The House met at 1332.
JOBS ONTARIO TRAINING FUND
Mr John C. Cleary (Cornwall): It is with much concern that I note the devastation that the recent withdrawal of the federal government's unemployment benefits section 26 program has caused many constituents in my riding. I cannot emphasize enough what a crippling blow it is for the section 26 recipients to have not only their benefits taken away but also their chances for returning to school and receiving retraining ripped from under them.
I firmly believe that people are this province's number one resource. Obviously then, investing in training and skills development is one of the best investments this province can make. So it is with great interest that I have noted the Minister of Skills Development's recent Jobs Ontario training fund. The description for the program reads "a jobs and training fund to help employers hire and train unemployed workers."
It is clear that this is an ideal response to the difficulties experienced by over 400 Cornwall-area adults who have suffered the section 26 cutbacks, as well as many other unemployed adults in my riding. In conclusion, I must insist that the Minister of Skills Development and the Premier of Ontario provide my constituents with a full opportunity to renew and expand their skills through the Jobs Ontario strategy.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Last week the Minister of Education furtively introduced Bill 20, which will require all school boards to offer junior kindergarten after August 31, 1994. He did not even have the courage to make a ministerial statement about the bill. No wonder, when the Peel Board of Education, Canada's largest public school board, has had to cancel its junior kindergarten program because of a budgetary shortfall. Six thousand students will be affected, while 190 positions have been eliminated.
The Minister of Education had the nerve to call the Peel Board of Education irresponsible for cutting junior kindergarten, even though many of the board's problems stem directly from actions by the NDP socialist government. Last year, the NDP gave civil servants a 5.8% wage hike which set a trend for other contracts, including those with teachers in Peel. Then the Bob Rae government gave school boards only a 1% increase in transfer payments this year. The Peel board cannot meet its contractual obligations without cutting programs and staff.
Two months ago, I wrote to the minister urging him to help the Peel board solve its problems, but I have yet to receive a reply. I assume that Bill 20 is his response. He is telling school boards they must provide junior kindergarten and if they can't afford it, too bad -- make cuts in other areas or hike property taxes.
When will this NDP government learn that it must not mandate new programs in schools without providing the funds? Property taxpayers cannot afford higher taxes. Tragically, that means the children, the future of our province, will suffer major cuts in their education.
OPEN HOMES CANADA
Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): Last April I reported to the House that a group of community leaders from the city of London had proposed a project called Open Homes Canada. Open Homes Canada is a Canada-wide exchange to foster unity and goodwill. It's a chance for one Canadian to visit with another Canadian and rediscover how much we have in common, what good friends and neighbours we have in this nation, in each other and how important it is for all of us to extend the hand of friendship and tolerance to maintain that strength.
I'm pleased to announce the official launch of Open Homes Canada. Londoners will be opening their homes to receive other Canadians for a four-day visit on the civic holiday weekend of August 1. This exchange will bring people together to share their homes, interests and activities and to understand each other better. This effort is premised on the assumption that government alone cannot solve the current problems facing the country today and that ordinary people from all walks of life have a crucial role to play in preserving Canada.
I know the people in the London area are committed to Open Homes Canada and will open their homes to others. I challenge all to get involved and adopt this program in your own communities. Be a part of Open Homes Canada. A renewed Canada may be only a weekend away.
Mr Frank Miclash (Kenora): This week is Mining Week in Ontario and most know that mining has an impact on the Ontario economy well beyond its mineral worth. All told, mining activity and its spinoffs stimulate $20 billion worth of economic activity resulting in some 212,000 jobs in Ontario.
The recession has taken its toll on the mining industry. The Ontario industry is suffering from a crisis of confidence. It has been shaken by job losses as companies are unable to deal with the declining mineral prices and the rising production costs. Potential mining projects are shelved due to the uncertainty about rules and regulations.
The government talks about casino gambling for Ontario. What they forget is that Ontario is already home to a major game of chance; it's called mining. On the average, only one in 1,000 exploration prospects evolves into a producing mine. Before a base metal mine begins its production stage, it is preceded by eight years of exploration and two years of pre-production development activity.
These are the facts which every minister of this government should be aware of when preparing and considering legislation at the cabinet table. The government must work with the industry, not only to deal with the economic recession but to ensure a future for mining in Ontario. This will be accomplished through a positive climate of investment in which companies and investors can clearly see where their investments are heading.
The Ontario Mining Association will be holding its Meet the Miners reception at Stop 33 in Sutton Place this evening from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. I encourage all members of the Legislature to take the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the concerns of this industry.
DRIVER EXAMINATIONS FOR SENIORS
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): My statement is directed to the Minister of Transportation and the minister responsible for seniors' issues.
I find it rather ironic that the minister responsible for seniors' issues is taking such great pains and expense to designate and promote the month of June as Seniors' Month in Ontario, while her colleague the Minister of Transportation continues a discriminatory policy that requires seniors over the age of 70 to undergo automatic driver's licence testing in the event of an accident, regardless of the circumstances.
On one hand, we have a minister telling us that seniors play an important role in society. She tells us that seniors built this province and gave us our heritage, culture and traditions. On the other hand, we have a minister who continues to apply a policy that clearly discriminates against seniors within our society. It is a policy without any foundation or relation to competence, negligence, risk or driving record; it simply focuses on age as the only relevant factor.
Driver's licence testing following an accident certainly could be considered a prudent measure for ensuring public safety but only on the provision that such testing is restricted to those charged with causing an accident or those who have displayed a lack of competence in operating a vehicle, regardless of age.
It is right that this government designate the month of June for seniors, but it is wrong for this government to continue with the discriminatory policy of retesting seniors over the age of 70, even when the vehicle they own is parked legally, unoccupied or being operated in a safe and competent manner at the time of the accident.
Mr Derek Fletcher (Guelph): Today I ask all members of the House to recognize a special group of women. Action Read is a community literacy program in Guelph. Last week in Guelph it launched its first books, two publications funded by the Ontario women's directorate.
The books are Street Mother, written by literacy learner and activist Shirley Almack, and Women: Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going? written by a group of seven women. Here's how the authors of Women: Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going? introduce themselves in the book:
"We are a group of women who got together through literacy to talk about being women. In this book we share our stories with you. Welcome to our lives. Enter if you dare. Share our struggles, our pain, our sorrows, our dreams, our goals and our work as a group. These stories are based on our courage. We have learned to open up more to give us courage and confidence in ourselves and to speak our voice."
The authors are Shirley Almack, Monique Beaulieu, Gerty Burnelle, Lucy Carere, Bonnie Ford, Joanne Harrison and Rosemary Meadus. I wish to close with a piece written by Bonnie Ford called A Person:
I feel like a rose not in bloom
I want to feel like a person
Like the rose out in bloom
I want to walk down that aisle
and get myself a diploma some day
People like me they feel empty inside
cause they can't get what they want
This is why I feel like the bud
I want to feel like the rose out in bloom.
Publishing these books was a first for Action Read, but Joan Rentoul and Anne Moore, program coordinators for Action Read, say they've always encouraged people to write down their own stories. They do this because it's important to provide a place where learners are listened to because so often they weren't listened to in their lives. I hope today that we've all heard them.
Mr Carman McClelland (Brampton North): I want to make comment today in the few moments we have allotted here, to reflect on some of the concerns we have on the environmental initiatives of this government. The 1992 Ontario budget was certainly a big disappointment to Ontarians concerned about the quality of the natural environment. In fact, many believe the government is performing a green dance backwards, which is intended to fool the Ontario public into believing that many of the tax increases included in that budget are intended to serve environmental purposes.
This is nothing but a corporate greenwash. For example, the expansion of the environmental levy on non-refillable beverage alcohol containers has been expanded and increased and it's expected to generate $85 million. At the same time the NDP taxes the environment, it guts the budget of the Ministry of the Environment by nearly $61 million. There has been no assurance given by the government that the expected revenues generated from the beer can tax will go into environmental programs. The public is concerned about that.
Let me talk about something else in the brief moments we have left, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): There are quite a number of private conversations. We're at a stage in the proceedings for statements by members. It would certainly be appreciated if private conversations could be held outside the chamber.
The House has come to order. I would ask the Clerk to reset the clock at one minute and 30 seconds. The member may begin his statement over again.
Mr McClelland: I was commenting about the budget and the implications that has in terms of the environment, and the fact that notwithstanding the government has brought forward so-called environmental taxes, at the same time it's cutting back on many fronts. Questions have been raised in this House by myself and my colleagues about what this government is doing in terms of the environmental initiatives it so loudly and vigorously espoused during the campaign of 1990 and certainly before that.
I noted in my comments just a moment ago that notwithstanding the fact that considerable funds have been generated under the guise of environmental taxes, the Ministry of the Environment's budget has in fact been cut; programs have been cut. We talked about that on a number of fronts.
Let me talk also, if I could, momentarily about the participation of the public. There's no question the environmentally conscious and sincere people of Ontario are sceptical about this government, not only in terms of the 1992 budget, but also in terms of the participatory process. I think back to Bill 143 and the fact that this government wanted to ram it through. They're going to be announcing very shortly a number of sites, 53, in and around the Toronto area. The fact of the matter is the government wanted to do that without any real public consultation or input.
