Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): I rise today to bring to the attention of the House a very important service that is going on in communities across the province. This is Meals on Wheels Week, and it was with great pleasure that I was able to partake in this program in Dryden only yesterday.
I joined Gordon and Norma Lyle of Dryden, who are volunteers from Dryden United Church, to deliver meals to Dr Danny, who is able, partially through this program, to remain in his home in Dryden. From Dr Danny's we went to the Riverview Apartments. Here we met both Mrs McGillary and Mrs Campbell, who were looking forward to our visit and their afternoon meal. From there it was back to Patricia Gardens, the minimal care institution in Dryden, to have lunch, which was the same as the one we had just delivered: the end of a very delightful morning.
I cannot say enough about this program, one which assists seniors to remain in their homes and, as importantly, one which brings the community closer together with its seniors. Allow me to congratulate those who administer and, more importantly, those who volunteer their time to make Meals on Wheels the success it is not only in Dryden but in the Kenora riding and across this province.
In communities throughout Ontario, organizers are conducting activities that range from benefit concerts, walkathons, public forums and candlelight vigils. The purpose of these events is to do what desperately needs to be done, and that's heighten awareness of one of Canada's biggest killers, HIV and AIDS. Towards this end, the slogan for National AIDS Awareness Week, "Strong Lives -- Strong Communities," promotes the badly needed message that community action and partnership are keys to confronting HIV and AIDS.
While researchers and governments grope for solutions, the deadly HIV killer continues to hover like a black cloud, bringing death to thousands of people in our neighbourhoods and communities. To date, there are 8,232 reported cases of AIDS in Canada. From these cases, 40% are residents of Ontario.
While the NDP continues to issue news releases outlining the government's efforts to assist people living with AIDS, these individuals are being denied access to essential prescription drugs. Consequently, the government is stripping people living with AIDS of their dignity by forcing them to pay for drugs or go on social assistance and welfare.
AIDS affects us all: our families, our friends and our neighbours. Therefore, we must work in partnership and with great haste to find a cure for this lethal disease. I urge all members of this assembly and all people of Ontario to lend their support in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Mr Robert Frankford (Scarborough East): Health insurance costs for staying in Florida and other American states are very much on the minds of many seniors. After a recent interview in Today's Seniors publication about this problem, I've received a number of phone calls. Among them were one from a man in his 60s who told me he was receiving regular checkups for bladder cancer, and another from a fit and active gentleman aged 87. Both, of course, find insurance prohibitive and are unable to continue their normal winter travels.
We should be looking for solutions for this situation which affects many people across the province. Could there not be reciprocal coverage between Ontario and Florida health plans? Taking into account the significant contribution that our visitors make to the Florida economy, this may not be such an unrealistic proposal. The state neither wants to deter visitors nor to take the risk of having to take care of any more uninsured than it is currently potentially liable for among its own citizens. I have not been able to discern what President Clinton's health reforms will provide for Americans when they travel. I believe that in the long term, reciprocity arrangements are inevitable.
It's a real burden to seniors to shop for insurance, with its unpredictable costs, and difficult to understand all the exclusions. The response to the Today's Seniors article shows me how much demand there is for something to be done.
It deals with the closing down of North American Furniture Group. It has to deal with the laying off of more than 100 people who have worked and given their all over the last two and a half years to try and make that furniture company go. It deals with a group of people who now feel the hurt and the pain that is associated with being part of the ownership group that came to save a company that had been left discarded over two years ago, along with so many other of the manufacturing operations in this province of ours.
The people who work there and gave their all on the line are now hurting because the Ontario Development Corp, as part of the group that was supporting them, has walked away even though they have a whole group of outstanding orders to fill. They are hurt because they've seen the Premier of this province go and visit the grand announcement of 50 new jobs in Cambridge, but he doesn't seem to have the time to come and speak and talk to the people, over 100, who have lost their jobs, because people have decided to walk away from these very honest and diligently working people.
Something is wrong when the Premier can take a day and go to Cambridge for 50 new jobs, but he cannot do anything with his government to save more than 100 jobs in the furniture factories of southwestern Ontario, which are devastated by the way this government is managing the affairs of the province.
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I wish to advise this Legislative Assembly and the people of Lanark-Renfrew that the Ministry of Natural Resources, as of yesterday, scuttled 132 jobs in the village of Braeside.
Canadian Wood Products Inc was prepared to buy a sawmill in the village of Braeside until the Ministry of Natural Resources suddenly reneged on its agreement. The company established an understanding with the MNR that it could obtain a licence for the mill without crown allocations and would have to buy logs on the open market. Despite this understanding, the MNR has proceeded to use a scare tactic that would prevent the sale of logs to Canadian Wood Products.
As stated in a letter from A.J. Stewart, an official from the MNR, in his letter of September 20, "The Ministry of Natural Resources does not support the sale or processing of any Ontario crown logs in this mill" at Braeside.
The fact that the Ministry of Natural Resources stated in an open letter to the loggers that it does not support the sale of crown logs to the mill will clearly serve to instil fear in logging contractors who do not want to lose their licence from the crown.
Furthermore, I have a letter dated September 22 from the Ministry of Natural Resources which states, "Logs coming from crown sources are not to be processed in the mill." This is a clear contradiction of Mr Stewart's letter, which merely indicates that the government does not support the provision of crown logs.
Oliver Hodges devoted his entire life to the labour and trade union movement and to making this a better and more peaceful world for all. He followed respectfully in the footsteps of J.S. Woodsworth and Tommy Douglas. He was a proud CCF municipal and provincial candidate in London and Hamilton in the 1940s, and in 1965 was the Ontario riding's NDP federal candidate.
His labour career spanned four decades, including 11 years, 1954 to 1965, as Canadian director, international executive board member of the United Glass and Ceramic Workers of North America, AFL-CIO, CLC. He was appointed to the Ontario Labour Relations Board in 1967 by the Ontario Federation of Labour, and served as a member until his retirement in 1982 when he came to Peterborough.
He was founding treasurer of the Peterborough Community Legal Centre and was an officer and member of the Peterborough NDP Provincial Constituency Association from 1984 to 1993, and also served a term as chair of Kawartha Ploughshares during the mid-1980s. I worked with him in all these groups.
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): Since the Legislature recessed early last August, the people of Ontario have had an opportunity to see how the leaders of Ontario's three political parties spent their summer.
Ontarians watched as Lyn McLeod met concerned residents all across this province, we heard about Bob Rae's trout fishing at his cottage, and we saw Mike Harris making all sorts of new friends. One of Mike Harris's new friends appears to be Kim Campbell, Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
Only months ago, I remember hearing from Mike Harris that he wasn't sure he was going to endorse or support Kim Campbell. When the leader of Ontario's Tories made that statement, I thought it meant he'd be endorsing Preston Manning, whose policies he seems to be endorsing, particularly Manning's policies on medicare. When I heard that Mike Harris was now going to support Kim Campbell, I made up a list of reasons for this sudden change of mind.
Could it be that Kim Campbell's optimistic view on jobs and job creation and unemployment -- she said, "Call me in the year 2000." Is that what Mike Harris is supporting? Does he want to be her man in Ontario since there's so little representation in her federal cabinet, or does Mike want to convince Kim Campbell that user fees are really good, good, good for medicare, even when every health policy expert says that medicare user fees would destroy our system and are bad, bad, bad?
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): Burlington Food Share is a coalition of Burlington-area food bank agencies serving the needy in our community, and includes the Salvation Army Family Services, St Vincent de Paul, the Burlington East Emergency Fund and Food Bank and the Partnership West Family Services.
The coalition exists to coordinate ongoing, community-wide efforts to assist the increasing numbers of needy children and their families, the tragic casualties of the recession. On Friday, October 1, Burlington Food Share marked the beginning of its third annual Thanksgiving food drive that runs until Monday, October 11.
During last year's drive, the coalition collected 95,000 pounds of food, thanks to the solid support given by community-spirited individuals and companies. The Cumis Group Ltd is a company serving the credit union and caisse populaire systems. On its 140-acre Burlington property there is an apple orchard which the company continues to maintain. Yesterday, the Cumis Group dedicated its apple yield to local community groups such as Burlington Food Share during a fun-filled, apple-picking event with the participation of the CEO, Michael Kitchen, the senior vice-president, Jim Barr, and representatives of all levels of government.
As the chairman of Burlington Food Share, I should like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Cumis Group for its kind generosity in donating its apple harvest to the Thanksgiving food drive. Cumis has shown that different groups and sectors in society can work together cooperatively to assist those in need. I would also like to encourage everyone to participate in your area food drives at Thanksgiving to help bring to the less fortunate the hope and happiness which comes from knowing that there are those ready to help in this time of need.
Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): I stood in my place on Thursday last week and listened to the member for Renfrew North go nuts and berate the Minister of Finance about smuggling. He attacked him unmercifully. I want to stand in my place today and speak about the 15 years I was engaged in catching the smugglers and the cheats for the governments over there.
I want to talk to the member for Cornwall. I stopped a truck on Highway 401 that was loaded with cigarettes from the member for Cornwall's riding that was en route to Toronto. To the Minister of Revenue at the time, the former member for Essex South -- who is now in fantasy land, and I believe he was in fantasy land when he was the Minister of Revenue as well -- I said, "I've got this truck of cigarettes," and he said, "Just a minute, we've got to give them back because they're not going to Toronto; they're really going to southwestern Ontario, and it's just a transfer." Then those people over there got 30 inspectors and they said, "We've got to have a big attack on cigarette smuggling."
Mr Mills: They didn't want to equip anyone to stop anything. That government expected us to stop trucks on the road with nothing. Then they had the gall and audacity to criticize the Minister of Finance that he doesn't know. You never know anything about nothing.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): Mr Speaker, like other days, people are supposed to be here, but they're not here on time, the ministers to whom we are supposed to be asking questions. The minister that I wished to speak to was the Minister of Health. I wonder if I could be told whether or not she is going to be coming here today. Is she?
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): The member for Cornwall and I have been to our respective communities in southeastern Ontario this weekend, and of course we have news to report from smugglers' alley. My first question today will be to the minister responsible for the Ontario Provincial Police.
I have in my hand, Mr Solicitor General, a copy of an all points bulletin sent by the Canadian Coast Guard and issued recently to the residents of the Lake St Francis area of southeastern Ontario. That bulletin from the Canadian Coast Guard reads in part: "Due to the great number of non-identified motorcrafts transiting during night time at very high speed and without navigation lights, it is recommended" -- by us, the Canadian Coast Guard -- "that boating be avoided on Lake St Francis between sunset and sunrise. The situation is considered dangerous."
Hon David Christopherson (Solicitor General): I am of course aware of the notice that was sent out, as I'm aware of the entire issue as we continue to grapple with the complexities of it. I think what the member has done is to once again do two things: one is to underscore the complexity of the issue and the fact that there are different jurisdictions.
The Coast Guard does not come under this ministry, does not come under this government; it's a federal jurisdiction. The federal government has a responsibility to provide leadership on this issue, and that is why I have said many times I think it is significant that we have a police task force made up of forces from across the various jurisdictions.
Mr Conway: Last Thursday in the assembly the Solicitor General indicated to me and to the House that the Ontario Provincial Police would be operating the Lancaster detachment on an around-the-clock basis. The Lancaster detachment is the front-line detachment facing smugglers' alley in the Cornwall-Charlottenburgh area. He has since issued a press release to that effect.
Saturday's Ottawa Citizen contains an interview from OPP officials at Lancaster, and those officials are quoted as saying, among other things: "We do not patrol specifically looking for smugglers. We never have, and it's not within our mandate."
Having regard to what the OPP is saying down in the Lancaster area about what is and what is not its mandate, can the Solicitor General indicate what's going on here; what specific measures he has taken to direct his and other provincial forces to deal with concerns around public safety and, I might add, around a daily loss of provincial revenue, a loss to the Treasurer of, we estimate, at least $650,000 a day?
The Lancaster OPP say it's not within their mandate to look out for smugglers. You stand here and say that they have been beefed up to do this very thing. Can you indicate to the people of that part of southeastern Ontario what's going on? Who's doing what? What do the people of southeastern Ontario have to expect in terms of your direction to your forces in that area?
Hon Mr Christopherson: If we had not taken the step that we did in ensuring that there was a coordinated effort on the part of the police, the honourable member across the way would be using the point he's raised today as the example of why we should have done that. Because, he would say, there are so many jurisdictional questions, because of the complexities of the matter --
I have said over and over again that the police recommended to us that, given the very points the honourable member mentions, they felt it most appropriate that they coordinate their response to this and that they make a determination on exactly the question raised: Who will be responsible for what part of our action plan? Identify the resources that are required and then ensure that each component part of the task force, of the total police effort, is meeting their need.
Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): My question is to the same minister. This government issues hunting and fishing licences, and the revenues build up the provincial coffers. I want to give you one of the instances where one of our local fishermen was fishing on Lake St Francis. Our sportsman was told that he was in smugglers' alley and that he'd better move his boat out of the way. When he didn't, the smuggler circled his boat with a high-speed boat, filling it with water, and my constituent nearly drowned.
Hon Mr Christopherson: Unlike one member from across the way who suggested that we tell them to learn how to swim, I would suggest the honourable member suggest that he respond by identifying the action that he has taken, to which he is deserving of credit, in ensuring that a local meeting was held where we brought together all the people, the leaders from the community. I think he should also point to not only the actions that he is involved in here in this Legislature in ensuring that this government is doing the role it should in responding, but he should point out to his constituents that the federal government has the overall responsibility for smuggling.
I think, as much as we need to see the OPP responding, and they will, we need to see the honourable member and all opposition members who care about this issue ensure that the federal government is taking its responsibility seriously. I've met with the federal minister. He's announced that he intends to introduce a national strategy, for this is a national problem.
I would suggest to the honourable mamber that he show his constituents that action is happening, that he's a part of it, but that he is also looking -- and in this election campaign I think it would be an appropriate time -- to the federal candidates and federal parties to provide their share of the leadership too.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): In the absence of the Minister of Health, to the Premier: I have a constituent in my riding who suffers from cancer, has the prospect of having a bone marrow transplant and has been told by the people at Princess Margaret Hospital, where he is now undergoing treatment, that if he does not have that operation by late November, I think November 26, he may very well not be able to have that operation at all at Princess Margaret because of both the cutbacks in funding transfers from the province and as a result of the social contract cutbacks.
My question to the Premier is: Does he consider a bone marrow transplant to be an essential service, one that was not supposed to have been touched by his government's health funding cuts or the social contract?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier): I think the member knows, and I'm sure he's not oblivious to this fact, that as a bone marrow donor myself, this is an issue that obviously I have some quite strong personal feelings about and experiences of. I would say, in reply to the member, that it is the policy of this government that where a doctor determines, on the basis of every instinct and medical expertise that doctor has, that a bone marrow transplant is the best possible treatment for a patient, it is the responsibility of our medical care system -- the hospital and the health insurance plan -- to see that the transplant is made possible. That is the policy of the government. I don't want there to be any misunderstanding about that anywhere in the province.
Having said that, and I'm sure the honourable member would appreciate the importance of this, I can't comment on any individual case. I'm not aware of the circumstances involving any individual patient. I do know that these are difficult and emotional decisions for doctors and for patients. I can only say to the honourable member that, as much as humanly possible, it is the policy of the government and it should be the policy of the government that any patients who, as I say, the doctors treating that patient feel would benefit from the treatment -- and I think the honourable member should know the doctors have to exercise their judgement in that context, but as much as humanly possible -- where that decision is made by a doctor, that decision should be made knowing that the medical insurance plan will cover that treatment. I want that to be very clear and --
Mr Elston: That was the reason in fact I wished to speak to the Minister of Health, because I do know of the Premier's resolve and his deep feeling on this matter. I did wish to address the question to the Minister of Health, because the Princess Margaret Hospital has been told that the Ministry of Health will no longer fund the cost of finding a match for transplant patients. They have been told that they will pay a flat fee of $5,000 when they know that if the PMH officials have to go outside the boundaries of Ontario it will cost anywhere from $18,000 to $30,000.
If a decision is made by the cancer treatment people in the best interests of the patient, that the match is to be found, then anything over $5,000, which is paid only when there is a successful match found, will be absorbed by the operating budget of Princess Margaret Hospital. That means that there are one or two options, maybe three: They can discontinue doing the searches outside the boundaries, they can cut back on the number of searches, they can stop doing the same number of transplants, or they can do both.
What is it that we are to assume when the Premier says that everything humanly possible will be done and the ministry says, "You do whatever you want, but we won't pay for it," and PMH and also other hospitals around the province are told to swallow the costs the Ministry of Health used to fund?
Hon Mr Rae: I just want to say this directly to the honourable member: Without getting into a discussion of the question of the hospital budgets versus the health insurance plan budgets and how these questions are resolved, I want to say as Premier that it is the policy of this government that where it is determined by a doctor that a bone marrow transplant is the treatment that is medically necessary and medically required, that a patient requires and that a patient needs, the costs of that transplant are to be covered by the health insurance plan and are to be covered by the doctor.
The member has raised the question of matching from non-relatives. I can tell the honourable member that the international bone marrow world, as I understand it, and Americans particularly, have raised the costs of the search for a match outside Canada from roughly $18,000 to now roughly $30,000, which is expensive. But I want to tell the honourable member that as far as I'm concerned it would not be acceptable to this government, and certainly isn't acceptable to me as Premier, to say to any patient in this province that any financial consideration would be a deterrent to their receiving what is medically necessary care.
I tell the honourable member that if that situation pertains, that situation must be changed, because it is not acceptable to me, I don't think it's acceptable to anyone in the province and I don't think it's acceptable to people out there who care about an issue that matters. Whether it's a bone marrow transplant or any other treatment that is determined by a doctor to be medically necessary, it is not acceptable that there be any financial deterrent to patients receiving that kind of care.
