Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, as the House is probably well aware, the Premier (Mr. Davis) is at this time winging his way back from a very enjoyable visit to the city of Vancouver. It is a very great pleasure to extend congratulations on behalf of all the members of this House, the government and the people of Ontario to the Toronto Argonauts, winners of this year’s Grey Cup.
The dramatic and thrilling come-from-behind victory over the BC Lions we all watched very eagerly yesterday was a credit to every member of the Double Blue and it has provided the city of Toronto with its first national football championship after a wait of 31 years. We do not intend to wait another 31 years.
I know all Canadians, regardless of which team they supported in yesterday’s contest, can agree that the game itself exhibited the surprises and qualities that have made the Grey Cup one of this country’s great sporting events. It is very appropriate that the exciting season enjoyed by all teams of the Canadian Football League was capped by such a closely fought game which involved the best representatives of the east and the west.
The members of this House and I would like to congratulate everyone associated with this long-awaited Argo victory, the management, coaches, players and certainly -- I think this has to be emphasized -- the loyal fans.
Mr. Speaker, I know you and the members of this House would want to congratulate the management, the coaches, the players and, as I said a few minutes ago, certainly the loyal fans of this city and province who for over three decades have kept alive this hope that has now become a reality.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I join in the enthusiasm of the House leader. This is truly a remarkable day. My colleagues who have been in the House a little longer than I tell me that in 20 years they have never seen the House leader prepared to mess up his hair for the public good. I think that is an extraordinary development in itself.
I should clear up one minor misconception. The House leader said the Premier was coming back today. Actually, the Premier headed for the airport on the Urban Transportation Development Corp. system last night after the game and has not been heard from since.
I join with the House leader in expressing the good wishes of my colleagues and our congratulations to the Argonauts, the Double Blue, on this truly outstanding victory. All the commentators said it was a victory for both sides, closely fought and well played by both teams. Indeed, Toronto did come out on the winning end of the equation and we are all delighted.
It shows that after 31 years, patience and perseverance do pay off. Given the fact that the Argos have spent that time in the wilderness, it gives some hope to my colleagues and me. Quality always triumphs, even if it takes 30 or 40 years to demonstrate that. It was truly a red-letter day for the Double Blue.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, the members of our party have no difficulty at all identifying with the Argonauts. Having watched them over many years and seen their performance, which in some years was not so good, in some years better and this year finally triumphant, I think that is something the New Democrats can very easily identify with. We take a great deal of pleasure in celebrating this victory after 31 years in the relative football wilderness.
Mr. Rae: I hope the helmet will be passed around during question period from minister to minister as each attempts to respond to various questions. Obviously, a great many of them have been playing without a helmet for far too long.
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I mean no disrespect, but do you mind if I face the cameras as I make my statement today? My mother is tired of watching my little bald spot at the back of my head. The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) says the cameras disappear once they get on, but do you mind if I talk facing their way so my mother might see me make my statement to the House?
Crime prevention has been an important responsibility of organized police forces since their inception. We are now just really beginning to realize, however, how effective prevention rather than cure can be. That is why the Ontario Police Commission has designated Mr. John Slavin, an instructor at the Ontario Police College, as crime prevention liaison officer for the police forces of Ontario.
Mr. Slavin is now busy identifying and cataloguing effective crime prevention programs currently being conducted by the various municipal police forces and the Ontario Provincial Police. At the same time he will be making a needs assessment to study and to identify what further resources must be developed.
Among the programs being examined will be the Crime Stoppers program initiated first in Ontario by the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police force. This program features dramatizations of actual crimes on television with a local citizens’ committee offering rewards for tips that lead to the arrest of those responsible. The crime prevention liaison officer will also be evaluating programs like Neighbourhood Watch, the Block Parents program, Operation Aware, Operation Identification, and You and the Law.
Another successful crime prevention program has been Operation Provident, which adapts the marking of personal property to the needs of the business community. It involves the establishment of a central numbering system from which a sequential identification number can be allotted to a particular organization or business. The assigned number, properly filed, is readily available to law enforcement officials for quick and easy reference.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General is also involved in a pilot project designed to provide assistance to the victims of crime in four Ontario municipalities or regions: London, Timmins, Waterloo and Hamilton-Wentworth.
The Ontario Provincial Police is also active in the crime prevention field, including a joint project with the Ministry of Education called VIP: values, influences and peers. This project involves educating public school children about the dangers involved in a number of criminal areas ranging from shoplifting to drug abuse.
I would urge all members to familiarize themselves with the crime prevention efforts under way in their own ridings so that they may make their constituents aware of how they might participate in these programs as the provincial Solicitor General is participating with the federal Solicitor General in National Crime Prevention Week.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, since members of the cabinet are worried about reflections from their heads to the television cameras, I think you should extend to all members of the cabinet the same privilege to face the cameras when they are making statements.
The task force is conducting its work in three phases. The first phase concerns amateur athletics in the community. The second phase concerns athletics in elementary and secondary schools. The third phase concerns professional athletics and athletics at universities and community colleges.
The task force makes 24 recommendations which will be of significant interest to the Minister responsible for Women’s Issues (Mr. Welch) and which involve the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations as well as the Ministry of Labour.
Honourable members will he interested to note that the report states there has been integration in recreational athletics at the community level and that such integration should be encouraged. The report goes on to say that when it comes to competitive athletics at the community level, complete integration should be encouraged but not legislated for the immediate future, provided that equality of competitive opportunity is available.
The report also recommends that a co-ordinator of equal opportunity in athletics be appointed to decide upon equality questions. It further states that the decisions of the co-ordinator would be subject to appeal to a board of inquiry established under the Human Rights Code. The board’s findings would be binding.
I hope this first volume of the report of the Task Force on Equal Opportunity in Athletics will stimulate a good bit of public discussion. I look forward to receiving comment from all interested parties in the community.
I would also point out that Mr. Sopinka, the author of the report, will be available downstairs in the press room at 3:30 this afternoon to answer any questions there might be from the opposition or government members.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Bill 100 has now been received and has apparently been printed in both languages, French and English. I commend the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) for having it done. Is it the government’s intention now to introduce all legislation in both languages so the people of Ontario can follow the legislation in the language of their choice?
Mr. Speaker: That is right. If you would notice, you will see at the bottom of this that it has been published by the Ministry of the Attorney General. With all respect, we do our own printing. If you would take the time to look at the bill, you will see that the Legislative Assembly does the printing.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. The minister was recently asked to grant an extension to unemployed university and community college graduates who are due to start the repayment on their Ontario student loans. I gather her response was, “We cannot afford it and you just cannot do it.”
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable Leader of the Opposition that, indeed, Ontario would never have had to get into the loan business at all had it not been for the dereliction of duty of the federal government, which for more than 11 years made no modification at all to the Canada student loan program until July 1983. At that time, the government of Canada was contributing something less than 17 per cent of the total student support across Canada,
This year, they have finally made the modifications we have been asking for as ministers of education from coast to coast for the past nine years. As a part of that, there was an action taken which defers the requirement for repayment of loans for students who have difficulty with employment during this period of recession. It is a short-term program under the modification of the Canada student loan.
When the Canadian Federation of Students --Ontario asked me if I were considering doing the same thing in Ontario, I said very clearly I was not because the grant program in Ontario is of far more importance to students at this time than remission of loan to a small number of students in Ontario.
This repayment system in Ontario is of such quality that the students can repay at a very low rate as long as they are perceived to be committed to repayment and they can be carried quite effectively through a period of unemployment.
Mr. Peterson: Is the minister aware that to grant the extension as per the request would cost about $150,000 for a year and about $50,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year? This Legislature has been rife with horror stories of her colleagues and friends wasting all sorts of taxpayers’ money for far less worthwhile projects than this.
Why would the minister not take it upon herself to grant this extension for some $50,000, at least until the end of the year, to grant aid to these unemployed young people? Not only is she not doing anything to find them work, she is now trying to bankrupt them. Surely, for $50,000, that is not an unreasonable request.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The member obviously needs the helmet to do something with his rattled brains. In this province we have initiated the only effective work project for the last four years for graduates of universities and colleges in Canada. The amount of money being spent this year is $17 million. It has been enhanced by an additional program which the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman( introduced several weeks ago. We are indeed spending considerable money to try to make sure that students who have graduated have some employment opportunities. Also, we have ensured that students in this province from families who simply do not have enough money to attain a degree are granted that money without having to repay it.
I am not sure where the member gets his mathematics. I am never really sure about his mathematical skills after some of the things I have heard him say. However, I shall investigate whether his estimate is factual or not and report to him.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. With respect to the acid rain discussion, I am sure the minister is aware of how important Ontario’s position and reaction are in terms of the international discussions on controlling acid gas emissions.
Is he aware that his performance and his predecessor’s performance as Ministers of the Environment have indeed left the impression with a number of our colleagues in the United States that Ontario is not doing its share and has not been very tough on these issues?
I refer to a letter the minister received from Congressman Dingell, the chairman of the energy committee of the House of Representatives, who said: ‘You seem to leave the impression, at least, that Canadian and Ontario government actions have forced, through government regulations which you call the strongest legislative means available to you, these reductions, while in fact they appear to be no more stringent than what Inco and Ontario Hydro had already undertaken voluntarily.”
Is the minister aware that his performance and his predecessor’s performance are very much suspect in terms of his clamping down on acid gas emissions and that his performance is retarding the international debate?
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, those allegations are totally unfounded and totally untrue. I think the numbers the Leader of the Opposition should be referring to are those that relate to the specific gains which have been made by Ontario with respect to this whole question.
I think it should be put in his particular notes that over the last decade Ontario has reduced acid gas emissions by some two million tons annually. Ontario Hydro, as he well knows, is under an order now to reduce S0² emissions from 1980 to 1990. in that decade, by some 43 per cent, which is another 200,000 tons. I could go on and on to indicate to the member the kinds of gains we have already made.
During the recent trip I made with the Premier (Mr. Davis) to Indianapolis, on no occasion did anyone from the jurisdictions of the United States indicate to us he was anything other than rather startled and amazed by the very substantial gains that have been made by Ontario.
We have not made these types of gains just on a voluntary basis. A series of orders has been placed on Inco, which I have specifically outlined for Congressman Dingell from Michigan in a very extensive letter I sent to him, and which I shared with the critics in the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party so they would know exactly and specifically the kind of cuts we have made.
This, in my view, is one of the most serious environmental issues our province and this country have had to come to grips with. I have not dealt with it in a partisan way. I have dealt with it with the bottom line of accomplishing the best environment we can get for Ontario. The only way we can achieve that is through the co-operation of the United States.
Mr. Peterson: In spite of the minister’s good intentions and the very fine speeches he makes, he must be aware that Ontario Hydro’s acid gas emissions have gone up by 15 per cent between 1981 and 1982, and they are probably going to go up again this year. His performance is not matching his promise. How does the minister maintain credibility in those international discussions with Congressman Dingell, Senator Ford and a variety of others, when the performance of the government crown agency of Ontario Hydro shows the acid gas emission level is going up year by year?
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Even with some unexpected additional burden placed on some of the coal-fired plants this year, I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that Ontario Hydro will meet and in all probability will exceed the control order that is placed on it at this time. That is somewhat below 500,000 tons -- I could get the exact figure. Hydro is on line to achieve the kind of targets we have established for it over the course of the next decade. I have no doubt whatever, looking at the record of Ontario Hydro, it will achieve the kinds of levels of emission controls we have set in place for it.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, like it or not, the minister surely knows that Ontario Hydro’s decision to renege on its earlier commitment to put in scrubbers has created a credibility problem for Ontario and for Canada among some congressmen in the United States, who admittedly already have an interest in resisting legislation on acid rain.
Given that discussions with the United States appear to have stalled, and because of the election approaching in the United States the possibilities for action in Congress now appear to be very limited indeed, would the minister be prepared to move further in pressing for unilateral reductions in Canada and in Ontario with respect to Hydro and Inco in order to get at the problem, which is simply that we cannot afford to wait for the United States? Does the minister not see a danger in constantly waiting for something to happen in the United States, when this really is the equivalent of our being asked to shoot ourselves in the feet, since we have the possibility of further reducing our own emissions here?
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, as the leader of the third party is well aware, the control programs that are required to reduce SO1 emissions are extremely expensive and are not going to be carried out by any jurisdiction anywhere in the world overnight. I acknowledge the question raised was directed at why Ontario Hydro has decided not to proceed with the use of scrubbers. The federal government and virtually every province, particularly the eastern provinces of Canada, involved in the acid rain strategy for Canada have agreed that what we have to look at is the least-cost option in terms of S02 abatement programs, and the least-cost option, I want to assure the member, is not the use of scrubbers.
An alternative is to move towards the nuclear program, which the member finds somewhat unacceptable, to reduce the use of the coal-fired plants, as we have been doing over a period of time; in fact, they are operating now at only about 35 per cent of their total capacity.
Another option we are using, which was proposed by the member’s federal leader, is to shift to the use of more western coal. I acknowledge that at the moment Ontario Hydro is getting about 80 per cent of its coal from the United States, the lowest-sulphur coal we can purchase which, as the member knows, is blended into our hydro rate here in Ontario -- and about 20 per cent of the coal is coming from western Canada. I have a commitment from Ontario Hydro that over the next decade it will shift that 80-20 ratio of purchases of US coal as opposed to western coal to a more balanced figure of about 50 per cent from the west and 50 per cent from the United States.
There is no need for scrubbers -- that is the point I want to make -- because those particular coal-fired plants will not be operating for a sufficient period of time to warrant the installation of scrubbers.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I would invite the minister to look at the situation he and his government are in at the moment. He will recall that on previous occasions -- the throne speeches -- scrubbers were promised. His predecessor one, two, three or four times removed promised scrubbers. Previous chairmen of Hydro promised scrubbers. That promise was there for all to see, and when it was reneged upon, that broken promise was there for all to see.
Now we have the situation where acid gas emissions are actually going up from 1981 to 1982 and probably from 1982 to 1983 because the thermal plants are on line more than it was previously expected. The minister knows that and I know that. In fact, the fulfilment of his previous promises is getting less and less likely every single day.
