Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time today, I will introduce two bills, one to amend the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Act and a second one to amend the Farm Products Containers Act.
The amendments I am proposing to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Act are primarily of a housekeeping nature. The first amendment authorizes the minister to delegate powers to the deputy minister or other employees and confirms the validity of any contract made under such delegated authority. The acts governing the administration of other ministries have similar provisions.
The second amendment to this act exempts the deputy minister and ministry employees, as well as members of the Farm Products Appeal Tribunal and the Agricultural Licensing and Registration Review Board, from personal liability for any act done or omission made in good faith in the execution of their duties. In the case of the appeal tribunal this exemption was in the legislation prior to 1978. The present amendment merely re-establishes the principle. The liability of the crown for any act of its officers or employees is specifically preserved.
The second bill I will introduce today concerns the Farm Products Containers Act. The existing Farm Products Containers Act established a fee of one per cent of the cost of all containers used in Ontario to pack fruit and vegetables for the fresh market. This fee, which is paid by the growers who use these containers, covers the operating costs of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.
In the past the fee has been collected by the manufacturers of the containers and turned over to the association. Under this amendment sellers conducting business in Ontario will collect the fee, rather than the manufacturers, some of whom are out of the province.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, to whom do you recommend I ask a question? Here comes the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). In the absence of his superior, the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker), I have a question of the Treasurer.
Could the Treasurer bring this House up to date on his commitment of government funds to the Massey-Ferguson situation? What has been the uptake? What are his plans with respect to Massey? Is he going to be putting someone on the board of that company, and does he anticipate any further injections of cash into that company?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the question of whether or not a person goes on the board has not been fully determined. One has to raise a question as to whether significant value can come from having someone on the board. The member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) has agreed to serve on the board, I note in a previous Hansard transcript, but at the moment we have made no decision whether we would have anyone on the board or not. I would tend to think there is not a significant value that would come from that.
Mr. Peterson: It is obvious the minister has not got any significant value from anything he has done with that particular company. While he is on the subject, there are several over here who would not mind being president of that company at $400,000 a year; so he is not alone.
My question to the minister is, has there been a complete uptake and does he contemplate any further injections of capital or cash into that company? What is its status? Is it going to go under or is it going to stay around? What is his commitment to that company? That is what we want to know.
Hon. Mr. Walker: In answer to the member’s five questions, I would say yes, all of the shares were taken up as of yesterday. The federal government and the provincial government have assumed their responsibilities under the redeemable aspect of the shares which is consistent with the guarantee and the authority given by this House over a year ago now, that the member’s party supported. His party basically agreed with this party that it should be done.
That was decided and, in essence, there was an agreement or a contract, an arrangement entered into in 1981 by the act that was passed. According to that act we are required to take up the shares and we have taken up the shares as directed.
We do not contemplate any additional funds being injected into the company. One can never say for sure that it is for all time, but I would hope there is absolutely no need to put in additional funds.
No, we would not see the company going under. I think it is a viable company. The company has substantial sales. I think their sales are in the range of $2 billion yearly. It is a very substantial corporation. It is one of the few multinational corporations established and based in Canada and is certainly the only multinational manufacturing concern established in Canada. It was deemed appropriate at the time that it be continued and the formal guarantee was entered into.
The guarantee has now been exercised in accordance with the act that was passed by this Legislature and in essence supported by the parties who spoke on behalf of it. Although the New Democratic Party attempted to delay a decision a couple of weeks, in the bill introduced by my predecessor, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), the Minister of Industry and Tourism at the time, it was agreed that there would be a take down of the shares under certain circumstances. Those circumstances have now come into play.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to be giving us a number of reasons why the investment the government has been forced into is a good investment on the part of the Ontario taxpayers. If it is a good investment today, why was it not a good investment for this government a year ago, as a direct investment rather than taking the guarantee approach which it did, and which has resulted in extra expenditure on the part of this government in the meantime?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, at the time it was thought it would be possible to tide the company over for a period of a year by means of the actual guarantee provision that was arranged. Now, the guarantee has been exercised. I think the government took a very prudent step at the time. I think the parties in this House and the Legislature voted in the most prudent way that day. It was better to have taken the chance and perhaps not had to participate in the management and ownership of the company, than to have done it at the time.
In any case, we are now in a position where the guarantee has been exercised and we are taking down the shares in the proportion that the federal government and provincial government obligated themselves to do by will of this House in 1981.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I sense the minister’s commitment not to allow the jobs at present established in the concerns in Toronto and Brantford to be lost will be very welcome in those communities. But since the major banks have unloaded their 11 per cent involvement which has now been taken up by the two levels of government, why would the minister not feel that it is time that a representative of the people of Ontario, as major shareholders, be put on the board so some of the cost cutting which I believe has been too long delayed, might be undertaken?
Does the minister really believe that it is a worthwhile investment on behalf of the taxpayers to continue to pay the president, for example, at the rate of $400,000 a year, when they have been doing business on the strength of the bi-governmental guarantee?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the question relates to putting a member on the board and that is a question we have not resolved in a definitive way. I suppose that is possible, although I raise the question of the value of having a direct board member. We have these shares, we are in a preferred shareholder situation, and we have all the benefits and rights of a preferred shareholder. From an information point of view, we have the monitoring committee. With the monitoring committee, we likely have information as soon as anyone has within the corporation. That provides us with any of the advance information we may need, so we have to wonder about the value that would come from direct participation.
I suppose that raises the question of whether a member, or at least a member of the board, might be able to direct the board in its affairs in this worldwide corporation in a better way than some of the members who are there now. It is my understanding the company has done a substantial amount of cost-cutting. Having rationalized the company from something like 68,000 down to 39,000 employees in a period of a year, there has been a substantial amount of --
Hon. Mr. Walker: I do not think the company laid off 39,000 employees. The member might know better and perhaps I will take his advice on it, but I do not think he will find it laid off 39,000 employees. I think he will find it sold off and halved off portions of its empire to attempt to rationalize it into a more profitable operation.
It has to be realized that the problems this company is beset with at the moment are not dissimilar to those of all of the other farm implement dealers and manufacturers across Canada. One has to realize that even names like John Deere Co., International Harvester and White Farm Equipment of Brantford have tended to run into difficulties relating to sales. This company made 11 of its commitments, 11 of its dividend obligations, and failed to make its 12th obligation. It has to be kept in mind that the company has done a great deal, that it does seem to be in a position where, given the right kind of economic recovery, it can participate in that recovery and protect the interests of the shareholders of Canada.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question. In the absence of the Minister of Community and Social Services, it is for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. It involves an individual in my riding, a young lady named Kathy Anderson. I am sure the provincial secretary will be familiar with this kind of situation. She was working, through the work incentive program, on mother’s allowance. In November 1981, she removed herself from mother’s allowance and, finally, in 1982, worked herself out of public housing with the assistance of that program. She is 25 years old and has four small children.
It was then discovered in 1981 that the Ministry of Community and Social Services had made a mistake and that she was overpaid by $1,627.04 over a period of time. It was admitted that it was not her responsibility, and that she was reporting accurately all along the way. It was clearly a mistake of the ministry in those circumstances. Now she is working, and making about $1,100 a month. Her minimum expense is $1,039, and that is allowing for no luxuries whatsoever. Her four little children are in day care, costing 75 cents a day for each child. That does not sound like much but it adds up, with transportation, to about $130 a month. She has absolutely no room to move.
Now the ministry is asking for repayment of the $1,600. It has said it can come in small amounts, but the reality is that there is absolutely no room to move in her budget, even to pay back $5 or $10 a month. It is clearly acknowledged to be the ministry’s mistake. Knowing how concerned the secretary is about this kind of problem, would she not agree with me that in these circumstances it would be fair to have a remission for a mistake that was made by the government and not by the young lady? The situation is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on her at the present time.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member: I am sure if the minister is made aware of the situation he will do everything possible to ensure that this particular constituent of the honourable member is not called upon to make restitution.
As the member has suggested, if it is acknowledged that the fault was in the ministry’s appraisal of the money sent to her, I am sure the minister will do everything possible to give encouragement to this particular constituent, because apparently the program has been successful in allowing her to get back into the work force and to look after her family. I think the minister will be prepared to do everything possible to encourage and provide her with that help.
Mr. Peterson: She has been successful. With her character and hard work she has worked her way out of the problem and no longer needs assistance, saving the state at least $10,000 a year and probably more. We run the risk of driving her back on to mother’s allowance if we do not assist her.
I am sorry the minister is not here, but I have corresponded with him. He said there is no doubt that Mrs. Anderson was completely honest with the income maintenance officer and adhered to all the rules, but he was not prepared to give her any allowance in the circumstances. Will the provincial secretary speak to the minister and, as his superior, as the policy secretary, use her influence in the matter and say he must exercise humane judgement in these circumstances?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: The Premier (Mr. Davis) has just informed me that I am not mother superior to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), but I will be very pleased to draw the matter to his attention.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister could approach the Premier and ask him if he would send a directive to the various ministries in line with what I recall to be a recommendation from the select committee on the Ombudsman: that when the bureaucracy makes an error with respect to a payment to a citizen, if the citizen acted in good faith he should not be required to make restitution for the error of the bureaucracy.
From what the secretary said, I understood that is her policy. It is obviously not the policy of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Perhaps a policy memorandum could be sent either from her office or from the Premier’s office clarifying this matter once and for all.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I think I should clarify the comments of the member. It is not my policy. It is the policy of Community and Social Services. I did indicate that I thought in this instance, where a mistake had been made and the woman in question was doing a tremendous job in providing for her family, every effort should be made to encourage her and that was the message I would bring to the minister responsible.
Mr. Peterson: As I said, she is already over $600 in debt for day care at 75 cents a day and only through the kindness of the day care centre have her kids not been kicked out of there. Given the fact that she cannot do anything in the circumstances, and I believe that has been determined by everyone concerned, will the minister speak to the Minister of Community and Social Services and then write to me about trying to solve this question? Will she try to bring out in that fellow who runs the ministry at the present time some of that milk of human kindness that she has in her heart and some of the concern she feels so deeply for people of this province?
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Trade. As we are now coming close to the end of the legislative session, I wonder if the minister would care to comment on his track record to date.
In particular, will the minister make himself aware of the fact that during the course of this session he has failed to protect the 281 jobs at Spalding in Brantford and allowed golf club production to go to the US; has failed to protect the 150 jobs at SCM in Scarborough and allowed typewriter production to be shifted to the US; has failed to protect the 60 jobs at Canadian General Electric in Barrie and allowed the steam iron production to be shifted to Singapore; has sat back and allowed International Harvester to shift its engineering operations out of Canada to the US; has sat back as SKF in Scarborough auctioned off its plant and machinery, primarily to US purchasers, thus losing 325 jobs; has allowed Chrysler to systematically phase out production of its spring plant in Windsor; has allowed White Farm Equipment to be taken over by US interests; and has sat back while the shoe, auto and furniture industries have all gone into serious decline?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the member seems to think that when a number of jobs are lost in a certain area we have no concern for that. That is not at all the case. All of us are particularly concerned.
For every company the member wants to quote in terms of jobs lost, perhaps I can quote one that has been brought back. Did he make reference to the fact that in Brampton, American Motors brought back 600 people: 480 came back from layoff a few weeks ago and 120 new people were taken on? Did he make reference to the fact that 200 people were due for layoff at General Motors and that was cancelled about four weeks ago? In fact, they took on a further 150 people.
Did the member mention the fact that Ford Motor took on another 400 people just a few weeks ago? Did he make some reference to that? Did he make some reference to the fact that Tricil, near Brigden, Ontario, is spending $7 million to make improvements to its plant, to improve efficiency, and that will result in 100 local tradesmen having more than six months of scheduled work? Did he make some reference to the fact that Lear Siegler of Kitchener has boosted its work force in the Manitou Drive plant by 80 people?
Mr. Foulds: Does the minister remember when he was sworn in he said his top priority would be “jobs, jobs, jobs”? Tell that to the 23,000 people who have lost their jobs just in this session while he has been Minister of Industry and Trade, when unemployment has gone from 544,000 to 567,000. How does he reconcile his claim to create jobs with the fact that every week this session has sat, an additional 1,337 Ontario workers have been forced on to the unemployment lines? The only announcement the minister has had the courage to make is the creation of nine jobs in Elmira.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Sometimes I think the member has some difficulty seeing the wood for the trees. He has spent all his time thinking about the Sanyo production plant, where nine employees were hired. He thought that was counting jobs.
If I wanted to count jobs, I could have enumerated a variety of plants and industries that opened in that period of time. For instance, two or three plants could be identified in the Markham area. I could go through many of those.
However, the member looks at the Sanyo plant, a Japanese company that is considered by many to be a breakthrough. For the first time, a Japanese company has chosen to move offshore and it has chosen to come into Ontario. He looks upon that as being only nine jobs. The rest of us would look upon that as being an important first step. The member occasionally fails to realize that journeys of 1,000 miles begin with the first step.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, the member for Port Arthur mentioned the shoe industry. I would like to ask the minister what steps he has taken with his government and the federal government to see that jobs are preserved in the shoe industry, especially in the Bata shoe company in my area?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member asked that question. It was this Premier (Mr. Davis) who last year pleaded with the federal government not to change the quotas it imposed in terms of an overwhelming change in the situation. Does the member realize that single act of changing the quotas, which the federal Liberal government chose to do last fall, wiped out half a dozen industries in this province within a few months? That was the one thing that was done.
Throughout the years, I have met with industry after industry on the very question of the shoe industry. We have pleaded with the federal government to make changes. It was only a week and a half ago that I spent an entire day with the minister from Quebec, the Honourable Rodrique Biron. We pleaded with the federal Minister of State for Trade, Mr. Lumley, to invoke another form of assistance and to try to space out over a period of time the capitulation they caused for all kinds of industry in this province and throughout Quebec as well.
That is what we did. I am pleased to say I am sure we are going to hear something about this from the federal government in the next few days. I think it will make its announcement within a week. We will then perhaps see that some of the pleadings we have made with the federal government have borne fruit.
