday, testing will be undertaken immediately to do confirmatory work on the preliminary test results that I released yesterday. The member may wish to quibble about the safety factors included in the guidelines, but I can assure him the maximum possible safety factors were included.
Even though we have taken precautionary measures in terms of the 20 per cent reduction at the plant, and even if we take the most extreme results -- the threefold test, the threefold exceedence -- because of the 10 per cent overage in the previous year we are still talking about less than one per cent of the known level of dioxin that is productive of harmful effects on human beings.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, is the minister falling so deeply into the trap of diluting toxins rather than destroying them that he is never going to extract himself? Let us witness the fact that SCA Chemical Waste Services put in a pipeline with diffusers to get rid of the effluent in the lower Niagara River without a whimper from the minister or the government. That is obviously a method of diluting.
Is the minister going to continue to hide behind the dilution of these toxic chemicals, or is he going to take hold of that issue and do something about it instead of letting the dioxin leak in from the S-area site? He has threatened to do something about that, but he has yet to do anything. When is he going to protect the integrity of that river by doing something more than just dilution?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I never advocated nor will I ever advocate dilution as the answer. Nor was I advocating that route in my response to the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton). Obviously we would all prefer to have a pristine, pure environment. If that were the case, the first step we would have to take would be to wipe every human being off the face of the earth.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the record. The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) in his response to my question, suggested that Mr. Martin, of his ministry, was a lawyer. I would like to correct the record to show that Mr. C. B. Martin is a professional engineer.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) I will direct a question to the leader of the government. It concerns the unfathomable mysteries of that indescribable tragedy at the Hospital for Sick Children down the way from this building.
It concerns the statement made some days ago by the chief law officer of the government to the effect that he could not release the full report of the Atlanta group on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of those 26 children between the summer of 1980 and March 1981 because he did not want to pass a cloud over anyone there or outside and he did not want to impede the police investigation.
In view of the fact that the executive director of the hospital has been quoted today as saying it is grossly unfair that not even he nor his senior people have had the opportunity to look at the Atlanta study, and in view of the fact that Mr. Snedden was quoted as saying he is deeply distressed about the circumstances surrounding the recent events, particularly the Attorney General’s handling of the events, can the Premier indicate how it is the Attorney General has not himself created the very environment he wanted no one else to create?
Will he give this House an undertaking today that the full report of the Atlanta study group on this vital question will be released so that the clouds will be removed, the unfairness will be eliminated and some light will be shed on what is a matter of vital interest and concern to the public of this province?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the concerns being expressed by some of the people at the Hospital for Sick Children and I have every sympathy with the concerns they are expressing. I also point out to the deputy leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario that in my view the Attorney General, in a very difficult and sensitive area, has handled this extremely well.
I cannot give any such undertaking here this afternoon. I have had no opportunity to discuss the matter with the Attorney General since I heard of the observations from Sick Children’s. I can only assure the honourable member that this government is as concerned as any person in this House and I think has demonstrated this in terms of how this matter is being dealt with.
I have confidence in the direction and the route that the Attorney General is taking. It is a very awkward matter for him in terms of his judgement and the discretion that he must exercise. If the member was totally objective about it, he would sense the difficulty the Attorney General has with an issue of this nature and would be more supportive of him in the efforts he is making and the direction he is taking.
I would report to the House -- not that the member would not be that upset about it, of course -- that the Attorney General is not here, not because he anticipated some of these questions, but because he is indisposed because of ill health.
Mr. Conway: Accepting that this is an extremely serious, delicate matter, and accepting as well that some of the people centrally involved in this, the very people the Attorney General wanted to protect, are now crying out in anguish because of the circumstances in which he has put them, can the Premier explain how it is that in the last 24 hours no less a person than the Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman), who must be taken as having seen the Atlanta report, is able to say, and I quote the minister: “No specific person has been shown to be negligent through any of the investigations so far”?
How is it that we can have one minister of the government who has been exposed to the report saying that, which seems to square with much of the police testimony in the past week? The Premier will recall that Superintendent Bamlett, before he resigned from the case, said he did not think there was much more for the police to do. Metro Police Chief Ackroyd, just in the last few days, said he did not think there were going to be any charges laid. Last night on television, the former crown attorney who prosecuted Susan Nelles said he did not think there were sufficient grounds for prosecution of anybody. Now the Minister of Health is apparently agreeing with that.
Why, in the face of all this evidence, can the Premier not give an undertaking to the people at Sick Kids and the members of this Legislature that the report in its entirety will be produced forthwith so that the air might be cleared and the clouds carried away?
I would say to the deputy leader of the Liberal Party that I think this government has demonstrated its concern about and its support for Sick Children’s hospital. When this matter first arose I can recall some of the rhetoric across the House, urging upon this government certain activity. I will not read back to the member or recall for him some of the things that were said. I can recall not the defence but the way the Minister of Health handled this in the initial circumstance.
I do not know anybody in this House who is more sensitive to and supportive of the Sick Children’s hospital than the Attorney General. But the Attorney General, it will come as a shock to the member, has a certain responsibility to perform. The member may question his judgement on occasion, as he has, but I say this very kindly, if I had to choose between his judgement and the member’s there is no question as to whose judgement I would accept.
No one wants to prolong this issue, but I cannot give the member a commitment that in the absence of the Attorney General, who has the responsibility for this matter, I can unilaterally say, “Yes, the Atlanta report will be produced forthwith.” I think that is an unreasonable request, it is unfair and probably does not demonstrate very mature judgement.
I also hope the Premier will recognize that there are now a number of vested interests involved and the concern surely has to be not simply with protecting a number of people and protecting a number of interests, but to get at the truth of this matter as best we can and determine who was responsible -- a difficult task, a very tough task, in some as an unpleasant task, but one which has to be performed.
In that regard, this question goes beyond publicizing a report of the hospital or a report of the Atlanta study, or even the laying of certain criminal charges. Surely the question is, what happened in that nine-month period? Who was responsible for what happened?
If we cannot identify an individual who was responsible for a particular death -- or a particular murder, if that is how it is to be characterized -- why did it take so long for these facts to become public and for these facts to become known? Why did it take so long for the truth, as it has emerged in various ways and various forms, to come out?
In that regard I would ask if the Premier can make a commitment, not simply to this Legislature or to the hospital or the police force, but to the citizens of this province whose children have used, are using and will use the Hospital for Sick Children. Those are the people whose interests all of us ultimately have to protect. Can he give the assurance that there will he a public inquiry, a royal commission, which will determine responsibility and indeed culpability in this matter? Unless that is done there will always be the sense that the difficult and tough questions were not asked and were not answered.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the leader of the New Democratic Party, if I heard him correctly, was indicating his support for, or understanding of -- that is a better way of describing it -- the reality of not producing forthwith the report that has been referred to. He has identified, as did the Attorney General, some of the obvious concerns and some of the answers that must be found.
If memory serves me correctly, I think I heard the Attorney General say to the members of this House that he had not precluded various options. In fact, in a direct answer to the member’s question as to whether the minister agreed that a coroner’s inquest might not be the best route to go, my recollection is that the Attorney General agreed that a coroner’s inquest, in the traditional form, would probably not be the appropriate route.
I sensed, as I listened to the Attorney General, that maybe a coroner’s inquest with specific terms of whatever, might not be ruled out. All I am saying is that I think the Attorney General answered this question in the statement he made initially.
Mr. Conway: I have a final supplementary to the leader of the government in this really incredible world-class tragedy that, if one stops and reflects upon it over these past 28 months, boggles every mind to which it is exposed.
Would he not consider, if not for us then for the affected parties and the involved parents who, I want to say -- at least those with whom I have spoken -- are deeply distressed this very day about the circumstances in which they find themselves and are not at all happy with the discharge of the promises made to clear the air -- will the leader of the government, failing as he has to give an undertaking to produce the Atlanta study, today give an undertaking to initiate a full royal commission so that this incredible world-class tragedy might be fully ventilated for the people of this province so they might understand what incredible set of circumstances brought it all about and who might be considered responsible?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I sometimes enjoy the rhetoric of the member, other days not. I will not quibble with him as to what he defines as a world-class tragedy. The occurrences at the Hospital for Sick Children represent a tragedy. One does not have to describe it in any form other than that. To try to say it is world class, I do not know what a world-class tragedy is --
I say with the greatest of respect, I do not think there is anyone in this House who is not concerned; no quarrel. But to say that I have failed to agree with the member because he is expressing a point of view is relatively unfair. I am not failing to produce a report. I am saying that in the judgement of the Attorney General, for some of the reasons that were outlined by the leader of the New Democratic Party, in terms of what the objectives must be, the Attorney General in his judgement at this moment has declined to release the report. Surely the member is prepared to accept that judgement at this point.
If he wants to debate it in two days’ time, or two weeks’ time, as to whether that judgement was justified or not, I think it is fair. But it is grossly unfair to say the Attorney General is in some way intentionally complicating the life of the institution or the lives of the parents. That is not the case. It will come as a shock to the member, but the Attorney General probably is not only as concerned as he is with this issue, but more concerned than he is, and is demonstrating a greater sensitivity to the parents, the doctors and the administrators than I sense the member would be prepared to demonstrate given similar responsibilities.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I wonder if I might be allowed to respond to the Premier to make it very clear -- and I hope he understands this because I do regard it as a matter of public importance -- that in our party we do not regard a coroner’s inquest as an appropriate vehicle for determining the truth in this matter. I just want the Premier to understand that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, so I am not misunderstood, I did not say otherwise. I said, and I hope I can repeat it because it is an important issue, that I sensed the Attorney General said to the member yesterday that a coroners inquest in the traditional way would not be appropriate.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Minister of the Environment concerning the announcement he made yesterday with regard to the discovery of dioxin in three samples of water in Lake Ontario. Yesterday the minister did his best to convey the impression that the ministry was right on top of things and there was really nothing to worry about. I can appreciate him having an interest in trying to convey both those impressions.
Nevertheless, I am sure he will appreciate the level of concern the announcement produced simply because, as I am sure he is aware, it is the very first time dioxin has been discovered in the Great Lakes and in Lake Ontario, in the water supply itself, and I am sure the minister will appreciate it is a matter of tremendous concern.
One area the minister did not mention in his statement directly -- and I am sure it is one which is in all of our minds -- is, is he any closer to telling us the sources of this dioxin? Surely he will appreciate, particularly with regard to the announcement he made last night on the level of dioxin in the air as the result of the incineration of certain waste material, we all know the speculation with respect to the Hyde Park dump, the S area dump, the 102nd Street dump, and the Love Canal in the Niagara River area.
Can the minister tell us if he is any closer to identifying the sources? I am sure he will agree that until we can identify the sources we will not be able to eliminate this dreadful, poisonous substance in our water.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, if I might he permitted, first, to correct an erroneous assumption stated in that question, the three samples in which we believe we have found minute traces of dioxin were taken in the upper and lower Niagara River and one in a channel off the Welland Canal. There have been many samples taken from L.ake Ontario and, to be precisely accurate, we have not detected dioxin in the water of Lake Ontario. In fact, out of 22 samples taken at the same time as these three, these are the only three in which parts per quadrillion of dioxin were present in the samples as tested.
