Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, the purpose of this amendment and the one I will be moving in a moment is as follows: At present, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act provides that if a councillor is absent for one month without an excuse he loses his seat. In every other municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, one has to be absent for three months without an excuse before one loses one’s seat.
We are leaving clause (c) in the act, which is the three months, and the next amendment I will be moving will be to remove subsection 10(6) of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, the 30-day clause. Then Metropolitan Toronto will be in line with all other municipalities.
“(5) The metropolitan corporation and the metropolitan board may enter into agreements with the Toronto Harbour Commissioners in respect of the transfer of members of the Toronto Harbour Police or the port of Toronto police or both, to the metropolitan police force, and any such agreement shall provide:
“(a) that every person who is a member of the Toronto Harbour Police or the port of Toronto police, as the case may be, on the 1st day of June, 1981, and who continues to be a member until the 30th day of September, 1982, shall be offered employment at no loss in salary as a member of the metropolitan police force as of the 1st day of October, 1982; and
“(b) that all property, both real and personal, used on the 1st day of June, 1981, in connection with the operation of the Toronto Harbour Police or the Port of Toronto Police, as the case may be, shall be transferred without compensation to the metropolitan corporation for the use of the metropolitan board.
“(6) The corporation of the city of Toronto may contribute to the Ontario municipal employees retirement system such sums as may be required to provide to members of the Toronto Harbour Police who accept employment under clause (5)(a) the same period of credited service in the Ontario municipal employees retirement system as their period of credited service in the pension plan of the Toronto Harbour Commissioners on the 30th day of September, 1982.”
Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, very briefly, we discussed this on second reading of the bill, but the core part of the bill gives Metropolitan Toronto permission, because they require the permissive legislation, to enter into an agreement with the Toronto Harbour Commissioners to take over the harbour police or the port police or both. It is my understanding that negotiations between these bodies are now in progress and have gone very well.
There is just one other comment I could make. Sitting in the gallery this evening is one of the members of the Toronto Port Police, who tells me on his own behalf and on behalf of the other 13 members of the Toronto Port Police, that they are very pleased with the negotiations as they are going and are pleased with the act that is now in force. I think that probably goes a long way to answer the question of the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) on the paper.
It is my understanding, as I said the other night, having spoken to the chief of police, the chairman of the Toronto Harbour Commissioners, who was here, and the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto that negotiations are going well and that all parties are reasonably satisfied. The main concern of the members opposite is that the employees will be protected, but that is in hand, and the employees are satisfied at this moment.
Mr. Epp: We support this amendment. I just wanted to ask the parliamentary assistant whether he indicated that in both (a) and (b) where the “or” is, he also added “or both.” If that is the case, we are prepared to accept the amendment.
Mr. Epp: Under (a) and (b) at the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2 of the copy of the amendment, where there is reference to “the Toronto Harbour Police or the port of Toronto police,” did he indicate “or both” in both of those cases?
Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, the requirement for the “or both” was drawn to my attention specifically by the chairman of the harbour commissioners, who indicates that it is not necessary in the other case; as long as they can take in both, then you do not need the words “or both” in the other sections, because if you take both then it is both.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, it was the chairman of the Toronto Harbour Police who indicated that we should have “both” in all three cases, or “or” or “and/or.” I just wonder whether it would be fully acceptable to have both in those three instances, in 5 and in (a) and (b) which follow. I am more interested in having a legal opinion on whether it represents the same all-encompassing aspect that we are both anxious to have or whether we can leave just the single “or” in there.
Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, I assume we will have a word from members opposite. While that is being done I am sure I will get a note from legislative counsel as to whether we need the words “or both” in 5(a) and 5(b). I am quite prepared to abide by the opinions of legislative counsel on that matter.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Chairman, as the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) pointed out, on a number of occasions and in a number of ways we have raised our concerns about the individuals who will be directly involved and affected by this particular piece of legislation. I must say from my own experience at a couple of different levels, often the intentions that are put forward in a piece of legislation and the words that are drafted to carry out those intentions all seem very noble, and good intentions seem to surround the whole approach to this thing.
But it has also been my sad experience that despite those good intentions and those attempts to provide drafting that covers all the loopholes and provides the ultimate in safety and protection for the people who are directly involved, somehow between the cup and the lip there always seems to be a slip; somehow it always seems that six or eight months or a year afterwards somebody comes to me with a problem of great magnitude for him personally.
The upshot of this is that in drafting the legislation, in working out the negotiations and in finalizing the agreement, somehow, something was there that does not quite cover this individual; and that, I am afraid, is my objection to the amendment that is proposed.
I am grateful that the government has moved substantially to meet some of our concerns. I think, too, that it would be almost impossible to draft in legislative form something that would offer the protection I am seeking. What I want, quite frankly, is for the negotiations to have been concluded before the legislation is passed. Of course, the government has chosen to do this in a slightly different way: that is, to write permissive legislation, which may provide it to happen. The difficulty this causes me is that I am not going to have an opportunity to stand in this House and say, “I want a slight amendment” or, more likely, “I want a more reasoned set of negotiations.”
I understand that most of the people who are now directly affected with this particular amendment in place and with the negotiations that are still under way will probably get what all of us deem to be a fair and reasonable settlement: that is, the job will be guaranteed; there will be a guarantee of salary; there will be some mention of pensions; there will be pickup of benefits. But, as with any set of negotiations -- particularly this one which has three or four groups involved and three or four bargaining agents at work -- it is a very complicated piece of business.
One would have to look at an amendment such as this with a considerable amount of faith to say, “Well, they are all there.” A cursory glance at the amendment reveals a couple of loopholes to which I will speak briefly. One is that there is still the opportunity for the employer to do a little housecleaning since one must remain a member until September 30, 1982, which provides a considerable amount of time in which accidents can happen.
People can be discharged in many of the ministries; for example, when there are transitions of staff from one level of government to another there always seems to be some victim who turns up six to eight months later. Clearly it is never the intention of anybody involved to persecute such individuals, but somehow they fall between the cracks of the system.
I appreciate that the parliamentary assistant and the minister have responded to the questions we raised, and I appreciate that in this form of legislation probably this is about as good as we are going to get.
I wish I could say with some certainty that it is going to resolve the problems of individuals whose lives will be or could be affected by this legislation. Unfortunately, that is not true, and it is with some reluctance that I look at this and say, “Thank you for theoretically attempting to resolve a problem.” However, I choose not to deal in the world of theory; I want to deal in the world of hard practicality where the individuals who might be crushed in this kind of a move will be.
Mr. Rotenberg: First, in reply to the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp), I now have an opinion from legislative counsel. “You do not need ‘or both’ in (a) and (b). In (a) it says ‘as the case may be,’ and also in (b) the words ‘as the case may be’ take care of either body: the harbour and/or the port police.” As advised by legislative counsel, I suggest that we leave it as is.
Mr. Rotenberg: We have added the words “or both” in clause 5, and the member for Waterloo North wondered if we had to add “or both” in (a) and (b) after that. The legislative counsel says that we do not require it. I guess the honourable member was not here when the point was raised.
As far as the point from the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) is concerned, this is a technical point, I understand his point of view and I am sympathetic to it. However, we have a chicken-and-egg situation.
Metropolitan Toronto does not have the power to finalize negotiations until legislation is passed. They have been so advised by their solicitor. So Metropolitan Toronto can only go so far in negotiations. The final agreement cannot be negotiated or passed by Metropolitan Toronto council until we have the legislation. While I sympathize with what the member for Oshawa wants to do, I think we simply cannot do it because they cannot finalize the agreements until they have the legislation.
Basically, we are dealing with three public bodies: the harbour commissioners, the Metropolitan Toronto Police and the Metropolitan Toronto council. As I have indicated on several occasions, so far the negotiations have been going well and the employees seem to be happy with the way they are going.
I think we have to have just a little bit of faith -- I know that the member for Oshawa would say, “not very much” -- but just a little bit of faith in the members of those public bodies to make sure that the final agreements implement not only the letter of this legislation but the spirit of it. I have faith and, as the member for Oshawa says, as the legislation goes it is the best we can do. I would hope that the House would pass this amendment.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, we participated in the second reading debate and supported the principles that are enunciated here. Our argument with this bill is not about the principle. Our argument is strictly about the mechanics: how the bill will be carried out and what protective measures are offered to people who are now employees of various agencies named in the bill.
We recognize that there are grave difficulties in trying to draft legislation which is permissive in nature and is enabling legislation and we want to put the other side of the argument. We are not dealing with chickens and eggs. These are human beings, many of whom have devoted a lifetime of service to a particular agency here in Metropolitan Toronto and they are in a vulnerable position at the moment. I wish we could say that the legislation that has been drafted here, or the process that is being used, offers them protection in their future livelihood.
A large number of people in their late 40s and early 50s have experienced the economic shock of having their entire job life disappear, of losing what they thought was a proper work career with a pension which, on retirement, would offer them a set of benefits to protect them against sickness or accident. It has been my experience that people in that age category who suffer a job disruption are virtually unemployable.