Mr. Foulds: The federal Liberals will pay for their sins just as the minister will pay for his. Instead of pointing the finger of blame at them, why does he not accept his responsibility here in Ontario and why does he not admit that of the nine jobs he created in Elmira, eight went to foreign nationals? How does that tie in with his claim that his top priority was going to be jobs? Why does he not admit his abject failure and resign his post?
The one thing the member for Port Arthur does not realize is that someone has to read the plans which are totally in Japanese; that has some bearing on whether some local people might be hired or not. When one of these machines is designed by one of these people who comes in, does he know how many jobs it creates with one machine worth $1.5 million? Does he realize the effect that has on society? Does he realize what he would destroy if he had his way about it? That is the problem he has over there.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. I would like the Minister of Energy to let us know how he is going to respond to the petition that will be presented later today by the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) and the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) which has been gathered in the Niagara Peninsula area? I am sure the minister is aware of the petition.
I would like him to answer as a matter of policy what this government’s response will be to the 38,574 people who have signed that petition which begs the provincial government to involve itself in the pending rate application of Consumers’ Gas by public statement and by direct intervention on behalf of the residential consumers so as to prevent the imposition of a user’s charge of $18.30 per month and a 35 per cent increase in the price for natural gas consumed in the months of January, February and March?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, as the deputy leader of the third party knows, I had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Clark and members of her group at my constituency office about June 14. I think Mrs. Clark and the members of her organization have performed a very important function in providing an opportunity for the people of our area to express their opinion with respect to this application. I want to identify myself with those who pay tribute to those people for the many hours they have spent in various parts of the region of Niagara making it possible for people to express their views.
My only surprise is that since Mrs. Clark comes from the constituency of Erie, the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) has preempted the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) in making this petition, because the member for Erie has been very effective in communicating the concerns of these people as well.
The member for Erie may be a very quiet man, but he is a very effective man and certainly has given wise counsel. Indeed, it is unfortunate because on June 14, when I had the opportunity to meet with Mrs. Clark and her group, I gave them some advice which the member for Welland-Thorold neglected to give them. He had the petition addressed only to the members of the Legislature. He forgot to tell them that the only way those thousands of people could have their concerns registered where it really mattered at this particular time was to address them as well to the Ontario Energy Board.
I suggested they might want to amend their petition to make sure the concerns bring expressed about this application by those thousands of people would become part of the public record of the OEB. Mrs. Clark and her people were very grateful for that advice and amended their petition accordingly.
I am looking forward to receiving the petition. I wish it was from her member instead of from those, like the member for Welland-Thorold and others, who think that perhaps there is some political advantage to this. I will see that those concerns are expressed where they should be, because I know the honourable member would want me to protect the integrity of the system and to make sure that these matters are before the OEB.
Mr. Foulds: Will the minister not only pay tribute to Mrs. Clark and her group but also tell the Ontario Energy Board that it is not a matter of government policy to exact tribute from the gas consumers of this province by excessive increases which penalize energy conservation and which favour people who use energy in frivolous ways, such as heating their swimming pools?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I am sure the deputy leader of a very responsible political party in Ontario would expect the government to obey the law. The law is quite clear with respect to the procedures and steps that are to be taken here. Indeed, the Ontario Energy Board is there. The member knows very well, as does Mrs. Clark and the members of her group, that the procedure is to take those applications to the OEB, where the consumers’ interests are very much to be taken into account. The position of the government of Ontario with respect to conservation, off-oil and crude oil dependency is well and clearly known and enunciated in this province.
Mr. Kerrio: Okay. Thank you. There is an uncommon parallel here with what the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Norton) has done in relation to the protection of the environment. I ask the minister a very pointed question. Why should people like Lillian Clark and many other citizens have to band together to protect themselves against unconscionable increases while the minister bows out so nicely by suggesting that the Ontario Energy Board is going to look after these people’s best interests when he knows very well that is just a way for him to hide his head in the sand and not make a decision over there on behalf of the consumers?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to succumb to the temptation, which obviously my friend has, to play to the gallery for today. This is the same member, as Hansard will show, who recommended the abolition of the Ontario Energy Board.
Hon. Mr. Welch: This is the man who wants to get rid of the Ontario Energy Board, who wants there to be partisan political intervention in a system that is at arm’s length now to protect these people and to have these things analysed in a positive way.
Let it be known that the member wants to get rid of the very board that is in place now to protect people against the unmonitored activities of anybody who has a monopolistic franchise. He has really got to be kidding.
Mr. Swart: The minister knows very well that there is no law preventing intervention by his government at the Ontario Energy Board hearings. In fact, he must know that the responsibility of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) provides that he does provide such protection for the consumers of this province.
May I also remind him and ask if he does not recognize that when he discussed the matter with those who were having the petition signed at that time, and consulted with them, it was prior to June 18, when his government could have made an intervention and could have appeared on behalf of the consumers of home heating gas in this province to have stopped that massive increase?
Hon. Mr. Welch: The protests of Mrs. Clark and the thousands of others who have signed the petition, to be presented at the proper point of the agenda of this House this afternoon, will be on file and be part of the public record of the Ontario Energy Board for hearings that are going to start at the beginning of August.
I feel we are really not helping the situation at this time by attempting to muddy a situation which is quite clearly set out in law. I am quite satisfied, as a result of my meeting with Mrs. Clark and others at the beginning of this month in my constituency office, that they at least understand the whole system.
Mr. Kerrio: Due to the fact that we are talking here about a substantial increase in rates as well as an increase in service charges, so it is going to cost the average individuals about $18 a month just to have the service to their home whether they use gas or not, I ask the minister whether he is going to intervene and present a case before the Ontario Energy Board, which is his prerogative.
Is he now going to make a presentation to the Ontario Energy Board on these particular increases in rates and services? I wonder if he might share with us his opinion of how fair these rates and service increases are, in view of the fact that he is trying to enter a conservation era in which we are going to do something meaningful and change over to gas. What is his honest feeling about these rate increases, and will he appear to represent the people in front of that board?
Hon. Mr. Welch: As my learned friend knows, and not only my learned friend but the critic of this ministry knows, the government of Ontario made no representations at that particular hearing he is talking about. It was Ontario Hydro’s application with respect to the National Energy Board he is talking about.
All I am saying is there is some responsibility to maintain the integrity of the system and to respect the law, and this company, in order to accomplish what it plans to accomplish, had to make an application. It has been advertised and public hearings will be held, and I am prepared to leave that matter with the Ontario Energy Board as is the proper procedure.
Mr. Kerrio: The minister accused me of suggesting that I would do away with the Ontario Energy Board. That is very true. If the OEB has allowed a 72 per cent increase over the past 30 months, it is not acting in the best interest of the consumers of Ontario and I think there has to be a better way.
Hon. Mr. Welch: What the member will have to tell me and share with the House and those who are visiting with us today, is how much of that was simply the pass-through of the cost implications from the agreement between the government of Canada and the government of Alberta with respect to the cost of the product. How much of that was just simply passed on?
All I am saying is the member will have to understand this procedure -- which the member would now like to scrap -- and ask who is going to make these judgement calls with respect to that. Is it not a much better position to have a tribunal at arm’s length from government reviewing these matters and, indeed, going through the procedures with which most of us are familiar?
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question on the same subject to the same minister. Does the minister not realize, as these people do in the gallery here today, that the current application by the Consumers’ Gas Co. Ltd. is trying to establish a whole new rate system that will enhance and ensure its profits on a long-term basis even though residential gas consumption falls due to conservation measures, and that it penalizes consumers who save gas?
The minister also must know that the Ontario Energy Board will follow government policy. In view of the fact that he has deliberately missed the boat in intervention, will he now give this House a commitment to notify the OEB that government policy is, first, that the rate structure it approves should promote energy conservation and not deter it and, second, that any increases allowed should be the absolute minimum, in line with the present state of the economy?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I suggest with the greatest respect that at this point the Minister of Energy’s responsibilities are to protect the integrity of the system and to ensure public confidence in that particular system. Mrs. Clark and her group know this, notwithstanding all the attempts to confuse things with partisan politics. The straightforward reality at this moment is that we have an application by a franchise holder with respect to certain matters, that public hearings will start on August 3, and that there will be ample opportunity for that board to review all aspects of this before coming to any decision.
Mr. Swart: As usual, the minister did not answer the question. How can he say he is protecting the integrity of the system when he is letting the deadline go by when he could have intervened and represented the consumers there?
Second, how can he say he is protecting the integrity of the system when he will see, if he has looked at the number of interveners, that there is no one who is going to be representing in any substantial way the residential consumers of this province? How can there be a fair hearing if there is no equality of representation for the two sides?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I think this is a very important matter to re-emphasize. Thousands of people live in the areas served by the applicant. It has been brought to their attention that the gas franchise holder has plans with respect, as the member has already shared with the House, to a change in the rate structure and some other adjustments. Notice of all of this has been given. No one is being caught by surprise by the application.
By way of response, very interested and concerned residents of that area, under the leadership of Mrs. Clark and many associated with her, have gone to the marketplaces in the region of Niagara, they have gone everywhere throughout the region to provide people with an opportunity to register their concerns and their disapproval.
Today, in the Legislature of Ontario, as part of that democratic process, petitions are going to be laid before the House. Those petitions, thanks to some advice given to Mrs. Clark in the middle of June, are going to be directed to the Ontario Energy Board. Thousands of people are going to have those concerns registered.
Surely at this stage of the game it should be quite clear to these people that they have taken the right action in a democracy to make sure that their concerns are known, and that a body out there, free from the partisan activities of any particular group, will calmly and coolly analyse this application against the background of all of these issues.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege: The minister has stated that he came to the rescue of these people who were suffering these unconscionable increases, gave them direction that will take them out of their dilemma, and said they were going to direct this petition to the Ontario Energy Board. Such is not the case.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, since we want to protect the integrity of the system now, will the minister or the government consider the same policy or precedent that was established relating to the agricultural lands disappearing in the Niagara Peninsula, when the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society was funded through the Attorney General’s ministry under the legal aid plan?
Will the minister consider the approach that there be some funding set aside through legal aid so that these persons can have the expertise to make representation to continue with the petition to the board? There is a gentleman I have in mind who would make a good solicitor for them. His name is Alan Schwartz.
The particular precedent to which the member makes reference was as a result of a group known as the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society making a formal application to legal aid for some financial support, which was granted. I would think if there were any groups that felt they would qualify, they might well follow that procedure, but that is a plan which is administered by the Law Society of Upper Canada, not by the government.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The minister knows that physicians in psychiatric hospitals across Ontario began slowdowns last week to back wage demands regarding a contract that expired on April 1. The slowdowns include not releasing patients who are ready for release and refusing to provide follow-up for ex-psychiatric patients in the community.
I know how concerned the minister is for ex-psychiatric patients in the community. He demonstrated that concern when he went to Parkdale. I wonder if the minister, in view of his concern, is prepared to prevent these tactics, or will he allow patients to be used as pawns in the struggle between the minister and the physicians?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, unlike the negotiations conducted between this government and the doctors in the private sector, not working for government, these negotiations are handled by a different committee headed by the Civil Service Commission. They have the chief man on a four-person committee that does the negotiating. So it is a different situation, all of these people being direct employees of the government of Ontario.
Second, my concern therefore becomes one with regard to the safety of our patients, be they in the institutions or needing institutionalization or discharge. At the present time, the activities being undertaken by the psychiatrists seem to be of varying degrees in the different institutions. At present -- this speaks only to the present time -- they do not appear to be taking steps which would threaten the health or safety of patients in the institutions. That is, while they are taking certain steps with regard to certain paper and administrative work, they are not taking steps such as would threaten the possibility for release into the community or threaten the possibility of patients being admitted into the facility.
Ms. Copps: The minister knows full well that the physicians have already discussed the possibility of future strike action. They have now -- at least at some hospitals, including the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital -- withdrawn from medical committees, which is certainly not acceptable or professional behaviour for physicians. They are refusing to complete patients’ statistics. They are not releasing patients who are ready for release from hospitals, and they are also refusing to do community follow-up for ex-psychiatric patients.
Bearing those facts in mind -- facts which have not only been stated to my research department but were quoted in the Hamilton Spectator last Wednesday -- why has the minister not been prepared to take some action to date?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The information being transmitted to the member’s research department, whatever that might be, or to herself directly by some of the psychiatrists involved may or may not be entirely in accordance with the facts.
The facts as we understand them are reported to us by the administration of all our facilities. It indicates the answer I gave a moment ago is the actual state of affairs in each of our psychiatric facilities. I will not bother to take the time to repeat that except to say it does appear they are not engaging in activities which threaten the right of our citizens either to be admitted into those institutions or to be discharged from them.
I have a great deal of faith in the administration of those institutions. The member may not share that faith, but the administrators of those institutions have reported to their minister that the situation is as I have outlined it, not as the Hamilton Spectator has outlined it.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to ask the minister what difference it would make if the doctors were on strike at Queen Street Mental Health Centre when there is only one doctor on duty at night for 500 patients, but that is not my question.
Can the minister tell us whether there has been an increase or a decrease in the number of involuntary patients wandering out of the entrance of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre without official leave as a result of the labour dispute at Queen Street?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I know the member agrees there is a lot more security in place at Queen Street. I do not want to treat the member unfairly, but I think he was one of those who were objecting to the fact that certain new security measures were put in place at Queen Street.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I see. There are two things. First, the member could be supportive of the new steps we are taking at Queen Street to increase security. Second, who knows, the member may even call the former member for Parkdale and ask him if he wants to work at night, so there will be two psychiatrists.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member knows I can get that information for him if he will follow the procedure of last time and put the question on the Order Paper. I do not have a day-to-day account of how many patients may or may not be absent without leave, but we are always pleased to provide that. If the member had called my office at 11 o’clock, he would have had it by two o’clock.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. On April 29, the minister made a statement in this House about the closing, a year from now, of the Whitchurch-Stouffville landfill site. In that announcement, he also said he would be requiring York Sanitation, the operator of the landfill site, to provide a hookup to the municipal water supply for the 12 properties closest to the dump site.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member realizes that while the matter is under appeal the status quo would remain the case. In other words, until the appeal is resolved there will be no way of mandating that the company proceed with the installation of the water service. So that essentially is the status.