As to sources, we obviously know of some. There are certain landfill sites and chemical dump sites on the Niagara River. There is conclusive evidence that they are leaching chemicals into the Niagara River. At this point, I do not know the source of the dioxin found in the sample as tested from the area of the Welland Canal. It is obvious it would not have come from the Niagara River.
However, with the increasing knowledge of the effects of combustion, in those minute traces it could conceivably have come from someone’s fireplace. We are talking about combustion producing dioxin when chlorine, carbon and oxygen are present. Even in commercial paper, we find chlorine. Whether that particular combustion would produce dioxin, I cannot say for sure, but certainly if one burns paper one has the necessary components for the production of dioxin.
I cannot say with absolute certainty what the source is. There could be a myriad of possible sources within the normal functioning of society. I have asked my staff to look very carefully in that area and see if there is any possibility that it is being produced, unwittingly, as a byproduct of an industrial activity. At this point we know of none, but we will be checking that out.
Mr. Rae: Surely if it was coming from somebody’s fireplace we would have detected it well before now. I find that explanation from the minister implausible on the very face of it. Really, he undermines the impression I would hope he was trying to convey from his ministry that he is in charge and is not simply clutching at straws; that he has some instinct or some sense as to what change in the environmental world has led to the discovery of dioxin in the waters within the Great Lakes system, to use the minister’s phrase with respect to the Niagara River and the Welland Canal.
Rather than taking satisfaction in that, does the minister not think it is time the government started taking a little insurance and started taking a safety-first attitude with respect to the question of drinking water, and established at least an experimental station where state-of-the-art carbon filtration is at work in order to discover how effective those techniques are at eliminating dioxin? It seems to me it is better to do it before something happens rather than after. I am sure he will appreciate just how small an amount of dioxin in drinking water can be a real concern with respect to health.
One of the things that is constantly changing is technology. Whereas it is possible that traces at this level of parts per quadrillion of dioxin have been present in our environment for a long time -- I do not know, but it is quite possible -- from sources such as combustion, what has changed very significantly is that, if one goes back to a year and a half ago, technology permitted us to detect dioxin at levels of one part per trillion approximately.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Subsequent to our being able to protect it at that level, we improved the procedures to the point where we were able to detect dioxin at lexels of one quarter of one part per trillion, and now the technology exists to detect it down to the level of five parts per quadrillion. That is a significant change. Previously, if these levels had been in a sample, we had no way of being able to detect them.
As to the member’s comments with respect to drinking water, one thing these findings will enable us to do, provided we are able to corroborate the evidence and confirm that we found some dioxin in the raw water as opposed to its being introduced in the testing process, is, for the first time perhaps, to study how dioxin is transported in water. It is generally believed by scientists, by virtue of the fact that dioxin is not water soluble, that it is transported by way of being attached to suspended particulate. If that is the case, and that is the current scientific view --
If that is the case, then the present system of water treatment may be just as effective as any activated carbon filtration system in terms of eliminating that. To satisfy the member’s interest in this, I can assure him we are in the process of doing work with activated carbon filters specifically dealing with dioxin.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister would agree, or I might ask him the question pointedly, that in all probability this dioxin in the upper and lower Niagara River could possibly be coming from the S site. I have a two-part question.
Second, realizing that the city of Niagara Falls. with the exclusion of Niagara Falls, New York, draws its water from very close to that S site, considering that Niagara Falls, Ontario, is taking its water from immediately above the falls through the Welland River, in the event that the minister is going to do ongoing monitoring, does he think he should focus on those sites where there is a probability that we might first detect danger and that Niagara Falls might be the site where he could be doing the experimenting that would take these toxins from the water people drink?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, it should be of some consolation to the member to hear that was what we were doing when we did these tests. Niagara Falls was one of the communities in which the water was tested and showed no detectable level down to five parts per quadrillion of dioxin. I can also assure him that will be part of our ongoing monitoring system in that whole region.
Hon Mr. Norton: At this point there is no indication of need for that step, although if there is any indication as a result of our ongoing and thorough monitoring, we will not hesitate to move on that.
With regard to the intervention, we have been ready to intervene since I announced it last fall. I have on a number of occasions been requested by the Canadian government to defer the intervention for a period of time pending the outcome of certain discussions that are going on between Canada and the United States. I agreed to do so in the hope that it might be productive. I do not have any hesitation in telling the member that to date I am not satisfied it is being productive, certainly not to the degree I had hoped.
I succeeded today -- I have been trying for some time -- in confirming that I have a meeting tomorrow with the Honourable Allan MacEachen, the Secretary of State for External Affairs for Canada, at which I hope to address and resolve this matter of the intervention once and for all.
Mr. Rae: In getting at the question of what is a safe level of dioxin, I am sure the minister is aware that in the summons and complaint for injunctive relief that was filed by the United States government in the case, United States of America versus Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Corp., it was stated on page 10 that the official Environmental Protection Agency water quality criterion for 2, 3, 7, 8-TCDD for protection of human health is zero. The level of exposure to dioxin that can be expected to pose a cancer rate of one additional cancer case per million people is 0.000000046 micrograms per litre parts per billion.
I am sure the minister will also know that in that same brief it was stated that in addition, with respect to carcinogens, the maximum human health protection criterion is zero, to reflect the fact that it is the EPA’s policy that there is no scientific basis for estimating safe levels of carcinogens.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I recognize that the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States has premised much of its work on the assumption that a single molecule of any carcinogen may cause cancer. In fact, the growing opinion in the scientific community, based on the research that has been done, is that this approach is probably not an accurate one. The growing consensus is that it is more realistic to talk about threshold levels.
I am not just spouting this as a result of wishful thinking. I am quoting the growing opinion among medical experts who have been working in or constantly reviewing the material that is being produced through research being done in this area.
As a result, the objectives set by the EPA will probably never be achieved. In the process of developing our standards here we will obviously take into consideration the work that has been done by the EPA, but we will also be taking into consideration the research that has been done since the EPA established its standards so that ours will, I hope, be the most advanced anywhere in the world.
Mr. Riddell: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Since we are closing this session and starting a new one some time in April, I wonder if you could consider this point of order. When you see that questions are being duplicated, such as this one to the Minister of the Environment, could you not use your discretion and authority to rule --
Because those bankruptcies represent less than 10 per cent of the farms that fold for financial reasons and because the majority of those folding are owned by young farmers under age 40, this is a very serious matter.
Does the minister not think the time has come to bring in legislation to place a moratorium on all foreclosures on farm operations until a neutral tribunal can deal with each case? Such tribunals could consider proposals by farm operators for continuation of their operations, make arrangements for refinancing or delay of the debt payment.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the member uses figures with which nobody can argue because one cannot prove them one way or the other. I know the member is fond of using figures like that, and understandably so, because nobody can challenge them. They have no basis in any facts to which one could point and on which one could argue. I will not belabour that point.
I would point out to the member that the farm assistance program we have now been operating for 14 months, for the cases that are brought to us and the over 3,500 that we have approved to date, in effect constitutes a moratorium on those individual cases, because whether the lenders are the banks -- I know the banks are a favourite target of the member and I guess banks always have been and always will be a favourite political target; and they can look after themselves, I am not going to make a brief for them -- or the trust companies or the credit unions, through this program the lender is brought together with the individual applicant.
We assist, whether through guaranteeing a new line of credit, and there has been an extensive use of that option; or through an interest rate deferral for six months, and there has been limited use of that option, I must say; or through the most frequently used option of interest rate reduction grants on outstanding debts, and I should say that now covers outstanding debts of more than $650 million. In those cases we are helping those farmers with the co-operation of the lenders to retain or regain their viability.
We recognize there is a need for us to continue our efforts to help the individual farmers who find themselves in a difficult position. Recently both the Christian Farmers Association and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture have come forward with proposals for ways and means of helping individual farmers who are at the end of their credit line, so to speak. We have been meeting with them to discuss these matters, and I am meeting with the presidents of both federations within the next week.
First, that they will continue to treat agriculture as a priority-lending area. We have had every indication and every reason to believe that they will continue to think of agriculture as a high priority and are not prepared to pull out of it, but I want those assurances personally and I am going to meet with them to get those.
Second, to get their continuing co-operation to work with us, with the federations and, I hope, broader than that, to work with the Farm Credit Corp. nationally, if we can get them involved, to zero in on individual cases and be sure that everything possible is done; that the lenders are involved, that we are involved, perhaps Farm Credit Corp. too, in every case where viability can he restored with the assistance of --
Mr. Swart: Does the minister not know that what he is doing is totally inadequate when farm bankruptcies are increasing as they are? Ontario has a far higher share of bankruptcies than the other provinces in Canada for the number of census farmers that there are.
Does the minister not realize that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture financial advisory service is not in operation, that banks are cool to it? If the OFA is going to be effective in dealing with these, it needs moratorium legislation to back it up. Does the minister not think the banks and other mortgage companies have a responsibility to carry part of the load in these difficult times? Their profits have been increasing dramatically. With $1.5 billion in 1982, they had the second highest profits they have ever had, just slightly down from 1981.
Mr. Swart: Specifically, Ontario farmers’ net income is the same last year as it was five years ago, while bank profits have doubled. Why would the minister not institute a moratorium for a period of time and let the banks bear some of the economic load? Why does the minister think banks are sacrosanct but farmers should be subject to clobbering in all financial situations?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, since time immemorial and for all time to come, I am sure banks have been and will be a favourite whipping-boy for the honourable member and his party.
I am not going to make brief for them; they can defend themselves. I just want to say to the member, we are talking about more than the banks. We are talking about co-operatives in this province that have substantial lines of credit extended, and these co-operatives belong to the farmer members. We are talking about credit unions which belong to the depositor members. We are talking about small, medium and large trust companies; and we are talking about a lot of little people who, in many cases, have sold their farms and taken back mortgages which represent their entire life’s work.
I know that on the face of it a moratorium to some people -- even if we had the authority to do it provincially and I do not believe we do -- has some political sex appeal, but I want to submit to the member that in the long run the kind of process in which we are involved, where we are able to bring the parties to the table -- and we have been able to help hundreds and thousands of farmers in this province to maintain or restore viability -- that process is more productive in the long run than the kind of intrusion into lender-borrower relationships that the member proposed. Ultimately --
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, would the minister not agree that the Ontario farm adjustment assistance program was meant to deal with high interest rates? These have now dropped to levels which make that program really insignificant, by comparison, so that it does not help those farmers below 10 per cent equity, who are the ones in most need.
Does the minister plan to introduce a program that will deal with the real problem in the farm industry, that of increasing farm debt which has risen to such an extent that many farmers are unable to keep up the payments on past debts?
The member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) mentioned that the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is proposing to establish a financial advisory service to act as an Ombudsman between the farmer and his creditors, and will need financial assistance for this program. In view of the fact that other farm organizations have asked the minister to appoint a task force to decide what type of assistance should be provided to individual farmers, can the minister tell us what course of action he plans to follow to deal with these requests? What recommendations and proposals will the minister be making to the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), before he brings down his budget, to deal with Ontario farmers who are facing their loss of livelihood?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, to answer the first part of the member’s question, the program was initiated to deal with a number of problems, not just high interest rates. There was a concern that because of falling commodity prices, lines of credit would not be available.
I remember well what I think was the first question the member asked me last year after I assumed this portfolio. He expressed concern over the rumours about the hundreds, if not thousands of farmers who were not going to have any line of credit and would not be able to plant their acreages.