We have recited the litany of the plants which have closed and it has been my unfortunate personal experience to see, firsthand, the number of people who have suffered economic disruption as a result. It is a cruel and bitter thing to happen to a human being.
There is nothing wrong with the principle of the bill. There is still something substantially wrong with the mechanics by which the government is moving to implement the principles enunciated in Bill 29.
We have managed to get from the government some concessions and offers of security, but all of us have experienced occasions when on paper it appeared that the battle was won, that people’s lives were protected. Somehow experience tells us that getting it on paper is not good enough. It has to be tighter than that.
If we were looking at the completed set of negotiations we might be able to give an accurate assessment of what will actually happen. Since we cannot, and since we have the government’s final offer in the form of an amendment here, we will not support this bill on third reading.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, I happened to be glancing through a copy of the report of the Ontario Legislature select committee on youth, which was established by Premier Robarts in 1964. I thank my colleague the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. Newman) who brought this report to my attention. I noticed that some of the members of that committee were: Stephen Lewis, the former leader of the NDP Party --
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order and linguistics, which should be instructive for a former director of education: The initials NDP stand for New Democratic Party. Therefore, one should never say “NDP Party” because one is saying, “New Democratic Party Party.” Although we enjoy having a good time upon occasion, we do not have any trouble with stuttering, so we would prefer that “party” not be repeated more than is necessary. It is a literary device called redundancy and is completely unnecessary. Therefore, the honourable member should refer to this caucus as the New Democratic Party, the NDP, or the ND Party.
Mr. Sweeney: The member for Kitchener-Wilmot has been sufficiently advised. It just goes to show how confusing those people over there can be. It is so seldom we can understand what they are all about and what it is they are trying to say to us.
To get back to my comments, it was interesting to note that one of the members of the Ontario Legislature select committee on youth in 1964 was Stephen Lewis, the former leader of the New Democratic Party. I also noticed that the former Treasurer of Ontario, the Honourable Darcy McKeough, was a member. So were the following: the member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil) who is still with us; the member for Windsor-Walkerville, still with us; your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Russell Rowe from Northumberland; the present Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), and, finally, the government House leader and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells). That was a formidable lineup of legislators who, between the years 1964 and 1966, a period of two and a half years, criss-crossed Ontario looking into the problems of youth.
It is interesting to note, in the light of the comments I was making before the dinner recess, some of the areas they investigated and made recommendations on. I will not read all of their recommendations, but I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that under the heading of “Employment for Youth in Ontario,” there are six recommendations on apprenticeship programs, four on industry and school cooperation and five on specific employment programs for youth, and there are recommendations on research into employment for youth.
Prior to the dinner recess, I had been commenting on the similarity of the comments and the recommendations of the 1963 report of the Ontario select committee on manpower training, and how similar both they and the report I just referred to, citing the years 1964 to 1966, are with the kinds of recommendations our task force on youth employment opportunities discovered when we toured Ontario between March and June 1982.
Not only were there government reports in 1963 and 1966, there was also a government report in 1968 headed, Ontario--General Advisory Committee on Industrial Training. It addressed the question of apprenticeship training and forecasting manpower needs. The report stated, “Pressure must be placed on industry to inaugurate training programs and apprenticeship programs.”
Later on when I get to some of our recommendations, I am going to talk about the need in Ontario to require all industry in some form or another to participate in a training program. I want to remind the members of this House that back in 1968, a full 14 years ago, Ontario--General Advisory Committee on Industrial Training said the same thing, so there is nothing new or startling about that recommendation.
We then move on. In 1972, four years later, there was another report of the Commission on Post-Secondary Education in Ontario entitled The Learning Society. Once again, the recommendations included such things as a link between educational programs and employment opportunities and a projection of manpower requirements.
It is interesting that that recommendation keeps coming up time and time again, because if there was one recommendation we have heard at every stop across Ontario it was the need for upgraded and more accurate manpower needs forecasting. Here we see it going back. All these other old government reports make the same recommendation.
We move on. Public awareness was again addressed in 1972 in A Study of Attitudes and Levels of Information Relating to the Apprenticeship System. It makes the observation, “The apprenticeship system is generally not understood.” It goes on to say, “The presence of the apprenticeship system in the high schools of Ontario is negligible.”
Once again, when we refer in our task force recommendations to a need to upgrade the apprenticeship system, there is nothing new about it. It goes back to the government reports of 1972, 1968, 1963, 1966 and on and on.
We go on a few years to 1978, when the Ministry of Colleges and Universities published a study entitled, Costs and Benefits to Employers of Apprentices in Ontario. It says clearly that employers in Ontario said they would prefer not to undertake the training of apprentices. There is nothing new in that. The study, however, lists as a priority the greater promotion of skill training and improved trade courses in the high schools of Ontario.
There was Youth Employment and the Ontario Economy, another government report published in 1978 by the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, at that time headed up by the redoubtable Darcy McKeough. There are a number of important observations in this report, but there is one absolutely startling one. This is just four years ago and the same holds true today, four years later.
Mr. McKeough’s office at that time said two thirds of the youth unemployment in Ontario was the result of the structural rigidities in our economy. Only one third, Mr. McKeough’s report said, was due to economic conditions, to a slowdown in the economic growth of our province.
In other words, according to the Treasurer of Ontario in 1978, two out of every three young people in Ontario were unemployed because of the structural problems; problems that could be changed in Ontario, problems such as the quality of counselling available, the quality of the training programs available, the participation of industry in training and those kinds of things.
That is startling, because what it says is that it is no economic accident this has taken place. It is because of a lack of planning, a lack of organization, a lack of forecasting and a lack of foresight that two thirds of the young people in our province who are unemployed are, in fact, unemployed.
Let me close on these reports with the famous Pollock report. The Speaker might well remember that Don Pollock was the chairman of the Ontario Manpower Commission and he spent two years preparing a report. There is some doubt as to whether or not such a report exists. I notice the Minister of Labour (Mr. Ramsay) is in the House now. As we crossed Ontario, at every single stop without exception, I was asked, “Where is the Pollock report?”
As a matter of fact, when we were meeting the apprenticeship training people in Dofasco in Hamilton we were told that just a year earlier the then Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) and Don Pollock had been sitting in that very office asking almost the same kinds of questions we were. When we met representatives at Fanshawe College and at Conestoga College, once again they said: “Just a year ago Don Pollock and representatives from the Ministry of Labour were around here asking these same kinds of questions. We made input to them at that time and we understand they put together a report.”
We have tried, we have approached the Minister of Labour, we have talked to the present chairman of the Ontario Manpower Commission and we are told that no such report exists -- with one qualification: we were told that if such a report exists and if this report went to cabinet, then, by golly, that is where it is going to stay; it is not going any further. All I can do is speculate.
One of the reasons we speculate that this report may not have gone any further is that for the two or three months prior to July 1981, Mr. Pollock was quoted in the popular press on a number of occasions as being very adamant in taking the position that industry in Ontario would be required to train, would be required in some way to participate in a training program.
The second area he spoke about numerous times -- I have news clips on this as well -- is that the skill training program in Ontario was not in very good shape. I am being very mild when I put it in that way. Therefore, perhaps it is not surprising that if the famous Pollock report in fact exists and if it makes those two major recommendations, it has not seen the light of day outside the Cabinet Office and probably will not.
I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, and through you the Minister of Labour, there are an awful lot of people outside the walls of this Legislature who are fully aware of the fact that Mr. Pollock made those kinds of recommendations in some form and those people very much believe this report exists. If this report is being suppressed, for whatever reasons, if it exists, in the long term it might be in the best interests of the government and the Minister of Labour -- if he can get his hands on a copy -- to release it.
I would say there is a very serious credibility gap with an awful lot of business people outside here, with a lot of high school counsellors, with a lot of the various employment agencies -- I must confess the young people were not that much aware of the Pollock report; it did not seem to be of much concern to them -- but some of the other people I have just referred to have indicated very clearly that they are concerned about it.
They are rather upset that a man of the stature of Don Pollock and a man of the stature of the former Minister of Labour, the member for York East (Mr. Elgie), would go around Ontario, seek their advice, put together what they had been told was a series of recommendations for the Ontario government, and then that report would never have been published, at least not publicly. I would only make that observation. The government of the day is going to have to accept the consequences of either publishing or not publishing that report, but there are a lot of people who are looking for it.
What I have tried to do in the last half hour or so and for a little time before dinner was to draw to members’ attention that, going back to the Simonett report of 1963; the report of the Ontario Legislature select committee on youth in 1966; the General Advisory Committee on Industrial Training in 1968; the report of the Commission on Post-Secondary Education in Ontario in 1972; A Study of Attitudes and Levels of Information Relating to the Apprenticeship System, also in 1972; Costs and Benefits to Employers of Apprentices in Ontario in 1978; Youth Unemployment and the Ontario Economy, also in 1978, and, finally, that famous Pollock report, over and over again this government itself has commissioned good men and women in Ontario, many legislators from this parliament, to go out, ask questions and come back with recommendations.