Mr. Charlton: The minister said in his statement, and said quite clearly I think, that the reason for his three decisions around the Whitchurch-Stouffville landfill site, including the closing and the alternative water supply, was a result of the considerable public concern, in order to try and give those people some peace of mind. Surely that condition exists whether there is an appeal in place and whether York Sanitation wins or loses that appeal. The peace of mind of those people is still required.
Why under those circumstances will the ministry not proceed to ensure and put in place an alternative water supply, which they are going to need in any event to accomplish what he said they should have? He can deal with York Sanitation and the costs involved when the appeal is finished.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I think it is important to bear in mind -- and I do not recall whether this was expressly stated in the statement; I believe it was -- that the reason the director required the installation of the water service was not because of current conditions in the wells from which the people take their drinking water, but rather as a precaution against any future migration from the landfill site.
It is not a matter of an emergency situation where some immediate action must be taken. My ministry staff is ready to proceed without any delay with the appeal. There is a prehearing hearing, this Thursday I believe, in Markham. We will be prepared to proceed as soon as the board sets the date for proceeding.
I do have some concern that some parties -- not the company, but some other parties -- to the hearing are contemplating requesting a delay in the hearing proceeding until, I understand, some time this fall, or so I have been advised by our legal counsel. That causes me some concern, but that is not the doing of the ministry.
The fact is, the ministry is ready to proceed. The company has not indicated any intention to request any delay. It is my understanding that the municipality and the citizens’ group may this week request a delay in the hearings proceeding. I would not like to see that happen, because I do not think it is necessarily in the interests of the citizens of that community that the hearings be delayed.
However, they would have sought the best advice they could and they are represented by legal counsel who will advise them. I may not agree with that advice in terms of delaying the hearing, but on the other hand, I am not prepared to thwart the wishes of the citizens if they are acting on advice from their counsel.
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, if it is, as the minister perceives it to be, a case of possible delay in this hearing process going through, would he undertake as Minister of the Environment to ensure there is a supply of fresh and good water to the people of the Whitchurch-Stouffville area, as indicated in his announcement, either by having the ministry assume the responsibility for hooking up the area to a good supply, or, in the alternative, providing the bottled water solution that has been in effect for one particular area resident; and would he do that pending the outcome of the appeal process?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, anyone whose quality of water supply is in question, and who has been cautioned by the medical officer of health with respect to its consumption, is already receiving an alternative supply of water. There is nothing at present to indicate that any of the other water supplies or wells are in any way jeopardizing the health of the citizens.
I have no intention, outside of a recommendation from the medical officer of health, of running around the province giving people bottled water when it is not required or indicated. There is nothing at present to indicate that there is any problem with the quality of the water.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, all right. Maybe it is important for the honourable member that I repeat for about the 14th time in this House the fact that the requirement to install an alternative water supply was not based on current conditions but, rather, was a precautionary measure for protecting those citizens living closest to the site in the event of any future migration from the site.
There is no indication of migration at present although, as I have said before, there is an indication of impact, which is normal around landfill sites, in nonmedical parameters: things like the increased hardness of the water and so on. Those are normal phenomena and do not present a health hazard. There is nothing to indicate that there is any health hazard created by the existing water supply.
Mr. Watson: Thank you. I understand by rumour that a baseball game occurred in the city of Toronto last night. I wonder whether the Premier would report on the results of a certain baseball game that he is reported to have attended.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, quite obviously I will have to reassess any recommendations I might have to the Premier of this province in the future as to responsibilities that are given to members of our own caucus. A question of that nature is one I take exception to very vigorously.
It has been publicly reported in the press that the Premier’s office staff exercised the humanity and sensitivity for which they are noted in allowing the press gallery after seven years to have some modest measure of success. I only say to the member for Chatham-Kent, please do not come to see me on any urgent matter in the foreseeable future.
Will the Premier do something to dispel any possible confusion based on his own last statement, which was that “perhaps it was not legal for municipalities to do this and that perhaps it would leave open the possibility of invalidating the election itself;” that of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), who said that “it would be most unlikely a municipal election would be declared null and void only for the reason that a question on nuclear disarmament appeared on the ballot;” and the statement made privately by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett), when I asked him, indicating that I could tell my municipalities who were interested in this that they could probably proceed without endangering the validity of their elections?
Will the Premier either make a statement to clarify this matter or, in conjunction with the acting government House leader (Mr. Gregory), see that Bill 133, standing in the name of the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), is brought forward, realizing that it already has had second reading and is supported by members in parties on both sides of this House, so we could clarify the matter before the House rises, I hope in the next few days?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware that there was this degree of confusion. I will consult with the acting Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and see whether it needs clarification.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition to the honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is just part of a petition that has been signed by 38,574 persons in total. I have about half of the signatures here, and the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) has the other half. The petition reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to cause the government to involve itself in the pending rate application of the Consumers’ Gas Co. Ltd. by public statement and by direct intervention on behalf of the residential consumers so as to prevent the imposition of a user’s charge of $18.30 per month and a 35 per cent increase in the price for natural gas consumed in the months of January, February and March.”
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I too have copies of the same petition addressed to the honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. My petition is signed by 21,202 people. I will not repeat the wording of that petition, except to say that these 21,202 people, plus those whose names were presented by the member for Niagara Falls, want the government to take a stand against the proposed rate increases by Consumers’ Gas.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition addressed to the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) to join with many other petitions with respect to the recent changes in the budget. The petition includes the names of 350 customers at one dry cleaning establishment in Hamilton and reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned customers of Porter’s Dry Cleaning Services, 1360 Main Street East, Hamilton, support their protest of the June 14 expansion of the Ontario provincial sales tax that imposes this tax on charges for repairs and alterations to clothing by dry cleaners and launderers. We urge the Honourable Frank S. Miller, Treasurer of Ontario, to withdraw this application of his May 13, 1982, budget since it is unfair, inequitable, inflationary and an added hardship especially on the elderly, the unemployed and the working poor.”
“We, the undersigned, urge that education should have no age boundary. The rapid growth of Program 60 shows it is very much needed in the community. A nutritional, social and educational program for those over 60 was established in September 1980. The withdrawal of provincial funding from the general interest courses of continuing education programs as it affects the programs, especially for seniors, is of deep concern to London citizens. We urge that the government of Ontario provide funding for the continuance of this specific type of program.”
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition which reads exactly the same as that of my colleague the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Copps) pertaining to the sales tax. It is addressed to the Treasurer and is signed by numerous customers from the dry cleaning establishment known as Hanover Dry Cleaners.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition for the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of this province which reads precisely the same as that presented by the member for Hamilton Centre. It is from the Dry Cleaners and Launderers’ Institute (Ontario) and from two of its members, Trillium Cleaners and Dollar Cleaners and Dyers Ltd. in Hamilton. The reading is precisely the same as that of the petition read by the member for Hamilton Centre and it contains signatures of approximately 1,000 customers.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have another addition to the petition directed to the Lieutenant Governor in Council which states: “We, the undersigned, oppose the extension of sales tax introduced by the Ontario government in the May 13, 1982, budget.” This one has 160 names on it and now brings the total for that one petition to more than 6,000 names.
“Whereas on December 31, 1981, assets of the teachers’ superannuation fund totalled $5.4 billion and whereas the major problem facing education in Ontario is that of declining enrolments, we the undersigned urge that the government of Ontario agree to the following amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act and the regulations thereunder:
“Urgency of the implementation of the above, together with other items currently under discussion between the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the government, would have the effect of preserving the jobs of more junior teachers and possibly creating the necessity to hire, thus providing a teaching staff with a variable age, class and distribution.”
Hon. Mr. Gregory moved that the order for reading of Bill 38, An Act to establish the Ministry of Industry and Trade, be discharged and that the bill be referred to the committee of the whole House for amendment.
Standing committee on social development, to consider the subject of family violence, with authority to travel to London and St. Thomas and within Metropolitan Toronto, and to consider Bill 138, An Act respecting the Protection of the Health of the Public;
On the standing committee on general government: Mr. Bradley for Mr. Eakins, Mr. Cunningham for Mr. McKessock, Mr. Eves for Mr. Gordon, Mr. Grande for Mr. MacDonald, Mr. Havrot for Mr. J. M. Johnson, Mr. Ruprecht for Mr. Haggerty, Mr. Stevenson for Mr. Lane, Mr. Wildman for Mr. Samis;
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am introducing for first reading three minor housekeeping amendments to the Vital Statistics Act. This act is administered through the registrar general’s office and, among other things, provides for the keeping of both birth and marriage records.
The first of these amendments would allow applicants to request that additional information be included on paper birth certificates. This will save an estimated $20,000 annually by reducing the number of requests we receive for certified copies of birth registrations. With this change, longer-form paper birth certificates showing parents’ names and their places of birth will be provided where requested for immigration or other official purposes.
A second amendment would allow transsexuals to change the sex designation on their birth records following the submission of a medical certificate from any doctor licensed to practise in Canada. As it now stands, such certificates are accepted only from Ontario doctors and the Liberal Party.
The final amendment will eliminate some minor confusion over the registration of divorce and annulment decrees issued by the Supreme Court. Section 2 of the act requires us to register divorces occurring in Ontario, but section 27 limits such registration to only those cases in which the original marriage was conducted in this province. This amendment will authorize the registrar general to register all divorce decrees issued here.
Mr. Breithaupt: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: If the minister is of the view that he wishes this legislation before the House adjourns, we will be quite pleased to accommodate him, because the bill is a housekeeping one and might be of some help to a number of people before the fall session.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments on Bill 119. I am sure the minister would not want this bill to go forward for third reading until I have put on the record some of the comments about the bill which I gave to him privately the other day.
We are very pleased that one of the sections of the bill, section 25 -- I say that just for the record to show I read the bill -- allows a municipality to enact bylaws to put limits on campaign contributions. Those of us on this side are very favourable to that principle.
I must say, though, as I said to the minister at the time that he brought forth the legislation and again just the other day, I was somewhat disappointed that the minister did not avail himself of the opportunity, when bringing forward this legislation, to give the power to municipalities to set limits on the amount that a candidate could spend in an election. I find that very unfortunate. It is also unfortunate, especially considering the fact that there is no limit on the amount a candidate himself can put into an election.
I suppose the minister is consistent, if nothing else. There are no limits on provincial election spending, and I guess he felt he was consistent in carrying forward the same principle for municipalities. It seems to me, though, that the election of a candidate should not be based on one major criterion, the spending of moneys. All people should have equal access to being candidates for election, and that should not depend on the amount of money one spends.
The second thing that disappoints me about the bill -- again, I am not arguing with the principle, because we are in favour of it -- is that it is unfortunate that in allowing individuals to make contributions to candidates and forcing disclosure of these contributions, which we agree with, there is no scheme of tax relief for people who are making donations at the municipal level, as there is tax relief for people who are making donations at the provincial and federal levels.
The minister can say there is a problem with that because, as we know, there are no municipal income taxes which allow this type of deduction. I am convinced, though, that a scheme could have been enacted along the lines that part of the salaries of municipal councillors is not taxable. So there is already a precedent set whereby, by way of a deduction from the provincial income tax, I am sure another scheme could have been enacted.
The last thing I have to say about the bill is that an individual candidate is not limited as to the amount he can contribute to his own campaign. I find that unfortunate. That is inconsistent with the legislation brought forward by the government which controls provincial candidates.
Mr. Speaker, even though you may have large personal wealth -- I do not know whether you have or not, but you are shaking your head that you do not; some other members here do, although I do not intend to point a finger at anyone around me -- even those members who have access to personal wealth are limited as to the amount of money they can contribute to their own campaigns. It seems to me that principle, which exists at the provincial level, should exist at the municipal level so that the measure of a candidate should not depend on the amount of money he or she can spend on his or her own election.
I say to my good friend the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett), his legislation would have been very nearly perfect had he accepted my suggestions. I know it is difficult for him to separate himself from the Conservative element that dictates some of his decisions in enacting this legislation but, if the member for Ottawa South had enacted this legislation with my suggestions, he would have been praised by all municipal candidates across Ontario. Who could ask for more than that?
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have one point to make that had not occurred to me until I had a chance to look over Bill 30, which we are going to be discussing later today. I suspect there is a reason, and perhaps this is as good a time as any to have the minister explain what the reason is.
In Bill 124, An Act to establish Technology Centres, there is a reference in subsection 4(4) to the possibility of a member of this assembly being a director of a centre. Yet I notice in Bill 30, and we can talk about this when we come to Bill 30, there is a section that is going to prohibit members of municipal councils from being directors of development corporations. I suspect we will find when we come to Bill 30 that one of the reasons is to avoid any conflict of interest.
It occurs to me that the same is a distinct possibility with reference to the technology centres. There is going to be relationships between the technology centres and business and industry in this province, and that relationship could spill over into this Legislature. I wonder to what extent the minister has taken that into consideration or whether he has assured himself that this simply cannot happen.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I think one has to distinguish between the technology centres, which are set up for a totally different kind of purpose, and the Ontario Development Corp., which will be subject to some discussion in a few minutes when we get to Bill 30.
The Ontario Development Corp. is a lending vehicle, an organization that lends money, and sometimes lends it at particularly beneficial rates, a corporation that sometimes makes direct grants. With some 900 municipalities in Ontario and the consequent number of municipal councils and the number of municipalities that are directly involved and often related to some of the industries that might be making application, I think one can draw a greater potential prospect of conflict of interest than can be otherwise drawn.
On the other hand, if we back off to the Technology Centres Act for a moment and talk of that, it is rather important that members of this Legislature understand fully what is happening in the technology centres. This government is focusing a great deal of attention on technology centres, so the availability of information to the members is useful. We have been operating the technology centres to date with steering committees that directly report to me. They are called ministers’ advisory committees. I have established one for each of the individual technology centres.
As the member was beginning to stand up, I was signing the letters going out with respect to the farm implement and food processing centre to those who will serve on that minister’s advisory committee. We are asking some of the local MPPs to serve on those committees. In the case of Ottawa, the member representing the area has been asked to serve on that steering committee, as an adviser to me. The same thing applies --
Hon. Mr. Walker: Some of the centres are located in Conservative ridings, so we have asked some of the Conservative members to serve on them. As a consequence, one can see the relationship there and the value that comes from the knowledge that will be acquired. In Peterborough, we did not ask the local member to serve on the committee for reasons that are apparent to at least the local member and to a good many others.