Mr. Peterson: Why would the minister not take the opportunity, as the new Minister of the Environment and with the commitment to environmental quality he has expressed here in this House, to use his good offices to put his stamp on the Ministry of the Environment and make sure Ontario Hydro goes ahead with the scrubber program we know will be required because of the increasing use of the thermal plants? Surely that is in his court. It is his responsibility and he personally could affect this matter materially if he so chose.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: The only jurisdiction in the entire world that has any kind of abatement order on its utilities is Ontario with respect to Ontario Hydro. That is point one. What is the use of putting scrubbers on plants that are under an order to use whatever technology is available -- because that is the question here -- to reduce their total emissions by some 43 per cent, or 200,000 tons, over the course of the next decade?
I can only suggest to the member that he is recommending that the price of electricity in this province be increased unnecessarily to place in position technology that may not be needed or may not even be used. It is not the answer to a very complicated problem.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the acting Minister of Health. The acting minister will be aware that last week I asked him a question with respect to the Muskoka Nursing Home in Gravenhurst, charges against which were going to be heard last Friday. I understand, and I am sure the minister is aware of this, that of the 46 charges that were laid against this particular nursing home, 20 were withdrawn and there were guilty pleas on the other 26.
I would like to ask the minister if he will answer the questions I put to him last week, which dealt specifically with the question of how it is possible that a nursing home that was charged in May and which is part of a broader chain of homes across the province was allowed by the Ministry of Health to purchase and to expand the number of beds it operates in June and July of the same year.
Now that we have the disposition of charges, I would like to ask the minister, since he refused to answer or delayed answering because he wanted to await the disposition of charges, why was the home allowed to expand into Casselman, why were the operators allowed to expand into Deseronto and why were they allowed to expand the Elm Tree Nursing Home in Downsview?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I indicated last week that I did not think the fact that one had been charged in court and found not guilty up to that time should necessarily preclude one from seeking an extension to or permission to buy another nursing home.
My friend has indicated that at this point the charges have been disposed of and the nursing home owner in this case has pleaded guilty to some of the charges that were levelled against him. I still am not sure I agree with the member that this precludes that particular operator from operating other nursing homes. One hopes this process is all brought about to upgrade the quality of care in the operation of nursing homes and that a lesson will be learned from the experience that has occurred in this instance.
Mr. Rae: If the minister cannot, who can? He is responsible for the administration of the Nursing Homes Act. He knows perfectly well that the Nursing Homes Act has a specific provision which says the past conduct of the owners has to be taken into account before any further licences are granted.
Who will the minister refuse a licence to or start asking questions of, if some owner has been found guilty with respect to a number of charges, as in this instance? There does not seem to be any question raised in his mind or in anybody’s mind in his ministry. What does one have to do to start getting some questions asked around Tory Ontario with respect to the operation of nursing homes?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I will be glad to get my friend a fuller and more detailed answer on it and give him the facts as to why this has occurred and what the particular charges were that this person was found guilty of.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I am happy the minister is prepared to get some answers. I wonder why he has not answered the questions that were raised last summer by the Concerned Friends of Ontario Citizens in Care Facilities, specifically regarding allegations that were made surrounding the nursing care at Lincoln Place. Those questions were raised with the Minister of Health last summer and, to date, they still have not received a satisfactory answer.
The minister will be aware of questions that were raised by my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) with respect to underfunding in the triministry project in which the Ministry of Health is invoked. He will also be aware that Anne O’Byrne, who is working for the region of Muskoka as a service co-ordinator, has informed us that while a proposal for a $150,000 package of programs involving life skills, multisensory programs and enhanced staffing was approved by the North Bay office of the Ministry of Community and Social Services in September, she was told at that time -- I am quoting from what she was told -- “There is no more triministry money for projects in nursing homes.”
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, my second question is to the Treasurer. I am sure he will have seen in the Sunday Star that his colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) told a reporter he was going to be coming into the Legislature in about 10 days to ask for more than $100 million in supplementary estimates to carry us to the end of the fiscal year.
The minister also said that about 35,000 more people will need welfare assistance in 1984. The economic recovery -- I am quoting from what the minister said -- “has not been as efficient as expected in dealing with unemployment,” and “it (unemployment) does not go away in March like it used to.” Those are the words of the Treasurer’s colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Given the fact that the Treasurer’s own colleague is admitting that the human cost in terms of increased welfare still has to be borne by the entire community in this province, does he not feel it would be more worth while to introduce a winter works program for jobs in this province rather than simply increasing welfare payments? Can he give us a guarantee he will bring in a program which will produce jobs in the winter and not welfare in the winter for the people of this province?
In terms of our budgetary situation this year, we have made it quite clear that a primary responsibility, which we in this province do not shirk, is to meet every one of our welfare obligations. In fact, our five per cent increase announced by my colleague just recently is further proof of that obligation. So, regardless of whether or not the job situation continues to improve as it has to date, we will continue to meet those welfare obligations.
With regard to this coming winter and spring, I have not indicated for a moment that I will not be coming forward with any further measures. I have only indicated that it would be appropriate, in order to manage our affairs properly, to get a better handle on what the federal response is going to be in this area. With that in mind, I have put the item on the agenda for the finance ministers’ meeting on December 8. After we ascertain, at that meeting if we can, what the intentions of the federal government are for this coming winter and how much money it is prepared to spend in Ontario, we will draw certain conclusions and act accordingly.
Mr. Rae: The workers of this province need more than a double negative from the Treasurer with respect to his economic program. I tell the Treasurer, we do not think waiting for Liberalism is enough, we think it is time the government of Ontario moved with respect to the people of this province.
The Treasurer knows full well that the recovery, which started very strongly in the first six months of 1983, has shown signs of faltering in the latter six months of 1983. He will know that literally tens of thousands of jobs lost during the recession have not been recovered.
Mr. Rae: Specifically, I would like to ask the Treasurer, is he prepared to make a commitment to this House that he will introduce a works program for this winter to make sure the people of this province who want to work this winter will have a chance to work this winter?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let us just begin from accurate premises. First, we have now recovered 169,000 jobs in the course of just 12 months. Second, already we have recovered well over 60 per cent of all the jobs lost during the recession. Third, the extent of the job recovery in this province, from its worst depths back to the current stage, is the strongest of any government in Canada.
With respect, the honourable member can shake his head as often as he wants, but those facts will stand uncontroverted until he is able to come to this House and say that we have not recovered 169,000 jobs and that any other province has experienced a quicker recovery in terms of jobs than Ontario has. He cannot do that.
Lest the member wants to continue to suggest that all the opportunities and the responsibilities for carrying on a job recovery program, in spite of the success we have had to date, rely on Ontario and provincial governments. I can tell him that I have here on my desk the selected speeches of Robert Rae, then Finance critic in the House of Commons. in the years 1980 and 1981. I will be pleased to recite for the edification of the member and his caucus his very significant views relating to the overwhelming role --
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering when the Treasurer was going to bring out his little black book of past speeches of opposition members and figure they are sonic sort of a defence for his inaction.
The Treasurer will be aware, no doubt, that we have sat in this House for many years with his predecessor giving the same kinds of answers -- “We will wait and see what the federal government is going to do.” Meanwhile, the season slips by and unemployment deepens. Would the Treasurer not agree with me that one of the priorities for this province has to be a program for our hard-core unemployed young people who are chronically out of work and, it appears, will be out of work chronically in the future unless we address that problem? Would he agree now to address that problem as soon as possible -- before Christmas, one would hope -- and not wait for his spring budget. which is far too late? Would he agree to that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, what I would agree to would be a proposition that acknowledges that my predecessor and his predecessor acted long before the honourable member was able to stand up and give these grand speeches suggesting we do not act on these counts.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: With more than $300 million devoted by my predecessor to job creation in this province, the fact that we have now experienced a recovery of 169,000 jobs, and more than 90,000 of those jobs subsequent to the excellent budget brought in by this government last May, this government has every right to stand up and take a good deal of credit for the recovery flowing from the last provincial budget. That is our record, and our record will remain intact and continue to be improved this winter.
Mr. Rae: The Treasurer may be satisfied with a 60 per cent recovery rate for Ontario and with a manufacturing sector recovery rate of 51 per cent with 103,000 jobs still lost during the recession. He may he satisfied with those figures, but I do not think the people of Ontario are satisfied with the reality of having children. fathers and mothers who are without work and who have been without work for more than a year in this province. That is the crisis we are facing right now. Let us make no bones about it. The minister knows it: he has people coming to see him, as we all do, with respect to unemployment.
Mr. Rae: Given the human dimensions of this problem and the fact there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have been without jobs for a long time, many of them old, many of them young, many of them men, women, all colours, races and creeds, does the minister not recognize that it is his particular responsibility as the Treasurer to provide some hope for those people this winter? Will he not at least commit himself to a budget prior to this House breaking up in the middle of December so we can see some job creation for the winter and not put it off until the spring, summer, next fall and the winter following?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No, I am not satisfied with a 60 per cent recovery. While the member was giving that speech, I had an opportunity to open the book here, and I find that the recovery figures indicate we have recovered 76 per cent of all the jobs --
In any case, in terms of understanding the success of the programs we have mounted to date and the constrictions upon our ability to solve all these problems, given the continuing high interest rates, which the members knows very well are a major factor, and given the problems in international markets where people are not buying our goods or anyone’s goods, the job recovery rate is quite phenomenal.
The additional amount we are prepared to do depends upon co-ordinating it in a sensible and responsible way with federal government programs. It also depends upon us finding precisely the best way to invest our dollars. I have made it clear for several weeks, long before the member’s speech of a moment ago, that we are prepared to move and that we will be taking some action. I want to make sure that action is the best action, that it does something to create long-term employment, that it is not something that just notches down our political degree of heat for a period of time but does not do anything to create long-term, meaningful jobs, particularly for our young people.
I am going to stick to that course so that when we come into this House with a job creation program -- the member will always say it is not enough, and I understand his obligation to say that -- we will be satisfied that it is timely, appropriate, responsible and, most of all, does a real job for our unemployed and is not simply a cosmetic addressing as the member’s speech was a moment ago. It will be a real program and a fundamentally important one.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Attorney General, following the question I asked the Solicitor General (Mr. G. W. Taylor) with respect to an event in Fergus on June 6 involving a police chase of three youths. The following events included the arresting constable drawing his gun and threatening to blow away one of the youths unless the person who was the driver of the vehicle admitted to being the driver.
The Solicitor General is reviewing this matter, and I am wondering whether the Attorney General has instructed his law officers to review this situation with respect to the possible laying of criminal charges in regard to the actions of the police constable in using his revolver in that way.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, if the facts as related by the honourable member are true, they are obviously very shocking and certainly warrant a very serious response. I expect to be reviewing this matter shortly with the Solicitor General personally, after he has received his preliminary report. Together with him, I will consider any appropriate action, given what appears to be a very serious situation.
Mr. Breithaupt: I appreciate the Attorney General’s involvement and commitment in this matter. While he is investigating that and discussing it with the Solicitor General, I hope he will also consider the comments in the report of the Ontario Police Commission, which state:
“Based on the allegations received by Chief Burns, a detailed investigation was carried out, with statements being obtained from all concerned, following which the crown attorney was consulted. After reviewing the entire matter, he advised that no criminal proceedings would be instituted by his office against the officer involved.”
Since it has come to our attention that the crown attorneys deny having been involved with the details of the terms of the deal between the police chief and the defence counsel, and since those charges could not be withdrawn without the consent of the crown, will the Attorney General also inquire into this matter to determine just what was the extent of the involvement of the crown attorneys and which of those two opinions of what happened was the correct one?
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. Before asking it, I would like to present to him some 10,000 signatures collected by the Fund for Animals, located in the city of Etobicoke. Those who signed the petition are opposed to the continued use of the leghold trap in this province.
The minister may recall that on May 1, 1980, I became the first New Democratic Party member to get a private member’s bill passed in this House. At the time of the passage of my bill, which put some restrictions on the use of leghold traps, the late James Auld expressed his concern that the federal and provincial governments should work together in finding ways to reduce the use of this hideous device in this province. Can the minister give me an update on what action has been taken so far on phasing out, abolishing or at least reducing the use of leghold traps in this province?
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, it is important to understand that we are dealing with a very historic and important industry in this province, with 18,000 registered trappers, including 3,500 treaty Indians who depend in part for their livelihood on trapping. It is also an industry that has grown in importance in Ontario, with the Fur Institute of Canada and many other organizations now locating in Toronto and Ontario to carry on this business.
Nevertheless, over a period of time -- and the honourable member is correct -- since Mr. Auld’s time in this portfolio we have been working rather diligently at some improvements on humane trapping methods. They have taken the form of federal-provincial conferences, wildlife ministers’ conferences held in Charlottetown, in Alberta and next year in Ontario. During these conferences much time has been spent addressing the issue of humane trapping and leghold traps, not only with governments but also with the industry and with the groups that are concerned about the use of leghold traps and the adoption of humane trapping methods.
We conduct trapper workshops to teach humane trapping techniques. It is now compulsory for all new trappers to take a detailed trapper education course in which humane trapping is stressed. We have a trap development program through which improvements have been made to existing traps and new traps are being developed and tested.
We have developed the new Novak foot-snare trap and conducted extensive field tests. We did have a contract out with the private sector with respect to the production of this new trap. That contract was not honoured, and we now have the agreement of the Ontario Trappers Association to actually produce this new type of trap or snare, which I believe everyone acknowledges is a more humane type of snare. Now we provide considerable --
Mr. Philip: The minister will recall that it was in 1980 that the Federal-Provincial Committee for Humane Trapping produced a report. His ministry was part of that, as were the various trappers he is concerned about. The report recommended at the time that the use of the leghold trap be greatly reduced.
“Imagine that the door on your car has been slammed across the fingers of your bare hand, that the door is slammed shut. Imagine that you are then left with your hand so caught until you either starve to death, freeze to death or tear your hand off. The leghold trap is legal torture for millions of animals every year.”
Hon. Mr. Pope: We provided considerable support to the Federal-Provincial Committee for Humane Trapping. We have led the way in the development of the Novak foot-snare trap. We have been involved with the establishment of the Fur Institute of Canada, in which many groups the member represents are involved. In October 1982, a humane trapping regulation was made. Part of that regulation banned certain types of traps and trap sets. It came into effect immediately, and further restrictions came into effect on April 1, 1983.