I offer members of the government benches an opportunity to go back and read those reports, as I have read them. Every one of them is in the legislative library. Those reports consistently came up with the same kinds of recommendations we are making in 1982 on behalf of the people we interviewed across Ontario. That really makes me wonder if, for almost 20 years, the Ontario government has known what the problem was. Good people have made very credible recommendations to it. Yet here we are in 1982 facing exactly those same problems and being told that the former recommendations obviously were not followed.
What is the result of that? As Darcy McKeough, the former Treasurer, said in 1978, two thirds of the youth unemployment in this province is structural. It is not connected with the upturns or downturns in the economy. What do we have today? We have 186,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 out of work as of May 1982. What does that mean? The first two weeks of our task force were spent interviewing some of those young people. We did it in the general area of Metropolitan Toronto. We visited two or three agencies right in Toronto, where we met with 10 and 15 young people each. We went out to Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke and interviewed them there. In all those cases we found young people who were very bitter, angry and frustrated.
As we moved across Ontario to Ottawa, London, Windsor, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Kitchener-Waterloo, wherever we talked to those young people, some of those 186,000, we got the same reaction: “We want to work. We do not want to be on welfare. We do not want to be collecting unemployment insurance. We want an opportunity to work.” They were the first to admit they probably did not have the skills required. Therefore, the second comment they made to us was, “We want the opportunity to acquire the skills that will allow us to do the jobs, even the jobs that are available.”
The Minister of Labour knows even better than I do that there probably are not 186,000 jobs in Ontario, even if we trained all those people. We are not suggesting that can be done overnight, but what we are clearly suggesting, what the people we met on a face-to-face basis all across Ontario suggested to us, is at least to make a beginning.
This was brought to our attention when we met some people in London, Ontario. We know that the automotive industry is moving more and more into the use of robotics. What they asked us was not who will design these things -- because they will probably be designed in the United States or Japan, although it is to be hoped some of them will be designed in some of our universities and businesses -- but: “Who is going to build them? Who has the skills to build these things? Who is going to install them in our factories? Who is going to maintain them once they are there’? Who is going to change the various programs that will need changing as the requirements for robotics change?”
We do not have the people to do that. This is one small example of a need that we know is going to exist two or three years down the road. Yet we could not find any training centre anywhere in Ontario that was preparing people for that kind of technological skill.
That takes us right back to the incident we talked about before the dinner recess. Ontario Hydro had to bring 75 nuclear technicians from England to operate our nuclear generating stations. Why? Because Ontario Hydro and this government did not have the foresight to see that once they built those plants they would have to have skilled people to operate them. That seems fairly obvious, but for some reason they did not see the obvious.
One of the things we discovered about our young people as we went around the province was that there were certain myths about them: They did not want to work, they were not dependable when they came to work and they could not be relied upon to stay for a long enough period of time; if a training program was started, they left.
We checked all those out. There may be the odd case here and there where that is true. If we take any age group in Ontario, whether it is 15 to 19, 20 to 25, 25 to 40 or whatever, we are going to find a few people who fit that kind of categorization. But that was not our experience. We found young people in this province who want to work. We found that when they were doing work that was somewhat interesting and somewhat challenging, they did a good job, they were dependable, they stayed, they wanted to learn the skills and they gave a full day’s work for a full day’s pay.
One of the secondary school principals who talked to us about this problem said: “There has never been a time when more secondary school students held jobs after school hours. So don’t tell me that the young people of this province are not willing and able to work; they are. All they need is a little encouragement and opportunity.”
One of the key recommendations brought to our attention was the need for industry in Ontario to participate in training programs. No longer can we stand aside in this province and allow industry to continue to import skilled workers. We have to train them ourselves. And let us not be fooled by the argument that it will drive industry out of the province.
Considering where we have to start, obviously we will have to include incentives. We will have to provide some assistance to industry, because there is not that kind of history, that kind of experience in this province. A lot of industries have found that the easiest way to get a skilled worker is either simply to steal him or pirate him from the industry down the street or to ask the immigration department to bring somebody over from Europe. That has to change. We simply cannot stand aside and see our young people deprived of the opportunity to learn skills and therefore get the jobs that are going to be available as the new technology comes on stream.
The second major area that was brought to our attention is the whole question of counselling, the need to upgrade counselling in the secondary schools, to be sure that the counsellors who are there have an opportunity to upgrade their own background in the needs of business and industry, that they have the time to sit down and do career counselling with the young people. The 400-to-one ratio that we have in most of the high schools in Ontario is absolutely ridiculous. It does not leave them any opportunity at all, or very little opportunity, to do any career counselling.
Finally, in the area of counselling -- and this has come up time and time again in the reports I referred to before -- the career counselling aspect must begin at the elementary school level. This does not mean we are going to ask some young gal or some young fellow to make a decision when he or she is in grade 5 or 6 as to what career he or she is going to follow; we do not mean that kind of career counselling. We mean a general overview and a general understanding of the world of work, the kinds of careers that are available, the kinds of aptitudes you need to handle those careers, the kinds of courses you are going to have to take to follow those careers; and not only students but parents as well. That is a very important aspect of our report.
A third issue that came up time and time again was the need to be sure that young people are taking the kinds of courses they are going to need to deal with the new technology. Once again we go right back to 1963 with this recommendation that we must strongly encourage our young people, and these are girls as well as boys, to take courses in science, in mathematics and in the communications skills -- English or French or both, we hope. Those are absolutely fundamental.
To continue to allow young people in our schools to take only one or two courses in science, one or two courses in math and a very watered-down course in English, as many are doing, is just leading to their economic suicide. Time and time again we were told by young people themselves and by employers that young people were not able to take advantage even of some training programs that were available, because they did not have the necessary academic background.
Please let me repeat: We were told by so many people that we must also encourage our young women in secondary school to carry the maths and the sciences, because a lot of the traditional jobs they formerly were attracted to are gradually disappearing, or at least the numbers required are declining all the time. If young women as well as young men are going to have opportunities for the new jobs and the new technologies, then they will need to have their maths and science backgrounds as well.
One of the new trends we discovered in a number of places like London, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo, to mention just a few, was the trend towards co-operative education while our young people are still in secondary school.
There are a number of distinct advantages to this. It allows young people to experience certain kinds of work to decide whether or not that is what they really want to do; it allows for a more realistic but more gradual transition from the world of school to the world of work, and it gives our employers a better idea of just what some of these young people can do.
In a number of cases it was brought very forcefully to our attention that it also assists some of those young people who were thinking of dropping out of school -- and I would point out once again what is a well-known statistic in Ontario: approximately 40 per cent of the young men and women who start grade 9 in the secondary schools of Ontario drop out before they graduate from grade 12; and we were told over and over again that those young people, and we found this ourselves when we talked to them, are the ones who are most at risk.
One of the things we were really enthused about with respect to co-operative education and work experience programs at the secondary school level is that many of these young people who were going to drop out, who otherwise would probably have dropped out or who were thinking of dropping out, had new incentives to stay because they could see a greater relevancy between what they were doing in school and what they would be doing in the world of work later on. They saw a greater relevancy between the need for them to take their mathematics courses, their science courses and the need to have good communication skills. We would strongly recommend that be carried out.
Let me close by saying that, moving across Ontario, we found a lot of goodwill. We found many young people who were willing and ready to work, and willing and ready to participate in training programs. We found a lot of employers and others who were willing at least to try to participate in training programs.
There does not seem to be a lack of goodwill but there does seem to be clearly a lack of organization, a lack of planning, a lack of focus. I guess we can sum it all up: There was clearly a lack of leadership, somebody to put the whole thing together, to deal with our young people, schools, industry, helping agencies and to pull them all together and provide the kinds of assistance we have talked about.
There are 12 recommendations in our report. I have said it before and I will repeat it for this last time. These are not our recommendations but recommendations from the people we met across the province. I would sincerely hope that the government, particularly the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson),the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) and the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) would very carefully weigh the implications of this report and not, I urge them, let happen to this report and the recommendations of this report what has happened to all of those other reports. I ask that they not let them sit on the shelf gathering dust. Going back to 1963, they were good reports. There are good recommendations in them, but they are not worth the paper they are printed on if the government does not act to implement them.
It has been said so many times it is almost becoming trite, but it is still so very true that our young people are our greatest resource. If we do not prepare them to take their place in our society, if we do not give them the opportunity to be fully participating members of this society, then we are going to reap an ill wind.
I do not know what is going to happen in this province. I know what has happened in other jurisdictions. I know what has happened in Brixton, England, what happened in Chicago and what happened in Detroit. We are talking about communities similar to our own. We do not want that to happen here. It need not happen here. But if we sit back and watch the young people of this province be economically disfranchised, then we will deserve whatever we get and it will not be good.
Before I speak on the budget and utter some of the things I am sure the good people of Cornwall would want to have their representative say about this budget, I would like to take this opportunity, since we are in the dying hours of this session, to pay special tribute to the member of the Legislature who announced today that he will no longer be with us. I am referring to the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) who, despite my partisan instincts and affiliations, etc., has earned the respect and trust of every member of this Legislature.