As the member knows, that did not come to pass. There probably were cases where it would have come to pass except for the existence of this program. While interest rates have fallen, I anticipate that in 1983 as much or more use will be made of the third option in the farm assistance program, which is the guarantee of new lines of credit to assure farmers of the ability to plant in 1983.
One of the things we keep coming back to is the need for a better stabilization program, and I think the member has recognized this in his comments here and outside this chamber and this capital city. I should tell the member one other thing I have done in that regard. He may know that two weeks ago the federal minister, in answer to reporters’ questions at the annual meeting of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, indicated that, while he had not even bothered to read the papers we had prepared on stabilization, he had a better idea. He went on to say his proposal would he ready in two weeks’ time.
On Monday this week, I phoned the federal minister and said: “I was very interested in your comments and, taking you at your word, I have spoken to all the other ministers of agriculture in Canada. We are ready to meet with you in Toronto on March 1 to discuss your proposal and tripartite stabilization.”
Mr. Swart: I know the minister is new to his portfolio. I know he is concentrating on his leadership aspirations, but surely he should have had enough concern to know mortgage contracts come under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. In fact, it passed moratorium legislation back in the 1930s. Will the minister consider moratorium legislation? If not, in view of the federal government’s stonewalling on any joint help to farmers, what will the minister do on his own to assist the farmers out of the dilemma they are in?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: To carry on with the subject I raised earlier, the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) said, “If you need my help, call me.” I have been saying to my friend and a lot of the members for a year, they all have Eugene Whelan’s phone number, Lalonde’s phone number and Trudeau’s phone number. Call them and tell them.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would prefer that the meeting next Tuesday would result in the federal government showing us what it says is a better idea than what we have talked about to date among the provincial governments and the producers; in which case, if it is a better idea, it is the one we will follow. We are not going to stand on parochial provincialism. If they have a better idea and it is acceptable to the producers and the provinces, we can all live with it and that is what we will follow. If they have no policy or they --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I know that. Give me some credit that in the last year we have brought the matter to a head. We in Ontario have done more in the last year than anybody has been able to do in the last two years.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition which further substantiates my allegation of a conflict of interest on the part of the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory), the chief government whip. I will not say minister because I do not think he holds that honourable position any longer. It is to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, request that cabinet rescind its December 3, 1983, order in council which recommended a new Ontario Municipal Board hearing regarding Mississauga bylaw 288-80 as the statement approved by cabinet contained errors and omissions.
“We also request cabinet support bylaw 288-80, as did the area residents, Mississauga city council, the Ontario Municipal Board and the overwhelming evidence and testimony submitted to the Ontario Municipal Board hearing and cabinet.”
Hon. Miss Stephenson: May I please correct the record? In the debate last evening, there is on page 2050-1 of the Instant Hansard, page 19, in the third line of the first paragraph the statement, “has increased by 500 per cent.” That should be $500 million, not per cent. In the sixth paragraph, it should read, “an increase in assessment of approximately 70 per cent so that the local taxpayer has not borne an unduly large increase.” In fact, the average mill rate increase during the past decade has been of the order of 114 per cent for the taxpayers across the province.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that notwithstanding the prorogation of the House, upon the commencement of the third session of the 32nd Parliament, Bill 7, An Act to incorporate the Toronto Futures Exchange, be deemed to have been introduced and read the first time, be deemed to have been read the second time and referred to the committee of the whole House, and that Bill 174, An Act to provide for the Removal of Certain Waste from the Malvern Area, be deemed to have been introduced and read the first time and that the debate on the motion for second reading be deemed to have been adjourned.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that notwithstanding the prorogation of the House, the following government orders on the Orders and Notices paper dealing with committee reports, be placed on the Orders and Notices paper on the second sessional day of the third session of the 32nd Parliament, as follows:
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that notwithstanding the standing orders of the House, the order of precedence established by ballot in the first session for private members’ public business be continued in the third session.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the standing committees on procedural affairs, public accounts and social development, and the select committee on the Ombudsman be continued and authorized to sit during the interval between the second and third sessions of the 32nd Parliament in accordance with the schedule of hearings agreed to by the three party whips, as tabled today, and that the standing committee on procedural affairs and the standing committee on public accounts be authorized to adjourn from place to place.
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the following substitutions be made: on the standing committee on social development, Mr. Cureatz for Mr. Runciman; on the standing committee on public accounts, Mr. Villeneuve for Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Mackenzie for Mr. Cooke; on the select committee on the Ombudsman, Mr. Hennessy for Mr. Gordon and Mr. Lupusella for Mr. Philip; on the standing committee on members’ services, Mr. Cassidy for Mr. Mackenzie.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not want to belabour the point, but I thought that perhaps the government House leader, as he proceeded today to tidy up a number of end-of-session items, would be rising in his place, and perhaps he intends to before prorogation later today, to deal with a subject of some genuine irritation on this side of the Speaker’s dais.
The fact is that, as of this date, there remain scores of unanswered questions standing in the names of many members of this assembly. Some of them are as old as September 1982. I have indicated on at least two earlier occasions during this past part session, beginning on February 3, that, while we did understand that in some cases some of the material might he a little difficult to gather together in a two-week period, we found it passing strange, to say the very least, that five months was required for not one but literally scores of those questions.
I say, as I resume my seat, I have listened intently in recent days to the government House leader with respect to how we should go about our business in conformity with the standing orders. He has invited us to consider certain reforms that we may or may not proceed with. Would he give a commitment this day that those questions, or the vast bulk of those questions, standing in the names of members of this assembly, will be dealt with before prorogation, as is called for by standing order 81?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that in the first session of this 32nd Parliament we had 283 questions. In the second session we had 711 questions. That is 428 more than we had in the first session. According to my information, and I did a quick check, we have answered about 75 per cent of them in one way or another, that is, about 530.
I appreciate the points raised by my friend. We want to comply with the standing orders but everyone has to realize that those standing orders were drafted at a time when the thought of 700 to 800 questions was probably not even considered by anyone in this House. We are coping with that particular problem. I am going to table some answers now, and I will have more answers to table before this House finishes tonight, if it does.
Mr. Conway: On a point of order: I want to indicate very quickly that the reason for the growth in these questions can he explained in large measure by the delay in the freedom of information legislation --
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order with regard to question 535. This is the third day in a row I have had to rise on a point of order. That question has not been tabled by the House leader at this moment, although the interim answer indicated that the information would be available on November 29. I want to know what the hell is holding up that answer.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Does the House leader intend before we prorogue to make a statement explaining why his government misled the injured workers of this province into believing their problems would he dealt with this spring?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the matter my friend is referring to has been the subject of hearings by the standing committee on resources development, and it is intended that this committee conclude those hearings some time in the spring.
It is also my understanding that the committee met and decided it would not be meeting in the interval between the second and third sessions. I think the committee is charged with deciding its business, and it came back to us and decided not to.
Mr. Laughren: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I really do think it needs to be said that the reason the committee did not sit was that this government has decided there shall be no workers’ compensation --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased this bill has finally reached this stage; and I would like to thank, at this point, all of the members of the Legislature for their very conciliatory attitude in attempting to resolve the problems that were related to the development of the bill.
The bill has been significantly amended as a result of the many long hours of hearings that were carried out and were heeded carefully. It is our sincere hope the members of the House will pass the bill this afternoon.
Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I do not share the minister’s glee at the fact we have reached the third reading stage of Bill 127, and I intend to make a number of remarks about it in regard to why it should not be approved in its very final stage, which I understand third reading does deal with.
In setting out the case for not finalizing this bill I want to indicate for a brief period of time some of the history of this piece of legislation. I recall, first of all, the rumours that were circulating in the spring of 1982 that the minister was contemplating legislation that would have a marked effect on the collective bargaining process in Metropolitan Toronto and on the financing process in Metropolitan Toronto as it relates to education.
On one particular day in the Legislative Assembly, and that was May 28, I stood in the House to direct a question to the Minister of Education in which I made a plea for her not to introduce what turned out to be Bill 127. Because it is not a long exchange, I want to refresh the memory of those members who are in the House today and share with them the question and the answer I received at that time.
“Mr. Bradley: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. Now that she has received representations on a continuing basis from various groups that would be directly or indirectly affected by any proposed changes in legislation which would be designed to change the teacher-board negotiations process in Metropolitan Toronto, including the discussion within her cabinet, would she assure the House that she is prepared to abandon any plans she had to introduce legislation to bring about compulsory joint bargaining by panel and compulsory regional negotiations by panel in Metropolitan Toronto?
“Would the minister feel that by introducing this legislation she is going to allow the following problems to be addressed: Protecting the rights of an employing board and its teachers to negotiate something that is unique to the needs of that education system; or sheltering the priorities of a small branch affiliate or a single small board from the overwhelming needs of a larger entity; or another issue that arises from this, the sensitivity of the large metropolitan school boards to local needs when its members are not directly elected by the people who would be affected by these decisions?
So her answer at that time was “No.” In fact, she rose at the end of the question period, just after the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) indicated his dissatisfaction with an answer he received from the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), and went on to introduce this piece of legislation. That was when the battle over Bill 127 began in this chamber, continuing later in the standing committee on general government and then back in this chamber.
I expressed those concerns at that time. Then at the beginning of the spending estimates of the Ministry of Education I guess we were in the standing committee on social development at that time I reiterated the opposition of the Liberal caucus to Bill 127 and expressed a desire to have public input on the bill before the minister moved along the legislative process. Much to our regret and disappointment, the Conservative members of the committee defeated a motion to follow this course of action.
Even though I say it was much to my regret and disappointment, it was not much to my surprise because that has been the tactic of this government since it regained its majority on that famous date of March 19, 1981. which the Premier (Mr. Davis) reminds us of on every possible occasion although I understand the members of the government party have been told recently not to refer to that lest the government be labelled as arrogant.
At a later point in discussion of the estimates, I expressed our insistence that Bill 127 be sent to a committee of the Legislature for public hearings subsequent to the second reading of the bill, with such hearings to take place in September 1982 and with provision for some evening sessions to make the committee more accessible to the public.
Mr. Bradley: I want to have the honourable member on record, because I want to congratulate him on his vote in opposition to second reading of the bill. It was not only the demands of the Liberal Education critic. My friend the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande) was in support of our position, and the member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Shymko) certainly wanted to have those hearings. I want to put that on the record, because the only person on the government side who has actually voted against the bill is the member for High Park-Swansea.
Mr. Bradley: I am not answering the interjections. We all recall that my question was first on this, asking her not to introduce this legislation. The member for Oakwood and I have worked in such a compatible manner on this that I will not respond to the interjections of the member for Thunder Bay or Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) or both.
On Wednesday, June 23, 1982, the second reading of Bill 127, which as we know is the approval in principle, commenced in the Legislature. At that time, I outlined in a somewhat lengthy speech the reasons for our opposition to the bill and the real concerns of our caucus about its ramifications. I was joined by other members of our caucus who conveyed their lack of support for this legislation in addresses to the assembly. Members of the third party were vociferous on this at that time as well.
At the conclusion of the debate on second reading, our members and members of the New Democratic Party stood to formally vote against the bill and to force it to the standing committee on general government, where public hearings were subsequently held. During those committee hearings, which began in the first week of September, a very large number of groups and individuals made representations and submitted briefs. I believe it would be fair to conclude that an overwhelming majority of those who made submissions were opposed to Bill 127.