We are leading the way in North America in exactly the kind of things the member said. However, the type of question he posed in his supplementary and the kind of demonstration he has made today are precisely the kind of thing about which I was written to on February 28, 1983. I would like to read one paragraph:
“The trappers are very concerned that perhaps well-meaning but ill-informed groups and individuals may campaign for the curtailing or even the banning of trapping of fur-bearing animals. Obviously your ministry has the unique opportunity, and indeed an obligation I believe, to inform the nontrapping public of the ecological and economic reasons for the Ministry of Natural Resources’ scientifically controlled trapping program in this province.”
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, the minister is no doubt aware that there has been a very significant phasing in of humane traps by the industry itself over the past few years. In order to allay the concerns that are being expressed, is the minister able to report to the House as to just what degree of phasing has taken place? How many trappers now have discarded the leghold trap and are using more humane types of traps than they have in the past? We know it is a very significant number. Perhaps the minister can tell us.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Yes, Mr. Speaker. In fact, a lot of time has been spent at the last two annual OTA meetings dealing with humane trapping, with the education program. We have outlawed certain kinds of inhumane traps. That has been accepted and, in fact, the OTA was involved in the development of that regulation.
So it has had an effect. As soon as the Novak foot snare is available in commercial production -- and the OTA offered to do it because of its concern -- then it will be made available to the trappers and will be used.
“I have received numerous letters lately from hunters and trappers in my area who are concerned that there is a sudden outbreak of resistance against their livelihood and partaking of fur-bearing animals. It appears that sometimes people go overboard with so-called conservation.
“I believe that fur-bearing animals are one of our natural resources which is meant to be harvested for man’s use. I would urge you to do everything possible to see that our hunters and trappers are protected to allow them to continue to keep the proper balance of animals in our forests.
Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the acting Minister of Health. Last week I received many calls from constituents of mine who inform me that Nel-Gor Castle Nursing Home in Carleton Place had a large number of work orders against it.
I would like the minister’s assurance here today that he will have his inspection branch in there to make sure that these matters are cleared up immediately. If he has the problem I had with this particular operator when I was there and it does not work, will he ask for his licence?
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister knows full well the problem at Nel-Gor Castle 2, which we discussed last week in the House, with respect to contracting out. He also knows the problem that has been raised by the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman) with respect to the operations of the home in Carleton Place.
Before he steps down as the acting minister will he please be prepared to make a statement, either in ministerial statements or in answers to previous questions, where he finally pulls together all the questions we have put to him with respect to nursing homes and answers those questions in this House?
Now that the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) has admitted publicly that we have a problem with organized crime, and in view of the reverberations associated with the murder of Volpe three weeks ago involving executioners being sent up from Atlantic City, relatives jumping bail in various cities of the United States and so on, is the minister still convinced that his answer to my leader two weeks ago about his process for attempting to control organized crime is sufficient; or does he believe there is something further that he and the Attorney General should be talking about in this House and that they should be taking action to bring about some special forces to protect our citizens and our community from the depredations of organized crime?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I think the general answer to the question of the honourable member’s leader earlier last week is that we have a crime investigation initiative, if one wants to call it that. We have groups that work as joint force operations, which put together operations of different police forces, from the Ontario Provincial Police to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and different municipal forces.
There is a group with the Ontario Police Commission that does crime investigations exclusively. Most police forces have people who deal with crime and criminal activities of the nature the member is talking about. If one looks at the convictions and the arrests in that particular field of crime, which may be labelled organized crime activity, one will find the convictions and the arrests are up in that area.
I have a great deal of confidence in the police forces that they are doing an adequate job. Other than the adequate job they are doing, I would not want to suggest that there could not be an improvement. However, I would not know of the precise ways whereby one might carry out the improvement, over that which they are doing now, with which this House could legitimately assist them.
Mr. Nixon: The minister must surely be aware that this sort of joint forces approach was used years ago when Attorneys General were saying we had no organized crime. Now it is accepted that there is a problem here. We look at such things as a report in the Globe and Mail on November 18, indicating five people in Toronto alone died of heroin overdoses. Usually we have that many people dying in a year rather than a month. We read reports of organized crime taking control of strippers out in one of the small towns to the west of Metropolitan Toronto which has become the strippers’ capital of Canada.
Surely the minister realizes that the methods used 15 years ago have absolutely no application now and that we are relying on him to come up with some sort of initiatives, some sort of a task force that is at least going to move towards the protection of our citizens. Can the minister not report that at least he, along with his colleague the Attorney General and others, is contemplating such a move, which is obviously required in this modern day and age when we are facing problems 100 times worse than they were when his answer applied?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: On the matter of dope, the member has mentioned the increase in drug trafficking. The member well knows there was a statement made by Dr. Bennett, the coroner, as to that drug being on the street and that there was an increased number of overdoses in a particular period of time. In making that statement, he used it as a caution to the people that there was a possibility that drugs on the street were of a higher quality than had been the habit before. In that area, we have more activity, more prosecutions, more convictions and more arrests.
We have what is referred to in the Ministry of the Solicitor General, under the auspices of the Ontario Police Commission, as the Criminal Intelligence Service Ontario, which is a group of police officers put together from the different police forces throughout Ontario. They have meetings from time to time. They exchange surveillance. They have their own electronic equipment, their own computer system and their own intelligence network. It entirely works forward to try to prevent crime, to charge --
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Basically, in answer to the question in a general way, I think the police forces of the province are providing an adequate service for the crime prevention which is taking place in Ontario. Naturally, like all things, we would like more money. I would like more money for my colleagues to get more into this; naturally, that is not always forthcoming. But we have a very good, highly efficient operation that is working to prevent crime and criminal activity.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the same minister. I assume the Solicitor General is aware of the decision of the jury and the judge, about 10 days ago, in which a Mr. John Leveque of Niagara Falls was awarded $8,000 for damages he suffered from three members of the Niagara Regional Police force. The jury found the conduct of the policemen was “high-handed, malicious or showing gross contempt for the plaintiff’s rights.”
Does the minister further know that long prior to this award, after getting no satisfaction from his complaint for more than six months, Mr. Leveque appeared before the police commission on the afternoon of June 30, 1981. Upon leaving the commission headquarters, he was escorted out by Chief Harris. As soon as he was outside the door he was arrested by the chief and taken into custody for being $220 in arrears on support payments even though he is unemployed. Although he had $190 on his person and offered to pay that, he was kept in custody until a companion returned two hours later with the additional $30.
Mr. Swart: Would the minister not agree this sort of action can only be interpreted as intimidation against a complainant, especially when done by the highest officer in the police force? Should this whole sequence of events not be investigated? Would the minister not think many other citizens might like to come forward if they were not afraid of intimidation and the investigation was opened up to the public?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I have some difficulty. I am assuming when in the last part of his question the honourable member asked, “Do you not think the investigation should be opened up to the public?” he is talking about the investigation now being carried out by the Ontario Police Commission into the Niagara Regional Police force. I do not believe the public is excluded.
I may have mentioned to the member previously that if he or anybody else in the Niagara area has any information they can go to the officers carrying out the investigation and provide them with the information. I assume that is the question the member was asking.
Mr. Swart: With regard to opening up this investigation, on November 7, in reply to a question of mine on the adequacy of the investigation, the minister said, “Many people have come forward to the investigating officers and said they would like to give information.”
Is it not true that anyone who has come forward has had to ferret out how to get in touch with the investigators and, in fact, go through the police department to get an appointment? Why does the minister not encourage people to come forward, solicit them, by public notification? Better still, why does the minister not have a public investigation as requested by the president of the police association? What is there that the minister does not want to find out in the Niagara Regional Police force?
Hon. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, there is nothing I do not want to find out about the Niagara Regional Police force. There is an investigation ongoing. It has had a thorough going over and there has been information about it in the media in that region. I suspect if I were to take out advertisements in newspapers mentioning it I would gather no more information than is now being gathered by those officers. Once that process and the preliminary investigation are completed, we can decide whether a larger investigation or a public inquiry, which the member for Welland-Thorold keeps asking for, is warranted.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I really think that given the admonition I received earlier to pull together some of these answers, I want to tell my friend I have been doing that. It is because I am so careful in wanting to be sure the answers are researched properly that it has taken a little while.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not sure that is completely adequate, given the fact that certain impressions are created in the House sometimes. My friend asked about a review the ministry is currently carrying out on the Windsor ambulance service which the Ministry of Health operates directly. This review will be completed by the end of January 1984 and the results, along with those of other program reviews, will be useful in our ministry’s operational planning for next year.
However, a number of questions have arisen concerning emergency health services in Windsor and Essex counties which are outside the scope of the operational review. For this reason I have approved a broader review of the organization and delivery of emergency services in the Windsor and Essex region and have authorized the ministry personnel to proceed with a call for proposals from private independent consultants as soon as the terms of reference have been approved.
The other question I wanted to answer concerned an individual incident that took place on October 3, 1983. On that day, the Windsor ambulance that went on duty at 3 p.m. with a full tank of propane fuel responded to four calls and, without stopping, was then assigned at 7 p.m. to a code 4, which is the highest priority call. The ambulance rushed a young boy to Grace Hospital in Windsor, where the attending physician directed them immediately to transfer the patient as quickly as possible to University Hospital in London.
The ambulance was immediately dispatched as a code 4 to London, approximately 193 kilometres away. En route, the ambulance crew decided as a purely precautionary measure to top up with propane fuel at a filling station at Highway 21 and Highway 401, where they knew propane fuel was available.
Contrary to a statement made at the time of the question in this House, the vehicle was never out of fuel. The stop took less than five minutes and the care of the patient was not threatened in any way whatever. In fact, I am told the crew were so concerned about the care of the patient that they arranged to come back to the station on the way back and pay for the propane rather than take the time to pay at the time they took delivery of it. They did return after the safe delivery of the patient to the hospital in London.
The reason I recount that the ambulance crew took such careful precautions during this transfer from Windsor to London is that I think it is very clear that indicates effective planning and efficient, thoughtful practice rather than management problems or low morale as has been alleged.
The first is, in regard to the process that is being used for reviewing the incident that surfaced in Windsor, can the minister assure us that what we are talking about is a public review of the ambulance service? That is what the workers want at that facility and it is obvious that without the co-operation and support of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union the public review will not be successful in bringing about proper service in the city.
Second, in regard to the specific incident, is the minister saying it is appropriate and normal procedure that an ambulance has to stop en route from Windsor to London to top up fuel? Is that normal procedure, or is the proper planning such that the fuel is already in the tank and they do not have to worry during a 120-mile run? They should not have to top up their fuel between Windsor and London.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think my friend missed the total impact of my answer. That ambulance had been on duty from 3 p.m., received the call at 7 p.m. and had not had a chance to top up fuel. They believed they were taking the patient to Grace Hospital and then immediately were dispatched to London. They operated on propane fuel, which is not available at every gasoline station they might come in contact with, and they took this measure as a precautionary measure so they would not run out of fuel on the highway. I think they are to he commended for that action.
I am also saying the suggestion that there is lack of morale and lack of thoughtful planning in that ambulance service is an affront to those men, the drivers of that ambulance, who I think took the proper action.
As to the second question, it is not a public inquiry. It is going to be a review by independent consultants of the emergency health services in the area. I have a longer answer as far as the OPSEU people are concerned. Notices have been posted asking them to participate in the review, indicating that confidentiality will be respected and indicating that the OPSEU people can come before and talk to the ministry investigators and bring their union representative with them if they so wish.
All this is very helpful in the “share your views on the service” process going on there. If my friend wants to serve his constituents well, and I am sure the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) who is also talking about this feels the same way, I would urge the members of OPSEU to share their views with both our investigators and the consultants when they are appointed.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions that have been submitted to me by nurses at the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit, the Belleville General Hospital and the Trenton Memorial Hospital. The petition reads:
Hon. Mr. Wells moved that, notwithstanding the order of the House of May 12, 1983, the estimates of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics be considered in committee of supply today and on Friday, December 2, 1983.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, the bill would require used car dealers to give consumers detailed information about used cars that are offered for sale and would impose statutory warranty for fitness. The warranty period would vary with the age and mileage of the used car.
These remarks will be brief as I am most anxious to hear the contributions the opposition parties will have to offer and the advice they may wish to tender as we climb out of the most difficult time we have experienced in 50 years.
In these estimates and in my short opening remarks, I should like to provide a short progress report on our job creation policies as set out in the very fine 1983 budget of my predecessor and to discuss the process of pre-budget consultation we are now establishing. Also, in anticipation of the meeting of the ministers of finance in Montreal on December 8, there will be a few observations I shall wish to make on federal-provincial issues.
The May 1983 budget projected a deficit of $2.7 billion for the 1983-84 fiscal year. As reported in the recent Ontario Finances, we are on target with regard to this objective. Net cash requirements are up $8 million, despite in-year expenditure increases for health and income support programs.
This record of fiscal management and, in particular, our efforts to control the deficit, have enabled Ontario to maintain its triple-A credit rating for provincial and Hydro borrowings. Ontario’s achievement is especially noteworthy since the credit ratings of four provinces have been downgraded in the past year. British Columbia lost its triple-A credit rating, and Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were each brought down one notch by one of the rating agencies.
In the 1983 Ontario budget. $242 million was allocated for direct employment programs with the following results to date: Under the capital acceleration program, more than 100 projects of repair and renovation are under way in, for example, our universities and colleges, tourist facilities and municipalities, creating about 12,000 jobs.
Ontario’s commitment to the Canada-Ontario employment development program was increased this summer by $10 million to $110 million. Forty per cent of COED funding has been committed to joint projects with nonprofit private organizations, 37 per cent with municipalities, 18 per cent with private firms and the remainder with the province itself. More than $100 million from private business is being additionally mobilized for job creation through the joint COED projects. This year 26,000 jobs are being created in total.
As for the programs to stimulate activity in the private sector, the following results stand out: The temporary exemption from retail sales tax for furniture and appliances stimulated a sales growth in these areas which was two to six times greater in Ontario than in the rest of Canada.