I do not know anybody who is more dedicated. He has virtually dedicated his entire adult career to the cause of improving Ontario and especially the working people. He is a man who has fought against tremendous odds. He has tasted defeat on several occasions yet never has been decimated or depressed by the fact. He always comes back to improve on his fortunes and the fortunes of his party.
I have always admired him in the sense that he can continually go back to rural Ontario, despite our continuing lack of electoral success, because he is dedicated to the idea of conveying the message of the NDP, trying to find a place for rural Ontario within our party, which is not always easy, and trying to say there is something in common between the urbanites and the farmers of Ontario.
He has walked a long, lonely road for more than 30 years, and I think it is a measure of the man, even though he is giving up his seat, that he is going to continue in that cause after July 31; he will continue to speak out in rural Ontario and try to give them a voice in the caucus of the New Democratic Party.
Even though the member for York South is 68 years old, if one took the actual efficacy and energy quotient of the members of this House, I think he would be near the very top for his untiring work, his enthusiasm, his boundless energy and his total unwillingness to accede to any defeat, any setback or anything of the sort. I think his departure will be a great loss to the Legislature and to the political process in Ontario, and I do want to pay tribute to this outstanding member.
In a sense, he is one of the last two members of this House of a certain generation who, no matter which issue or bill they get up to speak on, because of their travels, their experience, their knowledge and their total dedication to the political process, have a unique understanding of the psyche, the people, the mores, the customs and the history of Ontario in a way that in my seven years has been unmatched.
I refer, of course, to the member from York South (Mr. MacDonald), and I think the only member who shares that unique stature in this House is the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), to whom I pay tribute as well.
Before talking about the contents, I want to talk a little bit about the background to it and the overall economic climate. If one looks at it on a national scale, this country is in an unparalleled mess. In fact, my colleague the member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo) and I were just reading the July 2 edition of The Economist, which has a five-page spread on the Canadian economic situation and an interesting headline, “Everybody is right, but what has gone wrong in Canada?”
Most Canadians, if not all Canadians, agree that economically we are in a mess, a mess unparalleled since the dirty 30s. If one looks at the interest rates, they are at an utterly obscene level; unemployment is at 1.5 million men and women -- and these are not just working-class people but middle-class people as well, as we well know; bankruptcies are at a record rate and continuing with no sign of abatement.
There is a general depression of consumer confidence, not only about their own jobs and purchasing power but also about the economic future of the country. It reflects in retail sales as well. I think the declining dollar, even though some people may not fully appreciate the causes behind it, has sort of depressed people because they think that is a great symbol of confidence or lack of confidence. The fact that it has slipped below the 80-cent mark and now is down to 77 cents, I think in many people’s eyes is yet another symbol of how far our economy has deteriorated in Canada.
This overall national malaise is naturally reflected in my own riding, where we are facing double-digit unemployment. We did rather well until about late 1981; we were below the national unemployment average, and we had made considerable progress in developing an industrial infrastructure and attracting new industry. The people were proud of the progress we had made, because we had always been tagged with the aura of being somewhat of a depressed area, a backward economic region of the province. We were able to overcome that through the combined efforts of all three levels of government.
Today, though, the simple reality is that we are back to double-digit unemployment as a reflection of that national malaise of the recession. It is reflected first of all, as I have already indicated, in the unemployment figures locally. It is also reflected in the small business situation, where we have had increasing numbers of small businesses closing down and an aggregate of other businesses that are on the threshold of bankruptcy and closing down; and, of course, that means more unemployment.
It is interesting that if one takes even our stronger traditional industries -- for example, our pulp and paper mill, the largest single employer; Courtaulds, our largest single textile employer; or Canadian Industries Ltd. -- all three are having extended shutdowns this summer, something unheard of in the community in several years.
If one looks at our industrial park, which to many people is the avenue to recovery in our area, most of the plants in the industrial park now are on some form of work-sharing, and obviously that is not a good sign.
One of the new plants in that area, a welcome addition to the scene when it started, seven years ago, I believe, was a new, modern, efficient, technologically advanced textile mill that at its peak employed upwards of 300 employees. I regret to say that as of this Friday it will be closing its doors, which means, as I said, 300 men and women out of work. The people who invested their money -- the plant is worth, they estimate, $7 million or $8 million -- probably will be leaving town. These were people who were not from the community. They had invested money in the plant; they gave us the benefit of their entrepreneurial skills as well. It improved the work force; it gave opportunities, especially to many working women; but it is closing its doors.
Things in Ontario overall are not much better, if one reads the papers. For example, the Toronto Star had an interesting series on the economic prospects for Ontario. The very first article is entitled “Problem-ravaged Ontario fights for survival.” One paragraph, I think, is kind of interesting:
“If the slump continues, thousands of others in Ontario’s 4.17-million-strong work force will lose their jobs as plants close their doors. Retail sales will plummet as consumers hoard their money, fearing even bleaker days ahead.”
“The number of unemployed has jumped 42 per cent in the last 12 months. Nearly 69,000 workers lost their jobs in the last six months. There are fewer total jobs in Ontario now than a year ago, although more people are looking for work. The jobless rate will average 7.5 per cent in 1982, the highest level since World War II. It may never fall below five per cent for the rest of the 1980s.
“Personal and corporate bankruptcies rose in the last year and will continue their unabated increase this year. Economic growth will fall by 2.1 per cent” -- get this, Mr. Speaker -- ”the worst of all 10 provinces.
“Real disposable income per person will plunge from nine per cent above the national average to barely two per cent. Labour productivity will grow at the slowest rate within the country until 1990. Retail sales will grow this year by barely 4.6 per cent, a rate slower than all the provinces except New Brunswick and tiny Prince Edward Island.”
These are not exactly very optimistic or inspiring examples of what is going on in our economy. But I suggest that this is the real world; this is the actual situation here in Ontario. We may have been smug, we may have been self-centred and self-righteous in the past; but the simple reality is that we are in the midst of the worst economic recession since the dirty 30s.
That is the overall economic context in which the budget was presented. I want to cite very briefly some of the advice the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) was given by different economists before he introduced his budget in the Legislature.
“‘People would rush in and buy during this period,’ he said. ‘Ontario has always done this for cars and it has always worked very well. I think that this time around the whole retail area is very weak and it could be a more across-the-board kind of sales tax reduction.’” That advice, as we know, was ignored.
Greg Jump, associate professor at the University of Toronto department of political economy, said: “I really have only two messages for the government. Don’t panic over the deficit, and put pressure on the federal government to change the tax structure and deal with inflation.” Then he talked about the obsession with budget deficit.
Brian Gray, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, was quoted as saying that under no circumstances should the provincial government increase taxes. “A tax increase would only make matters worse. The economy is in such a downturn right now that they are going to have a worse deficit position regardless of what they do. So they shouldn’t get into more costly programs to try and pull themselves out.” Of course, that advice on the tax was totally ignored.
Another economist, Lorie Tarshis, senior economist of the Ontario Economic Council, was quoted as saying that the Treasurer should ignore his qualms about a growing deficit and stimulate consumer spending -- get this, Mr. Speaker -- by eliminating some provincial sales taxes.
“The tax cuts I would recommend would be to get rid of all the product taxes that don’t have a real social justification. I would probably increase taxes on things like tobacco, liquor and gasoline, but the sales taxes that are only revenue-raisers should go. We tax things like shoes and boots simply as a revenue device and I think it is a lousy one simply because one of its effects is to raise prices. If we are fighting inflation, what is the point of that? There are better ways of raising revenue.” That advice was ignored.
Finally, Alasdair McKichan, president of the Retail Council of Canada, had this basic advice for the Treasurer, as paraphrased by the Star: “Miller should concentrate on cushioning the blow for small business by offering hard-pressed firms short-term repayable loans at interest rates four to five per cent below current market rates. The scheme would cost little, but would prevent many small businesses from going belly up and would help maintain jobs.”
We are faced with a budget, as everybody knows in Ontario, which raised taxes. It raised the Ontario health insurance plan premiums by 17 per cent, which means a 35 per cent increase in the past two years. Taxes on tobacco and alcohol, as everybody knows, were raised. Gas taxes were raised, not through a specific budgetary device but through the application of the old ad valorem principle, which means higher prices bring higher taxes in Ontario.
Everybody knows they have extended the sales tax to a variety of articles and items, including labour, and we all know about the sales tax being imposed on meals. It is interesting that while all those taxes were being increased, they froze the corporation tax by not applying certain provisions of the federal budget.
To the average family in my riding and elsewhere in Ontario, it means somewhere between $150 and $300 out of their pocket depending on whether or not they pay their own OHIP premiums. That was bad enough. Then our friend MacEachen in Ottawa imposes, virtually by a back-door deindexation of the tax exemptions, a $123 burden on the average family.
Some families in Ontario are paying upwards of $400 more as a result of the federal and provincial budgets combined. I suggest that in today’s economic climate and with record unemployment, work-sharing, job insecurity and a breakdown in consumer confidence, the worst possible thing to do was to take that much purchasing power out of the pockets of ordinary working families rather than from the wealthy.
