That, in the opinion of this House, when the next commission for the purpose of redistribution of Ontario electoral districts is established, the commission should be instructed to take into consideration the varying conditions, circumstances and requirements regarding representation as between rural and urban electoral districts, and the increase in geographic area of rural ridings after the redistribution of the 1970s and the 1980s, with the intention of creating three classifications of constituencies, urban, urban-rural, and rural, so as to limit the geographic area of rural ridings, and to a lesser degree that of urban-rural ridings, as well as the number of organized municipalities which members must represent.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Dennis Drainville): Mr Villeneuve moves private member's notice of motion number 21. Pursuant to standing order 96(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes to make his presentation.
Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): First of all, I want to make sure that all members of this House realize that this is not a political manoeuvre, in any way, shape or form. If I become political in any way, which sometimes I do, I apologize, because this is meant to provide rural Ontario with representation that is worthy, and by that I mean that we do not expand the geographic areas simply to encompass numbers of people.
In the riding I represent -- and I will be touching on that -- I tell people that they come into Ontario on Highway 401 and one third of the distance to Toronto is within the riding I represent. That's a very large geographic area.
This resolution, in my opinion, is necessary, firstly, to establish that there is a need to recognize the very special characteristics of rural ridings: low population densities, many municipalities and of course many rural routes. In my area, my metropolis is a great little town known as Alexandria, with slightly more than 3,000 people. The second-largest community is Kemptville, with around 2,500 to 2,600 people. All of the rest of our so-called urban areas are communities, towns, villages in the area of 2,000 or less population.
You can appreciate that to get to the population criteria is very difficult, particularly whenever we have ministries such as Municipal Affairs and Environment, which create great difficulties in trying to increase the population. Yes, we have many areas where the land is marginal and municipalities would love to see residences that would bring taxpayers and indeed residents to rural Ontario. I said that as a member of the government back prior to 1985 and I've been saying it in opposition ever since. I can appreciate that some of the government members run into the very same problems that we in the opposition run into. They may express their concerns in a slightly different way, and I appreciate that. However, the concerns are there, and this motion is to recognize the special needs of large geographic rural areas in this province.
Secondly, it's to give a clear direction to the government and to any future commission in establishing terms of reference and in drawing riding boundaries. I well recall going through the last redistribution, where many people objected to the anticipated redistribution of ridings and where, in many instances, parts of rural Ontario were tagged on to urban areas just to get the population criterion up and yet their common interests were not at all the same as the areas where the urban centres were located.
Thirdly, it's to give some hope to rural parts of the province that they will not be ignored, as indeed they are, agricultural and rural areas, and it's to remind future commissions of the precedent that was set right here in this province in 1962.
As we debate this motion, I want members of the government and members on this side to address some of the problems that they have been faced with, particularly those who have large geographical rural areas. I'll use my own riding, for instance, with 23 very active municipalities in parts of four counties. They run into the problems of waste disposal and funding, and those have to be addressed. One can only be in one place at one time, of course, but you have many irons in the fire when you have 23 active municipalities in an area that is very economically depressed, as I've alluded to on a number of occasions.
I represent two county councils: Stormont-Dundas and Glengarry as the united counties and also parts of the united counties of Leeds-Grenville. You have, again, a diversity and a large community of interests. There are four school boards, plus we have a Christian school, again an area that you have to spend some time to address.
It doesn't really matter whether you're a Tory, a Liberal or an NDPer. The physical requirements of being in a number of places all at the same time cannot be solved, regardless of what party you're with. This is to provide adequate representation to those large rural areas.
There are two district health councils, three conservation authorities -- South Nation River, Raisin Region and Rideau Valley -- four federations of agriculture, soil and crop improvement associations in all of those counties, cattlemen's associations, fall fair boards and what have you -- 18 legion and veteran branches, just as an example. We have the lobby groups. We have many people with the problems that you have in the urban communities.
In my area, the riding, as most rural ridings, is made up of small business and farmers, both groups in some degree of economic difficulty. So we want to maintain a voice for rural Ontario by MPPs with ties and with roots in rural Ontario.
The Ontario Electoral Boundaries Commission has been asking for direction from this House prior to going into redistribution. This is what this motion is intended to provide them with: some guidance. We need to recognize, as is already done in northern Ontario -- because of the geographic size of ridings in northern Ontario, there is a totally different set of rules.
We have to have three different groups: the totally urban ones, and certainly there are many of those; the urban-rural ones, combination of a city, and we may need to provide a population criterion, whether the city be 5,000 or 10,000 or whatever; and if there is a large rural area attached to it, then it becomes a semi-urban/semi-rural riding.
In ridings such as the one I represent, and I think a number of others -- I think we've gone through it and there are about 14 or 15 so-called rural ridings -- the population is sparse, the area is large and it makes it very difficult for an MPP to do justice to the people of those types of ridings.
So to the electoral boundaries commission, I hope that this Legislature can send a clear signal today that indeed we would like to see redistribution. As I recall, it occurred back in about 1986 and it's scheduled for every 10 years, so it may not be before the next provincial election, and yet again it may be. We don't know when the decision will be made. However, I think when the commission members review the Hansard of this morning they will be provided with guidance and ideas as to how to go about redistribution when it next comes to the province of Ontario.
I hope that this motion will carry because I believe it has merit, and if we do not address this we will have an ever-weakening voice in rural Ontario, and that's where Ontario all began. This Legislature at one time sat only whenever farmers were not too busy on the land. I'm not asking for that at all, but I am asking that we recognize those many areas of rural Ontario which are having less and less influence on this Legislature.
I think Mr Villeneuve has certainly indicated some of the frustrations that politicians and the people within the municipalities have to put up with because of some of the changes that actually have taken place over the years, like the boundary changes.
My riding, for example, between 1985 and 1987 -- of course, I was elected as the member for Essex North. Essex North was mainly the northern part of the county of Essex and, in my opinion, it was a riding that you could service and service very well because you could go almost anywhere, driving, in 20 minutes and a half-hour.
I have a riding now they call Essex-Kent, which consists of 21 municipalities, quite similar to Mr Villeneuve's: 21 municipalities, the two counties, all the different school boards, the separate school board, the public school board, the French school board, the private boards in both counties.
Then I have two conservation authorities in that riding, and hospitals, even though they're not all in my riding. But I have to also deal with the hospital board in the city of Windsor, the hospital board in Kent county -- the hospital is in Chatham -- and then even London and Leamington, areas not directly in my riding, but of course people from my riding use that service.
One of the reasons I want to support this resolution is to take some of the politics out, because what happened in the Essex and Kent area, because of the redistribution -- in fact we can take the party politics out of this thing. What really happened was, the rural community lost a representative between Essex county and Kent county. Now it takes me close to an hour and a half just to drive to one of my constituency offices. I have a constituency office in Ridgetown and one in Belle River. Like I say, in the riding before you were able to attend more functions in one evening or one weekend. Now you go to one and it's almost too late to get to the next meeting. So it makes it very, very hard.
I can't help but think, I found it very interesting that in 1985, when I did take that seat, people say, "Well, why did they do that to you?" I know we'll have people probably say, "Well, we never got involved." But it's rather interesting, because I was the only one in the province who took a Liberal seat in 1985 and they held that seat for 34 years.
Really what happened was that there was a couple of different members in that particular party. The way the redistribution was set at one point, it would have put those two Liberal members against one another for the nomination and they were not going to let that happen. I think that's sad. That's in the past, but I'm just hoping something like that never, ever happens again, because I learned what gerrymandering was in 1987. It's a shame, because maybe the party in power at the time was able to convince the commissioner of the day that things would be all that much better if redistribution went the way they wanted it to.
I agree with Mr Villeneuve that this type of resolution would certainly help some of the rural areas. I don't think they should be spread out. Even in northern Ontario I think it's important that they get the extra service out there, or maybe they don't have to have the population. At the same time, what happens here is in my riding -- and the population is no different; the area is just twice as large -- you have to service more people in more boards and municipalities.
I'm going to leave some time here for my colleagues. I'm sure they want to speak on this. I think the principle of this thing is certainly a step in the right direction. I hope the elections commission can look at things in the sense of serving the people of this province and not just for political reasons.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): It's always interesting to me when we attempt to take the politics out of politics. I don't know. I can appreciate that perhaps this is not a partisan issue, but in many, many ways everything we deal with around here has a certain amount of that involvement.
I recently enjoyed success with a private member's bill that I think was -- while I think there might have been some politics involved, the partisanship aspect was removed and I appreciated the support of all members of the House. So I can understand, when Mr Villeneuve makes the comment that this is not politically motivated, that he's saying it from a point of view that he cares about the administration of the province and the representation that occurs.
I understand this motion perhaps better than the member might think, even though I represent what anyone would have to obviously refer to as the urban community of Mississauga. I can say, Mr Speaker, to you and all members that it's not very long ago that Mississauga was considered pretty rural, if you take a look at the recent history, going back to the days when the Premier of this province was a fellow from Peel by the name of Kennedy, a member of the current third party, the Conservative Party, and the whole history of the Kennedy family through Doug Kennedy, who served in this place in very rural days in Mississauga.
In fact it's not very long ago that Dundas highway was a two-lane dirt road and folks used to go to the 5th Line, which is now Erin Mills Parkway, to their cottages. That was their summer home. There are families still living there in those homes on the 5th Line, constituents of mine, who were the original settlers in that community, who actually worked down here in Toronto, had a home here and considered that their summer residence, and they would go by either very slow car or even buggies out to Mississauga. It's really quite amazing.
I was elected to city council in Mississauga in 1978. We have photographs in the late 1970s coming south from Britannia Road down Highway 10 and it's absolutely unbelievable to see the difference today. That's not very long; that's less than 15 years ago when there was not a building over two storeys back in those days in that area. It had farmers' fields that were actually cultivated. They weren't simply used for a tax dodge, which many developers do today. They plant some cow corn so that they can get the benefit of paying tax on the land as if it were agricultural, when in fact it's worth as much as a million bucks an acre, if you get right into the city centre.
So there is some history in Peel and in fact when the former Premier Kennedy was the Premier I would say the distances he had to travel would be very similar to the distances that the honourable member mentions and that other members -- the member for Essex-Kent -- mention. He would have represented dozens and dozens of local town councils and municipalities, all of which had concerns.
So while we can't really justifiably refer to it any more as the farming community of Mississauga, I can tell you in all seriousness that the community is steeped in rural history. In fact there was an article in the Mississauga News just the other day that had a photograph of a man and a wife who still live in a home that is within shouting distance of the City Centre. They have no hydro, they have an outhouse for their toilet facilities, they operate on propane, and this is today, right now, living there.
When Highway 403 was built, as a matter of fact, there were expropriations and there was a holdout and today, if you travel down a road off Creditview that doesn't even have a name and you cross the tracks and you go under 403, you'll come to a homestead that's surrounded by barbed wire and it's got a number of dogs in there and a fellow walking around with a shotgun. It's his land. In fact he was one of the original farmers in that community.
I just give you that background to say that while my city is clearly a city today, hustling, bustling and dynamic in every way, it's not many years ago that we were actively farming in Mississauga and very much a rural community.
Representation is rather important. In fact I spent a little bit of time this summer with the honourable member for Kenora, Mr Miclash, a caucus colleague of mine. He actually flies his own plane. It's not a plane of great sturdiness. I suggest, Mr Speaker, that a man of your girth might be somewhat nervous about getting into this plane with Miclash, let me tell you.
But he has to actually use that method of transportation or he would be unable to ever see some of his constituents. The only way to get in to see some of his constituents is to fly in a float plane and actually go in or, in the wintertime, go in on skis. He has to go miles and miles and miles. It's unbelievable, the size of this riding.
The issue becomes, how do you balance this need for representation by population with the need to actually service all constituents? Is one constituent in the province of Ontario less important than 100 or 1,000? This is where you get into the politics, because we know that this government is primarily concerned about servicing the areas and the ridings either that they hold or that they consider winnable. They're primarily more concerned about the NDP constituency, in my respectful submission, than they are about the Ontario constituency of all people throughout the province. It won't surprise me to see some reluctance to support this for fear that this may be seen by some members in the NDP as some method of dividing and conquering and splitting the representation so that they can't focus in on their own interest groups.
Mr Mahoney: I'll give you a break, but I believe that to be true and I think most people in the province believe that you people will tailor your policies into areas where you think you can get the most political bang for your buck, as opposed to servicing the true needs of the people of this province.
I enjoyed the experience within the last year of travelling all over the province and talking to people who feel isolated, who feel they've been deserted, who feel that this government thinks of this as the province of Toronto. Well, I've got news for the government: This is not the province of Toronto and there are indeed constituencies all over this province that need to have some attention paid to them.
The farmers are upset. They think that they're being ignored, that the Minister of Agriculture and Food doesn't really understand. Hard to believe, but that's what they think. Unless they're telling us one thing and they're telling these people another, they believe that they're being ignored.
People in eastern Ontario feel isolated. They feel that once you go along the 401 and you go by Oshawa, you know where eastern Ontario begins: it's where there are no longer any street lights. If you're driving there at night, you all of a sudden drive across this line where the lights disappear and you're driving into darkness. They feel, without a doubt, that Queen's Park doesn't know; they don't want to take that step beyond where the lights go off. They just may be a little bit afraid to go that distance.
The member in his resolution says by his implication that the special circumstances of northern Ontario have been recognized by this government. I'll tell you how they've been recognized. What this government did is it went into my home town of Sault Ste Marie and made a deal with everybody to save Algoma, which was vitally important, but didn't look at how Algoma could function in the modern economy, in the global market, to find new customers.
What did they do? They shored it up. They turned the workers at Algoma Steel, I say to the member for Sault Ste Marie, for whom I have some respect -- I know he's a hardworking individual -- but they turned the workers at Algoma Steel, who simply want, I suggest to you --
Mr Mahoney: -- I'm glad I'm getting some attention over there -- who simply want, I would suggest, to survive, to put their kids through school, and to lead reasonable lives, they've turned them into owners of the company. Now when Algoma faces a further restructuring, which I think the honourable member must agree is inevitable, it's the actual people in Sault Ste Marie who are going to be told that they've either got to be laid off themselves or members of their family are going to be laid off, or they're going to have to go next door to their lifelong friend and neighbour and say: "Sorry, buddy, you're out of work. You're out of a job."
Mr Mahoney: So while I say to the member that the government may have recognized some of the geographic difficulties of northern Ontario -- they may have agreed to the resolution by the honourable member for Parry Sound, Mr Eves -- in fact it was our government that agreed to recognize Parry Sound as northern Ontario.
Many of the members here think northern Ontario is anything north of Steeles; they feel if they have to go any further than that, they'd better pack a lunch and take some warm clothing. They don't understand that it goes beyond just geography in recognizing northern Ontario. So I don't agree totally with Mr Villeneuve when he says that the special circumstances of northern Ontario have been recognized for some time. What's been recognized is perhaps the geographic differences in northern Ontario from what these people think of as the province of Toronto.
But I suggest that they are playing games. They go into Kapuskasing and they use Hydro money. They use Hydro as a social instrument to save the business in Kapuskasing. Now, would anyone stand here and say that the people of Kapuskasing should not have been helped? Of course they should have been helped. But the government was primarily dishonest in going in there and telling them they were going to help them restructure the pulp mill in Kapuskasing and using Hydro money -- not taxpayers' money, although ultimately it is; it's ratepayers' money -- and now we see Hydro jacking up its rates, increasing the cost of hydro-electric power.
If Sir Adam Beck had ever thought for one minute that there would be a socialist government in Ontario that would use Ontario Hydro capital and Ontario Hydro debt capacity to go around bailing out businesses and riding in on white chargers pretending it's solving problems -- Sir Adam Beck must have rolled over in his grave, I suggest to you. This is just an irresponsible attitude and game-playing, and that is why I say to the member, you can't take the politics --
Mr Mahoney: Don't try to hide behind some game and say to the people of the rest of Ontario: "Don't worry about this. We're bailing out Kapuskasing, but we're really not using the taxpayers' money; we're using Hydro's money." Well, let me tell you, talk to the people who get their hydro rate increases in their homes.
When Sir Adam Beck founded Ontario Hydro in this place, what he created was a tool for economic growth and advancement that made the province of Ontario the most competitive jurisdiction in Canada, perhaps in North America --
Mr Mahoney: -- because of inexpensive hydro, inexpensive energy. The member for Sault Ste Marie is harping over there, saying, "And it still is." You don't understand. That's the problem. You believe it's still competitive. Businesses can't afford to pay the hydro bills. They can't afford to pay the adjustments you are wreaking upon the business community with your labour adjustments. With everything you have done you have destroyed the confidence of this community.
I want to just give you one quick example I would throw out as a caution to the member about his resolution. The region of Peel is made up of Caledon, Mississauga and Brampton. There are five members on regional council from Caledon, six from Brampton and 10 from Mississauga. Anyone who can add says that's 11 for Brampton and Caledon together and 10 for Mississauga. What happens is that even though Mississauga represents the majority of the population, Brampton gets the courthouse, it gets police headquarters, it gets the regional headquarters, Mississauga gets the dump. It's 11 to 10 every time.
I was in my colleague's riding, the riding of S-D-G & East Grenville, last weekend, and I just want to begin by congratulating my colleague Noble Villeneuve for bringing forward this resolution today. I learned first hand of the special needs of his constituents and the vast geographical distances that are involved in his representing that particular riding. It's very similar to my own riding of Simcoe West, although I would have to say that Mr Villeneuve's riding is tremendously large and covers a great number of municipalities and interests.
The resolution calls upon the Ontario Electoral Boundaries Commission to take into account the varying conditions and circumstances which separate rural and urban ridings. In fact, the heart of the matter of the resolution is that it calls upon the government and the commission to recognize the special needs of rural ridings. The resolution asks the commission to examine the increase in area of rural ridings after the redistributions of the 1970s and 1980s, with the intention of creating three classifications of constituencies, urban, urban-rural and rural, in order to limit the area of rural and urban-rural ridings and the number of municipalities which members of this Legislature must represent.
In recent years, the size of rural ridings has been growing. Rural MPPs have tremendous demands on their time. They're required to work with and assist a large number of local councils, municipalities, counties, school boards and county organizations. Rural MPPs spend a great deal of time travelling within their ridings. Travel distances in an average rural riding can be a hundred times greater than in a city riding.
The 1985 redistribution carved out three rural ridings from the electoral map; three only. The member for Grey at the time, who was Mr McKessock, said this would mean less of a voice for agriculture and tourism. His words indeed were true.
My colleague's resolution today accomplishes two things: It raises awareness of rural issues, and it calls upon the government to act upon the findings of Ontario's first electoral commission, established in 1962. That commission decided to create a population base for urban ridings which was some 50% larger than for rural areas and an intermediate one for mixed rural-urban constituencies.
The member's resolution provides the government with an opportunity to pay more than just lipservice to concerns of rural Ontario. Most rural Ontarians feel detached from decision-making here at Queen's Park, and they feel that government policy is Toronto-driven, or at least big-city-driven.
Since 1985, rural Ontario, in my opinion, has been largely ignored by Liberal and NDP governments. Rural Ontario is being wiped off the map. Where we once celebrated our agricultural successes, today the list of agricultural failures grows longer and longer. Farmers in my riding of Simcoe West feel that the government is not listening to them and that the government here at Queen's Park is not there for them when they are most in need.
Last week, I accompanied three Collingwood-area apple growers in a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture. These proud farmers have felt first hand the wrath of Mother Nature. For the past three years, their apple crop has been wiped out by inclement weather. What makes the losses even tougher to deal with is that these apple farms are located in the Blue Mountain area, which has historically been regarded as fertile ground for apple growing.
I'm sure that Mr John DenBok of DenBok Farms of Collingwood feels that the needs of rural ridings are being ignored. John's $3-million apple crop was virtually destroyed by Mother Nature. "I did everything by the book," John told the Agriculture minister last week at our meeting. Unfortunately, what the government doesn't realize is that its farm assistance programs are not helping farmers survive crisis periods. "Three crop losses in a row tends to wipe you out," said Bob Giffen in the same meeting with the minister. At that meeting last week, Bruce Holroyd of Collingwood said that if Ontario wants an apple industry, we're going to have to help.
While the minister felt some sympathy for my constituents, he was unable to provide any meaningful assistance. The minister kept returning to two of his government's programs which are designed to help farmers: the commodity loan program and crop insurance. The commodity loan program has not been extended to assist apple growers, and the minister told my constituents that if apple growers banded together they might be able to speed up the process of extending the commodity loan program to apple growers. In other words, the minister was saying that today the voice of a solitary farmer has been rapidly drowned out by special interests and big special interest groups.
Farmers desperately need interest relief and stable interest rates and credit; it is essential if they are to budget properly, especially in light of the volatility of Mother Nature and the uncertainty of markets. In order to survive the lean times, which seem to be getting leaner and leaner, farmers must have accessibility to credit in order to plant and harvest their crops. Today, many farmers are being squeezed by banks, and some are unable to obtain the operating dollars they need.
Crop insurance: The theory behind crop insurance is sound; however, the practice has been less than beneficial for many farmers. One of the problems with crop insurance is the lack of affordable spot coverage for apple growers, many of whom have to spread their risk around on different farms in order to ensure that they have some crop. Because what happens in my area of the province is that you'll have frost in one pocket and down the road you'll have a fairly good crop and the weather will have been fine. Farmers in my area tend to put orchards on different farms in different geographical locations. The problem with crop insurance is that if one of those farms has a good crop, you can't claim on the farms that have a bad crop, and that indeed is a problem the minister will have to address.
Crop insurance premiums for apples and specialty crops are so high that many growers simply cannot afford them, given the farmers' narrow profit margin; that's if they have a profit at all. Growers have become frustrated with a program which they have paid into yet has failed to pay off when they've experienced crop losses.
Collingwood-area apple growers have been made to pay a heavy price through a freak of nature that is no fault of their own. Government has some social responsibility outside of what is currently in place to assist farmers and their families. If we want a domestic food industry, we had better learn to appreciate our farmers and be more sensitive to their needs.
I think the NDP's failure to grasp rural issues is again demonstrated not only in the agricultural sector but by the Minister of the Environment. In a letter to her colleague Simcoe Centre MPP Paul Wessenger -- in response to a letter sent to him, Mr Wessenger wrote to the minister, and also in response to a letter I sent to the minister regarding the construction of a replacement school in Nottawa, just south of Collingwood -- the minister said, "Planning the location of the school to allow connection to a municipal sewage system would in many instances involve moving the school under five kilometres, which may add five minutes to some school bus routes." In her letter to me in March, the minister had said, "In many cases, planning can eliminate the need for rural institutions entirely."
I think these two quotes demonstrate the government's bias against rural living. It's an ignorance of rural life and it's naïveté concerning rural issues. The Minister of the Environment clearly told her colleague and myself that she will not support the development of new schools in rural areas because we don't have the services and infrastructure there. She has told us in Nottawa, south of Collingwood, to move the new public school to Collingwood. It speaks volumes about this government's and the cabinet's attitude towards rural Ontario.