Mr Elston: I thank the Premier for that statement, because for my constituent it has taken off some of the limitations in his way to recovery. He has been told that if his operation is not scheduled before the end of November, that was the time when the bone marrow transplant program at Princess Margaret Hospital was going to be cut back, because of the very things I said and because of the very things the Premier said. I stand and applaud the Premier for taking away that financial restriction and for allowing bone marrow transplants to continue and for allowing bone marrow match searches to continue.
I ask the Premier if he will ensure that the Ministry of Health be directed immediately to send out a memorandum to all of the hospitals involved in bone marrow search and transplant programs that they are free to carry on with the business that they see as necessary in preserving the lives of their patients.
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade. The minister will know that 80% of the jobs that have been created in Ontario over the last few years have not been created by the government; they've been created by small business. A recent report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that the number one problem facing small business today is the taxation burden. In fact, in a report to the Fair Tax Commission they say, and I quote, "Small businesses in Ontario have experienced a virtual explosion in the numbers and levels of taxes imposed upon them." They go on to say that in a recent survey fully 90% of Ontario's small business firms cite the total tax burden as a serious problem. It's the number one issue out there with small business.
Hon Frances Lankin (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): The member will know that in fact this government has taken action. We are under way with a number of initiatives with respect to small business. Quite frankly, I agree with the assertions that you have made in terms of the job creation potential of small business. That is the engine of the economy.
There is no disagreement in terms of the facts you've set out. With respect to costs in general, cost burden, because I would add to that regulatory and paper burden and those sorts of things that we are trying to address in a very proactive and concrete way, with respect to taxation I would say that the small business community I meet with talks about the combined load of taxation. There is a lot of anger about the federal GST as well as the combined GST and PST and other levels with respect to what it means for consumer confidence and corporate taxes etc.
You will know that in 1992 this government cut the corporate tax rate for small business from 10% to 9.5%. You may think that's only a small amount, but it was a previous level established by the previous government. We reduced that for small business. That put $25 million into the hands of existing small business.
We have a number of other initiatives that we've taken with respect to filing of the employer health tax once a year. That's a cheaper process for small business. I'm sure that in your supplementary I can provide you with more information. I think the points you raised are valid. I agree with them and we actually have an action plan, which I can elaborate on for you, that I think will turn around the view of small business with respect to doing business in this province and investing more.
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): We look forward to hearing the action plan, Minister, but you also must understand that your $2 billion in tax increases in the last budget have had a devastating effect on consumer demand in this province, which has in turn devastated small business. You also must understand that small business is the biggest creator of jobs but that it also accounts for about 50% of all employment in the province today. That is why yesterday our caucus initiated a task force on cutting red tape and growing small business.
Yesterday the Globe and Mail published a chart showing that small businesses pay bigger taxes and that as the size of the firm increases, its ratio of tax to income decreases. Why have you not addressed this taxation inequity when small business is so vital to our economy?
Hon Ms Lankin: Again, I would say to the member that first of all, with respect to the taxes in the last budget, let me put it to him that small business is also critically concerned about the level of the deficit in this province and that in my discussions with small business people across the province -- but I'll tell you about round tables held in my own riding, where people felt that it was very important that there be a complete package of approach with respect to deficit reduction. They understood that there was going to have to be a sharing of the burden, and that included moves on the revenue side as well as expenditure cuts.
With respect to actual initiatives, I referenced the cut in corporate taxes for small business and the filing of employer health tax on an annual basis rather than the way it was before. We've taken steps to allow lenders to reduce the cost of borrowing for small business by treating interest payments as dividends for tax purposes. We have made tax moves. Let me say that in terms of clearing the burden we also have, at this point in time, a process -- and there are lots of incentives for the startup of a new business -- where businesses can come forward and can apply for filing for employer health tax and RST and the business names registration at one place instead of having to run around all over the province the way --
Hon Ms Lankin: -- they did before. We are moving, with the cooperation of small business in the monitoring group that's been established to monitor our activities on this program, to the development of a master licensing system.
We have reviewed other jurisdictions, which your task force is going to do. We've already done that. We've looked at Washington; we've looked at a number of areas; we're moving towards establishment of a master licensing and to unified tax reporting, so that small business doesn't have to file employer health tax, WCB, corporate income tax, federal income tax --
Mr Arnott: The minister indicates that the small business sector is concerned about the deficit. That's very, very true, Minister, but the small business sector does not want higher taxes; it wants you to control your excessive spending problem. During the last eight years of Liberal and NDP government, small businesses have been hit by the costs of one policy after another. Whether it's been Liberal payroll taxes, the NDP labour law, arbitrary increases in the minimum wage or mandatory health and safety training, the potential impact and the cumulative effect of all of these policies and regulations on small business has been ignored by you.
Hon Ms Lankin: I find it interesting that the member picks and chooses and doesn't respond to the initiatives that I laid out. Let me say to you that what small business wants is both a reduction in taxation, which will be accomplished by the moves we've already taken and by controlling the deficit and controlling our expenditures -- which this government has taken courageous steps on compared to any other previous government in this province -- as well as a lifting of the regulatory burden and the paper burden.
I spelled out for you a number of initiatives that this government is taking with the small business community, sitting there responding to what it wants, responding to what all of the studies have already said needs to happen in terms of master licensing and in terms of unified tax reporting. Those are the things that will lift the regulatory burden and the paperwork.
What's the Tory answer? The consultation process. The task force plans three stages. In the first stage it plans to hold a series of meetings with major representatives of provincial and regional business associations. In the second stage the task force will meet with local business in different regions in communities across the province. In the third stage it'll draft a paper and distribute it for consultation. That task force, that committee, that study -- we're acting; all you're doing is going out and organizing a mailing list for the next election. This will deliver. Don't get bought in by the Tory plan on this.
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): If the minister would like to resign and give up the government, we'd be happy to take action on behalf of small business in this province, particularly action it wants taken.
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): I have a question to the Minister of Health. Yesterday, Minister, you confirmed in this House that the red and white health card system that was brought in by the Liberals was clearly brought in without any safeguards. That was and continues to be wide open to fraud and abuse.
Minister, it's clear from your response yesterday and from all the research we did, and there's agreement I think across the province, that the Liberals indeed brought in a faulty health card system. But, Minister, I think you have continued to perpetuate the mismanagement of that system.
On July 26 I asked you about the alleged abuse of our health care system by some residents -- that is, American residents -- living on the Akwesasne reserve. You told me at that time that you were investigating those allegations. Can you tell this House today what the status of that investigation is?
Hon Ruth Grier (Minister of Health): There have been a number of meetings both with officials at Akwesasne and with the province of Quebec officials with respect to the work and the investigation the government of Quebec had begun to initiate with respect to its thoughts or suspicions that there was some misuse of its health system by residents. That is proceeding, and I can't give the member a conclusion today.
Mr Jim Wilson: I say to the minister that officials in your ministry have told my office that that investigation is not only complete but that a report has been sent to your office for your review and action. The results of that investigation confirm what we've suspected for quite some time, and that is that Ontario's health care system has lost precious health care dollars because of abuse by some residents of the Akwasasne reserve.
Hon Mrs Grier: If the report has been received by the ministry, I'm not aware that it has; I have certainly not yet received from my officials an evaluation and a recommendation based on any such report. That is why I am unable at this point to answer specifically the member's questions.
But let me assure him that this is an issue in which I have a very real interest. As I have told this House on many occasions, if there are in fact any cases where our health care system is being misused by people who are not eligible to use the system, action will be taken; but that action will be based on facts and on investigation, not on rumour.
Mr Jim Wilson: For months and months I have stood in this House and brought forward example after example of health card fraud, yet even after we brought forward a specific example, abuse occurring on the Akwasasne reserve, your ministry has completed the investigation of the Akwasasne reserve, but you, minister, have done nothing to follow up on the findings of that report. No charges have been laid and no steps have been taken to stop the abuse. You have a report that confirms that a number of people on the reserve are ripping off the system, and all you've done is shelve its findings.
Hon Mrs Grier: Well, it's the first time I've been accused in this House of lacking political guts. Usually the people on the other side are complaining about strong actions taken by me and by this government in order to deal with problems in the province.
Let me assure the member that when there is information to share, with respect to the investigation on the Akwasasne reserve and our colleagues in Quebec and what action can be taken to deal with that in the long term, it will be shared.
But when the member says that he has time and time again brought to this House instances of abuse, let me remind the member that on each occasion when he has done so, he has been asked if he can furnish us with a name or an address or a number or a physician, and in all of the cases he has failed to provide anything more than rumour or hearsay.
Mr Jim Wilson: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: An allegation has been made. I just remind the member that each time I brought forward a specific example, the government's own report confirmed the truthfulness of those --
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please. He knows it's not a point of privilege. There certainly is a difference of opinion, not unusual in this House. The member for Mississauga North with his question.
Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): I have a question to the Minister of Transportation. Minister, your Bill 47 implements the use of photo radar cameras to photograph the licence plates of speeding vehicles. You say this will make our roads safer. However, Minister, after reading through the legislation and speaking with your officials, it has been revealed that no demerit points will be issued for speeders caught by the photo radar cameras.
For the first time since demerit points have been introduced in the history of our province, speeders will not, on conviction, lose points. This does not improve road safety; it erodes safety. Your bill is a licence to speed. My question is, what justification do you have to allow drivers in this province to speed without losing points?
Hon Gilles Pouliot (Minister of Transportation): One must be careful not to confuse the safety matter with a subject matter that could become lucrative. Speed kills; everyone knows this. We have an improving record. It will be used at random, will be monitored by the Ontario Provincial Police and it will be focused on people who far exceed, far surpass the speed limit, which is currently 100 kilometres an hour.
It will be done as a pilot project on Friday nights and Saturday nights. We don't have the facility under the system to identify the drivers. That's why it's called photo radar. It gets you an accurate picture of the licence plate and the vehicle owner becomes the culprit. I understand that; I believe in safety initiatives. I also believe, like my friend across the aisle probably does, or should, in any case, that Ontario's highways should and are to become the safest highways in North America.
Mr Offer: The pilot project that the minister has indicated is a six-month pilot project. I will tell you, Mr Speaker, through you to the minister and to members of the government, the information I have today is information that's been provided to me by the Ministry of Transportation.
You are going to be implementing a six-month pilot project starting this January, six months from January to June, when in Ontario we experience the worst road conditions and have the least amount of sunlight. In the spring, we have ongoing changes in the road conditions, and I do not want to mention the issue of graduations and proms that go on during that time period.
This is not a road safety bill; it is a tax bill. It is designed to raise money through fines only, at the sacrifice of road safety. Again I ask the minister, what justification do you have to allow drivers to speed in this province, at whatever time, throughout whatever road conditions, and upon conviction, not have to suffer the penalty of demerit points?
What justification do you have to change the way in which our roads have been made safe? You are not making them safer; you are making them less safe, and you are doing it not with respect to this bill but you are doing it to raise money.
Hon Mr Pouliot: I find it, to say the least, appalling that the member opposite would impute motives to the Deputy Premier and the Minister of Finance, on this minister, members of cabinet, members of caucus.
Is he in favour of speeding? A cynic would go further and say, does he feel jeopardized? We are talking about 100 kilometres an hour. I cannot stand in my place and believe for one moment that this is a money-maker. This is a safety initiative. Ours is a record of constant improvement. Photo radar is coming into play; it's got to be a pilot project. It will make our roads safer and safer and safer.
Mr Charles Harnick (Willowdale): My question is for the Attorney General. This past summer, the Mike Harris task force on crime, justice and community safety hosted forums across the province of Ontario. The task force consistently heard the message that sentencing was too lenient for violent repeat offenders. I would like to ask the Attorney General to explain the instructions that senior officials in her ministry provide to crown attorneys when they are making submissions for the sentencing of violent repeat offenders.
Hon Marion Boyd (Attorney General): I think the member is well aware that the directions and the directives that are given to crown attorneys are rather general in their nature; that essentially the instruction is that these crimes be taken very seriously, that the maximum sentences within the Criminal Code be clearly part of the presentation and a reminder to the court, but that the mitigating circumstances might be different in each case; and that each of the crown attorneys is encouraged, within the facts of any particular case, within the evidence that's been brought before the court, to make sentencing recommendations that are in keeping with the deterrent effect of sentences, both the personal deterrent effect for the individual person who is convicted of a crime and also the general deterrent effect in terms of the general population.
There's no hard and fast rule for crown attorneys. That would take away from their professional discretion, which is extremely important to us, as they are the people who have heard the facts, who are familiar with the case, who know what the testimony was at that particular trial.
Mr Harnick: What bothers me is that you say they're given general instructions, and that if it's serious they seek the maximum. I'll tell you that last week, an individual was sentenced to three years in prison following his conviction on a charge of assault. It was the third time this individual had been convicted of violently assaulting the same woman in the last three years. He was on probation when this last offence occurred. The second assault was assault involving the use of a weapon. The assault for which he was convicted last week, the third assault, involved stabbing the woman in the face with a pencil, almost taking out her eye.
If your government is serious about providing the maximum possible protection for women, do you not believe that in cases such as this, you should be instructing crown attorneys to pursue applications to declare these individuals to be dangerous offenders?
One of the issues the member must be aware of is that I am not going to comment on the sentence in a particular case, as I do not know the details of that case and do not know what the crown attorney was asking for.
I would remind the member, who as a lawyer knows, that crown attorneys very often ask for longer sentences than judges give. That is up to the discretion of the bench. In the case of a dangerous offender situation, there are criteria which have been clearly set out by the court in terms of what is appropriate for a dangerous offender.
Hon Mrs Boyd: They include the kind of repeated offence; that is one issue. But they also include psychological evidence around the particular individual, and there are a number of different tests that must be met. In any application, those tests must be met or else the application would be thrown out by the court prior to sentencing. One does not overuse this very, very serious measure, which in fact incarcerates someone indefinitely. That needs to be used judiciously and sparingly for the worst cases.
Mr Bob Huget (Sarnia): My question is to the Minister of Education and Training. Today is day 16 of the strike in Sarnia-Lambton involving the Lambton County Board of Education and its secondary school teachers. You will know that the Education Relations Commission was in Sarnia yesterday to assist in mediating the dispute between the two parties. You will also know that, like the first meeting, this meeting ended with nothing being resolved. This is week four of this dispute, and it really means it's week eight of the dispute because of Lambton county's semestered system.
My constituents, both parents and students, are frustrated and angry. They tell me enough is enough. They think teachers should be teaching and students should be in school learning. My constituents want to know, when will you act to end this dispute?
Hon David S. Cooke (Minister of Education and Training): I understand the frustration and the difficulty that parents and students are experiencing in the Lambton area. I might say that knowing what I know about this dispute, there is absolutely no reason why there needs to be a labour dispute in the Lambton area right now. The issue is very clear, the solutions are very clear and the solution could be found this afternoon if both parties wanted to get back to the bargaining table and bargain seriously.
In the meantime, the Education Relations Commission continues to monitor the situation. They were involved yesterday in mediation. There is a process under the law which I think is the appropriate process that all three political parties have supported, and that process is that the Education Relations Commission determines when there is jeopardy and then it will report to me as Minister of Education.
Mr Huget: While we all anxiously await this decision from the ERC, there are other issues that arise as a direct result of this dispute. September 1993 marked the beginning of the common curriculum and November is scheduled for province-wide testing of grade 9 students. Minister, you'll be aware that Lambton teachers have been working to rule since April 8, 1993, and probably have not received the training for these two initiatives. Have you considered the impact this will have on the Transitions program, and do you feel it's appropriate to test these students next month when this may not accurately reflect the skills of the students in Lambton county?
Hon Mr Cooke: It's my information that a lot of work was done in the Lambton area in terms of preparation for the implementation of a destreamed grade 9 this fall and that this issue has been adequately dealt with.
Hon Mr Cooke: In terms of the grade 9 province-wide test, I can assure the member and the students that flexibility will have to be worked out with the board and the teachers when the school system gets back to normal.
Mr Tim Murphy (St George-St David): I have a question for the Attorney General. I'd like to take her back to the Audrey Smith affair. As she will recall, she intervened, as well as Clare Lewis, in the process to try to ensure that the investigation of this issue was speeded up. Audrey Smith has now gone back to Jamaica without a resolution.
I'd like to ask the Attorney General if she's aware that the first person in authority whom Audrey Smith went to to make a complaint was Clare Lewis's public complaints commission. She was told that they could not speed up the process just because she was leaving the country and that in fact it could take up to two months before there was a resolution. Is the Attorney General aware of that and is she satisfied that is how justice is done in these kinds of public complaints?
Hon Marion Boyd (Attorney General): No, I was not aware of that. That was not a fact that was brought to my attention, but now that the member has brought it up, I certainly will inquire of the commission whether that was in fact the answer that was given to this woman, and if so, then I share the member's concern.
Mr Murphy: Frankly, I don't think that's satisfactory. We have a police complaints commission in which no one has any faith. I placed an order paper question, and the average time of resolution is now 141 days, almost five months. It is being sued because of delay. A constituent in my riding has had a case dismissed because of delay. This is entirely unsatisfactory that they're being told, "We can't do anything about it."
She's gone back to Jamaica. What are you doing? It's in your bailiwick. You should know what to do and what's happening. I ask you again, do you believe that this is what should be done, and if you're not satisfied, what are you prepared to do about it? As you know, justice delayed is justice denied, and justice is being denied in these circumstances.
Hon Mrs Boyd: I agree with the member that there is concern about the length of time for some of the cases, just as there are, I might add, in terms of all sorts of investigations, police investigations as well as commission investigations, in other areas. If we look across the board, these kinds of cases are in fact difficult to investigate, to get the evidence together and to present a credible case. I think the member is well aware of that.