I suppose the most controversial provision of the budget was the retail sales tax. It is obviously the one that has received the most publicity from the fourth estate. It is interesting to note, before we get into the actual provisions of it, what has been happening in terms of where this government gets its money. I speak here in terms of sales tax versus income tax versus the corporation tax.
In 1960, for every dollar collected in personal taxes, $1.79 was raised in corporation taxes. By 1982, and with this budget, for every dollar raised by personal taxes, only 14 cents was raised by corporation taxes.
It is interesting to note that, as a percentage of budget revenues, corporate taxes have gone from 11.9 per cent in 1980 way down to 7.5 per cent in 1982, which represents a 44 per cent reduction, while personal taxes now make up 51.9 per cent, compared with 43.7 per cent in 1980, which represents an approximate 18 per cent increase.
If one looks at the comparative statistics for 1981-82, corporate taxes have decreased as a proportion of the provincial budget by 22 per cent, the sales tax component has increased by approximately 20 per cent and the income tax has increased by approximately four per cent.
Mr. Samis: That is right. In simple reality, what we have is the ordinary people paying more taxes through either sales tax or income tax and the corporations and the elite paying fewer and fewer taxes. The end result is we get a budget that produces taxes of this sort, and obviously that is good Tory philosophy.
Looking at the whole question of the sales tax, which seems to have aroused the most public indignation, I read a letter in last night’s Toronto Star which I thought was rather interesting. The heading was, “Long-Time Tory must speak out.” It is from the July 5 edition of the Star. I am sure the members opposite would like to have the whole thing quoted without any summation.
“I declare no interest in the food industry, except as a consumer of it. This new Ontario sales tax on prepared food is definitely the most ridiculous and politically damaging idea to be instituted into a government budget to date. Is Queen’s Park so confident of support that it would risk such public hostility?
“In the latest provincial budget, you have cleverly avoided taxing the multinationals, internationals, banks and insurance companies, many of whose origin, transferability of expenses and income it is impossible to follow.
“Subsidizing the functions of multinationals, banks and insurance companies at the expense of the common people is unfair and detrimental, inflationary, and it increases unemployment at the expense of directing the multiplier effect towards and for the benefit of the corporations, banks and insurance companies.
“Surely you must see the statistics and observe that it is the transactions of the above parties and not the expenses of the common people that are responsible for the provincial deficit and loss of revenue.
“Are there that many fringe benefits to the members, key supporters of the Big Blue Machine, to cause you to take the extreme position that was hinted at for a good number of years? The basic law of life, economically and socially, ‘Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you,’ also applies to finance ministers and leaders of multinationals, banks and insurance companies, whether they be foreign or Canadian.
“What control the multinationals, banks and insurance companies do not already have over the people, this provincial government gave to them by taxing labour costs. This is a devious move to perpetuate the throwaway society mentality as well as make us, the people of Ontario, even more dependent on corporations for goods and services we would be doing for and by ourselves.
I suppose that one of the more controversial items for the general public was the tax imposed on meals. I know all members are aware that we have a select committee which is actually hearing the briefs representing different groups in the province. One of the interesting ones I noticed was from the Ontario Restaurant and Foodservices Association. I thought their comments on the tax were interesting and quite relevant. I quote from page 4 of their brief:
Manitoba has a five per cent tax only on meals costing more than $6 and no tax on takeout meals. In Ontario, we all know the budget. Quebec has a 10 per cent tax on meals costing more than $3.25; on meals costing less than $3.25 there is no tax; on take-out meals there is no tax under $3.25. New Brunswick has an eight per cent tax on meals costing more than $2.01 and on all take-outs. Nova Scotia has an eight per cent tax on restaurant meals costing more than $4 and no tax on take-outs. Prince Edward Island has a nine per cent tax on meals costing more than $2 and on take-outs costing more than $2.
Mr. Samis: Newfoundland, another Tory government, charges 11 per cent on meals costing more than $3 and 11 per cent on take-outs costing more than $3. It is interesting that Ontario is the only province that imposes a tax on meals at that level.
The fourth reason the association argued against the tax is: “4. The tax is reducing opportunities for students, youth, women and unskilled workers who enter the work force through the food service industry.”
I think the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) demonstrated this rather well when he sent some freebies over to the Treasurer. They included yoghurt, apple juice, an apple and milk purchased not in a restaurant but in a supermarket and totally nontaxable.
It is kind of interesting. The report points out that 78 per cent of the meals served in Ontario are for less than $6. They estimate that the tax will generate $170 million, but it will also mean the loss of 7,500 jobs.
“Initially we were told that all food sold by eating establishments would be taxed. Then we are told six or more doughnuts for takeout would be taxed. At one point three or more cream-filled doughnuts were tax-free. Two days later they became taxable. Even when we get a ruling, the rationale escapes us. If six doughnuts for takeout are tax-free, why not six sandwiches, or why do the six doughnuts become taxable when the purchaser includes a cup of coffee?”
They talk about other examples. They talk about the liquor licence restaurants grappling with a two-tier tax system -- seven per cent on meals, 10 per cent on alcoholic beverages -- and if they have accommodation it is at five per cent, there is a third tier on the rooms as well. They say: “The introduction of a multi-tier tax system is further evidence of the incomprehension and insensitivity toward our business. It increases the time required to calculate guest checks and is highly susceptible to incorrect calculations by service staff.” These are the people affected in the industry. That is what they think of that aspect of the budget.
“The imposition of this tax will reduce dealers’ service by approximately 25 per cent. Our research to date indicates the following will happen to Ontario’s revenue. The large fleet owners will simply decide to have all their repairs done in their own shops ... or they will go out of the province, while small fleet owners will probably utilize empty garages and mechanics who moonlight. This will cause the government to lose sales tax revenue and the income tax on this type of moonlighting business.
“There will be approximately $155 million worth of retail labour to be performed over the next 12 months by the group we represent in Ontario. The retail sales tax on this work would amount to about $10.8 million. Twenty-five per cent of this business ... will be lost to us as a result of fleet owners doing their own repairs. The net result on that segment would be some $2.7 million in potential tax revenue lost to the province.
“This lost business will result in 200 heavy-duty truck dealers laying off an estimated minimum of three mechanics each, or some 600 people in total. Assuming an average wage of $22,500 each, there would be a loss in income taxes to both Ontario and the federal government of some $3.3 million.”
They talk about further layoffs of some 400 people and say: “Because there is a surplus of these people in the marketplace, they will not quickly be re-employed and the tax loss to both federal and provincial governments from personal income tax would be another $2.25 million ... In summary, to collect between $7.5 million and $8 million in tax revenue, it will likely cost the government some $8.7 million in lost revenue.” That really makes sense. We are trying to collect that amount of money and we are losing that amount of money, plus the jobs as well.
It is interesting to talk about meals. The original rationale for the $6 level was outlined in 1977 by none other than the Duke of Chatham-Kent, Lord Darcy himself, and I quote from the 1977 budget: “Ontario has over the past few years increased the level of the retail sales tax exemption for prepared meals so that residents and visitors alike are able to purchase essential meals free of tax. At the same time, the levels chosen have ensured the continued generation of revenue from the more elaborate high-priced dinners. In continuation of this practice, I am proposing a further increase in the level of exemptions to $6. This change ensures that all basic meals will be free of tax.”
Darcy McKeough was never accused of being a bleeding-heart Liberal, a raving Socialist or anything of the sort. He was a tight-fisted, good old true-blue, southwest Ontario Tory. This was in 1977. If one applied those figures today, if one talks of five years ago, one is talking of an inflation rate that probably would total about 45 to 50 per cent. That means if Lord Darcy were writing the budget, the exemption would be around the $9 mark. But the present Treasurer abolishes the $6 limit and, in effect, brings it down to zilch. This is the former leading exponent of Tory philosophy in terms of the economy, even that has been rejected in favour of this nefarious and nebulous budget.
They tell people, “If you buy a car, a TV set or a new suit, you will only pay seven per cent, but if you happen to be unemployed, on a fixed income or you are worried about your future and you get your car or your TV fixed or get your suit repaired at the tailor’s or the cleaner’s, you are going to get zapped for seven per cent.”
This is a government that preaches energy conservation, yet we are taxing all sorts of conservation devices, such as storm windows and doors. We ask people to save energy by taking public transit, yet we are applying the tax to public transit vehicles, such as buses, which means transit authorities will have to pay more.
In terms of the sales tax being applied to meals, obviously, the first choice would be to raise the taxable amount and restore it to its original position or level of $6. Failing that, surely a reasonable compromise would be the $4 level.
Fourth, we should make some changes on the confectionary tax exemption. Some may want it as high as 75 cents, but I would be prepared to live with an increase to 50 cents or in that range, like most other provinces in Canada, and not be the most niggardly, mealy-mouthed province of all by reducing the exemption to 21 cents.
Fifth, I would suggest that if the Treasurer is looking for sources of revenue, he should look at all the tax privileges and giveaways he and Lord Darcy have incorporated in the budget for the past five or six years.