The Sewell commission also speaks volumes. It tells us there'll be no more development in rural Ontario. The big-city attitude the NDP and cabinet have is that we're to be preserved as a picture on the wall for the people of Toronto to drive up to on weekends and appreciate, or to drive out to eastern Ontario to Mr Noble Villeneuve's riding to appreciate.
We live in rural Ontario. We need development, we need schools, we need institutions, we need community living associations. Today there'll be a huge lobby here at Queen's Park to address the needs of community living associations. In rural Ontario, many, many developmentally handicapped individuals, their families, care givers, will not be able to enjoy a decent standard of living and quality of life if this government continues with its $1-billion cut to social services. The cuts to triministry funding, the cuts to sheltered workshop funding are hitting particularly hard in Simcoe county, a rural part of Ontario.
I say shame on the NDP government, which spent all of its time in opposition and all of its time in successive campaign trails being holier than thou. They triumphed these issues. They promoted issues of human caring, issues of social conscience. We know from this government's actions and from Marion Boyd, the Minister of Community and Social Services, that now it doesn't appear to care.
I have to tell you that in connection with this resolution today, the large distances that we must travel in rural Ontario, the large areas that we must represent make it very difficult for our constituents and the residents of our small towns and villages to access the services here in Toronto. It's a tremendous cost, a tremendous distance, inconvenience and time. We need those in-home services that community living offers. We need the day programs it offers to give some dignity back to our people, to restore families to the family unit and to take pressure off families. We don't need the government cutting valued programs that have demonstrated their cost-benefit worthiness.
I call upon this government to support this resolution. It gives me the opportunity and others the opportunity to discuss rural issues. Community living is one. The size of ridings and the need for more rural representation in this Legislature are paramount. If one were to examine Hansards on a weekly basis, the amount of time given to rural Ontario is disgusting. That's the word I would use. It's frankly disgusting. If it weren't for some of us rural members in the PC caucus and some of the Liberal members, we wouldn't hear any of the concerns of rural Ontario in this Legislature. We need more representation, and this resolution calls upon the electoral boundary commission to take that into account and calls upon the government to take the needs and special needs of rural Ontario into account.
Ms Jenny Carter (Peterborough): I would first like to congratulate the member for S-D-G & East Grenville for raising the issue of electoral fairness, but I'm going to approach this matter from a rather different perspective. I do agree it's an important issue that deserves more discussion than it usually gets.
The mover of the motion represents a rural riding. I represent a mixed urban-rural riding. At the last election, there were 63,000 registered voters in my riding, but only 44,000 in his. In fact, my riding was one of only 13 with over 60,000 voters. At the same time, there were 21 ridings with under 40,000 voters. Nine of these were in northern Ontario. Surprisingly, 11 of them were in Metropolitan Toronto. These numbers suggest to me that the reasons for different numbers of voters in different ridings are more complex than the resolution indicates and that different remedies are needed.
The problem of riding size is mainly associated with the single-member constituencies that we use in North America and in Britain. A country like Israel, where 130 members are elected to represent the whole country in a single constituency, has no problem with riding sizes or boundaries. It may have other electoral problems but it doesn't have this one. Most other European countries use multimember regional constituencies combined with some method of proportional representation. This may have some problems with riding size, but disparities can be partially resolved by changing the number of members for a constituency.
Here in Ontario, our democratic traditions derive from the British parliamentary system. There, the principle of representation by population forms part of the program of radical reform which started with the great Reform Act of 1832. Before then, the basic principle was that members represented units of government: boroughs and shires rather than people. There were voter ratios of 60:1 between the largest and the smallest districts. Today, the principle of representation by population is widely accepted and the voter ratio disparity is much smaller. But it's still around 2:1 in Britain and in Ontario. Clearly, the principle has encountered lasting obstacles. Among them are different philosophies and principles as well as purely practical problems of implementation.
I won't attempt to discuss all the obstacles, but will confine myself more narrowly to the question of rural preference contained in the resolution. There is an old doctrine that country deserves better representation than town simply because it is the country. Until 1952, Norway's Constitution contained a guarantee that country districts, regardless of population, should have twice as many seats as the towns together. New Zealand had a similar rule until 1946. In the USA, farmers and small towns are systematically overrepresented, not by Constitution or law but by tradition.
I still believe in the principle of representation by population and that is why I'm unable to support this resolution. I recognize that there are all sorts of obstacles to achieving this principle, but we should do all we can to move in its direction and not erect new obstacles like the ones embodied in this resolution. Rather, I think we should look at the existing disparities in the number of voters in different ridings and see what we can do to reduce them.
I can see why the practical problems of getting around the larger ridings in northern Ontario justify them having fewer voters than average, but it's hard to justify 11 Metro Toronto ridings with under 40,000 voters or three suburban Toronto ones with over 80,000. It happens because people move from the inner city to the suburbs and a redistribution is out of date before it's even implemented. At the same time, we need some stability in riding boundaries and cannot change them every year. One possible solution would be to create multimember ridings in Toronto and accommodate moving populations by changing the number of members in a riding instead of changing boundaries. I put that idea forward for further thought and consideration.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I am pleased to rise today in support of this resolution from my colleague Mr Villeneuve. I was here before the last redistribution took place and spoke in this Legislature on redistribution at that time. Many flaws happened in that legislation. I want to zero in on the riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay and the riding of Simcoe East and how those two ridings were changed. I also want to talk very briefly about the riding of Grey, the large riding Mr Murdoch represents, and how it has been increased.
Huntsville and Midland have very little in common in the Muskoka-Georgian Bay riding. It's one of the larger ridings in Ontario and the member has to drive through most of my riding to get to the other half of his. It totally doesn't make sense when these things are looked at. To get to one part of my riding I have to drive through the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay's riding. I don't have to, I can go around it, but it's shorter to drive through his riding to get to mine.
When we talk about redistribution -- and this resolution deals mainly with the urban and/or rural -- there is a difference. In urban Ontario you could represent 200,000 people as easily as you could represent 75,000 in rural Ontario. The criterion being used as population is wrong. I hope the commissioners, when they look at it, will realize the difference in rural Ontario.
My riding of Simcoe East is about 100 kilometres long and about 45 kilometres wide and I'm sure, Mr Speaker, your riding is much the same. When you go to the city of Peterborough -- the member just finished speaking -- she can represent that total city of a population of, I don't know, well over 100,000, I think -- 75,000. Anyhow, the area around it that she represents -- the member and myself have a lot bigger job to look after our constituents than you do in urban Ontario.
I hope that when the commissioners deal with this very issue they take into consideration the changes that are needed, how we've got to maintain agriculture and how we've got to maintain those communities, that we be viable, that we can continue to supply the food we need in this province of Ontario.
I want to commend the member for S-D-G & East Grenville for bringing this resolution forward because it was a good opportunity to discuss for an hour in this House what's going to happen and some of what we think should happen when redistribution comes in place and looking at it in about 1995.
The urban-rural population is the key. In Toronto you can look after 200,000 population as easily as you can less than 100,000 in rural Ontario, and I think those considerations need to be kept in mind by the commissioners when they're dealing with it. I hope the members here will support this resolution fully.
Mr Norm Jamison (Norfolk): I'd also like to commend the honourable member for bringing forward this motion, although I tend to think the underlying concern is something basically different. Traditionally, rural ridings have been represented by basically the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Agriculture represents the views of the farm community. The farm community represents about 4% of the population here in Ontario.
The balance of rural Ontario consists of small towns such as in my riding: Selkirk, Tillsonburg, Port Dover. The issues a rural member deals with are vast and varied. They deal with services; they deal with different issues. In my case, I deal with issues like fishing, the fishing industry in Lake Erie, tobacco and different types of agriculture, yet there are base industries in the Tillsonburg area evolving around auto parts and so on -- a basic steel plant that just developed over the last decade there.
I think it's important to recognize that in the sense of true democracy people and populations should be well considered in that context. But I have to say that Paul Johnson, a colleague of mine, brought forward a motion just a week ago based on governments giving rural Ontario a better ability to be heard through either a secretariat on rural affairs or a ministry on rural affairs. Rural Ontario is very important and the issues that evolve around rural Ontario are very important to this province and the future of this province.
Services are not dealt with directly by the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Agriculture deals very specifically with farm-related issues. I believe rural communities don't have, and haven't traditionally had, the voice they should have here. As a rural member I spend much of my time travelling and much of my time on many different and varying issues, and I can tell you that I accept that as part of the job and function I perform as a member of the provincial Parliament here in Toronto.
It's difficult by virtue of numbers, by virtue of population, to have rural Ontario's voice heard in a proper and meaningful way sometimes in this place. But I consider that to be a challenge, and every rural member here should consider that also to be a challenge.
I can't help but take some exception to the references made to my own party on rural Ontario, one made certainly by the member for Mississauga West. I find it odd and I find it baffling that I see no rural members speaking on that from his own caucus this morning. I can tell you that rural Ontario is a very important and valuable part of the population and makeup of this province. I know the honourable member who brings this motion forward feels the same way.
The member for Mississauga West saw the evolution from a quiet, serene country surrounding known as Peel county. I recall well being in Junior Farmers, and Peel county was very rural and had Junior Farmers members attending the annual conventions and conferences. I don't think Peel county exists very much as a rural area any more. He alluded to it and certainly lived through those growing pains.
The member for Simcoe West articulated some of the problems. The redistribution was done in such a strange way that we're criss-crossing one another's ridings to get to other parts of the ridings we represent, as in my own case. When I say a third of the distance from the Quebec border to Toronto, yes, you cross that riding that is covered by my colleague Mr Cleary, the member for Cornwall, but just north of him is the riding I represent, so effectively that distance is the same.
The member for Peterborough brought a different concept, and I think part of the argument that the member for Peterborough brought was that indeed we do have some city ridings that don't have that great a population. Again, representation by population always has to be first and foremost, but with special consideration, I believe, for those areas in rural Ontario.
The member for Simcoe East's problems are very much the same. The member for Norfolk, I think, brings the reality of the type of area he represents. Many of his towns, and he knows this, may not be agricultural per se but are very dependent on the agricultural economy.
I appreciate all participants here this morning. I look for support for this legislation, and if I was political in any way, I did not want to be, because this is above politics. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
(1) that the government of Ontario has supported increased tenant participation to create healthier communities, as evidenced in the reports entitled Planning Together to Improve the Quality of Life in Public Housing Communities and Consultation Counts: Taking Action on a Housing Framework for Ontario; and
(3) that conversions of public housing to cooperative housing carried out in the United States, Australia and Great Britain have been successful in increasing tenant participation in the management of their community;
The Ministry of Housing and the Ontario Housing Corp should consider whether a pilot project should be carried out to assess the viability of resident-controlled cooperatives as an option for increasing tenant participation in public housing; and
First of all, I'd like to welcome the residents who have had the time to come down here; they're sitting in the gallery up there. Approximately 100 of them have chosen to come down and support me on the resolution, and I want to thank them for coming down today. I also have a petition by the residents of Yorkview. There's well over 300 signatures on the petition in favour of the resolution.
As a little bit of history, 20 to 25 years ago, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the province chose to help those in need by implementing a public housing policy that currently exists to date. The intent 20 years ago was to use public housing as a stepping stone for those who are in need, for those who need assistance, but hopefully one day carrying out and finding a place of their own and owning a place of their own.
Twenty years has gone by and, in my opinion, things have changed. The social structure in certain communities has changed. The opinion of certain communities has changed in a lot of areas. We never expected some of the social problems that have come out of our decision 20 years ago. For example, 70% of the people who are in MTHA in my particular community are single moms. That's just one example of a particular social problem that we never expected 20 years ago.
Approximately 10,000 people living in MTHA are living in my community. The Jane and Finch community has welcomed residents in public housing with open arms over the last 20 years and has been very familiar with the goings-on in housing, both the positive and the negative, and I wish to speak of the negative as well as the positive.
The negative aspects to social housing we choose sometimes to forget about. We choose not to speak of it. It's almost like a silent lamb. I want to speak about that today, because the members in my community feel strongly about the problems that exist within our system; not that there's a problem with the tenants, because the people of Yorkview and the people of Ontario believe that there's a problem with the system. There are two different things, and I need to speak to you about that.
Twenty years ago we decided to segregate, and this is segregation. Twenty years ago we decided as a government -- not of course the NDP government, but the Conservatives -- that the best way to deal with people on social assistance and people on welfare and perhaps even the colour of somebody's skin was to segregate: put them in a community separate, with a different identity, somewhere else.
My community is one of those communities. We decided to segregate. We said: "We're going to build thousands of units. We're going to put them in an area of the city and they can all live together in harmony." It hasn't worked. It's the complete opposite.
When you put 300 problems in one particular community or building, you get one major problem. When I talk about problems, I talk about family problems. I talk about the social problems that come out of that. I talk about the drug problem. It's not the tenants who are selling the drugs in my community; it's people coming into the community and the system allowing that to happen.
At Firgrove, at Jane and Finch, the architect of the building won an award 25 years ago for that structure. Today the police department is having a hard time patrolling the area because of the concept, because of that particular building. I can tell you that this exists throughout Ontario, not only in Yorkview.
Some $240 million is budgeted to take care of MTHA alone, Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority in Toronto, and that is above and beyond the help that government gives the tenants for rent. Security: $11.7 million budgeted for MTHA alone, $250,000 or $260,000 per project. The tenants could use a lot of that money to fix their toilets. The tenants could use a lot of that money to fix their taps. The tenants would like to be able to patrol and have the decision-making that they have longed for. They'd like to be able to patrol their communities and act as the security guards whom we're paying $17 an hour to patrol: an $11.7-million saving.
Recreation: $4.3 million. In my opinion, recreation is important. We have to make sure that our children are active and are keeping out of trouble. But we're spending a lot of money, $4.3 million in Metro alone. I think the time has come for residents to make those decisions on their own. It's time for residents to decide whether they want their child to play basketball or whether they want a toilet fixed. Let them make the decision; they want to. They want to make that decision. It shouldn't be some bureaucrat who doesn't know anything about my community making those decisions. It should be the tenants and it should be the ratepayers around the community as well.
Co-ops have been growing since 1973. Co-ops are a concept in which tenants can take their projects and run them with the staff, among themselves with a board of directors, and you stop all the levels of management. In the Metro Toronto Housing Authority alone, I counted 17 layers, one day, of management. If somebody wanted a toilet fixed, it would have to go through 17 desks before being filed. That's a waste of money. Let the tenants do it. The cooperative way is the better way.
That doesn't mean we're going to lay off. This misconception that the NDP government is going to lay off the workers who currently exist in the ministry: No, I would never put up with that. I think the workers should have a say in the changing. They should have a say in how the particular projects are run. Currently that doesn't exist, not even in the levels of management in the grass-roots areas at the Firgrove project, the one I'm recommending, by the way, to be that pilot project. Those managerial figures don't even have a say. They don't have a say in what goes on.
It's the people down here on Bloor Street who decide on what goes on in our community. Well, we're sick and tired of it. We don't want it and the tenants don't want it and the ratepayers don't want it. I have got over 100 people here today, both tenants and ratepayers, saying: "You're right. It's time for change. You're right. It's time for us to have a say in our community. You're right."
The problems that have come out of social housing, the problems that have come out of public housing affect the whole community, not just the particular site itself. The home owners who have decided to invest in that community are having to put up with the drug dealers, are having to put up with the prostitutes. That's not even the tenants' or the addicts' fault either, for that matter. It's our fault; it's the province's fault. We allowed it to happen over the last 20 years.
Let's open up our eyes. Let's do what's right. I encourage every member in this Legislature today to not only voice your opinions in your particular communities but to support my resolution: Convert the Firgrove/Grassways complex in the Jane and Finch community into a cooperative housing project.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I am sure the member can realize I will not be supporting this resolution. I am pleased that he has raised the issue of housing once again in the House, because it is a social problem that we have in this province. I think the real issue is that with all the problems of housing and the problems that surround housing, how are we going to solve them?
This government continues to expand the policy of construction of non-profit housing. Just recently, the Minister of Housing announced a large development of non-profit housing at the corner of Bay and Wellesley, and of course the subject of building non-profit housing, co-op housing on our parklands on Toronto Islands, so this seems to be the policy of this government.
Mr Tilson: He plans to take over the housing industry, and I think when you read this resolution, it's the continuation of the policy that was set forward by the Premier when he was in opposition, the whole expansion of the socialistic philosophy, which I submit is not the proper way to go about it.
Our party, the Progressive Conservative Party, has acknowledged, as have all parties -- as has the Liberal Party, as has the NDP -- that we have a problem in housing. The question is, how are we going to solve it?
Our position has continuously been that we would recommend the implementation of shelter subsidies and abolishing the continuation of government waste on non-profit co-op housing. Therefore, we simply cannot support this resolution.
I would recommend, if the member hasn't already read it, there's all kinds of literature out on this subject which talks about how this province can no longer afford the subject of getting into non-profit co-op housing, because we simply don't have the money for it. Our deficit keeps rising. Where are we going to get the money to do that and, once you construct it, then the continuation of it? We do need to spend money on subsidies, but the whole subject of continuation of the non-profit housing policy must stop. I'd recommend to this House, and particularly the member who has put forward this resolution, to read the various periodicals and articles that have come out on this subject.
One of them has been put out by the Ontario Urban Development Institute, specifically Morley Kells, who is in the July 1992 edition. It's topic is called "The Needy and the Greedy." I'm sure that topic will spark some annoyance from the member, because I understand his problems, I understand the social problems he talks about in his community and other communities around the province. We all do. We all need to deal with these problems. The question is, how are we going to solve it? Are we going to continue with the expansion of this philosophy, with the continuation of non-profit and co-op housing, or are we going to get into what we believe, the shelter subsidies? Obviously this government is not going to do that. They are continuing to do it, notwithstanding the fact that they can't afford to do it.
I look at the subject, particularly the third point, where it says "conversions of public housing to co-op housing carried out in the United States, Australia and Great Britain." It's in those very countries that have gone through this process, particularly in the United States, where we've seen it hasn't worked. It's created more social problems, it's created more problems. In an attempt to solve one set of problems, what they've done has not solved that problem but in fact multiplied all the various other social problems: the drug problems, the crime problems. The solutions that have been put forward in these other jurisdictions have not worked.
I'm going to read some excerpts from this paper. Some of you may have read it, but I think it sets forth some of the concerns I have in following along with the proposals being put forward in this resolution.
The whole subject of socialism is defined. I think this is one of the foundations of the NDP's policy: housing, in this specific format that not only the Minister of Housing has put forward and her predecessor, Mr Cooke, put forward, but this expands those policies. Socialism in this article is defined as: "A theory or system of social organization which aims at securing better distribution and more effective production of wealth by the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land etc in the community as a whole."
"The present gang of merry men and merry maids comprising our provincial government are dedicated to the proposition that wealth should be redistributed. Regardless of the merits of that objective, they are attempting to achieve the redistribution of wealth by erosion of the middle class. If they are successful, we will end up like in the days of yore, with the rich and then all the others."
That's the issue. That gets in a direct response to the comments my friend has just made. He's described all these social problems, and already they're escalating. Why would he suggest the continuation, the expansion, of the non-profit housing system and the co-op system in this province? It isn't working, yet he continues to suggest that it be continued.
I am very happy that we have in our midst today a number of people who have come to hear the debate on this particular item, but in this House audience participation is not allowed, and I would ask you to please respect this House and not participate either by applauding or by speaking out during the debate.
That's the intent of this resolution. That's the intent. I would submit that what it will do is create a very large poor class and a very small rich class, because who's going to pay for all this? The taxpayer is going to have to pay for all this.
The subsidies that are going into non-profit housing and non-profit co-op housing are unbelievable. I've spoken in this House and in committees many times on this whole subject, and the province can't afford it. We don't have the money. We can't let our deficit keep rising and rising and rising. One of the reasons it is rising is because of this subject of non-profit housing and co-op housing. In the perfect world, wouldn't it be wonderful to build housing for everyone? The question is, what are we going to build it with? Where are we going to get the money to do it?
I suppose, if I were to follow my friend's suggestion, we have an endless pot of funds. Therefore, I suggest that the proposals he's putting forward are not the correct proposals. It is a proposal if you have an endless supply of funds, but we don't have it, particularly in this recession, particularly when businesses around this province are going out of business, they're going bankrupt, with the increasing unemployment.
How many people are being employed in the construction industry? A lot of people have lost their jobs because the construction industry has gone down the tubes. One of the reasons it's going down the tubes is because there are simply no new apartment buildings being constructed in this province. Yes, there is construction with respect to non-profit housing. Yes, there is construction with respect to co-op housing. And yes, I believe this government to date is moving in the direction of taking over the entire housing industry. I believe they intend that private enterprise will eventually no longer own the housing industry.
My friend has referred to cooperatives that have been carried on in the United States, and Mr Kells does make some reference to that. He talks about what's gone on in the city of Berkeley, and he quotes from a handbook entitled The Cities' Wealth written in 1976, which outlines the political programs developed by California community activists to use the city of Berkeley's resources to the benefit of their supporters.
We must remember that. The number of stories that have come out, more and more, as to who's using these cooperatives at the cost of the taxpayer is unbelievable. Their own Jack Layton is one of them. The present Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is another. The member for Halton North is another. Are these people poor? Do these people need to be subsidized under the cooperative system? I would think not.
This article continues to quote the Berkeley situation. As to what's going on in Berkeley, it says, "Community ownership of housing and real estate is the ultimate goal of coalition housing programs." And that's the ultimate goal of my friend. He wants the community to own all housing and all real estate. That's what this resolution says. I say he's wrong, and he's dead wrong, and it's not what Ontario wants.
Continuing to read from this article, "That goal has been approached through tenant unions, rent control, a neighbourhood preservation ordinance, rehabilitation and code enforcement programs and cooperative ownership conversion." Isn't that what my friend wants? Isn't what has gone on in Berkeley what my friend wants? Well, it hasn't worked in Berkeley. It hasn't worked in Berkeley because the problems that have developed as a result of this policy have been just terrible. I recommend that my friend read this article before he pursues this policy that he's suggesting with his government members, because it's not going to work.
This article continues by talking about the Co-operative Housing Association of Ontario. It says that non-profit co-op housing was costing other taxpayers a huge amount of money and that there are other options to housing provision. It again gets into the recommendation of what our party has been suggesting, that is, shelter allowances.
My friend also asks the assistance of the federal government. The federal government has completely withdrawn from the housing subsidy field, and the province, of course, essentially bears the entire subsidy burden of new projects. You may be critical of the federal government for doing so, but how much can the province of Ontario afford? You can continue to take your shots at the federal government, but the fact is that you can't afford to expand this. Even the mayor of Toronto has advocated a program of rental assistance to reduce the affordability problems of tenants.
Under the kind of shelter allowance scheme favoured by most economists, money is given directly to the household, based on the difference between what it can afford and what it's actually paying. I believe that is the proper policy this government, or any provincial government, should follow, not what my friend is recommending, because I submit that the province of Ontario simply can't afford the proposals my friend is recommending.
"Shelter allowances are more equitable because they give similar assistance to people with similar needs. They can be delivered faster" -- I'll tell you, the lineups to get what my friend is talking about are unbelievable and inequitable -- "and applied to a far broader selection of rental units, allowing people to remain in the housing of their choice."