The idea is to provide direct information. The technology centres are quite a bit different from what might normally be the case of a lending institution. We feel the information will be useful. It may be that the boards we set up towards the end of the summer, after the steering committees have had a chance to practise their wares and exercise their efforts, will include the odd MPP to serve on them. I hope we will see some rotation of MPPs, so that knowledge of the industry is acquired directly. I think that will be beneficial.
We may even see the day when the odd person from a party, perhaps an opposition member, might have a chance to serve on a committee. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) would undoubtedly make a creditable contribution to one of these committees. That may just happen.
I think I can draw a clear distinction between the two, the technology centres, which are a form of service, and the Ontario Development Corp., which is really a lending institution, quite a different kettle of fish.
“(2) The minister after the close of each year shall submit to the Lieutenant Governor in Council an annual report upon the affairs of the ministry and shall then lay the report before the assembly if it is in session or, if not, at the next ensuing session.”
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, these amendments are relatively housekeeping in nature. They permit the Ontario Development Corp. to carry on its functions in a way that is truly businesslike. It will allow the Ontario Development Corp. in effect to do some of the government business as the government may direct, as it relates to certain aspects.
For example, if the Ministry of Health were to have some intentions with regard to a medical laboratory that it might be involved in, the Ontario Development Corp. would do the bidding and carry the shares. It would be directly involved in a case like that.
One aspect that comes to mind is Allelix Inc., in whose shares the government of Ontario participates to the tune of 20 per cent, John Labatt Ltd. participates with 30 per cent and the Canadian Development Corp. with 50 per cent.
If it were for another ministry, this would allow the direction to be taken by the Ontario Development Corp. to carry the shares, to do as it sees fit and to trade shares as may be required. This is the purpose of the amendment.
The amendments will also widen the financing mechanisms available to the corporations, to the Eastern Ontario Development Corp., the Northern Ontario Development Corp. and the Ontario Development Corp., making them quite a bit more responsive to the special needs we have in Ontario industry.
There have been in the past and obviously will be in the future quite legitimate requests for financial assistance outside the normal policy guidelines and authority of the development corporations. In these circumstances we wish the decisions to be made by government, with the development corporations to act as the agents, to do the responsible thing and to be perfectly legitimate in the process of implementing the decisions.
Under the proposed legislation, the development corporations will get wider powers to negotiate or even compromise the terms and conditions of existing loans where such action is necessary to attract private investment capital, thereby ensuring the survival and the viable continuance of existing Ontario industries.
To ensure impartiality in the decision-making process, officials of a municipality, whether elected or employed, will not be eligible for membership on the boards of directors of the development corporations. There is no provision at the moment in the Development Corporations Act to disqualify people who are municipal officials, whether they are working for the municipality or actually elected to the municipality, from membership on the boards of directors of the corporations. This bill provides that disqualification would occur and sets that out in the three subsections of the first section in setting that up.
In addition, some amendments are being proposed to subsection 12(1) of the act to permit the corporations to make grants and to provide interest subsidies. The grants would only be made in selective situations of considerable economic benefit to Ontario and, of course, with prior cabinet approval. In other words, the cabinet would direct what had to be done.
Subsection 12(2) of the Development Corporations Act is amended to permit the corporations to forgive repayment of a loan in whole or in part where such action would stimulate additional private investment to ensure continuity of a business that would otherwise fail.
Section 19a is being added to the Development Corporations Act to clarify the agency role the development corporations can play with respect to cabinet decisions to provide financial assistance beyond the general mandate. In such circumstances, the corporations will be required to comply with the kind of direction that would be received from cabinet.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated to the minister in another form that I have some concerns about the way in which the Ontario Development Corporation operates in Ontario. I have shared with him some of the expressions of concern which have been passed on to me by businessmen in this province, particularly by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Organization of Small Business.
I have had discussions with spokesmen of those two associations and they have indicated that on numerous occasions their members have had great difficulties getting financial support processed by the Ontario Development Corp., the Northern Ontario Development Corp. and the Eastern Ontario Development Corp. Their concern rests on the fact that if there is too much paperwork involved, too much of a time line involved, by the time the thing is actually cleared or turned down, the business is usually in greater financial difficulty than it was in the first place.
So perhaps this is an apt opportunity for me to suggest to the minister, as I have suggested in that other forum, that the administration of the Ontario Development Corp. and its two sister bodies should be re-examined. I gave a particular case to the minister and, after what I think even the minister will admit was a fairly lengthy wait, I got an answer back. There were other factors involved, as the minister included in his answer. Nevertheless, the perception of not only that particular business, but of some other business associations to which it referred its problem, was that there was an undue delay, a lot of unnecessary paperwork and unnecessary time loss through the bureaucracy. I am just taking this opportunity to draw to the minister’s attention that there is this perception outside the Legislature. If he wishes the Ontario Development Corp. to operate as he says it should he operating, that is one area he could look at very closely.
When we were talking about Bill 38, I noticed the minister made references to his ministry and one of them was to the Ontario Development Corp. If I copied the numbers down correctly, I believe he told us just yesterday that in 1981, the Ontario Development Corp. approved 650 loans. At least, that is the figure I copied down. In responding to our comments this afternoon, I wonder if the minister could indicate to us how many applications there actually were. It is nice to know that 650 were approved, but even the minister would agree, that figure takes on a different flavour depending on whether there were 800 or 8,000 applications. I think the figure only makes sense if it is put in some kind of context. That is by way of an opening statement, if I may.
Let me go to the principle of the bill itself and to the amendments, as I understand them and as the minister has somewhat explained them to us. First, I want to support the section of the bill that prohibits members of municipal councils from being on the Ontario Development Corp. or on either of the other two corporations. My understanding is that this will prevent a conflict of interest because, since there is a regional aspect to the development corporations, a councillor from a particular region might tend to give more weight to an application from his or her region than they might to some other one. That possibility of a conflict of interest definitely exists.
As an aside, I still think there is a possible conflict of interest within the technology centres, particularly when we recognize that the final decisions of some of those technology centres can be made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, by cabinet or something like that. I still think that problem is there. While we happen to be on that topic of conflict, I caution the minister to look at that pretty carefully, especially when he considers some of the powers those technology centres are going to have in order to acquire land and that kind of thing. But there is no problem with that particular section. I think it is reasonable under the circumstances.
When we go to the second section of the bill, I have a couple of questions. I support it; I have no problem with it, but I have a couple of questions I would ask the minister to respond to. First, how do we define exactly what is going to happen under clause 2(1)(ba) in terms of making grants?
Second, why is the limiting word “industrial” used here? There are businesses in Ontario other than industrial. If the word “industrial” is intended to be all-inclusive, then perhaps we should have a definition somewhere. It is my understanding that the Ontario Development Corp. can relate to businesses that are not strictly industrial in that sense of the word. Perhaps the minister would indicate why we have only industrial undertakings in this particular section.
In the next one, clause 2(1)(bb) of the bill, referring to subsection 12(1) of the act, with respect to paying interest subsidies, once again we support that. We think that is a good idea. If banks or lending institutions of one type or another are threatening to close down a business and this business is worth saving and can be saved by paying an interest subsidy, that is a good idea.
Moving on to the next one, clause 2(2)(d) of the bill, referring to clause 12(1)(d) of the act, the minister appreciates that it is the second half of this clause that is new. The first half is precisely the way it is in the act at the present time. We support this, but we have a concern. We do not know what the criteria will be in terms of releasing, in whole or in part, a debt that is owed.
If I understand this correctly and if I understood what the minister said correctly, money that is owed by a business to the Ontario Development Corp. can be released and does not have to be paid back. That is partially to allow for other things to happen. However, the minister will surely realize that without any criteria, this could become a very subjective decision.
It would be our recommendation that before this particular section becomes law, some guidelines or regulations, something of that nature, be drawn up so there would be no possibility of abuse. The minister will appreciate that this is wide open.
We are not sure under what circumstances a debt might be released. There could be some fairly questionable calls, again depending upon who the members and directors of these various corporations are and their relationship with some of their client bodies. Even though it might be at arm’s length, they may be tempted to release these debts for reasons that are not in the best interest of the corporation and, therefore, ultimately of the people of the province.
Before this section becomes law or at least before it is applied, before it comes into general use, we would urge the minister that there be a set of criteria, or a regulation in some form, so that it would be very clear as to the circumstances that must be present before the debt can be released. We have no objection to the principle; that is not the question. It is the mechanism we are questioning.
Finally, with reference to clause 19a, in section 3 of the bill, I am not sure whether it is just a misprint or whether there is a different way of interpretation, but either at the end of the first line or at the beginning of the second line, I am not sure which, the word “development” seems to have been omitted.
The explanation on the page immediately opposite says, “... the Lieutenant Governor in Council may authorize a development corporation to act as an agent yet the word “development” is not used in the section. I do not know why it was left out there. Perhaps the minister could refer to it. I suspect it was just a misprint and it would be fairly easy for the minister to introduce an amendment to put it back in again. To use just the word “corporation” is a little bit liberal and a loose use of the language. Let us be more precise when we are dealing with a body that can be responsible for fairly significant sums of money, as the minister said himself.
The second observation I would make here is the main thrust of this, that the Ontario Development Corp. would act as an agent for Ontario, the government of Ontario and, indirectly, the people of Ontario. The powers of an agent are considerable. The minister would appreciate that the agent binds the principal as long as the agent is active. Once again we would like to know what the criteria are, what the limitations on this are. Surely the minister himself knows that in general business practice a private corporation would not allow anyone to be its agent and to make decisions on its behalf without some pretty clear guidelines and pretty clear limitations on what that agent could or could not do on its behalf, and there is no indication here that there are any such limitations.
I would once again simply draw to the minister’s attention that as it reads now, the agency status of the corporation is very, very broad, and the kinds of decisions it might make on behalf of Ontario, for whom it is an agent as described in this section, in our judgement need to be circumscribed in some way. Therefore, I guess I am suggesting that with respect to both subsection 2(2) and section 3 there needs to be some definition, some limitation, some form of regulation of how these are going to be enacted before this should be put into practice by the minister or by the government.
I should point out, without reopening the debate, that it is housekeeping in aid of the implementation of the government’s Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program by and large. We are still a bit unclear as to whether there is any distinction between BILD on the one hand and the general revenue fund on the other, or whether, as the years drag on, everything this government does by way of public expenditure will be subsumed under the rubric of BILD.
With a new ministry and a new minister not quite, I suspect, so far into the kind of flamboyant self-promotion as his predecessor, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) was, perhaps the new incumbent will be a little bit more modest about the claims of the BILD program and the programs that are brought into being as a result of the provisions of Bill 30 before us here. We can only express the fond hope.
Again without reopening the debate, many of our members have expressed our profound reservations about the BILD program because of the absence of an industrial strategy on the part of the government; the lack of commitment to import replacement; the lack of a coherent strategy for the development of our secondary manufacturing sector; the government’s indifference, which was shown, or at least reviewed, this afternoon in question period; and its lack of concern over the apparent deindustrialization of this province as a result of branch plants closing and returning during a time of economic difficulty to their mother countries.
While theoretically the provisions of this act strengthen the capacity of the government to deal with these kinds of problems by giving them some important powers, I venture to predict they probably will not be used in any creative or constructive way. Nevertheless, we do not stand in the way of the government assuming these additional authorities, and we only express the hope that sanity will somehow prevail that the incumbent’s innate predilection for Reaganomics will somehow be stifled within his bosom, that he will recognize there is not just a creative role for government in the object of rescuing our economy from the kind of crisis that confronts us but, indeed, an obligation and an imperative upon the government to intervene to promote the orderly and balanced development of our economy.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, while the minister is speaking on this particular subject, I have encountered a couple of problems with the Eastern Ontario Development Corp. I wrote to him about them on June 22. I realize that not much time has passed in between, but he talked about clearing up some of the problems his ministry has encountered and wanting to make sure this legislation makes it possible that some of these problems do not exist.
I would ask the minister to comment, when he gets up in a few minutes, on a couple of the problems we have encountered with industries in the Belleville-Trenton area. They relate to the small-business incentive program. I will read part of one letter without naming the company:
“This company is once again considering new capital expenditures as part of our long-term plan of expansion and upgrading of old facilities. In order to finance the proposed capital expenditure we approached the Eastern Ontario Development Corp. but have been advised by the EODC that the small-business incentive program, which provides for interest-free forgivable loans, while still in effect, has run out of money. The balance of funds remaining has been committed to other projects. The EODC will still accept applications. However, they cannot make a commitment unless new funds are provided or some of the other projects to which funds are committed do not go forward.” The company asked me whether I was aware of this, and I wrote to the minister about it.
Another firm wrote me a similar letter about wanting to expand and it mentioned, “My understanding of the eastern Ontario subsidiary agreement is that it was counterfunded by the Department of Regional Economic Expansion in the province in the amount of $10 million. Acceptance of this program has been such that funds had been depleted by 1982 instead of the projected 1984 date.” It also mentions that there are funds in other areas.
I wonder if this matter has come to the attention of the minister and if he would care to comment on whether, through this new legislation, there is not some way we can assist both of these industries and others within the eastern Ontario region that have run into the same kind of problem.
I would also like to say I have approached some of the minister’s staff within the last six months regarding a new industrial park we have in Trenton and additional industrial land we have in the city of Belleville. Not only the people in the Kingston office, but also a couple of people who came down from the Toronto office, were very helpful, had some excellent suggestions and were prepared to help us. But it seems we are having a little bit of trouble. I have had inquiries not only from some of the municipal people, but also from some of the builders and business people in my area who are quite anxious to do what they can to attract industry, not only from Ontario and the rest of Canada, but also from outside Canada.
I was just wondering if it might be feasible for the minister to get together with his officials to see whether there is some way he could take a small group of people, maybe three or four, into an area such as Belleville or Trenton and set up a short seminar and make some suggestions. Perhaps through a one or one-and-a-half day seminar, they could suggest how other sectors of the citizens can assist -- not only, say, an industrial commissioner but some of the municipal people -- how they might go about advertising their specific area, what they might do in the way of travelling or advertising outside their area to bring people to individual areas.