I would make eight specific suggestions: We could tax the 50 per cent of capital gains that are untaxed, which could realize a possible $75 million; tax 50 per cent of the personal capital gains untaxed at present, which could realize $150 million; reimpose the retail sales tax on production machinery and equipment, which could realize a possible $240 million; impose a limited succession duty on the wealthy, not the ordinary people, for a possible $75 million; eliminate the accelerated capital cost allowance which might realize $110 million; eliminate the inventory evaluation adjustment for a possible $73 million; eliminate the dividend tax credit for a possible $186 million; and increase the corporate tax by two percentage points, which would realize $110 million.
All told, if we implemented all eight of those changes, we would realize $1,019,000,000 more in revenue for the government of Ontario. But of course the Treasurer will not touch any of those because they represent his friends at the Albany Club, those on Bay Street and the big boys.
We all know that with majority government this budget will pass despite the charade of the committee sessions and the debate. I think it is interesting to note that on the unique occasion when people in Ontario had a chance to speak on the budget, to approve or not approve it, they voted decisively to reject it.
I refer to the election in Hamilton West where the main issue of the campaign was the Treasurer’s budget. I think it is safe to say that before the budget the Tory candidate was the favourite. Most people said he was a heavy favourite. But as soon as the budget was introduced, as soon as it became the main issue, everything else became secondary. The people clearly and demonstrably sent a message to Queen’s Park and said, “We do not like that budget; we do not think it is a fair budget; we do not think it is a good budget and we do not want a Tory representing us.”
Because of other factors, they rejected the Liberal candidate. I would suggest it was because of the federal connection. They elected our good friend the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) to represent them. The message was clear. They did not buy this budget and they were not going to accept it.
Another tax in the budget is the Ontario health insurance plan premium tax which is up by 17 per cent. That represents a 35 per cent increase over the past two years. Before the previous budget, we had the highest medical care premiums in all of Canada and now we have increased them by 35 per cent. That rate of increase is greater than any other province that still has medicare premiums.
It is interesting to note those increases in the premiums came after last year’s election and all the propaganda about keeping the promise. Every time the OHIP premium is increased, even for people who have it paid for them it means higher costs, for the employer, for the municipality or for the school board. In the case of the last two, that inevitably means higher costs which are passed on to the taxpayers in the form of higher taxes.
The Treasurer likes to talk and brag about what his budget did for small business. He talks with great gusto about a two-year tax holiday and how this is such a great benefit to small businesses in Ontario. Of course, he does not like to talk about the fact that two thirds of the small businesses in this province are not even incorporated; therefore, they are not even eligible for the tax holiday. He does not like to talk about the record rate of bankruptcies among small businesses. If the present rate continues, we are talking in terms of 16,000 jobs lost this year in Ontario in small businesses.
If the Treasurer likes to brag about what his tax holiday means, the end result is that between the bankruptcies and his tax we will have a net loss of 6,000 jobs. What is the priority: giving them a tax holiday or helping them meet interest rates and slumping sales? We in this party have advocated a plan of assistance to help small businesses cope with the crushing burden of high interest rates.
In terms of job creation, the budget was pure window dressing. It only created 31,000 temporary jobs at a time when we have 1.5 million people unemployed across the country and over 400,000 in this province. In eastern Ontario, for the second consecutive year it offered virtually no new incentives or programs.
In terms of industrial strategy, it offered no new guidelines, incentives or ideas. In terms of import replacement, whether we are talking of mining machinery, food processing, electronics, high tech, it offered no new real programs whatsoever. It obviously offered no real stimulus for consumers; if anything, it increased the burden on them as far as rental housing is concerned and offered no new incentives.
It is interesting that Quebec, which has a terrible economic situation, was still able to come out with a major program to stimulate its manufacturing sector. Part of that program represents a $200 million investment by the Quebec government in small and medium-sized manufacturers.
It is a joint program worked out with the chartered banks through its development corporation, guaranteeing two thirds of a company’s loan from a chartered bank and paying three quarters of the interest cost between 10 and 25 per cent. We do not see anything like that in Ontario.
In terms of my own riding, I must again express my reservations about the government’s feasibility program in Morrisburg to try to determine the value of a possible resort hotel. I think that is the last thing the small businesses, especially the tourist businesses, in that area want or need. For some of them it would probably mean curtains.
In Cornwall, we are still struggling to get a major hotel chain to erect the hotel it had promised downtown. It has been two years since that was approved and nothing has happened because of the interest rates and the general economic situation. To have one in Morrisburg would obviously cancel out the one in Cornwall. It does not make sense.
If there is one thing we need locally, I suggest it is time for the government to consolidate in one building the various services it offers and its offices in Cornwall. The federal government has now made a final decision to erect a building in the downtown area to consolidate all its services and offices in one building. I suggest it is high time for the government of Ontario to start doing the same thing and to end this hotchpotch, this mishmash of services and offices scattered throughout the region.
Our party has offered alternatives to the budget. I am proud to say the alternatives were offered before the budget, not after it. We offered various proposals on mortgage moratorium; interest rate assistance for home owners, tenants, farmers and small business; protection for workers affected by layoffs and plant closings; community adjustment funds to aid communities to create new economic opportunities; a fair prices commission to protect consumers from unfair practices; programs to raise living standards for those who depend on social assistance; increased child care; assistance in funding a housing program and a residential conservation program.
Sometimes the Premier likes to twit and taunt us about not being concerned about the cost of living. We have expressed some concern and at least some alternatives. I do confess there are limitations to what a provincial government can do, but surely there are things on which we can take action that are purely within the provincial realm; such as, effectively controlling utility and energy price increases for Ontario Hydro and Consumer’s Gas. The government should stop hiding behind the smoke screen of the Ontario Energy Board and stand up for the consumers of Ontario and do something. It should stop letting Hydro gouge people with propositions of a 54 per cent increase, massive borrowing and a ludicrous $10-billion nuclear expansion at Darlington.
Surely we can do something to reduce interest rates within the provincial realm. Surely we can do something to limit the use of sales and energy taxes that are purely inflationary. Surely we could do something to limit certain corporate price increases and curb speculation in property and real estate. Of course, if this long-entrenched government wanted to, it could do something about rooting out waste, inefficiency and duplication in the government; which brings me to the whole question of the deficit in the budget.
Naturally, in this party we do not regard deficits as inherently good or bad. I think most people in the province do not. They would assess it purely in the context of what the deficit is being used for. I would suggest that the $650-million investment in Suncor is probably the single stupidest, most unpopular economic action taken by this government in the past 30 years.
if they had the guts to have a free vote on the other side about whether they support the Suncor investment, I bet it would not get six votes out of the 70. We all know $650 million is not the real cost because a lot of this money is borrowed and the ultimate cost probably would be over $2 billion. So when there is a deficit to pay for such --
I am sure all the members have read the poll in the Toronto Star about the Suncor purchase. Obviously, the people of Ontario province-wide have rejected it decisively. We had almost 2,000 respondents to a poll we did in my own riding. The simple question was, “Do you agree with the government’s purchase of Suncor?” The result was 70 per cent of the replies said “No” and a massive 15 per cent said “Yes.”
I would suggest that the Suncor investment is one of the worst investments any government in Ontario has made in this century. That was compounded by the almost obscene use of public funds to buy a luxurious jet that none of us has ever seen and maybe some of us will never see in the province.
This government squanders almost $30 million annually on advertising, most of which is designed to help keep the government in power, soften up the electorate and sell some of their programs to make themselves look good rather than provide any information, education or form of enlightenment for the taxpayers of Ontario.
With the staggering burden of interest rates and mortgage rates, surely this government would do something to help home owners, small business and farmers. Yet the budget was a zero for those three groups.
Sure, they helped the new, first-time buyers. But what about the thousands and thousands of families that are trying to cope with 19, 20 and 21 per cent mortgages? What about the businesses on the verge of going under, that are not incorporated, that are not making money and are just trying to survive? What about those farmers, other than beef farmers, who are trying to survive and pay those staggering interest rates and rapidly rising capital costs? There was no help in the budget for them.
Some people seem to think there are fall guys in situations. The first thing is to blame everything on the feds. Trudeau is unpopular, so shove it all on the feds. Some of them, including the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker), like to use other whipping boys. He likes to blame the Foreign Investment Review Agency and the national energy policy, and to say those are the great bugaboos of our society and our economic growth in Ontario.
That is pure garbage. I think David Crane in the Toronto Star did an excellent article. He looked at where the recession was really setting in in the main industries in Ontario. I think he singled out mining, autos, construction and forestry as four key industries. He pointed out that in all four of those industries, FIRA had not one iota of impact on their current economic situation. Take cars, for example. Would anybody suggest that the depressed state of the auto industry is in any way related to FIRA? Obviously, nobody in his right mind would. The same thing applies to construction and forestry.
It is time for us in Ontario to stand up and reject any form of Reaganomics. I know the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) at one stage basked in the glory of the Reagan victory and said: “Yes, that’s where we should be going in Ontario. We should take a turn to the far right.” His colleague in Industry and Trade suggested the same thing. Now the Treasurer has backtracked a little bit. Look at the results in the United States: massive unemployment; inflation rate back up to 12 per cent.