My friend is saying, "You must live there," whereas the shelter allowance says, "You can live anywhere you want." But my friend says, "You must live in this building and that's that," and that's not the way to treat the people of Ontario.
"Non-profit housing, by contrast, provides benefits only to those people lucky enough to get a unit. It neglects those on waiting lists or those too discouraged to apply; is slow to respond to need because the housing must become vacant or be built; and requires a subsidized tenant to move to a specific project."
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Before we begin this, if I could repeat myself, we cannot allow for participation from the audience in the gallery, so please do not participate. I ask you to respect the House and the work of this House by not doing that. Thank you.
Mr Mike Farnan (Cambridge): I would like to support my colleague Mr Mammoliti, the member for Yorkview, in his proposal to convert some units of public housing stock into cooperative public housing. My support for this resolution is based, in large part, on the success that I have witnessed first hand with the cooperative housing that exists in my own community in the city of Cambridge. As well, it is based on a firm belief that cooperative public housing is consistent with the priorities established by the Ministry of Housing which stress the importance of tenant participation and responsibility for the housing in which they live.
There is a lot of talk about empowerment that surrounds co-op housing. I'm not sure that I really like the word empowerment, but I will vouch for the results. The co-op housing in Cambridge is generally exemplary of well-maintained buildings, units and grounds. They are clean and the grass is always cut. The members of the co-op spend a great deal of time in planning for and managing the building they have made their home. The residents plan for both the short-term and the long-term needs of their residences. Above all, the co-ops give visitors a sense of neighbourliness.
The coordinator of Highland Homes Co-op in Cambridge told me that the thing he most appreciates about co-ops is that people who have started to work together out of financial necessity seem to find that they come to appreciate working together as neighbours with shared interests. Is this not part of what we want to see occur in public housing in this province, that those who live in public housing have an enriched sense of neighbourhood?
The coordinator of New Hope Co-op Housing in Cambridge emphasized to me another way in which cooperative public housing can help accomplish the particular goals we have established for public housing in general. It is basically a good way to learn skills. Co-op membership includes a volunteer component that can include tasks from maintenance to management. In order to partake in these activities necessary for management of the co-op, members are trained and assisted until they have learned the skills and gained the experience to be independent managers. What the coordinator of New Hope told me is, "Residents realize benefits beyond housing."
On a personal note, I would like to say of my colleague George Mammoliti that I believe him to be a different kind of politician. He brings a fresh approach to issues. Where others see obstacles, George sees challenges to be overcome. Where others concentrate on the negative, George focuses on problem-solving.
I can tell you that as Solicitor General I was impressed with the thoroughness with which George headed the Advisory Committee on Drug Treatment, which toured this province and resulted in the Mammoliti report, a landmark document in the fight against addictions.
George has made a significant contribution to this Legislature. His plain-talking and straightforward approach to issues is exactly the approach that helps to keep us all focused not just on important issues but on solutions to these issues.
Mr Mammoliti should be praised for this resolution, which takes the principles laid out in the Ministry of Housing's policy of Planning Together and puts these principles into practice. When we replace tenancy with membership and balance responsibility with rewards flowing from it, I think we will see the changes that the honourable Minister of Housing, Mrs Gigantes, started occur at an unprecedented rate.
Once again, I would just like to reiterate my support of Mr Mammoliti's idea of running a pilot cooperative public housing project. The difference in the debate this morning was stark and real. On this side of the House I saw a member looking at an issue and presenting a solution. On the other side of the House I saw a member looking at the problem and saying, "Hey, we can't solve this." I want to go in the direction of Mr Mammoliti.
Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): I am pleased to make a few comments on this proposal on behalf of the Liberal caucus. As the Liberal caucus Housing critic I have taken a particular interest in this area of Ontario Housing and also the co-op movement.
When I first saw this resolution earlier this week I thought it was a very interesting one, that perhaps this might be a creative approach to solving a few problems. The first is that it involves tenant participation and in fact encourages tenant participation. The second thing is that, unlike some members in this Legislature, I am very supportive of co-op housing. That's not to say that there aren't problems with it, that there isn't a way we can make the system work better, but I am very supportive of cooperative housing.
I thought this was actually quite a good idea, and yesterday, when the member for Yorkview came over to me and asked would I be supporting this, I said I hadn't finished doing my homework but my initial idea was that I thought it was a good idea. I saw a few problems. For instance, our Ontario Housing Corp stock is older stock. There are a lot of problems with maintenance and upkeep. The stock is deteriorating. Certainly, if you were going to convert it to co-op, one of the priorities at the same time would be to bring that housing stock up to grade. The member for Yorkview agreed with that. I said I wanted to talk to a few more people about it before I made my decision.
But this is where the surprise came in. Quite often when I'm dealing with co-ops I will phone the Co-operative Housing Association of Ontario; I will phone CHAO and ask it for its opinion. I've dealt with them in the past and I've found they're very straightforward and very knowledgeable in the area. They said: "Actually, yes, but there's already a co-operative conversion working group that has developed this proposal. In fact, this group has existed for the past year." This particular working group was developed by the co-op sector. It wasn't a government initiative but a private, co-op initiative. Their specific mandate was to look at the conversion of Ontario Housing stock to co-op.
I thought, "This is very interesting," and said, "The proposal before us is that there be a pilot project." He said, "Oh well, yes, that's part of what the working group is doing as well." For the last few months they have been working with the Ministry of Housing to develop this demonstration project, this pilot project, and were getting very positive vibrations from both the Ontario Housing Corp and the Ministry of Housing.
Then I thought, "This is kind of strange." From this resolution I got the impression that this was a new idea, that it was an idea of the member for Yorkview. Nowhere does it mention in here that it was actually being driven by the co-op sector, not the government. Nowhere does it say that this is already on the books and that it appears that an announcement by the Ministry of Housing would be imminent regarding this stock. It really bothered me. I had planned to vote for this resolution, but I don't think this is right and I don't think this is fair.
I wasn't here at the very beginning of the debate, because I had a meeting on another important issue for Metro Toronto, which is market value assessment, but I had asked both my colleague in the House and my executive assistant to take note of Mr Mammoliti's remarks: Did he give credit to the co-op sector for this idea? And the answer was no.
Quite frankly, this bothers me. It bothers me when it's set up that a member of the NDP puts in a private member's resolution, which he had to have cleared with the Ministry of Housing, because that's the way it works --
Ms Poole: The ministry had to be aware of this going on because the ministry was involved in the project. This morning the co-op housing association sent me a copy of the project. These are various representatives from the co-op sector, one of whom is from CHAO. I looked through it and it's a good proposal.
But that this member wouldn't even mention this, to me it stinks to high heaven. That this member would bring forward a proposal which he knows the government is very likely to adopt in the near future so he could then take credit, saying, "See, I recommended this pilot project, and look, the government listened," to me this smacks of dishonesty.
I would have had no problem if he had come here today and said, "This is an initiative of the co-op sector and I'm proud to support it." But going through the back door like this means he's going to take credit for something he didn't do, and it doesn't surprise me on the one hand. It surprised me that the member for Yorkview would do this.
Maybe I'm totally wrong. Maybe he didn't talk to the co-op sector, so he didn't know they'd done all this work. Maybe I'm wronging him in saying this is a big setup. If that's the case, then he was set up. He was set up by a government that wants to give him credit for something this government didn't do.
This isn't the first time it's happened. Just a couple of weeks ago in the House a question was asked about the Premier's results over in Asia. Lo and behold appears a press release of a $10-million job opportunity by a Japanese company in Ontario, and isn't it wonderful what the Premier's doing.
Ms Poole: What it has to do with co-op housing is that this government took credit for that, yet the very next day that Japanese company issued a statement disavowing itself, saying this program was set up two years ago and had nothing to do with this government. That's exactly what this government is doing.
Let me say, I don't like this type of approach. Just be upfront. If you're going to give credit where credit is due, then fine, but I'll tell you, you demean the whole process by the way this has come in through the back door. When I say it's not the first time, I say it's part of the continuing pattern, the whole John Piper business of manipulating things to take credit for things you didn't do.
A year ago in this very Legislature, the Premier stood up and had to defend himself because he printed in his own householder the fact that he had said 420,000 women were now going to get pay equity because his government had passed the legislation. It wasn't true then and it isn't true today. You're taking credit for something you haven't done and you still haven't done it.
I could give you example after example. I remember when we were talking about finances and the budget. The Treasurer said, "We have protected the poor; we have protected those who are least able to pay." People under $53,000 in income wouldn't have to pay. Then it turned out -- this is what was printed I think by the member for Dovercourt at the time. They took credit for protecting the poor and protecting everybody earning under $53,000. When the facts came out, it was that everybody was paying this 5% increase and in fact was not protected. It's one more example of taking credit for something you didn't do.
What I would like to hear from Mr Mammoliti when he makes his remarks at the end is why he didn't mention the enormous contribution of the co-op sector. I have a copy of the plan, the proposal, here and I've looked through it. It's well-thought-out. A year's worth of work has gone into this. It talks about a number of the areas in which I had concern. They too were concerned about the preservation of the housing stock and the fact that it was very important to make sure that when this conversion process took place, the stock was upgraded. Quite frankly, when I look at their key goals and assumptions, it's obvious a number of the concerns I had are being taken into account.
I'll tell you one thing: I want to vote for this proposal because I think it's a good one. I think it's creative, I think it is restoring our aging housing stock, I think it is encouraging tenant participation, but I really resent the way this government has gone through the back door to try to take the credit for it. Even if they'd said, "We're in a partnership with the co-op sector," even if they'd mentioned it, but no, this was an initiative from the member for Yorkview. No credit was being given anywhere, so that in a couple of months when this initiative is announced the member can take credit for something that he didn't do.
I'm not making comments on the sincerity of the member. I know he's got a lot of housing stock in his particular riding that is OHC, but I'm saying that is not the way to do it. You have to be up front with what you're doing. You have to give credit to those who have done the work, taken the initiative, shown the creativity and spent thousands and thousands of hours of work on this proposal.
Ms Poole: Well, quite frankly, I intended to vote for this. At 4 o'clock yesterday I intended to vote for this proposal, until I found out that you were perpetuating it as your proposal, even the wording in it.
The Acting Speaker: We're now getting into dialogue across the chamber, which, as you know, is out of order. I'd ask you to address your remarks through the Chair. Interjections are completely out of order, as usual, and I'd ask the honourable member for Downsview to please stop. The honourable member for Eglinton has the floor.
I even looked at the wording and it says in item 3 "that conversions of public housing to cooperative housing carried out in the United States, Australia and Great Britain have been successful in increasing tenant participation in the management of their community." This is taken exactly from this report and yet there is no acknowledgement that this report even existed. They have a term for using somebody else's information and adopting it as your own and that's exactly what this is. Nothing less than it.
I think it is not to the credit of the member for Yorkview that he did this. I don't think it's to the credit of this government and the Ministry of Housing which had to have known -- they're part of this -- that it was going on. I find it totally unacceptable for this government to be taking credit for something that was initiated by the co-op sector. They are to be commended for what they did. This government is to be held in disgrace for what it is doing.
Ms Margaret H. Harrington (Niagara Falls): I'm certainly pleased to respond to my colleague the member for Yorkview's resolution before the House today regarding the development of a demonstration process for public housing in Ontario. Unfortunately, it's very sad the approach that the Liberal critic has taken. Mr Mammoliti, as I'm sure people in this House will know, is a very straightforward member and what he's doing is bringing forward the direct concerns of his riding. It's unfortunate that she cannot be constructive.
The resolution here proposes that my ministry and the Ontario Housing Corp consider a pilot project to assess the viability of resident-controlled co-ops as an option for increasing tenant participation. We fully welcome the idea of tenant participation in management. That concept is at the heart of the government's approach to management of all social housing in this province.
As the member has pointed out in his resolution, we have clearly stated this in two recent documents: firstly, Consultation Counts, which deals with the future direction of co-op and non-profit housing in Ontario and, secondly, Planning Together, which addresses a new approach of tenant involvement and empowerment in Ontario Housing Corp. What the resolution proposes is a major move in the direction of resident participation and one deserving of full consideration.
It's important that the policy and practical implications of this proposal be weighed very carefully, and I would hope the opposition would do this with us. Many people are involved and these are people's homes that we are talking about. I'd like to point out here a very interesting thing I just noticed this morning, and that is the Conservative member who spoke earlier talked about shelter allowances. The word "shelter" to me is abhorrent. He calls people's homes shelters. These are homes, which is a very different concept. A shelter is something maybe you put cattle in. That's the kind of attitude that we see from the opposition.
Let's look at the implications of this resolution. A key consideration would be tenant response to the concept. Tenants' views on the level of direct involvement is most important. A major theme in the Planning Together initiative now under way is to ask tenants how they want to be involved in decision-making in their communities. Tenants have different points of view on this idea. There will be some who want conversion to co-op management. There will be others who would prefer to remain as they are as renters.
Secondly, the province is not the sole funder or owner of all the public housing in Ontario. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp pays 50% of the costs of rent-geared-to-income housing, while all cooperatives have at least some market units. A significant number of units are jointly owned with the federal government, and the city of Toronto has ultimate ownership of several large housing developments. These funders will have to agree and be very much involved before changes can start.
Thirdly, as the resolution rightly anticipates, questions of job security for the current staff of the local housing authorities have to be addressed and, as well, the situation of the staff belonging to unions in a co-op form of management.
Fourthly, and very important: What are the implications of this conversion for the principle of broad income mix? We've always considered this very, very important in cooperative housing and non-profit housing. Conversion will indeed contribute to the principle, but public housing has been exclusively rent-geared-to-income tenants. Changing to a mix of income levels may have some implications for this supply of rent-geared-to-income housing. How can we and should we address these implications? These are very serious questions.
Fifthly, what are the views of the non-profit sector? They're very important, both the co-op and non-profit sector. What do they think? What about the public at large? As the opposition has said, "Yes, we will be very, very closely involved with the cooperative sector." The important involvement of the people of Ontario -- because this is a large policy. We're talking here about substantial public assets owned by the province, built up over the last 40 years, thousands of homes, not shelters but people's homes. The point of view of the public has to be sought and taken into account.
Finally, there are the boards of the local housing authority, which have done great service to all of Ontario over many years. They will have to be involved. This government welcomes the concept of tenant decision-making. This government welcomes the empowerment of people, and it can be clearly seen from what the Ministry of Housing has done in the past two years. I'm extremely proud of that. Together, all of us with the Ontario Housing Corp must look very carefully at this proposal, a very careful examination, and give it the thought it deserves.
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): It's a pleasure to be standing and speaking to this resolution however briefly. I like what it says, George. He's putting forward an idea I believe in. He's talking about empowerment of tenants, which makes sense to me. He's talking about responsibility of tenants that the co-op movement provides. It seems to me that's a good mix. Where I do have a problem is the Piperesque appearance of this whole situation.
Mr Brown: It's another manipulation of the system, another way of making something appear as something else, as something that looks like something it is not. For that I am disturbed, but I'm not surprised. It's not the particular member I'm concerned with; it's a government that has consistently for two years manipulated consultation processes, manipulated press releases, brought people into the Premier's office to spin things, and "spin" is not a word the public really understands. What it means is manipulate, manipulate a process.
I'm surprised that my good friend the member for Yorkview has been captured by a Premier's office that says: "This is what we have to do. We have to make things appear as they are not." It does not give credit to the group that originated this particular proposal.
I could say I was surprised, and I am a little bit, that the Premier's office has captured even my good friend from Yorkview. But that's what's happened here, and I think all members of the House have to understand that even in Mr Piper's departure, those people are still in the Premier's office.
First of all, I'd like to thank my colleague and friend the member for Yorkview for having the guts to bring up such a sensitive subject in this place this morning. I can understand why some of the opposition doesn't want to talk about this. I can understand why the Conservatives don't want to talk about it. During the 1970s, when they were building up Jane Street, when they were making these kinds of decisions, they knew what they were doing.
They knew very well what they were doing. They had all their high-priced executives, all their spin doctors and all the other people it takes to make these kinds of decisions. They knew exactly what they were doing, they knew exactly what they were dumping into that area, and I can understand why they would want to shy away from that today.
But they weren't the only ones who were doing it because, while they were making the decisions, the federal guys who were providing the money were the Liberals. They were in cahoots; they were together. They were just dumping problems along Jane Street and in the Finch area and they were in cahoots. They were together on it because, quite frankly, they didn't care and they have never listened to argument.
So it's no surprise to me today when I listened to some of my Liberal friends and the member for Eglinton said: "You know what? I'm not going to support this. I agree with the concept but I'm not to vote for it, and I'll tell you why I'm not going to vote for it." Then she went on to ramble on how "It's not our idea." Who cares whose idea it is? Who cares as long as it cleans up the problem? Who cares? It's not yours.
You had five years and you did nothing about it. So it's no surprise to me when, during the last election campaign, I canvassed in the area and people told me about their problems: about the drug dealers in the parking lots, about the sex in the parking lots and in the basement and in the corridors, how they were afraid to open their doors because they didn't want to walk out into their hallways for fear that they would be mugged, how the residents, the people who live in the area live in fear because, in order to feed the sex and drug trade, you need to rob and steal. You need to go into a house and take someone's TV and sell it and generate some money to go out and buy the drugs you need.
I can understand why, in five years, you didn't talk about it and you didn't want to do anything about it: because it's a sensitive area, it's a sensitive problem. In fact, one fellow whose door I knocked on said, "You know, we live in this stuff and nobody ever talks about it." I can see that today.
Some of the Liberals in the areas have talked about it. They go around the community and they say one thing. They say, "Yes, this is a problem." They try to blame the NDP. We weren't in power before 1990. The problems didn't happen after 1990. The problems happened before.
They go around the community and say: "Yeah, we recognize it's a problem. Yeah, we need to do something about it. Yeah, we want help in doing something about it." But when it comes down to this place, when it comes to where the decisions are made, when the time comes to put your money where your mouth is, what do you do? You stand up in your place and you say: "God, Jeez, you know, it's not our idea. Because it's not our idea I'm not going to vote for it."
All you're saying is, "We Liberals aren't going to vote for it." You can go in the community and say that all you like. You can say, "Yeah, there's a problem. We want to clean it up," but when it comes down to the guts of it, to the meat of it, you vote against it. You vote against approval. Shame on you.
The Conservatives' idea to solve the housing problems and the social problems that might exist within housing is to make the rich richer. Give the landlords more money. Why don't you take a trip up to my community? Why don't you take a trip and see how those private buildings are run? Why don't you take a trip and see how those hallways in those private accommodations are being dealt with? If you did, you'd probably shut your mouth. If you did, you'd probably regret everything you've said in the House today. Make the rich richer. I don't even want to talk about you for a second. I'll go over to the Liberals now, because the Liberals -- first of all, the Conservatives' idea would cost this province $2 billion.
You know what, Dianne? You have done me a world of good. She has shown the community where the Liberals stand. The Liberals say one thing and vote another way. The Liberals talk about a potential problem, but they don't want to resolve it. They're too worried about the motives. They're too worried about who's going to take credit. The community's going to benefit from this. The community will benefit from this, and you, right now, today, if you stand opposed to this, are saying no to Jane and Finch. You're saying no to the people in Yorkview. You are saying no to the problems that exist. The Liberals are saying no to the problems that exist in my community.
Mr D. James Henderson (Etobicoke-Humber): I hope members will share my view that sound projects of Third World assistance are not only acts of altruism. Of course, if they are well conceived they benefit the receiving country directly, but by contributing to fiscal soundness and a better standard of life for all peoples of the world we build healthier and safer international communities and a more vibrant world economy. That, of course, benefits Canadians as well, as present and future trading partners of Third World developing nations.
I am rising, therefore, to thank three Canadian pharmaceutical companies and one charitable organization for their generous donations to Third World assistance, and to applaud their generosity and foresight. The companies concerned are Shoppers Drug Mart of Willowdale, Pharma Plus of Mississauga and Big V Pharmacies of London, Ontario. The charitable organization wishes to remain anonymous.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): My statement is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, a number of park wardens, who have the same authority to lay charges as OPP officers, have alleged that their superiors at Presqu'ile Provincial Park near Trenton are dropping some of those charges without informing them or giving them reasons.
The wardens also allege several incidents of intimidation and harassment by park management. These incidents seem to have been triggered by the wardens' complaints about management interference in enforcement issues. These incidents involve verbal abuse, the manipulation of overtime pay and counterthreats if union action is threatened.
The wardens say they brought all this to the attention of your colleague the member for Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings. Your colleague assured them that he had raised this matter with you, the Minister of Natural Resources.
Minister, these are serious allegations. These wardens have come forward because they believe their own safety and that of members of the public who visit Presqu'ile Provincial Park each year may be endangered because of management interference, intimidation and harassment.
Minister, the wardens are demanding that you examine this matter and they demand that you launch an OPP investigation into their allegations. I support the wardens in their demands for a resolution of this extremely serious matter. Minister, could we please have a reply in writing to these allegations for these people?
Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): Recently it's come to my attention that a group of self-interested land owners and developers under the name of the Niagara Escarpment Landowners Coalition have approached the regions of Niagara, Hamilton-Wentworth, Halton and Peel to return control of the Niagara Escarpment lands to local municipalities and disband the Niagara Escarpment Commission.
They have also formally written to Mr Terrance Cook, the program director to the Canadian commission for UNESCO to request the temporary suspension of the biosphere designation for the Niagara Escarpment planning area.
A great deal of hard work conducted by the University of Guelph, the University of Waterloo and a number of dedicated individuals in this province brought the Niagara Escarpment to the attention of UNESCO. The former Premier of this province, along with the secretary of UNESCO, in 1990 officially conferred the status of a world biosphere reserve on this precious resource of the province of Ontario.
This shameful attack by a group of self-interested developers and land owners is not only a national disgrace but a provincial embarrassment, and I call on all parties in this House who have supported the Niagara Escarpment and the biosphere designation in the past to speak out very strongly and condemn this foolish attempt to exploit Ontario's precious resources.
The land owners' coalition says that the Niagara Escarpment Commission is too tough. Let me remind members of this House that the Niagara Escarpment plan is driven by the needs of the environment, not the needs of developers.
Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): A $900-million proposal to construct a state-of-the-art petrochemical complex in the community of Sudbury is in danger of being lost because of NDP government inaction. Over 4,000 person-years of employment during its two-year construction phase and 250 permanent jobs in the north would be created. The complex, put forward by Sunthetic Energy Inc, an Ontario company, would produce ethers to be used as fuel additives, thereby reducing harmful exhaust emissions on our roads. Export sales of this environment-enhancing product have been estimated at $280 million annually in 1992 dollars.
Yet despite these tangible economic and environmental benefits, the proposal has received only a superficial response from the NDP government. The community of Sudbury has until November 30, at which time Sunthetic Energy will pick up and move to California, where there's great interest in developing this most progressive project. However, the NDP government has given no indication that it will support this private project by permitting it to sell its excess electricity to consumers in the Sudbury area. A news release issued by the company last week states, "Unfortunately, there appears to be little movement on the part of the government towards finding a solution that would enable our proposal to go forward."