In the particular instance, my understanding is that the investigation, the discussions with the complainant had been completed, that both the Metro Toronto Police complaints commission and the Ontario Police Commission had the information they wanted in statement form. Both were aware the woman would be leaving to return to Jamaica and indicated that they had finished with their need of talking to her in terms of the investigation. I'm sure they will be appropriate in informing her of any findings of that investigation, and if further investigation should be --
Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): My question is to the Minister of Education. We certainly share the views of the member for Sarnia with regard to almost 7,000 students who are not in school. You said, Mr Minister -- I think I am fair in quoting you -- that there is no reason for a labour dispute in Sarnia. The fact is that we have one. You also say that both parties want to settle; that would be their choice. The point is that yesterday we found out both parties don't want to settle.
You said we have a process under law, and you'd be interested to know that we asked the former minister in May 1992 if he would take a look at this process under law because there were over 100 school boards that hadn't settled in May 1992, and we could see this happening and coming before us.
My question to you today is, do you really think that the education of some 6,730 students is less important than the labour relations process, or are you going to take a firm stand and get involved and legislate this board back so the students can attend school?
Hon David S. Cooke (Minister of Education and Training): I really believe strongly that the legislation Tom Wells brought in in the 1970s is legislation that has worked well in the province of Ontario. My understanding and my recollection is that there have been something in the neighbourhood of 75 or 76 strikes in that entire period of time and that all of them except six have been settled at the bargaining table.
The reality is that because Conservative governments and Liberal governments and this government resist bringing in back-to-work legislation and follow the process under Bill 100, the Education Relations Commission process, free collective bargaining works and solutions are found at the bargaining table. That's where they should be found and that's what the member should be telling the teachers and the board in Lambton. Don't tell me to bring in legislation. You'd be a lot more helpful if you'd tell the teachers and the board to find a solution back in Lambton.
Mrs Cunningham: I think this minister ought to know that response was appropriate probably two years ago, even perhaps a year ago, but in light of the 1984 Macdonald commission's strong recommendations to review a bill that has been law in this province for over 20 years, in light of our own public accounts committee which also made that recommendation signed by the then opposition members who were NDP members, in light of the answer to this same question by the former minister who recognized that there is room for improvement in the local collective bargaining process for school boards, and school boards, including the ERC, have known this and have also made these recommendations in the last five years, the minister's answer, quite frankly, was an uninformed answer.
I would say to him today that he should go back to his bureaucrats, to his best advisers and perhaps very quickly get some good advice around what ought to be changed, because this law now is in the way of getting a solution, and the only solution is for him to step in.
I'm going to ask this question: In light of the fact that he is not yet ready to step in today, will he go back to his senior advisers and find out just what has to be changed in that collective bargaining process, come back to this House and inform us what he's going to do about it? If he doesn't want to interfere, will he look at the legislation itself and advise us how he can help in regard to this strike in Lambton county?
Hon Mr Cooke: When one looks at the statistics and the success that the process has experienced over the years, the minimal number of strikes and the fact that only six of them have been dealt with through back-to-work legislation, I would suggest to the member that she's wrong. It's politically opportunistic to come up every time there's a strike and suggest that Bill 100 should be changed or that the right for teachers to strike should be taken away. I would just suggest that the member could be a lot more helpful if she wouldn't play those games.
Mrs Cunningham: Mr Speaker, I don't know whether it's a point of order or privilege, but I just want the minister to know that with regard to the collective bargaining process, it doesn't matter anyway, because he made a sham of it during the most recent --
Mr Gary Malkowski (York East): My question is for the Minister of Health. On September 18, I attended a midwifery conference which was celebrating the accomplishments of the Midwifery Task Force of Ontario and also all the positive changes that are now happening in the field of midwifery.
In your speech that day, we were encouraged by your remarks with respect to midwives being legislated under the Regulated Health Professions Amendment Act. It may seem incredible to believe, but yes, some women are actually making a decision to wait for the legislation to pass before they start planning their families. Right now, women who choose to have a home birth using the services of trained midwives will pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for such services. Can the minister please tell me the current status of the midwifery program?
Hon Ruth Grier (Minister of Health): I attended the same celebration with the member for York East and I really appreciate his long-standing and sincere interest in the future of midwifery in the province.
I'm delighted to tell him and the other members of this House that in fact our program is moving ahead as planned and that beginning in 1994, midwifery services will be fully funded by the Ministry of Health. When people talk about cutbacks in health services, this is a service for which women have paid from their own pockets and which in future will be part of the health care system of this province. I'm very proud about that.
Last Saturday, I had the honour of addressing the graduating class of the Michener Institute for Health Sciences. Among the graduates were 62 midwives who will be among the first midwives to be licensed in this country and in this province. I'm very proud of the initiatives that our government has taken with regard to midwifery. The regulation and the funding of this program will offer women more choices and more control --
Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): My question is to the Attorney General and the minister responsible for women's issues. Madam Minister, your staff has been assigned to suppress a report. Legal advice has been sought. A major hearing of the freedom of information and protection of privacy commission has been held. Judgements have been rendered. Court costs have been accumulated. The judgement of everyone concerned, excepting yourself, is to release a heavily edited, 99-page report from a ministry of government on Grandview.
On behalf of the victims and indeed the taxpayers of Ontario, my question to you today is, how much has it cost the people of Ontario for you to continue to hold your position and to pay for all the appeals and all the services of those you needed to help you achieve what many consider to be a coverup of a very important report?
Hon Marion Boyd (Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Women's Issues): The major task of the Ministry of the Attorney General is to ensure that the integrity of the justice system is maintained. Our position on this report is very clear. We believe that the release of this report at this time will jeopardize the ongoing investigation and the charges that have already been laid in this case. It is our job to defend the system against that kind of possible infringement.
I can't answer the question in dollar terms at this particular point in time. I will tell the member that indeed we have been given leave to appeal. We will be appealing the decision of the court because we believe very firmly that the release of the report at this time could jeopardize the focus of the attention of this investigation, which is those who have allegedly perpetrated acts that all of us find deplorable.
Mrs O'Neill: I hope those figures will be forthcoming, because they are of great interest. It's almost three years since your government and indeed the residents of Ontario were made aware of the horrific abuse at Grandview. It's been almost a year since the words "compensation" or "funding for education and training" were brought to the floor of this Legislature, and indeed on that day I brought them.
Through an all-party debate in this Legislature on October 22, 1992, almost a year ago, unanimous agreement was reached that Grandview survivors needed more than words. They needed access to resources to rebuild their lives. They told us that very poignantly last Thursday on the steps of the Legislature.
Madam Minister, will you assure this House and indeed the survivors of Grandview who are present here today that educational opportunities and compensation are on the front burner with your government, are a priority for your government?
Hon Mrs Boyd: I'm very pleased and proud to say that indeed it is, and that negotiation has been ongoing. There have been staff who have been assigned to it full-time, who are working with the counsel for the group of survivors. There have been some interim measures made to try and ensure that some of the flow of compensation for counselling that has already been done has gone to those people, and I can assure the member that it is indeed a priority for us to continue to negotiate this.
I would remind the member that we are doing this as much as we can in partnership with the group that represents the survivors. We have been trying to do it in a way that reaches out to as many of those who were at Grandview as possible, a thing that is a goal that is shared, I know, by the survivors group itself. I can assure the member that I'll be pleased to report on our progress from time to time, as we agree with the survivors group that that is appropriate to do.
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): Very briefly, again to the same minister: On Thursday last I raised the question to the Minister of Community and Social Services in your absence. The fact is that there are still four or five unanswered deaths of inmates of this institution. The women survivors are desperately seeking information which your government is suppressing with respect to adoption, when children were physically removed from this facility from pregnant inmates.
There were abortions performed inside that facility. These women are asking for some basic counselling, some compensation and access to birth information. There are things that your government can do over and above the legal bafflegab that you've been conveying to the House this afternoon.
On behalf of the victim-survivors, will you not assist them with those legitimate requests for counselling that has not been forthcoming in the amount that's required, and for access to information for those women so they can start rebuilding and repairing their lives?
Hon Mrs Boyd: Indeed, counselling has been provided and financing for counselling has been provided. That is an ongoing commitment that I have made and that the other ministers who were involved -- because this is a shared responsibility between a number of ministries -- have made. We will keep that commitment. I know that the Minister of Community and Social Services responded with his commitment to be of as great assistance as possible as this work goes on.
We share the concern of the member, although I must say, since these events occurred some time ago and his government was in power for at least 10 years following the events, it is surprising to us that the member from Burlington tries to sound so very, very concerned in this case when the government which his party ran for 10 years after the case did not take any action.
Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I just want to bring to your attention that in the west gallery we have the mayor from Port-of-Spain, which is twinned with St Catharines, and his name is Ethelbert "Telly" Paul. I want to tell you that he has visited my colleague here in St Catharines and had a tremendous welcome, and I would like us all to welcome him here.
Hon Marilyn Churley (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wish to correct a statement I made in the House yesterday. It was in response to a question from the leader of the third party.
I made a statement with respect to Professor William Eadington from the University of Nevada, Reno. I've often told this House that the casino project has engaged a number of consultants who are experts in various aspects of the casino business. Professor Eadington is a respected academic and adviser to many of those involved in the casino business. I have been informed that Dr Eadington was paid a consulting fee for the work he has done with the Ontario casino project team, as have the others who have consulted on this project. But I'd like to assure the House, as I've done many times before, that this in no way jeopardizes the integrity of the process.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Pursuant to standing order 34(a), the member for York Mills has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Municipal Affairs concerning a private member's bill, vital services bylaws.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I presume what the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations was trying to say was that in fact our leader was right and Dr Eadington was being paid by both Harrah's and the provincial government at the same time as he was advising the provinces whether they should put Harrah's on the short list or not.
"Whereas the British North America Act of 1867 recognizes the right of Catholic students to a Catholic education, and in keeping with this, the province of Ontario supports two educational systems from kindergarten to grade 12/OAC; and
"Whereas the Metropolitan Separate School Board educates more than 104,000 students across Metropolitan Toronto, and whereas these students represent 30% of the total number of students in this area, yet have access to just 20% of the total residential assessment and 9.5% of the pooled corporate assessment; and
"Whereas the Metropolitan Separate School Board is able to spend $1,678 less on each of its elementary school students and $2,502 less on each of its secondary school students than our public school counterpart;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to act now and restructure the way in which municipal and provincial tax dollars are apportioned so that Ontario's two principal education systems are funded not only fully, but with equity and equality."
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows to object to the recent cuts to GO Transit bus service to Woodbridge, Kleinburg, Nobleton, Bolton, Palgrave and Highway 9:
"Whereas the lack of transit services will increase traffic, thereby increasing air pollution levels at a time when all levels of government are making efforts to reduce pollution and encourage public transport systems; and
"Therefore, the provincial government request that the federal Minister of the Environment of Canada conduct a review panel to ensure that the land is disposed of in an organized way, protecting the rural resources and the communities and the residents therein."
Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, written and presented by people from Whitby, Oshawa, Simcoe, Ingersoll, Woodstock, Tavistock, Nepean, Jarvis, Hagersville -- as you can see, from all around the province, Mr Speaker. It reads as follows:
"Whereas the government of Ontario has stated that multiservice agencies, the new single local point of access for long-term care and support services, must purchase 90% of their homemaking and professional services from not-for-profit providers, therefore virtually eliminating use of commercial providers,
"We protest the action to drastically reduce the service provision by commercial providers and respectfully request that the impact of this policy decision, including a cost study, be performed before any further implementation."
Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): I have yet another petition signed by residents from all over southern Ontario who are calling out for fairness and justice for the people who live in the north Pickering lands.
"Therefore, that the provincial government of Ontario request of the federal government of Canada to initiate a public review by panel of the federal Minister of the Environment to ensure an organized disposal, protecting these rural resources and the community of residents therein."
"We believe that consumer control of health cards is denied because of a paternalistic government system where costs for consultation, reports and examinations are kept secret to prevent clients from making informed choices or seeking alternative methods;
"(4) When doctors bill for visits they have not made, especially in nursing homes where the house doctor comes once a month, asks the RN how the patients are and then sees only the residents with problems but bills for everyone, and if the doctor's recordkeeping is sloppy, they could also bill for residents who are discharged or deceased;
"(5) When OHIP is doublebilled for one procedure because elderly or incompetent doctors are allowed to keep hospital privileges and/or collect from OHIP when all their orders must be cosigned by competent doctors; and
"(5) The computer printout of the client's record be sent to every cardholder at regular intervals with a statement of the charges incurred, with requests for change of address, health and marital status;
"Whereas there is a direct link between the higher availability of legalized gambling and the incidence of addictive gambling (Macdonald and Macdonald, Pathological Gambling: The Problem, Treatment and Outcome, Canadian Foundation on Compulsive Gambling); and
"Whereas the citizens of Ontario have not been consulted regarding the introduction of legalized gambling casinos despite the fact that such a decision is a significant change of government policy and was never part of the mandate given to the government by the people of Ontario;
"That the government immediately cease all moves to establish gambling casinos by regulation and that appropriate legislation be introduced into the assembly along with a process which includes significant opportunities for public consultation and full public hearings as a means of allowing the citizens of Ontario to express themselves on this new and questionable initiative."
"Whereas the lack of transit services will increase traffic, thereby increasing air pollution levels at a time when all levels of government are making an effort to reduce pollution and to encourage public transportation systems; and
"Whereas the cuts will leave no alternative means of commuting in and out of Toronto for individuals with flexible work arrangements and child care commitments (the earliest train departs from downtown at 5:20 pm); and
"Whereas proposals made under government's expenditure control plan and social contract initiatives regarding health care in the province of Ontario will have a devastating impact on access to and the delivery of health care; and
"The government of Ontario move immediately to withdraw these proposed measures and reaffirm its commitment to rational reform of Ontario's health care system through its obligations under the 1991 Ontario Medical Association/government framework and economic agreement."
"Whereas the Catholic teacher is and always has been the essential feature making a classroom in school 'Catholic,' and in addition to acquiring knowledge as a specified range of academic subjects, the student also learns that religious values are an important, central and fundamental aspect of a separate school education; and
"Therefore, be it resolved that we request that section 136 of the Education Act be repealed so that the Catholic nature of separate schools in Ontario, granted to us under the British North America Act, will be preserved."
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): Today I plan to conclude my remarks regarding Bill 80. Bill 80 is the bill that amends the Ontario Labour Relations Act for the construction sector and addresses six major issues: trade union constitutions, shared bargaining rights, jurisdiction, interference with a local trade union, successorship and administration of benefit plans.
I indicated yesterday that there is tremendous controversy regarding this bill; in fact, there has been a very lively debate. There are those unions which of course support the bill and there are certainly many, many others which have indicated that there was not adequate consultation, that they were not involved in the discussions prior to the introduction of Bill 80 and that they have some concerns they feel the minister needs to address.
The major concern the unions which do not feel that they were adequately consulted on Bill 80 have is the fact that this legislation does intrude into the democratic internal affairs of trade unions. They feel that this is an unprecedented intrusion by a government that they always thought was very sympathetic to the trade union movement and they're most concerned about that intrusion.
Secondly, they are very concerned that this passes to the Ontario Labour Relations Board the responsibility of exercising the powers contained in the affected trade unions' constitutions. We all know that the OLRB is overburdened at the present time, and there is grave concern that the OLRB may not have the will or the necessary expertise even to take on this responsibility. Certainly for the unions that's a major concern.
Of course, the third question that they are still asking today and have continued to ask is, why have the building trade unions been singled out for this flagrant interference in the democratic internal affairs of trade unions?
These are some of the questions that have been raised now in the course of this year, 1993, and last year since the first reading of the bill in June 25, 1992. Unfortunately, the minister has never given the reason as to why the bill was introduced.
It's interesting, though, because I have received some feedback not only from the government members but also from individuals who are supportive of Bill 80. This is the type of information that I am receiving, "We can't really tell you why there's a need for Bill 80." Part of the reason is that the people are afraid to speak out or that they are afraid to vote against the international unions because they fear retribution, because they feel intimidated.
It's interesting that the NDP members are now saying themselves that during a vote that is not a secret ballot vote there is intimidation, that there can be harassment and that one of the reasons for this legislation is to deal with that particular problem. Yet when we were discussing Bill 40, the contentious labour bill, I called for secret ballot votes for all Ontario workers, I indicated repeatedly that workers were asking me for the secret ballot opportunity, and the government said: "Oh, no, that's not necessary. There is never intimidation. There is never harassment."
I'd just like to state what I said when I introduced my bill. I said I strongly believe that if we are to have fairness and equality, as the Minister of Labour has indicated he desires, all workers in this province should have the right to a free and democratic vote. Workers should have the right to decide for themselves, free of any interference or intimidation from any source, whether or not to have a union represent them, to accept a contract or to go on strike. Obviously, a secret ballot vote is the only fair way of allowing them to do so.
Unfortunately, the government saw no need at that time to support the need for a secret ballot vote, and now I'm hearing from the government members themselves: "Don't believe what you're hearing about all the support for Bill 80 because it's really not there, because people felt intimidated. The international people were there and they felt they had to vote a certain way." If you had supported my call for secret ballot votes, this type of information would not now be circulating behind closed doors and people would be able to speak a little more honestly.
When the Minister of Labour says that Bill 80 is going to bring and promote greater democracy and freedom, if he had supported my request for the secret ballot vote, we certainly would have had greater democracy and we would have had greater freedom. Many of the problems that supposedly are there could have been dealt with, but it seems that the government talks out of both sides of its mouth. Now suddenly we bring in Bill 80 to protect these people who supposedly have voted one way but really didn't want to and only did so because they felt intimidated.
I talked yesterday on the six major issues and I'm not going to review them again today. I indicated yesterday the content of each issue, what it spoke to, what the government's reason appeared to be for supporting that particular issue, and also the concerns the unions had concerning those issues.