Here are some details: During the exemption period, the number of Canadian manufactured refrigerators delivered in Ontario increased by 67 per cent over the previous year compared to only a 17 per cent increase for the rest of Canada. Washing machine shipments increased by 42 per cent in Ontario compared to eight per cent elsewhere in Canada. There is evidence that increased production such as this created jobs in the furniture and appliance industries. For example, Canadian employment in major appliance manufacturing, most of which is located in Ontario, increased by 13 per cent to 5,300 jobs between June and July of this year.
The small business exemption from Ontario corporations tax extended for one year potential benefits to more than 55,000 Ontario businesses, channelling assistance to the sector where the greatest number of jobs are created.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Oh, yes. While youth unemployment remains high, obviously our programs are going to pay particular attention to that part of the unemployment problem. As was discussed earlier today in question period, we are looking at various options which we might undertake in an appropriate and timely way to provide not only some youth employment but also the proper kind of youth employment programs.
In this regard, we have always had a wide range of youth employment programs to try to cover as many segments of the problem as we can within a wide and varied province with all sorts of particular problems among the young people. It is our desire to have as many options as possible for them so they do not find themselves constrained from entering a particular program we have because of where they live, the education they have obtained or their particular choice with regard to career futures. We try to give them a wide range of options so there is a program to suit their individual needs and future desires.
With this in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to run through some of our youth employment programs this year, both in terms of funding and the numbers of jobs that will be created for our young people.
First, the Ontario youth employment program has funding in the amount of $30 million, creating about 55,000 jobs. That program provides jobs for young people aged 15 to 24. Employers are paid $1.25 per hour subsidy for jobs running throughout the April to October period.
Second, there is the very well-received and popular Ontario career action program, which costs $17.8 million, creating 13,200 jobs for young people. The Ontario career action program provides unemployed youth aged 16 to 24 with on-the-job training in the public and private sectors. Participants in this program are paid a training allowance of $100 per week for up to 80 training days. This program runs year-round.
The summer Experience program, funded with $12 million, provides 9,200 jobs and provides employment in government ministries and community organizations for young people aged 15 to 24. This program runs in the summer period from May through to September.
In addition, we have introduced the winter Experience program. This program has funding of $4.8 million, providing 1,800 jobs. It provides employment not only in the public but also the private sector for employment-disadvantaged young people, that is, those who have left school and who have been looking for work for at least 12 weeks. These young people have to be between 16 and 24. This program, recently introduced, seems to be having a great deal of success.
The Ontario junior ranger program, one of the most successful and longest-running government programs, has funding this year of $5 million, creating 1,700 positions. Many members will be aware of that extraordinarily successful program, which gives our young people a keen knowledge of the management of natural resources through camping work, outdoor training and recreational activities.
The summer replacement and co-op students program, with $24.9 million in funding and providing positions for 6,900 young people, provides training and job opportunities with provincial ministries and associated agencies where the students are getting very important work experience and support.
Finally, our young Ontario career program is a new program introduced in the 1983 budget, which allocated $25 million to this program, providing 12,500 positions. This program is targeted at post-secondary graduates who cannot find employment suitable for their qualifications six months after graduation and also at other 20- to 29-year-olds who cannot find employment. A subsidy of $2.50 per hour to a maximum of $100 per week for 26 weeks is given to employers. This program has had a very good early uptake and seems to be one of our very successful new innovations.
In referring to many of these programs, I must give appropriate credit to the youth secretariat under the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mr. McCaffrey) and its current parliamentary assistant, the member for High Park- Swansea (Mr. Shymko), and his predecessor, the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies), for the excellent work they did in putting together what is really an outstanding array of programs that have served more than 100,000 young people so well in this current year.
The success of these job creation programs, outlined and brought forward last May in the budget of my predecessor, the member for Muskoka and Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. F. S. Miller), stands as a fine tribute to the careful and considered programs that are appropriately brought out from time to time when we deem it is appropriate and responsible to do so. The success of those programs speaks for itself. The job numbers are very good, as I outlined earlier, totalling some 169,000 jobs from November 1982 to November 1983.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It is down to 9.2 per cent, far lower than the Canadian average for unemployment. That is a great credit to my predecessor, the member for Muskoka, to whom all members of this House owe an extraordinary vote of thanks.
Needless to say, the success of all these programs and the ones we might consider at a later time depends to a large extent on having the appropriate economic environment. Not only do we need a solid and predictable one, but a very stable and promising one.
Wage and price restraint in both the public and private sector is, accordingly, essential if our jobs and investments are to be protected. People are simply not going to invest in an economy that does not offer appropriate stability and predictability. As members of this House are well aware, this government has not shirked its responsibilities in any way whatever in providing that degree of security and stability.
In so doing, this year we brought in Bill 111, our successor to the Inflation Restraint Act. It follows Bill 179, which played a major role in bringing down the rate of inflation last year, as is quite obvious from any analysis of the inflation rate in Ontario. Accordingly, this year we were able to move to a much different approach for our continuing efforts and leadership in terms of public sector wage restraint and the fight against inflation generally.
With Bill 111 following Bill 179, using our limits on the compensation component of transfers and grants, we were able to reintroduce free collective bargaining appropriately in relying upon the responsibility of all parties in the process and at the same time to ensure that we do not see another round of inflation come upon us.
This new bill, Bill 111, following Bill 179 as it does, will ensure that we will reinforce once again this year the downward trend in public sector and private sector settlements. In so doing we will he taking another important step towards job creation in this province, for in a climate where one has double-digit inflation and double-digit wage settlements, it is very clear that one will not get new jobs created or new investment.
As we stand here today, the American rate of inflation is just a little more than 2.5 per cent, which is substantially lower than ours. Therefore, it is important for us to remember that a five per cent rate of inflation cannot prove to be and should not be treated as being an acceptable target or an acceptable rate.
We will continue our fight in this regard in our very firm efforts in attempting to create an inflation-free environment here in Ontario and in Canada generally. Without that, all of our job creation moneys will be for naught: all of the job creation programs will be nothing but a temporary palliative to an ongoing and chronically difficult circumstance.
We do not intend that to happen, and therefore we will continue to exercise public sector restraint not only with regard to public sector wages but also with regard to the public sector generally. It is only in doing these things that not only will we continue to fight inflation and create an environment in which we can see new investment and new jobs, but we will also be able to maintain for ourselves the fiscal capacity to finance these very same job creation programs and, of course, continue to meet our social obligations throughout a very difficult time.
Indeed, this is the very time in which governments must ensure that they have not crippled their capacity to meet their safety net obligations to those most in need in our society. There has hardly been a period of time when more people have been in more need of this kind of assistance from government, and we, almost uniquely among governments, have retained our capacity both to meet those social commitments and to maintain some new job creation programs and not have our deficit skyrocket to an unsustainable level.
That is a great credit to my predecessors and to the determination of this government to ensure that we were prepared for a difficult economic time in a fiscally responsible way. Had we not managed our affairs as carefully and as well as we have, then we would simply not have been able to maintain our credit rating, maintain our obligation to create jobs and meet our social obligations out in society.
If one casts one’s eye across the 11 senior governments in this country, one has a hard time finding any other government that has come through this circumstance with as strong a fiscal position, maintaining its programs as we have and, indeed, even introducing new programs during what was the worst economic circumstance since the Depression.
It is a great tribute, I would argue, to the resolution of this government as long ago as 1975, when the first restraint program was brought in in this province. The other provinces and other governments, certainly including the federal government, waited until 1982 and 1983 to sense the need for restraint, and suddenly restraint began to appear in all government budgets and statements.
Those governments are now paying an extraordinary price for that mistake. More important and more serious, their people -- their work forces, the unemployed and the disadvantaged in their societies -- are paying the most crushing price. But here in Ontario not only have we been able to maintain our programs, keep our deficit controllable and maintain our credit rating, but also my colleagues have still been able to go out from time to time and provide new programs where particularly needed. It is almost unheard of at this time in our economic history for governments and ministers to be able to meet new problems and answer new stresses in our society with new and expanded government programs, but that is the experience, almost uniquely, in Ontario.
I recall reading just last week a report on the activities of Alberta, the only other province in this country which today has a triple-A credit rating. That report indicated the activities Alberta was undertaking to maintain its credit rating and maintain its capacity to service its people. It showed Alberta was indicating fairly clearly that a main element of its restraint program this year was to have literally no new government programs and literally to screw down the lid as tightly as possible on increases in funding even for current programs.
While we have talked in this assembly for many years about the rate of growth of new programs not being as quick as in the past, and while we have talked about the demand for even more new programs than we were able to introduce, the fact is that the kind of steps Alberta is taking to protect itself have not been found to be necessary here. That is partly because we were taking far firmer measures as much as eight years ago, long before the depths of any recession oncoming in 1982 were apparent, to achieve a fiscally responsible position that would allow us to look after such an eventuality.
It was simply good government and good management. I suggest any analysis of the activities of the Ministry of Treasury and Economics over those years will show the great contribution it has made to the public of Ontario in getting us through this difficult time. It has been able to create new jobs, and we are now able to look forward to fairly significant growth over the next period of time. This government finds itself poised to invest in that growth in a responsible and creative way.
So much has been accomplished already that we are able to look at an economic circumstance where we have recovered. The groundwork has been carefully and judiciously laid, but in addressing the policies to strengthen this recovery, it is important now to broaden and improve our consultative process.
The consultative process has served us very well in the past. It has brought us good ideas and allowed us the flexibility to do the things I have talked about, because we have understood very well the views of those most affected by our budgetary policies. This year, I would like to take some important steps to broaden this consultative process once again.
On October 11, this assembly heard our plans to open up this budget process. The aim of this initiative is to allow greater public participation in budget decisions by publishing far more information prior to budget day and by expanding the range of consultations.
This consultative process has already begun. In the past month we have held meetings to discuss both restraint and transfer levels with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, school board trustees, the Council of Ontario Universities and the Ontario Hospital Association.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: An important element of the new process is our autumn economic and fiscal statement, which will be delivered within the next few weeks to this assembly. This statement will review the strength of the economic recovery and provide an assessment of the economic outlook in advance of our prebudget consultations.
The statement will also discuss our economic goals and the tradeoffs that must be considered in meeting those goals. Major transfer payment levels will also be announced at the time of the autumn statement. This will enable better planning in institutions supported primarily by provincial grants.
Members will be aware that under the new restraint program it is the compensation portion alone of transfers that is limited to five per cent. Therefore, other factors can contribute to an overall transfer increase different from that rate.
I should point out that this is an example of where prebudget consultations over the years have brought some important and new advice which has led to a change in government policy. One of the messages brought to us consistently by the school boards, hospitals and other recipients of transfer payments was the need to have this information somewhat in advance of their fiscal years. They have asked us specifically to see whether we could get these decisions made early enough so they would have the announcements before Christmas. We have accepted their advice and will be providing that in the next few weeks.
Another innovation will be the advanced tabling of prebudget papers addressing key economic issues. In the past, papers of this type have been published simultaneously with the budget and their importance may have been overshadowed. The analysis that the new prebudget papers will give to matters of provincial economic policy will be of further assistance to members of the assembly and others in the provision of their advice. I know members of this assembly will be free and forthcoming with their advice.
The cycle of consultations will be made complete by a full roster of prebudget meetings with various groups and organizations. A schedule of meetings has already been set up which includes involving an increased number of groups. With a background that will have been shared by that time, the goals that have been discussed and the options that will have been put forward in documents such as the autumn economic statement, I feel these sessions hold a great deal of promise.
I would like to discuss our federal-provincial agenda for the next few months. Members who have listened diligently to statements, speeches and debates in this assembly for some time will have heard very many well thought-out speeches on the subject of federal-provincial relations from this side of the House which may have complained about policies -- particularly unilateral actions -- taken by the federal government.
On the other hand, there are those on the opposite side who have claimed that we may have tried to overemphasize the shortcomings of the federal government. We wish to be fair about the circumstance and say that we do not intend to lay blame for everything at the doorstep of the federal government, as easy as it may be.
At the same time, however, while the opposition party in this assembly takes the view that a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal, we want the members to join with us in reaching a balanced view on this circumstance. We should all want to acknowledge the fact that we will differ from time to time on who has primary responsibility for our economic problems and solutions.
The leader of the third party, of course, tilts his view to whichever chamber he is sitting in. If he is sitting in this assembly, we have primary responsibility; if he is sitting in the House of Commons, they have the major responsibility. However, I think we are all relieved to know that he does not have the major responsibility.
Regardless of which view one may hold with regard to the particular failings of that government, we must agree that the federal government has a dominant influence in terms of the economies of all provinces. We must also acknowledge that what we do here in Ontario is quite important to the national economy. Those facts being the case, governments must surely talk to each other very carefully and openly. They must share their goals and not waste their strengths by pulling in opposite directions.
The December 8 finance ministers’ meeting in Montreal will provide an opportunity for us to discuss the economic outlook and budget options across the country for next year. Ottawa’s plans will have a major bearing on the decisions we take, leading up to our own budget next spring. At the meeting, I will be raising a number of points.
First, we need to find new and better ways of mounting the question of job creation in this country. Our own budget actions were mentioned earlier, some of which were taken in co-operation with the federal government. These programs have helped a great deal, but we all have to do better.
Second, we cannot let up on our efforts to keep inflation under control. I was concerned to read again today that the federal government might be considering pulling out of its six and five program a little too quickly, while in our opinion inflationary pressures are still seriously with us. As I indicated earlier, a five per cent inflation rate is no cause for celebration. Inflation must simply drop further and must stabilize for an extended period of time before we can safely say that it is under control.
Another issue I will be raising at the time of the finance ministers’ meeting is the continuing decline of the federal contribution to the financing of health care in this province. The federal share of Ontario health spending is now only 41 per cent, having declined from 49 per cent only four years previously. Some people do not realize that these figures include the value of the 1977 transfer of tax revenue to the provinces. In other words, they include revenues that taxpayers pay directly to the Ontario government and that show up on our tax forms as Ontario tax payable. If we look only at the actual amount of funds remitted from Ottawa, their share of health spending in Ontario has dropped shamefully to only 24 per cent.