To ensure that as many people as possible would have the opportunity to appear before the committee, I moved a motion which resulted in an extension of the period of time allotted for public hearings. While the Progressive Conservative members of the committee were extremely reluctant to provide additional time for this purpose, a compromise was eventually reached and the hearings were extended.
The member for Oakwood will recall that at that time he and I advanced suggestions and eventually, kicking and screaming, the Tory members of the committee finally agreed to them. No doubt, my friend the member for High Park-Swansea put in a good word for us as well.
Mr. Bradley: At the October 6 meeting of the standing committee on general government, I moved that the committee hearings be extended further in order that those who had asked to appear before the committee, but had been denied the opportunity to do so, would have the chance to participate in the democratic process by making a submission in person. Unfortunately, the Progressive Conservative members of the committee refused to co-operate and denied these people the right to participate in the hearings by defeating my motion.
At the conclusion of the period of time allotted for the hearings, and on the day scheduled for the beginning of clause-by-clause study of the bill, I moved that the committee not deal with Bill 127 at that time and supported my motion with a number of key arguments. To my surprise and anger, the chairman of the committee ruled the motion out of order and refused to allow any debate on it. In the view of the opposition members of the committee, this amounted to a form of closure.
During the October 13 sitting of the committee to which I have made reference, clause-by-clause study of the bill began and an extensive debate took place on the individual sections of Bill 127 and the amendments that were put forth. The Liberal members of the committee indicated their strong opposition to almost all aspects of the bill. On their behalf, I introduced amendments which would have had the effect of deleting the offensive sections.
Naturally, the Progressive Conservative members of the committee voted en masse to defeat all those amendments and to approve only those changes proposed by the Minister of Education, as well as to defeat all the amendments proposed by the critic for the New Democratic Party, save one amendment that we all agreed to in the committee as a compromise amendment; which the minister attempted to withdraw later in the House, or to do a complete flip-flop.
In addition to these initiatives taken by the opposition -- and I am speaking this afternoon for our party specifically -- we continued to ask questions in the House. When the debate came forward late last fall and early winter of this year, we continued to speak, I think in a very detailed fashion but also to the relevant parts of the bill. We found this a useful exercise only to a certain extent, because it was also an extremely frustrating process.
We then found that the vehement opposition we expressed to Bill 127 was largely ignored by the government, although it has certainly paid the price in the length of time it has taken to put this bill through the Legislature.
Our vehement opposition to Bill 127 stems largely from our belief in local autonomy and our view that this bill represents an assault on local autonomy in teacher-board negotiations in Ontario and in certain aspects of the financing of education at the local level in Metropolitan Toronto. In our view, at the very least this is an experiment in regional negotiations and at worst a prelude to regional negotiations throughout Ontario or even, perish the thought, to province-wide negotiations.
It is the view of the Ontario Liberal caucus that the minister was attempting to fix something that was not broken, to tamper with a system that on the whole was working quite well previous to the introduction and, if it comes about, final passage of this bill.
Another motivation we saw in the minister’s introduction of this bill was her desire to put the reins on the Toronto Board of Education. We remember the articles in the various newspapers that indicated the minister’s disdain for certain members of the Toronto Board of Education, expressed openly, and it is our view that what she wants to do is to put them in their place and ensure that everyone knows who is boss. The Minister of Education, through the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, will be able to do that.
Some people see Bill 127 as yet another example of the Ministry of Education attempting to centralize control of education in this province. We certainly see it as that. We saw evidence of it in Bill 46. We see evidence of it in the proposals -- or nonproposals, whatever the minister wishes to call them -- in regard to the pooling of assessments.
What she has done is to introduce an element of compulsion to the negotiation process: compulsory joint bargaining by panel and compulsory regional bargaining in Metro Toronto. At present, through agreement and co-operation -- and I emphasize that: through agreement and co-operation -- the teacher-board negotiations have been working quite well. We have joint panel and regional negotiations taking place.
To introduce a mandatory aspect to negotiations is repugnant not only to the teachers but also to others who are concerned about this process of collective bargaining between teachers and boards of education in Metropolitan Toronto. There was evidence last summer that even the thought of the bill’s passing had an adverse effect on the negotiations that were taking place at that time.
I could go on to speak about the details of the bill, but we have gone over them many times in this House. I will allow members not to have me go through them, but I want to look at several other aspects of the bill.
One of the things the minister has done by introducing this bill and pursuing it as she has is to bring together groups that heretofore perhaps were not as close as they had been in the past. I am speaking specifically of representatives of the teachers’ federations and the branch affiliates who have been working in conjunction with parents’ groups within Metropolitan Toronto in opposition to this bill.
On some occasions, and certainly in the initial stages of meaningful parental involvement in education, there may have been some reluctance on the part of certain members of the teaching profession to see teachers involved to the degree they are. I think the experiment in this has been quite successful; indeed, the minister through necessity has even driven the two to work together in opposition to this bill. I suppose this is one beneficial effect of the bill, even if it is a back-handed benefit to be derived from the introduction of this bill.
We look at the approach, by the way -- and members of the House will appreciate this -- to what took place in this bill as compared to what took place in Bill 179 with respect to the government imposing closure. In Bill 179 the government imposed closure both in committee and in the House on the basis of the fact that we had been dealing as a Legislature and as a committee with some very trivial points, in the view of the government, at the very beginning of the bill -- working on definitions, not dealing with substantial amendments to the legislation in any way.
The government used this as an excuse to bring down the hammer of closure, and the news media and the general public by and large probably looked at that debate and said, “Well, the government seems to have a pretty good case in view of the fact that the bill is not proceeding at all.”
To attempt to use that excuse in this debate is simply not acceptable, since both of the parties in opposition dealt with what I call the heart of the bill, the major portions of the bill, in a very meaningful fashion with some good speeches, with some excellent supporting material -- not only the critic of the New Democratic Party and the critic of the Liberal Party but also those other members who have either a peripheral interest in education or a direct interest in affairs in education in Metropolitan Toronto.
So this excuse simply did not hold up, and I think the charge by members of the government that the opposition has been unduly lengthy and trivial in its debate is a charge that will not stand up when we look at those items that were being discussed in great detail and at what ultimately happened.
For some time, in the view of editors -- those who decide what actually gets in the papers -- it seems education has not been as much of a high-profile thing in the past couple of years as it was at one time. A number of people in Metropolitan Toronto may not even have known Bill 127 existed for a while by reading the newspapers or dealing with the electronic media in the early stages of Bill 127. It was only when parents got deeply involved, when there was a campaign carried out in a public way against this bill, that some people began to recognize it existed.
But there were some good articles written. I want to quote briefly from some of them. In many cases I want to read the whole article, because there have been some good articles written on this. They are on both sides. Since we are the opposition, I am going to deal with the ones opposed to the bill. That is expected. I expect the minister or whoever might speak on the government side will deal with those that are favourable to their position.
Mr. Bradley: Gordon Barthos, who wrote for the Toronto Star, had a very good column in the October 22, 1981, issue of the Toronto Star when he talked about the possibility -- I think this should read “1982” but it is stamped “1981.” However, it is well back in the bill. It was headed “No Solid Case to Boost Metro School Board Power.”
I thought he made some good points in that article, and I commend it to the members of the Legislature who have a chance to go back and look it up, because it talks about many of the things the minister has brought forward.
He says: “In the past couple of weeks, Education Minister Bette Stephenson has sent a chilly fall draft through the hothouse of school politics in Metropolitan Toronto -- and the sneezing has only just begun.
“After several years of dickering, Stephenson has served notice that the time is ripe for a change in the way education decisions are made in Toronto area schools. The minister is proposing to give the central Metro school board the exclusive power to hammer out collective agreements with teachers across Toronto. At present, the responsibility rests with the area’s six local school boards, which may -- or may not -- delegate it to Metro.”
He started off with that premise. As we got into the bill, we recognized just what circumstances would arise from the bill. While we might not agree it was precisely this, he was pointing in the right direction when he said there was a desire to move more power to the Metropolitan Toronto School Board and away from the local school boards.
He goes on to say: “Predictably, Stephenson’s proposal has been sharply opposed by at least one board, the Toronto Board of Education. Centralizing power in the Metro board’s hands, the Toronto trustees argue, would sound the death-knell for the close ties that exist between local school boards and the communities they serve.
“At issue is the sort of school system that Toronto residents want to have. The basic question is whether decisions that affect six school districts, 300,000 pupils and hundreds of schools should remain somewhat decentralized in the boroughs’ hands” -- as they have been in the past -- “as they are elsewhere in Ontario, or centralized at a Metro-wide level.
He goes on to make a good case against the implementation of Bill 127, one which I know members of this House are interested in when they think of whether they want this bill to proceed through the third reading stage. I know the Speaker today would want me to make reference to that.
I do not believe that when the minister introduced this bill she was aware, nor were the members of the government aware, of the degree of opposition she would encounter. I do not think she was aware that the members of the official opposition and the members of the third party would see this as being so important an issue that they would spend the time, effort, energy and research they have on this bill. She has been surprised by that, as I am sure her colleagues have been surprised; the depth of feeling is great.
When we fight this kind of battle, we see it is not a battle that is in the forefront in terms of public consciousness, particularly in the early stages. It is not one that generates a good deal of media coverage until its late stages. It is difficult to fight those battles, to go on, except when we believe that what a minister and government is doing is going to be damaging to one section of that goverment and one section of our society. In this case, I am referring to the education system. I do not believe either the minister or the government were aware of the breadth or the cross-section of people who were opposed to Bill 127.
That opposition has been characterized, and I have said this in other parts of the debate, as essentially coming from a small group of downtown Toronto radicals, the school board and some of the people who work closely with it, and the more radical members of the teaching profession. That is the way the minister has characterized the opposition to this bill. No doubt that is how she sold it to many of the members of the governing caucus, by saying that is the kind of opposition, and nobody cares about it but those people.
Of course there are those in certain positions who have given further ammunition. I well recall, before a by-election that took place in York South, a letter went out to the secondary school teachers in Metropolitan Toronto, a letter that was well circulated and certainly discussed publicly. It provided further ammunition for the minister at that time to say to her caucus: “You see where the opposition is coming from. It is obviously from one particular group of radicals.” She completely misread the fact that the opposition has come from people in all walks of life in Metropolitan Toronto.
Mr. Bradley: She shakes her head “no.” Look at the lawn signs. In another Toronto Star article by Louise Brown, on February 17, 1983, headed “Bill 127 Sparks True-Blue Anger in Torytown,” there is a photograph captioned “Dooney Gibson, who votes Conservative, hammers sign into her lawn to protest against Tories’ Bill 127, a package of sweeping changes to Metro’s school system.”
Mr. Bradley: Sure, there are a couple who did. I could say there is a very prominent New Democratic Party woman in Scarborough, a chairman of a board of education who also did, but that does not mean that those of us who sit --
Mr. Bradley: What is her name again? Anyway, that is not the point. Despite the fact that there are a few in the realm of Metropolitan Toronto from other parties who have indicated some support, I am pointing out the depth of support and the breadth of support for our position, the position of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, on Bill 127 and the fact that I think the government misread it.