We need to remember that what is involved here is the future of 15 unions in this province which represent approximately 130,000 building trade workers and millions of dollars in union dues, union dues that presently do flow to the international parents. Certainly those are the people who are going to be impacted by this bill and, unfortunately, not all of those individuals feel there's been adequate discussion.
For example, the predominant player in the construction marketplace, the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, has indicated it was never, ever consulted prior to the introduction of Bill 80. In fact, they make many of the same arguments that the business community made around Bill 40, indicating that there is no justification, no need for the changes; indicating that the minister did not consult with all the people who are going to be impacted by the bill, especially the key players; and also, of course, making the point that this bill will have a negative impact on investment in the construction industry.
Yesterday, I also talked about some of the pros and cons of the legislation, and I just want to summarize. The people who are supporting the bill tell us the amendments constitute some internal union housecleaning amendments. Those opposed tell us that Bill 80 is comprised of a set of amendments that, if implemented, has the potential to dramatically alter the course of labour relations in the construction industry.
Those in support say that the amendments would also give Ontario locals the basic democratic right to choose whether or not they wish to disaffiliate themselves from an international parent, just as all industrial unions, such as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, are able to do.
We have opposition to Bill 80 saying: "Succession will create splintered rival groups across the province, creating confusion and tension that is not needed in the construction sector. These provisions impose an unprecedented 365-day-per-year rating period on building trade unions, singling them out for treatment unparalleled in any jurisdiction in Canada."
We have supporters of Bill 80 telling us: "A related provision prevents the international from assuming supervision over a local union without just cause. This provision ensures that duly elected local officials are protected from arbitrary dismissal or penalty."
We have the opponents of Bill 80 telling us: "We agree that supervision or control should only be for cause. This is covered by rules in constitutions. The bill, of course, will override the constitutions."
We have the supporters of Bill 80 telling us: "It is important to realize that while Bill 80 will empower construction locals to disaffiliate if they choose, there is no reason to expect mass disaffiliation. In fact, Bill 80 may very well lead to a stabilizing of relations between the locals and their international parents."
The opponents of Bill 80 say: "Bill 80, far from being in the tradition of promoting stability, threatens to dismantle the real accomplishments of previous amendments. Fragmentation, rivalry and loss of business confidence are the likely fruits of this latest initiative."
Those who support the bill tell us: "Some of the internationals have criticized the government for a lack of consultation. Consultation was conducted in a confidential manner to prevent the internationals from carrying out reprisals against the locals for their support of Bill 80."
The opponents of Bill 80 tell us, "The predominant players in the construction marketplace, that is, the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, was not consulted for the introduction of Bill 80."
Finally, the supporters of Bill 80 tell us: "Some local members are reluctant to publicize their support for Bill 80 due to fear of retribution from the internationals. We know, however, through our grass-roots communications, that Bill 80 is broadly supported."
Opponents to Bill 80 say: "These people say that if Bill 80 is not passed as is, then there will be retribution from the international officials. This is a blatant lie. Nobody has ever threatened retribution, nor do they intend to."
You can see that there is a lively debate on Bill 80 within the unions that are impacted by the legislation. It is a very contentious issue. It is an issue that certainly should have been handled much more effectively by the Minister of Labour. If he had really been sincere in his endeavours to deal with the construction industry, resolve the problems that had been presented to him, he would have brought in both sides for discussion, for debate, for consultation, and then as a result of the consultation, he would have made changes, not necessarily through legislation but through some other means. These problems could have been resolved.
However, given that we now have before us Bill 80, it is obvious that it's absolutely necessary that this bill go out to committee for hearings. It's absolutely essential that the people who are going to be impacted by the legislation have an opportunity to talk to the pros and cons of the bill. Then it's necessary for this government and this minister to listen to the viewpoints that are expressed and to come up with amendments, or support the amendments of the opposition, that will indeed truly reflect the majority of people who are going to be impacted by this legislation.
It's important that the majority in this province feels, at the end of the day, that there has been real consultation, that there has been an attempt to listen to all the viewpoints and that the resulting legislation truly addresses all of the concerns that have been expressed. If that's not the case, I believe we are going to have a lack of confidence in investment and we're going to see some chaos within the industry.
On that note, I'm going to conclude my remarks. I simply say again that it's most unfortunate that the minister did not originally consult with the major players who are going to be impacted by the bill, it's unfortunate that he only consulted with those who were called dissidents or those who were looking for this piece of legislation, because what we have here is a bill that has divided the industry; it has created a tremendous amount of chaos. I would hope that in the next round of discussion, the minister truly will consult and will truly come forward with amendments that reflect the viewpoints of all concerned.
A lot of consultation has taken place since the bill was first introduced. The idea of consulting with the people who were in favour with Bill 80 was that they were the ones who were unhappy with the international parents. The ones who were happy with the international parents obviously didn't have the concerns so didn't come forward for the consultation process, and that's why they didn't have a lot of input during that time.
The member for Waterloo North has asked for an example of interference. We have a letter that was sent to all members of the provincial Parliament. It's from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1788.
It says they have "received a document dated May 6, 1993 signed by J.G. Knight, K. Woods and R. Tersigni, which attempts to remove Local 1788's jurisdiction over work on miscellaneous hydraulic projects....
"Signing this document and attempting to take away the jurisdiction of Local 1788 is contrary to Bill 80, which is presently before the Legislature and which, when it becomes law, will be effective June 25, 1992. Under that law, any amendment to the jurisdiction of a local union done in a manner that the May 6 letter attempts to do is prohibited....
"This is exactly the kind of arbitrary action exercised by international construction unions and assisted by compliant employers which Bill 80 is supposed to protect us against. We intend to use Bill 80."
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I'm very pleased to rise and speak briefly to the speech that was given by my colleague our critic for Labour, the member for Waterloo North. She did an outstanding job, as she always does, a very thorough and positive, constructive presentation.
I had a meeting today with Alexandra Dagg, who is the manager of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union of Ontario. She is putting forward the view that there should be amendments to the Employment Standards Act. About a year ago, at an Ontario Federation of Labour women's conference, the Minister of Labour promised to introduce new legislative amendments to the Employment Standards Act in early 1993, early this year, to improve the wages and working conditions of home workers. I recall this very well because I was also invited to that OFL women's conference and spoke on behalf of our party at that convention; I was there, and the minister promised that there would be amendments coming forward to assist the home workers.
"Home workers need this new legislation and should not be expected to wait any longer. Without greater protection and better enforcement, home workers will face an even greater erosion of minimal standards. Home work is one of the most rapidly expanding, precarious sectors in the Ontario labour market. Presently, home workers, who are mainly immigrant women, are treated as second-class workers in Ontario."
The Minister of Labour made a commitment to those people that there would be amendments brought forward to assist them. That has not happened. I don't understand the government's legislative priorities when something like Bill 80 -- and the member for Waterloo North has indicated very clearly there's absolutely no explanation from the government as to why, when so many people are losing their jobs today, this bill is a priority, and why other outstanding commitments have not been met.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I'd firstly like to compliment the member for Waterloo North who, I think all sides of the House would agree, offers what I consider to be very good insights into the pieces of legislation that come under her domain as the critic in our party for Labour.
I would move on too to suggest that a couple of comments she made I thought were rather germane. It reflects back on some of the previous legislation this government has brought forward. It is rather disconcerting, I think, to the general public out there to see the absolute reversals or about-faces this government takes on legislation. I recall vividly during the debate on the labour legislation how there was little, if any, concern with respect to the secret ballot, as pointed out by the member for Waterloo North, absolutely no concern about the secret ballot when it came to ratification or institution of a new union. You said, "Oh, no; no intimidation took place at that level." Yet, when we talk about this piece of legislation, similar in that nature, the very concern is raised by the government itself about intimidation with respect to ratification of a union. That is really concerning to me and I'm sure the constituents, how you can say on one hand that is not a concern yet not a year later tell us now that's a major concern in another union.
The other concern I have is with the Minister of Labour himself. I think to offer up the changes to this piece of legislation as amendments is somewhat unfair. It's unfair to us in opposition and unfair to the public out there. This bill has been practically rewritten. If you look at the amendments and the changes, there are literally chunks out of this piece of legislation that have been changed very dramatically. I think everyone would agree. Truly, if you wanted to bring this forward in the good, non-partisan approach, this package should have been introduced as a new bill. We should have started again, because fundamentally with these amendments, you have simply just asked us to debate today a brand-new piece of legislation.
Mrs Witmer: I'd certainly like to thank the speakers who have participated in the debate and I say to the parliamentary assistant from Kitchener-Wilmot, I'm pleased that the government is finally trying at least to demonstrate some need for the legislation. Since yesterday, he has introduced three examples and obviously, I think those issues could have been resolved if there had been discussion between the two sides, those that are pro- and those that are anti-Bill 80. I don't think it necessarily needs to be resolved in the form of this particular piece of legislation.
I would just like to piggyback on what the member for Etobicoke West said, and that is, we do have here a totally new piece of legislation. The supposed amendments that were given to us yesterday contain deletions, a few changes, but it is a totally and radically new bill. Unfortunately, the government did not see fit to introduce it as a new bill because it didn't want to because it wouldn't be retroactive to July 25, 1992. That's why we simply have these particular amendments and not a new bill.
But I think it really is most unfair and again, I would say to the government, I hope that when we do embark in the public hearings that truly this time -- you didn't do so on Bill 40 and certainly you haven't done so in the employment equity hearings -- you are prepared to listen to all sides and I hope that you are prepared to incorporate the amendments based on the information that you receive from the individuals making presentations. I guess that's what I find very frustrating: to spend weeks in public hearings and not see any change in the legislation.
Mr Drummond White (Durham Centre): I'm very pleased to rise this afternoon and speak on Bill 80, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act. Bill 80, of course, is a companion piece to Bill 40, which was lengthily discussed last year. I had some dealings with a Bill 40 recently, but that was on community economic development. This is Bill 80, which is to do with labour, as the earlier Bill 40 was.
I'd like to talk a little bit about the construction trades and some of the comments I've heard from the members opposite. We're moving along. We've talked about the Labour Relations Act amendments, how important they were to the lives of working people in our province; Bill 40 more recently, the community economic development bill, how important that is to building community infrastructure, to building our communities and our economy; and Bill 80 here, which deals with international trade unions in the construction and building trades.
I've heard from the members opposite, I've heard from the member from the official opposition, about how construction workers were lining up to get out of Ontario. Well, I don't think there can be anything farther from the truth, when the Minister of Economic Development and Trade has only recently had to introduce rules and regulations to restrict Quebec construction workers, Quebec building workers, from entering this province.
The efforts in our province to create jobs have been fruitful, even in very, very difficult times. Those efforts are much more fruitful, as we can see, than in other provinces, where much higher levels of unemployment are occurring in the construction trades. The construction trades are essential, and they are essential recipients of our government's investment in infrastructure, in social housing.
In my riding alone, our government has invested in significant ways. We have Durham College, its expansion, which will create 140 ongoing jobs with a new campus in Whitby. That facility is devoted entirely to skills training, to those very areas that this bill deals with.
We also have some 2,200 new jobs at the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital in my riding, again infrastructure, construction jobs, trades jobs. I know that certainly in my area, the many construction trade workers who have come to me, who have talked to me about Bill 80, have been so pleased with that kind of investment in infrastructure that our government has invested in. The GO train extension to Oshawa: again, those same workers.
The issues have been raised time and time again about the importance of enabling that this bill offers, just as Bill 40 did, which was passed last year. The protection of workers, giving them rights here in the construction and building trades -- these are very important rights, rights that workers in other areas have already learned to enjoy with this government's work.
Mr White: That's an excellent question you pose. The issue with Bill 80 is that construction trades are differently organized and differently structured than are other labour unions. They have, for example, a practice of hiring that comes out of a tradition of a hiring hall, of a seniority issue, as opposed to a shop, where all of the employees in the shop are members of a trade union, such as an industrial union. So they are more subject to actions on behalf of their union in terms of their hiring, their very livelihood. Obviously here, if workers are afraid of intimidation, that can be very real. They can be afraid of being intimidated by the practices of their international union.
These unions are all international. When we say "international unions," of course, we're not talking of unions that have tenterhooks in all nations of the world but primarily American-based international unions. I certainly have in my area a long tradition with those international unions.
I've seen the constitutions of several of these construction trade unions. The people who have approached me have said: "Gee, I have a lot of difficulties with this. It says right here in the constitution, if we gather in more than two or three, we can lose our privileges. We can have action taken against us." So we wonder why it is that the opposition has this long list of letters, of concerns that have been cited.
The question has been brought up about who is supporting Bill 80. I think Bill 80 has a great deal of support. I know this from the many, many, many people who have approached me individually, the number of petitions I've received, the number of letters and phone calls, the number of approaches.
As a member of the provincial Parliament, let me tell you what my experience is, as I'm sure yours has been. That is, very simply, that when a bill comes forth, what one typically hears is not the support of those who want that bill to come forth. People don't rush to you and say, "Gee, am I ever pleased that you're passing Bill 32," or whatever it might be.
Certainly, last year, with Bill 40, the Ontario Labour Relations Act, we knew we had substantive support across the labour movement but we didn't hear that time and time again. Every time I spoke to someone at the door, they didn't say, "Boy, am I ever pleased that you're passing Bill 40."
On that occasion, with Bill 40, we heard all kinds of people saying what a terrible thing it was, all kinds of money paid for huge advertising ploys, how Bill 40 would kill jobs. Well, I'll tell you, Bill 40 not only did not kill jobs, but despite all that fallacious advertising, in the month of January this year when that bill came into effect, at that time when 285,000 jobs were supposed to be killed according to the construction association -- according to these people, all these jobs were going to be killed, all of these people were going to be unemployed -- peculiarly enough, in that very month that bill came into effect, actually 43,000 new jobs were created, the largest number for many, many years. What a remarkable coincidence.
As I was saying, when a bill comes forth, we hear all the opposition to it, not the support for it. In this case, what I have heard and what I know many of my colleagues have heard time and time again from labourers, from electricians, what they have all come to us and said is: "Don't tell everyone around me, but we want this bill. It's so important to us. It allows us some sense of control of our local and of our destiny, some dignity in our workplace, some protection of our geographic and work jurisdiction." Those are essential issues of dignity.
The issue has been brought forth about consultation. This bill was introduced on June 25; not July 25 as we heard a few moments ago, but June 25, 1992. I would invite you to take a look at this sheet, Mr Speaker. You can certainly see that this is not a new bill. It's been with us for quite a while.
In the last year and a half since its introduction, there has been substantive consultation and substantive discussion about the bill and how to adapt it. We've already heard in fact that when the discussion came up on Monday, the opposition was furious because they knew that amendments were coming forth. They knew that our government listens and responds and has dealt with many of the concerns that some of the international unions have brought forth and has adjusted it to make it more sensible and practicable.
These are some of the issues that I think are crucial with this bill. We know of its wide support and we know of course that the construction and building trades are essential to the importance of infrastructure, the importance of investments, the kind of community action and economic development that our government is pinning into for the next little while.
Certainly, again, in my area we know how important those developments are with the social housing, with the number of co-ops, with Whitby Psychiatric Hospital and Durham College, with those substantive capital investments in our community which the construction trades unions and their members are essentially involved in. Why, in these days, were it not for some of those projects, very, very many of those people would be unemployed. They are very, very involved in ensuring that those capital projects go ahead. I would hope that these people can be sure of the same level of dignity and democratic control in their trade unions that we have ensured for the rest of the workers in this province.
Mr Stockwell: That was a rather curious speech offered up by the member for Durham Centre. That seemed to answer probably the concerns that he has in his mind, but I thought some of the issues outlined by the critic from the Liberal Party and of course the critic from the Conservative Party touched on a number of issues and a number of subjects that weren't addressed by the member. I ask but two.
What we have before us today and what was introduced on June 25, 1992, are two very different pieces of legislation. The amendments themselves in fact have gutted the original piece to the point that it's unrecognizable. Can I ask the member to explain why they did not introduce a new piece of legislation? In essence, how come we can't get a new piece of legislation introduced for this bill when they gutted it to such a large degree with the amendments they offered up?
Secondly, explain to me the difference as to why it is that you don't need a secret ballot in your labour legislation when you're forming a union or dealing with any votes within a union, but on this piece of legislation it is significant and important. It's difficult, I'm sure, to explain, but why is it significant and important to have a secret ballot when you're dealing with the issues in this piece of legislation? Clearly they're both unions, clearly they're both dealing with the same issues, yet one needs a secret ballot and the other one doesn't. I don't understand. There appears to be a contradiction in that.
Those may be two issues he'd like to discuss. I'm not really certain what Durham College had to do with it, and if he has any time left over, if he could explain that, I'd really find that interesting as well.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): I find it interesting when I hear the members of the back bench in the NDP standing up to speak in support of this bill, saying that they've received phone calls and letters or that they haven't received them --
Mr Mahoney: -- but, yes, they can't tell you the names. We've asked for examples. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot got up yesterday and gave us an example of an issue that was long ago resolved, that's not a problem at all, and yet you're trying to hold that up as being the raison d'être for bringing in this bill. The bottom line and the thing that is very hard to understand is that the process, the democratic process, has really been violated here.
I could just hear all of you, if you were back in your other lives as members of a local or a union executive somewhere prior to your surprise election to this place. I could just hear you. I could hear the former -- I'm not sure what her title was, the minister who used to head up OPSEU. I could just hear her if there was some attempt by a government to try to interfere in the constitution that was drawn up by the duly elected, democratically elected officials of her union or any of your unions. You wouldn't tolerate it, you would certainly not defend it and you would not expect it of a socialist government. You would be marching right up University Avenue. You would have Bob Rae and Bob Mackenzie leading the march with placards calling for the government to resign, to stay out of internal union politics.