A few moments ago, I attended a press conference co-sponsored by the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health on a very significant and important issue, the provincial strategy for biomedical waste release. I'm certain my friend the member for Halton Centre will have much to say about that. The fact of the matter is the government has decided to give the public of Ontario 60 days, and only 60 days, to participate in this very important issue that has serious implications for people across this province. This government is not committed financially, and is certainly not committed in terms of public participation, to issues of the environment that are of great concern.
FIRE IN NORTH YORK
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Last night a building in my riding of York Mills burned, severely injuring the fire captain and sending four others for smoke inhalation treatment. At last report, Captain Andy Deslauriers, a 25-year veteran of the fire department, was listed in critical condition. I know members of this House will join in praying for the captain.
I also extend congratulations to his fellow firefighters for their bravery in this dramatic rescue effort. They risked their own lives to save their comrade. Firefighters are a special breed. It takes an exceptional kind of courage to enter a burning building, to face an out-of-control fire, to work every day knowing you may need to put your life on the line.
This building was 30 years old. The Ontario Building Code requires sprinklers only for new large office buildings. The legislation requires retrofitting of older public assembly buildings and institutions, but not office buildings. Sprinklers mean a safer environment for everyone. More sprinklers mean fewer injuries, less fire damage and fewer deaths.
Let us learn from this tragedy and use it as momentum to change our regulations to make buildings safer for workers and less dangerous for our firemen. Maybe then we won't need to be back here in future years paying tribute to injured firefighters.
Mr Kimble Sutherland (Oxford): I rise today to give recognition to the many dedicated teachers across this province who make that extra effort to help students become better individuals, and to those teachers who will be retiring this year. I would particularly like to pay special tribute to one outstanding educator, Dr Al Herrington, vice-principal of H. B. Beal Secondary School in London.
Dr Herrington has been involved in education in London for 30 years. Throughout that time he has been active not only as a teacher and administrator, but as a swimming coach, driver's education teacher and staff adviser to students' council.
However, Dr Herrington's contributions are not confined just to the city of London. In 1979 he was appointed by the Ontario Secondary School Headmasters' Council to be an adviser to the Ontario Secondary School Students' Association, more commonly known as OSSSA. In the time Dr Herrington has been an adviser, the OSSSA has made great strides in its development. Among its accomplishments is the leadership training it provides for more than 1,500 students a year at 12 regional conferences. The OSSSA also organized a student Parliament here in the Legislature during Ontario's 1984 bicentennial celebration.
He has also fostered national and international relationships in having London host the third Canadian National Student Leadership Conference in 1987.
There are many young leaders in our communities today who have benefited from the work of the OSSSA, as well as from Dr Herrington's belief in and support of their abilities.
On behalf of those student leaders who have enjoyed the benefit of Dr Herrington's participation in student leadership, I say thank you to someone who has made a wonderful contribution to our education system.
USE OF QUESTION PERIOD
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): On May 14 last, the members for Mississauga West (Mr Mahoney), York Centre (Mr Sorbara), Parry Sound (Mr Eves), Mississauga North (Mr Offer) and Brampton South (Mr Callahan) raised a point of order that ministers had been using responses to questions asked by government members during question period in order to make statements on government policy to the House.
I have taken the time to review Hansard carefully, and although I agree with the honourable members that statements by ministers should be made to the House in that period of our routine proceedings that is reserved for such, it is sometimes very difficult for the Speaker to become the adjudicator of what is or is not a change in government policy.
It might be of interest to members at this point to go back in history a few years in order to put things in context. Before 1970, in this House, oral questions were permitted only after the Speaker had a chance to vet them when they had been presented in writing beforehand. I would like to quote Speaker Cass on March 31, 1969:
"As has been explained on many occasions in the House, the only questions contemplated by our rules are the written questions which appear on the notice paper. The putting of oral questions before the orders of the day on private notice is a practice of long standing which has the authority of precedent and approval by the House, and the procedure on such questions has also been well established by practice and precedent. When Mr Speaker or the minister to whom the question is directed is of the opinion that the question is not a proper one to be answered orally before the orders of the day, the Speaker or the minister, as the case may be, may require that the question be placed by the Clerk on the notice paper as a written question."
Members will appreciate that our rules have changed since 1970 and one of the effects of these many changes is that the Speaker must now give more latitude to members in the subject matter of their questions for the very simple reason that he has no occasion to vet these questions in advance. I must say that this applies to both sides of the House, and therefore I can only repeat that while I try to be vigilant, I cannot apply standards of questioning to the government members that I do not apply to opposition members, and therefore, the rule is that ministers should make statements on public policy to the House when that is possible; they should reserve those statements for that part of our routine proceedings that calls for statements by ministers and they should not try to insert statements on new government policy when giving answers to government members.
However, I must caution that these are expressions of what should take place, but I repeat, it remains very difficult for the Speaker to make final and arbitrary decisions on every answer that is made because it is not the style of oral question period as we know it today.
These are restrictions that were easily enforced by the Speaker before 1970, when he was required to read questions presented to him in writing before allowing them to be asked orally in the House. I am certain I can count on the comprehension and goodwill of members who will understand that it is impossible for a Speaker in today's complex world, which is influenced to a great degree by public policy, to determine instantly, upon hearing it for the first time in the House, what constitutes or does not constitute new government policy or a departure from what was previous government policy.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
RETAIL STORE HOURS / HEURES D'OUVERTURE DES COMMERCES DE DÉTAIL
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I have a statement to make about Sunday shopping.
The cabinet has decided to recommend to the House that we pass legislation to permit retail stores to open for business on Sundays.
This has not been an easy decision. As this House well knows, I have often stood in my place on both sides of the House to argue in defence of a common pause day on Sunday and restricted access to Sunday store openings.
Experience, which is always a good teacher, and a change in public attitudes in recent years have combined to persuade me that such legislation, however well intended, is extremely difficult to enforce fairly and runs up against a growing sense that many people want to shop on Sunday and are increasingly impatient of rules and regulations that prevent them from doing so.
I am not convinced that Sunday shopping on its own will lead to a dramatic increase in jobs or single-handedly stop cross-border shopping. But it is clear that we cannot put a wall up around Ontario and that changing social patterns here and in neighbouring jurisdictions are having a clear impact on the choices and attitudes of Ontarians.
I want to make it clear that the vote on the legislation, while it has the full support of the cabinet, will be a free vote in the Legislature for my own caucus, of course.
The legislation will protect store owners from having to open on Sundays if they choose not to, and of course workers are already clearly protected in law from having to work in retail stores on Sundays.
A special committee is being set up and will begin very soon to monitor the impact of this legislation and make recommendations to the cabinet on what further steps we can take to protect the interests of workers in the retail industry and store owners who may be adversely affected by this decision. I expect them to report to the Minister of Labour in six months. A chairperson and the membership of this committee will be announced shortly.
I am expecting the retail industry to do everything it can to respect the wishes of its workers who do not choose to work on Sunday and to take the positive steps to ensure the maximum employment gains it has been assuring us will flow from this decision.
I am keenly aware that while there are no doubt those who will be pleased with this decision, there are others who will be disappointed by it. It will come as no secret that there have been active discussions about this issue in my own party and that many have urged me and the government not to take this decision. To them I can only say that this government, like all governments, has to govern with the public interest in mind and that public policy in this area has to respond to a changing public attitude. The current law is, I am now convinced, unsustainable in the longer term, and to make it more restrictive would be to fly in the face of public opinion.
I think I have the time to read it in the other official language, Mr Speaker, if I could.
J'ai une déclaration à faire au sujet du magasinage le dimanche.
Le Conseil des ministres a pris la décision de recommander à l'Assemblée que nous fassions adopter une loi qui permettrait aux magasins de détail d'ouvrir leurs portes le dimanche.
Cette décision n'a pas été facile. Comme le savent les députés de l'Assemblée, j'ai souvent défendu, des deux côtés de la Chambre, la journée de pause commune le dimanche et l'accès restreint aux magasins le dimanche.
L'expérience, combinée au changement d'attitude de la part du public depuis les dernières années, m'a convaincu qu'une telle loi, bien que fondée sur de bonnes intentions, est très difficile à implanter de façon juste et se heurte au désir grandissant de plusieurs personnes de magasiner le dimanche et à leur intolérance à l'égard de la législation qui les empêche de le faire.
Je ne suis pas convaincu que le magasinage le dimanche créera un nombre important d'emplois additionnels, ni qu'il empêchera à lui seul le magasinage transfrontalier. Mais il est clair que nous ne pouvons encercler l'Ontario d'un mur et que les modèles sociaux changeants d'ici et des territoires avoisinants ont un net impact sur les choix et les attitudes des Ontariens et Ontariennes.
Je voudrais préciser que le vote de cette loi, bien qu'il ait l'appui du Conseil des ministres, sera un vote libre à l'Assemblée. Cette loi protégera les propriétaires de magasins de détail qui choisiront de ne pas ouvrir leur commerce le dimanche et, évidemment, les travailleurs qui sont déjà clairement protégés par la loi pour ne pas être obligés de travailler dans les commerces le dimanche.
Un comité spécial sera mis en place et commencera sous peu à surveiller les répercussions de la législation. Il fera des recommandations au Conseil des ministres au sujet des étapes supplémentaires que nous pouvons prendre afin de protéger les intérêts des travailleurs de l'industrie du commerce de détail et les propriétaires de magasins qui pourraient être défavorisés par cette décision. Le comité, dont le président sera nommé sous peu, devrait présenter un rapport au ministre du Travail dans six mois.