Another key issue to discuss with the federal government is the expiry of the general development agreement. This 10-year umbrella accord, which permitted co-operative economic development initiatives to be negotiated and implemented, will expire in March 1984. The federal government has promised a replacement for the general development agreement. Nonetheless, they have not disclosed the nature of that agreement. They have no specifics other than warm assurances, as we get into December just three months prior to the expiry, that there will be a successor of some sort to the ODA. We do not now know the nature of these new agreements. I might say the existence of a federal commitment to co-operate with the province on developmental items of common interest is really not yet clear.
Certain federal requests may be anticipated, however, such as -- if we read the messages accurately -- a desire for more federal direct delivery and fewer joint activities. I do not think that is in the spirit of the economic consultation and confederation that we have always anticipated and feel has served us well in all parts of the country.
We feel that the procedures developed under the old development agreements were fair to both governments. We felt that while we joint-ventured with the federal government on many programs, the public did not want a squabble over who should take credit or who should cut a ribbon but, rather, only wanted co-operation between governments to give them appropriate development and growth in their community.
That is our view of the situation as well. We feel that those programs provided effective and useful programming initiatives to the people of this province in very many communities. If anything, at this crucial point in our history, we need more co-operation and joint efforts with the federal government, not fewer ones, which seems to be the trend in which they are going.
Pension reform is another major issue on which it is essential that same kind of federal-provincial consensus be arrived at. In this case I would indicate that interprovincial consensus is very important as well. Tomorrow, I will be speaking to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association on the timing and direction of Ontario’s reform proposals. Indeed, it will be at the very time the Grey Cup victory parade is taking place.
I will stress on that occasion the need for early commencement of intergovernmental discussions of reform proposals, as the parliamentary task force on pension reform is now expected to release its report in December.
We have had a very helpful and constructive meeting with the federal parliamentary committee on pensions. We exchanged a lot of information and we were quite impressed by the degree of work they had done and by the excellence of the knowledge of the members of that parliamentary committee on the fundamental problems and issues surrounding pension reform.
All members of this House, I am sure, are aware of the importance of the pension issue. It is disturbing that many of our elderly must rely solely on old age security and income-tested government programs such as the guaranteed income supplement and the guaranteed annual income system for their retirement income.
The success of pension reform will be measured by our ability to reduce the number of elderly dependent on government transfer programs without introducing a major extension of government control over how Canadians prepare for retirement. This means not only that the reformed pension system should deliver more and better pensions, provide reasonable inflation protection and be affordable but that it should also be flexible. Pension policies should be designed to complement and not frustrate people’s actual desires to save and to prepare for retirement.
These are long-term issues, and while that fact is inherent in pension reform, these questions cannot continually be pushed into the future. It is gratifying to see more public discussion on pensions and this must continue among governments in a more concrete way.
I should point out that this year I am chairman of the provincial ministers of finance group and I have also been asked to chair the meeting of provincial ministers responsible for pensions this current year. Accordingly, in that capacity I will be calling together some time in the spring of next year my counterparts throughout the country who are responsible for pensions in order to bring together provincial views on this very important matter.
In that regard I should like to indicate to the members of the House that this work is being co-ordinated within the Ontario government by Treasury and Economics and that we are receiving a great deal of assistance from my colleague the Provincial Secretary for Social Development, who has extraordinary knowledge in this field and an important responsibility, given his cabinet responsibilities in the social development area, and also from my colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie), who also brings a great deal of knowledge and expertise to this field and is, of course, responsible for the Pension Commission of Ontario under the purview of his ministry.
Long-term issues are sometimes the ones that do not get discussed very often; they do not fit into neat compartments and they too easily get ignored. Just after my appointment as Treasurer, a reporter asked me what my major objectives in the new job would be. I answered that I would be pursuing retraining, restructuring and restraint. Four months later I do not think I could have found a much better way to express our goals. They are, however, matters that we do not often discuss under those titles in intergovernmental forums, and I want to complete my remarks by discussing each of them briefly.
Retraining offers the key to productivity growth and to growth generally without inflation. We have learned that even in a time of relatively high unemployment skilled labour bottlenecks can frustrate the ability of our businesses to grow and fulfil their potential. In our rapidly changing economic environment workers must have available the means to transform their skills from those of declining industries to those required for expanding ones.
This government regards manpower training as a top priority through programs delivered in Ontario’s extensive network of colleges of applied arts and technology and on the job in a range of apprenticeship programs. Ontario has upgraded its response this year through an additional $16.5-million Board of Industrial Leadership and Development manpower training enrichment program that includes funding for the new Ontario training incentive program, creating over 9,000 new training places.
The three-year federal-provincial agreements under the National Training Act are drawing to a close and negotiations will begin soon for a new national plan. We will claim our fair share of the institutional training that is undertaken in Canada, closer to our proportion of the national labour force, in recognition that ongoing retraining is necessary to maintain a healthy industrial base. The negotiations will bring the opportunity we have been seeking to add new and imaginative programs to our existing retraining efforts.
The restructuring of our industries and our economy is the second area to examine. The growth in the international economy is shifting towards industries based on information technology. The nations that will lead tomorrow’s economy will be those that conducted the research and were there on the ground floor. This is why our support for basic and applied research at our universities and colleges is so vital. Yet the federal government has chosen this time to restrain its funding to post-secondary education, an unusual and inappropriate time to so do.
Ottawa has reduced its post-secondary funding to Ontario this year and next by $42 million and $93 million respectively. Incredibly, it is threatening to make greater cuts after 1984-85 by altering the method for payment. We understand its motives for this year and next are related to the six and five program. We certainly agree that the salary component of transfers to educational institutions needs to be limited.
But a continuing cut of federal support will hurt Ontario’s ability to participate in technological development. This is a moment when our commitment to post-secondary education must be expanding, not contracting. I wish to discuss with the federal government joint ways of better utilizing our educational institutions in the restructuring of our economy.
Finally, we must continue our commitment to the third R, that of restraint, in order to have the flexibility to undertake these or any other initiatives we have already discussed. Ontario’s continuing prudent fiscal management has paid clear dividends, and did so last spring, for instance, by putting us in better shape than any other province to respond to the need for job creation programs without endangering our credit rating and robbing our children in later generations in terms of the moneys they would have to spend on needless interest payments.
When resources are limited, it is important to scrutinize all expenditures even more carefully and to make reallocations to those areas that will contribute most to lasting recovery. The type of restraint we have adopted for this year is reasoned and compassionate. It is fair but firm restraint and does not arrive with a bang in bad times and simply go away in good times. It is balanced and fair and allows for a balanced and predictable government policy, not a sudden one that creates dislocations and polarizations throughout our economy.
It is a continuing process, that of restraint. It is one that must be a goal for all governments. Indeed, had it been a goal for all governments, not just ours, from 1975 on we would have seen less economic havoc and fewer social problems in other provinces than we have seen.
In concluding my remarks, may I say this is the fourth ministry I have had the honour to take the estimates for in the last six years. In every one of those I have learned a great deal during the estimates process. I have listened carefully to the comments of the opposition parties and my own colleagues in their contributions to the process. I am sure, having listened to the contributions to date on economic matters by members of the opposition, this year will be no exception.
Therefore, I invite honourable members to offer their contributions and their questions as we all join together in marching down the road to economic recovery and reinvestment in the kind of growth we all need and want so badly for our people.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Chairman, the new Treasurer -- not so new, but this is his first opportunity to do these estimates -- delivered his remarks with all the enthusiasm of a funeral director presiding at a pauper’s funeral. Perhaps what we heard on the radio and in other media recently about the present Treasurer not being enthusiastic about his new job is indicated by the liveliness and enthusiasm with which he delivered his remarks, of which, incidentally, he did not provide a copy this afternoon.
I want to make some general remarks and will deal with the specifics during the estimates. First of all, I might say I did not make my first comment lightly. Frankly, I am disappointed the minister stood in his place. He is not generally a boring speaker. He usually has a little fire to him, but he just delivered the same kind of mush we were used to getting from his predecessor, the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller). He did not tell us an awful lot about where he wants to go, what the long-term prospects are or the long-term direction he has in mind.
I was taken with his defence, if that is the way I may put it, of the present government restraint program, pointing out that the provincial government’s restraint program went back to 1975 and, presumably, the Henderson et al. report. It is interesting to remember, as my colleague the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) pointed out just last week, that up to the time the present Premier (Mr. Davis) took over, we had budgetary -- would the Treasurer tell me what the word is?
Mr. T.P. Reid: Once the present incumbent took his chair as first minister, we got into deficit after deficit. In my economic background and in the Keynesian theory of things -- and Keynes has always been misread -- Keynes was of the opinion that when things were bad the government should prime the pump and run budgetary deficits. But what always gets lost in Keynes is the fact that when things are good and when the revenues are coming in and there is not high unemployment, then the government runs budgetary surpluses.
Here we have the present Treasurer with the same kind of platitudes telling us that we in Ontario should be happy. It is somewhat like the young child who killed both of his parents and then pleaded to the court on the ground that it really could not convict him because he was an orphan. Certainly there has been restraint of one kind or another in some areas since 1975, but it was the government in the beginning that ran up the deficits which made that necessary in 1975 when things were not as bad as they are today.
Mr. T.P. Reid: Let us talk about the restraint program, let us talk about Suncor, let us talk about government advertising, let us talk about speech writers, let us talk about government limousines and all the rest of it and see how much restraint there really has been.
I find it somewhat unsettling to say the least. The first commitment this Treasurer made, to his credit, was when he came into the House, as he said, on October 11, 1983, and stated that he was going to up the budgetary process, a proposition that was put to his predecessor and this House by my leader and by me at the time of the last budget or shortly thereafter.
What he also stated, on page 4 of that statement, was: “First, an economic and fiscal statement will be tabled in the third week of November. This document will include projections which set the stage for major policy decisions to be taken in the spring budget.” The Treasurer told us last week and reiterated today that we are not now going to have what I suggested to his predecessor last year, a state of the economic union address, if we may put it in that way, some six months after the budget to tell us where we stand in the province half a year after the budget in May and what has happened fiscally and economically in the province.
For instance, I notice the Treasurer did not tell us what the rate of unemployment is in the province as of November 28. He did not tell us whether the budgetary projection of 1.9 per cent of gross provincial product was on target, whether it was more or less, whether it could be sustained. I appreciate that the Treasurer has the treasurers’ conference in Montreal on December 8. I also appreciate that the federal government has not come out with its programs of what it is going to do. But it bothers me that the Treasurer has not come through on the first commitment he gave to this House, nor has he given us a great deal today.
He has given us some figures that do not square with the figures we have in terms of job creation and all the rest of it, but he has not given us the economic indicators that are important; such as unemployment, how those figures break down, how many jobs have been lost due to structural problems in our economy, how many young people have been added to the list of the unemployed, what the gross provincial product is, what the levels of revenues and expenditures are, and so on. In particular, he has not told us what his real themes are.
He got around at the end to talking about retraining and restraint. I would have thought the minister would be ashamed to even talk about retraining. If I recall correctly, there are only about 1,300 in the apprenticeship program this year. As a province we know we are going to require within the next two, three or four years something like 40,000 skilled jobs that are not now available in Ontario.
Did we hear anything about that? Not a bit. Did we hear anything about the long-term outlook for the province? No, we did not. What we did hear was the same old litany blaming Ottawa for all our problems. I am not here as a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal to say the federal government is blameless--
I find it most interesting that the Ontario government, particularly in the form of its Treasurer, can learn the game so quickly. Even a less astute person such as Robert Duffy, writing in the Toronto Star -- usually this gentleman seems to rewrite government press releases for his column -- in one headline said, “Grossman Just Passing the Buck on Restraint.” Even he is aware of how the minister is passing on all his fiscal and revenue problems to the municipalities, boards of education, universities, hospitals, etc.
It gets to be a bit of a “Who has the dirty end of the broom?” all at once. He says the feds have handed it to him and he has handed it down, except that this government started doing that years ago. Maybe the feds learned from it. Members may recall the Honourable Darcy McKeough’s Edmonton commitment about the financing of education in Ontario, among other things, and his commitment that transfers would be at the same level as the revenues of the province. Also, I believe he was going to go to 60 or 70 per cent of the cost of education in Ontario, a figure that has declined, as anybody on a school board will tell us, to under 50 per cent in almost every case across the province.
I am surprised the Treasurer even attempted to talk about his job creation policies or what is supposedly passing for those. I was surprised he did not mention that in the early summer we had 514,000 unemployed. Since that time we have lost another 93,000 jobs. One out of every four of those jobs is a youth unemployed.
He did not make any reference to the proposition put to him by the Liberal Party in a well-documented, well-researched job creation plan for young people. There is nothing on that at all, no reference to our program that would provide employment for people for up to a year under a program we figure would cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $113 million. It is interesting that Quebec followed our suggestions very closely and came up with such a program.
I gather we are waiting for the feds to do something as well. It has not been announced, but I understand the feds are not going to continue the Canada-Ontario employment development program. i think in many ways the COED program has been a disaster. I am not going to quote all the articles I have on it, but it is obvious this program is not going to continue. It might be instructive to have one of the minister’s reports or background papers, which he is telling us we are going to get, do an analysis of that program.
If one gets back to what the Treasurer indicated earlier, there is the provincial-federal pull and who is going to get the credit for it, and all the bureaucracy and red tape that surrounded that. What bothered me about that program was the length of time it took to get it going.
That is my concern here today in terms of employment. The minister is talking about a treasurers’ meeting on December 8 in Montreal. Although he has not given us a commitment -- and I hope he will today -- the Treasurer will presumably make a statement in the House before we rise for Christmas as to what he is going to do about winter unemployment in Ontario. If we wait any longer, it will be June or July before any of these programs get off the ground because of the bureaucracy, the red tape and the problems of getting them going.
I cannot remember the figure, but I think the first COED program took between three and a half to four and a half months from the time it started until it was off the drawing board and people were employed. I cannot avoid the feeling -- and I am not being cynical when I say this -- that both the federal government and the Ontario government are using the old Mackenzie King ploy that if we just wait long enough the problem will solve itself.