The Minister of Health (Mr. Grossman) and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) were particularly prominent because, whenever there were questions asked in the Legislature or something became uncomfortable, they would sit there and giggle and bump each other’s elbows and so on. Of course, everyone knew they were opposed to the bill. When they saw all these signs springing up, particularly on some lawns that were lawns of people who normally supported them, I think they recognized the degree of opposition to this bill that exists in Metropolitan Toronto. Those people were all saying to us, “This bill should not he called for third reading,” and they would be interested in this debate.
I could read this article into the record but, rather than do that, I will simply commend it to the members opposite, who I know will be interested in looking at it even though they have now made the decision to support the bill.
I mentioned -- and this is important to the whole atmosphere surrounding this bill -- that it brought the teachers and parents together. There is one comment that disturbs me, as I know it will all members of the opposition, because the minister is placing greater powers in the hands of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. It is a quote from John Tolton, chairman of the Metro school board. It is the kind of inflammatory remark he makes. This is from an article by Louise Brown on February 22, 1983, in the Toronto Star:
“But John Tolton, chairman of the Metro school board, which supports Bill 127, says, ‘Teachers put up the money for the campaign against Bill 127 and got the parents involved by telling them a lot of mistruths about the bill.’”
If the chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board is going to make statements of this kind, it is little wonder that both the parents who are opposed to this bill and the teachers in Metropolitan Toronto have a great fear of that board having greater control over education in Metropolitan Toronto. It is justified.
He had also written one on September 19, 1982, called “The Politics Behind Ugly Bill 127,” where he talked about the minister’s desire to clip the wings of the Toronto Board of Education. Once again I am desirous of reading it into the record, but I want to ensure that others have an opportunity to speak this afternoon and I will forgo that, although I commend it to the reading of the government members.
There are two Toronto Star editorials, one on June 21, 1982, called “Applaud Education Bill,” and one dated February 7, 1983, called “Scrap Ontario Schools Bill.” Both of those are excellent. I commend them.
Mr. Bradley: Well, he is interjecting. He does not want me to be snide, but it is fine for him to bark his nonsense way down there. He floats into the committee, toothpick in mouth, votes like a robot and then heads out. He does not understand the bill.
The Deputy Speaker: Funny you should mention that. I can remember being in the chair as Acting Speaker when the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) used the same word in reference to the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg), and his argument was that it was used in the good book on a regular basis and that he was justified in using it.
I look at the three -- if I may capsulize it -- main objections we have to the thrust of this bill. The first is, it is an assault on local autonomy. It is removing from local boards of education the powers we feel they should have. If anything, we feel the minister should be moving in the opposite direction, giving more powers to the local boards of education and reducing the powers in the Metro board.
Mr. Bradley: I always like to hear the chairman of the Toronto board rather than hear her quoted by the minister. It comes through in a little more accurate fashion when it comes directly from that person.
The third thing that is happening as a result of this bill is that the minister is poisoning the atmosphere in education in Metropolitan Toronto by unnecessarily bringing forward new enemies of the ministry, of the government and of others who are in authority.
We see it as a general pattern of centralization in Ontario. When the minister was out, I indicated that there were signs of this in Bill 46, that there are most certainly signs of this in her nonproposal, the nonproposal of Mr. Martin, for the pooling of assessment where she is attempting to get her hands on the last place she has not had her hands in terms of money, and that is on the municipal property tax. It is the only real generator of revenue for municipal governments.
She is attempting to get that money now and spread it across Ontario, instead of infusing new funds which are required, as she has allowed her percentage of the cost of education to fall from 61 per cent to 51 per cent in terms of what boards spend as related to the percentage her government pays. That went from 61 per cent to 51 per cent since 1975. We see Bill 127 as another step in that centralizing process.
We look at her confrontationist style in this bill and in her relationship to those parent groups, who disagree with her, and to the teachers’ federations. Much has been written. Robert Matas of the Globe and Mail wrote a rather lengthy piece on the confrontation that the minister has had with the teachers federations and the fact that they feel they have not had the kind of meaningful dialogue with the minister they were able to have with the previous minister. This bill is part of that confrontation she has carried on in her tenure as minister.
Despite the fact that this bill is obviously going through with the government majority -- and there was never any doubt about that, because it has the majority with 70 members -- we have, however, gained some victories through our lengthy debate and through our persistent argument.
We have gained that with the support of groups such as the Workgroup of Metro Parents and many other parent groups in Metro Toronto. We have done it with the assistance of the teachers’ federations which have had their members come from across the province, most particularly from across Metro Toronto, to put forward their views and to watch the debates in this House. We have done it as two opposition parties and perhaps with a little touch here and there from certain government members.
Mr. Bradley: I will not accept the minister’s quotation from them. I will want to hear it from them directly -- the abandonment of her amendment, after some 10 hours of debate, eager to get through section 6. I am not yet convinced the minister knew she had lost her amendment. Did she know that?
The minister says she knew what she was doing when she lost her amendment. It was all the more a victory for those of us in the opposition if she knew what she was doing when she lost that amendment, because it was a major concession. It now means that in the case of surpluses accrued, accumulated or incurred by individual boards of education within Metropolitan Toronto, they may now retain only that portion which is generated from the tax base within that municipality.
It removes some of the incentive, maybe a major portion of it, for those boards to incur those surpluses at the expense of important programs and projects in education. That is a major victory for those of us in the opposition who have been persistently opposed, and for those who have been here day after day and night after night in the public galleries.
The minister came in with what I thought was something great. She said: “Okay, I am not going to be in my original position which says now you can only have one mill as a discretionary levy. I will come into committee and announce it will be a mill and a half.” Then she backed down from even that. She said: “I have better news for you. It can now be a mill and a half, and it can all be used for the hiring of teachers except for one thing: we are going to freeze the factor at 1982 in terms of the assessment.” So in terms of actual dollars she was doing very little. Under further pressure from the opposition, she brought forward an amendment in the House which moved that to 1983.
Another victory that we had, I suppose, was that she announced she was going to appoint a commissioner to look into the whole issue of the discretionary levy. I would be interested in knowing -- I know the minister, who has fled the House, can hear me in the back room and would want to reveal this information to the House this afternoon -- who that commissioner will be.
Will it be someone like Duncan Green? He is considered to be an open-minded individual, although maybe we do not agree with all of the things that he brings forward. Will it be someone like Duncan Green, who would have respect for the people in this House and the people in the educational community? Or will it simply be somebody who will confirm the minister’s own feelings on this? I hope it will be a person who is trusted by everyone who is involved in education in this province, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto.
The discretionary levy and the allocation of surpluses was a victory. There was another victory in this House. That victory was a victory of principle in terms of how the procedures of this House should be run. The government, in December 1982, invoked closure. It attempted to bulldoze through the House its legislation through a time allocation motion, which was a new, precedent setting way of handling closure.
It attempted that at this time, but was out-foxed by the opposition. I must give a good deal of the credit for this to my colleague the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway). who carried out the debate on this. He recognized that if we kept talking and debating in a very relevant fashion on the time allocation motion, eventually the time allocation motion would be null and void because we would have passed the deadlines in it.
He made some good arguments. It was not just a filibuster. Yes, he spoke at some length; there was design in that. He made some excellent arguments, some of which were heard from the member for York South (Mr. Rae) during a similar debate in the fall and winter of 1982 when he outlined his party’s opposition to this kind of motion. He told me he had a five-hour speech to make on that occasion himself if it should have been necessary. He still has it ready for the next occasion, if there is one.
What we had was the member for Renfrew North standing up on behalf of the opposition for the rights of the opposition within this Parliament, fighting against a government which wished to railroad through, with a time allocation motion, a piece of legislation many in this province found to be repugnant. That is another victory. The government was forced to use its established procedure, its motion 36, that the minister had to stand up and invoke time and again in this Legislature. That was a major victory for us.
The opposition indicated it would not be bulldozed, we would not roll over and play dead upon the trampling of the 70 times two, which is 140 feet that are across there to stamp on the rights of the opposition -- or, as I once characterized it in the Re-Mor affair, the 70 bristles which were brushing that affair under the rug. In this case, they could not brush it under the rug. They could not stamp on the opposition. We were prepared to stand up and fight and we were successful in that fight.
I am sorry the minister is not here for my final remarks on this bill. I noted last night that many of her members came over to congratulate her at the end of committee of the whole stage as though she had won some major victory herself. There were kisses and pleasantries exchanged, and “Atta girl, Bette” comments. I noticed some of the Toronto members who were opposed to the bill were not there to indicate that.
The minister did win a victory in that 70 seats in the Legislature based on 44 per cent of the 59 per cent who voted she did win a victory in that regard because they have 70 seats. But I ask you, Mr. Speaker, at what cost did she have Bill 127? Some of the seats of her Metro members? Perhaps. The electorate will make a judgement on that. I cannot make that judgement now, but certainly some of her members have to be worried that the cross-section of people who were opposed to this bill will, on election day, remember and come out and indicate their disapproval. It could be at that cost.
It was also at the cost of the quality of education. It was at the cost of the potential good relationship between the Ministry of Education and the teachers’ federations in this province. It was at the cost of some of her colleagues’ anger at the fact she would drag this government through this bill at a time when the Legislature is normally not sitting. That is a major cost.
It might even be at the cost of her position as Minister of Education in this province. Who knows, after the shuffle takes place, whether she will come back as the Minister of Correctional Services, or whatever she might come back as? It may be some other portfolio, but it might well be that the Premier (Mr. Davis) will now recognize that the confrontationist style of this minister is not conducive to a good relationship in education. It may well be that she might instead receive a promotion.
Mr. Bradley: “Then watch out,” is right. That is the first thing the minister said this afternoon with which I can agree. Because she would then have her hands on the purse strings and heaven protect education and other priorities at that time.
I just ask this one question of all the government members who have such a great interest in this bill this afternoon. That is, they have Bill 127, they have rammed it through the House, but at what cost?
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, whenever I think of the Minister of Education, which circumstances have forced me to do more often than I might otherwise have done recently, I am reminded of that minister of education in the Third Republic of France, of whom it was said the great thing about him was that at any time during the day he could look at his watch and know exactly what courses were being taught all across France and what lessons were being learned because the education system in that regime at that time was a highly centralized one, a highly bureaucratized one, an extremely authoritarian one.
I simply want to say to the minister that she has created, in this legislation, a framework that can only be described as authoritarian. It is centralized, bureaucratic, inflexible and it will cost her and the government a great deal of difficulty. I hope to demonstrate that by talking about its impact on labour relations, teacher-board relations, local autonomy, children and education.
This legislation is simply not going to work because it does not conform to the needs of a population that is far more demanding and complex than is ever appreciated by a mind that tends to see things in tight, tidy compartments with tight, tidy solutions that will only cause more problems than they solve.
Mr. Rae: I want to tell the member for Wilson Heights how much I appreciate his interjections. They add a great deal to the debate. I do not know if he has ever spoken on this subject, but he has certainly said a great deal from his chair. He has illuminated our understanding with respect to this legislation with every interjection he has made. I want to encourage him to continue to do so because he adds a great deal to the substance of this debate every time he decides to intervene in the way he has chosen to do.
I am going to look at this legislation from those different points of view. I want to start by having a look at what this bill does to collective relationships that exists between teachers and boards. I do not want to claim any tremendous expertise in this area. I do not want to suggest that I have any vast experience, but I have had an interest over many years in the question of labour relations and the nature and substance of collective bargaining relationships as they have been established in many different areas of this province.