Je demande aussi aux gens du secteur de l'industrie du commerce de détail de faire tout en leur pouvoir afin de respecter les désirs de leurs travailleurs qui choisissent de ne pas travailler le dimanche et de prendre des mesures positives afin d'assurer des gains d'emploi maximums.
Je suis conscient que, même si certains seront ravis de cette décision, d'autres en seront déçus. Cela n'a rien de secret si je vous dis qu'il y a eu de vives discussions au sein de mon parti et que plusieurs m'ont conseillé vivement, ainsi qu'au gouvernement, de ne pas prendre cette décision. Tout ce que je peux leur dire c'est que ce gouvernement, comme tous les gouvernements, doit gouverner avec l'intérêt du public en tête et que la politique publique dans ce domaine doit répondre à une opinion publique changeante. Je suis maintenant convaincu que la loi actuelle serait inadéquate à long terme et qu'en la rendant encore plus restrictive, nous irions à l'encontre de l'opinion publique.
Merci, Monsieur le Président.
Hon Allan Pilkey (Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services): This afternoon I will be introducing amendments to the Retail Business Holidays Act. These amendments will eliminate Sundays from the current definition of "holiday," making it possible for stores to open on Sundays with the exception of Easter Sunday, which is preserved as a holiday on which stores must close. Thus the section of the current legislation which permits stores to open on Sundays in December prior to Christmas will also be repealed.
These amendments will also be providing retailers who hold commercial leases the right to remain closed if they so wish, regardless of the terms of their leases. When the bill is passed, these measures will come into effect retroactive to today. I have also asked officials of my ministry to inform police services across the province of the introduction of these amendments.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): It's about time. We can only hope that the statements made by the Premier and the Solicitor General today will finally bring an end to this issue and finally bring an end to what we can only describe as a circus of mismanagement and indecision by this government on this matter. Today we can only ask, "Why did it take so long?"
This government has dithered while Ontario retailers lost millions of dollars. The government has dithered while conscientious individuals struggled with the decision as to whether they would flout the law by opening their stores or risk having to close their stores altogether. The government has dithered while individuals desperately took out ads imploring this government to make a decision that would at least give them an equal playing field. The government has dithered while municipalities across this province have spent countless hours and hundreds of dollars trying to draft bylaws that would make this impossible legislation work for them in some way, only to have it appealed by the Ontario Municipal Board.
I wonder if the lesson is this: that the Premier and his government have learned it is important to listen to public opinion, to listen to all of the people before taking action so that they will understand where the public view is. In 21 years in politics I have never seen an issue on which the expression of public need and public will has been clearer than on this issue. By the time this government brought in its legislation the public demand had become literally a hue and cry.
The government knew what the public will was. They also knew this was bad legislation. It was unworkable and unenforceable. Their own ministries told them this was not enforceable legislation, that it was not, to use the Premier's term, sustainable. Yet they were determined to go ahead. They marched ahead. They did, even then, fly in the face of public opinion. Now four months later they are finally back to where they should have started.
At least we think they're back to where they should have started. We wonder whether the Premier's decision to call for a free vote on this particular issue at this particular moment is not simply a continued abdication of the responsibility for leadership on the part of the Premier. We wonder whether on this very difficult issue for his caucus and his party the Premier indeed has the support of a majority of the members of his government to bring in its own proposals or whether the Premier is counting on the votes of the opposition to do what he very well knows is needed.
I ask the Premier whether he will be here when this vote is taken to demonstrate that there is solid support from his cabinet for these measures, whether he himself will vote in favour of his own proposals, whether he will be here to stand with his caucus, because the Premier owes it to the people of this province to clearly take his stand and cast his vote at the end of this very long and difficult debate.
We welcome this legislation. We are concerned about the further steps the government says it is going to introduce. We will want to look at the impact those further steps will have. We will want to see if the government in fact supports its own proposals. But at the end of the day we look forward to simply getting on with it.
Mr Remo Mancini (Essex South): Recently the very humble and modest Minister of Culture and Communications gave herself an A-plus on the work that she has been doing in her ministry. I would like to give the Ontario NDP socialist government an F for failure on its lack of leadership on this whole matter of Sunday shopping.
Hundreds of retail stores have closed and thousands of retail workers have lost their jobs while the NDP has fiddled and placed ideology ahead of the needs of Ontario's retail business and retail workers. We have seen the government abdicate all responsibility for the leadership it won some 18 months ago.
I firmly believe that the only reason we're going to have Sunday shopping in Ontario is not because the NDP is concerned about retail workers or the retail stores. It's because they don't want to be put in the embarrassing position of having casinos open on Sunday while retail stores are closed on Sunday. That is the only reason why we're going to have Sunday shopping -- not because they want to stem the tide of cross-border shopping, not because they've had a change of heart, not for any positive reason whatsoever. They deserve an F for the lack of leadership we've gotten on this whole issue.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): I'd like the opportunity, just briefly, to respond to the Premier's statement and that of the Solicitor General today.
First of all, I note with some amusement the position taken by the Leader of the Opposition, who now says that it's about time this law was introduced, when it was only a short time ago, about a week or two, when her party's position during question period was, "Bring back the municipal option; bring back the good old David Peterson law."
The Premier is waiting for the other shoe to drop, I'm sure.
I also note with some amusement that the Premier says that it has the full support of cabinet and that there will be a free vote in the Legislature. That's sort of talking out of both sides of your mouth. I don't think -- I'm sure the Premier will correct me if I'm wrong -- that it has the full, 100% support of his own cabinet. I notice the absence of hysteria and glee over there, specifically from six cabinet ministers, some of whom sit in very close proximity to the Premier of the province, so I don't think it has their full support. We can only wait to see if indeed it is a free vote in the Legislature by your members and cabinet, Mr Premier.
I want to say this to the Solicitor General: While we respect the legislation you've introduced today, Mr Solicitor General, I do note that you were totally silent on the issue of outstanding cases and prosecutions before the courts today. I'm sure that it was a just an oversight on his part and that he'll be having more to say about equity and fairness in the judicial system in the not-too-distant future.
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): This band of incompetent, bungling fools who represent the Ontario government can't even make a reversible decision without confusion and chaos.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): The member for Yorkview, come to order.
Mr Carr: The government has dithered while the Liberals tried to fob it off on municipalities. Our leader, on October 31, in New Directions said this about your legislation: "Both the existing Liberal legislation and the proposed NDP laws are unfair, unworkable and bad for the economic wellbeing of the province." That's what the people said last summer during the hearings when we went from Ottawa to Thunder Bay. They said it's unfair, unworkable and bad for the province.
One year later we turn around and get some type of results from this Premier, and let's face it, the only reason he reversed himself was because of the court challenge that was going to come, because of the fact retailers said, "We're going to open anyway, notwithstanding your crazy law," and finally because the polls said that's what we should do. In New Directions we stated it last year. A year later you finally turn around and do it.
What happened to all the outstanding charges? What's going to happen to all those people who have gone through chaos for virtually a year? During this period of time this government's dithering has been, "Yes, there'll be Sunday shopping; no, there won't be Sunday shopping; maybe there'll be Sunday shopping; yes, there will be; no, there won't."
Now we're into a free vote situation. A free vote means everybody, Mr Premier, not just the cabinet. A free vote means everybody, and for a group that is used to having free lunches, you should know that a free vote means everybody in this Legislature.
We're also going to be interested to see what type of muzzling goes on for the members, such as the member for Welland-Thorold, and whether in fact they are going to be able to express their vote freely in this Legislature.
This piece of legislation was condemned by both sides on the issue in the hearings held in the summer. The people in favour of Sunday shopping didn't like it; the people opposed to Sunday shopping didn't like it. You attempted to please everybody, in the tradition that you continued since you were elected September 6, 1990, and you cannot continue to please everyone. This decision here today to allow the members to make a free vote is a first step, but unfortunately you're a year too late and unfortunately a lot of the retailers out there are going to suffer because you don't have the political courage to make tough decisions.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): Let me just read quickly into the record from August 19, 1990, An Agenda For People:
"Men and women across Ontario told me that they don't want promises that can't be kept, and they don't trust parties that pretend to serve every need and satisfy every demand."
Mr Premier, your Xerox machine should work overtime. You owe every person in this province who voted for you a letter of apology. There are people out there who believed what you said. You have capitulated. You've hung them out to dry. You and your government should be ashamed of yourselves.
Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): On a point of personal privilege, Mr Speaker: I believe my privileges as a member have been breached or in fact prejudiced.
I understand from a number of sources that the Minister of Labour is going to be making a statement tomorrow dealing with the Labour Relations Act. I further understand that a series of briefings is being conducted by the Ministry of Labour for a number of interested groups across this province, commencing this evening and to be continued tomorrow morning. As a member of this Legislature and as the Labour critic for our party, I and, I understand, the Labour critic for the Conservative Party have not been invited to these particular briefings. There is going to be a variety of individuals across this province who are going to be aware of the statement pending by the Minister of Labour before any member of this Legislature and in fact before any critic of either of the opposition parties.
Mr Speaker, I believe that to be a valid point of privilege of which my privileges as not only the Labour critic but of all the members --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Could the member take his seat. While indeed I appreciate the matter of interest which the member brings before me and it is a matter which he may wish to discuss with the Minister of Labour, first of all, with respect to any statement to be made in the House I cannot deal with hypothetical situations. Second, the other matter to which he refers is something that is outside of the chamber and outside of our standing orders. Unfortunately, there is not a privilege which the member has lost.