I do not see how anyone in his right mind can believe that. Not only do we have the problems of the economic cycle to deal with, we still have these structural problems in our economy where jobs are being lost and new jobs are not coming in to take up that slack.
I have been disappointed with the minister’s predecessor during the estimates and in the House in regard to productivity. I have attempted to engage the former Treasurer in some discussion about the whole topic of productivity. I notice that was one word that was pretty well absent from the Treasurer’s remarks, although his remarks were not very memorable in any case. However, I would have thought that at least he might have discussed some of these matters and talked about productivity in our industries and service industries, that if we do not work smarter, as some people have defined productivity, we are going to face an increasing unemployment rate in the province.
If I may put it this way, I think what we need, in Ontario in particular, if not in the country as a whole, is some kind of new social contract. What bothers me in the present-day climate is that labour, business and government seem to be drifting further apart rather than coming together and working as one. It seems to me that the whole issue of technology and productivity is central to a lot of the matters that are going to be before us in the next few years.
The government must take a stronger lead than it has in this regard, in providing incentives for improvement in productivity and displaying leadership. It is happening only in certain restricted areas in the private sector -- and there are some companies out there doing a good job. Overall, however, there does not seem to be a thrust by government in terms of providing that kind of leadership, nor by industry and business completely.
Part of the problem is that the social contract seems to have broken down and, to some extent, labour is opting out of any discussions on productivity. They are afraid, in some cases understandably so, that increased productivity could well mean a decrease in jobs. As somebody has pointed out, however, if there is not increased productivity, there will not be jobs for anybody. There may well be jobs lost, but there should be policies and programs in place to provide for those people who might lose their jobs through increased productivity.
Do we see or hear anything from the present Treasurer, the main economic minister in this government? The Treasurer has been very quiet about almost everything related to his portfolio since he has taken it over. I for one think that the present minister, at least in his other emanations, was one of the bright, hard-working members of an otherwise sleepy government. I happen to know a lot of the civil servants in Treasury and they are some of our top-notch people across Canada, with the exception of the deputy minister, who sat up suddenly when I said that.
Having said that, the Treasurer has the talent and competence. Why is he so strangely silent? One can only assume he is getting his marching orders from the Premier, who has said, in true Brampton Billy style, ‘We are not going to do anything about anything. We are just going to let things mosey along and hope for the best.”
Just let me get diverted for a minute here. It is interesting to note that even the Treasurer, who is known -- and I will mispronounce this word -- for his chutzpah, who has that in larger amounts than almost anybody else in the government, did not make a big deal of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program, which is supposedly the cornerstone, the foundation or whatever one wants to call it of the government’s economic program.
I have a quote here from Blair Tully. I just want to quote from an excellent article that was written by Martin Cohn in the Toronto Star, the headline to which was, “Three Approaches to Ontario’s Big Growth Industry: Unemployment.” The article states: “BILD secretary Blair Tully conceded in an interview that almost all of the 4,700 short-term BILD jobs listed in last month’s budget will not be new jobs. They were, in fact, created in the previous fiscal year and will simply be continuing over the next few weeks and months.”
Mr. T. P. Reid: The Treasurer, with all the gall in the world, did not even refer to the BILD program. For that I give him credit because, somewhere lurking in the very depths of his soul, there is one bright light where even he knows he cannot in all conscience get up and say, “This is our economic program.”
It was interesting that one day I got under the skin of the Treasurer on this very BILD program and there were a lot of not too salutary remarks made about the program in the press, and the advertising budget for BILD went up immensely after that. That is how this government responds to criticism. They do not do anything about fixing the program or changing it or doing away with it; they just advertise more in the hope that they can fool the public. If you take a survey, as was done by one of the media, you will find that even the business community, which is the government’s main constituency, does not believe it.
I was reading a book called Stalemate in Technology by Gerhard Mensch, a German economist. It is a very interesting book in that he paints a scenario that has happened in most industrialized countries. As you read the book, you can see happening in our own economy exactly what he is describing. His solution, which may be a simplistic one -- perhaps not -- is that what industrialized nations need is a new wave of technology to provide new products, better ways of doing things and all the research and development and industrial things that will go with a new wave of technology.
It is an interesting theory. It would be interesting to have a rational discussion of some of these things in this Legislature instead of spending the sort of time we put in discussing things that never seem to go anywhere.
I think the best speeches across the board I have ever heard were in the debate on declaring Ontario a nuclear-free zone. I did not vote for that motion because I felt it was largely irrelevant to Ontario, but I commend those who said what they said and who felt deeply about the issue. But what concerned me about that debate was that it was counter to what we tend to do here in the House, which is that we never deal with the real issues that the province of Ontario and this government can deal with.
My colleague the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell), the meek and mild-mannered gentleman beside me on my right, who knows more about the agricultural business in Ontario than the present minister and deputy minister combined, will tell the House that we never talk about items relating to one of our basic industries in Ontario. We get a lot of rhetoric. We get a minister running around and running for the leadership. However, we never discuss real issues here. I suspect we are not going to do that here today either.
I have a number of questions on the estimates. However, before we get into the first vote, I wonder if we could prevail upon the Treasurer to give us an update of the economic indicators in Ontario. What is the present level of unemployment? What is the gross provincial product to this point? Where does he think things are going to go?
Surely all this information, which is only factual, has been done in preparation for the treasury conference in Montreal. Surely the minister -- some four months into the job -- has some ideas of what he wants to do, or at least can give us some parameters within which he is working.
We are in a period of restraint, for better or for worse. We all realize this. I think what most people in Ontario want to know is what happens in the rest of the 1980s and the 1990s in Ontario and what we are going to do when this period of restraint is over, when, presumably and hopefully, inflation comes down and when we get back to some moderating of the business cycle. As yet, we have had no indication of any of this, despite all of the talent in the Treasury.
The Treasurer also mentioned pension reform, and I am glad he did. I would hope he is going to give us some idea of Ontario’s views on portability and increasing the Canada pension plan or increasing private sector pensions so at least people will he brought up to a level somewhat approximating the poverty line in Ontario.
Frankly, I am interested in what we are going to do with the pension funds from which we have been borrowing so heavily in the past to finance some of the deficits in Ontario. When are the funds we borrow from CPP or the old age pension going to match the money which we have to put back into the funds to make the payments.
There is another matter I would like to talk about briefly. If the credit rating of Ontario, which is now triple-A, went to double-A -- I presume the Treasurer is talking about double-A -- presumably we would go down about one quarter of a per cent. He indicated to me that would cost us something like $500 million. I trust the Treasurer would correct that. Surely it is not $500 million.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Could the Treasurer tell us what the long-term debt of the province is because I find that is an incredible figure. The only reason I find it incredible is that his predecessor indicated it would be $40 million.
Mr. T. P. Reid: My figure was a lot less than $500 million, but I will go back to the drawing board. I do not have 947 civil servants to do this work for me; so I will go back and check my figure. I suspect $500 million is a little high.
I want to give the Treasurer notice of one question relating to page 83 of the Ontario budget statement. Probably this has to be the first time in history that we have an expenditure estimate of $24.825 billion; then at the bottom we have “Less: Constraints to be reported,” minus $300 million. Therefore, the budget plan comes out to $24.71 billion, an interesting smoke and mirrors game all by itself.
The Treasurer indicated in his remarks, and we know from the Ontario financial statements of June, that the $300 million of constraints had been found and that program was all in place; that $300 million had been cut from a budget that did not exist, because the bottom line was already $24.71 billion. That part is quite a piece of legerdemain. I would like the Treasurer now, if he is able to give it to us, to provide us with a list of where the $300 million was cut from -- which ministries, which programs, which people, whatever.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Good. I would appreciate having it. This is exclusive of the figures the Treasurer has given us for supplementary estimates and ones we have had increases in. We would be glad to see that.
I hope that whole idea is not something he is going to continue with. I think it is very misleading to the public generally to say: “Here is our budget. Here is the total figure. By the way, we are going to constrain ourselves by $300 million: so all these budgetary figures do not mean anything.” The reasonable way to do that would have been to cut out the $300 million to begin with.
If the minister walked into General Motors, Inco or anywhere else as a chief executive officer or comptroller and said, “Our budget is $10 billion, but really it is only $9.7 billion because we are going to cut $300 million out over the course of the year because we do not need it or we can get rid of it,” they would throw him right out the door.
It is interesting that the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants is spending a lot of time and money doing a study on government accounting measures, because people across Canada cannot compare government accounts one to another across this country. In Ontario we have significant accounting changes and budgetary changes that go willy-nilly depending on the requirements of the day. For the first time, for instance, the then Treasurer last year in talking about his budget said, “All these capital projects of $2.65 million really should not be part of the estimates procedure or the budget because they are capital goods we will have,” as if it did not cost money to build them.
What kind of hocus-pocus is the Treasurer trying to play on the people of Ontario’? If he were concerned about good management and doing it, he would not have to come up with this kind of nonsense. I reiterate that I would like the information I have asked for. I would like to know what the Treasurer’s thinking is in terms of what the economy of Ontario is going to be, not before Christmas, not even next spring necessarily, but where we are going to be heading or where we are heading in the next few years, because the picture is not all that good in the short term.
What is frightening to me and to a lot of other people is that there are no guideposts, no signposts, no direction and no beacon for what the provincial economy is going to be like within the next five years. That was one of the disbenefits, if I may use that word, of minority government. It was also a loss when the former Treasurer, Mr. McKeough, left the government, because in those days we were planning at least five and sometimes 10 years ahead. People had some kind of guidelines to look forward to.
I realize the economic consequences if the minister says, This is what we expect is going to be down the road as far as actual numbers go” and it does not prove out: everybody is going to be screaming and saying he was wrong. That is one issue. But surely the minister can tell us where he sees Ontario going, where the jobs are going to be, whether they are in the service sector, the industrial sector or the financial sector. What are we going to do in terms of technological change? What are we going to do in terms of productivity in this province? All those things are of concern to each and every person in Ontario.
First of all, this ministry used to be known as the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs. First, we had intergovernmental affairs chopped away and set up as a separate ministry. What we are seeing today is that this ministry is rapidly disappearing as an economic ministry and it is becoming merely a fiscal ministry. It is becoming an accountant’s ministry. Perhaps that suits the incumbent minister, but it does not suit the people of Ontario.
If one leafs through the spending estimates, as I did over the weekend, it can be seen that there has been an enormous decline in the ministry’s emphasis on economic policy. The ministry will trot out bills. It will trot out all those programs that were fudged together during the course of an election campaign. Subsequently, government members scrambled like blazes to find some substance for the alphabet soup they created during the course of the 1981 campaign -- the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program, the Innovation Development for Employment Advancement Corp. and all of that.
But the fact of the matter is, as one studies the estimates of this ministry carefully, that it has consistently over the last few years neglected and abdicated its responsibility for economic planning, economic policy and economic diversification.
Since 1975, for example, in the ministry’s estimates booklet, it is proud to trumpet that it has eliminated 69 economic policy positions. It is glad to trumpet that it has dissolved the economic research branch and saved $617,000. But at what cost to the people of Ontario and the future of Ontario has the ministry dissolved its economic research branch?
I suggest that as this government lurches from crisis to crisis, as it lurches with makeshift programs such as Bill 179, harsh though it was, and Bill 111, which is not an economic policy, let alone even a fiscal policy, both of those pieces of legislation are simply legislative means to help the government keep its books in balance. That is why I say the ministry has become a mere accountant’s ministry. It has given up on planning the economy of Ontario. It has given up creating jobs.
For example, in his leadoff speech today the Treasurer said, “Nothing is more important than long-term job creation in this province.” What did he do? He talked about one thing, and that one thing was the apprenticeship program. It takes more than a dynamic and vital apprenticeship program to create long-term jobs in this province, important though that program may be. It takes a heck of a commitment from this government, and particularly from this ministry, for that kind of job creation. This government does not have that kind of commitment; the spending estimates we have before us to be voted upon show that more and more.
I would like to speak about the increase in the public debt. I may very well be advocating some kind of heresy on the part of a democratic socialist party in these debates, but we are in the Ontario Legislature, we are not in the real world, so one can be free to advocate this idea without any hope of it either being picked up, paid any attention to or acted upon.
As I look at page 23 of the briefing book, dealing with vote 902 of the Treasury program, where it indicates that there has been an increase of some $437,000,636 in the public debt under the Financial Administrative Act for this year over last year, it strikes me that this is a matter of some significance.
When we are getting an increase in the public debt, and I see in other places in the estimates that there has actually been a 24 per cent increase in the interest on the public debt, we are reaching a point where we must pay some attention to that. If that is the case, then this Treasurer and this government have to do more than open up the budgetary process. They have to do more than say they are going to consult with the people and the public before they bring in a budget. They must have the guts to find ways of getting additional revenues.
When we get to the actual budget debate, I will be outlining some of the ways in which we legitimately think the government can get additional revenues. But when it has a 24 per cent increase in the interest it is paying on the public debt, then I say that is a matter of some concern. I am not saying this merely as a legislator but as a person who believes it is the responsibility of the government of this province and of the Legislature of this province to point out the folly of our ways.
The previous speaker indicated that during the 1970s, once the member for Brampton (Mr. Davis) became the Premier of the province, it was the custom for this government to run deficits. That is true. However, it is even more interesting that the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden), when she was the research director for the New Democratic Party before she was elected to the Legislature, charted very carefully the expenditures of the provincial government. One saw, in the 18 months leading up to any election campaign in the late 1960s and 1970s, that there was deficit financing so that the government could buy its re-election.
The myth that emerged in the 1970s, and is currently the case, about Darcy McKeough being the embodiment of fiscal restraint is absolute balderdash, because it was Darcy McKeough who, as Treasurer, ran a consistent series of deficits throughout the 1970s. This model of fiscal restraint was the biggest breacher of fiscal accountability and fiscal balance that the province has ever seen.
His successor -- in fact, he had two successors; there was an interregnum with John White, who was also a big spender -- the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) and the present incumbent in the job inherit, to their detriment, but more important to the detriment of the people of Ontario, that profligate spending where the Tories tried to buy their way into government from 1971 to 1977.