You know what? If you did that, I'd agree with you. The government has no place interfering in a democratic system that is set up by the trade labour movement. It's functioning fine. You should get out of it and leave them alone.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): It's always of interest to me, when the New Democrats mobilize their back bench to speak, that they don't always answer all of the questions that are in the minds of the people out in the countryside. I don't understand, and perhaps the member for Durham Centre will explain to me, why this is just limited to the construction union membership. Why isn't this applied to the general union membership?
When he attempts to explain that, I think we will then begin to understand whether or not he understands the real workings of union memberships in the province of Ontario. The differentiation between one group of people and another for the purposes of fair treatment and the use of democratic principles inside their organizations is of interest to all of us.
I just want the member, while he is explaining that, to go as far back into the background as he needs so that we're sure that the women and men who are affiliated with construction unions are not being unfairly set aside or penalized or being centred out for treatment which is not good for all the people who are members of unions. That issue of fairness, it seems to me, is what it would take to display some sense of propriety by the current Minister of Labour.
To continue on with a couple more comments before we get back to the member for Durham Centre's reply, I have been told that while a number of people had the opportunity of speaking in the same room where the Minister of Labour was during the discussions around this bill, nobody actually had the opportunity of speaking with him, that he would not listen, that in fact he basically told people, "It is my way or the doorway." The doorway is what most of the people who had concerns about this bill were given.
Hon Frances Lankin (Minister of Economic Development and Trade): I'm pleased also to join in response to the comments of the member for Durham Centre and to say that I appreciate the points he drew out with respect to the process of consultation and the process of the public hearings around this bill and how people have come forward in response to the bill.
I had an opportunity, during the period of time that this bill was under consideration in committee, to meet with a number of representatives of international unions who brought forward concerns with respect to the legislation. Many of those concerns were put before the committee, and I have to say, unlike the previous speaker, that I know for a fact, from meeting with these people, that they had direct meetings with the Minister of Labour, that he met with them and has responded to many of their concerns in terms of amendments to the legislation. I actually feel quite confident that the majority of the issues they raised have been dealt with in terms of the amendments.
I think that the member for Durham Centre also raised a very important point with respect to the reasons why this bill is coming forward. Those people in support in the labour movement, particularly in these international unions as well as in many of the national unions -- and there was reference earlier to my previous activity within OPSEU. I would say that this is a kind of movement that people who are members of national unions with democratic constitutions would feel quite strongly in favour of.
I think the member for Durham Centre has pointed out that in the construction trades in the internationally based unions you're dealing with constitutions that are often based out of an American union and you're dealing with situations where there is a hiring hall with respect to employment. There are some very good aspects to that system, but it also ensures in many ways that issues related to livelihood are squarely on the table when you're talking about the functioning of the union.
With that in mind, I think the proposals that have been brought forward in this legislation will allow for members here in Canadian locals to exercise their rights in a fulsome way and have the amendments that have been brought forward also protect the interests of the union and the international with respect to that. I think it's a good package.
Mr White: I'd like to respond to just a couple of points in the short time I have left. First of all, if I could respond to the concern of my friend from Etobicoke about Durham College, Durham College is a facility just being completed in my riding. It's a new facility with space for several hundred people who are learning the skills they need to be active participants in the building construction trades. That's why I bring up Durham College. It's something to be proud of that our government is opening up officially just next month.
The issue that my friend brings up as well is that he is complaining about how the bill has changed, how amendments that he's aware of will change the intent or the effect of the bill. Then, in another breath, he says our government hasn't been responsive. Well, which is it? Are we unresponsive or do we, as I suggest, respond adequately and thoroughly, as he also has said, one or the other? He can't have it both ways.
My friends asked me who else have I heard from. I've talked about the electrical workers who've approached me. Let me also talk about the labourers and other trades that have also approached me in large numbers.
The final point I would like to mention is that my friend the member for Mississauga West refers to me as a member of the back bench. He'll probably notice I am here in the front benches and my friend from Mississauga West is as close as he's ever come to the front benches.
Mr Offer: Let me say at the outset that I am not in favour of Bill 80. I'm not in favour for two general reasons which I hope to go into in the time permitted: firstly, on the substantive aspects of the bill, the wording of the bill, and, secondly, the process under which the bill got to this legislative floor.
Let me indicate that I previously was the Labour critic for our party. The member for Mississauga West has now assumed that responsibility. As the Labour critic at that time, it was Bill 80 that was introduced. I would like to take a moment just to remind members how Bill 80 got here.
I believe it was on June 4, 1992, that the Minister of Labour made a statement in this Legislature around Bill 40. We know about Bill 40, the changes to the Labour Relations Act. In the minister's statement -- it was either the last paragraph or the second-last paragraph -- the minister alluded to the fact that some time in a short while he would be introducing a further bill dealing with the construction trades.
I will tell you that point was the first time members who are going to be directly affected by what turned out to be Bill 80 had heard that the Minister of Labour was not only contemplating a bill of this kind, but indeed was ready to introduce it. The Minister of Labour introduced Bill 80; I believe it was the end of June. But I can tell you that there was no consultation on that bill prior to its introduction. I can tell you that the workers directly affected by that bill had no idea that the minister, the ministry or the government was even contemplating changes as are found in Bill 80.
For the government to preach that this was the bill of some consultation, I would just like to remind them that the record is totally against them in this respect; that the Minister of Labour sprang this bill on the internationals in June 1992. If there be a member of the government who can refute that in the two minutes they will have available to them when I have finished my speech, let them stand in their place and put it on the record that there was consultation on Bill 80 prior to the minister's statement of June 4, 1992.
That is what immediately concerned me, because when you deal with legislation, you deal with two broad areas. The first of course is the substance of the legislation, what it says and what it means, but secondly, the process under which it got to this place. Where a piece of legislation is totally devoid of discussing with people who are going to be affected by the legislation what the legislation is, then I think the bill starts off with an incredible flaw. The Minister of Labour has not been able to correct that, and I think that over time we will see the tremendous discomfort that has gone out, certainly through the international unions, because of this bill.
If memory serves me correctly, I believe we're talking of 14 international unions that are affected by this bill. If I'm incorrect on that number, I stand corrected, but I believe that there are 14 internationals. Again, they had absolutely no prior discussions, no consultation about the introduction of this bill. They had no idea. They were not invited to talk about the need for the bill. They were not entitled to talk about whether there was a need; what the concerns were, if there were any. All they saw on June 4 was that the Minister of Labour was going to introduce something -- it turned out to be at the end of June -- which was going to affect them.
I believe that is not only a flaw but a fatal flaw, because it underlines this Jekyll and Hyde approach the government has to people's rights in this province. On one hand they talk about issues such as a matter we discussed last week, the Environmental Bill of Rights. They talk about how that particular piece of legislation was the culmination of discussion, was the culmination of work done by a task force, was and is designed to provide more rights to the general public. Last week I spoke generally, in principle, in favour of the legislation, though I have some concerns about it. But this now is another thing: This is a bill which takes away rights from people, tramples on rights of workers in this province.
So we have this Jekyll and Hyde routine: On one hand the government will speak about giving rights to individuals under the Environmental Bill of Rights; on the other hand it takes away rights in the environment under its own Bill 143. On one hand they say they are giving rights, under their changes to the Labour Relations Act under Bill 40; on the other hand they take away rights under Bill 80.
I have no doubt that if this type of bill were introduced by any other party, the members of the government side would be in an absolute uproar. They would be protesting from the highest plank. They would be marching where others have feared to march. They would be holding placards from here to for ever about how Bill 80 tramples on the rights of workers. Let me tell you, no matter how you cut it, Bill 80 does in fact do that. Bill 80 does take away from workers the right to order their own affairs.
I've indicated that this bill is an intrusion into the legitimate operation of unions, and we're talking about international unions in this respect, who are governed by constitutions, who are governed by their charter, who are governed by their bylaws, who in fact are not much different in their governance from any corporation who has its own charter, its own articles, its own constitution and its own bylaws. But the government in this respect seems to feel that it has to intrude, intrude on what has been a duly selected, duly dealt-with way in which a union wants to order its own affairs.
To me, that is something which immediately should invite opposition, because if the workers who are part of those unions want to be governed in that way, then that should be their decision. Why should the government be telling workers how they should be operating within their own union? I don't think that is right. I don't think that is fair.
Workers in unions have decided how their affairs are to be governed. They have certain remedies within their rules; they have certain actions which they can take. They have voted on those and they have said, "We have voted and we will be bound," and, to me, that should do it.
What justification is there for the government to say, "Those workers who have decided how they wish to be governed, we do not agree with that which you have decided"? That's what Bill 80 does; it intrudes on that. I think it serves and sets up a very dangerous, dangerous precedent, and it's one which I think will be very destructive. I think there are going to be some real concerns about how a government intrudes on the rights of others.
It is very much this Jekyll and Hyde type of approach. I remember full well on Bill 40, where we spoke and the opposition party spoke about the rights that workers should have to have a secret ballot; not to be pro or against unionization, but rather to say, if someone wishes to be unionized let them be able to cast a vote yes or no, and let them be able to cast that vote fully informed, in a secret manner and without any coercion and intimidation: secret ballot.
At that time, Madam Speaker -- you will remember this well -- the government was totally opposed to giving workers that right. They were totally opposed to giving workers in this province the right to cast a secret ballot, free from intimidation, free from coercion, being fully informed, about how they wish to have their workplace governed. There was no argument that we on the opposing side could put that the government would listen to. But in Bill 80, guess what we have? We have the secret ballot.
How is that to be read? How is it that the secret ballot for workers under Bill 40 is not allowed but for those in Bill 80 is allowed? What is the principle? Either you are in favour of secret ballot votes or you are not, but you would expect consistency. The government, if it is consistent in anything, it is in inconsistency. Bill 40 and Bill 80 are an example.
I indicated earlier that this does impinge on the rights of workers; it impinges on their rights in a number of ways. I believe it will in fact result in a lack of mobility of workers in this province to work outside the province.
One of the things that is the hallmark of international unions is that there is a mobility of workers. Being part of an international union, the workers can move to other provinces and in fact to the United States and still receive that type of protection; they have to, of course, meet some requirements for being able to work in the United States. But they had that ability to move where the work was. It had nothing to do with governments; it had to do with where the work was, what was available. Their protection, being part of an international union, was one that extended not just within the borders of Ontario but rather across the country and indeed into the United States.
I believe the impact of Bill 80 will cause a lack of mobility. In fact, we will be creating barriers for workers moving outside of the province or to other areas. The strange thing about this is that I thought the government was in favour of the mobility of workers. I thought they wanted workers to have that flexibility, to move where the work was. I don't mean move out of the province; I just mean that if there happens to be a project in another province, they could do that project, of course never losing their base in Ontario. Bill 80 creates or has the potential of creating barriers.
I bring this point up because I happen to have a letter from the Minister of Education and Training, the Honourable David Cooke. This letter is dated not two years ago, but rather it's dated July 29, 1993, so we will know it is a letter of some currency. In his letter to me, because we were inquiring about the mobility of workers, he states:
"My federal, provincial and territorial colleagues across the country agreed in January to work together to reduce barriers to mobility of skilled workers. All jurisdictions, including Ontario and Quebec, are participating in the cooperative effort. Ontario is committed to labour mobility and has shown leadership and support of" a certain program, which was the subject matter of this letter. But the issue that the minister brings forward is the fact that workers should have the ability to move where the work is, move across the province if the work happens to be there.
The problem I have is that again I hearken back to this Jekyll and Hyde routine by the government. On one hand they write a letter to me on July 29, 1993, which speaks about how important it is for workers to move, to be able to be mobile, to go where the work is, and on the other hand we see Bill 80. Bill 80 is the seed where barriers can be created which will impede mobility.
This is a constant theme which I detect from the government. We have the Environmental Bill of Rights, which is designed to give rights to individuals across this province, which of course we will deal with in some detail later on, but on the other hand we have Bill 143, an environmental piece of legislation which takes away rights.
I represent the area of Mississauga North. Members in this Legislature will know that in that riding rests the Britannia landfill site. Members will also remember the promise made by now-Premier Rae, then the Leader of the Opposition, in the last election which said that there will not be any expansion of an existing landfill site without a full environmental hearing. That was the promise made. That was the assertion made by the now Premier. You will all know, because I have brought this up in the Legislature on a number of occasions, that the Britannia landfill site was in fact expanded, and it was expanded without any hearing.
In your minds you will have to reconcile the fact that your leader said, "No expansion without a full hearing," when the reality was that there was an expansion without any hearing. You will have to reconcile that fact, that Jekyll and Hyde approach. You will have to reconcile the fact that many of you on the government side spoke in favour of Bill 40 with how Bill 80 intrudes on workers' rights. You will have to reconcile: "How can that happen? How, within one year, can we be speaking in favour, ostensibly, of workers' rights and opposed to workers' rights?"
You will know that not everybody is going to agree with every policy that you have introduced. You will know there are many who don't agree with any policy that you happen to bring in, but you will also know that that comes with the nature of governing. But underlying everything has to be a certain consistency of principles. Either you are in favour of people's rights or you are opposed. If you speak in favour, then you have to reconcile: "How is it that we can be in favour of Bill 143, which took away rights of an environmental nature, and the Environmental Bill of Rights? How can we be on one hand introducing Bill 40 and on the other hand introducing Bill 80?" It does not jibe. It lacks consistency in this area.
There are aspects of the bill which I believe demand attention, demand full examination. The Minister of Economic Development and Trade, that is something for this province with this government, made a two-minute wrapup on this bill as if the bill had had public hearings. She said: "Well, we have listened, we have consulted. This is the bill. It has been the subject matter of public hearings."
The fact of the matter is, this bill is here on second reading. This bill has not had public hearings yet. There have not been committee hearings. Has the minister unwittingly let the cat out of the bag? Has she unwittingly, in her two-minute wrapup, indicated that this is it, that it doesn't matter who comes before the committee, that this is the bill as it will be in its final form? It appears that there was a misstatement in this matter, and I made notes as she spoke about this area.
Mr Offer: Drummond White indicates, "like myself." The problem the member has is that his last speech is recorded in Hansard, and those who have been involved with Bill 80 will know that the member does not know what he speaks about. It is as if the member just picked up the bill and chatted without any thought. The problem is that I would think if we check what that member said, he probably picked up the wrong bill.
The fact is that this bill does have a long history, and the fact is that this bill's history stems from June 4, 1992, I believe the day was, when the Minister of Labour made a statement introducing Bill 40 and at that point alluded to the fact that there would be a further bill dealing with the construction trades.
The member should realize that this was the first time people who are directly affected by this bill heard of that. There was no consultation before. There was no discussion. There was no sitting down at the table to say: "Are there any problems? What are they? How can they be resolved?" The government didn't do that. You didn't do that. You didn't listen. You didn't even inform. Secretly, the government was conspiring to deal with a bill that I believe they thought they could get through real fast and really quiet under the umbrella of the major changes to the Labour Relations Act under Bill 40.
Luckily, there is a group of committed workers in this province who saw this bill, read this bill, talked to members of the Legislature about the impact of this bill, and put us on guard that, "We have some things to say about it." They informed us as to what the impact of this bill will be. In many ways they thwarted what I believe to be an effort by the government to get through Bill 80 real fast and real quiet, until, of course, the government had no option but to deal with the bill in a more public fashion. That speaks to two things.
Firstly, it speaks to the fact that this government is wanting in the extreme in consulting with the public on pieces of legislation that will affect them, and there are many examples of that. But it also speaks to another aspect; that is, the commitment of the workers who are going to be affected by this bill that they, even though they were dealing with Bill 40 at the time, saw to it to make certain that all members of the Legislature were informed and briefed as to what Bill 80 meant. That is something that members of this Legislature are indebted to the workers of this province for, because they have other things to do. They have to make a living. They have to worry about an awful lot of things. But they made it a point to make certain that certainly -- I at that point was the Labour critic, but other members were informed as to what this bill meant and how important this bill would be to them, in a negative fashion, in them being able to run their own affairs. It's important to acknowledge the tremendous work they did, and it was not over a short period of time but over a long period of time.
This bill is all about rights. It is all about the rights of workers to order their own affairs. It is all about rights and responsibilities and remedies that workers freely agree they should be bound by. And this bill is about intruding on those rights. It is about government saying, "You've decided this, and even though you have the right to make that decision, we believe you shouldn't." This bill takes away rights. It intrudes on workers' rights. It intrudes on unions being able to govern in a manner which is consistent with the rules and the laws of the province of Ontario, but how those decisions are made or how they are made by the internal workings of the union.
If we as legislators say that they cannot do that, then we set, I think, a very dangerous precedent. I think we move into an area where governments just shouldn't be. Yes, governments have a role to play in terms of a general framework, in terms of general rules and laws, but that's different from saying: "We're going to go further. We're going to say not only that you have the right to make this decision, but rather we're going to say what that decision should be." That is a very dangerous, dangerous area. It is an area which I do not believe governments should be involved in.
If there are difficulties and if there are problems, then I believe that the role of government is to say to those who are affected, "Let us sit down and talk, let us discuss, if there are problems, and if there are, what they are and how they can be resolved." But also, if there are not problems, then government, back off. Back off from people running and ordering and organizing their own affairs within the bounds of the law in a way which is reflective of and responsive to a democratically run union.
That's why I have concerns with Bill 80. I believe Bill 80 flies in the face of fundamental principles and that is why I am opposed to Bill 80 and that is why I hope that government will see the light and recognize that Bill 80 is unnecessary, not required, and that many people have had their rights trampled by your particular actions in Bill 80.
The member who just spoke has said this piece of legislation isn't necessary. I want to say to you that it is very necessary. I had members of construction trade unions come and visit me in my office and talk about the need for bringing this legislation forward. The member talked about rights, he talked about members' individual rights, and these members who came to see me were very concerned about their rights. They felt intimidated. They had a great deal of fear. No one is saying that this occurs in all trade unions involved with all locals, but clearly something needs to be done when these members who have come to see many members about this piece of legislation feel scared and intimidated even coming to talk to us about having this piece of legislation come forward. Clearly, there is a strong need for this to protect those individual workers and maybe sometimes members of different locals.