When is this government going to act on this issue? The citizens of Sudbury and northern Ontario are anxiously awaiting the response of the government before next Monday. They deserve to be dealt with fairly and openly and not pushed off until it is too late.
As the Minister of Energy should be well aware, businesses in Ontario are cutting costs and struggling to remain competitive to keep jobs and investment in Ontario. This has been a particularly difficult endeavour while Ontario Hydro is moving in the exact opposite direction. To quote a letter from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, "Ontario Hydro's rate increases are rapidly turning what was once a competitive strength for Ontario business into a disadvantage."
I would like the Minister of Energy to take a moment to consider some of the following facts: Proposed rate increases over the 1991-93 period total 31%, while inflation is projected at only 10%. Operating, maintenance and administrative expenses represent 25% of Hydro's costs, and they have increased 86% since 1987. While other businesses are cutting back in order to survive through tough times, Hydro has increased its staff by 22%, approximately 5,000 people, hired over the last five years.
First of all, I had the privilege of participating recently in the reopening of the Victoria Hall Playhouse in Petrolia. The playhouse was restored after a devastating fire and now is back in operation as a vital landmark and live theatre venue in Lambton county, and I invite all members to visit very soon.
I'm also very proud to have had the opportunity to open the new St Joseph's elementary separate school in Corunna on behalf of the Minister of Education and then later open the new Corunna Child Care Centre located at this school. The child care facility will not only be a place for much-needed child care spaces, but it will also be operated by Lambton College, where the college's early childhood education students will be provided with their first opportunity to care for school-age children in a lab setting. This major project has been made possible by the cooperative efforts of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services and is the first of its kind in Ontario.
Lambton county is also very proud of the new central library headquarters opened recently in the village of Wyoming, which will better serve the residents of Sarnia-Lambton. This is made possible with a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Communications.
In closing, I would also like to inform the House of the new Wyoming-Petrolia parish charter of the Knights of Columbus. It was exciting to attend their charter night and present a plaque on behalf of our Premier, Bob Rae.
Mrs Joan M. Fawcett (Northumberland): It is a sad commentary on this government when over 4,000 vulnerable persons and the dedicated workers associated with them have to gather in front of this Legislature to grab the government's attention. This form of consultation is confrontation, yet this is the only way they can gain any type of recognition from the NDP government.
The Ontario Association for Community Living has a combined membership of 15,000 people throughout the province. Its goal is to ensure that all people have the opportunity to live in a state of dignity and to share in all elements of living and participating in the community.
Today I joined thousands of people in front of this Legislature protesting the ongoing disregard that this government has for those most vulnerable in today's society. This government's proposed cutbacks will stop the meaningful work that people like Rick Staples do at sheltered workshops. Rick was in my office today, desperately seeking assistance in order that his contribution to the community can continue. If your funding cuts continue, he will be segregated from society.
How can this government, whose Premier promotes the social charter for Canadians, turn around and totally disregard those most vulnerable in our society? This government's unilateral cuts will jeopardize and demoralize these people. As many of the posters said today, "Consult, don't insult."
Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): Today at noon outside this Legislative Assembly, there were many concerned parents, staff members and clients who are involved with the Ontario Association for Community Living. They are concerned that the Ministry of Community and Social Services has announced a $5-million cut to the sheltered workshop system provincially. The minister has also announced that the sheltered workshops as we now know them will be phased out and that alternative programs will be introduced to replace them.
The president of Community Living London, Mr Al Gleeson, advised parents, siblings and consumers in a very crowded emergency meeting this week that they should advise their elected members of their concerns. They made sure that we knew that integration and supported employment programs were useful and necessary and that they supported them, but they wanted to warn us that each job in the community requires two persons to assist each challenged person. This is a very expensive program.
In these times, when it's so difficult to place so many of our special citizens, will we indeed find those placements that are so necessary? If we're going to phase out any part of that program, we must have another program in place before we do any phase-out. These are important citizens. We should be supporting a very good program as it exists today.
Between 400 and 500 people attended a memorial service last week to remember a rich and a fulfilled life. She was the wife of Jim Schroder, former Liberal MP for Guelph from 1980 to 1984, and the mother of four children. She was involved in Guelph's community life since moving there in 1951.
The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship presented her with a 10-year volunteer award for her work as president of the Guelph Arts Council. She worked hard to make the dream of the Guelph Civic Centre a reality.
She was the president of the Guelph chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. One of the federation's interest groups was a civic affairs committee to encourage women to become involved in city hall and run for office. Elizabeth Schroder was on that committee 15 years ago when Guelph elected councillors Marg McKinnon and Anne Godfrey, the second and third women councillors in Guelph's history.
Elizabeth Schroder was a compassionate person who canvassed for the cancer society, delivered books to the sick and the elderly at home, taught Sunday school and served as treasurer at Chalmers United Church. She also led a Brownie pack and worked with the home and school association. She was involved with the Third Age Learning Group, which offered educational programs for people of age 55 and older.
Hon Frances Lankin (Minister of Health): I am pleased to advise the House that today I will be introducing amendments to several pieces of legislation as the first step in the restructuring of Ontario's long-term care system -- a new integrated long-term care health and social services system for seniors, their care givers, adults with physical disabilities and those who need health care services at home.
My colleagues the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of Citizenship and I are confident that this framework is a product of one of the most comprehensive and democratic consultations ever undertaken by government. We held some 3,000 meetings across Ontario involving more than 75,000 people.
With a number of innovative features, it will make possible a more flexible approach to the delivery of services in the home, thus responding to the strongly articulated needs and preferences of users and care givers during the consultation. It will enable improvements to the training of facility and community-based workers and to the development of supportive housing projects.
Early in the spring we will announce the details of the implementation framework. In the meantime we will release a report in January on the consultation and the new policy directions. We will ask district health councils to immediately begin restructuring their long-term care planning capacities to ensure the inclusion of representatives of municipalities, social service planning and delivery service sectors and, of course, consumers. In addition, we will ask them to facilitate long-term care implementation planning discussions in their communities based on the January policy directions document.
Our reform also seeks to improve the quality of care for residents of nursing homes and charitable and municipal homes for the aged, because facilities are part of the continuum of care. To do this, we need to amend several pieces of legislation.
Our first goal is to establish a fairer funding scheme that is based on the level of care required by residents and guarantees non-profit delivery of nursing care and programming components funded by the province. In this respect, I'd like to pay tribute to previous ministers of Health in the previous government who worked on this issue.
Our third goal is to establish a consistent resident payment policy as described in our October 1991 Redirection document. Currently, some residents are asked to pay for their nursing and personal care, and their assets and income are used to calculate the fees that they pay.
Under the new policy, residents will be asked to contribute to their accommodation costs only -- that is, for room and board. Let me emphasize that residents will no longer pay for nursing and personal care. As well, assets will no longer be considered in the calculation of residents' fees.
Finally, our fifth goal is to make direct payments to adults with disabilities so that they can purchase and manage their own services. This goal addresses the central importance to consumers of maximizing dignity, independence and control over their own lives.
We remain committed to the $647-million investment in long-term care. It is with great enthusiasm and hope that I ask the honourable members for their support to these amendments, which will help lay the foundation for and take the first steps towards a new long-term care health and social service system in the province of Ontario.
Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister of Economics): In the 1992 budget the government made a commitment to three priorities: helping workers and employers prepare for the economy of the future, preserving public services that Ontario values and keeping the deficit in check.
When we published the budget we knew the road to economic recovery would be a difficult one, but the problems we face have become more serious than we knew last spring. The economy is recovering more slowly than we and others had forecast and our revenues, as I indicate in the Fiscal Outlook I have tabled today, have also been slow to recover.
We are not alone. Across the industrialized world, economic activity has been slowed, unemployment has been high and growth is sluggish. Government revenues are weak and the need to help those who have been hurt by the recession has increased.
However, in the face of these difficulties, we are on target for operating expenditures in 1993-94. But in the absence of further policy changes, we now estimate our total revenues next year will be $4.2 billion less than planned in last year's budget.
We have already demonstrated that this can be done. This past year we made significant headway restructuring programs and containing costs. Growth in spending fell to 4.8% after a decade of increases averaging over 10%. If public debt interest were excluded, growth in operating spending would be up only 2.8% this year.
Our management of health care costs is a good example of the progress we have made. After 10 years of increases averaging over 11%, the increase for health care spending this year is up only 1.6%. This reduction in the growth of the health budget was achieved without major disruptions in service and with minimal job loss. That is a tribute to the Minister of Health and to the other stakeholders in the health sector field.
The program review and evaluation process we initiated last year was another way we managed to reduce the growth in spending so substantially. This process has led to greater efficiency and reduced costs in a number of programs including legal aid and the Ontario drug benefit plan.
Government has cut its own operating costs, excluding salaries, by $300 million this year. And we have shown leadership by freezing the salaries of cabinet ministers, MPPs and senior managers. Our confidence in collective bargaining has been vindicated: Wage increases for employees have been moderate.
Our long-term plan is the right one. We are going to continue to invest in the economy, preserve services and keep the deficit in check. But in all facets of public service delivery, we must adjust to a difficult fiscal reality. This is not business as usual.
Our major transfer partners -- hospitals, schools, municipalities, colleges and universities -- account for approximately 30% of our budget. Last year we worked with our partners to help them adjust to a 1% increase in funding -- a big shift after years of increases averaging over 8% a year. We also gave agencies access to additional resources through the transition assistance fund to help them restructure.
We want to help our partners build on these achievements. Therefore, we are acknowledging our commitment to our major transfer partners this coming year by providing them with a 2% increase in their funding.
This increase will be a one-time-only payment for 1993-94. It will not go into base funding. Last January we also announced a 2% increase for 1994-95. However, given the current fiscal reality, we cannot provide our partners with this increase.
We are capping their base funding for the next two years at the current year's level. This will continue to reduce the spending trend lines in these sectors, in line with our overall strategy for managing government spending.
In allocating these additional resources this year, we feel that our partners have a reciprocal obligation to the province and to its taxpayers to build on the progress of the past year. Therefore, the additional funding is tied to each sector's plans to reduce costs, maintain priority services and minimize job losses.
We recognize this presents a significant challenge to our partners. Ministers will be working closely with their respective sectors to assist them in developing restructuring plans to meet our mutual goals and objectives.
My colleague the Minister of Colleges and Universities will announce the tuition fee increase for the 1993-94 academic year presently. He will also discuss changes to the Ontario student assistance program which will achieve both long-term cost savings and ensure accessibility to post-secondary education.
We have also made difficult decisions to control spending in other areas. The Chair of Management Board will be discussing the decisions we have reached with respect to compensation, pensions and pay equity in a few minutes.
I want to emphasize that this government is firmly committed to implementing rights-based pay equity. Our overall funding for pay equity, when fully implemented, will not change. The only change is that the funding will be spent over a longer period.
My colleague the Minister of Labour will provide details of the amendments to the Pay Equity Act that will expand coverage of the act to 420,000 more working women, many of whom are in the broader public sector.
These decisions to control spending -- decisions on major transfers, the Ontario student assistance program, compensation and pay equity -- are only the government's first steps to deal with the situation presented in the Fiscal Outlook. None the less, for the coming year these measures will represent savings of $600 million. And for the 1994-95 fiscal year, savings from these measures are estimated at $1.2 billion. They are but one component of this government's overall approach to fiscal planning for the 1993 budget. A committee composed of deputy ministers and staff from across the government has ongoing responsibility to provide treasury board with a wide range of expenditure restraint options for its consideration.
In addition, we have also set in place a multi-year expenditure reduction program to reduce expenditures in all ministries over the next three years. This means that across government, ministries will be reforming programs while maintaining priority service.
Through these various decisions -- major transfers, OSAP, compensation, pay equity and pensions -- we are lowering the trend line in spending. However, I want to underline that this government is committed to expenditures on training, labour adjustment and infrastructure -- totalling about $4.5 billion this year -- to support job creation and economic renewal. Through reform and restructuring, we are preserving the services that Ontario values. And in the coming months, we will continue to develop our plans for the 1993-94 fiscal year.
The Speaker: There will be an opportunity for replies. I would ask the honourable members just to allow the Treasurer to complete his statement, and then there will be an opportunity for the responses from the other side. Start the clock.
Hon Mr Laughren: These are our budget priorities. We have made a significant start. We look forward to the input and informed debate of the people of this province as we move into our pre-budget discussions on how best to meet these challenges.
Hon David S. Cooke (Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet): We have just heard the Treasurer outline the fiscal realities which face this province and this government. I would like to announce to the House today that we are responding responsibly to this reality by extending a series of cost-saving measures and by introducing some new ones.
During the past year, the government took several measures to bring public sector wages and benefits in line with fiscal realities. We have decided to continue these measures for the following year. They are as follows:
I will also be writing to heads of organizations in the broader public sector to ask them to voluntarily freeze their salaries, as well as the salaries of their executives and senior managers. The government will also seek a wage freeze when bargaining with the public service professional associations.
Pension plan costs have climbed steeply in recent years and now make up about 3% of the provincial budget. Other public sector employers also face significant pension costs. We need to look at ways of making public sector pension plans more affordable for the government and taxpayers.
To help achieve this, the government is placing a moratorium during this difficult year on all public service pension plan benefit improvements. As well, we do not intend to support enhancements to those broader public sector plans over which the government has a direct say. Proposed changes that will result in restructuring, however, will still be considered.
This moratorium will not change current benefit provisions, nor will it affect pensioners' cheques or how they are indexed. The moratorium only applies to new benefit entitlements. I urge public sector plans that do not require government consent to voluntarily adopt similar measures.
The government has also decided to delay the implementation of new pay equity measures by one year and to spread out the public sector costs over an extended period. This will make additional pay equity measures more affordable. But let me be clear, overall funding for this initiative, when fully implemented, will not change. We remain firmly committed to rights-based pay equity.
This government has been working hard to bring collective bargaining settlements patterns in line. I would remind the House that the innovative and ground-breaking agreement we reached last year with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union set a new, more harmonious tone between labour and management.
Before 1992 public sector wage settlements averaged 5%. Settlements during 1992 have dropped to the 3% range and increases that take effect during 1992 are averaging 2%. Those results were reached at the bargaining table, proving that collective bargaining can work to the benefit of everyone: employers, employees and the people of Ontario.
Finally, we are cutting operating costs as part of our multi-year expenditure reduction plan and we are also restructuring and streamlining to bring the Ontario public service to be more effective and efficient. We will provide responsible and sensitive management by working in cooperation with labour, employers and communities to ensure that all public services are efficient, effective and affordable.
Hon Bob Mackenzie (Minister of Labour): Later today I will introduce legislation which upholds and extends pay equity rights to at least 420,000 more working women, a new bill to amend the Pay Equity Act of 1987. It replaces Bill 168 which received first reading in this House last December.
While the government's commitment to achieving pay equity remains firm, the financial constraints described by my colleagues today compel us to proceed more slowly towards that goal. Our original schedules for achieving pay equity have had to be extended. The extent of pay equity implementation that we had hoped to achieve by 1995 will now be reached by 1998, and the delay is attributable to economic circumstances.
Pay equity simply means making sure that women get paid the value of the work they do. More than 2,100,000 women work in Ontario and many of them continue to experience wage discrimination, especially in traditionally female occupations. This bill provides new tools for expanding pay equity: two additional comparison methods, known as proportional value and proxy comparisons.
Briefly, the new bill now explains the proxy comparison method in greater detail than Bill 168. Proxy is designed to be used only in the broader public sector and only after all other methods of achieving pay equity have been attempted. It enables comparisons between female-predominant workplaces and other workplaces in the broader public sector. An additional 80,000 women stand to benefit from proxy comparisons.
The proxy comparison method is now scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 1994. The proportionate value amendment now is set to take effect on January 1, 1993. This postponement recognizes that retroactivity to January 1, 1992 is not realistic for workplaces facing tough economic times.
I am pleased to confirm, however, that the government is proceeding this fiscal year with a down payment program to benefit some of the lowest-paid women workers in the broader public sector. These payments will ensure that progress is made towards pay equity by these workers this year.
In recognition of the restricted financial circumstances facing broader public sector employers, this new bill allows three more years' time to achieve pay equity. All existing requirements to implement pay equity plans in the public sector by 1995 are being extended to 1998, in keeping with current constraints.
I would point out, for the information of private employers, that there continues to be no legislated completion date for achieving full pay equity in the private sector. The new bill will not change employers' current obligation to devote at least 1% of their previous year's payroll to pay equity adjustments.
Members will recall that Bill 168 received first reading along with a companion piece, Bill 169. The combined effect was to regulate the routes the public sector employees could take to achieve pay equity. This does not change. It is our expectation that when the new bill reaches second reading, Bill 169 will also proceed to second reading. As was the case in Bill 168, the new bill contains administrative amendments to improve the original act. For example, one provision protects pay equity plans when companies are sold, transferred or restructured.
In closing, let me reaffirm that this government is determined to fulfil its commitment to right the historic wrongs to which working women have been subjected. Our resolve has not weakened, but the economy has. The long struggle for pay equity will still be won but will take a few extra years to complete. Therefore, I urge the honourable members to grant speedy passage to this bill so that it can proceed to second reading and on to committee hearings in the winter months.
Hon David S. Cooke (Government House Leader): There's one more government statement. I've talked to both the opposition House leaders and I believe there's an agreement that we can complete the statements and, in return, each opposition party will have 10 minutes to respond.
OSAP aid has grown 66% over the last two years and last year the program helped 137,500 students, a major increase. Given the increasing demand for post-secondary education and the fiscal circumstances the Treasurer has outlined, we are faced with a major challenge. Surely some changes were needed.
In making our decisions, we weighed the financial pressures facing this government and considered three options: The first was helping fewer students; the second was reducing the amount of help to each student; the third was to help the maximum number of students by giving more loans and fewer grants, and that's the option we chose.
Because the program will now involve more loans than grants, its future cost will be much more manageable and this will give us the ability to help more students. It is important to note that by forgiving student debt above a fixed level we will be keeping the maximum student debt at current levels. Furthermore, students who are the most in need will continue to get bursaries that don't have to be paid back: $11 million has been set aside for that purpose, doubling this year's allocation.
I also want to inform the House that tuition levels will rise in 1993-94. The standard tuition fee for colleges will go up by $60 next year, from $856 to $916. The standard tuition fee for university arts and science programs will go up by $132 from $1,894 to $2,026. These increases in tuition will help maintain enrolment levels and quality at the colleges and universities of Ontario.
The Treasurer earlier announced the transfer of payments to colleges and universities and that they would be capped at 1992-93 levels, which were $2.8 billion. The Treasurer also indicated that the post-secondary system will have access to a one-time allocation equal to 2% of the transfer payment in 1993-94 and that, for this system, amounts to $56 million.
These funds will be used by our colleges and universities to sustain and accelerate the restructuring process now under way in the post-secondary system. I will be meeting in mid-December with all the stakeholders to plan the most effective use of this one-time allocation.
This year we have taken some very large steps in finding ways to reshape our post-secondary education, and I remain confident that by working with our partners we will be able to adjust to meet the long-term challenges that face us all.
Bob Rae has betrayed the very promise that he made and that the Treasurer made last January to all of the so-called partners of this government. What they said was that the municipalities, the hospitals, the universities and the schools of this province could depend upon the commitment of that government to provide for a 2%, in real terms, increase this year.
What has the Treasurer told us today? He's said, "Well, maybe, sort of, we're going to give you 2%," but when you read the fine print, it isn't there because they're not even going to do that this year. He says in his statement, "You've got to show that you've been good boys and good girls, but we're not going to give you anything."
Treasurer, you and your Premier have betrayed the trust of the people of this province, and make no mistake about it, this is the strangest way to tell municipalities and school boards that they're going to have to raise taxes, that they're going to have to go to the property tax base in order to try to maintain the programs that they've been trying to maintain this year.
Ce que le trésorier et ce que le premier ministre, les deux, ont fait aujourd'hui avec cette déclaration, c'est de trahir absolument les promesses qu'ils ont faites et qu'ils ont mises devant le peuple ontarien. C'est sûr que dire un jour qu'on va donner 2 %, et l'autre rien, c'est simplement une trahison.
The people in this province are not going to forget that. Look at school boards and look at municipalities. School boards, because they were promised this increase, have already made commitments in terms of salaries. They've made commitments in terms of programs. Municipalities have done the same thing. Yet what this Treasurer has done and what Bob Rae has done is to say, very simply: "We are incompetent. We don't know what we're doing. Don't depend on any word we give. We cannot be trusted."
Mr Hans Daigeler (Nepean): This is truly a sorry day for students in this province. The dismantling of the OSAP grant system is unbelievable; it's horrendous. Here we had a Premier who was standing out on the steps of the Legislature promising students that he would increase accessibility. He and his party promised, over many, many years, that he would move to a grants-only system, not a loans-only system. What do we see today? The exact opposite. This is truly, as my colleague said, a betrayal of the students and of the people who put their trust in your government.
Minister, will you today table the impact of your measures on those groups that you pretend to represent above all: on women, on visible minorities, on the disabled? What will it mean for their possibilities to enter our colleges, to enter our universities? You have promised to support them. What you are doing today is hurting those who are most vulnerable. You are removing their ability to enter our universities. You are making it much more difficult.
Also, your announcement about a 2% transfer increase is really a sham because it's not built into the budget at all, as the Treasurer has said. It's a one-time allocation and, I read in your statement, it's dedicated to specific NDP initiatives. So our university system is going down the drain, and it's all because of you.
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I want to respond first to the Treasurer and say that we've now got from the Treasurer the rest of the story. This is what we're going to see from Bob Rae and Bob Rae's Ontario.
We now know what's going to happen over the full five years of the Premier's office. The economy is in the ditch and it's not moving out of the ditch. We see that the Treasurer says he's going to have to somehow or other find $4 billion more next year. He signals more taxes. This whole document, as we get into it, is a signal to the people of Ontario that we're into a survival mode.
There's no doubt that this document says, "Survive till '95," no doubt about that at all. The economy is in the tank. The government doesn't know how to get it moving; there's no question of that. The people who counted on this government to provide the necessary funding can no longer count on it. There's no question that the people of Ontario should now think, "How can we survive till '95 and get rid of this government?"
I would say as we get further into this document, you can see all sorts of creative ideas the government will attempt to do next year, much as they and Bob Rae have done this year, to hide the real numbers. They're going to set up all sorts of capital corporations. They're nothing more than a credit card to charge taxpayers' money on and not show it on the government books.
We will be looking at this entire document, but I would say to the people of Ontario that we now know what five years of Bob Rae will bring, and that's despair, that is a recession and that is a reduction in the services to the people.
Lastly, the minister's statement on pensions: You already delayed $600 million worth of pension funds to next year that you should have made this year. The Premier himself said that you'd already implemented this pay equity plan and you haven't done it. The Premier was wrong. He needs to send out to those constituents a correction, because he told them you'd already done it and you haven't done it.
Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): I'm responding to the non-announcement by the Minister of Health today, who has once again reiterated an announcement previously made on many occasions. We are all committed to long-term care reform, and the minister knows that. Those principles were established by the last government. Now we'd like to see some action.