In political terms, it was obviously enormously successful. They did buy their way into government in 1971, 1975, 1977 and 1981. They did use the taxpayers’ money to bribe the taxpayers to re-elect them. But I suggest that government and leadership require more than that: they require responsibility. There has been a total lack of responsibility on the part of the Davis administration since its inception in 1971.
What has happened is that even the government now recognizes that. That it is why they prate on about the necessity for fiscal responsibility and restraint at this time. But I suggest they are doing it unjustly and unfairly. The method they have chosen to exercise their restraint works undue hardships on public servants, particularly on those at the lower end of the scale who have given good service to this province and to the public of this province.
I suggest as well that if there is to be genuine restraint in this province, then it is time the government itself not only displayed and exercised that restraint but, in symbolic ways, also displayed responsibility and restraint too.
Examples come readily to mind about restraint: such as designing the government telephone directory, a deputy minister of this government exceeding his mandate without going through Management Board orders and the practices of the Minister of Industry and Trade at the time, now the present Provincial Secretary for Justice, the member for London South (Mr. Walker).
It behooves every single minister, every single deputy and every single manager in government to exercise restraint on what they think of as their due rights -- their frills, if you like -- everything from government limousines through to the Premier’s jet, which was cancelled, I admit, and the government telephone directory.
There would be a lot more belief in the government and its restraint if its restraint were aimed at those things that justifiably could be restrained and not at the social service recipients of this province, who are harshly and unduly hit.
The fourth item I want to talk about just for a moment is the lot of social assistance recipients in this province. I do not think my experience is unusual. Since the great recession of 1981, I am sure every single one of us who has any kind of responsibility as a constituency man, any one of us who considers his responsibility as a legislator is not merely here to speak in the House about matters of policy but also as a matter of priority to talk to constituents and to do what he can to help them in their constituency cases, has run into a ballooning, a growth in constituency work that is quite phenomenal.
The week before last, for example, in my constituency office, we actually charted the number of contacts we had with the public. There were 200 phone calls, letters or people dropping into the office. The reason for that is very simple. In the tough economic times we are experiencing, it means not only that people are coming to talk to their MPPs about jobs and seeing whether they can get a job but also more social assistance cases. They get more cases in compensation and more pension cases because people are feeling so tight to the bone that they resurrect every kind of avenue, every kind of case which they think might assist them to get a little more income.
That is what the man-made recession of 1981 to 1983 has done, that is what government’s so-called restraint has done. It is happening in communities all over this province. People who are justifiably entitled to social assistance under the terms of the legislation of the Family Benefits Act and the General Welfare Assistance Act are being told they are not eligible.
Most of those people do not have the sophistication or knowledge to recognize when they are eligible. If some bureaucrat or receptionist in a social assistance office says, “You are not eligible,” most people walk away without questioning it. Some of them find their way to our offices. Most of them do not even get it in writing. Most of them do not even know there is an appeal system, but what happens is that we have to take those appeals. That means another six weeks and we have to fight like blazes with the local administrator of general welfare assistance to get any of that kind of assistance.
My community, Thunder Bay, happens to be the primary centre, the hub of the whole northwestern Ontario region. We act like a capital city for that region of the province and we get all kinds of people coming there who, through no fault of their own, find themselves unemployed or in some dire straits in their own communities, and we have them being turned away by the social assistance administrators because they do not reside in Thunder Bay.
There is no residency requirement under either the General Welfare Assistance Act or the Family Benefits Act, but they are denied it and they are given a bus ticket and told to go home. That is the kind of social assistance they receive. That is the kind of sick system we have today.
What is happening to those people is they do not get the opportunity to develop their skills to work. They are given no work opportunities, and they are given a short-term ticket back home where they will be somebody else’s social assistance problem. That indicates, more than anything I can say, the lack of economic planning, the lack of (job creation and the whole, sad sickness of the economic situation we find ourselves in today.
I am up to about point 5. I would like to point out that when I went through the votes and the amounts to be spent on regional economic development, which is the key to development in this province. I found there was a reduction in the expenditures. Not only that, with my usual bias for northern Ontario, as I went through the estimates I said: “Holy cow, not a cent of development for northern Ontario. It is all for eastern and southern Ontario.”
A little warning light at the back of the enlarged nerve ganglia at the base of my skull came on and said: “Warning: maybe that is under the Ministry of Northern Affairs. Maybe that budget is in the pork-barrel of the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier).” That minister’s approach to economic problems is if there is a problem throw money at it; do not develop the region, do not develop jobs, do not diversify, just throw money at that problem.
Yes, there were considerable amounts of money, when I checked it out, in the northern economic development program, vote 702, of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. However, in the expenditures for northern Ontario development there was a reduction of $15,842,700 from last year.
I suggest to whoever may be listening in the government that this is just the time when there should be an increase in northern Ontario development, when we have the extraordinary unemployment we are experiencing in northern Ontario towns from Timmins to Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Fort Frances -- perhaps not so crucially there, because it is a one-mill town and the mill happens to be operating, but when we have double-digit unemployment in almost every single northern Ontario town, this is just the time we should be diversifying the economy.
Surely this province’s primary strength is the diversity of its regions: the very different economies that exist in the Niagara Peninsula as opposed to southwestern Ontario, northwestern Ontario, northeastern Ontario or Metropolitan Toronto.
Unless we get back to thinking, without the flim-flam and without the slides of the Design for Development programs in the early 1970s, we are not going to have a province that is richly diversified and developed, we are not going to have regions of this province that have their own economic sense of wellbeing and we are not going to have economic infrastructures in each of the regions of this province.
As I went through this ministry’s expenditures and looked at the projects that were funded under regional economic development, I noticed a hybrid poplar research project here, a sewage treatment plant there and a downtown revitalization program somewhere else. I just picked out three because those seemed to be typical of the economic development programs this ministry was into.
I suggest those are important, worthwhile and good projects, but I also suggest they are not fundamentally economic projects. They are not fundamentally job creation projects in that they do not create a good, strong, diversified economy. They are ad hoc projects.
They are the kind of projects that create some jobs; there is no question about it. The hybrid poplar may eventually do something to increase the kind of fibre and the kind of trees we grow. We know that any downtown revitalization means some immediate construction jobs and a revitalization for that particular downtown. We know a sewage treatment plant means some improvement in that municipality’s sewage treatment and some creation of short-term construction jobs. However, it does not create an economy. It does not revitalize the manufacturing base which this province has been so justifiably proud of and which has been the strength of our economy.
I suggest the regional economic development program of this ministry is not a sham, but it is only a small first step. It is not really a regional economic development program. It is a very small first step. We have no comment from the Treasurer or his officials that this will lead to technological or manufacturing development or diversification. Unless we have the three keys of improved technological development, improved diversification of industry and an improved manufacturing sector, we will have a Toronto-dominated economy that will become merely a service-centre economy.
Finally, I would like to say that the regional economic development program, as it has failed to be enunciated by the government, gives one the uneasy feeling that the government is still operating this province as if it were the corner store, on a sense of ad hoc development.
As a matter of fact, one of the interesting things that struck me is that the only area in which there has been genuine development and creation of jobs in this province is in the lottery industry. I think this is symbolic of the sickness of the approach of this government to developing an economy in the province. When one has people like Mr. Hall, Miss Penelope and so on as the leading new people about whom soap operas and articles are being written in the business section as well as the entertainment section of the Toronto dailies, there is something badly skewed about our priorities.
That gets me to the sixth point that I want to make and that is the point about government priorities. As one goes through the line-by-line estimates of this ministry, it struck me that this ministry is contributing more, for example. to the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre at $37 million than it did to provide equity for the Urban Transportation Development Corp. to acquire the Can-Car plant in Thunder Bay and other expenditures by $5 million. It seems to me to be quite shocking that the ministry would spend $5 million more on a convention centre, important and valuable though that may be, than it does on developing a genuine manufacturing industry in Kingston and Thunder Bay.
If I may say so, it also struck me as being very strange that the committee to study a domed stadium in Toronto -- what Orland French has called the Premier’s wish-fulfilment committee -- has assigned to it $300,000, over a quarter of a million dollars, for a private committee appointed by the Premier to study whether or not we should have a domed stadium in Toronto.
I agree that a domed stadium in Toronto is probably the fundamental political issue of Metropolitan Toronto today. It may even be the fundamental political issue of Ontario today, the Argonauts having won the Grey Cup by the skin of their teeth finally after 31 years.
I suggest that for this ministry to be spending $300,000 to pick up the tab from Ontario Hydro for Hugh Macaulay to look at whether or not we should have a domed stadium in Metropolitan Toronto is nonsense. I think an extra $50,000 for travel and examination by Mr. Campbell and one of his assistants could tell us whether or not we need a domed stadium in Toronto. It would provide a little light relief from his heavy responsibilities as deputy minister. I know Mr. Campbell would certainly enjoy seeing one or two sporting events under a domed stadium to test them out. Don’t go to Minneapolis whatever you do, Mr. Campbell. It is hot and humid in there all the time.
Why we have to spend $300,000 for Hugh Macaulay and a set of private advisers I do not understand. Frankly, I agree with my colleague the member for Rainy River Mr. T. P. Reid that we have some very capable people within the public service of Ontario and in the Treasury, and I am sure an interministerial committee composed of one or two people from Treasury and Tourism and Recreation could do the job in half the time, with at least one fifth, if not one tenth, of the expense. Not only that, they would enjoy doing it, I am sure.
The next point I would like to make, which I believe is point 7, is the whole question of classified and unclassified staff. This minister and this government like to trumpet about restraint, but if we actually look, there has been a phenomenal increase in this ministry’s own budget in unclassified staff. That increase is something like 43 per cent in man-years. The decrease in classified staff is 1.7 or 1.9 per cent.
I suggest to the minister that if he is going to have a good, hardworking and loyal civil service, we have gone overboard in doing away with classified staff and increasing the unclassified. The reason for that, of course, is very simple. It is a straight fiscal reason. It means that the unclassified staff do not need to have benefit packages, they do not need to have vacation pay, because he lays them off at the end of nine months or he extends the contract and all of that stuff.
That is a very chintzy way to run a corporation, let alone a government. I suggest that is one of the more serious problems facing us. It is not a big political issue out there in the province. It is not a major vote-getting device, but I suggest it will, in the long run, harm the development of proper programs. It will harm the development of proper expenditures in this province.
I want to talk briefly about BILD. When we look under vote 904, item 3, industrial leadership and development fund, we see a whole range of projects. I remember so well when BILD was unveiled just prior to the 1981 election. I guess the term “smoke and mirrors” has been used more about the programs of this Treasurer than those of any previous Treasurer. I do not know how that cliché comes to be the current cliché with regard to this Treasurer.
The whole question of smoke and mirrors, the whole question of a lot of show and not much fire, the whole question of reflection and not substance really began with the BILD program. They had all of the technological equipment over at the Macdonald Block when it was first unveiled and they talked a good game about how this was going to revitalize the province. But when we really got down to it, it was just a grab-bag collection of expenditures they put together in one of those acronyms that sounded very good. It was probably Hugh Segal’s finest hour in terms of his contribution -- and I use that word “contribution” loosely -- to the public sector of Ontario.
As we go through pages 52 to 54 in my estimates booklet, I suggest what the Treasurer has is not a coherent plan of economic development, what he has is a grab-bag. He has some money for rail upgrading, he has some dry dock construction there, he has a guarantee for railroad development around Oshawa and harbour development in Oshawa, he has money for forest management agreements, he has money for the IDEA Corp and he has money for hybrid plantations.
The most ironic one was under “people.” What this program is really good at doing is sort of listing headings to make them look good. Under “people,” there are high-technology equipment funds for agricultural colleges. How that classifies as an expenditure for people, I am not quite sure.
To put it mildly, what I am suggesting is that the government is stretching it a bit to trumpet the BILD program as a new, dynamic, development program for the province. What it is is a grab-bag program for patronage in the province. What it is is a bit of money here and there to try to get the votes in swing ridings. What it is is a lot of hype during an election campaign and not much substance afterwards.
I would suggest that may be fair politics, but it is not very good economics. Until a government in this province has the guts actually to spend money developing the province as a whole and developing those ridings and areas where it does not hold seats -- and it will never have a hope in heck of holding seats -- this province will continue to be operated as if it were a cornerstore instead of the major economic province of this country.
There are just three more points I want to make. I will make them again and again and again in this Legislature while I am the Treasury critic for this party. It seems to me it is important that we concentrate on three things.
We should concentrate on developing a long- term economic strategy for this province which gives a rebirth and a renewal to our manufacturing sector. Until we develop a Ministry of Treasury and Economics which is once again a ministry with power and clout, it will not happen. Until we develop a ministry with a commitment to economic policy, to economic planning and to economic development, it will not happen. Until we have a minister who is not content merely to mouth the platitudes we heard at the opening of this debate and a ministry which is not content merely to put its fiscal finger in the dike from time to time, we will not have a ministry worth talking about and we will not have a government worth talking about when it comes to economic development.
I have now said three times in the Legislature -- or two times, and I am going to say it for the third time -- we have double-digit unemployment in this province. Every one of those people, the more than 400,000 who are unemployed, is a human being who represents a family that wants the dignity of work. This government has not given a commitment to that dignity. This government has not created a long-term job creation program. It has fallen woefully short even in its winter Experience program of creating short-term jobs.
I noticed an article by Kelly McParland in the Toronto Star today. Gregory Baum, a sociologist who teaches at St. Michael’s College, said in very blunt terms that until there is a commitment for full employment and social security we will not get any kind of social contract between a government and its people. “The contract with society is over; full employment is not really the goal at all.” I am quoting Gregory Baum directly.
Don Lee was the co-chairman of the forum at Bickford Park high school over the weekend organized by the Committee for a Popular Assembly, a coalition of church, labour and social groups. He said: “I don’t think there really is a genuine commitment to full employment in the government of the day. Their policies generate high levels of unemployment.”
I think that is the greatest single disappointment this Treasurer has provided. There has been no statement and no commitment from him or his ministry to aim for full employment. There is no commitment from the federal Liberal government to full employment.