I think it is worth while looking at this legislation as a piece of labour legislation because in a sense that is what it is. The first point I want to make may seem like an unimportant one, but to me it is ahsolutely astonishing that the government would attempt to create an entirely new framework for labour relations between teachers and boards anywhere in this province by amending the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act rather than dealing with it as a question of labour relations proper.
Mr. Rae: Will the minister just listen, because these remarks are made in good faith. She may not agree with what I or many other people have to say about this legislation, but she is required to listen just a little while longer before she goes on her merry way towards the solutions she decided to impose upon the people of Metropolitan Toronto from whatever tower she inhabits from time to time. I know she does not like to listen, but she will have to listen for a little while longer.
I do not think what is happening here has been appreciated. It is something that is unique to labour and teacher-board relations in this province. It is a very new departure which in my view is doomed to create tremendous problems because it sets up categories in the bargaining relationship that are entirely artificial. They are artificial in the sense that it says bargaining will take place on a mandated basis centrally, but there will continue to be something called local bargaining. The minister has made a great point of this. She has said local conditions will continue to be bargained on a local basis.
There is no precedent for this in any labour legislation in the province, but there is a precedent for something else; wherever laws attempt to proscribe, circumscribe and artificially limit the context and ambit of collective bargaining, those laws create tremendous problems.
One has only to look at the experience in the federal public sector where certain areas are taken out of collective bargaining and where management says: “No, you cannot bargain about that. You are not allowed to bargain about those things. No, I am sorry, you cannot bargain on these things, we have to set them by legislation.”
When one creates that kind of authoritarian umbrella which limits the kind of bargaining which can take place between two parties in a labour relations context, one is creating problems. If we have learned anything in this century in this province, surely we have learned that labour relations, relations between management and working people, whatever job those working people may perform, is not something that can be carried out in an authoritarian manner.
When one injects that element of artificially preventing people from talking about certain things and says: “You are allowed to discuss certain items, but you are not allowed to discuss these items. These items are centralized and these items are going to he local,” when one creates that kind of completely artificial and arbitrary framework, one is creating an environment which is full of pitfalls and real difficulties.
I want to read from this brief, because I think it genuinely reflects this view. It is from the point of view of the teachers, but I do not see anything wrong with that. After all, it is from the point of view of people who have been involved in bargaining for some extensive time.
The brief I am referring to is from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, District 16, from Scarborough, which was presented to the general government committee. The chairman of that committee was the member for Cambridge (Mr. Barlow), who is here today. I think it is extremely important that this be appreciated by members and by the government, because they will rue the day they pass this legislation. Like all tidy solutions, it tends to blow up in one’s face, and that is precisely what this so-called solution is going to do. This is what the brief, in part, says:
“No labour relations legislation currently in existence in Ontario has attempted to split negotiations between those of a local nature and those of a central nature and attempted to allocate certain issues to each sphere of negotiations. Collective bargaining is an interrelated and dynamic process. Matters of a monetary nature will affect matters of a nonmonetary nature. An attempt to artificially divide such issues and impose a rigid format on such a fluid process may render the entire effort unworkable.”
They go on to raise some examples of the kinds of issues which, to be perfectly frank, the minister does not have an answer to. She shakes her head to say: “No, these are not problems. There is no difficulty. That is not what the legislation means.” Surely the minister understands that the real world is not the world of arbitrary and authoritarian answers where one looks at a clause and says, “That is the answer to that question.” The real world is where one deals with the real world of bargaining, labour boards and the tribunals that are deciding these things.
One knows very well that the whole trend of this legislation is going to be away from allowing for full and free collective bargaining between local boards and their teachers, and towards emasculating the ability of local boards and teachers to settle issues which are of direct concern to them, and which should he settled by them and not by anybody else -- certainly not by the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, this unaccountable octopus which has been created by the Tory government in Ontario.
“Does a provision in a collective agreement which guarantees accumulation of seniority during a leave of absence without pay constitute a financial benefit? If so, would that mean that all rules with respect to the granting of such leaves be an item for central negotiation, even though the criteria and approaches in this matter may vary from board to board?
“The artificial separation of monetary from nonmonetary issues may well require that certain aspects of a maternity leave plan, for example, be dealt with centrally: a procedure that can only lead to confusion and delay and disruption of the collective bargaining process. There is no mechanism available for resolving such disputes.” Those words are worth repeating: “There is no mechanism available for resolving such disputes.”
If I may say so, as one who has some experience in reading the Labour Relations Act and, indeed, in reading the act in other areas dealing with other workers in the province from whom the right to strike has been taken away or who have special legislation, from the standpoint of somebody interested in trying to resolve a dispute or somebody trying to find an answer to the question of what is central and what is local, and find an answer which is not simply to be settled by those who are always going to be in favour of the centralized answer, this legislation is poorly drafted, it is poorly worded, it is poorly thought out.
It is drafted by people who have very little understanding. I would say zero understanding, of labour relations and who tend to see these things as things that can be placed in tidy, totally separate, watertight compartments, for whom there are tidy, watertight answers. The world of labour relations does not know those kinds of answers. It certainly does not know the kinds of answers that have been imposed on it by the Minister of Education.
The first point I want to make is one that we have not laboured on a great deal on this side because none of us has wanted to appear to be making a special case simply for one profession, simply for the teachers. I think that is understandable. Nevertheless, I think a word has to be said here on behalf of that group of employees who are being placed in this straitjacket. It is lousy, poorly-worded labour legislation from the point of view of somebody who is trying to find out how to bargain these items, how to resolve the disputes over what is local and what is central. If I may say so, the thing that is fundamentally offensive about this from a bargaining standpoint is that the board which is doing the bargaining, the centralized board, is not accountable to anybody.
Mr. Rae: I hear the member for Wilson Heights in another one of his gems of wisdom saying they do not do the bargaining. All I can say is he does not understand how this legislation works if that is what he thinks. If that is what he thinks and that is how he understands the nature of the process, I am sorry. Perhaps it is just as well we are leaving either today or tomorrow or Friday or whenever we get through with this debate. To me, it does not make any sense that the member would be making that kind of a comment.
The second point I want to make is that in centralizing authority in Metro in this unaccountable board, the government is doing very real damage to the metropolitan system itself. I want to suggest to the minister and to the government that what has happened here is a mini-revolution, almost undetected by many observers, away from all the major recommendations that the Robarts committee made and that other committees have made throughout the 1970s with respect to relations between the boroughs in Metropolitan Toronto.
I think it has to be understood that what is happening here is contrary to the very clear recommendations and points of view of the commissions which the government established during the 1970s. This government has failed to recognize that the kind of government which was appropriate in education during a time when the boroughs were expanding in size and growing and clearly needed to have the support of the tax base of the city of Toronto, that the kind of system that was appropriate for those days may be completely inappropriate for a municipality such as Metro Toronto which has now become far more mature and more evenly balanced in the relative size and abilities of each of its boroughs to raise funds and which, at the same time, is too large in the field of education, in my view and in the view of our party, to give all the power to a completely unaccountable board.
I respect those people and I understand those people who say, “Let us move away from the metropolitan system and let us just have one big Toronto that abolishes totally the boundaries between the different boroughs.” I do not agree with that point of view, certainly with respect to education.
Mr. Rae: I do not agree with that point of view, but I have far more respect for that point of view than I do for the kind of phoney, so-called compromise which has been adopted by the government which, in fact, gives us the worst of both worlds because we have all the disadvantages of each system, if you will, one imposed on the other. We have none of the flexibility that one would get with a truly decentralized system and we have none of the advantages of whatever efficiencies would he produced by having a truly centralized system.
Mr. Rae: As my friend the member for Beliwoods quite correctly points out, plus the ministry, ever growing in the numbers in its departments and the series of people who are advising and consulting the ministry and advising and consulting everybody else.
I think it is worthwhile for people to recognize that this legislation is designed -- and there can be no other explanation for this -- to take power away from local boards, which are accountable, and to replace that power not with some new system of accountability but simply with a maze of nonaccountability.
Mr. Speaker, you know through your understanding of the governmental process that when no political figures are truly responsible and truly accountable, the people who take charge are the bureaucrats, the so-called experts, the officials. And those are the people who are not accountable to anybody, whom nobody can get at, whom the public cannot reach, who do not have to respond to the demands of public opinion, to whom parents cannot say, “t do not agree with what you are doing, and I disagree with it so profoundly that you are going to be out after the next election.”
These are people who are in the job, and they are there for life, regardless of what the politicians may think or how public opinion may change. As someone who believes very strongly in democracy I think we have to be concerned about this fact in Metropolitan Toronto. This government is giving far more power to the Metro school board than it has ever had before, and that power is truly unaccountable.
Mr. Rae: The member for Wilson Heights says that is not so. Well, let me just go back. I believe the member is an intelligent person, and I want to ask him how he can say they do not have more power when the very first point I was making, and I do not think it can be argued at all, was that they are being given far more power with respect to bargaining with their employees.
Mr. Rae: The minister should look at the pattern. What has happened with the pattern of joint bargaining that has taken place up until now? The minister knows full well that the reality of the process has been that the individual boards have lost their ability to bargain and that the ability to bargain has been taken over by the Metro school board.
Look at the evidence in the committee, piled high from every single teachers’ group that bargained with their individual boards and the members will find out the answers they got from their individual boards. The answer they got was: “We are not doing the bargaining any more. All that bargaining is being co-ordinated at the centre by the Metro school board. They are the people with all the answers. They are the people who are doing the dealing.”
The government is turning the trustees in the city of Toronto and all of the boroughs into a group of eunuchs who have absolutely no power and no ability to deal with any of the issues that are before them, and that is precisely what the government is doing.
Mr. Rotenberg: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I know you cannot speak on your own behalf. I think the reference by the honourable member to the Speaker was not parliamentary, not proper. I think he should withdraw that reference to the Speaker.
If I may be allowed to continue, I would like simply to indicate to you that, on the political front, what is politically offensive about this -- and I do not mean this in a partisan sense; I mean this in the sense that all of us should be concerned about democracy -- is that we have to ask ourselves: What is this government doing to democracy in education in Metropolitan Toronto? The answer is democracy in education in Metropolitan Toronto is being gutted because local boards, which are democratically elected, are being deprived of their ability to deal with their own employees, parents and children. That power is being transferred --
Mr. Rae: The Minister of Education can complain all she wants, but that is the spade she has created, and we are going to call it a spade, because that is exactly what she has done and she cannot deny it. Look at the rationale and arguments she herself made and look at the arguments that have been made in favour of this legislation by the various people who have argued in favour of it. There can be no other explanation than that it is an attempt to make power less accountable because people do not like the results of what happens when power is accountable.
Let us get right down to it. What the minister does not like is what a group of taxpayers in the city of Toronto have decided they want to have as a quality and a standard and a practice of education for their local board. The minister and this government are saying: “These boards are just creatures of ours. They are just an extension of us. They do not have any independent power.” It is the same attitude they had towards the municipality. It is the same attitude they have towards all the groups in the province.
“We are the sovereign power,” says the government. “We are the ones who can decide how this power should he allocated,” says the minister, “and you have exercised your power wrongly for a very long time. You have behaved in a way the Minister of Education thinks is irresponsible.” She even took the trouble to go to Rosedale public school and tell the good citizens of the St. David Progressive Conservative Association just how politically irresponsible this board was.