We know that nursing homes and homes for the aged are to become long-term facilities in 1993. Patient classification is not new. It's been under way for many months. But you haven't produced the manuals on which the facilities can work and you haven't produced the identification on how the patient classification tool will be modified for those patients or residents who need complex care provided by a multidisciplinary team.
We also don't hear where rehabilitation hospitals and chronic care facilities fit into the long-term care strategy. The chronic care role study is due now. How can the minister be making this statement today without any reference at all to chronic care?
The minister's also left out the answer to another key question. She is statutorily required, under the Nursing Homes Act, subsection 5(6), to announce in the Legislature annually the desired balance between non-profit and commercial nursing homes. She hasn't done that in this announcement. That is a very serious breach and one which we expect the minister to correct today.
Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): I would like to respond to the statement on pay equity by the Minister of Labour. Bob Rae and his government should be deeply ashamed of the actions, or should I say the lack of action, by this minister on this issue.
Last December you promised to bring in pay equity to 420,000 women. You knew you couldn't keep this promise. You knew you couldn't keep it, and then for one year you did nothing. You didn't call this legislation forward for debate, you didn't hold consultations, you didn't hold public hearings. Every time our House leader asked what was happening to pay equity, it suddenly fell off the table, and you did nothing. Let me tell you, this government's and this minister's and this Premier's credibility on protecting women is shot.
They now bring in this new bill. After announcing in November 1990 that they're going to bring in pay equity, after introducing legislation in December 1991 to bring in pay equity, two years later they've done nothing. They now promise new legislation. What was so dramatically changed from the old legislation that they needed new legislation? What dramatically changed that an amendment wouldn't cure? Believe me, when we look at this legislation, we're going to find that once again you have betrayed women. You will have not only changed the time lines; there's something else behind it.
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): Perhaps the most significant thing about today is that today is the 30th anniversary of the first showing of the TV program The Beverly Hillbillies, and in that tradition the Treasurer has brought forward another statement about his budgetary policies.
We know that the Treasurer is expecting $1.2 billion from the federal government. He is the only person in this province who expects to receive $1.2 billion from the federal government. He expects to sell $1.2 billion in assets of the provincial government. To date, we have not heard that he has sold one dollar's worth of assets. He told us last week that he was $590 million out on his budgetary predictions for this year. That makes approximately $3 billion he's out this year, $4 billion he's out next year. We have a Treasurer whose budgetary system is coming unravelled.
We have a statement today that he is going to baseline the MUSH payments next year on the basis of this year. We have seen this year how often the Treasurer has jiggered the books. Again we see a new method of jiggering the books for next year. What he's going to do next year is say, "Your zero base was two years ago and therefore we are giving you 2% this year," when in fact he is giving them zero; or if in fact he gives them the same as his zero base next year, he will be giving them a 2% decrease.
We have a Treasurer who is completely mired in the process. Perhaps it's time that we have a new Treasurer or a new budget statement from this Treasurer which accurately reflects what in fact the fiscal matters of this province are.
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): I want to respond to the announcement by the Minister of Health. While in opposition, Bob Rae, in reference to the hardship caused by nursing home user fees, said to the Minister of Health:
"He knows perfectly well that as a result of the deliberate, mean-spirited, Dickensian decision of his government to increase the chronic care copayment, not to increase the quality of care in nursing homes but simply to reach into the pockets of old people and take that money and put it into the pocket of the government of Ontario."
Today's announcement speaks to the hypocrisy of a socialist government paying for its long-term care proposals on the backs of Ontario's frail and elderly population by increasing nursing home user fees by $150 million.
Minister, it is imperative during these tough economic times that you get your spending priorities in order. While you are creating undue hardship for the frail and elderly, your Minister of Municipal Affairs is giving away $150 million in housing on the Toronto Islands to the socialist élite, and your government is driving the private sector out of day care at a cost of more than $100 million -- all of this based on socialist doctrine.
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): It's hard to believe today's announcement on long-term care. We've waited two years for this government to make this announcement and this is what we get. We didn't need two years of additional consultation to come up with the notion that private sector involvement in assisting with chronic care services in this province was not going to be encouraged nor recognized by an NDP government. There was not a big surprise, nor was there a need to consult on this matter.
But the fact of the matter is that access to chronic care beds and chronic care services has greatly diminished in the last two years. I remind this government that Canadian voters responded at the ballot box to Pierre Trudeau's lies about wage and price controls, and you're going to be held accountable for what you've now done in long-term care in this province and you're going to know about it in the next election.
I'd like to say this: Today we had here, for the first time in Ontario's history, the disabled community present, those members of Ontario Community Living, looking for the support this government promised. The facts are that this government made the conscious decision to lock them out from long-term care reform. What's not in this report is perhaps more important than what is in this report.
Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): The word is out. The tuition for students in our universities and colleges will go up some 7%, and at the same time the universities, depending on what we find out down the road about what this 2% transfer really means -- we do know that the base is frozen for next year. Of course, there's no way we will understand what that really means, except that we've never seen a base frozen, in my view, for the universities in the past, so I would say this is a rather crafty way of making this announcement.
You should also know that one of the quotes in the Toronto Sun today gives us great concern as we're looking at accessibility, as we see the grants dropped. "The NDP will now take special approaches aimed at target groups to ensure that those students who most need financial help can get it." The universities are for all students and we should not be targeting anyone. We should be looking at need as we look at admission for students in our universities.
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, which came to this Legislative Assembly building last week to give us some good advice, stated, "Increasing loans under the current system is not going to enhance the government's stated commitment to access, because OSAP remains fundamentally flawed."
The standing committee on social development took a look at a new way of presenting OSAP through an income-contingent loan repayment program. This government had a chance to look at it with all the changes that should be made to the OSAP payments, without just singularly cutting out the grants. It will not improve accessibility.
We all know that for every dollar spent on universities $3 goes back into the economy of this province and this country. We should be looking at providing support for these universities so they can show the leadership we need in these very tough financial times.
To the minister, I can only say that he closes by talking about partnerships. Partnerships are earned over a long period of time through careful consultation. In the next few weeks and months, I hope the partnership he talks about will take into the process the New Directions process we used. We've given some good advice. I hope he will work with the students, the professors in the universities and the parents in establishing a loan system that will help during these tough times.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): This is the kind of day I think the socialists couldn't believe would ever happen. This is a day when we hear about a $4-billion shortfall for next year's budget. This is a day where you are $2.5 billion short for this year's budget; a $600-million revenue shortfall for this year's budget.
We hear about no more grants in the university system. It's all loans now. They've got their promise backwards: No more grants, all loans; tuition fee increases of 7%; hammering senior citizens in nursing homes by the hikes, and to top it all off, on pay equity we now have the Minister of Labour telling us about his new down payment plan. He sounds like he's an auctioneer for the Ronco Veg-O-Matic, the new down payment plan: "For 75,000 easy payments, you can have your own pay equity as well."
This government has not just broken its promises, it's assaulted them. It's absolutely shameful that they can stand before the public today and claim to be a government that's responsible and caring and honest.
They got us into this mess, because I remember the day when this Treasurer told us he was going to fight the recession, not the deficit. That was the mistake, the first and biggest mistake you made. We told him at that time: "You're making a huge error. The deficit is too large. You can't afford this kind of spending." You suggested that we on this side, particularly I, were hyperventilating. Well, Mr Treasurer, I've got a big brown bag for you and you should place it squarely over your head, because I think you're turning white.
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My first question today is to the Attorney General. I want to review very quickly the events of last weekend in connection with the resignation of the disgraced John Piper.
We know that on Friday morning, very shortly after the publication of the Toronto Sun article, Mr Piper resigned his high office in the Bob Rae administration and we know that very shortly thereafter, I believe early on Friday afternoon, the matter was referred to the department of the Attorney General, which department caused a police investigation to be undertaken. Two and a half days later, Mr Piper was allowed to return to the scene of his dirty tricks, namely, his office in this building, accompanied by the Premier's principal secretary.
My question to the Attorney General is this: Can the Attorney General tell this House with whom Ms Morrison, Mr Rae's principal secretary, spoke in the department of the Attorney General, when she spoke with people in the department of the Ontario Attorney General, what advice she sought and what advice was given in respect of the Piper affair?
Hon Howard Hampton (Attorney General): I can advise the House that Ms Morrison contacted the Deputy Attorney General. I'm not exactly aware of the time. I will check to be very sure of the exact time. She contacted the Deputy Attorney General and informed him that Mr Piper had asked if he might be permitted to remove some of his personal effects from his office, and she called the Deputy Attorney General specifically to ask for legal advice with respect to this matter.
I'm informed that the Deputy Attorney General then contacted one of the officials in the criminal law division to seek that advice. The advice which came back was that it would be permissible for Mr Piper, in the circumstances, to attend at his office and to remove his personal effects; that he should not, however, go into the office alone, that he should be accompanied by someone, in this case Ms Morrison; and that she should examine any of the documents or anything else to ensure that only documents and effects of a personal nature could be removed from the office, and I'm further informed that this is what occurred.
Mr Conway: Can the Attorney General indicate to this House whether any of the officials in the department of the Attorney General contacted anyone at the Ontario Provincial Police, which police department was seized of the investigation into the dirty tricks that Mr Piper was up to in the Premier's office? Can he indicate whether, over the course of this matter but particularly over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday last weekend, anyone in the department of the Attorney General contacted anyone in the police which was inquiring into this matter?
Hon Mr Hampton: I'm advised that officials in the criminal law division were in touch with officials of the Ontario Provincial Police on Friday to request that an investigation into the events of Thursday and Friday take place. I am not aware of any other communications between ministry officials and the Ontario Provincial Police during the weekend. I will check to see if such communication did in fact happen. I am not aware of any at this time.
Mr Conway: I appreciate the Attorney General's responses and I would ask him, on behalf of my colleagues at least, that no later than Monday he report to this Legislature on those matters to which he's already made reference as not knowing the full details. It is absolutely critical to me, and I believe to the discussion of this matter, to know when Ms Morrison contacted the department of the Attorney General, and I need to know when that contact was made. I am assuming it was made before the Sunday night visit of Ms Morrison and Mr Piper to Mr Piper's office, but I want that timing clarified.
I would like as well a commitment from the Attorney General to indicate to this House on Monday specifically who spoke to whom about what subject and when. I'd like to know, for example, when the Attorney General first spoke to the Deputy Attorney General about this matter and what advice the Attorney General gave to Mr Thomson and what the nature of that advice was.
Does the Attorney General not think it strange that, since the police inquiry which his department had launched was going to be looking at the dirty tricks within the Premier's office, it was peculiar and apparently unacceptable that the one person who would accompany the dirty trickster back to the scene of his misconduct --
Mr Conway: -- was the Premier's principal adviser from the same office? Surely the Attorney General understands the inadvisability and the unacceptableness of Ms Morrison, the chief of staff from the office being investigated, being the one to come back with Mr Piper --
Hon Mr Hampton: The member opposite has asked me to give him some undertakings in terms of ensuring when a phone call from Ms Morrison to the Deputy Attorney General may have taken place. I will do my best to get that information as soon as possible. As well, he asked that I fulfil another undertaking in terms of timing etc, and I will do my best to get that information as well.
I think it is important to emphasize that Ms Morrison contacted the Deputy Attorney General for the purpose of asking for legal advice as to what might be appropriate in this circumstance. The Deputy Attorney General in turn contacted officials in the ministry who have some expertise in this area to determine what was the appropriate advice. That information was conveyed back to Ms Morrison, and I understand that she acted on it.
The member opposite may choose to second-guess and third-guess what happened. I suggest to the member opposite that this is really a matter for the Ontario Provincial Police. They will pursue that matter if they think it is significant.
Mr Charles Beer (York North): My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, today in front of this Legislature there was something truly quite extraordinary that took place. Some 4,000 people from across this province gathered together but they weren't just any 4,000 people, and I think all of us can understand the work that was involved in ensuring that they could all come together and come together to send to your government and to you a clear message.
That message relates to the work of all of the community living associations and all of those who deal with those who are developmentally handicapped, adults and children. That message relates to the incredible work that parents and volunteers do across this province to provide the needed services and programs that those people require. That message includes, if we recall the constitutional discussions and the government and the Premier's statement about social rights and having a charter, what meaning does all of that have?
The question, Minister, is: What commitment are you prepared to make, not only to this Legislature but to the people who are outside and to all the others across this province, that you will truly ensure that the programs and services that they require will be kept and that your scalpel will not go into those so-called sacred cows, who are truly human beings and individuals with dreams and who have a right to realize those dreams? Minister, will you protect those programs and services?
Hon Marion Boyd (Minister of Community and Social Services): The event today certainly gave us all, as citizens of Ontario, an opportunity to reflect on the great dedication of the parents who began the ACLs and who brought the consciousness to previous governments and to this government continue to bring the consciousness of the needs of the people with whom they work and who depend upon them for their assistance. Of course I am very deeply concerned about these vulnerable people, particularly given the drop in our revenues and the threat this poses to all of our programs.
We have been working consistently over the last year with all of those who represent developmentally handicapped people. The Premier and I met this morning with the association representatives to talk to them about their concerns, and we assured them that we share their concerns, that we particularly share their concerns about the need for us to work quickly to continue the deinstitutionalization process, move people into the community and free up the dollars that are now tied up in large institutions so that we can provide adequate community services. They have that commitment from us.
That is not to say that there aren't some changes that may need to be made in the programs, and we had made a commitment that we would work with the groups to ensure that those changes would be made so that no individuals would be disadvantaged as those changes occur.
Mr Beer: Again we have from this minister and from this government words -- weasel words. What people want are actions, because it's by your actions that ye shall be known, and again, these are the words that were in the charter. You were going to protect all those programs.
So let's get specific. In their press release today they raised two programs specifically, the cuts you've done to the workshop program and the cuts you've done to the triministry program, in both cases critical to realizing the objective of allowing people to live individualized lives, to be able to determine their own futures.
Minister, with respect, for example, to the triministry program, you yourself in estimates admitted that you had not understood, you had not realized, you had not known the impact of those cuts in the province, and particularly in Simcoe county and York region.
Minister, can you make a commitment today to this Legislature, to the 4,000 who were in front of this Legislature, to those who are here watching, that you are going to restore the triministry funding in this province to ensure that the developmentally handicapped get the programs and services they require?
Hon Mrs Boyd: The member is quite right that when those cuts were made, we anticipated that the changes that were being made under the plan to move people from nursing homes would in fact make those programs unnecessary. If they had been used for the purpose they were originally intended for 10 years ago, that would have been true, but over the years they had come to support other programs, particularly case management and advocacy programs, and most particularly through Simcoe and York counties.
We have been working with the communities there to sort out which programs are which, what of those programs in fact are dealing with seniors in nursing homes, because that's another issue for us with our long-term care plans, and how to restore those programs under full funding, because the triministry program was always fiscal funding one year to the next. These advocacy and case management programs need to be offered in a way that gives some certainty to their clients that they will be there in the future. We are working with the agencies to do that. We will be working through estimates to restore the funds we need to ensure that those programs continue.
Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): Madam Minister, the people of Ottawa-Carleton who work with the developmentally disabled are feeling very fragile, they're feeling insecure and they're certainly feeling full of fear and confusion. They're going to have their demonstration in Ottawa-Carleton next Thursday, and I would like a page to take over to you how they feel about the people they work with, the achievements of the developmentally delayed in Ottawa-Carleton. They have presented to me and now to you an album of those achievements.
Madam Minister, we've been told over and over again, and today at the rally of 4,000, that real and true partnership with families, staff and volunteers is non-existent. I ask you today, do 4,000 people have to come to Queen's Park to feel that real partnership with real people on real issues in real situations is possible?
Can you give these people who are here today with all their hopes and dreams, as my colleague has said, the guarantee that from now on you will make them really a part of the consultation and all that goes into that? Is the process going to work for them? They have to have that guarantee, Madam Minister. Will you give it to them today?
Hon Mrs Boyd: I can certainly guarantee the member that we will continue our process of discussing with all the major groups that support the developmentally handicapped, including their own self-advocate groups like People First, the opportunity to sit at our planning table, which we call the MYP, or multi-year plan, round table, and that we are working with them and working very much in consultation with the associations for community living around the work that is being done to revamp the mix between sheltered workshop and supported employment. That is going forward.
I would say to the member that I thank her for the photo album. She will be well aware that I spent a good deal of time with the ACL community in Ottawa-Carleton in the early summer, that I too have heard the stories of those people, and I really appreciate the way they are feeling. It is always a fearful thing when we're looking at changes. There's no question about that.
I can assure the member that the changes that we make will be made with full consideration for the individuals. It is not our intention to do anything that would disempower people. Rather our purpose is to make them more empowered and self-sufficient in the work that we do.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): My question is for the minister responsible for disability issues. I hope the minister will answer this. It's the ministry she's paid for, and I hope she will not palm off this question as she has in the past.
Today several thousand people gathered in front of this Legislature to demonstrate their anxiety and anger about the funding cutbacks to community living associations, which provide community-based support for developmentally disabled persons and their families.
Many of the families at the rally today are desperately trying to cope with insufficient community support. Several members of this House have told your government about the distress of families which have lost the special services at home for their children. There are also many families whose disabled children, upon turning 21, have been cut off from the education system and left without any support.
Madam Minister, will you promise this House and the people who demonstrated here today that your government will not abandon Ontario's most vulnerable citizens by cutting the funding to community living associations?
Hon Elaine Ziemba (Minister Responsible for Disability Issues): As I start my answer and my response to the honourable member opposite, first of all I'd like to take this opportunity, as I think would all of our members on this side of the House, to congratulate the people who did demonstrate today, because I think 20 years ago we would not have been able to see that empowerment process. I think they have a lot to be congratulated on with the hard work and the dedication that they do for disabled and challenged people.
Hon Ms Ziemba: I also would like to say to you, if I could respond, please, that my colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services has just responded to the member opposite in the official opposition that there was a meeting held today with the Premier and with herself to hear the concerns from the people who have those interests.
I think that is a very good signal to show that we want to work together, that we want to be part of the process to make sure that people with vulnerabilities, and especially people who are mentally challenged, as I would call it, would have that opportunity for further empowerment.
As we move towards deinstitutionalization that has been started over the years, we have seen that there has been, unfortunately, a gap of services that has arisen, and we addressed this answer I think about a week ago when again the opposition member thought that I was not going to respond to the question.
I very clearly stated at that point that we have an interministerial committee to look at making sure that both Education and Community and Social Services work towards having the programs that continue to work with people once they reach the age of 21 and onward.
It's a tremendously rewarding experience to be able to integrate developmentally disabled persons into our communities, but it is also a challenge. Families cannot manage without support. Already this NDP government has cut $5 million from sheltered workshops. They put only $2 million back into supported employment programs.
My colleague the member for Simcoe West received a letter from the Minister of Community and Social Services which states, and I read the quote, "With respect to sheltered workshops, it is not our intention to close them." Yet the reforming sheltered workshops document says, and I quote again, "Funding for spaces in traditional segregated programs will be reduced and ultimately discontinued, resulting in the eventual phase-out of sheltered workshops."
Hon Ms Ziemba: First of all, I'd like to really make sure that the member opposite and people who are watching today understand that there has been $2 million put in to support employment programs and to make sure that employment programs are there. Sheltered workshops will not be phased out until there are other alternatives for supportive employment and for vocational and non-vocational alternatives. That's very important.
We must make sure that, as we move into the year 2000, we recognize that people who have been working in sheltered workshops unfortunately have been discriminated against in the past, because they have not received the equality and the equity that they need. Instead they've been given, unfortunately, small types of pittance of wages. We want to make sure that equality and equity are certainly put into place so that all our citizens of Ontario can have the opportunities we all share and want to share together, and in the rebuilding of our economic workplace.
Mrs Marland: Madam Minister, where you lose all your integrity is that you don't choose to answer the question here, and the question here is very significant. These people have major concerns, and if you don't understand it, then you should be ashamed of yourself.
Today we learned what the transfer payments will be for the municipalities, universities, colleges, schools and hospitals, but we don't yet know what other sectors, like community living associations, will receive. Earlier this year, we were shocked when the community living associations and the children's aid societies received just one half of 1%, when the so-called MUSH sector received 1%. We have to wonder about the government's priorities.
Some of the must vulnerable people in Ontario desperately need the services of community living and children's aid. They do not deserve to get just half of what everyone else receives. Madam Minister, if you don't understand this, I think you should resign. We don't want words; we want answers.
When will you, as minister, make a commitment that next year community living associations will receive at least the same percentage increase as hospitals, municipalities and schools, and do you even care?
Hon Ms Ziemba: I'm not going to be drawn into the trap of now trying to go down to the level of using personal, vindictive remarks. I think we should be above that. I see a number of young people up there and I don't think we should respond.
Our government's very committed to making sure that every individual in this province is given full and equal treatment, and we will continue to make sure that happens. I have full confidence in the Minister of Community and Social Services to work with all of the organizations and all of the stakeholders to make sure that we have equality and equity in this province, that there is no gap in services and that we have not lost sight of the fact that when deinstitutionalization started, I am sorry to say, under the former previous government and the Conservatives, there were no safety nets in place and people were thrown out into the streets.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): In the absence of the Premier I have a question to the Deputy Premier who, I might add, was in charge last Friday, so I presume he was totally in charge of the Mr Piper affair last Friday as well.
Mr Deputy Premier, your Premier has insisted in hiding behind an OPP investigation into the Piper matter, but you know very well that investigation will not probe the political ramifications of what the Premier's office has done, it will not determine how widespread Mr Piper's smear campaign against Judi Harris extended and it will not determine how many other times Mr Piper or others in the Premier's office may have attempted to quash other political opponents.
Deputy Premier, what we need to determine these facts is an all-party committee looking into what was going on in the Premier's office during Mr Piper's tenure. Is your government going to allow that or not?
Hon Mr Laughren: I'll attempt to provide an answer to the member for Parry Sound. The member should know, and I have a funny feeling he does but he feels he must ask the question anyway, that because there's a criminal investigation going on there should not be a parallel investigation going on. The courts have already ruled on that in that it's deemed to be not appropriate. I would think the member for Parry Sound would understand that.
Mr Eves: The Deputy Premier doesn't seem to understand there are people out there who are afraid that they too will become victims of the kind of political dirty tricks that were being played by the Premier's office. My caucus today is tabling a series of written questions to determine what safeguards are in place in the Premier's office, and indeed in all ministers' offices, to ensure that no one else like Judi Harris will have personal information used against him or her by your government.
Hon Mr Laughren: First of all, the member for Parry Sound is quite appropriately using the written question format to elicit information from the government. I have no idea, not having seen the questions, how complex they are. I have no idea whether the questions that are going to be put forth by the member would be running in parallel or contradiction or interfering with the police investigation.
Mr Eves: The Deputy Premier I think is making somewhat light of a very serious issue. His government has had a very clear pattern of using personal information against political opponents for political gain. Dr Donahue knows that, Mary Hogan knows that, Judi Harris knows that and other survivors of Grandview know that as well. They're concerned, Mr Deputy Premier, whether you people over there are or not.