I have suggested twice to the Treasurer that while we have double-digit inflation in Ontario, while there is double-digit inflation in almost all the major cities in Ontario, there is a government not worthy of its name and a ministry not worthy of its name. There is a ministry that is not worthy of the name of Treasury and Economics. The minister likes to talk about five per cent inflation and how we have met that goal. If we have met that goal, then surely to goodness it is time to meet the goal of heading for five per cent unemployment in the strongest possible terms and in the shortest possible time.
Until we have brought unemployment down to five per cent this year we will have had a minister who has accomplished nothing. If we do not bring unemployment down to five per cent, we will still have hundreds of thousands of people thrown on the economic scrap heap and we will still have hundreds of thousands of people who desperately want but do not know the dignity of work.
1. The ministry should announce its abandonment of the social service maintenance tax and return those moneys to Ontario’s economy. It should give that money back to the consumers of Ontario so they can start to generate at least a part of a consumer-led recovery.
4. The province should announce a housing construction program, particularly for public sector family housing, for which there is a crying need. There are waiting lists that are simply unconscionable for such housing in every major community throughout Ontario. That should be in the public sector and in the co-operative sector.
5. Before the House rises, this government should announce that kind of winter works program and do a winter works program through municipal governments so that in every community they can take off the shelves capital projects they had to shelve because of the so-called government restraint program.
The trouble with the government restraint program is that it has put a major restraint on employment. It has not put a major restraint on the big spenders in government such as Alan Gordon and the Provincial Secretary for Justice.
Finally, I want to say I agree with the previous speaker. One of the most moving, most sensitive, most articulate debates in this Legislature was held last week on the question of the nuclear weapons free zone in Ontario. Surely to goodness if this Legislature can put its mind to such an international question, important as it is, this Legislature and this government can put its mind to declaring war on unemployment, because the war on unemployment is a war that we could win in this province if we had a government with a will and a determination to do it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Chairman, I approach this debate as I indicated a couple of hours ago, with much anticipation, hoping to get what I have become accustomed to in the last three ministries in which I have presented estimates, and that is a lot of good ideas and a lot of constructive suggestions from my critics on some ideas for rebuilding the economy and improving a number of things our ministry is doing. Unfortunately so far, I have been greatly disappointed, but I am sure this will improve over the next day or two.
I would want to respond, as I know my friends opposite would want me, to some of the points they made. Right off the top both speakers have referred to the extent of the Ontario deficit. I thought it might be instructive and informative for them to have a little bit more information.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Erie should not have said that because we are really not. Perhaps he would like this information so he could put it in his next newsletter to his constituents, and I do hope he will. I will send it over to him.
Secondly, a most important measurement and one that, I am sure, will mean the most to very many people here, is how much debt we are taking on on a per capita basis, how much debt is being loaded on our taxpayers to be repaid with the interest by those residents and taxpayers of Ontario today and in future years. That surely is a good measure of the degree to which the citizens are being asked now to bear the burden of the deficit. Therefore, it is a good measure province to province and one which many of the rating agencies look on as a fairly important one.
Ontario has the lowest debt per capita in the country, I would say to my friend the member for Erie, the member for Rainy River and the suddenly fiscally responsible member for Port Arthur Mr. Foulds), who was complaining about governments that spent a lot of money a moment ago. The member for Quinte (Mr. O’Neil) should have been here. He would have enjoyed the member for Port Arthur complaining about governments spending too much. Could you believe that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let us just look at these measurements. The member for Port Arthur has said it depends if one is spending for equity or not. If he gets a chance, he might look at table 6 of the very fine budget brought in last May. Page 49 will indicate to him that in all but three of the last 10 years we have been following exactly the kind of responsible deficit budgeting that he himself is talking about. Our capital investment in all but three of those 10 years has been greater than the deficit we have run. So we have been doing exactly that. The extent to which we have had a deficit in all but three of the last 10 years has gone towards building the capital infrastructure that is so important to Ontarians.
Second, in terms of the per capita cash requirements, let us just look at the numbers. I should like to read them into the record because I know members will want to put them in their newsletters. While certain provinces have very large cash requirements per capita, Saskatchewan has the largest in the country.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: So that members can have those figures in some perspective, let us be clear. Ontario is at $307 per capita, and the other provinces range up from there all the way to $1,416 per capita. Lest any members want to put out the proposition that it bears a very direct relationship to population, the data I have indicated do not support that contention. They simply reflect one thing and that is good management.
“A diversified and wealthy economy supports a modest and apparently stabilizing level of debt. Growing budgetary deficits have been a concern, but this trend appears to be slowing because of economic improvement and revenue and expenditure measures adopted in the most recent years.”
It goes on to say under recent developments: “Economic recovery, beginning the first quarter of 1983, and fiscal restraint measures” -- opposed by the New Democratic Party -- “introduced recently should begin to improve financial performance in the next fiscal year.”
Let us go into their analysis. It says: “Ontario’s economy is wealthy and well-diversified. It has been able to overcome recent cyclical pressures and modest recovery is under way, although some sectors continue to lag. Substantial increases in budgetary deficits in recent years are principally due to economic conditions and significant expenditure increases, especially for health, educational and social programs.”
That is really quite significant. It is not any self-serving analysis provided by this government. It is the most objective analysis one can get. It not only reflects continued confidence, as reflected in their credit rating, triple-A, but also reflects their in-depth analysis of the reason for the deficit, which is economic circumstances and our continuing commitment to health, educational and other social programs.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the member for Port Arthur wants an in-depth analysis, this is the summary, provided on page 1, and it is available to him. Perhaps he could have his former researcher, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, do another of her in-depth analyses. It is available even to the New Democratic Party.
The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) asked a moment ago about our cash requirements as a percentage of gross domestic product. Now that he is here, I know he will want to hear the results of that. I think he suggested or was hoping that an analysis of our cash requirements as a percentage of gross domestic product would show --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: As a percentage of GDP, Ontario’s cash requirements are 2.1 per cent, not surprisingly the lowest in the country; and he will want to tell his colleagues that the second highest in the country --
Just so members will have a full feel for this, the closest province to ours in terms of the lowest cash requirements as against GDP is Prince Edward Island, with 3.9 per cent. So much for the member for Rainy River wanting to say it is a function of population. The lowest after ours is 3.9 per cent, almost twice as large as ours; after that, the next lowest is 5.3 per cent.
Almost every government in this province is spending and deficit budgeting at a rate of between five per cent and eight per cent of gross domestic product, except for Ontario, which has its expenditures down to 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product. I am glad the member asked.
Someone also asked -- I think it was the member for Rainy River -- what that was in terms of our debt per capita and not just the deficit per capita. It is with some disappointment that I report that we are not number one in that category; but we are number two, behind only Alberta.
All in all, during the course of the balance of these estimates, members might try to test me against other measures to try to prove that our deficit position is not the safest and the strongest in the country, but I will continue to try to show that it does continue to rank among the best and the strongest in the country. However, if members think of other criteria, I will be pleased to test them for them.
The member for Rainy River, I know, has been most supportive of the new budgetary process we are adopting, the open consultative process. I must admit that we have not had the autumn economic statement as early as I had intended to have it, but I do know that he does support the new initiative and will find that the information he will have this fall, long before the budget, is far in excess of what he has ever had before, and I know he will use it appropriately.
The reason for the longer time frame than promised on October 11 is very simple. The restraint program took us an extra seven to 10 days to get in place, and therefore we had to defer all our attention to that program for a week and a half longer than anticipated.
We are now working on the autumn economic statement and are giving it a lot of attention. However, the scheduling of the finance ministers’ meeting, which was not then anticipated for December 8, and the Macdonald royal commission, which is occupying some of our time, before which we will make a presentation next week, have intervened a little and caused us to devote our resources to three or four concurrent activities. None the less, the economic statement will be available and much of the information the member seeks will be contained therein.
We would be pleased to provide any of the information the Liberal critic requested. For example, he was wondering what we anticipated in terms of our growth as against a projected 1.9 per cent. We believe it will be higher than that at the end of this year. Our projections for unemployment next year will be contained in the economic statement. It is worthy of note that our unemployment rate is lower than most people anticipated; it is down to 9.2 per cent. It is still too high, but it is substantially lower than most people predicted.
It is also worthy of note that the unemployment rate for full-time workers in Ontario was 7.9 per cent in October. That is 2.1 percentage points lower than the previous years rate. It is quite a strong performance. As I said, we still have a long way to go, but it is a rate significantly lower than most people anticipated.
So that members will have a perspective on this, Ontario’s unemployment rate in October 1983 was down much more than most people anticipated, 9.2 per cent. Saskatchewan is the only province with a lower unemployment rate. Ontario’s rate is significantly lower than the national average of 11.1 per cent. Members will realize that with Ontario down at 9.2 and comprising so much of the country’s population, the other provinces will be substantially higher than 11.1 to average out at 11.1. All in all, there has been a much stronger performance for Ontario in 1983 than was anticipated.
The member for Rainy River expressed some concern about the Canada-Ontario employment development program. We have had some concern about how quickly it got together, and he was suggesting it is important that we mount our activities here for next winter soon, because it takes some time to crank up some of the projects. However, in fairness, there were some perceptions of problems in cranking up COED and getting it going, but for many of the projects it did not take long.
COED was launched on December 2, 1982, just about a year ago today, and the first project started on January 24, 1983. It took about six weeks until the project started, and they began to come on stream right after that. We ended with 2,763 projects, 26,600 jobs and $404 million in new investment in the course of that 12-month period.
There were some delays which were essentially due to federal civil servants wanting to ensure that Canada employment offices were screening workers. One could wonder why they needed to do that other than to remind people of federal participation.
For the record, December 2 was the launching of COED. The first 26 projects were approved on January 11, and people were at work two weeks later. So I believe that as we get our programs going this year, whenever we decide is the appropriate time after reflecting on the circumstances and the federal government’s participation, we will not have a long period of delay as we get those jobs in place.
Both opposition critics have referred to the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development. I think, in fairness, we should look at all the projects mounted by BILD. I have been sitting in this House for some time and have heard many suggestions that we have to make long-term investments. Many of the investments BILD made were long-term: that was the whole point of the exercise. This government has many make-work projects: job creation projects. short-term employment projects and youth employment projects; the Ontario Development Corp. is always there to provide the investment it has always been very good at providing; however, the point of BILD was not only to supplement those activities but also to make long-term investments in the future. It has done that. For many years, for as long as I have been in this assembly, I have heard people talk about all the directional investments BILD has made.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: My friends did not hear what I said. I said members have been talking about the need for those kinds of directional investments for many years. BILD came along, was funded properly and made those kinds of investments.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The critic for the Liberal Party says there is not one new program listed under vote 904, item 3. Let us go through that. Let us talk about the Ontario centres for microelectronics, automotive parts, advanced manufacturing, farm machinery and food processing resource machinery -- $118.6 million. Those were not heard of until BILD came along.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The proposition put by the Liberal critic, who is in retreat now, is that we needed them to get re-elected. We believe we needed them to rebuild our economy and to make long-term investments, and we did that.
The members proposition was that there was nothing new. We know it was new. He should turn around and ask the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) who is sitting behind him. The member for Essex North and all his colleagues were begging for the brand-new automotive parts technology centre in Windsor. They knew it was important. They put a great effort into getting it. The fact is they knew how valuable it was. The member for Essex North knows that.
I just happen to have the information with regard to private sector investment. The member for Rainy River has suggested there was no private sector investment in BILD. With respect, if he looks at the information rather carefully, he will find that in BILD commitments to date 23 per cent of the funding has come from private sector sources. So once again his anticipation or desire --
The Deputy Chairman: Order. The minister is responding to your initial statements. When he finishes his response, there can be questions. It is all over the place. I have to maintain some form of order here.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: When we get to the discussion on BILD I will be pleased to continue to provide all of this information, which I know is so disappointing to the members of the opposition but which does indicate quite significant contributions from all sectors. There is no question that the province, through BILD, has continued to be the major investor in our economy. Thus BILD has put up 60 per cent of all the funds directly; the federal government, 9.1 per cent; municipalities, 2.3 per cent; provincial ministries, another 5.2 per cent; and the private sector, 23.2 per cent -- a great deal of money.
I share his desire that Treasury and Economics perform largely as an economic ministry as well as an accounting ministry; and, of course, the fact is that this is exactly what we do. He has been reading my remarks of the past several weeks and listening to what I said here in question period and to my comments on interim supply. That is where he got the suggestion that budgets have to deal with economic matters as well as simply with accounting matters. That is where it was first said; a check of Hansard will verify that. So I appreciate his support for what he heard me say early in this session and I thank him for it.
He did talk about the regional priorities of this ministry and of this government, and I think it is important for him to acknowledge -- as, in fairness, he did -- that a look at the Treasury and Economics estimates will not reflect all of the regional priorities devoted and provided by this government, because the major amount is through the Ministry of Northern Affairs, which he has acknowledged has made very many successful investments in the north. I think it would be important to add to the record right now --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I should like to read into the record the performance under the general development agreements with the federal government over the term of those agreements. Let us just look at them with respect to northern Ontario. In addition to the Ministry of Northern Affairs and its tremendous successes and the Northern Ontario Development Corp. and its tremendous successes, under the GDAs northwestern Ontario has received $50,886,000; Dryden development infrastructure another $2.8 million --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- pulp and paper another S180 million; northern Ontario rural development agreement, $18.5 million; Sault Ste. Marie infrastructure, $45.3 million; northeastern Ontario, $30,602,000. Those are quite significant contributions to the economic development of northern Ontario, all in addition to the Ministry of Northern Affairs and its tremendous record.
Just as we reach six o’clock I should like to say this to the member for Port Arthur. He talked about having double-digit unemployment, and I know that if he checks the statistics he will see that in this province we do not have double-digit unemployment.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let the record show that we are at 9.2 per cent unemployment. It is still intolerably high, but it is not double-digit unemployment. We hope we have seen the last of it and we are going to continue to work to bring those numbers down.
The member talked of a five per cent unemployment rate being an appropriate target for us. Of course, we seek much lower unemployment; we seek no unemployment on this side of the House. I was disappointed to hear that he thought five per cent was a target. We will continue to work through our budget process, through the development corporations, most certainly through BILD and certainly through our tax policies to ensure that we seek a full employment circumstance in this province.