The people of Toronto, right across Metropolitan Toronto and in the city of Toronto, had a chance to put their views to the minister in November 1982. I would have thought at that stage the government, any government worth its salt, with respect for public opinion in the city of Toronto or Metro Toronto would have said:
“We tried to run on Bill 127. We tried to convince the people that it was okay and we failed to convince them of that. Perhaps we should have another look at this legislation and try to do it another way.”
That would be the intelligent response to public opinion, when it speaks up in a local election. I happen to believe that local democracy means something and that, when a school trustee is elected, that trustee should have some power and responsibility. I do not think it is realistic in this day and age to pay a trustee a couple of thousand bucks a year and expect him to sit one night a week and say to him, “You are just doing a part-time job, it is not important.”
We, in our party, happen to believe education is important. As the leader of our party, I am not ashamed to say I have encouraged candidates to run as trustees and I have encouraged people to get involved, because I happen to think education is an important issue. I happen to think political parties should have views on education. I am very proud of the role the New Democratic Party has played in the city. I am very proud of the programs that have been established by the Toronto Board of Education.
If I seem to be a little annoyed with the minister, there is a reason. She may call it a partisan reason, but I do not think it is that partisan a reason. I think she is going to destroy those programs, which are very good, not just for our party particularly, but for the people they were designed to help. That is the final point I want to come to -- the children.
Mr. Rae: They are the real losers in this program, as the member for Parkdale has so correctly said. When we come right down to it, this is a conflict between those whose only bottom line is that dollar bill, whose only criterion is that dollar bill, and those who are certainly looking to the dollar and to value for the dollar, but are also looking to the children who need to have programs that are designed for them.
Metropolitan Toronto is a community as vast and diverse as life itself. My father grew up in this city and he has told me stories of what it was like 30, 40 and 50 years ago. Indeed, he went to high school with the Clerk of this House.
The point about those changes is we have to have an education system that responds to each generation of immigrants as it comes to this city. This is a city that Vietnamese, Italians, Portuguese, Greeks, South Americans and people from Africa and Asia come to. It is the place where they start out when they come to Canada.
It is a place where tens of thousands of these children do not speak English at home. English is not their first language; it is not the language of their parents. These are kids who have very special needs. It is absolutely astonishing this government would be embarking on a course of action which is going to reduce opportunities for those children.
Mr. Rae: No, I am sorry. They cannot have the best of both worlds. They cannot have a world which saves all kinds of dollars, which is what they say this is intended to do, introduce what they classify as “fiscal responsibility,” and turn around and say: “But it is not going to have an impact on any programs. It is not going to have an impact on any schools or teachers.” That is absolute malarkey and the minister knows it.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: This minister has never made the statement attributed to her by the member for York South. I defy him to read the entire documentation of the debate on this bill and find the statement that this was going to save dollars. That is not the purpose.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I do not think the minister wants to mislead the House, but the other night when we were discussing section 6, she said it was an invitation to the boards to be thrifty. She also said --
Mr. Rae: I think the language of the minister is simply weasel language and those are weasel words for what we all know are going to be cutbacks in education in Toronto. I am sorry. The minister cannot have it both ways, and we are not having it both ways. We made up our minds some time ago as to where we stood. We stand for quality and for those trustees who are prepared to take those decisions.
If taxpayers do not like the decisions the trustees have taken, then taxpayers can throw them out at the next election. That is the way the democratic process works. It is not up to a government acting like some kind of a professional nanny or a receiver to move in and say, “No, no, no, no.” That is what this government has become. It is one large bailiff’s operation.
The only kind of legislation this government knows how to pass is receivership legislation. It is bailiff legislation. It is nanny legislation which basically is saying to politically accountable boards, “We are taking away your political accountability and we are going to substitute our judgement and wisdom for yours.” That kind of authoritarian, paternalistic or maternalistic attitude -- I do not care, whichever she likes -- is still authoritarian. Whichever way the minister takes it, it is still authoritarian. That is a disservice to democracy and a disservice to the people of this city.
Mr. Rae: The point I am making is that the evidence is overwhelming. One looks at the evidence from schools, one looks at the evidence from those parents’ groups who have spoken to the committee, one looks at the evidence from those teachers who have spoken to the committee and who know what is going on in their schools, one looks at the evidence of principals of elementary schools whom I have met with and whom other members have met with, and one sits down and talks with them and asks: “What kind of programs have you got? Which ones are dependent on your local levy? Which ones are dependent on a particular attitude coming from your school board?”
They show you those programs: English as a second language; French immersion; the capping of class sizes where it is the view that we have to have smaller class sizes in order to give individual attention to children who, without that kind of individual attention, would not be getting a chance; the all-day kindergarten classes, which have made a difference to many kids and also to many working parents. These are the kinds of programs which are going to be sacrificed and when one sacrifices those programs, one is sacrificing opportunity in this province. That, it seems to me, has to be the bottom line.
Mr. Rae: The member for Wilson Heights says that it still is. Let him tell that to a kid who is going to be getting less attention in an elementary school because of the government’s fanatical commitment to thrift. That is exactly what is going to happen. Let him tell that to elementary school kids, whose parents cannot take the high-class route of sending their children to a private school because the public school system is their only route to opportunity and the only chance that they have. That is what has made this issue such an important one for us.
Mr. Rae: It has not been made a phoney issue; it is a real issue. If the member for Wilson Heights or the minister thinks that this is a phoney issue, he or she is sadly mistaken. Let me go through what is going to happen.
I spoke, first of all, of labour relations. The government creates an authoritarian centralized environment for labour relations and they are asking, they are getting down on their knees and asking for useless confrontation and that is exactly what they are going to get in teacher-board relations in Metropolitan Toronto, thanks to the Minister of Education. That is exactly what they are going to get. It is inevitable. The writing is on the wall. If they take the flexibility out of the system, they are going to create confrontation. Then they are going to turn around and do something even more authoritarian and blame the teachers and blame the workers. We know the style of the government. But that is what they are doing. Let there be no doubt about it.
If one looks at those children -- and this may seem harsh -- those children who will not get the education they need, who will not get the attention they deserve, who will not get the chance to compete and the chance to learn what they deserve and they need, and one looks in 10 and 15 years at increased rates of juvenile delinquency, one looks at increased rates of youth unemployment, one is going to see that it is this kind of legislation which is creating that kind of meaner, more vicious world for our children, a world of less opportunity for our children, a world where chance and opportunity, a chance to grow and a chance to learn, a chance to be able to take advantage of all the greatness of the province, are taken away by a government in an escapade of ideological fanaticism, in an escapade of dogma over reason, dogma over ordinary common sense, dogma over what all of us would agree, in this Legislature, needs to be done to bring our children together.
So I want to put the minister on notice and I want to put the government on notice. This is not the end. This is the beginning of something. This is the beginning of a battle for quality education, for accountability and fairness in relationships between employees and employers in the public and private sectors. This is a battle which is not going to end with this particular bill; this is one which is going to continue.
I am very proud to have been the leader of our party, which has done so much for education, where we have had trustees and where we are going to make this issue a major one in the days and months ahead in this Legislature.
I want to enter it also as a former Minister of Education in this province and as a former member of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. There may be some former members of the school board in this House, but I am sure there are none who have been chairman of the finance committee of the metropolitan school board or chairman of the bargaining committee of the metropolitan school board. They were posts which I held in the early 1960s before election to this Legislature.
I feel I must enter this debate and talk about some of these things, because I think there has been a lot of hot air about this bill. There have been a lot of arguments which have obscured the facts, and I think the facts are very important.
I am debating now why this bill should now be read a third time because I think it is important that it move ahead. I recall, as chairman of the negotiating committee for trustees on the metropolitan school board, and as chairman of the Scarborough Board of Education in 1960 or 1961 -- I cannot remember the exact date -- I led a delegation to Queen’s Park to meet the then Minister of Education. The request of our delegation at that time, on behalf of the metropolitan school board, was for legislation to provide for joint bargaining in Metropolitan Toronto.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It was because of the necessity for that particular kind of reform. The fact was, and obviously it is quite clear to my friend the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), we did not get that legislation. But ever since that time, and even when we were negotiating then, the idea of joint separate negotiations in Metropolitan Toronto was fostered and carried on.
It was not necessarily with agreement at all times by the teacher groups, and it was not necessarily with agreement at all times by all the school boards. But where my friend the member for York South (Mr. Rae) misses is in the history and uniqueness of the metropolitan experiment here, which is different to anything else in Ontario. It is probably different to anything else in Canada or North America.
It is a unique experiment that has brought quality education to thousands upon thousands of children in Metropolitan Toronto. It has brought it based on the fact that it does not matter where one lives in Metro, that one should enjoy the benefits of this whole area. Therefore, I, as a resident of Scarborough, have always firmly believed in helping and encouraging the development in other areas, particularly Toronto and the downtown core of Toronto.
The development of the city of Toronto is important. The kinds of things the metropolitan school board has done with the agreement of all the areas, such as building new schools in downtown Toronto and encouraging new programs, all the things which have made this one of the key and best educational areas in North America, have been done because the metropolitan school board was here.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me tell the members that no matter what John Robarts recommended, this government rejected the recommendations of John Robarts. My friend will know that we also rejected some of the other recommendations he made, such as carving up this whole area into new geographic cities and boroughs, which everyone felt should be rejected. Based on that particular recommendation, as far as the Metropolitan Toronto School Board is concerned, I do not know why John Robarts recommended as he did, but I think he and that commission erred.
We had appointed, a few years before the Robarts commission, Barry Lowes, Marg Gayfer, David Tough and Brock Rideout to carry out an in-depth study of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, and they recommended that the two-tier system stay.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me tell members what kind of politicians they were. David Tough was one of the finest directors of education in Ontario. Marg Gayfer was an educational reporter and Brock Rideout was the key bureaucratic designer of most of the innovative grant programs, many of which helped the city of Toronto. Barry Lowes was a very distinguished chairman of both the Toronto board and the metropolitan school board.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- in so far as the metropolitan school board is concerned. I tell the members that, because I debated this very same thing with John Robarts before and after his report. We recommended many times to John Robarts -- who was really appointed to look at the structure, not at the Metro school board, since we had spent a great deal of money on the Lowes report -- that his commission should not even bother to look at the Metro school board; but for some reason, it decided to venture into that area.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I do not care whether it is unbelievable. We have listened to nothing but an unbelievable amount of nonfact from the members opposite for weeks and weeks. The trouble with my friend the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) is when he is making the point he is very happy, but not when anyone else is, especially someone with rather more first-hand knowledge than he has on a situation. He will have to take my word for it, but I did talk many times with John Robarts and I said the very things to him I have said to the member.
I do not think he understood the Metropolitan school board, and the recommendations he made did not make sense. Those recommendations did not make sense to the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto. They did not make sense to the Metropolitan Toronto Board of Trade. They did not make sense to a number of other people who came to us. We, therefore, brought out a white paper suggesting that the Metro two-tier system should remain.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I still think direct elections must be looked at. My colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) has suggested he might want to look at direct elections and that can be done. In this report, which was a response to the Robarts report and which recommended the continuation of the two-tier system in this jurisdiction, we also, as a government, suggested the following recommendation -- I suggested this and I assented to this and I still assent to it:
“6. The government proposes that a two-tier system for the negotiation of all collective agreements for organized groups of employees be implemented. Salary grids, staff allocation formulas and employee benefits will be negotiated by the Metro board with the employee groups concerned. All other matters in the collective agreement will be negotiated by the area boards with their organized groups of employees.