As I'm sure you're well aware, they're having a press conference in this building at 3:30 this afternoon to air their concerns. Will you not at the very least have the decency to attend that press conference and assure those victims of Grandview that the same thing will not happen to them that happened to Judi Harris?
Hon Mr Laughren: First of all, no one on this side is making light of the situation. We've taken it very, very seriously. You've heard the Premier's comments and his regret at what happened. In terms of the Grandview situation, it's my understanding that the Minister of Community and Social Services met with the group from Grandview for well over an hour already today. So I hope the member for Parry Sound is not implying there's not great concern over what's happened on this side. We are very concerned about it.
Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): My question is to the Attorney General. Attorney General, as we have just been told, almost as we're speaking the women from Grandview school are holding a press conference. They're here to talk about a total lack of support they've received from this government and about this government's abuse of their trust and the public trust through John Piper's efforts, using the full weight of the Premier's office to smear Judi Harris, a private citizen.
There is a 1976 report on the abuse that occurred at that school. The survivors have asked over and over for its release. The privacy commissioner has said, and has written, that the release will not jeopardize the police investigation. Time and time again in this Legislature, we've asked for the release of that report. That time has now passed.
Attorney General, on behalf of the Grandview survivors, I'm demanding -- for requesting is now totally out of date -- that you release that report. Will you withdraw your request for judicial review and thus enable the report to be released today?
Hon Howard Hampton (Attorney General): Mr Speaker, in a question that has so many assumptions, and so many assumptions that do not have a basis, I would appreciate it if you would allow me to respond to some of those assumptions as well as the question that came at the end.
First of all, I want to inform the member that it wasn't until this government became the government that the Grandview people even came forward. I want to remind you of that. There was a government here from 1985 to 1990, and nothing happened. I want to remind you of that.
I also want to remind you that in a long and complex situation like this, some of which happened over 20 years ago, it is very, very important that police have the opportunity to look at all the documents to see who might have known, to see who should have known, about the events at Grandview.
Hon Mr Hampton: Our interest here, the interest of the Ontario Provincial Police and I believe the interest of people who want to see the Grandview issue dealt with sensitively and appropriately, is to ensure that the police have the opportunity to complete a full investigation. Once that investigation is completed, it will then be possible to release those documents. But to do so before might jeopardize an ongoing investigation. It might jeopardize whatever criminal charges might arise out of that investigation.
Mrs O'Neill: Mr Attorney General, you say there wasn't much happening before you came to government. Well, I'm very sorry that what's happening now is destructive. You say we want a media show; we had a media show last Friday, and it was the pits, if you're talking about supporting the survivors.
It's clear that the essence of John Piper's assault on Judi Harris was to destroy her as the focus of the police investigation into Will Ferguson's conduct and to undermine the crown's ability to prosecute that case, if need be. These women criticized the government. Government, acting through John Piper, treated these people, these victims, as it treats all who dare to criticize it. It used the power of the state to try to silence them, and in so doing, this government continues to victimize victims.
How can you expect Judi Harris and the other Grandview survivors to believe that they will ever get a fair assessment of their case in court, indeed in the broader public eye? When John Piper was bound and determined to discredit Judi Harris -- that was his sole motive -- and to destroy her as a human being, how can they expect a fair hearing after that, Mr Attorney General? Will you please answer those survivors today?
Hon Mr Hampton: I believe it is clear to everyone that the conduct and the activities which are alleged to have occurred with respect to Mr Piper were not activities or conduct that was in any way authorized or known to the government.
Hon Mr Hampton: So that the member will be sure, I want to inform her again that the Grandview victims' group met earlier today with the Minister of Community and Social Services, who is also the minister responsible for women's issues. I am informed that they had a very long and detailed meeting, lasting in excess of an hour and a half, where a full range of issues were discussed.
I do not believe that that represents insensitivity. I believe that the willingness of the Grandview victims to meet with the minister, the willingness of the minister to meet with them and to discuss their concerns, shows that on the part of the government this issue continues to be taken very seriously indeed.
Hon Mr Hampton: Finally, I want to say to the member opposite that when the police have had an opportunity to complete their investigation, and should criminal charges arise from that investigation, I am very sure that the process having had the opportunity to take its full and proper course, the victims of Grandview will receive a fair and open and responsible hearing of whatever may arise out of the investigation.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Minister, the provincial advisory group has recommended that you expand the Rouge River Valley park northward to protect lands beyond Steeles Avenue. This parcel of land includes two potential dump sites which were proposed last Friday by the Interim Waste Authority.
Minister, this is of the essence in this matter: Will you now make the commitment to expand the Rouge River Valley park northward and effectively veto the two proposed garbage dumps, one just below Highway 7 on the Markham-Pickering town line and the second in the Pickering area west of Whitevale, so that these two sites will not be included in the waste authority?
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Natural Resources): My colleague the Minister of the Environment is in Aylmer, Quebec, today for the meeting of the conference of environment ministers across Canada. Of course, she has carriage of the Interim Waste Authority's work in identifying various potential waste sites in the greater Toronto region.
With regard to the park, the member should be aware that I have publicly stated in response to the advisory committee's report that was presented to me in August that the government will be responding with our position by the end of December, and we are committed to responding by the end of December. The two processes, the IWA's process and the consideration of the park north of Steeles, are separate processes and are not related to one another.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): It doesn't matter where the Minister of the Environment is, whether the minister is in Aylmer or even here: They're not talking. How in the Sam Hill could the Interim Waste Authority come along and propose sites that are right in the middle of the Rouge Valley system when --
Mr Cousens: Sam Hill, West Hill. Here in the Metro Toronto area you've got yourself a problem, because the very ministry that's just next door to you is suggesting that there be waste disposal sites there, and you're in the position of having to protect the Rouge Valley system.
We know that the sites that exist in Ontario, some 3,776 of them, every one of them has some degree of being hazardous to humans and hazardous to the environment. You as the Minister of Natural Resources have a chance to do something to protect the environment; hopefully, you have some care about people as well. But the people in the greater Toronto area have a sense of importance about doing something about this world treasure known as the Rouge Valley system.
Mr Cousens: The fact is that we've tried to explain to the Minister of the Environment that landfill sites are toxic. They cause problems all over the place: to the underwater systems, to the air, to the neighbourhood, to the whole environment. So I ask you then, how can you justify the government's decision to include the Rouge Valley sites in the dump list, and will you commit to have M6 and T1 taken off the IWA short list? Would you do that much to protect the Rouge Valley system?
The fact is this. They have two independent processes. The IWA process is not a decision made; it is a proposal. It is not a proposal made by my colleague the Minister of the Environment; it is completely independent of that and independent of the study on the Rouge Valley.
The fact is that the government is committed to responding to the real desire to protect the Rouge Valley, an urban treasure, the most important urban park in North America. We are committed to doing that. We will respond by the end of the year.
I can assure the member that the two processes are completely independent of one another. I will not overrule the IWA. That is not part of my purview. It is not part of the purview of my colleague, for that matter, from the Ministry of the Environment.
Mr Paul Wessenger (Simcoe Centre): My question is for the Minister of Financial Institutions. As you know, General Tire in Barrie closed on September 27, 1991, affecting 130 salaried and 820 hourly workers. Local 536 of the United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers of America wrote to the Pension Commission of Ontario requesting a partial windup of the pension plan that was operated by the prior owner. Could the minister please advise me what is happening to the employees' pension money in that plan?
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Minister of Financial Institutions): I thank the member for Simcoe Centre for his question. It's an important one to a lot of the workers who were involved in that closure. I know he's worked hard on the issue, because he's been in touch with me about it several times. I'd also like to compliment the workers' adjustment board at General Tire in Barrie. Their contribution in this situation has been extremely helpful in very difficult circumstances.
The member will be pleased to know that yesterday the superintendent of pensions in Ontario wrote to the company requesting that the company voluntarily partially wind up both the pension plans, the salaried plan and the union employees' plan. The company has until December 15 to respond to that request.
Under section 69 of the Pension Benefits Act, if the company doesn't proceed, the pension commission has the authority to order a windup. We're hopeful at this stage, though, that the process can proceed quickly without having to go through that kind of difficult legal process and that the windup will occur shortly. The member should know that the effective date of the windup will be September 27, the date the plant closed.
Mr Hans Daigeler (Nepean): My question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Minister, this is truly a shameful day for the NDP. If ever there has been a complete flip-flop in party policy, your cutback of OSAP grants is it.
"One of the biggest problems with the existing system is that it places far too much emphasis on student loans and far too little emphasis on assistance through grants. As a result" -- and I'm sure the Treasurer will remember -- "many students emerge from post-secondary institutions with huge loan obligations or are deterred from ever entering those institutions because of the prospect of such liabilities. It is our party's long-term desire to replace the present student assistance program with one that is based on an all grants, not loans, system."
Hon Richard Allen (Minister of Colleges and Universities): It's quite clear to anybody who tries to manage anything that management has to be done on the basis of the realities one faces, and what we are facing at this point in time, as everybody knows in this province, is a very difficult fiscal situation, a very difficult economy, and everybody across the board will be touched by it. There is no way that it cannot happen.
What this government has stood for has been for access. It stands for access and it will stand for access. What we have done in the limits of affordability is to provide a program of student aid that makes $130 million more available to students. It has not abandoned grants. What it has done is it has capped loan levels at a certain level so that the maximum debt will not increase for students, but there will be forgiveness for all loans that go beyond that, and that is a kind of deferred grant. There has been no elimination of grants. This is a very affordable but very targeted and very important access program for students, as it has been in the past and it will be in the future.
I would ask you, what have you got against students? Just this summer you cut $10 million out of the student assistance program. Last year you raised tuition fees to the highest level ever. Today you announce 7% tuition fee increases.
Minister, if you had any credibility left, you would step down because of your inability to protect the interests of students around the cabinet table. Minister -- and I ask you yourself -- how can you maintain your integrity as a social democrat when you and your government are doing everything to hurt the most vulnerable?
Hon Mr Allen: It's a strange charge that I have something against students when in spite of the fact that we are losing revenue hand over fist as a result of this economic situation, we are not only maintaining but probably putting more global money in the hands of the universities in the first instance.
In the second respect, this program I have put in place is a program which opens up more resources for more students in terms of loans and deferred grants on the basis of remitted loans than has been available in the past, $800 million, the highest amount that will have ever been put at the disposal of students in this province's history. It will be there and it will help students.
The tuition fee increase is a request to students who are reasonably well off. The average student will be asked to pay less than a 1% increase in his global college costs and less than 2% on top of his current university costs in order to help the system maintain services. That's not unreasonable, and all that will be covered off for low-income students under OSAP.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): I have a question for the Deputy Premier. Mr Deputy Premier, I'm sure that you're more than aware, as one of three members from the Sudbury area in your caucus, of the Sunthetic Energy proposal that is very important to the future of Sudbury and northeastern Ontario. I'm also sure, Mr Deputy Premier, that you're more than aware of the town hall meeting which is taking place this Saturday, and I'm sure that all three of you will be in attendance.
The very simple, direct question I have for you, sir, in your capacity as not only a member for Nickel Belt but also the Deputy Premier and Treasurer of the province, is: Will you be giving those concerned people of Sudbury an assurance this Saturday that you, carrying the great weight that you do in your cabinet, will prevail upon your cabinet colleagues to appeal the Sunthetic proposal before time runs out next Monday, November 30?
Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister of Economics): First of all, I'm not certain that the time of November 30 is as cataclysmic as the member for Parry Sound seems to think it is. I anticipate a large and very interesting meeting dealing with this proposal in Sudbury on Saturday morning. The member for Parry Sound, I hope, understands that the three local members have worked extremely hard to try to make this project happen. There is nothing that would make us happier than to see the Sunthetic project become a reality in Sudbury. We've worked extremely hard to see if that can be done.
The member for Parry Sound knows that there are very serious problems with the capacity excess in Ontario Hydro of some 3,500 megawatts, as I understand it, and that this excess capacity will last into the next century. So it is not simply a case of snapping one's fingers and saying that, despite what might happen to Hydro rates, we're going to approve projects such as this, not just in Sudbury but in other parts of the province as well. Having said that, I can assure the member for Parry Sound that we are working as hard as we can, because obviously we would like very much to see the project happen.
Mr Eves: The company itself, Sunthetic Energy, the regional chair, the mayor of Sudbury, Sudbury council and the regional economic development corporation all agree that November 30 is indeed crucial, and if it passes, then this project very likely is going to southern California as opposed to northeastern Ontario.
Last evening your Premier said in a speech to Pollution Probe that he was "in favour of private sector involvement in creating energy and in the operation of Ontario Hydro." So it's all very well for you to come and talk about the overcapacity that Ontario Hydro currently has. Last year, as I pointed out to the Minister of Energy some time ago in this House, Ontario Hydro spent $664 million retrofitting and repairing fossil-fuel plants that pollute the environment.
Why won't you get into some high-tech, fuel-efficient, cheap energy, as opposed to the expensive energy that pollutes the environment, and at the same time create jobs in northeastern Ontario? Why won't you do that?
Hon Mr Laughren: As a sign of our good faith in this whole effort, the Ministry of Northern Development funded a study to the tune of $175,000 as our share of that cost, as an indication of our good faith in wanting to make this project happen.
But the member for Parry Sound very conveniently forgets the obligation of Ontario Hydro to pay off its debt, run up by his government and continued by the Liberal opposition. That government started the Darlington project over our objections. It was completed by the Liberal government over our objections and now, as Ontario Hydro's ratepayers have to pay off that massive debt, the member for Parry Sound has the nerve to stand up and ask that Hydro rates be increased even more. I find that really passing strange.
Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, as you know, York region has 28% of the provincial total of developmentally handicapped people in residential homes for special care.
I understand that most of the case management and advocacy work done in York region is done through the triministry funding. The triministry funding is crucial to the good work of the organizations that work with the developmentally handicapped in York, organizations like York Support Services Network, the Georgina Association for Community Living, the York South Association for Community Living and the Newmarket Association for Community Living.
Minister, I understand that this triministry funding is to be discontinued: $1.3 million. I know that you are concerned about this issue. We spoke many times on this. In fact, the first time that I was made aware of it, I sent you a memo right away. That memo was dated July 15.
Minister, can you inform this House and my constituents in Durham-York what you're doing to address this serious discontinuation of funding that is so vitally needed? I think it is a bad decision, Minister.
Hon Marion Boyd (Minister of Community and Social Services): I certainly would like to acknowledge the member's very hard work on this matter. He was indeed the first to bring to our attention the effect that the discontinuation of triministry funding would have in York region.
It was in the course of looking at the various organizations that had been funded by this fiscal funding over the years that we discovered that those funds had been used, in fact, to support whole agencies, when it was the impression of the central financial services branch that it was only to do sort of fee-for-service funding for case management for people in nursing homes. So it was a very valuable piece of information that he brought to our attention.
As I have said before in this House, if we had been fully apprised of the use to which these funds were put we would not have made the decision in the estimates process last year to discontinue this funding. We are working with all of the communities that are affected -- and it's not just York and Simcoe; it's all of them --
Mr O'Connor: Minister, as you know, these associations have been using this as base funding, as you said. Minister, will you redirect the Barrie area office to quickly look at trying to resolve this issue? It's very serious and affects an awful lot of people. There are people who have no programs.
Hon Mrs Boyd: I have already done so, and in fact have met, myself, with representatives from the Barrie area office and representatives from the various affected associations. We are working very hard not only within the area on reallocation but reallocation of provincial funds that may have been underspent in other areas in order to address this concern.
Treasurer, last January you made a three-year announcement on operating transfers, on a multi-year basis, of 1%, 2% and 2% to hospitals. Today I heard you announce in your statement a 2% transfer on a onetime-only basis, and a transfer that would not be added to the base of hospitals.
The Ministry of Health statement, which I have here, says that the actual transfers to all hospitals will be a onetime-basis 0.5% increase for 1993-94, and will not be added to the base. In another place, the Ministry of Health documentation says base operating budgets for hospitals will be capped at 1992-93 levels for two years.
Mr Speaker, I am choosing my words carefully because I believe the information that the Treasurer provided in his announcement on transfers respecting hospitals is, in my view, not factual, and that there has been a deliberate attempt to cloud this issue. I'm asking the Treasurer if he will speak very clearly and answer to all of the hospitals, to each and every hospital in Ontario, what increase, if any, in the next fiscal year each hospital will receive to its base operating budget.
Hon Frances Lankin (Minister of Health): I'm pleased to respond to that question. I think the Treasurer's statement was in fact quite clear in that what we would have available in all of the major transfer sectors this year would be a fund equivalent to 2% of onetime dollars to spend, and that wouldn't be folded into base budgets.
In the hospital sector, what that means is that we have to work towards restructuring, maintaining services, stabilizing the situation and trying to preserve jobs in the best way we can with that fund. I have set out a proposal to the hospitals and we'll be working with them and other stakeholders, DHCs and the unions involved, to work through what is the best way to utilize that money.
The proposal we have put forward is that as of April 1 we would transfer 0.5% to all hospitals; to small hospitals in Ontario there would be an additional 1% and to small hospitals in the north there would be on top of that again an additional 1%. To stabilize, they would be able to spend that money. We would hopefully see that during the course of the year some of that money could be used in restructuring. Their base budgets would not be increased by that amount, however.
In addition to that, we would set out funds for restructuring for appropriate new innovations like quick response teams to divert people from hospital admissions. Overall, I think the package is one that's workable, a proposal to the hospital sector we'll work with them to implement.
"As persons who believe that all people have the right to share in all elements of living in the community and that people should be supported to participate effectively, we ask that you place a pause on your decision to cut $5 million from the sheltered workshop system. This move places people with disabilities at an unnecessary risk. The planned cut can only jeopardize the gains that have been made in recent years in developing community-based supports for people."
Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): I have a petition signed by 33 residents of the county of Middlesex, who petition the Legislative Assembly to set aside the report of arbitrator John Brant as it relates to the greater London area annexation because the arbitrator's report does not reflect the expressed wishes of the majority of the population of London and Middlesex, who believe that the area of annexation awarded to the city of London is far too extensive, that Bill 75 that emanated from the report will jeopardize the county of Middlesex, agricultural land, the viability of the county of Middlesex, our rural way of life, and since there are alternative proposals, that these be addressed.
"As a person who believes that all people have the right to share in all elements of living in the community and that people should be supported to participate effectively, we ask that you place a pause on your decision to cut $5 million from the sheltered workshop system. This planned cut can only jeopardize the gains that have been made in recent years in developing community-based supports for people. As well, the move places people with disabilities at an unnecessary risk."
"I believe in the need for keeping Sunday as a holiday for family time, quality of life and religious freedom. The elimination of such a day will be detrimental to the fabric of the society in Ontario and will cause increased hardship on many families.
"I believe in the need of keeping Sunday as a holiday for family time, quality of life and religious freedom. The elimination of such a day will be detrimental to the fabric of society in Ontario and will cause increased hardship on many families.
"The amendments included in Bill 38, dated June 3, 1992, to delete all Sundays except Easter (51 per year) from the definition of 'legal' holiday and reclassify them as working days should be defeated."
"Whereas the Interim Waste Authority has released a list of 19 proposed sites" -- by the way, this is before the final list came out last week, which has brought it down to five or six in York region -- "in the region of York as possible candidates for landfill, two of which are located in the riding of Markham; and
"Whereas the decision to prohibit the regions of the greater Toronto area from searching for landfill sites beyond their boundaries is contrary to the intent of the Environmental Assessment Act, subsection 5(3); and
"That the Legislature of Ontario repeal Bill 143 in its entirety and allow a more democratic process for the consideration of future options for the disposal of greater Toronto area waste, particularly the consideration of disposal sites beyond the boundaries of the greater Toronto area where a 'willing host' community exists who is interested in developing new disposal systems for the greater Toronto area waste."
Mr Pat Hayes (Essex-Kent): I have a petition here. It's signed by many people across Windsor and Essex county from La Salle, Tilbury, Cottam, Harrow, Wheatley, Stony Point, several areas. It's to the Honourable Marion Boyd, Minister of Community and Social Services.
"We, the undersigned, request that you place a pause on your decision to cut the millions of dollars from the sheltered workshop system. This decision, which you made without consulting and receiving input from the people of Ontario, will definitely jeopardize the gains that have been made in recent years in the development of community-based supports for individuals with developmentally handicapped in their families.
"Whereas the British North America Act of 1867 recognizes the right of Catholic students to a Catholic education, and in keeping with this, the province of Ontario supports two educational systems from kindergarten to grade 12; and
"Whereas the Metropolitan Separate School Board is able to spend $1,678 less on each of its elementary school students and $2,502 less on each of its secondary school students than our public school counterparts;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to act now and restructure the way in which municipal and provincial tax dollars are apportioned, so that Ontario's two principal education systems are funded not only fully, but with equity and equality."
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to recognize the needs of rural Ontario by taking measures to guarantee rural seats and to take into consideration requirements and representation of rural ridings in the next redistribution of electoral districts."
"We, the undersigned, call on the government of Ontario to cancel its decision to cut funding to community services for people who are developmentally handicapped. The effects of such cuts will provide unacceptable hardship and suffering for vulnerable people and their families. Many parents are already at a breaking point in their lives and are not able to wait much longer for help from the service system which is already underfunded. Further cuts cannot be accepted.
"In the city of Windsor, hundreds of citizens depend on services funded by the province of Ontario. The government must act to protect these services and the jobs of the hundreds of dedicated workers who provide such an essential resource to our community."
Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Walkerville): I have a petition signed by over 1,500 residents of the city of Windsor that was provided to me from the Windsor Community Living Support Service. This they were able to obtain over a one-week period and it states:
"We, the undersigned, call on the government of Ontario to cancel its decision to cut funding to community services for people who are developmentally handicapped. The effects of such cuts will provide unacceptable hardship and suffering for vulnerable people and their families. Many parents are already at a breaking point in their lives and are not able to wait much longer for help from a service system which is already underfunded. Further cuts cannot be accepted.
"In the city of Windsor, hundreds of citizens depend on services funded by the province of Ontario. The government must act to protect these services and the jobs of the hundreds of dedicated workers who provide such an essential resource to our community."
"In recent years, Petrolia Enterprises workshop has been reformed significantly, and this planned cut will jeopardize seriously the important gains made for individuals who participate in the programs. Because we have high waiting lists in our area, please do not destroy the sheltered workshop system, but encourage the development of alternatives to meet the needs of persons from our area who depend on service from the Lambton County Association for the Mentally Handicapped.
Bill 103, An Act to provide firefighters with protection from personal liability and indemnification for legal costs / Loi visant à accorder l'immunité aux pompiers et à les indemniser de leurs frais de justice.
Hon Allan Pilkey (Solicitor General): The bill provides protection from personal liability to firefighters who act in good faith in performance of their duties. It also requires municipalities, in the case of municipal fire departments, and the crown, in the case of fire protection teams in territories without municipal organization, to indemnify firefighters for their legal costs in successfully defending civil actions and other legal proceedings.