Executive members of those locals are doing what they feel is in the best interests of their local members, who have a mandate from their local members, yet, for whatever reasons, internationals have come in and tried to override those decisions without just cause. Let's be clear that the legislation says that action can still be taken if there is just cause, but in those cases where this has occurred without just cause it really shows the need for having this type of legislation.
Who's going to protect those people? Who's out there protecting those people? The member has not addressed that concern and, as I said, when people come and they feel scared, they feel intimidated, they're concerned about being seen coming to your office to talk about this type of issue, where is the protection for them? That is the question that needs to be answered by those who are criticizing this piece of legislation.
Mr Offer: I think that the previous speaker has overlooked one fact. In fact, if we take a look at what he said, he has made an argument that unions in some instances do not protect their members. I think that's a very interesting statement the member has made.
The fact of the matter is that on June 4, 1992, the Minister of Labour indicated for the very first time that there would be legislation of this kind and -- and you remember the challenge that I laid earlier on -- the government did not consult with anyone who was going to be directly affected by this legislation. They did not talk about any of the issues prior to the pronouncement by the Minister of Labour. They introduced this piece of legislation without any discussion.
You will remember that I had invited any member of the Legislature on the government side to stand up in his or her place and refute that. Of course, no one did, and I knew no one would, because the government did not listen, was not concerned with rights of workers.
The member has indicated that there are individuals who feel their rights and their concerns are not heard. The question is, in principle, does a union and its membership have the right to order their own affairs, the right to develop what are the responsibilities and remedies available to each and every one of the members? If the answer to that question is yes, then you will be opposed to Bill 80. If you decide that unions, their elected officials and their members do not have that right, then you will support Bill 80.
Mrs Elinor Caplan (Oriole): I'm pleased to rise today to participate in this debate on Bill 80. I guess the concerns that I have on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Oriole when they ask me what's happening in the provincial Legislature, what's on the government's agenda and what is it doing about creating jobs in the province of Ontario, or a climate where jobs can be created in the province of Ontario -- I tell them that Bill 80, which is all about how unions will organize themselves and how their affairs will be conducted in the future, is on the agenda.
I had a constituent who said to me: "How's this going to help improve the economy in Ontario? What implications are there in Bill 80 and its amendments for how unions are organized? How's that going to help create a climate where jobs can be created in the province of Ontario?" I had to answer quite frankly that Bill 80 has nothing to do with the economic recovery that Ontario so desperately needs, it has nothing to do with creating a climate of confidence. If anything, the advice we've had from some of the leaders who oppose Bill 80 is that it could well hinder job creation efforts as you would have strife, particularly within the construction sector, construction unions in this province.
My constituents are very concerned that at a time when Bob Rae and his government should be putting their minds and their attention to economic activity, once again they're getting themselves involved in controversial labour legislation which is not going to help the economic recovery and is not going to create a climate where jobs can be created in the private sector. In fact, Bill 80 is all about intra-union affairs and how they organize themselves. While it will affect some workers and some union members in the province, overall it has very little impact on the public. They don't know very much about Bill 80 and, frankly, when I try to tell them about it, they really just don't care about this. They find it hard to understand why this is on Bob Rae's agenda at all at this time.
Part of my concern, as I stand here in the House today, is that this is one of the unanswered questions about Bill 80. The unanswered question is, why is this on the agenda at all? I can tell you that we haven't had an answer to that question from any member of the government. No one has been able to tell us why Bill 80 is on the agenda. There's been no explanation as to the rationale underlying Bill 80.
We know of many of the problems which some feel exist within the unionized movement in Ontario. Some say that Bill 80 is the wrong solution; others say they are quite supportive of it. What I've heard is that in fact Bill 80 is creating a tension that is unhelpful and unnecessary at this time.
I believe that Bill 80 will create unrest between locals here in Ontario and their international parent unions. I've met with and visited with union leaders, some who were in favour, but the majority of whom were opposed. What this was doing was intruding, I was informed, into how the unions organize themselves, how their constitutions are set and the voice their members have in determining in a democratic way the business of their unions.
I know of the bias of Bob Rae and his government to placing union interests on the agenda, but I found it very hard to understand, when there isn't a clear consensus in the organized labour community, why Bob Rae and his ministers would sanction going ahead with something where there clearly was not a consensus that this was needed. Certainly it's not going to be helpful to any kind of economic recovery, as I said before, and there's not even an understanding of what the rationale clearly is for this piece of legislation at this time.
On behalf of my constituents, I think Bill 80 is the wrong priority for this government. I think they brought this bill forward when the province is in the midst of very difficult economic times. We hope the recession is behind us, but in fact the signs are that this is a jobless recovery, that the recession has been more prolonged and deeper than was ever anticipated. The policies of Bob Rae and the NDP government, from my perspective, have made the recovery sluggish, slow and very, very painful. Many of my constituents are suffering as a result of those policies, as a result of the kind of economic restructuring which is going on in this province. Many have lost their jobs, many are worried about the future, and I share their pain and their worry.
I think that instead of promoting legislation which deals with only intra-union issues and policy issues, the government really should be concentrating on fostering economic recovery that would benefit all Ontarians. I think that would be in the public interest. It seems to me that the union membership in Ontario's construction sector, which this legislation is directly affecting, the unions in the construction sector, is also suffering. They're suffering, because we know that the construction industry in the province has suffered terribly during this recent recession. We know that the industry itself estimates that it will only be in the year 2005 -- and remember that today, October 5, 1993, is many years away from 2005 -- that it will take until 2005 before construction activity will return to the level that was experienced in 1989.
We know that the province of Ontario is overbuilt, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto, when it comes to industrial and commercial space. Many people are finding that it is indeed a buyer's market when it comes to renting space. Prices have dropped dramatically. Housing starts are slow.
I can tell you that I was visiting someone in my constituency who was involved in the construction industry, and what I was told is that the only real activity going on in the construction industry right now are the kinds of infrastructure programs that are supported by government. We know as well that the notion of the federal Liberal Party of a joint federal-provincial-municipal infrastructure program would be a very important program for the construction industry and construction trades.
In the recession, the only kinds of activity that I believe government can do to really foster job creation, even though it is short-term, are the kinds of construction jobs that will not have an impact on the overall cost of government in the medium to long term. If you can fix a building or build a building that is going to serve the public, where the cost of operating that business is perhaps even less than it costs today, that would be efficient use of tax dollars that would stimulate the economy and create jobs appropriately.
But I caution that we must be very careful in doing that, because overall the debt load and the deficit problems that are experienced in government are hampering our efforts, and the costs of borrowing become such that it really doesn't make good sense unless you can make a business case for moving forward with that kind of economic stimulation.
I'm quite sensitive to the needs of the construction industry and sensitive to the needs of construction workers, and I am sensitive to the needs of the members of the unions who are employed in the construction sector. I'm sensitive to their needs, because what they need right now is work. The last thing they need right now are more rules and regulations.
I think this is a very bad time to bring in Bill 80, even with some of the amendments that the government has brought forward, and I'll go into those in a moment. I don't think the rank-and-file construction workers, the members of those unions, are really worried about changes in rules. What they're worried about now are changes in their paycheque, in their ability to pay their mortgage, in their ability to survive this recession. What they'd like to see from Bob Rae and from the government is a little bit of attention to those matters, as opposed to this kind of intrusion and tinkering which is causing such tension among the labour movement and which really pays very little attention to the public interest. I repeat, Bill 80 has nothing to do with the public interest; it is a special interest. Why this is a special interest of this government remains a mystery to me.
Bill 80, as I said, gives no help to the construction industry. It's the wrong priority for the government at this time. When everybody wants them to be concentrating on job creation and economic prosperity and hope, they bring us Bill 80, which says, "This is how the unions are going to be governed." It takes away many of the democratic rights of union members. It says that those members no longer will have the ability to determine among themselves how they want their unions to function and what relationship they want to have with the international organizations. I think the unrest this has created among the unions in the construction industry runs contrary to the needs of the province at this time. As I said, Bill 80 is all about governance of unions. Bill 80 has nothing to do with economic prosperity, jobs or economic recovery, and that's a pity.
My own view is that Bill 80 is an unwarranted intrusion into the legitimate operations of the unions in the province of Ontario. This legislation says that the government can dictate how the head offices of these unions should deal with their locals. That means that democratic decisions taken by the entire union can be overruled by the government. That's why, as I said, I find Bill 80 difficult to understand from the perspective of, why would you do this? Why would you want the government to be able to dictate to the unions how they should conduct their business? It just doesn't make sense.
Bill 80 means the Ontario Labour Relations Board will be able to tell the unions how they run their operations. Bill 80 allows the OLRB to decide such crucial questions as whether the international union, the parent, has, and I quote from the legislation, "just cause" to intervene with its Ontario local around what constitutes work jurisdiction for the union. You tell me how many union members understand that wording, which is right in the legislation. I don't think they do, but the union leadership does, and what the union leaders are telling me is that they have not come to an agreement on whether or not Bill 80 serves the needs of Ontario unions. Some tell me they think it's a good idea; most tell me they think it is a bad idea.
As a result of Bill 80, international unions will have less control over union members. However, this control will be displaced by the decisions which will be made by government bureaucrats who are unaccountable to the union membership. It seems to me that the very principles of our democracy bring together the concepts of responsibility and accountability: He who is responsible for the decision-making should be accountable directly to the people for whom he is making those decisions. What you find in Bill 80 is that the union membership elect their leadership and that leadership should be directly accountable to them, but in fact the government will now have the power to intervene. That is anti-democratic.
When I tell people that these are the sorts of things Bob Rae and the NDP are doing, do you know what they say? They say, "The NDP wouldn't do that." I met with the union leadership who are opposing Bill 80 and I said to them, "Why is the NDP doing this? I can't believe they're doing this. They call themselves the New Democratic Party. Why would they bring in legislation which is anti-democratic?" They look at me and they say, "We are disillusioned and we are frustrated and we don't understand it either."
Bill 80 threatens the system by which the construction unions divide work on the job. That may not be a big public interest issue, but it sure is an issue to the union membership of those unions in the construction industry. Let me tell you what happens currently. Currently, construction unions have agreements among themselves to resolve work site disputes about which union can do which jobs. Bill 80 overrides these agreements and forces government bureaucrats to decide which unions should do work on which job construction sites.
The only conclusion I can come to is that the ideology of the NDP -- the overriding philosophy which says government should be involved in all aspects of our lives, that government and its will should pervade everything we do, that government-run, public-sector-run, bureaucratic intrusion is not only okay to the NDP but is its preferred option for how society should function -- is what Bill 80 is all about.
What Bill 80 says is: "We, the government, do not trust the union leadership in the construction sector to work out these problems. We don't trust the rank-and-file members in these unions to be able to make good decisions on behalf of themselves. Because we have" -- they say, Bob Rae and the NDP -- "so little confidence in the individual, we are going to intrude and take the power unto the government to make the decisions, because we have no confidence that individuals can make good decisions."
I have to tell you, Madam Speaker, that frequently people say to me, "What's the difference between the New Democrats and the Liberals and the Tories?" This issue of having confidence in the democratic process, empowering the individual at the local level in a democratic process to have more control and more say over their lives, is liberalism. Liberals do not believe that you should intrude in legitimate, democratic decision-making. That is very much the principle of liberalism.
We believe in the supremacy of the individual and we have confidence -- I have confidence -- that if you give people the opportunity to make a good decision, give them the knowledge, the information that they need, they will make a decision that's right for them. It may not be the same as the decision that their neighbours next door will make, and that's their right. As a Liberal, I believe that the individual should have maximum freedom and maximum choice and maximum opportunity to participate fully in our society.
Bill 80 does exactly the opposite. Bill 80 intrudes. It takes away individual rights, it takes away democratic opportunity and it allows the government to override democratic decision-making. That's why I think Bill 80 will likely lead to increased unrest within the construction industry, and that's because what it will do is foster the kinds of unfortunate turf issues between locals which result in a lose-lose situation. When everybody knows that the government can step in, it will mean that disputes more likely will not be resolved locally. If there's somebody who's going to walk in anyway, why should you try to settle it yourself?
In Bill 80, the government has removed the successorship provision, and I think this is very positive. In fact, this is something which the Ontario Liberals have been arguing for, under the leadership of Steve Offer. I'm very proud to say that this is one provision that we, the Ontario Liberal caucus and Steve Offer, believe is considered quite a major and significant victory in getting this enshrined in the bill as an amendment from the government. However, I don't think it fixes the bill. It's not substantive enough to have everybody now agreeing that this piece of legislation is worthy and should continue.
The government's added a provision that the OLRB will take existing union constitutions into consideration when deciding upon jurisdiction disputes between locals and their international parent. My view is that while it means the OLRB will not be able to totally ignore union constitutions, it doesn't really go far enough, because it still will allow for this unprecedented intrusion. I just don't see that this solves the problem or in fact solves the concerns of those who are opposed to Bill 80.
The government has added other provisions around the issues of just cause and concerns when there is interference, but again, I don't know that these amendments go far enough to fix or placate those who are not satisfied with Bill 80. I would agree with them that these amendments don't go far enough.
The government has dropped the requirement that the wages of local union officials who are removed by the international parent continue to be paid during the OLRB deliberations. What I find quite interesting is that the government would feel that it would need to be that precise in its interference and its intrusion, but I'll say --
The Acting Speaker: I would like to point out to the member that it was agreed at the beginning of the discussion of this bill that we would not be speaking to the amendments; we would speak to the bill.
Mrs Caplan: I understand from my whip that that was the discussion yesterday. This will be the only opportunity I have to speak to the bill, so I'll make all of my comments today as opposed to participating through the clause-by-clause discussions. I know there are many members of our caucus interested in this legislation, and since these have been tabled, I thought I would take this opportunity to speak to them. I have a few minutes remaining and I will be wrapping up.
The Acting Speaker: I think it is very clear to all members of the House that the agreement was made yesterday that we would be speaking to the bill. The amendments have not yet been tabled, so they will be discussed at another time.
Mr Mahoney: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: I wonder if you could ask the clerk to save the last five minutes for the member, because I think there is some confusion on these amendments that should be clarified before we proceed. I don't want to use up the member's time in raising the point of order, so could we agree to stop the clock for the member for Oriole while I make the point? Is that agreed?
Mr Mahoney: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: It's my understanding, you're quite right, that yesterday the member for Bruce pointed out that we had only received the amendments with some 10 minutes' notice prior to the beginning of the debate. As the Labour critic, receiving it 10 minutes in advance made it virtually impossible for my staff or our research staff or me to have an opportunity to review the amendments and their impact.
So it was agreed that the minister, in his opening remarks yesterday, would not address the amendments that had not been given with sufficient notice and that I as the critic and Mrs Witmer as the critic for the third party, would also not address them, and that's how it went. We didn't speak to the amendments; we virtually ignored them yesterday.
Mr Mahoney: They give us amendments; we have a 24-hour period in which to analyse them; now we'd like to talk about them. Why shouldn't we? Do you want to muzzle us the way you muzzled the labour unions?
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): On the same point of order, Madam Speaker: I do want to point out the validity of the fact that we were only given these amendments as we were starting the debate. The government cannot expect to give us amendments and that we should be able to respond to them immediately without at least exercising some degree of --
Mrs Caplan: Second reading debate is debate in principle on a piece of legislation. It's my view, from my experience in government, that the government should be willing at any point, once its amendments have been received by members of the opposition, to not want to stifle debate and discussion. What I was doing during my remarks was in fact discussing some of those amendments. Since you've ruled that this is not the time, I would suggest that second reading debate is an appropriate time. However, I will abide by your ruling and conclude my remarks.
At this time, on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Oriole, I'd like to say that I will not be supporting this in principle, primarily because I don't think this should be a priority for the government at this time. I believe economic recovery, which will allow jobs to be created, should be the priority of the government. I believe this is a piece of legislation that is causing unnecessary tension and anxiety within the labour movement, in the construction industry and construction sector. The last thing union members and those who are working and those who want to work in this province need is additional tension and additional stress in their lives.
I believe there has yet to be an explanation of why we even need Bill 80. Until that is forthcoming, I can't support this bill in principle. My constituents in the riding of Oriole deserve better than Bill 80 at this time.
Mr Turnbull: For York Mills, Madam Speaker. I would agree with the last speaker that the government has not demonstrated the need for this legislation. I just go back in my memory to early last summer, a little over a year ago, when some members of the trade union movement came to my office in York Mills to point out to me that they felt Bill 80 was ill-advised and would be very divisive for the union movement.
It seems curious that a government that has traditionally claimed to be the champion of the union movement would bring in a bill such as this without any demonstrated request from the union movements to bring forward this legislation. We cannot help being a little bit suspicious that this is payoff time for some prominent members of the union movement who may have their own very definite political agenda. Indeed, this seems to be a move towards attacking any international union.
There is potentially some danger to unions if they take a very narrow view of the world and become purely Canadian unions. We can see that with the auto industry, that the auto unions in the US now are not interested in what happens to Canadian auto workers. Let us hope that Canadian auto workers still continue to have the advantage over the US auto workers so they can continue to have a high level of employment in that industry relative to the US.
Mr Mahoney: I want to congratulate the member for Oriole because, as she and I and others have discussed, this bill does take some time and effort to wrap your head around in terms of the different nuances and what appear to be games that are being played by the government and to try to understand what all of the problems are. I know the member for Oriole has met with a number of the people in the union leadership in the construction industry, as have I, over the past several months to try to get a handle on exactly what the government's doing.
I think what we've seen here, with the ruling the Speaker was forced to uphold about speaking to the amendments, is an example of the way this government has dealt with the union leadership. As the member for Kitchener-Wilmot said yesterday: "There's no point listening to the ones who are against it. We listen to the ones who are in favour of it."