I have also been given some information about the number of people who come to the ministry from outside the province inquiring about eastern Ontario. Maybe it has something to do with the economic climate we are in, but I was surprised at the lack of inquiries from people who came to visit our area. Again, I wonder if there is some way we can generate more interest outside the province and the country, perhaps through ministry officials or whether our municipal people, industrial commissioners, builders, real estate people or other merchants, can assist in doing this.
I would love to see some sort of a small group or team set up by the minister and his staff to bring them into the area, and then maybe everyone within that area can help to work towards what the minister is also interested in.
Under section 2 there is some inequity built in. The notes say: “Under the proposed amendments to subsection 12(1), a development corporation will be authorized to make grants and pay interest subsidies to a person carrying on an industrial undertaking in Ontario. A development corporation will also be authorized to compromise or release in whole or in part any security that it has taken and to release the debt evidenced by the security.”
I have talked to a number of businessmen in Ontario and they endorse the development corporation program. There is always a question in their minds though as to why one businessman should have to pay 12 per cent interest and another, who perhaps borrows money through the Ontario Development Corp., gets it at zero per cent interest. In other words, they are not paying any interest on that borrowed money.
This was brought to my attention by a number of businessmen who would like to see some equity in this. They suggest that either one moves from zero to 12 per cent interest on it, or that some place along the line the minister could probably set it at eight per cent and make everybody who is borrowing from it happy.
With the free enterprise system in Ontario, nobody should get something for nothing, no matter who it is. If one is borrowing money from a government, borrowing from the bank or borrowing from someplace else, there is a certain principle involved that there is an interest rate that is within reason, is fair and equitable and that all persons borrowing will be treated alike.
This is what a number of businessmen in my area are concerned about. They have applied for loans from the bank and because they were in a good position to expand their business, they would have to pay 16 or 17 per cent. Here, it could vary from 12 per cent to zero.
In a number of cases, the person who is in a better position than a number of others was not getting the loan. I think a good, sound business, if it wants to expand, should have help in regard to where the loan is coming from. I have spoken to the minister before on this matter.
I have sometimes said I feel his staff in the Niagara region -- and I do not mean to be critical about the staff because there are good persons there -- feel their jobs are obsolete. What they want to do and what somebody else does over here is in direct contrast to what development should take place.
I suggest that someplace along the line there should not be any regional boundaries at all. In other words, if a plant wants to expand in Port Colborne, it should be allowed to expand in Port Colborne and not be directed to some other area.
This is what has happened over the past few years with the Ontario Development Corp. We have seen Hayes-Dana, for example, pull out some of its holdings in the Thorold area, where it had ample acreage to expand, and expand to Barrie with a sizeable loan from the Ontario Development Corp. which eventually petered out. Maybe Volkswagen has taken over that part of Hayes-Dana. I do not know; hopefully they will.
The minister has actually not created any new jobs; he is just moving them from one locality to another. I do not think moving them is the purpose of the Ontario Development Corp. I think it is here to create new jobs, whether expanding in a locality or starting up a whole new industry.
I suggest no one should be getting something for nothing. The interest rates should be at six per cent or eight per cent. It is amazing what the government can do, both federally and provincially. When they want to lower the interest rates, they can find means to do so. They found the means to do it for the farming community to some degree in certain financial assistance programs.
The guy who has a home, though, has to be out there trying to survive. I am thinking of a story I read the other day which said that Canada has developed a program similar to the neutron bomb, but it is not the neutron bomb. It will destroy a person, but it will not destroy the building. That is the high interest rate.
Mr. Haggerty: I have heard that one, too, but I thought I would go this way with Pierre Trudeau and Allan MacEachen. But now the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) is in with them too: the M and M kids.
What I am trying to get through to the minister is that the government can find a way to lower the interest rates for certain businesses. What bigger business is there than the business of building homes? That is the biggest investment an individual or couple will make. The furniture and appliances that go into it will keep the spinoff going in the industry and the government would not have Admiral closing its doors in Mississauga.
I suggest to the minister that perhaps he could use an arm of government to establish acceptable interest rates for persons who want to borrow in certain circumstances. Perhaps the Province of Ontario Savings Office could be a part of the Ontario Development Corp. That is an area the government should be looking at, because if a person wanted to borrow money through a provincial bank it would be almost right on his doorstep. He could do his business dealings through the provincial bank just as well as he could through any other bank. He could borrow that way without having to go behind closed doors here in Toronto where wheeling and dealing goes on as to who should get a grant or not.
It is interesting that over the years grants have been given to the ski industries in northwestern Ontario. Some paid a high rate of interest and others paid no interest at all. I suggest to the minister maybe that is an area he should be looking at. He should be expanding the provincial savings banks.
They are a useful tool in our economy for any individual who wants to borrow money. Maybe they should be taken into the Ontario Development Corp., or perhaps they could be called, Ontario Development Corp. Provincial Banks. The government should be looking at innovative ideas so that it could tell the public it is there to assist them in their expansion programs. It would make it much easier for business people and it is always nice to have a bank on one’s doorstep where a loan may be obtained.
There is a problem with the banks today. When a person signs a demand note now, the banks call it in regardless of when it comes due. This is causing a hardship in farming and small business. The province should expand into that area. It can do it without any cost to the government. It should not have to take moneys out of the consolidated revenue fund.
There is all kinds of capital out there. The small person, the blue-collar worker is putting his money into banks and trust companies. Tap that source. It is there. Give them some concessions. Give them some initiative to invest in the province and help to turn the economy around.
One way to do it is to sell provincial bonds in the corporation. Give the individuals a reasonable rate of 12 per cent or so; give it to them with no taxes attached. In other words, let the interest be tax free. In that way other interest rates will have to be competitive. I am sure the minister will see them come down to the same level. It would not be necessary for us to go offshore to borrow money.
That is what is really hurting every province in this country. Every time government wants to get a scheme going it goes to the American side to get the money. We are held at ransom, in a sense, because they control the interest rate over there.
We look for investment to come here from outside. It used to be said that if you lowered the Canadian dollar you would have all kinds of investment in Ontario. But the Canadian dollar cannot go much lower, and we do not see them scrambling over here for that 20 or 30 per cent.
In the Fort Erie area they used to come over to buy cheap gas. Now they come over to put money in the banks to get the 30 per cent return on it. We are missing the boat. They are placing it in short-term interest paper and making money on it.
Another thing going great in Fort Erie is bingo games. It is almost as bad as the gas outlets. In almost every vacant building there is a bingo game going on. Of course, it works very well for the service clubs, and I might say we have some of the wealthiest clubs in all of Canada. Some of them are international, such as the Lions Club, which does wonderful work there. Perhaps that is an area the government should be tapping. They have the wealth.
There is so much the government could do without causing any hardship rather than going to the consolidated revenue and raising taxes to cover that. It would not have to increase the sales tax if it had some program of that nature. I am convinced about it. Municipal bonds and so on have worked well in the United States. That has got their programs going.
I think that is why one says the American enterprise system is more of a free enterprise system than it is here, because they have some initiative, some get up and go to encourage people to invest. Here we put it in the bank. We walk to the bank every six months or every month with a little gold book and look at the interest tabulated in the bank account. At the end of the year we get a pink slip. Then we turn around and give it back to the government because we have increased our incomes and so we are taxed. The government does very well on the high interest rates.
I was at a graduation exercise the other day in Pelham. They were giving out some of the scholarship awards. I think two were for $1,450. The chairman had to make a correction. He said: “There has been an error made. It is $2,036.” One sees what are the benefits of the high interest rates even for scholarships. This is just to bring it to the members’ attention that there is a profit to be made on it, even though it is adding to the cost of inflation in Ontario.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief on this because I have been provoked by my colleague the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) who has some remarks. The ironic thing I note about the bill is the minister who is piloting it through. This is the same minister who ranted and raved six years ago about free enterprise. Now here we are today. He is in charge of development corporations for the province, handing out public funds to the private sector.
We in eastern Ontario accept that concept, support it and, as a less developed region of the province obviously want to see it expanded. We have this minister who is noted as the great defender of rent controls in this Legislature, as the great defender of public investment in something called Suncor, as the great defender of a $2.2-billion deficit, before us today defending public funds for the private sector. Politics breeds strange bedfellows. I wonder what lies ahead in the leadership race. We will support the bill.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I note in the stated objectives in the bill that establishes the new ministry, the ministry is supposed to be encouraging employment opportunities for Ontarians. If that is not stated directly, it certainly is implied.
I noted the minister made reference to co-operation between the Canada Development Corp., Ontario Development Corp. and industry and used the bio-tech John Labatt example. It was brought to my attention recently that a couple of the most senior management positions in that enterprise are occupied in one instance by a gentleman from the British Isles and in another by a gentleman from the United States. That was given to me on good authority. I had no way of refuting or commenting on it.
I simply observe to the minister that if his staff checks that out and it is true, somewhere along the way the minister or the ministry may have missed the point in not trying to ensure that those positions were filled by qualified and capable Ontarians.
Maybe he will say they did try to ensure those positions were so filled. The message given to me by the person who brought it to my attention was that there are an adequate number of very qualified people to fill these jobs, but the jobs went to people from outside the province. I make these comments by way of observation to the minister and would encourage him to check into them and to make sure the objectives stated for the ministry’s existence are followed.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) raised some questions that involve the timing or the approach procedure of the Ontario Development Corp. I think it is fair to say that in the past it has taken more time than we can legitimately claim is satisfactory, and we have instituted procedures that should shorten or telescope the length of time taken for the approval process.
Just this morning I was before my own caucus, because about a month and a half ago my own caucus had communicated to me a feeling that the length of time had been somewhat longer than they would prefer to see. I was able to report to them, and I am prepared now to share this information with the House, that we have shortened the procedure rather dramatically.
We found, for instance, that the average amount of time taken on these applications where they are before the development corporation is 22 days for staff consideration. In some circumstances the time increases because it has to go to the board. The board meets monthly and basically has enough work to keep it going for about three quarters of a day. Short of bringing the board in more frequently from their locations across Ontario -- whether it is the Eastern Ontario Development Corp., the Northern Ontario Development Corp. or the Ontario Development Corp.; they are all representative of many communities in Ontario -- we think that is probably a legitimate time to wait.
In any case, if the loan is under $100,000, as are 63 per cent of the loans, which is not quite two thirds, the time taken is strictly the 22 days, because approval is given by the director and it does not have to go before the board. A further 23 per cent go to the board, which involves an extra 10 days on average; the board may not meet for 30 days after the file has been processed, but on average it works out to about 10 days. Then about 14 per cent have to go to cabinet because the amount exceeds $250,000.
The loss of time occurs with the borrower himself. Whenever a borrower makes application all kinds of time is lost. In the first phase he loses four days just getting the application ready, and that is the kind of thing one would normally expect; it is probably not too bad. Then five to 15 days are lost in the second phase, which is some of the review process; and a further number of days are lost. Anyway, a total of something like 74 to 84 days are lost by the borrower in his having been directly involved in the process.
In other words, it is through the ministry and it is in the hands of the borrower. Sometimes it is in the hands of his lawyer, sometimes in the hands of the borrower himself, to ultimately produce certain documentation that is required to provide the security the province obviously requires.
We have tried to figure out a way of shortening that, and in the last month we have been experimenting with a process where we have put out a pamphlet. It is just mimeographed, but it is filled with all kinds of information telling the borrower what to do, when to do it and how to get his money more quickly, that kind of thing: how to have disbursement occur rather quickly.
It is rather interesting that in that approach, which has been involving the northern Ontario rural development agreement we have with the federal government which is similar to the eastern Ontario subsidiary agreement -- NOROSA, I guess it would be called -- we have found that the time the borrower has been involved in it has telescoped dramatically down. Therefore, we are satisfied we are able to say today that we are gearing towards cutting in half the time it normally took.
Given that it was taking from 100 to 118 days, I was able to say to my caucus that in six months’ time I would report to them on the experience we have had and if we had been able to cut it down. Our goal is to cut it down. That is our mission in terms of time. We feel we are succeeding on the basis of the experiment with the northern Ontario rural development program. We are now going to apply that to all Ontario development corporations. We are going to make sure we have telescoped the time wherever possible.
There is a new person in charge of the development corporations, Mr. Andrew Croll. He is committed to the mission of telescoping the time. He has simplified the forms. Just yesterday he was looking at the kinds of forms the federal government has, and ours are magnificent by comparison. They are so simplified as to be sort of a night and day comparison. We are trying to make everything much simpler. We are trying to simplify the time, make the requirements much simpler, streamline our demands; all the time keeping in mind we have certain responsibilities to the public to ensure their security.
Please be assured that we are intending to telescope the time. We feel that in six months we will be able to report that the 100 to 118 days has been narrowed down to many fewer days on average. We are looking at a target of half that. That is our goal and our objective, that is the goal and objective of the chief executive officer at ODC and time will tell whether or not we have achieved it. But understand it is our mission to achieve that and it is our intention to have that occur.
The member for Kitchener-Wilmot raised some questions about the second section. In essence, how do we define the clause (ba)? Why is the word “industrial” limited? In this case I would refer the member back to the definition section of the act. Chapter 84 of the Development Corporations Act, 1973, in the definition section, section 1, defines “industry” as including “any trade or other business undertaking of any kind, and industrial’ has a corresponding meaning.”
Therefore, it covers any trade or other business undertaking of any kind. When one sees that word in the amendment to Bill 30 before us, clause (ba): “Subsection 12(1) of the said act is amended by adding thereto the following clauses: (ba) make grants to a person carrying on an industrial undertaking in Ontario,” the definition for that includes “any trade or other business undertaking.” So it is captured by the section.
The member also raised some questions about clause 12(1)(d). I believe the word “corporation” caused some concern, but that is defined as well. The member’s concern was that there seemed to be a missing word; that we did not include the words “development corporation” and maybe that had been an oversight.