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I believe we have agreement for unanimous consent to speak to the death of a former member of this place.
The Speaker: Agreed.
STANLEY WILLIAM FARQUHAR
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): Mr Speaker, I regret to inform the House of the passing of Stanley William Farquhar on Saturday, May 30, at his home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Mr Farquhar was elected to this Legislature in 1963, re-elected in 1967 and he chose not to run in the election of 1971. Mr Farquhar was a dairyman by profession. He was the secretary-treasurer and general manager of Thomas Farquhar and Sons, which continues to this day as a major supplier of dairy products and ice cream in our part of Ontario.
Mr Farquhar had a long history of service to his community. He was, for example, the president of the Little Current Lions Club and the Elliot Lake Kiwanis Club. In the local political field, he served his community as school board trustee, as a member of council and as mayor of the town of Little Current.
During his years representing these communities in this place he was involved in a number of significant community projects. I would cite, for example, the building of the hospital at Little Current, the construction of the Manitoulin Centennial Manor and the completion of what is now Highway 6 from Espanola to Little Current. He will be remembered for his involvement with the establishment of the Sault College campus at Elliot Lake, the various projects at the E. B. Eddy mill and the establishment of the Manitoulin Board of Education.
But perhaps Mr Farquhar will be best remembered as a congenial, tireless worker for the people of Algoma-Manitoulin. I'm told that it was not uncommon for Mr Farquhar to work diligently and long to find assistance for a constituent in need. Those were in the times when we did not have the resources we have today and the social network and safety net was not what it is today.
The dedication to community service by Mr Farquhar was natural. He was the son of Senator Thomas Farquhar, who at various points in his lifetime was the mayor of Sault Ste Marie, the reeve of Carnarvon township, the MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin and the MP for Algoma East. The family continues these fine traditions of community service.
Stan was first elected to this Legislature when Lester B. Pearson was the MP for Algoma East and the Prime Minister of Canada. Their accomplishments and the close personal relationship between Stan and Mr Pearson remain strong memories in the hearts of the people of Algoma-Manitoulin.
I wish to extend the sympathies and condolences of the people of Algoma-Manitoulin and the Liberal caucus to his wife, Maisie, his children Thomas, Frances, Karen and Wendell, his sister, Mrs Ruth Ashley, and his brothers Thomas, John and Allen. The memorial service will take place at Little Current United Church Friday at 2 pm.
Again, on behalf of myself and the federal member, Dr Maurice Foster, I extend sympathies to the family.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): On behalf of our leader Mike Harris, the member for Nipissing, and the PC caucus, we stand and pause in reflection and pleasant memories of a person who served his riding and this province in a wonderful way during his terms of office.
When we look at the number of people who have served the province of Ontario whose names are engraved in the ivory downstairs, there is a sense there of the many men and women who have given so generously of themselves to make this a better place to live.
Stanley came to this place with the experience of someone who had served in local government and he brought the wisdom and experience of having been at the local level. He served in the service clubs of his community, so he knew something of what it was his community needed. He brought business experience from his agricultural background in his own family business, which made him one well positioned in a significant way to make this a better province.
In joining with the member for Algoma-Manitoulin and the family and friends of Stanley Farquhar, our caucus bows in reflection of one who did make a difference. It just goes to show that all party differences somehow disappear when we look at what we're here to do, that is, to serve the people of Ontario. Stan Farquhar was certainly one of those, and our caucus sends to his family and all who knew him our sincere sympathy at his passing.
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs): On behalf of the government I want to join all members in expressing our sincere condolences to Mrs Farquhar and the family. Stan Farquhar served with distinction in this House and, as my friend the member for Algoma-Manitoulin indicated, with great congeniality. When I first ran for election in 1975 to this place in the neighbouring riding of Algoma, the name Stan Farquhar was well known to my constituents as a person who not only served his own constituents of Algoma-Manitoulin, but was always there to assist the whole of the north shore.
Obviously the Farquhar family has been well known through the north shore and in Sault Ste Marie and Manitoulin as a family that served the public and served the interests of the people of the north with distinction. Stan of course was born in Sault Ste Marie where his father had served as the mayor, and his father went on to serve with distinction in the federal House and as a senator. Stan is still well known. The family is well known through the dairy business and just recently joined with the dairymen of Algoma district to attempt to ensure that there will be continuing local dairy service to the people of Sault Ste Marie. So the family continues to serve the whole area.
We all are the better for having known or experienced the service of Stan Farquhar. We know it is a sad time for the family, but it's also a time when they can reflect on the tremendous service and the pride they have in the example Stan Farquhar showed all of us on the north shore and on Manitoulin Island.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): The kind and thoughtful comments by the members from Algoma-Manitoulin, Markham and Algoma will be forwarded to the family of Mr Farquhar.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Premier, as we turn from today's issue to tomorrow's issue. We understand that tomorrow the Premier and his government will be bringing in their labour legislation. The Premier is only too well aware that right now this province is in the midst of the worst recession since the 1930s. We're seeing plant closings across this province at the rate of one every three days, 553,000 people in Ontario are unemployed, the highest level since 1983, and yet the NDP government still insists on forging ahead with its proposals to bring in changes to the Labour Relations Act.
I ask the Premier, how many jobs will his proposed changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act create? Will they put one single person back to work?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I think one has to look at the government's program in its entirety and say that what this government has done with respect to job creation, both directly in terms of what we put into the economy and in terms of the more competitive tax environment which we've tried to create even as our deficit is as difficult as it is, has done a great deal to encourage more investment and to see that more investment takes place.
If the honourable member is arguing that an atmosphere in the workplace which is one of tolerance and respect and in which workers' rights to organize are taken seriously is one that is not conducive to the creation of jobs in this province, I would only say to her very directly I disagree profoundly, we in this party disagree with her profoundly and we believe that the direction we're taking with respect to creating a more positive partnership between labour and management is the direction in which we have to go as a province, in which we want to go as a province and which we encourage all the partners in the labour force, business, labour, everyone in the community, to be involved in creating.
Mrs McLeod: The Premier is absolutely right. We are concerned about jobs, we believe this is an issue about jobs and we believe the workers of this province are concerned about jobs.
We know, at least we believe we know, the government is aware of the studies that have been prepared which suggest that, far from being conducive to job creation, the changes proposed to the Labour Relations Act will actually result in the loss of perhaps as many as 260,000 more jobs in Ontario. We know the government has said it doesn't believe these statistics, but it refuses to table its own impact studies showing how many jobs the government expects to be lost.
In our opinion, this seems to suggest either that the government has no idea how many jobs are going to be lost or that it's determined to go ahead with the initiative regardless of how many jobs may be lost. Obviously, while we care about jobs, this government doesn't seem to. We would ask the Premier to explain again to the people of Ontario why he would press ahead with this legislation without seeming to have any concern about the job loss this is going to cause.
Hon Mr Rae: The Leader of the Opposition, who goes on radio -- I hear her from time to time promising what a different kind of leader she's going to be -- first of all just simply spouts the various numbers that are thrown up by the various lobbies out there that are out to defeat the legislation. What do you think they would have said with respect to the environmental laws the Liberal Party passed which you were so strongly in favour of? What do you think they would have said about any of the legislation your government introduced several years ago?
I would say very directly to the honourable member that what we are doing is attempting, through the Premier's Council, through the investment policies of this government and through the capital investment policies of this government, to say to people that to argue that you have to choose between fairness and employment is a false choice, that it's an unfair choice and that it's not a 20th-century choice for the people of this province. We think you can have jobs and justice, and that's the direction of this government.
Mrs McLeod: When there's no answer to the question, you lose the question in the rhetoric. This is an issue about today. It's an issue about your laws. It's an issue about 557,000 people in the province who are already out of work and our concern that these proposals coming in at this time in this way will put even more people out of work and in the unemployment lines.
It seems quite clear that the Labour Relations Act amendments are not going to create any new jobs. We believe, without any contradictory evidence from the government to refute it, that these amendments could lead to significant job losses. But beyond that, we're concerned that this legislation could produce a virtual paralysis both in our economy and in our ability to provide needed services.
We hear school boards say they're afraid that one striking union with only a couple of workers could force them to close classrooms. We hear utilities worrying that they won't be able to supply power to consumers during a labour disruption. We hear children's aid societies fear that they won't be able to protect children if there's a strike. I see the Premier shaking his head. These are the concerns people are sharing with us. Surely the government, even in its stage-managed consultation on these amendments, has heard the same concerns.
I would ask the Premier, is he not hearing these concerns and is he not going to respond to the concerns he has been hearing about the proposed changes in his legislation? Will he make changes to the proposals they've been talking about?
Hon Mr Rae: Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition asked questions with respect to our decision today, again casting fear, doubt and misinformation based on whatever press speculation and going out and seriously talking to the press as if this were public policy. Today she is doing exactly the same thing, and I thought this was going to be a Liberal with a difference. This isn't a Liberal with a difference; this is just a Liberal and that's what we see.