Bill 104, An Act to amend the Municipal Act to provide for a Special Mill Rate for Condominium Units / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les municipalités afin de prévoir un taux du millième particulier pour les parties privatives de condominium.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): This is a bill that would give municipal councils an opportunity to equalize the treatment of condominiums with residential homes. Residential condominiums, residences, would be given a similar mill rate, where councils would decide upon it.
Bill 105, An Act to provide Stable Funding for Farm Organizations that provide Education and Analysis of Farming Issues on behalf of Farmers / Loi prévoyant un financement stable pour les organismes agricoles qui offrent des services d'éducation et d'analyse en matière de questions agricoles pour le compte des agriculteurs.
Hon Elmer Buchanan (Minister of Agriculture and Food): This act is designed to ensure that Ontario's general farm organizations receive the kind of stable financial support they need to continue serving all Ontario farmers. Their efforts include education, research, marketing and providing policy advice to the government.
This legislation was developed in partnership with the three general farm organizations: the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario region of the National Farmers' Union and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.
The proposal of this initiative was drawn up by a steering committee representing these groups and submitted to the Ontario farmers for their comments through a series of open-house meetings and a toll-free telephone line. Farmers could also provide written submissions regarding the proposal.
I'd like to thank everyone for their dedicated efforts in bringing this initiative forward. Under the legislation, all Ontario farm businesses with gross incomes of $7,000 or more will be required to pay an annual fee of $150, which will be distributed to the three general farm organizations I mentioned earlier. Other farm organizations with a broad-based mandate may also apply to be recognized for funding purposes.
I just want to compliment the general farm organizations and the farmers across the province for all the work they've done in allowing us to bring this forward. I look forward to support from all members in the House when this legislation comes forward.
Bill 106, An Act to provide for Access to Information relating to the affairs of Teranet Land Information Services Inc / Loi prévoyant l'accès aux renseignements concernant les activités des Services d'information foncière Teranet Inc.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): This bill overrides the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to provide for access to information relating to the affairs of Teranet Land Information Services Inc, a corporation owned jointly by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and Real/Data Ontario Inc.
Consideration of Bill 74, An Act respecting the Provision of Advocacy Services to Vulnerable Persons / Loi concernant la prestation de services d'intervention en faveur des personnes vulnérables; Bill 108, An Act to provide for the making of Decisions on behalf of Adults concerning the Management of their Property and concerning their Personal Care / Loi prévoyant la prise de décisions au nom d'adultes en ce qui concerne la gestion de leurs biens et le soin de leur personne; Bill 109, An Act respecting Consent to Treatment / Loi concernant le consentement au traitement; and Bill 110, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario consequent upon the enactment of the Consent to Treatment Act, 1992 and the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 / Loi modifiant certaines lois de l'Ontario par suite de l'adoption de la Loi de 1992 sur l'intervention, de la Loi de 1992 sur le consentement au traitement et de la Loi de 1992 sur la prise de décisions au nom d'autrui.
The Chair (Mr Gilles E. Morin): I will now leave the chair and proceed to the table to deal with the committee of the whole House business and bills that have been brought to our attention. Before we start, I would like to read the following that was an agreement on a motion of Mr Cooke:
"That two sessional days be allotted to further consideration of the bills in the committee of the whole House. All amendments proposed to be moved to the bills shall be filed with the Clerk of the Assembly by 4 pm on the last sessional day on which the bills are considered in the committee of the whole House. Any divisions required during clause-by-clause consideration of the bills in committee of the whole House shall be deferred until 5:45 pm on the last sessional day that the bills are to be considered in the committee of the whole House. At 5:45 pm on that sessional day, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bills and any amendments thereto and report the bills to the House. Any divisions required shall be deferred until all remaining questions have been put, the members called in once and all deferred divisions taken in succession."
Hon David S. Cooke (Government House Leader): It's my understanding that there's an all-party agreement to divide the time equally this afternoon and whatever other day. What is the other item we're agreeing to?
Hon Mr Cooke: Right. The other item we have agreed to is that rather than having the requirement that five people stand for each division, if either of the critics indicate there's a recorded division, then that will be adequate to do that -- my head's not working today; it might not ever work -- and that each vote is going to take place at the end of each bill. Or are we going to stack? This was actually Norm's request.
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): My preference was to go through section by section, vote on the sections in terms of voice votes and then, if either party wanted to divide, we could divide and we could do the divisions all at once at the end of the bill. I think the critic for the Liberal Party is agreeing. I think it makes more sense.
Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): Just a question of clarification: Will we require, if we request a division, five members to stand in their place, or will it be assumed that once the request is made, that's appropriate?
The Chair: I'd just like to mention to you exactly what you've told me, and this is what we'll follow. First, the time will be divided equally; we all agree with that. Second, any votes are going to be stacked at the end of the bill; we agree to that. And only one person can stand up to have the vote recorded instead of five.
Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, maybe it's an interpretation of language. You said "any votes." It's my understanding you would call each section as we went through it and, unless there was an indication by either party that it wanted to divide on the vote, then it would pass or it would fail, but the vote on the divisions would occur at the end.
Hon Mr Cooke: Mr Chair, if I might on another issue, there was an amendment that was proposed to section 25 of Bill 74 in committee that was in fact declared out of order. We have an all-party agreement that this amendment will be by unanimous consent agreed to be in order. I would just like to table this amendment now so that the matter can be cleared up right at the beginning of the discussion.
Mrs Sullivan: Mr Chairman, if I may, I'd just like to clarify for the record that the amendment which is out of order is one which was not put to committee and which is being put for the first time before the House. We have agreed on our party's behalf to consent to provide unanimous consent for its introduction, but this has not been before the committee in the past.
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): Just on another point, Mr Chairman: I was wondering if we could have the indulgence of the House to allow me and other members to speak from other than their place; ie, I would like the opportunity to consult with my colleague Norm Sterling and would like to sit down in that row, if that's possible. I note the Minister of Citizenship is not in her usual place.
Mr Sterling: We wouldn't normally require this, but we're into a piece of legislation where there are I think about 40 amendments to this bill and probably overall there are about 120 amendments. If we want to go through this with some kind of speed, it requires a fair bit of consultation to try to get it through.
The Chair: But, you see, one of the problems that may occur is that I'm here sitting in the chair and then somebody else may sit in another seat and interject and it's totally out of order. So what do I do?
Hon Elaine Ziemba (Minister of Citizenship and Minister Responsible for Human Rights, Disability Issues, Seniors' Issues and Race Relations): I'd like to make a few comments about the sections that will be amended from the government's side, if that's in order.
Hon Ms Ziemba: Just one moment. Subsections 5(2), (5.1), (7); subsections 7(4.1), (6), (7) -- we can provide you with a copy of this, Mr Chair -- subsection 9(3); section 14; section 15; section 16; subsections 17(1) and (1.1); subsection 19(3); subsection 20(2); subsections 22(2) and (3); clauses 23(1)(a), (b) and (d); subsections 24(3), (6) and (7); section 25; section 26; subsections 27(1), (2), (3) and (4); section 28, paragraphs 8 and 9 and subsection 28(2); clauses 29(2)(a), (b) and (c); section 29.1; section 30; subsections 31(1), (4), (5), (6), (9), (10) and (11); subsections 32(1), (2), (4), (5), (6) and (9); section 33; section 34; section 35.1; section 35.2; subsection 36(3); subsection 38(1); clauses 39(1)(a.1), (d.1) and (e), and that is it.
Mrs Sullivan: I have a number of amendments to be put to Bill 74 to section 2; subsection 5(2); subsection 5(5) -- am I going too quickly? Fine -- subsections 6(1.1), (1.2) and (1.3); clause 7(1)(k), clause 7(1)(l), clause 7(1)(m); subsection 7(7); subsections 11(9) and (10); paragraph 16(1)6; section 19.1; subsection 20(2); subsection 21(2); subsection 22(6); subsections 23(6) to (8); subsection 24(2.1); section 24.1; clauses 26(2)(c) and (d); subsection 26(4); subsection 27(1); section 28, paragraphs 5, 6 and 7; clauses 29(1)(b) and (c); clause 29(2)(c); subsection 31(6.1); subsection 36(2.1); subsection 39(1); and that's it.
Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, I want to take about two or three minutes of my time just to indicate that while my caucus is engaging in a constructive manner with regard to these amendments and the process that we're going through, we think that notwithstanding the good intentions of providing advocacy under an Advocacy Commission, enormous costs of $36 million for this service cannot be justified in these economic times.
As you know, Mr Chairman, we had people on the front lawn of this Legislature at noontime today concerned about the funding of things like ARC workshops, workshops for vulnerable people, where this government has decided to decrease the funding by $5 million for those individuals.
Our question is, is the creation of an advocate to represent some of those people and join them on the front lawn to complain about the underfunding of that program in fact going to assist them in getting the needed training that these very vulnerable people have? Our answer is that it does not help them at all. This point was made very early on in the hearings by the adult protection workers of this province. These are 175 individuals who are spending about 40% of their time advocating for vulnerable people now in communities across Ontario. They said the problem was not so much identifying the problem; the problem was having somebody respond to that problem from the government of Ontario, municipal governments and the federal government.
Therefore, while nobody in this Legislature, as I understand it, is concerned with the utilization of advocates, it's a problem in terms of priority of moneys. We just think that at this time to cut off funding to useful programs like ARC workshops for very vulnerable adults is a misallocation of resources.
That will be our overall position with regard to supporting this bill in the end. We have recognized that the government does not agree with us in terms of its priority in spending. They would rather spend money, as we interpret this, on people giving rights than actually providing real services. Then, so be it. We will continue to be constructive in trying to get the best possible Advocacy Commission, taking into account their majority and their will on this particular matter.
Hon Ms Ziemba: Just to clarify one point. First of all, in the cost related to advocacy, it's $23 million for the Advocacy Act and $36 million for all three bills. I just wanted to clarify that particular position.
I want to say very clearly that the intent of this act is make sure that all vulnerable adults have their rights protected, are empowered and continue to live with respect and dignity. We feel this is a service that will ensure their rights. We'll continue to work towards making sure that they are respected.
This is a very needed bill. The intent of going through with these particular bills at this particular time is the recognition that many vulnerable adults have not been able to live in dignity and with respect. The time has come for us to proceed with making sure that this happens in our Ontario.
Mrs Sullivan: As we are beginning our discussion with Bill 74, I think it's important to recognize that this bill is part of a package of bills with respect to the advocacy services which will be provided to vulnerable people as well as to consent to treatment and substitute decisions.
This package of bills was introduced in April of the previous year. Through that time the process has been less than satisfactory in terms of reaching accommodation and understanding changes that were absolutely required to make these bills workable and useful, not only for vulnerable people but for people who would have to work with them in the provision of services.
I want to remind the House again that, as we went into committee on these bills, there were 199 government amendments placed. It was only at the insistence of the opposition that public hearings were held subsequent to the placing of that number of amendments. As a consequence of those hearings, additional amendments have come forward, only, however, after substantial change not only to the direction but in fact to the purpose of the bills.
We believe that throughout this process the changes have been wrought, frankly, with much hand wringing, much expense to various groups and organizations and much time spent by individual volunteers that may not have had access to legal services and were concerned about participating in this process and about the content of the bills.
Although we are not requiring that the bills, particularly Bill 74, be taken from the table, this is a very different bill than was first presented to the House. We are pleased, frankly, with some of the amendments that have been put in the latter days of the bill, before it was made available to the House this afternoon.
However, I just want to underline that the extent of protest and the depth of concern leading right from individuals and organizations that have never responded on political issues in the past, such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, were necessitated because of the sloppiness, the clumsiness and the lack of forethought before these bills were even presented in this place.
Mr Jim Wilson: I just want to briefly follow up on the comments made by my colleague Norm Sterling. The minister in her response indicated that perhaps it isn't going to be $36 million to implement all that is required under Bill 74 and implement the advocacy system that's envisioned, that perhaps it's $23 million. I'd remind the minister that during the standing committee hearings the public trustee indicated that for his share of what's required alone, we had a leaked memo that indicated it would be $48 million.
Throughout the two sets of public hearings, we were never able to obtain from the government an analysis of what the exact cost would be. It's something the government was very coy about. It never answered our questions in committee, and Hansard will show that regarding the exact cost of this legislation.
So all we know is that it's several millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars to implement a system that I guess my caucus colleagues and I have some problems with in terms of the evidence that we heard during the standing committee hearings, really pointed to the question of resources and the questions asked by committee members and responded to by witnesses through that process.
I certainly came away with a very strong feeling that resources are needed out there. For instance, we heard evidence that people, particularly psychiatric patients, were being locked out of their boarding homes. That's against the law. Anyone who has duly paid rent cannot be locked outside.
Those people have a right, as it is, without having an Advocacy Commission, to go to their member of provincial Parliament and the member of provincial Parliament must advocate on behalf of constituents. If MPPs aren't doing their jobs, then I suggest perhaps they need some more resources in their offices to better represent their constituents.
I could never understand, in this whole system the government wants to spend on, what an advocate's going to do if a vulnerable person says: "Lookit, I need a place to stay. I need a residence." The fact of the matter is, if you're going to spend $43 million to $48 million on an advocacy system, that means there'll be fewer places for homeless people to stay.
We had indications in committee when people would come and say, "The quality of care, the consistency of care in a particular nursing home setting is a problem." Those people don't necessarily need advocates. What they need is resources and they need the provincial Parliament for that area and the government itself to send in inspectors and ensure that nursing homes are meeting the standards now legislated under law.
I guess we also had a particular problem and continue to have a problem of why -- we think this bill goes too far in terms of inserting an advocate into decision-making processes which should simply involve a vulnerable person and his or her family, a vulnerable person and his or her loved ones or care givers.
What the government and its NDP ideology is attempting to do with this legislation is to insert an advocate, a state-paid advocate, between the family and the vulnerable person, and we object to that.
Where I did have a great deal of sympathy and where I think the greatest need for resources and where there is a need for advocates and we currently have advocates is in the psychiatric sectors and psychiatric hospitals. Almost all of the evidence, if any member cared to review the Hansards, would lead to the conclusion that we should be spending what limited financial resources we have to boost the advocacy in the psychiatric sector. What we've seen is a bill that again goes too far. It imposes on all aspects of a vulnerable person's life and that relationship with their family.
As such, my caucus colleagues and I, although we will work together during this committee process because we have a gun to our heads -- and we realize the government's going to go ahead and it has the majority in this Parliament; it is going to go ahead and implement this legislation and indeed pass this legislation -- we will do what we can in committee to try and come up with the best piece of legislation. But at the end of the day, I don't think we'll be supporting Bill 74.
Mrs Sullivan: I move that the definition of "vulnerable person" in section 2 of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments made by the standing committee on administration of justice, be struck out and the following substituted:
"(a) is unable to express or act upon his or her wishes or to ascertain or exercise his or her rights, or has difficulty in expressing or acting on his or her wishes or in ascertaining or exercising his or her rights, and
"(b) does not have another person who is appropriate, able and willing to assist him or her in exercising his or her rights, in expressing or acting on his or her wishes, or in ascertaining or exercising his or her rights."
Mrs Sullivan: The amendment is put in the way it is to add on another criterion for the definition of "vulnerable person," that criterion being that there is nobody else available who can work with and assist a vulnerable person to achieve his or her rights or to access the services that are required.
We feel that the base of the bill is so broad that in fact it now covers people who don't need the services of the bill, and the amendment that's put, by adding a different subsection, combining existing subsections (a) and (b) and adding a new subsection, would in fact ensure that the people who really and truly need the services of advocates are those to whom the services are available.
Mr Jim Wilson: Very briefly, my caucus will be able to support this amendment. We feel that it does have a safeguard there to ensure that families and loved ones aren't shut out of the decision-making process.
Hon Ms Ziemba: I'm sorry that we cannot accept this motion. The whole intent of the Advocacy Act is to empower vulnerable adults. This particular amendment would take away the right of a vulnerable adult to make the choice and have his own decision about whether he needs an advocate. The intention, of course, for us in this process is to make sure that vulnerable adults are treated with respect and are given those rights. We feel that many family members will come forward wanting advocates and will use them as resources and have that option to do so.
Mrs Sullivan: In fact, the amendment does not limit the right of the vulnerable person to access an advocate. The limiting factor is the word "appropriate." The vulnerable person himself or herself will determine if the person is appropriate. In the absence of that, a determination that another person is available who is appropriate, the vulnerable person will still be able to access an advocate and instruct the advocate in the normal way.
Hon Ms Ziemba: I'm very pleased to bring forward these amendments. The amendments are necessary to make sure that we have effective changes to the composition and the functioning of the commission itself. We feel that this will strengthen the bill itself and will make it a much more workable and effective process.
"(7) Despite subsection (4), four of the persons first appointed in accordance with subsection (2.1), other than the chair, and two of the persons first appointed in accordance with subsection (2.2) shall hold office for five-year terms and shall not be reappointed.
"(b) financial or personal or other matters may be disclosed of such a nature that the desirability of avoiding public disclosure of them in the interest of any person affected or in the public interest outweighs the desirability of adhering to the principle that meetings be open to the public;
"(10) In situations in which the commission may exclude the public from meetings, it may make orders it considers necessary to prevent the public disclosure of matters disclosed in the meeting, including banning publication or broadcasting of those matters.
The Second Deputy Chair: Yes, let us first deal with the amendment of subsection 5(2) by Mrs Ziemba, which terminates at "(b) it is not possible to comply with subsection 6(1) by appointing a person recommended by the appointments advisory committee." I believe that is the end of the amendment to subsection 5(2).
I want to state publicly that we recognize that the government has made some significant movement in a positive direction towards making sure that there are four members of the commission who are from the public at large. I think the people of Ontario should realize that with this Advocacy Commission, for the first time in the history of Ontario, the government, through this legislation, is setting up an arm's-length commission and the majority of its members will be members who have been vulnerable or may be vulnerable in the future.
Hence, our concern is that the commission, again, for the first time in the history of the province, is an arm's-length commission from government, that because the majority of its members under the legislation will have a bias, we're pleased to see that the government is now allowing some other public appointees to be put on that commission other than people who are vulnerable. Hence we'll be supporting the government amendment.
Mrs Sullivan: In responding to the government amendments with respect to subsection 5(2), the members will know that there was enormous discussion at committee with respect to the composition of the commission itself. There was a competing sense from advocacy groups that the commission should be majority -- indeed 100% -- comprised of those people who at one point or another could become vulnerable or who had been vulnerable. That was the approach of the government in the first instance.
With the second look at the implications of that, the government has brought forward an amendment which is a singular improvement, in my view. You will note that I will have an amendment to subsection (6) which relates to this very point, and frankly, I've yet to determine whether to put it at this point.
But I think it is extremely vital, if the commission is going to work, that not only the questions about the issues in association with where people are vulnerable and where their rights may be interfered with, but also that the people who deliver services and who provide facilities, spaces, accommodation, education and recreational services, health care, should also be involved in the activities of the commission and have a place there. I think this amendment goes a substantial way to meet the needs and to provide a balance on the commission to ensure that service providers and others are in fact included.
If I can, Mr Chairman, I'd like to -- I believe you have them before you -- comment on my amendment which is listed under subsection 6(1.1). I won't read that into the record at this point, but my amendment would ensure that those four people whom the minister is appointing to the commission are people who are associated in a particular way with either services or organizations associated with vulnerable people, that they either be from organizations that provide housing, hospital, health care or other services to vulnerable people or that they be representatives of organizations of families or friends who provide services to vulnerable people.
The intent of my amendment is quite clear. Why these amendments have appeared in different sections I don't know; it appears to be recommendations from legal counsel. But I think it is important that we understand the vitality of the sectors that do provide services to vulnerable people and the importance of their participation in issues surrounding vulnerable people. So in speaking to the minister's proposal, I inadvertently, or whatever, have to speak to my own as well.
Mr Gary Malkowski (York East): I feel the government amendment is clearly very important, because what it does is it talks about the recognition of the rights of vulnerable individuals and their opportunity to participate in this debate, in fact. I think the impact it will have will be on all vulnerable individuals in Ontario and we have therefore to have a commission that is based on a majority of vulnerable individuals so that the discussion that takes place in the commission will be one that allows empowerment, respect, autonomy, freedom and dignity for all vulnerable people. The experience we have heard from people who are disabled who have come to speak was that there has to be a majority of vulnerable individuals on the commission. The coalition has come out strongly in support of recommending a majority of vulnerable people because of the type of representation that can bring and how they can reflect the needs of their own community, which is a need to be able to choose autonomy and to act on their own rights. I think that's a valuable point.
Mrs Sullivan: I move that subsection 5(5) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments made by the standing committee on administration of justice, be amended by striking out the word "may" in the third line and replacing it with the word "shall."
Mr Chairman, this amendment is a technical amendment that I put in association with the amendment I have just withdrawn and which in fact encompasses the government's amendments. The government amendments now will require that the commission be comprised of 13 people, a chairman plus 12 others. Because the commission will statutorily be the 13 members, if a member's position becomes vacant, the commission will not be able to act, and if it does act, will act illegally.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We will not be accepting this amendment, as we have put in a further amendment that would clarify that the commission is allowed to operate pending the filling of the vacancy and we believe this addresses the concern if there is a vacancy. It's an appropriate way to deal with this particular motion.
I believe we move back to a government amendment which the minister has already read into the record as subsection 5(5.1). Does the minister want to make some brief remarks as to her amendment, the government motion?
There is a further amendment by Mrs Ziemba for the government, to subsection 5(7), which has been read into the record as part of a previous submission. Does Mrs Ziemba, the honourable minister, have some remarks on this amendment?
Mrs Sullivan: Mr Chairman, I wonder if I could ask the minister to speak to this amendment. There was no discussion in committee with respect to this point, and I think that it's fair that the public and others understand what the significance of this amendment is.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We felt that this amendment was very necessary to make sure that the accountability of the commission was there and that we'd addressed all the concerns of the various people who will be involved in advocacy delivery of services and also who might have reason to be part of the commission.
Mr Malkowski: I think it's a very important amendment. Again, this speaks to empowerment and talks about changes to attitude, because people with disabilities, frail people, people who are elderly have typically not been empowered. In fact, we have to begin to focus on their abilities as opposed to looking at gaps or disabilities.
If we look at Father Sean O'Sullivan's words, he said how important it is to recognize vulnerable individuals as important contributing citizens to the province of Ontario. That needs to be included. We can do that by including vulnerable individuals as able and accountable people. That's a significant point in this amendment.
Mrs Sullivan: I can't help but respond to the comments just made by the parliamentary assistant, because indeed this amendment addresses very technical concerns with respect to how the meetings of the commission will be open to the public and how they will be closed to the public and under what circumstances. Indeed, there are some concerns that I have with respect to this particular amendment. Meetings may be closed for reasons that the public has no knowledge about, because of what's included in this amendment and because of decisions that are made behind closed doors and then put into regulations.
In fact, I believe that in the circumstances surrounding the Advocacy Commission it probably is appropriate to have situations other than those that are usually associated with financial and personnel matters indeed conducted in camera. But perhaps, as we have limited time to deal with all of these bills, I'm just asking if the parliamentary assistant could stick to the point.