It was not an oversight, because again the word “corporation” is defined in the Development Corporations Act, 1973, which has for clause 1(1)(b) a definition for the word “corporation.” It means the Ontario Development Corp., the Northern Ontario Development Corp. and the Eastern Ontario Development Corp. It is a word that has reference back to the definition section, so it is quite properly styled in the manner shown.
There was some reference to the concern about “agent.” The member for Kitchener Wilmot raised the issue about section 3, where it said, “The Lieutenant Governor in Council may authorize a corporation to act as agent for the province of Ontario in respect to programs, projects or matters undertaken or carried out by the province for the advancement of industrial or economic development in Ontario.”
Again, going back to the act, one can develop the words “economic development” and see that is the limiting factor. As well, as to the word “agency” in section 3: the order in council that will be established authorizing the ODC to act in a certain set of circumstances will set out the limits of the ODC’s authority to act as agent in each situation as the conditions and situations warrant. In that case, the ODC is asked to act as an agent, and these limits will be set out in the course of the order in council communicating with the ODC as to what should be done. That will be the definition of the limits the agency arrangement would call for.
The member for Quinte (Mr. O’Neil) is not here. I cannot help but notice that he made a great plea to me, this House and our government to interest corporations from outside the country to invest and establish in his area of the country. I thought to myself, “That is an interesting contrast,” because just yesterday the member for Kitchener-Wilmot and I entertained some debate on just how much his party might be divided on the issue of foreign investment and how supportable or unsupportable it might be.
While the member for Kitchener-Wilmot would argue that we should be discouraging foreign investment, his colleague the member for Quinte, who sits directly behind him and probably would have been able to reach across the table and bang his Legislative Assembly dictionary on the member for Kitchener Wilmot’s head, obviously wants to have some foreign investment in his area. He thinks it is important to have jobs in his area. I guess he does not have quite the same benefits as flow in the Kitchener-Wilmot area.
I can appreciate that there is a discrepancy of views here. Such is life. I realize the pains the party must have from time to time in discussing these matters in caucus. I trust the scalp of the member for Kitchener-Wilmot has been preserved as an integral part of his body in the last while and has not been severed.
The member for Quinte also wanted some seminars in his area on assisting industry, and perhaps foreign industry, to establish there and on how people might pursue it. I want to pursue that with the member and I will see to it that our people contact him in that respect.
He raised certain questions involving a letter he had sent to me about funds that appeared to have been exhausted. That is true; at the time they did appear to be exhausted. It is fair to say that from time to time the funds filter back into the system for a variety of reasons. Sometimes loans are approved and not taken up. Cancellations occur on our part or sometimes on the part of the companies that made application. As I say, sometimes the loans are declined by the companies. Whatever the case, there are some moneys available.
He made some reference to a company, the name of which begins with the letter “Q.” I do not think I should reveal its identity, but that company’s application is proceeding smoothly at the moment. We are rather optimistic that it will proceed to some success as per its request.
The member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) raised some questions concerning the Ontario Development Corp. and the amount of interest that might be charged. I would have to say that the rates are variable and depend on the merits of the situation. I do not think the development corporations have ever been accused of being generous. Almost invariably it is the other way around: our demands are too high and our benefits, or our shavings of the interest, are too small.
In any case, we reserve the right to vary the rates as circumstances warrant rather than fixing a rate at eight per cent, as the member has suggested. Often rates are in the range of 12 to 14 per cent, or sometimes 16 per cent, and there is a case where the companies are quite prepared to pay those rates and indeed can, as experience has shown. We would prefer to do that rather than maintain a fixed percentage.
The member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) raised some questions about Allelix Inc. and the choice of people for some of the vocations. I am only loosely aware of the details in that case. It is my understanding that John Labatt Ltd., which had the lead role in the management of it, looked the world over for the kind of person who would be appropriate for this particular innovative development never seen before in the world.
It is a world centre which had never been established before and which has no precedent. The fact is that they have chosen the best people they could possibly find, I understand. They, too, were somewhat disappointed that they had to go to another country to find that individual. However, I believe they are proud of the fact that the individual now has become a Canadian in the sense of being a landed immigrant, and that person will make a substantial contribution.
I am simply going on information I have and have heard about, so I cannot authenticate it; but my understanding is that this is innovative project deals with gene splitting. That being the case, this should develop into a world-renowned centre the likes of which we have never seen. They have found people who are prepared to bring that kind of concept into being. I think we will see a world-class centre there in a very short period of time.
Mr. Sweeney: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I think the minister has neglected to comment on my concern about clause 2(2)(d) as to what the criteria would be for releasing a prospective borrower from the amount that is owed.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I might offer some comment about the criteria for forgiving debts. We feel that we cannot be too rigid in this area, that we have to be flexible because of other lenders as well as other trade creditors who have to be dealt with in a process that might result in a forgiveness occurring. We cannot always tell in advance what the other secured lenders and creditors will agree to in order to save some company. Of course, as a result of that we have to determine it on the merits, and in this situation it gets down to a bit of horse trading.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be able to make a few remarks, much in the same vein as I would have made on the evening of May 27 had we not run into a technical problem on that evening. My comments at this time will be a little briefer and perhaps a little more succinct than they would have been then because of the events that have taken place between that time and now, not the least of which, aside from the various discussions and questions and debates we have had on the budget, was the election of the new member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen). We have not met officially, but as I look over my shoulder I see him smiling, and I extend my personal good wishes on his being elected and on his determination to say a few words this afternoon on somewhat the same theme as I will follow.
Let me begin by making a reference or two to the background, as I see it, which caused our budget to come into play this year. To do that properly, we have to look back at the happening in the very early part of 1981. The people in this province of ours, in my view, were once again fooled, duped and taken in by one of the slickest advertising and promotional campaigns this province has seen. I refer, of course, to the success that the members opposite realized in the early part of 1981 when they were re-elected to a majority position.
The people in Ontario apparently did not want to hear much about what was actually happening in this province of ours. They did not want to hear that Ontario’s rate of economic growth, in comparison to other provinces, was the worst of all the provinces in Canada. They did not want to hear that in the year 1980, and following into 1981, some 90 per cent of all new unemployment and 95 per cent of the layoffs in this country had taken place in Ontario. The number of people in Ontario who lost their jobs in the 12 months preceding the election was equivalent to the entire work force in the cities of Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Red Deer. This province’s greatest export to western Canada at that time was our young people; about 16,000 of them were out of work here, and a significant number of them headed west. On the other hand, we were still importing skilled workers into Ontario, while many of our native Ontarians were sitting idle.
We had that background. We had the election call. We had people in Ontario not wanting to hear those things but, rather, apparently wanting to hear the jingle translated into votes. They wanted to hear about keeping the promise, whatever that was. The promise was never really defined until we got the budget of 1982; then we saw what stuff the Conservative government was made of, as they stuck it to every taxpayer in this province. The promise that was heralded in February and March of 1981, the wonderful thing that was going to happen to us, that mystery, did happen to us when we saw the budget that was brought in this year.
It is interesting to look back at that 1981 campaign and to recall some of the words of the Premier. I am referring now to the story out of the great city of Thunder Bay on February 7, 1981. The Premier told northerners that the government planned to spend about $200 million on forestry management and plant three trees -- not two as he had promised in the old Brampton charter; now it was up to three for every one cut during the next eight years.
Some of the media people who followed that campaign referred to it as a bit of “country fair and midway hokum where the show in the tent does not exactly match the promise of the barker out front.” That observation, again made through the Toronto Star back in February 1981, pretty well reflects my feeling about what happened then and what is happening now: the touch of the “country fair and midway hokum where the show in the tent does not exactly match the promise of the barker out front.” We had the barker, we had the promise, and now we find out what it is.
I could go on with many clippings. It is something all politicians do. We keep track of what the other guy says or the other girl says. We keep files. We try to bring this to the attention of our constituents and of the people who complain to us or who come to us. We try to prove what the feeling of that other politician is by quoting some of the words he or she has uttered.
I could go through page after page. In deference to the new member for Hamilton West and the time factor we are working within today, I will not refer to all of them; but let me pick one or two additional examples to indicate some of the things which we were promised and which we really did not realize.
For example, again in February 1981, the Premier (Mr. Davis) said in Chatham that there was a scheme under consideration, and that was the establishment of an auto parts research and development centre somewhere in that part of the country. I ask the member for Chatham--Kent (Mr. Watson), have we seen it yet?
I could go on and on with the promises made. “Keep the promise” has led us to become somewhat sceptical. The people in Ontario are very sceptical of this government for what it did through this budget and, in some instances, for what it did not do.
The budget could be handily criticized in detail for what it did not do in attempting to bring any balance into its affairs. We all know that from the time of the small initial deficit a little more than a decade ago up to the present huge deficit, each Treasurer indicated he was going to try to balance the budget -- that is, up until the year 1982. I submit to the members, if they search through what was said on the evening the budget was presented, they will find there is no reference this year to balancing the budget.
If the members turn to what the budget said about employment, they will find the stress is there simply for short-range opportunities in the world of employment. They will find, if they look at the concerns this government has in the area of agriculture and food, that it is budgeting less money this year than it did last year in that area. Members will note that the much-heralded small business development corporation program of a year ago is not mentioned this year. What happened to that? Was it a disaster? We have errors of omission in this 1982 budget as well as errors of commission.
In terms of one or two of the items I have brought to the attention of the House -- first, the attempt to balance -- let me submit that a pet theme of mine over the years I have been here is that the government should come up with some program to provide for disclosure of information relating to the cost of government programs.
In 1977, my first year in the Legislature, I introduced a private member’s bill, Bill 125, which was entitled An Act to provide for the Disclosure of Information relating to the Cost of Government Programs. The purpose of the bill was to provide for the public disclosure of cost information upon which decisions to undertake certain government programs are based. The bill required that the estimated total cost of each program be disclosed and provided for additional scrutiny of program operations if the estimated total cost was exceeded.
That bill and one other bill, relating to the way the government handles its finances, were debated in this Legislature; both those bills I introduced were blocked by the government. It did not even want this Legislature to vote on whether those themes were worth pursuing. I find it deplorable, in this day and age, that this government would not allow full debate on issues such as this.
Part of the problem we are into here in Ontario, and for that matter with our federal colleagues, is that many government programs have come along, been put on stream and let run their merry way with very little consideration of cost, where the program was going or how long it was going. We have, then, a variety of programs being looked after in a fashion by an ever-growing variety of civil servants, all of whom are making rather healthy salaries. Some of those programs could well be sunsetted, reduced or adjusted downwardly. But this government chose not to implement the program I suggested for providing some kind of scrutiny on government programs.
In a sense, the government is getting what it deserves. Through not watching its programs, through revenues that have shrunk in some cases, through costs that have skyrocketed and through inflation, which is not the least of the factors, the government has got itself into a horrid deficit position.
We all know the impact of the Treasurer’s (Mr. F. S. Miller) disaster. Let me just take a few moments with the top 20 -- the young people in our community are very much with it in terms of music, and they have their top 10, their top 20 or their top 100. We have developed a top 20 of the Treasurer’s hit parade in terms of the budget.
Municipalities will now pay seven per cent on building materials for capital works, and the municipalities have spoken to our government through the committee about their concern of this increase on them.
Universities, colleges, schools and school boards are numbers six, seven and eight. The rest are children, women, people on fixed incomes, farmers, commuters, conservers, property owners, automobile and truck operators, students, hotels and motels, babies and pet lovers. That is the top 20, and each one of them is on the Treasurer’s hit list.
The Treasurer is not here, again. I cannot help but observe that through a lot of this process he has not been here. He chose, shortly after the budget was introduced, to find his way to northern Ontario for a small --
Mr. Van Horne: The Minister of the Environment observes that he is downstairs now. That is wonderful. I am glad he is down there. I am referring more specifically to those many days when he found it necessary to be either in northern Ontario or over in Japan doing whatever over there.
He has been criticized high, wide and handsome, not only by people in this Legislature but also by people in the media. Let me quote very briefly from notes that were passed on to me from one of the Metro Toronto radio stations reflecting its editorial opinion mixed with that of the people from the firm of Clarkson, Gordon.
“There is no help for the auto industry. Why didn’t the government take one of our industries and create jobs in it?” The specific industry referenced in this commentary was the lumber industry. “We grow trees. When we cut them they are processed in other countries. Then they are returned here.” There are a whole lot of other examples used in this commentary, but the point of it is that there is no attempt to do anything in the long-range sense for either the auto industry or the lumber industry.
The temptation is great to go to the media for all the comments they have made and to use them as some of the thrust of what we present. Let me, rather than referring to the specifics of columns or columnists, simply pick out the effects as they have seen them, and as we have seen them, and do this in random form.
I mentioned the top 20 a few moments ago. The spinoff of this budget is that it is not just the single-barrel shotgun approach but rather the double-barrel shotgun approach wherein the taxpayer realizes the effect through the adding on of sales tax to items that heretofore were not taxed.
The women of the community have all expressed disdain at the taxing of personal or sanitary products. On top of that, they and every one else in the province will be double taxed through having to pay the additional property tax, municipal tax, increase in fares for riding on public transit or whatever it is, because the effect is felt there too.
The Toronto Transit Commission budget will be increased through this Treasurer’s budget by over $1 million. Service on vehicles and labour costs which heretofore were not taxed will be taxed. Therefore, one will find additional costs when one has repairs done on one’s automobile or when having goods transported to a residence or place of business; the truck that brings them has had to pay the additional costs of whatever repairs and maintenance it has had.
Some people in southwestern Ontario involved with repairing large vehicles, particularly trucks, have expressed concern that the truckers, many of whom are operating on a marginal base, may well try to keep on the road vehicles that should not be on the road simply because they cannot afford that extra bit of tax.
That brings the other problem to all of us. There would possibly be the risk of serious injury from a number of vehicles being on the road that should not be on the road, but are on the road because the guy has to make a living and he is hoping that truck which needs repairs may go for one more month.
The budget with its retail sales tax effect as it is seen by such people as myself means looking with growing scepticism at the Conservative government as to the promise being kept from that 1981 election. This government is going to do whatever it can without regard to the feelings of the little guy on the street and this is going to happen again and again.
If we who sit in this chamber feel some magic solution will come out of the committee hearings, which the minister opposite pointed out a few moments ago are finishing this afternoon, we are all grossly naive. Even members on the back benches of the Conservative Party have indicated the exercise is one of futility.