Let me contrast the comments of this Leader of the Opposition with the Liberal leader, Sir Oliver Mowat, campaigning 102 years ago in the election of 1890. This is what Sir Oliver Mowat had to say with respect to labour relations 102 years ago, at the end of the 19th century. Sir Oliver said:
"In a right state of society there ought to be no antagonism between the various classes of which the community is composed. I am glad to believe that there is little antagonism between the different classes in this glorious province. But if there is antagonism, my sympathy and that of my colleagues is with the masses rather than with the classes."
We have a Liberal Party of the classes. That's the Liberal Party that's taken over, not the one people knew 102 years ago.
The Speaker: Order. New question.
Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, shall I proceed?
The Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition with a new question.
Mrs McLeod: I would say to the Premier that the questions we raised yesterday were about those further steps which he has only alluded to in his statement and which we wait to see, and it is not the Liberal Party that has polarized labour and management in this province over the past 12 months.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): Let me turn to a second question, which I hope the Premier may find answerable. The Premier may be aware that section 26 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, which he will of course recognize is a federal act, allowed individuals to extend their unemployment insurance benefits while they were enrolled in training that was 52 weeks or less in duration. The federal government has suddenly capped this.
At a time when we are hearing of plant closures on a daily basis, clearly the need for this type of training is critical. Currently the option is not being provided by the provincial government for this kind of training. I would ask the Premier whether his government is prepared to step into the vacuum which now exists in training programs.
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I can tell the honourable member this, and I can tell her as directly as I can: First of all, we deplore the actions of the federal government with respect to capping. That's not the only thing it is doing. It is also cutting its transfers to this province with respect to skills training to the tune of tens of millions of dollars both with respect to this year and with respect to the next fiscal year.
We have made this a point of discussion and a point of contention even within the constitutional discussions, and it's one of the reasons why Ontario is seeking greater control over labour market initiatives and why we are looking very hard at how we do this. I can tell the honourable member that of course Ontario is going to be looking at all of our labour market initiatives to make sure they are as effective as they can be.
Concerning the particular question with respect to section 26, I know the minister will want to look at it and at the impact it's going to have on the province. I can tell the member that the impact of other federal cuts has been serious, but I should also tell her that it isn't simply a matter of our filling in where the federal government has cut; it's a matter of our saying very clearly and emphatically to the federal government: "We are having to take up far more of the slack. We are having to do far more of this, and we're going to be insisting on a fairer division of the fiscal pie in order to allow us to do it." Ontario is not going to sit back and accept the kinds of cuts which have taken place in the Canada assistance plan, in the established programs financing, and now in areas in which we had thought there was a clear federal agreement with us to continue an increased level of funding with respect to skills training.
I can assure the member, and I'm glad we have her support in this area, that this is an issue of real contention between this government and the government of Canada.
Mrs McLeod: I raised the question as a very real concern that we are probably all hearing from constituents, knowing that the Premier would respond in terms of the federal government cutbacks, and that's quite appropriate in response to my first question.
But I want to impress upon the Premier the immediacy of this situation in real human terms, the immediacy and the urgency of this situation for the hundreds and hundreds of people who are out of work because of Ontario plants having closed and who were hoping to be able to go and take a training program so that they could get a new start. We are hearing from literally thousands of constituents who have lost their jobs, who had already made arrangements to take those training programs and who have now been told they can't pursue those options which they saw as being the only hope for their future.
I would ask if the Premier could tell us how his government, recognizing the vacuum, recognizing a concern for these individuals, will respond to the individuals who find they cannot access training programs under the unemployment insurance program or any other program. Where can he tell these people to go?
Mr Hugh P. O'Neil (Quinte): The problem is immediate.
Hon Mr Rae: The problem is immediate, as the member from Belleville quite rightly points out, and the problem is very real. I know the leader will simply say, "Well, tell me exactly what you're going to do and when you're going to do it." We have already indicated with respect to the training fund that we're putting more money into the training fund and creating more opportunities with the training fund than any government has done. We're willing to take the criticism that we have taken for cutting in some other areas, because we've had to cut in some other areas. We've had to reduce funding in some other areas, and some of the long faces you see on cabinet ministers occasionally reflect those decisions. We have done that in order to put more money into the skills development field and the training field, but I want to say to the honourable member that there also is --
Mr Robert Chiarelli (Ottawa West): The budget hasn't created one job yet, Bob, not one job. Nobody is getting a paycheque from your budget.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order, the member for Ottawa West.
Hon Mr Rae: The member for Ottawa West has moved down to occupy the front bench and I congratulate him for his promotion. We've had no difficulty hearing the honourable member wherever he's been shouting from, I can assure him, but we'll say to the honourable member that we are putting more money into the --
Mr Chiarelli: The budget hasn't created one job.
The Speaker: The member for Ottawa West, come to order.
Hon Mr Rae: -- training fund than ever before. We're putting it in now. In fact, we were discussing at cabinet even today how we can increase and accelerate the funds already in place with respect to the initiatives that need to be taken.
But I will say to her, and I hope she will at least agree with me in this area, that if she truly wants to be non-partisan in this area, I hope she would agree with me that there is an obligation on the part of the federal government to pay its fair share for programs which have traditionally been part of the federal arena and which now require us to move in because they've cut back. We're not getting the tax points and we're not getting the transfers --
The Speaker: Will the Premier conclude his response, please.
Hon Mr Rae: -- and I hope I'll get the support of the Leader of the Opposition in that regard because it's a very important battle on behalf of all the citizens of the province.
Mrs McLeod: I'm sorry to tell the Premier that this isn't an issue on which I feel non-partisan; it's an issue on which I wish both the provincial and federal governments would stop simply shooting the ball into each other's court while nobody accepts responsibility for the individuals out there looking either for work or training opportunities.
The Treasurer has referenced the fact that they have a jobs training fund. He will surely know that the training fund is really a job placement program and is of absolutely no use to these individuals whatsoever. He's also mentioned the budget cutbacks which his government hopes are going to support training and other programs and that raises my final supplementary.
I earlier asked the Treasurer how he was going to transfer social assistance recipients to unemployment insurance, which is a measure in his budget intended to save, I believe, some $330 million. The Treasurer's response was that unemployment insurance recipients are entitled to a certain amount of job retraining as a part of unemployment insurance. Clearly he planned to save this money by transferring people to unemployment insurance so they could indeed benefit from the training. This option has now been taken away. People will not be able to move from social assistance to unemployment insurance to receive training and in fact many more people will be moving to social assistance sooner.
In light of these events, I ask the Premier to tell us whether the savings anticipated in the budget will still be able to be met or whether we are now facing not only a crisis in training but a $330 million shortfall in his budget.
Hon Mr Rae: I can only say to the honourable member that we are managing our expenditures and if her party had stayed on in government post-1990 -- if either the Premier at that time hadn't called an election or, alternatively, the election had gone another way -- the Liberal Party would be facing exactly the same fiscal crisis facing this government. She knows it, I know it, everybody in this House knows it. We have to manage the expenditures as best we can and that is what we intend to do. If the leader is asking if we intend to let the federal government off the hook with respect to its obligations under unemployment insurance, the answer is no.
Mrs Elizabeth Witmer (Waterloo North): Premier, you mentioned today the need for fairness and justice in the area of labour relations, and as the Conservative critic for Labour I have been very concerned about the impact of the labour law reform on individual rights and freedoms. The proposals and the purpose clause are intended to facilitate the widespread unionization of Ontario workers and give more power to unions. This alters the current balance in legislation which also protects the employee who wants to remain non-unionized.
It appears there will be absolutely no protection for employees who, for many reasons, are opposed to being unionized. Indeed, there is widespread concern throughout the province about the loss of individual rights and freedoms. Under proposed changes, workers will be forced into unions if 50% plus one sign a union card. There will be no secret ballot and no cooling-off period. What about the 49% of the workers who don't want to join a union? Will you be fair, just as you have indicated there is a need to be and will the act allow for easier decertification as well?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): I think the Conservative Party, which is applauding the comments by the member very vigorously -- first of all, I say to the honourable member that I think it would be wisest for us to have this conversation after she's seen the legislation which is being proposed for second reading by the government.
Second, I say to her that if this is the tack the Conservative Party is taking, generally speaking, with regard to the labour legislation in this province, what in effect she is doing is arguing against labour legislation which is already in place in this province. It's in place in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. I say to the honourable member that she'd better be careful, in terms of the tack she's taking, that she make sure she's not arguing against what is a common practice and commonly regarded as the right of a majority of people within a unit, within a place of work to choose to join a union and express themselves in that choice by signing cards.
That has been the law. That's the law which is in place in the vast majority of jurisdictions in this country and is in fact the law that was introduced by her party, of which she's now a member, when it was on this side of the House. Let's not try to rewrite all of the recent labour law history in the province of Ontario.
Mrs Witmer: I'm concerned about the individuals who have written to me and indicated that they're afraid their freedom and rights are going to be lost under this new law. I introduced Bill 152 to allow secret ballot votes for certification, ratification of contracts and strikes. This bill would restore some fairness and justice and would protect individual rights. Are you prepared to include a secret ballot vote in the legislation, for true democracy?
Hon Mr Rae: I can only say to the honourable member, and I'm sure she will appreciate this, that this is a discussion we should have when the legislation is brought down, but obviously the views she has expressed, as well as the views others have expressed, will be taken into account, and have been taken into account, in the drafting of the legislation.
Mrs Witmer: Premier, I hope the views of all people in the province have been taken into consideration and that it simply hasn't been an exercise in public relations.