I always have a chuckle when some of these Conservatives go around ranting and raving about the glories of a balanced budget. The Treasurer and Ronald Reagan have produced the largest deficits in the history of either Ontario or the United States. Yet they both continue to talk about the glories, the value, the virtue and the ultimate nirvana of a balanced budget, as if they would ever achieve it. Let us get realistic. Let us reject this idea of the government as the enemy of the people, let us reject the idea that balanced budgets are good in themselves, and let us totally reject the idea that we help the rich by attacking, taxing or depriving the poor and the working class people.
Some people think the solution or the panacea is to jump on the MacEachen bandwagon right now and implement provincial wage controls. It is attractive to some people because civil-servant bashing can be a popular sport. In a few cases the civil servants -- I suppose the postal workers, for example -- are not entirely without blame in creating public animosity and public hostility.
Even the business community, though, is opposed to the idea of price and wage controls in general. Everybody knows they are not fair. I think hardly anyone would suggest the last experience, with our friends Beryl Plumptre, Jean-Luc Pepin and Harold Renouf, worked anything special for the country or was very effective. How do we tell somebody who sweeps floors in a hospital or just helps out that he should be zapped to a six per cent level, when he sees the doctor who got a 34 per cent increase walking by? How do we justify that to someone at the lower scale? Or take the example of the civil service. When somebody who is a deputy minister, an upper echnik or something gets a six per cent increase, if it is six per cent of $50,000 versus six per cent of $12,000, it obviously is not fair.
Mr. Samis: The Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet says that is not fair. He knows selective controls are discriminatory and they are not fair. Anybody who judges controls on the basis of equity would agree. They have never been fair. They are simple, they are arbitrary, and they are sometimes used as a panacea. The Premier (Mr. Davis) himself has preached against them and says, even today, he does not support the principle. He has backtracked a bit, but he admits they are unfair, selective and discriminatory. He knows that.
In winding up, I want to say times are tough. I think people realize that. I think they are prepared to share the burden equally. Even my colleague the member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo) would agree with that. There are no easy solutions or simple fixes. Any politician of any stripe in any province or jurisdiction who suggests there is a simple solution or panacea is a liar, a hoaxer, a hypocrite and a fraud.
We live in an obviously interdependent world. As elected officials, we have a responsibility to protect the interests of the ordinary people, provide for a fair tax system, provide a basic form of security and shelter for the less fortunate, and give them an equality of opportunity to succeed, to venture, to grow and to prosper.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I always look forward with great expectation to the opportunity to participate in the budget debate. There is nothing that gives me greater joy than to have this opportunity to come in and extol the virtues that are put forward by the provincial Treasurer on an annual basis.
I have had the privilege in the past seven years to be able to participate in the budget debate and on each and every successive occasion it has always been a greater joy than the preceding one because each budget is more imaginative, more realistic and more suited to the times.
It is amazing that this government -- and it is the secret as to why we have been the government in power for over 40 years -- has been able to come forward with realistic, responsible and responsive fiscal policies. This budget is no exception. To be able to say that under the trying economic circumstances of our country today, is something indeed.
I think all members of this House were amazed to find the budget that was brought forward was so moderate and so positive, considering we were experiencing very difficult economic times on a provincial, national and global basis.
One of the reasons I get a great deal of joy out of being able to participate in the budgetary process is that, to sit in the House and listen to the debate on the budget from the members of the opposition and listen to the continual litany of gloom and doom, is something that can make one somewhat depressed.
They are dealing in the realm of unreality and so often their posturing and criticism, which is their role to perform in this House, if it were not taken to excess could sometimes be construed as having some positive aspects to it and might even be listened to on occasion.
But when one hears some of the rantings, ravings and ramblings that go on in the Legislature by the opposition parties over the budgetary process and the budget put forward by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), one does have cause to want to have an opportunity to be able to respond and put things back into reality, into perspective and do a realistic assessment of the budget that has been brought forward so we have a better and more comprehensive understanding of the budgetary process.
I would like to start by looking at the main features of the budget that was brought down by the Treasurer in May because I think they will demonstrate clearly that once again our Treasurer has been sufficiently nimble and astute as to be able to weave together a masterful budgetary document that recognizes the difficult times being experienced by the people and businesses in this province and the negative impact of those circumstances on our economy.
The Treasurer might have been encouraged to simplify the process by broadening the deficit of the government, to prime the pump to excess and try to create a fantasy that everything was right in a world where things are not so easy today. But the Treasurer was more realistic than that. He realized there had to be some modest readjustment to the deficit financing in order to offer assistance by creating real job incentives and not make-work programs.
He realized there was a need to restore confidence in a society and in a business community which was completely devoid of confidence, given the activities which took place previously in Ottawa. One of the reasons his budget was delayed this year was that he kept waiting and hoping that the federal Minister of Finance would finally see the light and recognize that the disastrous budget he brought in last November required more than patchwork attention, that in fact it required major restructuring and a completely new budgetary presentation.
Our Treasurer could wait only so long, recognizing that our fiscal period commenced on April 1 and that normally he would introduce his budget during the first two weeks of April. He delayed for a full month and, understandably, felt he could wait no longer.
It was difficult for him to have to bring forward a budget in the knowledge that sooner or later the federal authorities would have to readjust their positions, because it would have been easier for him to adapt his budgetary considerations to a more realistic federal fiscal arrangement. That was not to be, unfortunately. It came after the fact. And even after the fact there is no joy in Mudville tonight as far as the federal budget is concerned.
The interesting thing is that never in recent decades have I heard the business community speak out so clearly, so loudly and so specifically in comparing federal budgetary policies to provincial budgeting as carried out in Ontario. Never has the business community been so compelled to speak out objectively in the way it has with regard to these two budgets that are before the people of this country today.
In each and every case, without exception, the comparison has shown the federal budgetary process to have been totally negative and out of tune with the times, while the provincial budget was found to have been designed in a positive, constructive fashion that was realistic and recognized that support had to be given in a very positive and constructive way to the private sector.
Mr. Williams: I will come to that very shortly, because it has been most interesting and I think it is rather significant that for the past half hour we have listened to the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis), who I do not think graced that committee with his presence during its hearings. I think he did look in the door one night: most of the members of his caucus have drifted in and out from time to time looking concerned and showing that there was some concern about the legislation before the committee for consideration, but I do not think the member for Cornwall was one of those concerned members.
However, notwithstanding that fact, it was interesting that he stood here for half an hour this evening reading from briefs that had been submitted to the committee, selective readings that seem to suggest there are some difficulties with the legislation.
There is no question that the selective readings he brought forward before the committee were obviously those prepared by those with vested interests and those people who previously had not been subject to any retail sales tax but obviously now were being impacted on and understandably would be before the committee to object.
But it is interesting, and I would like to come to the point raised by the member for Windsor- Sandwich (Mr. Wrye) suggesting that he had not heard anything positive about Bill 115 since the hearings started. I do not know where he has been; I know he came into the meeting once or twice and had a few words to say. Four times, he indicates. I am getting the message.
Mr. Williams: He had a few relevant questions to ask, I think. They were more relevant than those coming forward from the members from the Ottawa Valley, the two of them, who seemed to be caught on a broken record continually referring to Suncor as the only question they can seem to relate to; and how that relates to Bill 115 I have yet to understand. But they seemed to be on one track, and it is one not relevant to the hearings of the committee.
I think it was refreshing to hear from the member for Windsor-Sandwich, because at least he was on point and I have to give him credit for that. When he comes to a committee at least he sticks to the subject matter before the committee, and I think that is a credit to one of the newer members of that caucus. I think the senior members of that caucus, who are so devoid of talent to get to the subject matter of the issues before them, have to engage in derisive comments and slurs rather than dealing with the issues at hand. But I give the member for Windsor-Sandwich credit; he is doing a credible job.
He was in the committee. But because he is not a member of the committee, he was not there when some of the major briefs were presented that the member for Cornwall just happened to overlook, perhaps because they were not fed to him tonight by his colleagues. So he does not even understand or appreciate the fact that a number of very major briefs have been submitted that were very complimentary to the budgetary positioning of this government.
Mr. Williams: I was just waiting for that lead-in. I am just delighted that I was asked to name them because, seeing as how the member for Cornwall took up to better than half an hour presenting selective readings to the House, I am going to come forward with the particular briefs that were much more meaningful and substantive and that I think give a much clearer picture of what is really happening with regard to the public perception of the budgetary process here in Ontario.
I must point out as an example that the Toronto Home Builders’ Association sent a letter to the Treasurer. This was before the committee hearings. I will come in a moment to the briefs that were before the committee, just to enlighten the member for Cornwall. But it is interesting to see a letter dated May 20, 1982, from the Toronto Home Builders Association to the Treasurer. I will quote just two paragraphs from it.
“Congratulations on the presentation of a budget which shows leadership and stimulates the economy. We in the housing industry are pleased to see the interest the Ontario government has taken in housing. The renter-buy program, as well as the other programs that have been introduced by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, are positive and a definite aid to the housing industry.”