Now what you're saying is that the minister tables amendments with the critics of the opposition parties 10 minutes before the debate is supposed to take place and when the member for Oriole attempts today, after having had an opportunity to review these amendments, to speak to them, we're told we can't speak to amendments that were tabled with us yesterday. This attempt to muzzle us is incredible. It's obviously what you did with the labour leadership who came to you and said, "We're unhappy with the bill."
I tabled in this House yesterday dozens and dozens of letters from union representatives who don't want Bill 80 to pass and, at the very least, want you to consult with them and set up a committee and discuss the problems, tell them what's wrong. You won't do that. You hand us amendments and then you tell us we can't talk about them. You guys have gone mad. What kind of government are you trying to run? This is a democracy, and in this place we should be able to talk about anything we want.
Ms Sharon Murdock (Sudbury): I thank all of the members for the participation in the debate, but in hearing the member for Oriole talk about wanting to speak about the amendment, I would remind her that the member for Bruce stood up yesterday and made a very pointed remark while another Speaker was in the chair, advising everyone that as long as the minister was not allowed to speak to the amendments that he presented to the opposition critics yesterday afternoon, no one would be speaking to those amendments.
I remember distinctly, as far as I'm concerned and in my understanding of the House, as I'm sure more experienced members who have been here longer know, that second reading debate is a continuous thing, that it does not end on one day and start on another and so on as separate days but is a continuous second reading debate.
I just want the members opposite to understand that that is exactly what happened yesterday; it applies to all of us. I would have liked to have spoken to those very amendments, but I felt I was bound by yesterday's ruling from the chair and therefore could not, and I have prepared comments on that basis.
Mr Cooper: I'd like to thank the member for Oriole for participating in the debate. As to justification for this bill, we have here letters and petitions, as has been pointed out by previous speakers, advocating that Bill 80 be brought in.
In terms of the proposed amendments that were given to the opposition members, these are only proposed amendments that have been brought about because of the consultation that has gone on since the introduction of Bill 80. They haven't been to legal counsel yet to be properly drafted. It was intended to give the opposition advance notice of some of the changes we might be making, to facilitate second reading. They will be tabled, once they go through legislative counsel, at the proper time, which would be when it reaches committee. All we were trying to do was help the opposition out by knowing what we were proposing to do through the consultation that did take place with the people who wanted changes.
As for the comment I made yesterday about not consulting with the people who were opposed to Bill 80, what I was saying was that there's not much sense in sitting down and talking to the people who were adamantly opposed to Bill 80 and didn't want any changes to it, just wanted it withdrawn. People who were willing to work with the minister and with his staff, who were broadly consulted, actually did come in, and that's why we had these proposed amendments. We realized they were necessary changes.
Mrs Caplan: It might be helpful for the rest of this debate in second reading, when we are debating not only the principles of the bill but hopefully will be able to debate the proposed changes that the government is indicating, although informally through proposed amendments, if I could move that there be unanimous consent of the members of the House to permit full debate and discussion during second reading from this point forward, that would allow for discussion of the amendments as well. Could I make that a motion, Mr Speaker?
Mrs Caplan: I would point out that all of the opposition members present in the House have voted in support of free and open debate on an issue which is very complex, and that members of the official opposition deplore the action of the government caucus members who denied unanimous consent to allow for full and democratic debate.
Now you see what the problem is with Bill 80 as well as with the approach of this government. They want to stifle freedom of speech and debate even in this chamber and in this Legislature. I will not be supporting Bill 80. I must say, I don't believe it's in the interests of my constituents, but I deplore the fact that members of this government would attempt to stifle debate on an issue of this complexity.
Ms Murdock: Bill 80 has been a long and arduous process. I know I have listened to many people both in my riding and in my legislative office on the subject, and we have been discussing it for more than a year in the ministry itself. I have had some difficulty with this bill and make no bones about that, because it does hit upon the essence of how people work together.
But having said that, I have come around to look at many of the things that people have presented to us, and I do see that there are changes. I'm looking forward to committee work after the debate on second reading is done, because I'm sure we're going to hear from many presenters who will give us their suggestions about how this bill can be improved upon and made even better.
Sections under the Ontario Labour Relations Act cover the construction industry separately from any other workplace in the province of Ontario because it is so different. I heard some of the speakers yesterday refer to the fact that this will open the doors to some of the other international unions. For instance, the steelworkers were used an example, near and dear to my heart, because of course Sudbury is the bed of steelworkers -- of my steelworkers, anyway.
But the reality is that in the construction industry, their workplace is not stable, in the sense that there is no physical plant. Unlike the steelworkers, unlike some of the other international unions, they don't have a physical building in which they work. Today, they might be working at 400 University, but next month they could be working up on Eglinton somewhere. In reality, their workplace is so, so different that it requires a completely different section under the OLRA. These amendments under Bill 80 will amend that section.
When it was first introduced on June 25, 1992, the bill as it presently sits and as I will discuss it has since then, so for the past 15 months -- we have met with numerous groups, individuals, organizations, both pro and con, on the bill. We have worked very hard in terms of talking over some of the concerns they have for some of these bills. Even today, we've had continuing conversations with both those who are in favour of Bill 80 and those who are opposed. It has been stated by the opposition critics that there are both factors in this bill, and it's very true. That's why I think the committee hearings are going to be so very important in any amendments that occur.
There are two areas of concern under this bill -- in our consultations that has become very obvious: sections 138.3 and 138.5. Section 138.5 allows disaffiliation from an international union, and section 138.3 allows an international union to advise its local that it is going to going to change its geographic jurisdiction. In northern Ontario that's of really vast interest to them because our jurisdictions are extremely important in terms of where different locals can work, so those two sections in particular are of great interest. We've been told all different kinds of things about the amendments they would like to see, including completely eliminating the whole section or changing it so that it is more workable.
In our talks with the different groups, I think we have learned a lot of things about the construction industry. I must admit that before I became parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour I had little or no knowledge, and probably still have minimal knowledge, about what the construction industry is really like and how it all works. We tend to think of construction as those workers we see on the scaffolds or whatever. We don't realize it covers a broad range of jobs, from boilermakers to sheet metal workers to bricklayers to the carpenters' union and the international labourers. It covers a broad spectrum, and when we look at how that is operating, I think the Canadian members need recognition.
From that aspect -- and this is really important -- my feeling about this bill is that those unions that have a positive working relationship with their internationals will in all likelihood never have to implement any of the sections of this bill. In those local unions, on the other hand, that do not have a good working relationship or that have not been recognized by their international as playing an important role on the American scene, the Canadian membership will be able to have more say about their different kinds of plans and so on.
Many of the international locals have already recognized that fact and have been moving towards that. There are a number of the internationals that have allocated time on their convention floor for the Canadian side and then have inclusion in terms of decisions that are being made on pension plans and so on. For those locals that already have that positive working relationship, you're not going to have the same kind of problems. As I said, they will probably never use the sections once the bill passes, whatever form it ends up in.
For those unfortunate locals that do not have that relationship, this at least provides an opportunity or an avenue for them to see if they can possibly have things changed or even use it as a lever -- as we know, oftentimes legislation and law is used that way -- to have them included in the decisions which are going to be affecting them.
In some of the discussions I've had with a number of the representatives who have come before me in my office, there was some concern about whether this involved interunion problems or disputes, such as the boilermakers and, say, the bricklayers or the ironworkers and so on; that it would be interunion rather than parent to local. I would point out that when the act is read, it's pretty evident both in language and in intent that it does not include that, that it means simply the parent international and the local union and that it's intended for the same organization.
Bill 80 amendments, as I've stated, should make little or no difference to those who are already represented within their international. Following this second reading debate, we'll move into one of the committees -- I presume the standing committee on resources development, although I haven't been advised by the House leader at this time; given that most labour legislation ends up there, I would think that's where it's going to go -- and when our committee gets into looking at the different sections, I'm expecting to hear many kinds of suggestions as to what we should do under the two sections that are of particular concern.
I know there is still ongoing discussion as to the definition of "intervention" in terms of the working nature of a local. Does that mean that if a business manager isn't doing the work he should do, the international no longer has the right to go in and tell him he can't do that any more? Those are the kinds of questions that I'm hoping will be discussed in great detail at the committee.
Mr Mahoney: On a point of order, Mr Speaker -- don't look so impatient, Mr Speaker. There's not a quorum present. I think we should hear the parliamentary assistant's debate and the government members should be in here to listen to it.
Ms Murdock: Just in regard to section 138.3, and that's where the jurisdiction is occurring, I know that this for some is a complicated matter because, as I said, the construction industry being so very different than any other industry in the trades, it is very complex in its nature. But just looking at the existing bill in terms of subsection 138.3(1) where, "A parent trade union shall not alter the jurisdiction of a local trade union, whether established under a constitution or otherwise, as the jurisdiction existed on the 1st day of May, 1992 unless the local trade union consents to the alteration," I know that a lot of people here and among my own caucus members have talked about the whole idea of that just making common sense. Why would you even have to put that in, because logic says that it should prevail. But there have been examples within the province of Ontario historically that this is not the case, as I said, in those locals and internationals that don't have a good working relationship. So there are reasons for it being there.
I've listened to the opposition tell me and tell us that there's no rationale for putting this forward. But I've been told, although I wasn't a member of this House, that the previous Premier, David Peterson, brought a private member's bill on this very subject matter to the House. I would say that obviously it's been a long-standing issue. Instead of having it done and discussed in backroom situations or behind closed doors or, as has been intimated by the member for York Mills, that there's some agenda going on, I would think that it would be much more logical to have it, as I said, after second reading go before committee and discuss it openly on the record and have the pros and cons and the reasons stated clearly and unequivocally.
I think that subsection 138.3(2) is probably a very reasonable one. "Two or more local trade unions of the same parent trade union may agree to having the parent trade union resolve a difference concerning their jurisdiction and, if they do, subsection (1) does not apply to the extent necessary to resolve the difference." Again, a lot of times it's just putting in words something that people would think would be common sense.
Subsection 138.3(3) is: "An interested local trade union or employer may apply to the board to resolve a difference concerning the jurisdiction of two or more local trade unions of the same parent trade union. Section 93, excluding subsections 93(4) to (7), applies with respect to the application." Again, as I said, I think we could probably spend days discussing that section alone, and I'm looking forward to going into committee on this.
The section 138.5 disaffiliation provision is going to be one that will no doubt cause much consternation. I know that when this was introduced on June 25, 1992, it certainly raised the hackles of many, many people who came and made presentations to me at the office and made telephone calls on the subject, that being, "The parent trade union or a council of trade unions shall not, without just cause, assume supervision or control of or otherwise interfere with a local trade union directly or indirectly in such a way that the autonomy of the local trade union is affected." I think the operative word in that whole section is "autonomy."
There have been concerns stated by those people who favour Bill 80 that they do not believe or feel they have as much say in their own day-to-day operations as they would like to have. I think that's one of the reasons why the minister has been so strong in bringing this bill forward. He wants the workers to feel that they have some say in how their place is going to be operated.
In closing, and I'm not going to use my full 30 minutes, I just want to say that I think it is really important in these committee hearings that those people who want to make representations before the committee should notify the clerk or write letters and make sure that the committee gets their side in regard to the specifics of it.
I will not speak to the amendments, as the Deputy Speaker yesterday mentioned. As I've already stated, I would rather have liked to, because I think that really does change the two sections that I have mentioned specifically. So I'm looking forward to hearing those presentations in committee and I thank everyone for listening.
Mr Mahoney: I think the parliamentary assistant has at least tried to justify or explain to us that there were in her constituency some people supporting this. Rumour has it -- I don't know how true -- that the member was strongly opposed to the bill until certain amendments took place, but of course now she's sticking to her procedural guns in refusing to allow us to discuss any of those amendments.
It seems rather incongruous that we would debate a part of the bill that has to do with mobility of people in the construction union when in fact the minister has sent over some amendments which we've now had an opportunity to analyse and read at least and form some opinions on, and one of those amendments that we're not supposed to talk about deals with the mobility section right in the bill.
So even though we can't talk about the fact that we hear a rumour, or see a rumour, I guess -- you could only call it a rumour on paper, since we can't talk about it -- that the minister is going to make some amendments, we then went and analysed these non-amendments that we're not allowed to talk about and came to the conclusion that there are perhaps some back doors occurring and that in fact mobility may continue to be a problem. I wonder how the parliamentary assistant would react if indeed she found out that this mobility section, even with this non-amendment that we can't talk about being put forward -- if in fact mobility was restricted through some other part of the legislation that exists. I don't know if she would have concerns about that. I sure do, and I can tell you the leadership and the labour movement sure do, and maybe she could comment on whether or not she's satisfied with these non-amendments without talking about them.
Mr Elston: I have to say that there's much ado being made about the problem of speaking to amendments that don't yet really exist. I am the person who stood on a point of order when the Minister of Labour stood to open debate on second reading, and I understand, from the way this place works, that amendments don't officially exist until they're tabled at a stage of deliberation when they can be received. That is the essence of the problem: They cannot yet be received by the Legislative Assembly. But what has taken place to this point is that much ado has been made by the Minister of Labour about having heard people and having made changes that are going to make a world of difference to the bill we are discussing.
Our dilemma is that we are then asked to go through a second reading which is largely a displacement of time, because the Minister of Labour says, "These things no longer exist as problems because I've consulted, I've heard, I've deliberated and I've addressed the problems the way I think is best." He can do that. He can meet and he can talk to people and he can make decisions. That's up to him. But one of the things that is perplexing to us as legislators is the fact that just as he rises these materials are dropped on our desks and we have no chance or prospect of preparing to deal with the issues as they currently exist in the Legislative Assembly.
That is problematic, because here we are dealing with a minister who no longer believes in the manner in which he introduced the legislation as being a reasonable contribution to problem-solving. We're asked to pass on second reading, on a matter of principle, the bill so that then we can go in and change some of the principles upon which it was based originally. That's our difficulty and it tells me a great deal about how the New Democrats are actually working in this province.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. The member's time has expired. Further questions or comments? Seeing none, the honourable member for Sudbury and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour has two minutes in response.
Ms Murdock: In regard to the mobility issue, I would say that yes, I did question my ministry staff in regard to that. Having read the language, I didn't see the same concern. I guess maybe that's speaking as a lawyer, and I don't know whether that's good or not, but you're a lawyer too.
The other thing is that what my staff is relaying to me, and I have good reason to believe them, is that there is no expectation of a problem, unless the jurisdiction, such as the Quebec situation, which Ontario is in the meantime going to hold at bay for a while, already prevents mobility.
In regard to the whole question of these amendments that are not accepted until we get into the clause-by-clause stage, I would say it certainly teaches us a good lesson because, frankly, here we are -- and I'm sure Minister Mackenzie was thinking he was being extremely helpful in providing to both critics the ideas that we have been consulting with for over 15 months of discussion, and they've been changed numerous times. He thought he was being helpful by providing them to both critics and instead we have ended up with this harangue over this whole incident, which basically does teach one a lesson: Instead of trying to be helpful, you just will not provide it the next time and then you won't have to get into mountains over molehills.
Mr Elston: It's an interesting discussion. I think that largely we should move on from this. It really revolves around a difficulty with our legislative process in the fact that if you first introduce a piece of legislation, then you're not allowed technically to talk about amendments that are not able to be received by the House. That's our problem. The only issue we were trying to get at yesterday was that if we cannot prepare ourselves to speak about them, then no one should be able to elaborate on them in trying to defend the passage of the bill on second reading.
I'm sure that for a lot of people out there -- I hesitate to use "television land" -- it seems like an awful lot of discussion about nothing, but in actual fact it is a real inhibition as to discovering the exact state of affairs, as they now exist, in the Minister of Labour's shop among himself, his advisers and his parliamentary assistants with respect to the progress made or seen to be made on this bill.
Here we have second reading of a bill that was introduced in June 1992. No question that it has taken some time to get this far. No question that it probably took a little bit of time to get into the form in which it was introduced.
Having come this far, here we are left to debate a bill as it was in June 1992 when other things have taken place, and that's a problem for us. That is a problem for us because we as legislators are not allowed officially to be cognizant of the fact that other things are going to be changed.
Having said that, I look at this piece of legislation from a different point of view, I guess, than some. I have in my riding both people who are supporters and people who are opponents of this particular legislation. There are individuals who have been in my office, people whom I know very well, who are long-working and hardworking members of some locals in my area, who support this. I have had visits from people from around the province who support it. I have had people with whom I have met and with whom I have shared a long-time understanding on several items of social --
Mr Elston: The Minister of Natural Resources says that he doesn't think I can have understandings with people who are in the labour movement. I'll tell you, you know something I understand with people who are in the labour movement? I understand the need to be fair to the people at Ontario Hydro. I understand that the people who are at CUPE 1000 need to be dealt with fairly instead of just being thrown out, which of course is the way that the New Democrats are looking on that exercise and happily looking at the number of men and women who are being displaced. I believe that there are people who should be rewarded for long-term work and contribution to the province of Ontario's economic viability.
Mr Elston: It seems to me that the New Democrats have this blinker on that says, "If you aren't a New Democrat, you can't share anything in common with the women and men who are members of the trade union movement in this province." I'll tell you that you people had better wake up and understand that there are other people who have a really strong sense of attachment and affiliation for the men and women who do work in this province.
There aren't as many men and women who work in this province, thanks very much to people like Bob Rae and the Treasurer. He doesn't want to be called Treasurer any more. My goodness, the Treasurer is now the Minister of Finance. The province of Ontario has a Minister of Finance so it can put more men and women out of work and be happily entitled to do it under some other name.
Mr Elston: But anyway, let's just put it quite clearly on the plate: To anybody over in the New Democratic Party who doesn't think the Liberal Party of Ontario has strong affiliations with people, men and women, in the trade union movement, put that aside, because you are in for a very rude awakening indeed.