There's one proposal that women in this province are particularly concerned about. There was the suggestion that the government may force employers to submit the names and addresses during a unionizing drive. As you know, this would infringe on an individual's right to privacy. At a time when society and your government recognize that women in this province are very vulnerable, will you be discarding privacy protection measures for women in favour of organizational ease?
Hon Mr Rae: The member has me at a distinct disadvantage which I'm sure she's going to take advantage of. She knows full well that if I respond to her with respect to any individual question about the legislation, other members will say: "Well, what about this? Why are you giving out information with respect to legislation in an answer to a question in this way?" So I would only say to her, obviously, that first of all the proposal with respect to lists was not a proposal the government endorsed in the discussion paper; it was a proposal put forward for purposes of discussion, weighing the interests on both sides. I can assure the honourable member that we have weighed the interest on both sides in the proposals we'll be tabling tomorrow.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): New question, the member for Burlington South.
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): Perhaps the Premier could extend the courtesy to our critic and she would be able to be informed tonight by ministry staff.
Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): My question is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, last year you announced some $75 million in funds to assist the conversion of day care centres towards non-profit from the commercial sector in this province. That was met with certain fanfare from the non-profit sector and heralded as an opportunity to at least maintain the day care spaces in this province.
Since then we've had public hearings here in the Legislature, in March, at which point you indicated that the operating procedures you were following with respect to day care conversions had all been changed, that you'd changed your mind, that there was now a moratorium and so on and so forth. Now, Minister, you are in the process of public consultations. Your process has gone through three different phases, confusing the public as to what you're actually doing with day care conversions.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): And your question?
Mr Jackson: My question has to do with a woman by the name of Barbara Till who yesterday attended the consultation hearings in Barrie. She had phoned your ministry and was advised that she would be given either five or 10 minutes to participate in the discussion. At the 11th hour, your ministry advised her that she was barred from making any public commentary at these public hearings.
Madam Minister, why is it that the public's opinion, in particular that of parents, the most important stakeholders in children's day care needs in this province -- your ministry has taken a position that their opinions are not as necessarily important as the non-profit day care operators' opinions are at this time?
Hon Marion Boyd (Minister of Community and Social Services): The member has certainly taken me by surprise, because if someone had a time slot at one of the hearings and then was subsequently told there wasn't time, I certainly didn't hear about it and I'm as concerned as he is.
The purpose of the hearings is to get opinion from parents as much as it is from child care providers, from municipalities, from any interested group. I'm deeply concerned to hear that something like this has occurred and I will certainly look into it and inform the member at a later date what the ministry's explanation for that would be.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): My question is also for the Minister of Community and Social Services. The YMCA of Orillia has indicated an interest in converting Kiddie Kapers Day Nursery School to a non-profit day care centre because it is a viable and a badly needed service. Up to 20% of all spaces in Orillia are here in this proposal. Your ministry told the YMCA, which is non-profit, that it is not eligible for the necessary funding because it's not operating within the conversion guidelines.
Minister, the question is, are the guidelines going to be in place immediately? These people, the families and the children and the staff who are at that present private day care centre, want to continue that centre as a non-profit. Can we count on your support to have that happen before June 30?
Hon Mrs Boyd: I'm quite concerned, as is the member, at the delay in the devising of the guidelines. We had agreed that we would not do ad hoc decisions until those guidelines were decided in conjunction with the private operators and with the non-profit providers. Unfortunately those two groups have had some difficulty coming to consensus on how those guidelines should operate. The non-profit groups generally are not in favour of the conversion process because they feel it's not appropriate for us to be putting those dollars in this direction, and the for-profit operators of course are not happy with the number of dollars that are available. So we're having real problems coming to an agreement.
I share the member's concern when there is a time deadline like this, and I have told the committee that if it can't come up with firm guidelines within the next couple of weeks, we will simply have to make some of these interim decisions in order to ensure that spaces don't get lost. It will be done on the basis of the most urgent need and the level of care that's required in municipalities.
Mr Jackson: Minister, thousands of day care spaces in this province have closed and collapsed as a result of your dithering around this issue. I go back to the point that last year you announced millions of dollars for a conversion program. To date we can't find any centre where you've given any money, but we can point to hundreds of centres that have closed and been forced to close, and you've not stepped in to save those child care spaces.
If you're not going to listen to parents, if you're not going to listen to my colleague's concerns in his own area of Simcoe, I want you to listen to a concern that's been raised about your parliamentary assistant and his conduct at the May 6 meeting of your public consultation in Metro north. It has been alleged that in a conversation he had with members of United Voices for Fair Treatment in Child Care, he was quoted as saying that if the private side, referring to them, did not stop fighting and resisting the NDP plans to make all child care non-profit, his caucus will just say to hell with it and forget about offering private operators any type of conversion package. He said the NDP has made its mind up as far as making all child care non-profit, so there is no point in fighting the decision.
Madam Minister, I consider that a serious concern --
The Speaker: And your question?
Mr Jackson: -- and I would ask you to look into it.
More important, how can you sit back idly, with 8,000 women workers waiting for you to bring in your conversion package and they're losing their jobs, 20,000 to 30,000 children who are --
The Speaker: Would the member complete his question, please.
Mr Jackson: Mr Speaker, I'm in the process of completing my question. Thank you.
Thirty thousand children depended on you to make this decision. Madam Minister, when will you bring in your package of reforms to save these day care spaces in Ontario instead of allowing a couple of thousand more to close and barring those children from the day care services they deserve?
Hon Mrs Boyd: I can only assume the member is suggesting that we not try to reach consensus with the two groups involved.
Mr Jackson: You already made the decision. Listen to your PA.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mrs Boyd: We would need to have agreement of non-profit groups to purchase the assets of for-profit groups and, equally, the willingness of for-profit groups to sell their assets. So we were attempting to come to a consensus. But I confess I'm getting quite annoyed that the two groups do not seem to have been able to come to that agreement.
I am not responsible for statements made by anyone other than myself. I have indicated to the member on a number of occasions that we are not in any way saying that only non-profit child care will exist. We are saying that any expansion of child care in this province will be in the non-profit sector but we will continue to licence for-profit centres if they comply with the standards. That continues to be the position, and I will certainly look into what the member alleges to be the comments of my parliamentary assistant.
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): My question is to the Premier. Yesterday the Premier told the House that his newly appointed parliamentary assistant, the member for St Andrew-St Patrick, Ms Akande, would be reporting to cabinet today on the whole situation of youth unemployment in Ontario.
I would ask the Premier to report to the House on the findings of his parliamentary assistant and what action will flow from Ms Akande's work.
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): That is exactly what happened. I know we're not normally supposed to discuss what went on in cabinet, but I can tell the honourable member that we did hear very directly from the member for St Andrew-St Patrick. She made a very compelling report to us and a very practical one with respect to a number of programs which are in place, and some other ideas which she has.
I will be responding and we will be responding on behalf of the government very, very shortly with respect to the youth unemployment issue and with respect to the need for us to create more jobs. But I want to emphasize that it's not just the government that's going to have to be involved in this in terms of direct initiatives. There are things we can do through the government, but I'm sure the honourable member would agree with me that we as a government have to do whatever we can to encourage the private sector and others to participate in this way.
I can say to the honourable member that I see some opportunities even with respect to the Sunday openings issue, that we would look to the retail industry to be responding in an affirmative way to the needs of our young people and to be looking to this over the summer months.
Mr Conway: Now that is making virtue out of circumstance.
Hon Mr Rae: You're right. It is. That's exactly what it is. I admit it.
Mr Conway: I will restrain myself. I will restrain myself.
The Speaker: The member now has an opportunity to place a supplementary.
Mr Conway: The other day I was talking to a university student who will be returning in the fall to her program where government-regulated tuition and fees will be up by over 10% for the fall of 1992-93. Her costs are going to be up by over 10%. It's June 3; she has no job to date.
My question, Mr Premier, is, having regard to the responsibilities that we all have in this respect, what are we as members of the Legislature to tell students of the kind I have mentioned who are saying to us now well into the first week of June, "What can I expect by way of concrete assistance in the summer of 1992 so that I will have some hope of employment, some hope of revenues to meet, if nothing else, the government-imposed increased costs for returning to colleges and universities in Ontario in the fall of 1992?"
Hon Mr Rae: First of all, I want to say to the honourable member that we have authorized as a cabinet a 7% increase in tuition fees, that's true. I would say to the honourable member we have also indicated very clearly that any increase in the cost of fees will be fully covered in terms of additional coverage by OSAP with respect to that 7%.
I would say to the honourable member that we are going to do everything we can to respond to the crisis within the difficulties we face in terms of our own economic situation. I'm sure he would not expect me to say the government will provide employment to every single person in our society who needs it, either for the summer or for the long term. We're going to do everything we can within our means and within the money we have. I'm sure that, given his own experiences and given his own realities he has to face in his riding, he will understand that we will be doing what we can.
We have the report from the member for St Andrew-St Patrick now, and the government will be responding to that shortly and as effectively as we possibly can, given the overall fiscal and economic situation we face.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): My question is to the Premier. While you were in opposition and last summer during the hearings before the justice committee on Sunday shopping for four straight weeks your government continually said that there was no way workers would be able to be protected from having to be forced to work on Sundays. My question is this: What has changed since last summer? What are you going to do to protect the workers so they aren't forced to work on Sundays?