We as a political party on this side were able to achieve the opportunity to provide people who felt very strongly about the adverse effects of this budget with some arena or vehicle to express their displeasure. But if one sits here and thinks some magic wand will be waved by the Treasurer in a few days, if one thinks he is going to say, “Yes, on reflection, the last 30 hours of committee have made me realize something grievous is happening to the taxpayers in Ontario and I must change,” then one is smoking something quite strong that is making one think rather strangely.
Let me submit that little will happen. He might make the odd small, regulatory change to accommodate the odd, small minority group, but by and large the majority of the people in Ontario are going to have it stuck to them as thoroughly as possible for the remainder of this year. I submit he is going to stick it to us next year if he is around as Treasurer next year. If he is not, some other poor sap over there is going to have to do the job in his place.
In spite of all that has been said about the Treasurer, I do not really think he was mastermind of this whole scheme. I think we have to look behind the scenes to the mandarins in the Treasury, to those $60,000 or $70,000 geniuses who have the expertise, research tools and polling available to them, which allows them to manipulate and put some program together called “Budget 1983” and perhaps “Budget 1984.” Then the magic of an election will appear and the goody-bag will open up again in the fond hope that the people of Ontario will forgive and forget. After all, these are tough times and we need the dough.
I hate to be sceptical as I wind up these few comments but five short years in this Legislature have wiped away some of the naivety from these middle-aged eyes and this middle-aged mind, so I hope that what I am uttering is pretty close to the mark. It grieves me to say it, but anyone who expects wonderful change through pressure in this debate or in the committee exercise, is not living in the real world.
We on this side of the House have offered a variety of programs as viable alternatives which could be tied into budget projects. In my view, one of the finest papers on energy alternatives for Ontario was presented by our party within the last couple of years.
We had what I think was an excellent proposal for interest relief for home owners. We had a variety of programs, including an industrial strategy, which could have helped this province immeasurably. But never in the five years I have been here has the government put aside its biases and said: “By golly, those folks are right. They have something we should call on. Let us use a little bit of that expertise from the other side of the House.”
But they do not do that. They blunder ahead. They foul up the finances of this province and get themselves into such wonderful programs as jet planes and Suncor, neither of which they can afford; particularly the Suncor situation in which we find ourselves. There is no way in the wide world that this government should be getting itself involved in what is basically a private sector enterprise.
I want to conclude by submitting that the budget is a total and absolute disaster. I do not recall any single issue in my five years of elected provincial office, or in my seven years in municipal office in the community of London, which has aroused such opposition. The constituents I represent have never complained to me about anything more than they have about this budget.
I have had more phone calls, more visits to my office and more people stopping me in the street in the fine community of London, Ontario, to say to me: “What you people in the opposition are doing by speaking out, by criticizing, by drawing matters to the attention of the public in the best way you can, is meaningful to us. We appreciate what you are doing. That government has been there too long.”
I have one or two other little asides about the response of the people in my community to the press reaction, and I would submit that generally the Metro press reacted to us with a little bit of surprise, initially. The people in my community said to me: “Do not worry about people being critical of your tactics in bringing this terrible, disastrous budget to the attention of anyone who will listen. We in London are with you. It is a terrible budget. See if you cannot get Mr. Davis to go to the polls again on this one. Let us see what that promise is.”
Mr. Speaker, let me conclude by submitting to you that I am very proud of my colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) and of the job he did in presenting our party’s case. I am very proud of my leader and of my colleagues who have also spoken on this issue, because we feel very strongly that the Treasurer’s budget is bad for Ontario and that it is wrong-headed. And please, let us hope that some common sense will find its way into the future budgets of this great province of ours.
Mr. Allen: Mr. Speaker, I understand from the gentleman opposite that I cannot now sit down. I have heard a few things about maiden speeches in the last few days, and I am at least a little fortunate that, unlike one of my colleagues, I have somewhat more than 45 seconds to deliver mine.
On the other hand, I also get the impression that maiden speeches are something like greatness: Some people prepare for it, some people seize it, other people have it thrust upon them. I will leave it to your imagination which one happened to me in the late hours of this morning’s caucus meeting.
Mr. Allen: The member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) has dealt with some of the general aspects of the budget; with some of those, of course, I agree, and in other respects I would want to extend his remarks in a number of directions.
I would also like to say that the recent by-election in Hamilton West was, in effect, a mini-referendum on two budgets, and one of those was the budget delivered in this House on May 13, almost a month and a half ago.
My initial reaction to that budget was to move to different parts of the riding and to sample reactions, and I found that the general reaction was a very instantaneous one. The reaction was that the budget was a retrograde budget that would not achieve many, if any, of its overall objectives; that it was an inadequate response to the economic crisis that has settled over this province; and that it would be serious in its impact on the major institutions in my riding, whether we are speaking of local government institutions, educational institutions such as universities and school boards, or small businesses.
But more than its economic impact, what I want to communicate not just to the House but to the government sitting opposite is that those first reactions were not just of an economic but of a moral character. The budget was judged inadequate as a moral response to the problems of depression pressing upon our consciences. It was recognized early as a budget for survivors and not for hurters; it was recognized early that it offered no help whatsoever to those on disability pensions, to 150,000 single seniors who were vainly striving, vainly hoping for some kind of catch-up provision for their long-eroded pensions.
Hamilton West contains a lot of families who are hurting as a consequence of the depression. Almost every family that one visited in the course of the election campaign could point to a member who was unemployed, somebody who was losing a house through a mortgage problem and so on.
Hamilton West, while it contains a very large labouring population -- and that labouring population knew immediately who would be bearing the brunt of the depression circumstances and who would, in turn, be bearing the brunt of the newly proclaimed budget -- is also a constituency that includes a lot of voluntary associations and many members of its population who participate in them.
These are people whose consciences have been honed by long practice to recognize difficulties in various parts of the riding. For example, they know that a year ago drop-ins to the mental health centre in Hamilton West were up by 80 per cent and they are up 100 per cent for this past year over that earlier statistic. That is largely a consequence of the effects being felt because of the economic circumstances of our times.
People involved in those organizations were offended at the extension of the sales tax. They saw it as a burden directly on the poor. They were offended that disabled and single seniors saw no catch-up in purchasing power. They were offended even more at the state of mind the budget represented. They were offended by the post-budget commentaries by the Treasurer of this province relating to whether the poor should drink pop, working people should invest in hamburgers on the lunch hour or women should consider certain articles necessities or not. To them, that spoke of a government that was utterly and incredibly insensitive to people and their needs. They repeatedly said it was a government too long in power and too much out of touch.
In my first remarks, I want to emphasize that the reaction in Hamilton West was not simply an economic reaction, it was not just irritation to small sales tax items that might affect us all in our pocketbooks in some measure or other. The reaction in Hamilton West was a moral protest against what was fundamentally an immoral budget.
The university is the fifth largest employer in Hamilton, and that is excluding the Chedoke-McMaster Hospital from that calculation. It is also an educational institution of long-standing and one which has made a historic contribution to this province.
Having drawn up its budget, that university suddenly found itself faced with finding $1.5 million that it had to scramble around and get somehow as a result of the impacts of the various taxes that were now to be imposed upon it. Those figures take no account of the students at that university who find that maintaining themselves at university is an increasingly difficult proposition. For example, in the reports they made to the sales tax review committee last night they said they find the charges on meals, even with the new regulations the Treasurer is suggesting he will put in place in that respect, are heavy ones for them to bear.
There are many students at the university who do not live in residence and cannot take advantage of the meal plan rebate. There are many of them at Mohawk College, which of course is outside my riding, who do not live in residence at all and who therefore cannot qualify for the regulatory release the Treasurer has provided.
Despite the 12.2 per cent increase in the funding of the university system in this last year and in spite of some increases in the Ontario student assistance program, this budget maintains the pressure upon the university which it has felt for the last half dozen years at least and which, as John Fraser observed in a recent article in the Globe and Mail, “has reduced discussion in the universities to matters of budgetary trivia, anxieties about appointments and has led those noble institutions in our province away from concern with their major purposes as universities in our society.”
To move on from the university to local government, what is the impact of that budget upon the city and the region? The regional government has calculated that the impact of the increases in Ontario health insurance plan premiums; the extension of the sales tax; the impact on transit, water and sewer and engineering programs; the tax on magazines and printed matter, and the tax on labour charges for installations, repairs and maintenance will add an additional $890,000 at the least to its budget.
In a similar review, the city discovered that the impact on its budget will be of the order of $548,000, or, for both levels of government combined, approximately $1.5 million on an annual basis. Those calculations are made worse when we consider the low level of transfer payments that are being handed to municipalities this year. There was a 6.6 per cent increase over last year, half the rate of inflation.
If we look at another transfer payment, namely, for social assistance, to help cope with transferred programs like family benefits for which municipalities now have to carry the increasing burden, there has been a mere 1.6 per cent increase in the transfer payments to assist those governments to handle such programs. That is an insult to a self-respecting government in this city and to the self-respecting municipalities across this province.
The Hamilton school board, like others in the region, has recorded a similar dismay about the impact of the budget on its own budget. Having trimmed its budget of all the fat it could in a basically no-increase budget over the past year, the Hamilton school board has found itself saddled this year with an increase of something like $383,000 as a result of the increase in the Ontario health insurance plan and the extension of sales taxes, and it looks forward to a cost of $600,000 next year.
When we turn to the taxpayers of Hamilton West, it is not surprising to hear the constant complaint about increased taxation, especially among property owners who have to bear the burden of taxation. Municipal administrations cannot go into deficit and they have to come up with the money somehow to bear these additional costs. What is new about anxiety in regard to taxation? Perhaps nothing much, except that the voters in Hamilton West have not always been sure how to explain the pressure they felt.
It became increasingly plain to me, as the election we just went through proceeded, that they were beginning to understand how the squeeze on their pocketbooks and salaries was becoming so onerous. They began to understand that it was a systematic downward transfer of programs to the municipality, a weighting of educational budgets more upon the municipality and less on the province.
Even more, they were beginning to understand the radical changes that had taken place in the taxation system in this province over the past 20 years. Members of this House may understand very well that the balance of personal and corporation taxes in this province has radically altered over that period, but the public has been rather slow in catching on to that fact. I think they are learning. They are beginning to understand that while 20 years ago for every personal tax dollar $1.79 was paid by business taxes, for every personal tax dollar now, business pays something like 23 cents. It is obvious that the present budget simply continues that trend, that revolution in taxation that is burdening small- and middle-income earners in this province so heavily.
The most immediate example of that lies in the budget’s provisions with respect to small businesses, in particular the two-year tax holiday offered to a minority of small businessmen. Those small businessmen also have not always been aware of the way in which their own tax dollars functioned in relationship to economic stimulation, the budget as a whole and the problems they face in the marketplace. If I can digress for a moment, numerous studies in taxation have revealed that corporate tax concessions are one of the most ineffective ways of maintaining an economy, stimulating economic growth, creating jobs and increasing incomes, whether for working people or in profits for business.
A recent study by Reza Ghaeli at McMaster University, which was examined closely by half a dozen outstanding economists, looked at the macroeconomic effects of increases in the corporate income tax upon the Canadian economy. Using the very complex trace model at the University of Toronto, the study argued effectively that, even in a time of depression, to engage in moderate increases in corporate income tax if there was offered at the same time an equivalent release of taxation at the lower end of the income scale, produced a through-the-economy benefit. The taxpayer got the first benefit, the small businessman got the benefit of the extended purchasing power and it went right through to business profits.
The small businessmen in my riding tell me what they need most of all is a market. What has the Treasurer done? He has given a minority of them a small tax relief which will be quite ineffective in creating jobs. It looks not bad in gross figures, but when one averages it out the impact will probably be very small and the funds likely to be absorbed in carrying charges, etc.
Secondly, the Treasurer has not tried to maintain jobs. Surely when the economy is in a downward spiral it is as important for us to undertake to maintain jobs as it is to produce them. He has not tried to maintain jobs by providing help for those small businesses which are finding themselves on the margin of existence.
Thirdly, he has constricted seriously their anticipated market by withdrawing several hundred million dollars in new sales taxes from the market in Ontario, some $50 million of that from my region alone. Far better for him on all counts, first of all, to have maintained the small business tax in place; secondly, to have offered a relief program to small marginal businesses, and thirdly, to have abandoned all thought of sales tax extension and Ontario health insurance plan premium increases.
I have talked to small businesses and have had press conferences with small businesses in the course of the recent by-election. The small businessmen of Hamilton West tell me this budget is of no help to the average small businessman in that riding. Indeed, some see it as a disaster matched only by the federal Liberal budgets of recent months and recent days.
On the subject of job creation, as one reviews the budget and the impact of the budget on major employers in Hamilton and Hamilton West it is evident that they will be hard pressed to find the funds necessary to indulge in much job creation activity. Working people can look for no help beyond a modicum of small temporary make-work projects.
At a time when unemployment in Hamilton is reaching the 50,000 mark and registers a 74 per cent increase over the period since the government was elected, it is tragic that this government really has no energetic industrial strategy put in place to answer the needs of the heavy industry of Hamilton. That is a subject upon which one could dilate at some length, but I think the matter stands as I have observed.
There is no serious attempt to deal with import replacement for the Ontario economy. This can only be done by tackling some of the major import areas, particularly those which heavy industry can serve; for example, in the area of mining machinery. Nothing appears to be happening of very great consequence for Hamilton’s heavy industry as a result of the Sudbury machinery centre.
As I said, one could dilate upon that point at some length. None the less, I think the point will be picked up by other speakers. The point I want to make is simply that there is no industrial strategy in place adequate to the needs of industry in Hamilton West.
I would point out, finally, that the renter population in my riding stands at 55 per cent. Driving through Hamilton one would think it was a community of small home owners, but the majority of people in that constituency are renters. The housing program built into the budget, which has been urged by the Treasurer not only as a work project but as a relief for renters, is one that offers very little, if any, hope for renters in Hamilton West.
The terms of the housing grant make it almost impossible for anyone apart from those earning $40,000 or more to take advantage of it. Second, as far as the works end of the project is concerned it is quite evident that the moneys devoted to that program will go to buying up the existing housing stock in the Hamilton area rather than to stimulating further housing construction.