Mr Elston: Mr Speaker, the poor member for Sudbury East has been quiet for so long. She's been prattling on all afternoon and I hope that she isn't going to be so silent for the rest of the session. She hardly speaks in here any more.
Mr Elston: -- the member for Sudbury East is having a huge amount to say, but she won't stand up on her feet and talk about any of this stuff, except by way of interjection. She's free to speak; she can speak after I'm finished.
Mr Elston: I'm speaking about Bill 80 and I was talking about the people in my riding who'd come to see me and the members of the trade union movement with whom I have a long-standing association and you people have been saying I have nothing to do with them.
Mr Elston: Mr Speaker, I don't understand how it's going to help to address the Chair when I had been addressing the concerns to you initially and they started saying out loud that I had no business speaking about members of the trade union movement because there aren't any of them who have any affiliation with me and that they couldn't image them ever wanting to be associated with me. That particularly is a misrepresentation that must be corrected, and that was all I was doing, replying to those people over there who don't know the true state of affairs.
As I was saying when I was interrupted by the Minister of Natural Resources, we've spent a great deal of time listening to the concerns that have been brought forward by those people who are opposed to this bill, and there is a whole series of issues about which this bill does nothing. When I sit back and look at it and when I think about what is happening with this particular piece of legislation, it is very obvious that what the government of Ontario has decided to do is to put itself smack dab in the middle of the affairs of the union movement in the construction industry in this province.
They have not left themselves on the sidelines to be arbiters, to be mediators of the problems that exist as among the members of the union movement, but they have decided that they will jump full square, with both feet, into the middle of issues which they believe only they should have the right to resolve, and that's a problem for me.
Mr Elston: One honourable member suggests the NDP don't want to solve all the problems, that they want to leave some for us. That's fine, but I can tell you, by interjecting themselves through Bill 80 full square into internal union problems, they are creating new problems.
There isn't any question in my mind that the decision taken by this Minister of Labour to do these types of things is exactly the type of action which, had it been done by either a Tory or a Grit government, would have attracted a huge outcry, almost a revolt, among the members of the New Democratic Party, because they would have said that it is unjust, it is unfair, that you should leave the union movement to deal with its own issues.
To be quite honest, I would have agreed with that. From time to time, I can agree with some of the positions of principle taken by the New Democrats -- not often, but sometimes. One of them is in relation to the democracy around the trade union movements. I believe that people should be able to decide a good number of the things they do on their own. That they have a structure that is there now is quite clear, but the Minister of Labour for some reason has decided to push his way on to the floor and say, "It will be my way or the doorway." In fact, for some purposes, the doorway has been made very large indeed for those people who are opposed to the legislation as it now sits.
This bill in some ways reminds me exactly of what occurred here last week, when we had a disciplining of the member for Wentworth East, when he was taken from a committee because he didn't do certain things that the New Democrats thought he should. The motion was made. The legislative forum was used to penalize that particular person.
In this circumstance, I think it might bear up under scrutiny to say that the New Democratic Party, through the Minister of Labour, has decided to discipline the construction unions, using Bill 80, for things they have not done; that in fact what they are doing with this piece of legislation is again exercising the principle of brute force about which I spoke here last week. Bill 80 puts the government right inside the union movement in the construction trades. There isn't any question in my mind that that has occurred.
If we take a look at the things that the construction unions don't normally do, it might tell you a great deal about why the Minister of Labour has taken it unto himself to do these things to the construction trade union movement. What are those things? Well, maybe they don't always support the New Democratic Party, which I think would probably bear up under a fair bit of scrutiny. Maybe they don't send money regularly to the New Democratic Party, which I think probably will bear up under some scrutiny. Maybe the fact that some of those things are on the table and are well known will tell you why the Minister of Labour, against very good advice, very strong advice from union leaders not only in Ontario but across Canada not to proceed with this, has decided to do it anyway.
There is a whole group of people who have counselled against this. The brute force argument is an interesting one for me, because there is one thing that the New Democrats have proven to me in their very short tenure here: that they don't lack nerve when it comes to showing that they have power and that they are prepared to use that raw power to beat down and beat up on any organization that resists them or doesn't do exactly as it is told. Examples are numerous, and I think Bill 80 is just one of those times when a very blunt legislative instrument is being used to show how much brute force the New Democrats are willing to use.
That is probably one of the best reasons I know of to get this government out of here. There is no place, in my view, in democratic Ontario to have a Minister of Labour and a government counselling the use of this type of legislative agenda to undermine the trade union movement leadership, to force its way on to the trade union membership in this province. I just don't countenance that type of use of legislative power; nor do I like the use of the legislative forum to give it some sense of legitimacy, because I believe it does not have it if the women and men who are members of the trade union movement, about which we are speaking here today, have not decided on their own that certain steps should be taken.
I don't know when it was or how it was that the New Democrats actually came to decide that they should be taking away the rights of the individual members of the construction trade unions. I don't know when it was or how it was that they decided that all of the things that used to be the subject matter of their speeches about democracy in the trade union movement, about the need to hold up the rights of men and women in this province, escaped their memories.
I don't really care now when that first occurred. All I care about is that this piece of legislation does speak to those things. Oh, it's cleverly disguised, because it does talk in terms of moving the international into a repatriated trade union movement, and it is always difficult, as a legislator, to resist the compelling arguments being made by those people who use the flag of our province and our country as a shelter.
But it is being proposed that these steps are being made against the advice of a huge number of women and men in the trade union movement who are to be affected -- against their interests, some have told me. It's not unanimous, because there are people who wish to proceed with this, but there is a huge number who are opposed to this type of infiltration of government into the labour movement.
I don't understand that. I don't countenance that type of activity. I understand that there will be people who will write me letters and say: "How dare you resist the movement of the trade union into a national circumstance, a repatriation of our right to manage pension plans, a repatriation of our right to manage those disability plans that are held now in construction industries? How can you speak against membership on those boards to manage for the interests not only of the members but of their dependants who are left, to call upon disability coverage and pension plans?"
For me, I can't argue against those principles if they've been voted on by the membership at large, if they've been sustained and countenanced by those people. But for some reason the member for Hamilton East has decided that it's going to be his way or no way.
He has talked to people. I was talking, as the member for Mississauga West was, over the last several months with a series of individuals who are involved in the trade-labour movement who have in fact been talking with Mr Mackenzie. But it is fair to say that as they went in to make contact with the minister and whoever else was around him, they were apprehensive about the prospects of success and that in fact from time to time when it appeared there was movement, something else would happen that would allow slippage to occur as the arguments were made.
It may very well be that amendments will be brought forward here in due course that will sustain the argument that changes have been made and, as we look at the layout for prospective amendments which has been provided to us, it appears that there will be some real movement in at least one area.
But cleverly, just as this whole bill has been designed cleverly, there will be loopholes or there will be back doors, as another of our members has called it, that will allow the same thing to occur, as though for some reason the people who are drafting these ideas somehow believe we're not smart enough to take a look at the whole legislative scheme. Somehow or other, we will be moved to vote in favour of legislation because of these changes, because we believe it's all been fixed, when in fact now we've been trained during the course of this Parliament to look for the tricks, to look for the hidden meanings, to look for the hidden sections, to look for the subtle but oh-so-usable words in the legislation that allow the government to do exactly as the very first announcement said it was going to do.
That's a problem in this legislation. It exists in its June 1992 form in front of us now, but it exists in the minds of the Ministry of Labour, in the minister's mind and in the minister's parliamentary assistant's mind in a different form. It exists in the minds of those people for and against in a different form than it is now in front of us because certain undertakings have been given, certain suggestions have been made, commitments have been delivered, prior to the bill coming in for second reading. Those people expect those changes to be made, but nobody's seen them.
We have seen time and again that the commitments, when it comes down to actually fixing the problems, oft-times do come up very short indeed of the mark which was first set out. I suggest that in Bill 80's situation, that is the case. Why would we be told that these problems will be fixed? It is because for months now, since this was introduced in June 1992 -- actually, probably the fall of 1992 -- we have been hearing about this legislation and because of the mixed review we received in our constituency offices and in our offices here in Queen's Park from people coming to make representations both first to the member for Mississauga North and then to the member for Mississauga West, we have been suggesting to the government House leader that very serious problems were in the offing if this bill were proceeded with in its current form. We were told by the member for Hamilton Mountain, who is the government House leader, not to worry, discussions are under way, there are concerns being addressed even as we meet, and that occurred all last fall and well into the spring sitting.
We suggested, as we were having problems getting out of here in the summer, that if we could see the amendments we were being told were on the way, we would be able to probably proceed much more quickly with Bill 80, but that we had to remind the Minister of Labour through the government House leader that if there was no movement being taken with respect to 80, if there was no consensus being developed among the people who were interested, considerably more time for debate would be the order of the day. It was accepted as a reasonable piece of advice from the member for Hamilton Mountain for him to take back to the Minister of Labour.
We were thanked for that and I don't think it was any new revelation because, in actual fact, I don't believe there was anybody on the New Democratic Party side of the House who has not heard about the controversy around Bill 80. In fact, I know several of the members who have been involved in the union movement have been approached both by the pro and con but probably even more diligently by those people who are against some of the changes being made. They are well aware of the controversy that surrounds the changes to be made.
It's not just the sections. As I said earlier, it is the whole idea that the government of the day can inject itself into the middle of problems that are in the trade union movement and say, "This is it." As a principle, that is problematic for me, because no longer are the men and women deciding; it is being decided by a bureaucrat someplace or an adviser to a minister. I don't care whether it's a Liberal or a Conservative or a New Democrat; I don't think that's the healthiest place for these things to be decided.
In any event, we provided the advice, and I think the member for Hamilton Mountain knew exactly that the controversy existed. So it came to a stage when he said, "Listen, this is not going to go; the meetings are still taking place," and as August wore on and the members wore out here in 1993, the issue was put aside.
At one point, we thought perhaps it would be some time before Bill 80 came back, and it was somewhat of a surprise to me, because we were unable to have a House leaders' meeting prior to the commencement of this session on September 27, that we would be moving forward with Bill 80 as quickly as it ultimately has come. My advice from the people who had been speaking to the minister and who had been working on ways of relieving the pressure points was that progress had been painfully slow but that there appeared to be at least some progress from time to time.
It wasn't until last week of course that we were told that on Monday and then today and again on Thursday of this week, we would be dealing with Bill 80, as though at least in some form it would become acceptable to the opposition, that we should feel secure in the knowledge that the consultation had delivered some changes which would relieve our concerns.
That's where we come to the issue of the amendments not being made available. We've talked about that enough. Needless to say, it appears that the same concerns are at the very root of this bill. There may have been a suggestion that there will be amendments that will clear up one particular section, but the other sections, which leave us open to other abuses, are apparently still to be left untouched.
It would be helpful, Mr Speaker, as we move further in this debate, if the Minister of Labour could be sure that he can provide us with the actual worded amendments. It would assist us in our deliberations in front of committee, because, as you know, after the passage of second reading -- I'm only guessing, but my counting lately has indicated that the New Democratic Party still has enough people to carry the day here no matter what the opposition says -- the next stage will be the committee hearings. I suspect there will be public hearings. I suspect that if the issues are certain ones, if they are as they exist here, more people will want to attend than otherwise.
If we know for sure that the amendments will be tabled, then some deliberation on the public issues will not have to be made. We won't have to deal with a certain section about disaffiliation, perhaps. If some other changes are made, we won't have to be concerned about some of the back doors that allow that to occur and we can dispense with the time required.
Mr Speaker, you can see that providing us with those amendments makes it somewhat more than just a courtesy, because it really does allow us to order our business in a way which allows us to be most effectively pointed to the issues that are left outstanding in the legislation. Lest there be any problem about what I'm saying, just know that there are still problems in this bill as it stands for the trade-labour movement. There are still many problems, even with the suggestions that are being made about amendments.
I see that it is almost 6 o'clock. I have but a few minutes left, but I would wish to carry on on Thursday when we come back. If we could have some more delineation of this material before Thursday, perhaps we could be assisted even further in our deliberations.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Noble Villeneuve): The member for York Mills has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given recently by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The member for York Mills will now have up to five minutes to debate the matter at hand, and the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the honourable member for Durham Centre, will then have five minutes in response.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Thank you, Mr Speaker. The reason I filed my dissatisfaction yesterday was because we got a totally partisan answer rather than an answer to a very real problem that some of my constituents are having, and I would like to set the scene a little more fully than I was allowed to do in a question yesterday.
Back at the end of 1992, the tenants at 1002 Lawrence Avenue East started to have difficulties with their landlord. The landlord was a new landlord who had just acquired an old apartment building, and he had devised a scheme which somewhat skirted the laws which prohibit co-op conversions. What he was doing was selling shares in the building which, very coincidentally, were approximately equal to the proportionate share of an apartment in that building.
The owner of the building tried to induce the tenants at first to buy those units, which was fair enough -- well, not to buy the units but to buy shares, and they just happened to be living in the building. To the extent that they didn't want to buy them, he then started using coercive methods to get the tenants out.
You may recall that in January or February of this year there were news headlines that George Chuvalo and some other ex-boxer friend of his were in fact in this building, apparently as superintendents of the building, and were using very brutal tactics in terms of verbally intimidating the tenants. The objective was quite clearly to get the tenants to move out so that those people who wanted to move in and buy a share in the building were able to get occupancy.
By this method he was able to separate the legal requirement that you couldn't give any commitment to occupancy of a unit along with a share in the building, but just coincidentally they happened to have vacant space that the people would move into and the landlord would then renovate just that unit of the building.
These intimidations proceeded, after the time that Chuvalo was dismissed from the property, with such things as electricity going off, lights being out in the hallway, garbage not being removed, the building to be generally in disrepair and to be dirty, and I had many exchanges with the Minister of Housing, both on the floor and in committee, regarding these problems.
As late as last month, Consumers' Gas posted a notice on the building that it intended to cut off service if the gas bill was not paid. The tenants took a calculated risk: They put their rent together before paying it to the landlord and took off that amount and paid Consumers' Gas to ensure continued service of gas.
The solution that I felt was most appropriate to this problem was to enact a bill similar to the London bill which was passed this year, Pr13, which allowed the city of London to pass a vital services bylaw. It seems unreasonable that municipalities have to apply to the Legislature each time such legislation is needed. In fact, I asked the minister whether he would support such a bill -- preferably, take over my private member's bill -- which would allow any municipality to do this. If he would take it over, we could expeditiously move this through the House so that the municipality could arrange to have the furnace fixed and the tenants could get heat.
The tenants are enduring temperatures of 60 degrees, 61 degrees, and they cannot find their landlord. I asked the minister whether he would respond to this. He didn't respond in writing and he gave me a totally politicized answer. I'm asking today, will he not support this bill, take it over, or at least support my private member's bill so that the tenants can be protected?
Mr Drummond White (Durham Centre): I want to thank the member for York Mills. He has done an excellent job representing some of the tenants in his riding. It's a deplorable situation that my friend's tenants and constituents face. Tenants are suffering from a deprivation of basic and vital services, as his bill suggests. Frankly, this is a deplorable situation, and he needs the cooperation of all present, certainly in the ministries and in his local municipality, to address this very pressing issue.
Frankly, I'm glad to see that my friend has realized that his tenants have rights as well as the landlords. I recall the discussion he put forth in regard to Bill 4 and Bill 121, the Rent Control Act. I'm glad to see that he's joining my colleagues from Yorkview and Downsview, Mr George Mammoliti and Mr Perruzza, in fighting for the rights of tenants in his constituency and his city. He probably knows that the city of North York already has many of the powers it would need to address those issues. Through the Municipal Act, they have the power to set minimum heat bylaws, for example, and the Planning Act allows them to replace a furnace and charge the owner and allows them to make important structural changes.
My friend brings forth the bills for the city of Ottawa, brought forth by the Liberal member Mr Chiarelli, or Bill Pr13, An Act respecting the City of London, which was brought forth by one of my colleagues, the member for Middlesex, Ms Mathyssen. Of course, there's also a bill from the city of Toronto. Those bills are private members' bills, such as my friend is wanting to introduce. They are permissive bits of legislation. They would allow a city to assume; they would say, as my friend's bill says, that the city "may" introduce bylaws in terms of vital services.
That's important. It's absolutely essential to make that distinction. What my friend is doing is trying to enable his city to look after the needs of its tenants, its residents, and I think that is essential. I would urge him, along with my colleagues from Yorkview and Downsview, to take up this cause, to approach, as he is a senior and respected member of his community, his city councillors to ask them to request this kind of legislation or to assume the powers it would offer. These are essential points.
I'm sure that along with my colleagues he could get that legislation passed that he's looking for, either of a general application or specific to the city of North York. But as it presently stands, George Dixon, the city solicitor for the city of North York, has on behalf of that city indicated that the city is not interested in applying for private legislation and, if it did have such private legislation, wouldn't be interested in passing the bylaws. They wouldn't be interested in taking up the causes of the tenants in the city of North York.
For those reasons, it is essential that my friend not only use the venues that he has, and he has wisely done so, to copy some of the legislation which already exists for other communities; not only should he be doing that, but he should, along with my friends from Yorkview and Downsview, Mr Mammoliti and Mr Perruzza, be working hard with the councillors of the city of North York to ensure their cooperation in putting those bylaws into place and in enforcing them. Without the cooperation of the city, his bill would not serve as he would wish it to: It would not protect those tenants; it would not protect them from the harassment and from the degradation of their living space. He has a right, and he should do everything he can, and he is. But he cannot be effective unless he also works with the city.
I'm sure my minister and my colleagues will, along with him, do all they can to ensure that those tenants are protected, that this kind of legislation will go into place. But there are some 829 municipalities in this province. To get the consultation we need with all 829, and not with the three we have now and the city of North York, is a fair stretch as yet.