Hon Bob Rae (Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs): All I can say to the honourable member is that I'm sure it's simply a truism to say that the most effective way to ensure people won't have to work on Sunday is simply to shut down stores. That's a true statement. However, I hope the honourable member would appreciate -- and I get the feeling that at least a majority of the members of his caucus would agree -- that the previous approaches which have been tried by a number of different governments over a number of different years have now come up against the reality of changing public attitudes with respect to this issue.
We have a law in place that clearly gives workers the right to refuse, and we have the assurance from the retail industry that it's going to fully respect and abide by that law. We certainly intend to hold them to that. I'm going to ask the special committee that we will be looking at to see whether there are other things that can be done to strengthen the effectiveness of that right.
I'm not going to list all the things one could do. I don't think that's helpful. Obviously we as a government have decided we're not going to simply impose those conditions or whatever they might be today, because we don't think enough work has been done in the marketplace to come up with the right approach and with the better approach. I do think that with changing attitudes -- I would include a changing attitude on the part of everyone in recognizing that this issue has been a difficult and divisive one for the province --
The Speaker: Would the Premier conclude his response, please.
Hon Mr Rae: I think there's reason to believe that the companies in the larger retail sector certainly understand, and I think employers generally understand, the need to respect individual choice in this area. We respect the choice of consumers, we respect the choice of store owners whether or not to open and we would ask all those to respect the rights of workers who choose not to work on a Sunday and who choose to do other things. We would ask that to take place.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I think many members across the floor would have expected it to be a very cold day when you'd hear the Premier of this province, Mr Bob Rae, standing up and making a statement such as that.
Mr Premier, let's be very clear. When in opposition, you said you could not protect the rights of workers on Sundays. Mr Premier, it's not bafflegab that's going to run around this issue. This is not like rent controls, where you kind of capitulated and you broke your promises. It's not like government-run auto insurance, where you can kind of send out the party line. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that you have broken a very important promise to the people of your party and the people who voted for you.
Now, there are also people out in this province --
Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): They'd rather not hear that.
Mr Stockwell: I'm quite sure that the members across the floor don't want to hear this stuff. I'm quite sure they don't want to hear it. But I ask for one moment, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: If the member were to direct his questions to the Chair, it would be helpful.
Mr Stockwell: You have, in fact, broken a very solid principle that you stood on for the past decade. I will say you got a number of votes last election on this issue.
The Speaker: Would the member place his supplementary.
Mr Stockwell: You have said in the past that when your government made a mistake you'd stand up and say you were wrong. Mr Premier, you have made a very clear and obvious mistake. You've broken a very clear and long-standing NDP policy.
The Speaker: Does the member have a supplementary?
Mr Stockwell: Will you stand up and tell the people of this province you were wrong and apologize?
Hon Mr Rae: I'm not quite sure how much or what volume of crow it is the member opposite would like me to ingest here. I would only say to members that I've been here for almost 10 years and in that time I think I've heard at least 12 different positions from the members of the Conservative Party on this issue. Similarly speaking, and I say this --
Mr Stockwell: You tell me. Ask me.
Hon Mr Rae: No, no. People have changed their minds. I've had one member of his caucus -- I'm not going to identify which one -- come over to me today and say: "I disagree with you. I'm still opposed to Sunday openings." I've had members of the Liberal Party -- I won't mention any names because these are conversations -- indicate they also take a different view from the view I've expressed today. I would say to the honourable member, yes, it's true to say I have changed --
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North): You called people liars for this.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Stockwell: And they campaigned on it.
Hon Mr Rae: If the member would be good enough to listen for a moment; I realize he's in high orbit at this point. The octane is turned to its fullest amount.
Mr Conway: Better that than full retreat, Bob. This is hard to take. This is Bill Davis on separate schools. This is Bill Davis on Spadina. This is the Allied troops at Dunkirk. This is unbelievable.
Hon Mr Rae: Good one. The member for Renfrew is going to have a good day.
Mr Conway: This is the right decision, I will admit now.
Hon Mr Rae: This is the right decision. All right. I just want to explain one more thing. If the member is saying there has always been complete unanimity in the Conservative Party with respect to the direction to take or if he is saying the same thing is true in the Liberal Party, then I would say to him he is making a case that has no standing.
With respect to the enforceability of laws, on whether it's municipal option or whatever it may be, and other issues, I would say to him very clearly, we have taken what we think is the wisest course. It's a course others may disagree with. It's a course some may be disappointed with, but on balance I'm convinced it's the course that's in the best interests of the people of the province. That's the test every government has to meet with respect to public policy in this province.
MINISTRY OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES HIRING
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): My question this afternoon is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, there is great concern around the hiring of the 450 eligibility review officers in your ministry. The public image of this new initiative is one of a policing system by investigating alleged fraud cases. Most studies indicate that less than 3% cheat the system. The hiring of fraud police creates a negative attitude towards those who legitimately rely on social assistance and channels financial and personnel resources the wrong way. What is the real purpose of the 450 eligibility review officers?
Hon Marion Boyd (Minister of Community and Social Services): I'm really grateful to the member for asking the question because I, too, have been disturbed by the press reports that seem to suggest the increase in staffing is to catch people who are doing something wrong. There is a perception of fraud out there. There have been claims on the part of municipalities and members opposite that in fact we are not being careful enough about eligibility. But eligibility has a whole lot more to it than fraudulent aspects. You're quite right: Every study that has been done by internal audit, by the Provincial Auditor and by individual municipalities has indicated fraud is less than 5%. That is something that is significant when we're paying out $6.2 billion in assistance. We obviously have to be careful of that.
The real issue is those people who are eligible for Canada pension plan payments, unemployment insurance payments or parental support payments who ought not to be having to rely on social assistance for their income because there is another source of income. Those are the cases we are particularly interested in dealing with, as well as cases of overpayment where we have not been diligent enough or where people have not reported the full extent of other income.
Mr Martin: You know as I know, though, that there are some municipalities out there that may take advantage of this new initiative to do more policing than was proposed in your announcement. Is there anything the ministry can do or is going to do to ensure that these people do the kinds of things you've just laid out for me here today?
Hon Mrs Boyd: These employees will be provincial employees who will be administering the Family Benefits Act and, where the province has jurisdiction, the General Welfare Assistance Act. Municipalities administer the general welfare act through their own employees, so these employees are not expected to be at the behest of municipalities and to be doing anything other than administering the portions of the act that are under provincial jurisdiction. So I don't think you will find this will have any effect on those municipalities.
Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. No doubt the minister is aware that Millbrook Correctional Centre is the closest thing to a maximum security prison this province has. It houses prisoners who are escapees and prisoners who perhaps have been convicted of sexual offences.
There was a very excellent program at Millbrook called Annex which allowed these prisoners, in an effort to rehabilitate them, to work on the grounds of the facility under the supervision of correctional guards. It's my understanding that over the last little while this has been turned into a garden party. These prisoners are now not looked after by correctional officers; they're being looked after by two gardeners. They get an extra $2,000 for doing it, but these gentlemen are not trained in looking after prisoners of this type.
Minister, you've placed Millbrook and the surrounding communities in severe difficulty and perhaps danger by this. I'd like to ask you how you can justify this type of conduct. Are you in fact aware of it, or did you just do what the Treasurer told you to do and cut 10% out of the budget? Are you aware of the risk at which you're putting the people of Millbrook?
Hon Allan Pilkey (Minister of Correctional Services): I'm aware of the subject matter but I'm not aware that we are putting any citizen at risk at all.
Up to eight carefully selected inmates with less than 30 days left in their sentences will be supervised by maintenance staff of the nature the member opposite mentioned. This is a type of arrangement that has been found in other work programs and many other correctional institutions throughout the province, and to date it has proven to be nothing short of successful.
Mr Callahan: Do I take from that that this is going to be a procedure you're going to adopt at other correctional facilities around the province by putting gardeners in place of guards? If that is the case, then I suggest you're sending a very dangerous message to the people of the province.
I suggest to you that a correctional officer makes $21 an hour. Mr Layton makes $37.50 an hour. Perhaps you can persuade your colleague the Minister of Health to forgo the services of Jack Layton. That would allow you to have at least one and a half or perhaps two guards.
The government seems to have money for everything else, any of its favourite programs, that simply drops out of the Treasurer's pocket. Do not the people of Ontario deserve the ability of having professional guards looking after correctional facilities? I'd like you to answer to the people of Ontario, because if something happens, you are the person who is directly responsible for it.
Hon Mr Pilkey: There are different levels of security within our facilities. Surely the member opposite wouldn't have us expend dollars unnecessarily on a level of protection that wasn't required.
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): My question is for the acting Minister of Energy. Mr Minister, last week in response to a question from the member for Durham East you stated that Ontario Hydro is currently involved in discussions with the gas industry on the issue of fuel substitution. Furthermore, you stated that the government would be pushing Bill 118 through as quickly as possible to get on with the fuel substitution program. Minister, what studies have your ministry and Ontario Hydro completed on the economic feasibility of these fuel-switching programs you are so eager to implement?
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Acting Minister of Energy): Perhaps I could start my response to the member by suggesting that if he hasn't seen any studies about completed proposals that we intend to make, I can refer him to the word he said I used last week. "Discussions" implies that we're still putting together programs. Discussions don't imply completed programs; discussions imply parties sitting down to work out the details. When those details are completed, I'll be releasing them here in the House.