Mr Malkowski: I'd like to respond to that point just made. We do talk about accountability, and certainly that should be an open debate. But on specific information that does deal with privacy, of course things should be closed, and the coalition has recommended that also. Confidential information of a personal nature that includes financial situations and so on must be kept confidential and must be left to the discretion of the commission. Regulations, therefore, deal with that situation in terms of what information should be confidential and what should be public, depending on those regulations as set by the commission.
Mrs Sullivan: This amendment was put particularly to ensure that the chair of the commission is a person who is selected from organizations which represent and include vulnerable people, and not from the other group of people who are appointed to the commission. We feel that while it was important to have others represented on the commission who perhaps serve as deliverers, the chair should indeed come from a group which represents seniors or people with specific disabilities, as required under section 14.
In discussions with ministry staff with respect to this amendment, there was some concern as to whether indeed this situation had already been covered. My view is that it hadn't and that it wouldn't hurt to underline the intention in any case.
Mrs Sullivan: I move that clause 7(1)(k) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments made by the standing committee on administration of justice, be amended by adding the words "subject to the approval of the minister" after the word "establish" in the first line.
Mrs Sullivan: All the way through this process we have been concerned with respect to the accountability of the minister to this place, to the Legislature, and the government's involvement in the activities and review of the activities of the commission itself.
In our view, the commission has moved in breadth and structure far beyond what was desired originally by the advocacy groups and we feel that there should be a measure of accountability resting with the minister and with the assembly that is not as clear as we feel it should be in this bill. We have a number of other amendments similar to this.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We will not be accepting this amendment. The commission must have the authority to make such decisions. The whole intent of this legislation in the Advocacy Act is for the empowerment of vulnerable people who do know what is needed for training advocates. This would be taking away that intention.
Mr Sterling: That may well be so, and we don't take that away. The problem is that I think the commission will be put in the unenviable position of protecting the advocates. Therefore, I think it's more appropriate that someone else has a say with regard to the minimum qualification, the standards and the code of conduct. I think that should in fact be scrutinized by somebody outside the commission. Therefore, we support this particular amendment.
Mrs Sullivan: I move that clause 7(1)(l) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments made by the standing committee on administration of justice, be amended by adding the words "subject to the approval of the minister" after the word "establish" in the first line.
This is a similar amendment to the one I previously put. We feel that it's an error for there not to be greater involvement of the minister and greater responsibility taken for the activities of the commission by the minister as this process evolves and the Advocacy Commission evolves. What the minister is in fact doing is creating a new profession, a self-governing profession. We don't like that approach.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We will not be accepting this amendment, as outlined for the previous amendment. The argument still stands that the empowerment of vulnerable adults must be contained within the commission itself.
Mrs Sullivan: I move that clause 7(1)(m) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments made by the standing committee on administration of justice, be amended by striking out "complaints from any person relating to advocates" in the fifth and sixth lines and substituting the following:
Mrs Sullivan: This amendment was prompted by concerns with respect to the review procedure. The government amendments that have come forward so far and the amendments made in the standing committee on administration of justice would commence review procedure for activities by advocates.
Those amendments, however, do not speak to malfunctioning or decisions which have been made by the commission or activities which have been undertaken by the commission or functions done by the commission, which is of concern to individuals who want to review those decisions or activities.
Mr Jim Wilson: We'll be supporting this amendment. We think it's important that there be accountability both for advocates and the commission itself, given the fact that the commission has some pretty wide-sweeping, unprecedented powers in terms of allowing for systemic advocacy and giving authority for access to records. Certainly we feel it's a very important amendment and would hope the government will support it.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We will not be supporting this amendment, as we have already introduced amendments that we'll probably be dealing with in a few minutes, that is, subsection 7(6) and subsection 7(7), which deal with this particular area of concern.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We feel this motion is necessary to make sure we implement the original policy and the intent of the bill, that the commission may suspend or revoke the authorization of an advocate or a community agency. It's strictly a housekeeping matter.
Hon Ms Ziemba: I move that subsection 7(6) of the bill, as amended by the administration of justice committee, be amended by striking out "include an opportunity for the person making the complaint to be heard" in the second, third and fourth lines and substituting "provide that the complainant may require a review of the complaint."
Hon Ms Ziemba: Yes. This motion and the one to amend subsection 7(7) have been agreed to by myself and the provider groups, and they're necessary to allow the commission greater latitude in ensuring a fair and expeditious complaints review process.
Hon Ms Ziemba: I move that subsection 7(7) of the bill, as amended by the administration of justice committee, be amended by striking out "the response of the review committee" in the third and fourth lines and substituting "the result of a review under subsection (6)."
Mrs Sullivan: I move that subsection 7(7) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments made by the standing committee on administration of justice, be amended by striking out the words "by the chair of the commission" in the fifth and sixth lines and replacing them with the words "by the minister."
Mrs Sullivan: As I've indicated in speaking to a previous amendment, there was enormous concern about the entire review procedure with respect to advocates and their work, and the close ties between the commission, which defines their responsibilities, which defines their standards and code of ethics. We had hoped that there would be at least a review and approval outside of the scope of the commission for determining that activity.
We also believe that there may well be problems with the commission decisions themselves. The commission will have far-reaching powers, far-reaching scope, most of which the public will not see, because the commission, if the government proceeds to have its way, will be making regulations on its own without any other accountability or involvement of government.
As a consequence, and as a protection for people who have been badly served or who feel that they have been badly served either by the commission itself or by advocates, and who feel that they have not had a fair hearing in a review procedure in which the commission itself may be not only the defendant but also the judge, we believe there should be another independent resource for those people, and that resource should be the minister.
Mr Jim Wilson: Briefly, Mr Chairman, we won't be supporting this Liberal amendment. I think it suffices, with the review procedures that are now in place and with the government's amendments, to have the chair of the commission do this part of the review. I don't think you'd want to drag the minister in. I can picture that perhaps the Liberals or the PCs will be on the government side some day, and I think you'll have to spend all your time reviewing decisions of the Advocacy Commission.
The Second Deputy Chair: Mrs Ziemba has moved an amendment to subsection 9(3). Is it the pleasure of the House that the amendment carry? Agreed? Agreed. I declare the amendment to subsection 9(3) carried.
Mrs Sullivan: This amendment relates to the operation of the advisory committee to the commission, which is given certain responsibilities under the bill, including: commenting on the impact of advocacy services provided by the commission on families; commenting on the impact of advocacy services on providers of health and social services; to consult and advise on the policies and procedures of the commission, which will clearly be and could be a lengthy and arduous situation. The committee also is responsible for preparing an annual report which is submitted to the commission and to the Legislative Assembly. Without this kind of housekeeping amendment, the committee will not be free and will not have the amenities to conduct its work.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We will not be accepting this amendment as it's unnecessary. It's implicit that funding may be provided for an advisory committee. It's not needed in the legislation to make that point.
Mrs Sullivan: I don't think "implicit" is adequate. The advisory committees are there not to simply reflect upon and reflect the commission itself; they are there to do independent work and to make that work known. An implicit assumption that the services they will require to do their work are provided is simply inadequate. They must have those services, they must have those facilities and they must have the employees necessary in order to ensure that the perspective of the families of vulnerable people and of people who provide health services, housing services, vocational services and many, many other services are indeed considered and are handled in an appropriate way. The committee cannot do its work without not only an implicit understanding -- which I don't believe is good enough -- that services will be available, but without an actual understanding.
"2. One member shall be appointed from persons nominated in accordance with subsection (5) by organizations belonging to each of the other categories described in the other paragraphs of subsection 15(1).
"(4) In the selection of persons to be appointed to the committee, the importance of assuring equitable representation by appointing persons of both sexes, members of minority groups and residents of all the regions of Ontario to the committee shall be considered.
"(5) Whenever it is necessary to appoint a person to the committee, the organizations belonging to the relevant category described in subsection 15(1) shall nominate two candidates, of whom the minister shall select and appoint one.
"(6) Despite subsections (2) and (5), the minister may appoint to the committee a person who is not a person nominated by the organizations belonging to the relevant category described in subsections 15(1) if,
"(7) The members of the committee shall be paid the remuneration fixed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, at a daily rate, and the reasonable expenses incurred in the course of their duties of this act.
"(11) Despite subsection (8), four of the members first appointed under subsection (2), including not more than one of the members first appointed in accordance with paragraph 1 of subsection (2), shall hold office for five-year terms and shall not be reappointed."
Hon Ms Ziemba: Along with the motions to amend sections 15 and 16, it modifies and alters the appointments advisory committee and the process for nominating persons to the commission and it conforms with the changes to the composition of the commission. The direct ministerial appointments to the committee have been dropped. They're not necessary to fill the gaps, as they are going to be represented within the commission itself. As well, we are addressing the fact that we wanted to have seniors' organizations with more representation, so there will be two members.
Mr Sterling: One of the problems we have with this legislation is it makes it so complicated. We're setting up a commission, and then we're setting up an advisory committee to choose the people who sit on the commission.
This is an attempt by the government to say that this commission's going to be arm's length away from the government. Quite frankly, regardless of any of the other parties that might be in power, I would trust their judgement with regard to appointing commission members. I think you're getting beyond the point of being ridiculous in terms of creating committees to appoint other people. It's the height of bureaucracy, from our point of view, and I believe that if they wanted to do something underhanded or if a minister wanted to do something underhanded, it could be done with an advisory committee if that was the case.
All you're doing, in my view, is setting up an unnecessary body. We would trust the Liberals, if they were in power, to appoint the right people to the commission. We would trust the NDP, if they were in power, to appoint a fair representation --
Mr Sterling: Yes, it is news in these days, but, notwithstanding that, the public has to have some faith in the fact that a government will appoint people to these commissions who are reasonable people who represent the communities they're supposed to. We just don't think it's necessary to go this extra step.
Ms Jenny Carter (Peterborough): I'd like to draw the House's attention to the fact that this section allows the senior citizens, as a consumer group, to participate in the nomination process. In addition, two members out of nine on the appointments advisory committee will be seniors. This is appropriate for several reasons.
The Advocacy Act has but one purpose: to provide assistance to vulnerable adults who want help in exercising their rights to make choices and decisions. We who are not vulnerable expect those rights as a matter of course, but for individuals who've been made vulnerable, the right to make decisions about the most basic issues has often been denied.
I'm delighted to support the Advocacy Act, because I see it as an important means of ensuring that the rights of all Ontarians to make personal and health care decisions will be accorded due respect. Seniors in Ontario will particularly benefit from the implementation of the Advocacy Act and its sister legislation.
Many groups devoted to the needs and interests of our elderly population have petitioned successive governments for an independent, broad-based advocacy system to serve elderly people -- not that all seniors are vulnerable.
Mrs Sullivan: If I could just break into the member's discussion, we are speaking to a specific portion of the bill. We are on time allocation and we would just appreciate assistance in moving things along.
This is a crucially important package of legislation and one which I support without reservation. I urge its adoption by this assembly in the interests of personal autonomy for the elderly. The freedom to make our own choices and decisions is something most adults take for granted. Within our agist and sometimes élitist culture, there are many frail, elderly and disabled Ontarians who do not enjoy the same privilege. The Advocacy Act will help to right the balance.
Mr Jim Wilson: The point here is that it's a sad day in society when the government needs two pages of rules to simply send a message out to the public that, "Hey, you can trust us, government, to consult with seniors and with all interested parties and groups before making an appointment to the advisory committee." I think these two pages of rules are more a reflection upon this particular government in office and its inability to properly consult and its overuse of the word "consultation."
"1. Organizations representing persons who have or are perceived to have a physical disability, illness or infirmity that is readily apparent, such as paralysis, amputation or a lack of physical coordination.
"6. Organizations representing persons who have or are perceived to have a neurological disability, illness or infirmity such as autism, Alzheimer's syndrome, traumatic head injury or a learning disability.
"(a) in the case of an organization described in paragraph 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 of subsection (1), a majority of the members must be or have been persons who are described in the applicable paragraph as being represented by the organization;
"(b) in the case of an organization described in paragraph 7 of subsection (1), a majority of the members must be or have been persons who have or are perceived to have a disability referred to in paragraph 1, 2, 4, 5 or 6; and
"(c) in the case of an organization described in paragraph 8 of subsection (1), a majority of the members must be or have been persons who are receiving or have received health care services and who are concerned about their rights in that context."
Mr Jim Wilson: Again, following what I said on the last amendment, the problem with this type of delineation of classes of citizens is that I think it leads to a divide-and-conquer society. I just want to put the government on warning that when someone now comes to this bill and wants to be considered as a person to sit on the advisory committee which advises the appointments advisory committee to advise the minister on who should be appointed to the commission, that person's going to have to read the bill and say, "Which one of these particular categories in society do I belong to?" I think it's a dangerous precedent this government is setting in terms of trying to placate all these organizations and by listing them in legislation.
The philosophy of my party is that every citizen is entitled to fair treatment and equal treatment because they are citizens of this province. It's a sad day when the government feels it has to delineate a list of organizations. Everyone in this province must be treated fairly regardless of age, sex, colour, creed etc, and I think the charter speaks to that.
Mrs Sullivan: Because the government, in its amendment, is changing the numbering to what is now basically included in the reprinted bill as section 16 with this amendment, I have a further amendment I will be putting that would affect this amendment; while it will be tied in, it in fact will deal with an amendment to section 16 in the reprinted bill, while the government's amendment changes this to 15.
Mrs Sullivan: Once again, I want to underline that it's the view of our caucus that indeed the chairman should come from a group of people who are in the categories associated with what would now be section 15, but is included in the reprinted bill as section 16. I hope that when the implementation is done, the minister will keep that in mind.
Mrs Sullivan: I move that paragraph 6 of subsection 16(1) of the bill, as reprinted to show the amendments made by the standing committee on administration of justice, be amended by inserting after "syndrome" in the fourth line "schizophrenia."
Mrs Sullivan: We had, in the course of public hearings on these bills, significant amounts of expert testimony in some areas. We have seen, as a result of that, many amendments come forward. In other cases, we've seen amendments come forward where there has been no expert testimony or no testimony at all.
None the less, this is one of those areas where we did have expert testimony, both from consumer groups and from health care providers who work in the field of the disabled and who believe very strongly, and whose research and clinical experience tells them, that people with the disability of schizophrenia are indeed suffering from a neurological disability. At the urging of those people, we believe that schizophrenics should be included in this section of the bill to ensure that they will also be considered for appointment to the commission.
We certainly had singular understanding, all the way through our public hearings as we were considering this bill, that there was an antipathy on the part of the government to the work of organizations such as the Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics. While that antipathy may have been limited to one particular ministry, that being the Ministry of Citizenship, it was very clear, and certainly the organizations felt that and felt they were not a part of this section of the bill and this paragraph of the bill for that very reason.
Mr Jim Wilson: Very briefly, we're proposing that the legislation be amended to create a separate forum to which vulnerable individuals and the public may appeal for the review of decisions and actions of the Advocacy Commission. The legislation, as currently drafted, leaves it up to the Advocacy Commission itself to establish a review procedure. We do not feel that this gives adequate protection for the public good. We're proposing that a complaints review committee be established to review complaints, review advocates' decisions, actions of the Advocacy Commission and to discipline members. I know Mr Sterling will want to add further to that.
Mr Sterling: This is one of the most serious areas of the bill I'm concerned with, because of the newness of this kind of legislation, because of the fact that the government hasn't been able to yet tell us what an advocate is; ie, what his or her educational background would be, what the particular functions of the advocate might be etc. In other words, we have only a very sketchy idea of what an advocate might be.
The second point we have here is that when we set up a new profession, as we are under this bill, normally we give professional bodies the opportunity to discipline the members within their professions. In this case we are giving the profession, or the commission if you want to call it as the head of the advocates' profession, the opportunity to discipline its own members. However, there are going to be other relationships between the commission and the profession, the advocates, which are unusual.
In our health discipline professions there is usually an arm's-length distance in the employee-employer situation with regard to the disciplining function of the profession. In other words, the college of physicians does not hire the doctors; the ONA, the Ontario Nurses' Association, does not hire the nurses; they work for somebody else.
My concern with giving the discretion to the commission to strike the format of the discipline process is the fact that there is an employee-employer relationship between the commission and the advocates. For instance, could there be a situation where during negotiations, if there is a union with regard to the advocates, there is an opportunity in the collective bargaining process for them to bargain the discipline process? Will that enter into that kind of employee-employer relationship?
My view is that the legislation itself should set out what in fact the discipline process is and should set forward the major elements of that, rather than leaving that up to the employer and putting the employer, the commission, in the vulnerable position of having to negotiate a weaker and weaker discipline process for the advocates whom it controls under collective agreements in the future and in terms of dealing with the employee-employer relationship as they go through their experience in terms of these advocates.
Our amendment sets forth the exact opposite kind of balance that the commission is set up under -- that is, that vulnerable people would be in a minority in the discipline process whereas they have a majority on the commission -- and therefore the people who would be served by the advocates would serve in the majority in the discipline process and therefore the commission would be very attentive to what in fact the people who represent the clients in a different manner would demand of the process. I think it's a mistake to leave it up to the commission to set its own discipline processes.
We have had these arguments with regard to other professions. They are the same arguments that are put forward with regard to lay representation on discipline committees within the various professions, but in this case I think it's very important for us to recognize that there's a lot of difference in this kind of setup, in that the commission and the advocates have the employee-employer relationship.
I think that if we leave it up to the commission we are only leaving the commission in a very vulnerable spot whereby grievances will be negotiated. It will become not what the advocate has done with regard to the vulnerable person; it will become an employee-employer kind of settlement rather than being very much concerned with the vulnerable person.
Mrs Sullivan: We support this amendment and believe it's a singularly important one. We also believe that with the additional amendments that have been made with respect to a review process, this is a valuable amendment in terms of ensuring that the review process is open, fair, very clear and involves more than the commission itself in terms of the review or appeals from decisions or findings that have been made.
I think you will understand that throughout the process there was very considerable debate about the extent and the power and the nature of the role of advocates and substantial worry that most of the issues that were on the table were not being responded to because the decisions that would be made surrounding those issues would only be made through regulations in which and through which ordinary people wouldn't have a part.
Hon Ms Ziemba: We will not be accepting these amendments. We believe the government's complaints review process, as introduced by the government, which has been discussed with various groups of people, our stakeholders and the various professional people, addresses the issues and the concerns that have been raised earlier.
Hon Ms Ziemba: The process set up by our amendments makes sure that there is a review process, and of course there's the commission. The commission is under review by the Ombudsman, as all commissions are, and we feel that those are the appropriate places that can certainly be addressed. The commission will make available to any person, on request, a written review procedure for dealing with any of the complaints relating to advocates.
Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): I find that passing strange, particularly since I notice that my colleague attempted to have representatives on that committee on the previous section from the Ontario Friends of Schizophrenics. You have complaints committees in every other area. Particularly, the police now are complaining about the amount of complaints commissions there are for them. Yet you're not prepared to allow for this. I'd like the minister's attention.
I can't understand how a New Democratic Party government which espouses fairness in all things could possibly object to the amendment being put forward. We're dealing here with people who are vulnerable, who possibly will get a bad deal. As a total matter of fairness, I would be very disappointed if the New Democratic government and all it stands for and espouses in terms of giving people, particularly vulnerable people, the right to complain, would not accede to that amendment. I will be very disappointed, Madam Minister.
Mr Jim Wilson: Just to comment on this very important amendment, I recall, as Health critic last summer, we spent the entire summer here at Queen's Park dealing with the Regulated Health Professions Act. We took particular care, in drafting and in discussing those acts which regulate highly trained health care professionals, to ensure that disciplinary processes were in place, set in the legislation, and that this Legislature, on behalf of the people of Ontario, ensured that disciplinary procedures were in place.
The government is setting a very dangerous precedent here in Bill 74 in terms of allowing the employer to set discipline for the employee and not giving the public any redress whatsoever or any complaints review committee outside of that employer-employee relationship.
What would happen, and I'd like an answer from the minister, if the employees decide that the commission is being too tough in its disciplinary actions with whatever disciplinary review procedure the commission may set up?
A hypothetical situation: If I were an advocate, an employee of that commission, in my collective bargaining I would bargain away the powers of that disciplinary body if I could. Over years that could very well happen.
You are in this legislation giving advocates unprecedented rights of entry, rights of entry into people's private homes. You are giving advocates unprecedented rights in this province; unprecedented rights to access records, medical records and records regarding facilities. Yet you won't accept this amendment which ensures the public good, which ensures that all people who may have their rights violated by the advocates -- and that's quite conceivable -- have an independent outside review committee to address those complaints.
Hon Ms Ziemba: I don't agree that we have a conflict of interest and I think some of the analogies that have been made previously about advocates being similar to doctors or other professionals -- they're not a profession, they do not have the same type of parameters. I think what we are doing in our bill addresses all of those issues.
Mrs Sullivan: I am urging the minister to reconsider her intransigence on this particular section and support the amendment proposed by the third party. In fact, there is no review process in this bill. There are a few words saying there will be a review process. There's no guarantee of a meeting, there's no indication of what kind of a review process there will be.
In fact, the review process may mean that somebody at the commission -- because the commission members themselves aren't required to participate in any review -- in fact, perhaps even the person associated with the complaint can write back to the person who complained, if the complaint was made by letter, and say: "Thank you very much. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter. We do not believe there is any issue to which you have redress or that there has been any problem or any fault on the behalf of our advocates."
There is no method to review the activities and the functions of the commission itself. The commission has powers to grant agreement and to provide additional powers to other people, advocates, to do systemic advocacy, which gives those people extraordinary other powers: rights of entry, access to records, investigatory powers no one outside of the police force has.
There's no guarantee of a hearing; there is no guarantee of fairness; there is no guarantee when you're setting up almost on trust, which is what the minister is doing, a review process, that there is anything at all to that review process.
The minister says it will be handled in the regulations. Once again, the regulations are not made in association with people who may have a complaint. We don't know how this is going to work. Let's have a review committee that is statutory, where there is an obligation on issues that have to be considered, which has specific functions, which has a certain method of proceeding and which in fact will ensure that those who want to make a complaint will be heard in a way that is appropriate.
Mr Sterling: If the minister would agree to retain the power herself -- the minister -- to set up the discipline committee of the commission by order in council, I will withdraw my amendment with these specific suggestions. My concern is that she is giving it to the commission. It's like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, if you want to draw a kind of conclusion that one might. I think she's putting the commission in a very, very difficult spot by giving it the right to set down its own disciplinary procedures.
On Monday, November 30, we will consider a motion to extend the hours of meeting for the last eight sessional days, commencing on that day. Following that motion, we will continue the adjourned second reading debate on Bill 94, Metro Toronto's tax assessment. Following that, we will begin debate on concurrence in supply.
On Tuesday, December 1, we will continue with the committee of the whole consideration of the advocacy package, Bills 74, 108, 109 and 110. After the vote on the advocacy package at 5:45, we will begin second reading debate on OTAB, Bill 96.
On Thursday, December 3, during private members' public business, we will consider ballot item number 35, a resolution standing in the name of Mr Conway, and ballot item number 36, second reading of Bill 89, standing in the name of Mr Tilson.