Mr. Williams: “I appreciate that the provincial government has shown some leadership in this regard and hope that at some point similar leadership can be shown at the federal level.” I hope they do not hold their breath. “Again, your interest in the housing industry and the leadership you have taken in stimulating the overall economy will improve consumer confidence and start an economic recovery which is much needed.”
“Your budget of May 13 is a very thorough and commendable piece of work. Given the restraints within which you must operate, and the options open for your consideration, you have made an excellent start on the difficult road to economic recovery. The Canadian Organization of Small Business wishes to express its particular appreciation for the openness with which you heard and met our greatest concern and priorities.”
I must interject here because again and again, in the committee and elsewhere, people have clearly shown the different attitude taken by our provincial Treasurer and the way in which he has an open door to the various sectors of our business community to consult with and to listen to those people about the budgetary process before bringing in his budget.
Again and again, the businessmen complained that they could not get in the front door or even the back or the side door to talk to Mr. MacEachen. He would not talk to them when he was preparing his budget. His mandarins knew all the answers; he did not have to talk to the business community. Not so here in Ontario; this is very much a part of the budgetary process and no province in Canada does a better job at it than right here in Ontario and no provincial Treasurer does a better job of it than our own provincial Treasurer.
That is a very significant part of the budgetary process, a very positive open-door attitude. It is because of it that our budget was a realistic one. The Treasurer listened to all sectors of the business community and from that he shaped a realistic budget designed for the times.
“Your avoidance of personal income tax increases and the steps you took to mitigate the devastating effects of the federal budget through the elimination of the income tax on small business should be of considerable benefit to companies which may be in a position to expand and create new jobs.”
Again, I must interject. I see the member for Cornwall has left the chamber. I guess he could not face up to the realities of the situation and hear the good news. He is so intent on bringing gloom and doom to these hallowed halls that he does not know how to react to good news for a change.
What I really wanted to do was to come specifically to those briefs that were and are being presented to the resources development committee which completely contradict the selective readings brought to the House this evening by an uninformed member who has not participated in that committee discussion and debate and who has not really heard the presentations, but has simply been handed these particular briefs that have been presented to the committee. Undoubtedly, certain sections have been circled in red pencil and he has been reading them off faithfully here this evening, as he has undoubtedly been instructed to do.
I will turn first to the submission made by the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association. This is a document that was included in their submission dated May 26, 1982. It does an overview of the budget in a very realistic and thoughtful fashion. In conclusion, the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association states as follows:
“The CMA commends the Ontario government for the development of a responsive and responsible budget, although we believe there should have been greater recognition of the vital manufacturing base of the province. Overall, the new budget measures will likely have a neutral impact on manufacturing industries in that the major new tax incentives for small business are mitigated and perhaps fully offset by the increased employer taxes from the extended sales tax base and higher OHIP premiums. Nevertheless, manufacturers are pleased that the government was able to retain current incentives for industry to grow and create jobs in Ontario.”
Again, unfortunately, the member for Cornwall has fled the chamber and is not here to hear some of the words of wisdom. As recently as this afternoon, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business was before the committee. In singling out Bill 115 for consideration, they had some general observations to make. If I may just highlight what they had to say about the 1982 Ontario budget, I am quoting from page 3 of their brief:
“The 1982 Ontario budget went a long way towards satisfying that goal [of restoring business confidence and investment]. The CFIB commended and commends the Ontario government on the broad thrust of the provincial budget and many of the specific items contained in it.
“The Ontario budget is important for the psychological lift that it gives to the business sector. Prior to that budget, there was a general feeling of demoralization and despair on the part of business operators. The governments, especially after November 12” -- and undoubtedly they are alluding to the disastrous federal budget that came down last November 12 -- “did not understand the nature or the extent of their problems. That mood was reflected in the lack of economic and investment activity in the province. Many of the Treasurer’s budgetary measures did much to overcome that feeling.
“First and foremost, the Ontario government sent out a clear signal to Ottawa and the business community that it understood the problems facing the economy and the confidence and measures to spur investment were the right method to help the economy recover...
“Other positive measures included the decision to send for study by the Ontario Economic Council the possible opting out of the federal-provincial tax collection agreement on personal income tax, the support of a program for personal income tax incentives for equity investment and the job creation initiatives to help our unemployed weather the current storm.
“Thus, in large measure the federation feels that the Ontario budget dealt with an extremely difficult economic situation in an appropriate and fiscally responsible fashion. Most importantly, the measures in the budget recognized the importance of such basic concepts as cash flow, liquidity and profits. If firms in the country are totally drained of their earnings during these hard times, they will not have the financial strength to create jobs and economic activity when the recession ends. The budget recognizes this.”
This is another testimonial in support of the budget. It is one of many glowing testimonials that have been presented to the committee in the past two days. There are so many of them. What was really amazing was the deafening silence in that committee when one series of witnesses after another came before the committee and actually lauded the Treasurer’s budget.
The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) was especially tongue-tied. He is usually ranting and raving. I think he has a guilt complex because he is so seldom here. When he is here, he feels he has to be heard so he knows he is on the record. It is quite obvious when he comes into committee. He likes to make a lot of noise but there is little substance, like a paper tiger. He was dumfounded when he heard the briefs this afternoon.
Let me turn to another glowing testimonial presented to the committee today by no less a prestigious organization than the Investment Dealers Association of Canada. It did an objective and realistic assessment of the Ontario budget on an overview basis. I will simply give the concluding comments of that presentation, which I think say it all.
I wish the member for Cornwall would return to the chamber. He is obviously sitting in the outer chamber with his tail between his legs, wishing he had never got up this evening to present selective readings from the committee hearings about the so-called negative aspects of Bill 115.
“It is our view that the choice made by the provincial Treasurer on May 13 to opt for a strategy which strengthened the composite balance sheet of Ontario business, which encouraged new productive investment and which attached a high priority to reopening the federal-provincial dialogue on the importance of productivity improvement and new equity financing was the correct and timely choice to make in the interests of the citizens of this province.
“Ontario has more at stake in increasing productivity than any other province in Canada. The economic strategy recommended to the Legislature in the May 13 budget will improve productivity in Ontario. We urge the Premier and the Treasurer to remain on that course and to press vigorously the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance of Canada to move more vigorously and quickly along the same path.”
If that is not a glowing testimonial, I do not know what is, although I think I have one better than that. I will turn to that right now, if I might. This is also a presentation that was made before the committee this afternoon by an individual representing a very prestigious part of the business community. It was none other than Mr. J. P. Bunting, president of the Toronto Stock Exchange. I have to present some choice, selective comments from his point of view as given in his presentation to the committee this afternoon.
I really do wish the member for Cornwall would return to the chamber; I think he would feel inspired. He had such a negative attitude when he left that I feel this would salve his conscience. It would make him feel much better if he could leave on a happy note this evening.
“It is my view that the Treasurer, faced with a difficult environment, had a set of difficult choices. He was faced with the dual needs of creating a climate to inspire confidence in the future of Ontario and, at the same time, charting a course of fiscal prudence and responsibility. I believe his choice of budget measures were the ones appropriate to realizing both of these needs...
“The government of Ontario has demonstrated leadership in reasonable control of its expenditures. Over the past seven years, provincial products expenditures have remained fairly stable. In addition, the government has cut over 5,000 jobs from the civil service. By comparison to the federal government, this is a commendable performance. Growth in federal expenditures has consistently surpassed the rate of inflation and has also consistently surpassed the growth of Canada’s gross national product.”
I was really delighted when the member for Cornwall invited me to be specific, as I certainly had intended to be, because I knew that if I had given the same reasons as expressed by the Treasurer in his budget the members opposite would simply have said, “It is self-serving.” That is why I was delighted to have the opportunity to present objective testimonials from people in the business community who have no axe to grind either with the opposition parties or with the government party. They were there simply to tell it the way it is. That is why I think it is so important to get these glowing testimonials on the record this evening.
“The Treasurer, in my view, prudently decided against allowing the deficit to grow since in the long term it would become unmanageable. One only has to look at the federal experience to know how a burgeoning deficit shatters business and investor confidence and gives government little room to come to grips with economic problems. In order to minimize growth in the provincial deficit as a consequence of these revenue losses, it is clear there was little choice but to raise taxes in Ontario.”
Mr. Bunting said further: “Having eliminated income taxes as a source of revenue” -- which, I might say, was one of the options the Treasurer considered; that and imposing additional corporation taxes -- “there was little choice but to go the route of an increase in consumption taxes. This was the only course of action which would leave confidence in Ontario’s future on sure ground.”
Then he says this: “I applaud Mr. Miller for his recognition that sufficient equity capital for the private sector must be a priority of all governments in Canada. I also urge him to continue his efforts to convince the federal government to create a national policy that would encourage stock ownership. The leadership that Ontario has shown in providing an environment that is favourable to business survival and investment is critical in today’s economic environment.”
Here again, we have the business community speaking out in an objective fashion. It really is baring its soul to governments at both levels as to what they think is the proper budgetary route to be taking, given the difficult economic times we are experiencing.