In short, as I review the impact of the budget on a riding like Hamilton West and as I look at its various sectors and its various institutions, I want simply to submit to the government opposite that the verdict from Hamilton West on the budget we have received from the Treasurer is that it is one which makes neither economic nor moral sense and that it is, in effect, an affront to this province.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I understand there is going to be an empty seat in the front row of the New Democratic Party benches, and maybe the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) should be invited to move up there. It may be more difficult to fill that seat in ways other than the party suspects.
My compliments to the member for Hamilton West. That was a most appropriate maiden speech. I was a little bit surprised by the timing, because I had been led to believe that university professors and lecturers were programmed to speak in 50-minute intervals, take 10 minutes for a break and then come back for 50 minutes again. I can only--
Mr. Sweeney: Oh, I see. That is one way of looking at it. Anyway, my compliments to the new member. In addition to my other colleagues who have already expressed this, I welcome the honourable member to this House and hope he will enjoy his stay here, at least until the next election. After that only time will tell.
Mr. Sweeney: Yes. If the member was invited to participate in this debate only this morning, I would suggest a few knuckles should be rapped over there to clarify who is organizing that place. We understand from vague sources that there is a whip who gets extra money for doing these kinds of things. I think he should be charged a penalty for that kind of behaviour. Maybe the member for Hamilton West can introduce an appropriate suspension program for that kind of behaviour.
In the 25 minutes that remain, maybe a few after that, let me speak about what I think is the most important point in this entire budget. It was interesting that when the new Ministry of Industry and Trade was announced and the minister had an opportunity within a couple of weeks to observe the primary function of his ministry, he used the expression, “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”
It was an interesting parallel when the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) introduced his budget that on several different occasions he pointed out the need to create employment in this province. I will not take the opportunity now to quote him chapter and verse, but the other members of this Legislature will well remember the number of times he made references to it, both direct and indirect. He referred to a number of the budget provisions as being in there precisely as employment generating provisions.
I was a little concerned when he indicated with respect to youth employment in Ontario that while there were hopefully going to be 31,000 jobs generated by this budget, all of them, every single one of them, would be temporary. There would be a few generated this spring, a few generated in the summer and a few generated in the winter. In every case, they are temporary jobs.
It was also notable that in the one program indicated in the budget with respect to summer employment, there was actually a decrease. Whereas the summer Experience program had generated something in the neighbourhood of 10,000 jobs in 1981, it was projected to be going to generate only something like 8,800 jobs in 1982, a decline of 1,200 jobs.
That should not have been surprising to us, because when we look at the statistical tables at the back of the budget we notice that for the last four years the allocation of funds and the number of jobs created by this summer program have declined every single year.
The other thing we note in the budget with respect to job creation and the whole unemployment question is some of the incentives that were going to be provided to school boards and municipalities. This is one of those cases where the Treasurer giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other.
We have been made very aware over the last four or five days of hearings on Bill 115 with respect to the sales tax that these incentive programs that are supposed to create extra work in our municipalities, our universities and our school boards are going to have a disincentive effect built right into them because of the sales tax provisions.
On the one hand, the Treasurer, representing the government of Ontario, stands up and says, “We are doing these wonderful things to create work in your municipalities and with your school boards and your universities,” but on the other hand he says: “We are going to charge sales tax on the materials and on the labour component of some of these other charges. Therefore, you are going to end up with less money.” As I said, it is “Give with the right hand and take away with the left.”
There is another interesting aspect to this budget. This government has on a number of occasions expressed deep concern about alternative energy forms and conservation forms in this province. Yet we have another contradiction in this same budget. Those people who have been heeding the government of Ontario, who have been planning to put insulation, storm doors or storm windows into their homes and, generally speaking, to adhere to the admonition to conserve and to look at alternative energy forms, are going to be taxed as well.
As a matter of fact, there is an interesting twist in this budget. We are going to have some people in Ontario who are going to be eligible for federal government grants through the Canadian home insulation program. If they insulate their homes they can get something like up to $600 through the federal government program. Yet, lo and behold, the provincial government is going to turn around and take seven per cent of that money away from them.
Here we have, I am assuming with some reasonableness, people in this province wondering whether the two levels of government talk to each other or whether one even wonders what the other is doing. On the one hand, they get one level of government giving them $600 to insulate their homes, and they get another level of government taking some of that money back again because they do the very thing that level of government had advised them to do, insulate their homes.
With respect to alternative energy sources, we know how long this government has been on record, at least in words, as saying it wants to establish alternative energy, it wants to create jobs through the alternative energy program and it wants householders to consider using alternative energy forms. Yet, once again, those very alternative energy materials are going to be taxed. Is it any wonder that the people of Ontario have discovered a very wide credibility gap in their government? These kinds of inconsistencies and internal contradictions come up time and time again in this budget.
I want to spend my time in the latter part of this afternoon, and for a little time in the evening, speaking to the topic with which I introduced my remarks. That is the whole question of unemployment and job creation, and particularly youth job creation. By youth, I am referring to the age group of 15 to 24.
The Speaker will be well aware, as are other members of this House, that I was part of a task force that went around the province for three months, beginning in March of this year and concluding in June. I met with young people around this province who were unemployed, with employers, with various counsellors and with representatives of various social agencies to try to find out precisely what the problem was and what could be done about it.
I was trying to find out why it was that down through the past two decades, at least in Ontario, youth unemployment was always double the unemployment rate for any other age group in this province. Whether we were in good economic times or poor economic times, the young people of this province were always paying a double penalty.
That is true all the way back, no matter what period we look at and no matter what part of this province we visited -- and we visited all corners of this province. We went from Ottawa to Windsor, from Niagara Falls up to Thunder Bay, and everywhere in between. We talked to the people directly affected by the problem, the young people themselves and the adults who were working with them.
We found the same pattern repeated everywhere, no matter what the unemployment rate was in any community. If it was 11 per cent as a general rate, it was 20, 21 or 22 per cent for young people. If it was 13 or 14 per cent as a general rate, it was 26, 27 or 28 per cent for young people. Across the province as a whole, it is a little more than eight per cent, but for young people in April and May 1982 it was 16.4 per cent. As a matter of fact, in May 1982, the last date for which I have figures, we had 186,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24 out of work in Ontario.
I am not talking about young people who are looking for summer employment. I am talking about young people who are looking for permanent, full-time employment. Those are people who have dropped out of our secondary schools, who are graduates of our secondary schools, who have spent some time in colleges and universities or who have graduated from colleges and universities. Those are the people we are talking about.
We are not talking about those who are looking for summer employment so they can go back to school next year. That is a whole other concern altogether. There are about 80,000 young people like that out there. That is a whole other problem altogether, and we have to deal with that as well.
Right now, I am talking about those young people who are looking for full-time permanent employment, those young people who in many cases are beginning their employment lives in this province. When we talked to those people, they were angry, frustrated and very depressed. There are a lot of young people in this province who have a very bad taste in their mouths about the beginnings of their employment lives in this jurisdiction.
I want to say at this time that I do not want my words to be taken in any partisan context. As a matter of fact, as we spent three months criss-crossing this province, we made it very clear that we were not doing this just for partisan purposes. We really wanted to find out what the problem was. We really wanted to come up with recommendations which were credible and which could in good faith pass across to the government and ask them to consider and hope they would take some action on.
I have submitted copies of the report of our task force to the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson), the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) and the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay), because a number of the recommendations deal with their ministries, as well as to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) and the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies), who is the parliamentary assistant in charge of the Ontario Youth Secretariat, which is responsible for dealing with youth problems for the province. In each case, we asked them to look at our findings in the report and the recommendations that were made to us to see to what extent they could be implemented in Ontario.
The other point I want to make is that these recommendations are not mine. They are not the recommendations of the other members of our task force, the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) and the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini). They are not the recommendations of the members of this caucus. They are recommendations that have been given to us by the people of this province, the young people and employers, counsellors and various social agency people. These are the recommendations which we transmit to the members of the government in this House.
The kinds of recommendations which are in our report and which I will talk about now are really not new. One of the very disconcerting aspects of this exercise was that when we initially began our research on this project, when we looked back to find out who had done anything like this before and what kinds of thoughts they had, what kinds of recommendations they made and to whom they had spoken, we found that it was not new. We went back to 1963, which is almost 20 years ago.
We went back to the Simonett commission’s report on manpower training. It was headed by J. R. Simonett, who was a member of the government of Ontario at that time. The thing that struck us forcibly was the similarity between our recommendations and the recommendations made to the government of Ontario by one of its own members after conducting a study and being part of a commission which that government itself had set up.
Let me refer to the recommendations of the Simonett report of 1963. It said, “We should not depend upon a continuing supply of skilled talent from overseas.” How many times have we you heard that, Mr. Speaker? How many times have members of the government heard that? For far too long this province has relied upon importing skilled help, primarily from Europe. The businessmen and the industrialists of this province have relied for far too long on importing skilled help from Europe at the same time as we have more than 100,000 young people -- as of May this year, 186,000 young people -- out of work.
Yet what have we been doing? Year after year, we allow the businessmen and the industrialists to send their representatives to Europe to hire their skilled help. Why? It is because they will not train them here. Why will they not train them here? It is because there is no requirement that they train them here.
The true irony and frustration of this whole concern is that many of the companies that operate in Ontario and refuse to train their own skilled workers are the very same companies that have plants in Europe -- West Germany, France, Sweden and England -- in those countries where it is a legislative requirement that they train their workers. I want to make that particular point.
Mr. Sweeney: I do not care who did it. I would be quite happy if the honourable member wanted to make the recommendation. I would just like to see it happen. I do not care who does it. The fact remains, it needs to be done here.
What really annoys me is that I have raised this issue on numerous occasions in this House. When I was the critic for Colleges and Universities, I raised this issue. When I was the critic for Education, I raised this issue. Since I have become the critic for Industry and Trade, I have raised the issue again. Yet each time the particular minister would, with a sanctimonious air, say to us: “Oh, but we can’t do that. We would drive industry away from our jurisdiction. They won’t locate here. They won’t create the jobs here if we force them to do things like that.”
I have talked to people from those jurisdictions and they have made it clear to us that industry over there did not particularly want to do it. I was talking to a couple of people from England who were involved in the training process. One said business and industry in England were dragged kicking and screaming into this program. They did not want to do it at all. They gave all the same arguments that the businessmen in Ontario are giving today, that they cannot afford it and that they do not get enough help from the schools.
He also told me that once they were in it, and this was well over a decade ago, and began to realize the advantages of training their own people, those criticisms and complaints declined rather remarkably.
We were advised that Ontario Hydro was going to bring 75 nuclear technicians over from Europe. Why? It needed those nuclear technicians to run all those nuclear power plants Ontario Hydro was building, the ones it built at Pickering 10 to 12 years ago and the ones built at Douglas Point seven or eight years ago. It told us it had to bring those nuclear technicians over to run those plants.
We said: “Wait a minute. Why don’t you train those people here to run those plants? You are supposed to be the world leaders in nuclear power generation technology. Why are we not training our own people?” The minister of the day replied: “We are sorry, but we do not have enough time. We need them right now.”
Just stop and think of the implication of that answer. Here we were, in 1978-79, being told that Ontario Hydro needed nuclear technicians to run its power plants, but it needed them now. My God, we knew 15 years ago -- more than that --
Mr. Sweeney: Let us cut the ice a bit and say 15 years ago. At least 15 years ago, Ontario Hydro had its demonstration plant just north of Ottawa and it was already committed to nuclear technology. The first plant came on stream well over 10 years ago. So what does it mean that it did not have time? Sure, it did not have time right then, but it knew for 10 to 15 years in advance that, if it were going to build these plants, if these plants were going to be operational, then it would need technicians to run them.
That is fairly elemental. I can quite accept that somebody would be suddenly faced with the need for skilled people, a need he could not have anticipated; I might not be very happy with it, but at least I could understand it. But when you know 10 to 15 years in advance that you are going to need these people and you still do not train them yourself, if you leave yourself the option of going over to Europe to bring these people here rather than training your own young people, then that is a scandal and there is no excuse for it.
It is bad enough when private industry in this province does those kinds of things; it is not under any government control whatever. But when an agency of this government, Ontario Hydro, does that, it is even more inexcusable.
Anyway, it is said, “This is something that has just occurred.” But it did not just occur. This very warning that we could no longer continue to import our skilled help, that we were going to have to train them ourselves, was contained in the 1963 report commissioned by this government. It was not commissioned by the federal government, by any university or by any opposition caucus; it was commissioned by the government of Ontario 20 years ago. So do not let us hear any of this nonsense that we did not know.
What else did the 1963 report say? It indicated that we need a solid foundation in the academic fundamentals of maths, science and language. That was in 1963. Yet what did this government do? In 1968 and 1969, five or six years later, they brought the wonderful option program into the secondary schools of Ontario. Until 1974 it was not even a requirement in Ontario for a student to study mathematics, English or science. Only in 1974 did they bring back the requirement that students in Ontario had to take mathematics, and then for only two years in the secondary schools. It was not until 1976 that they brought back the requirement that students study English, the communications skills, and science -- and they have to take science for only one year.
Here we have a commission set up by the government of Ontario indicating in 1963 that it was absolutely essential that all our students have a background in science, mathematics and English -- or French, as the case may be -- and yet we have the government of Ontario between 1968 and 1976, a full eight years, not making it a requirement that the students of Ontario should study those very basic subjects.
Is it any wonder that we still have employers in Ontario expressing concern with, and a lack of credibility in the academic background of graduates of our secondary schools? Even though this is not completely true any longer, the credibility gap, the concern is still there.
Hon. Mr. Gregory moved that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to sit this evening after the committee stage of Bill 29 in the House to complete its consideration of Bill 62, An Act to amend the Municipal Boundary Negotiations Act.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this motion is that the committee has decided it needs more time to hear delegations from Tiny township and some of the municipalities, and it has asked for additional time; but because we have a municipal bill in the House, Bill 29, with the same parliamentary assistant taking part, it was felt that we could deal with that in the House and then allow the administration of justice committee to sit again after that.