“7. The government proposes that the Metro board be given the responsibility for co-ordinating the reallocation of surplus staff, and the government proposes that the Metro board be given the authority in lieu of the area boards to effect final negotiations with the Metropolitan Separate School Board in the matter of the joint use or sale and purchase of schools,” and so forth.
So the talk about this being something that is new and has suddenly come along is not right. The bargaining aspects of Bill 127 have been around here for a long time. They have been requested by Metropolitan Toronto school boards for a number of years. They were recommended by the government in 1978, and they are now being implemented at the request of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board and five of the six area boards.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Calm down a little and listen. The fact of the matter is that there is a philosophical difference as to whether you should have joint bargaining in Metro or not, but this joint bargaining is not going to interfere with the quality of education in Metro, it is not going to interfere with morale and it is not going to have all the dire consequences the members opposite say. It is not going to do that because, heck, it has been done for a number of years already.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It does not matter whether it is mandated or not. The Metropolitan Toronto School Board has instituted systems that have provided for uniform bargaining because it is a unique body, and the elementary teachers and the secondary teachers over the years have bargained together with a committee of the boards.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That leads us very logically to why it should be mandatory. In 1959 or 1960, as I recall, the key arguments on the Metro school board used to be over what was known as the maintenance assistance payments, the amounts per pupil that would be granted by the Metro school board to the pupils in all the area boards.
The boards that needed the help- -- the Scar- boroughs, the Etobicokes, the East Yorks and the North Yorks -- were always fighting for more money on the basis of the commercial assessment of downtown Toronto, and they were always blocked by the Toronto board. It was an ongoing fight, usually leading to a compromise and a sawoff.
Let me point out to the member for York South (Mr. Rae), who may or may not agree with me, that there is no other situation in Ontario where you have a uniform mill levy over six boards of education such as you have here. You have a uniform mill rate for education in Metropolitan Toronto raised over the whole area to pay all the expenses for the whole area, and it follows very logically that those items that make up the components of the budget should be handled jointly.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I guess because I brought in this recommendation in May 1978 and I moved on to my new ministry a couple of months later, before I had a chance to do it; but let me tell my friend, if I had been there I would have done it.
The uniform mill rate has been the one thing that I think has been a great boon to education in this jurisdiction, and this uniform mill rate dictates that uniform salary negotiations are necessary in this area. I do not think they are going to have the bad effect that some of the members say, because the concern for education in Metropolitan Toronto is just as deeply felt by all trustees. This idea that somehow some trustees in some boards have no concern and some in others have all the concern is not so.
I am not really using this as an excuse. I would stand up on parochial terms and support this bill because the people and trustees of Scarborough support the bill. All I get are requests that we get the bill passed as quickly as possible. I do not take that approach. I tell them: “We cannot approach this bill as something that is going to be detrimental to the city of Toronto. This bill has to be for the good of the whole of Metro.”
One of the things that was instituted at the time the uniform mill rate was brought in was a discretionary levy. The discretionary levy was brought in so that, after one developed the formulas in Metro that would provide for the budgeting under the uniform mill rate, those boards that wanted extra money to do special things would have a discretionary mill levy to do it. That innovation was introduced by the present Premier of this province who was then the Minister of Education --
Hon. Mr. Wells: At that time, the Toronto Board of Education was not particularly happy about having a uniform mill rate for education in Metropolitan Toronto, but it accepted that based on the fact there would be a discretionary levy, elementary and secondary, that could be used for those special projects and lighthouse experiments to keep them in a leadership position.
Since my friends are such avid readers, I hope they have read the Lowes report on discretionary levy, because the Lowes commission recommends a discretionary levy but points out that there is a degree of inequity in the discretionary levy because the assessment base in Toronto allows it to raise $157, whereas in Scarborough they can only raise $37 or $47 on one mill.
The Lowes report suggests some way perhaps should be found to equalize that. It is not necessarily saying to drag Toronto down but, as I read it quickly, it suggests some kind of pool that might have provincial and local levy money put in that could then be drawn on by boards for special projects.
In other words, the Lowes commission and others showed there are perhaps more innovative ways of handling the discretionary levy than we now do, but the bottom line on all this is that we have not cut out the discretionary levy. I say this to the members of this House and to those parents who are concerned, we have not cut out the discretionary levy, we have said there will be a study. I am guaranteed by the minister there will be a statement before next year as to what will be the future of that levy.
Therefore, that argument does not hold any water because the discretionary levy is there now. It is guaranteed in legislation and it can be used for any purpose the board wishes. It is going to be reviewed. Let us put that to rest and not keep trying to cast all these horror stories out there such as I hear, because those horror stories are not going to happen. The minister is going to come back with a report on the discretionary levy which is probably going to put the thing in an even better light than it is now.
Let me also say, and I neglected to say this when I talked about the bargaining situation there are two things said about this bill which are absolutely not so. I read that this bill is the forerunner to regional or province-wide bargaining. This bill is not, and I underline that, it is not the forerunner to regional or province-wide bargaining. This government is not moving in that direction.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, if my friends had listened they would have realized the uniqueness of Metropolitan Toronto and the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. The uniform mill rate and the structure of this area suggest that this kind of bargaining situation can occur, but it is not in any way a forerunner of any type of regional bargaining or province-wide bargaining. There is no other grouping of school boards in this province where this could be applied. Anybody could realize that. There is only one two-tiered system for education in this province, and that is Metropolitan Toronto.
The other thing I want to put to rest very clearly, and I am sure the minister has and others have, is that this is not in any way bringing in Metro-wide seniority for teachers in the various city and borough boards. It has nothing to do with Metro-wide seniority.
I want to say very clearly in this House that while the Scarborough board is in favour of Bill 127, it is not in favour of Metro-wide seniority for teachers. The teachers in Scarborough will continue to be ranked and have their seniority in Scarborough, the teachers in Toronto in Toronto, and in North York in North York. That is another fact that is floating around and must put to bed. They are two of the things I have read that have been perpetrated.
Let me just sum up. I think this bill should be read for a third time at this particular time because it has been asked for by the Metro school board and because it has been requested by a vast majority of the boards in this area. It implements bargaining recommendations that were presented in 1978 to this House, and it continues the local discretionary levy at 1.5 mills with the right to use that for any purpose. The minister has suggested a commission or a person will look at the discretionary levy and report before next year’s discretionary levy is ready to be levied.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Henderson, Hennessy, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Mitchell;
Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Williams, Wiseman.
Allen, Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Copps, Di Santo, Edighoffer, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Haggerty, Kerrio, Laughren, Lupusella, Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McGuigan, Miller, G. I., Newman, Nixon, Philip, Rae, Reed, J. A., Reid, T. P., Renwick, Riddell, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Spensieri, Stokes, Swart, Sweeney, Van Horne, Wrye.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Davis, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Grossman, Henderson, Hennessy, Johnson, J. M., Jones, Kells, Kennedy, Kerr, Kolyn, Lane, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Mitchell;
Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Snow, Stephenson, B. M., Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Walker, Watson, Welch, Wells, Williams, Wiseman.
Allen, Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Copps, Di Santo, Edighoffer, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Haggerty, Kerrio, Laughren, Lupusella, Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McGuigan, Miller, G. I., Newman, Nixon, Philip, Rae, Reed, J. A., Reid, T. P., Renwick, Riddell, Ruprecht, Ruston, Samis, Spensieri, Stokes, Swan, Sweeney, Van Horne, Wrye.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, in the interest of the traditions of this Legislature, I wonder if you would be good enough to find out exactly how many times closure was used on this bill, plus the time allocation, because it could very well be --
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, this might be the appropriate time to indicate this House has sat for about 166 days in this second session, which makes it the second longest session in the history of the province and the longest in the history of this administration. We passed 79 bills, many of which will have far-reaching, good effects on the life of this province.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the Premier (Mr. Davis) is now going down to bring in the Administrator. I thought I should announce to the House that His Honour the Lieutenant Governor is suffering from a bad back today. All those with back problems will know how painful they can be and I am sure we all wish his pain from that affliction is over quickly. I thought I should indicate to the House why the Administrator will be giving royal assent and proroguing this House.
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent,
Mr. Speaker: May it please Your Honour, we, Her Majesty’s most dutiful and faithful subjects of the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario in session assembled, approach Your Honour with sentiments of unfeigned devotion and loyalty to Her Majesty’s person and government, and humbly beg to present for Your Honour’s acceptance, a bill entitled An Act granting to Her Majesty certain additional sums of money for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1982, and certain sums of money for the Public Service for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1983.
Hon. Mr. Howland: Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislatice Assembly: I am pleased to address you on this occasion and to review some of the activities of the second session of the 32nd Parliament of Ontario.
The major issues for Ontario, as for all other Canadian jurisdictions over the past year, have been centred on the economy. The priorities of reducing inflation and expanding employment opportunities for our citizens have dominated our national and provincial public agenda.
Accordingly, the emphasis in the May budget of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) was on creating jobs and restoring a climate of confidence in the Ontario economy. The $171-million job creation program which the government announced at that time, which had been expected to create about 31,000 jobs in the 1982-83 fiscai year, has exceeded its target to help those hardest hit by unemployment. The program is now expected to cost $176 million and to date has created about 40,290 jobs.
In November 1982, the government announced a new $150-million job creation program which will create nearly 38,000 new jobs in Ontario and ease the burden of unemployment over the winter and spring of 1983.
To assist the recipients of general welfare assistance, family benefits and Gains who are among the most severely affected by the current economic downturn, a special recession package of $52 million was introduced last fall. For example, benefits for single 60- to 64-year-old women were increased by 39.3 per cent over their November 1981 level.
The 1982 budget also contained measures that demonstrated the province’s commitment to public sector restraint and fiscal responsibility. Salary increases for top civil servants and members of the Legislature were to be held to six per cent. With respect to direct provincial programs, the government announced a thorough-going analysis for trimming expenditures and enhancing efficiency. In these and similar ways, the budget prepared the ground for the more comprehensive public sector wage and price restraint program that has been embodied in Bill 179.
The Ontario Human Rights Code, which was proclaimed in June 1982, now protects the rights of disabled people in all areas of daily life, including employment, education and housing, as well as underlines our continued commitment to protecting individuals against discrimination.
An assistive devices program, which began on July 1, 1982, was designed to financially assist young people 18 years of age and under and their families with the cost of medically necessary equipment and supplies. In the first six months alone just under 5,000 families have been assisted.
My government has taken a major step to protect our school children and their families from the spread of dangerous diseases by the introduction of the Immunization of School Pupils Act. With further emphasis on the protection and safety of our children, my government also introduced on November 1, 1982, the first phase of the two-phase child restraint legislation.
We are also pleased that during this session we completed our review of planning legislation in Ontario. The new Planning Act introduces a number of significant changes to the planning process. We are confident that with this new act the province of Ontario will have legislation and a resulting planning system that is second to none.
Honourable members, it is evident from this brief review of your activities that your efforts in meeting the demands under such difficult economic pressures have been considerable, and I commend your sense of duty and perseverence.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly, it is the will and pleasure of the Honourable the Administrator that this Legislative Assembly be prorogued and therefore accordingly this Legislative Assembly is prorogued.