Mr Jordan: The minister promised the Municipal Electric Association that it would be consulted before any proposals were made. Mr Minister, the London Public Utilities Commission has completed an extensive study which clearly indicates that its water heater load-shifting program is superior to fuel substitution. They are quite concerned that their project, which has been verified by Ontario Hydro, will be totally ignored. There is growing concern in many Ontario municipalities that Hydro is preparing to proceed with fuel substitution programs without the consent of or any consultation with the local utilities.
Minister, will you agree to delay all fuel substitution programs until all parties have been consulted and the affected utilities give their approval to proceed?
Hon Mr Charlton: No, I'm not going to delay fuel substitution programs and put this province in potential future jeopardy. I've heard members of the opposition raise the concerns the industrial sector in this province has raised on a number of occasions about energy security in Ontario. I'm not going to take the advice that the member opposite is putting forward and put this province at potential risk four or five years down the road.
Having said that, the London Public Utilities Commission has taken some initiative on its own, unlike many other public utilities in this province that have done nothing in terms of load shifting, fuel switching or energy efficiency.
It's an interesting approach that the London PUC has taken. We're prepared to have a look at it, but the London experience does not reflect either the numbers in the studies that Hydro itself has done or in the studies that some of the other groups have done and doesn't take into account a number of things like the government's desire to be able to back off, for example, from the high use of coal, which causes serious environmental emissions during the peak periods in winter and summer. Those are all things that we have to take into account as we make our final decisions around this kind of package.
VEHICLE LICENSING OFFICES
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I've got a question for the Minister of Transportation. Frank Mauro, Thomas Fang and Peter Perry are vehicle licence issuers. They're small business people. Frank Mauro has been serving the community of Welland for a long time now, and serving well, working hard, going the extra mile; similarly Thomas Fang on Fourth Avenue in St Catharines and Peter Perry down in Port Colborne, a young man who abandoned his previous career, a young person who's made a commitment to this office, to this government, operating his business.
I tell you, these people are afraid. They're afraid because, like me, they listened to the Minister of Transportation make a statement on December 5 introducing Ontario's strategy for safer roads. They saw that was part of the road ahead.
I tell you, having read the road ahead in Bill 164, that's the highway to hell in a handbasket. But I tell you what they're afraid of, that they are going to lose their status as vehicle licence issuers, that it's in the works, that it's inevitable.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): And your question?
Mr Kormos: What I need to know from the Minister of Transportation is, on behalf of these good, hardworking, public-minded, committed people, will he tell us and tell them, more important, that there are no plans to move these people out of those offices and to eliminate their role in our community?
Hon Gilles Pouliot (Minister of Transportation): Of course I do indeed welcome the question from my friend and colleague the member for Welland-Thorold. I'm somewhat appalled and shocked that anything would scare the member. I've heard him; Hansard will attest that he said he was afraid. The changes in that attitude must have come on the road to Damascus indeed. I'm aware of the valuable service, like we all are; we're talking in terms of 280 offices across the province of Ontario providing a service that has been provided, an essential service, for many, many years.
Business as usual does not prevent nor does it jeopardize jobs. This is the focus, this is what it's all about here. We have an obligation. Of course their role will change. It has changed in the past. It will change in the future. Our government will respond to the needs of an ever-changing society. I'll tell you something, Mr Speaker, with the highest of respect, we've never discussed our obligations. Our relationship goes beyond the strictly business. It entails an obligation that we intend to respect.
The Speaker: Would the minister complete his response.
Hon Mr Pouliot: Nothing will ever happen without discussion with the client group.
Mr Kormos: I've got a supplementary. You see, Frank Mauro from Welland and Peter Perry, longtime licence issuer from Port Colborne, and Thomas Fang, a young person, a new business person in St Catharines, are going to be among the hundreds of people at the Ontario Motor Vehicle Licence Issuers Association annual meeting here in Toronto on June 14. I'm going to be speaking to those people at their annual meeting.
The minister is an honourable person. I remember the minister when, as my mentor, he sat with me in the opposition and fought for the rights of little people against powerful bureaucracies and big government. I remember the minister. The vehicle licence issuers regard him as an integrous and honourable person as well.
This is an important issue, Speaker, please. This is the question. Will the Minister of Transportation permit me and authorize me, when I address those motor vehicle licence issuers at their annual meeting on June 14, to tell them, on behalf of the Minister of Transportation, that their roles as small business people are not in jeopardy, that this government will protect them, defend them and sustain them as this government should?
Mr Charles Harnick (Willowdale): Yes or no, Gilles.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Pouliot: Monsieur le Président, comme vous le savez, ce genre de question demande une réponse méticuleuse. My friend the member for Welland-Thorold would attest that this kind of question deserves more than a yes or no answer. But suffice it that in terms of the licensees doing what they've done for many years, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. They will keep providing.
I know the member will convey to our friends with all the sincerity at his command that as long as they are under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation, we have an obligation that goes beyond the strictly business. Nothing will happen. There will be changes in the style of provision but we have an obligation, which is a moral obligation, as long as those fine people operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation.
Mr Gregory S. Sorbara (York Centre): I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The minister's credibility as the champion of the 3Rs of reuse, reduction and recycling is really coming into question very seriously and there is now yet another attack on that credibility.
I tell the minister something she already knows: The municipality of Metropolitan Toronto is currently considering the reduction of the tipping fee, the cost of dumping a tonne of garbage for commercial and industrial users, from $152 a tonne to perhaps as low as $75 a tonne and the transfer of the cost of that tipping to the individual home owner, potentially by the allocation of a tax on a per-bag basis on the garbage we as citizens put out on the street. That is the transfer of a tax on industrial and commercial users to the individual home owner who already pays for that garbage service through property taxes.
Worse still, the reduction of this tipping fee will put in jeopardy the entire recycling and reuse industry, fragile as it is, because it will then become cheaper for industrial generators of garbage to simply dump that garbage. I ask the minister, will she intervene and prevent Metro Toronto from making this tax grab and this reallocation of taxes from commercial users to home owners and will she stop this attack on a fledgling industry that actually could, if she intervened at this point, have some sign of hope and life in the future?
Hon Ruth A. Grier (Minister of the Environment): The recycling industry, which the member characterizes as being fledgling, is in fact a growing, very profitable and progressive industry right across this province. I hope the member will concede that has happened over the last two years because of the very strong commitment of this government to putting the 3Rs first, as opposed to putting disposal as the only solution to waste management.
I want to say to the member that I think he is unfairly characterizing what Metro Toronto is discussing. They have not reached a conclusion in any of their debates and what they are doing, as municipalities around the province are doing, is struggling to put together a comprehensive, integrated waste management system whereby the revenues from disposal are used to fund 3Rs.
What they did in the past under a previous government was put in a tipping fee without having in place any -- on the other side of the balance or of the scales -- markets for the recycled material, any kind of powers to order them to direct where waste is going. Those are exactly the kinds of programs that are part of our waste reduction initiatives and that I'm confident will lead not only Metro but all municipalities to have an integrated, comprehensive system. That has got to be the objective.
Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads:
"Whereas investment and job creation are essential for Ontario's economic recovery, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"To instruct the Minister of Labour to table the results of independent, empirical studies of the impact that amendments to the Labour Relations Act will have on investment and jobs before proceeding with those amendments."
Those petitions have been signed by Dial One Temp Air Control, Rockwell International of Canada Ltd, the Merchants Mall Association and Cambridge Brass. I have signed my name to these petitions.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): "Whereas independent and non-partisan economic studies have concluded that the proposed changes to Ontario labour legislation will increase job losses; and
"Whereas they will cause a decline in investment in Ontario; and
"Whereas they will seriously undermine the recovery and the maintenance of a sound economic environment in the province;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ontario government declare a moratorium on any proposed changes to the labour legislation in the best interests of the people of Ontario."
That's signed by 197 people from Orillia, Penetanguishene, Bracebridge, Port Sydney, Sydenham, Etobicoke, and I've affixed my name to it also.
Mr Bernard Grandmaître (Ottawa East): I have a petition objecting to the arbitrator's report for the greater London area which reads as follows:
"That the Legislature of Ontario reject the arbitrator's report for the greater London area in its entirety, condemn the arbitration process to resolve municipal boundary issues as being patently an undemocratic process and reject the recommendation of a massive annexation of land by the city of London."
I have signed the petition.
Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): I have two petitions. The first I am presenting on behalf of 236 parents of students at St Agatha Catholic school in my riding, and it says:
"We the parents and teachers of St Agatha school are concerned about the way in which Catholic education is funded by the Ontario government and Metropolitan Toronto.
"Although the separate schools were given the right in 1984 to provide education to the end of grade 12 OAC, they were never given equal funding. For example, in 1991, a Catholic elementary school child in Metro was educated on 75% of the money spent on his public school friend and the Catholic high school student was allotted only 70% of the money spent on his public school counterpart. These differences represent a shortfall of $1,678 per student at the elementary level and $2,502 at the high school level, leaving the separate school board $198 million short of their Metro counterparts in total operating costs/revenue for the same number of students.
"The BNA of 1867 recognizes the right of Catholic students to a Catholic education. In keeping with this, the province of Ontario supports two educational systems, kindergarten to grade 12 OAC. Unfortunately this support is not equally divided among the separate school system and the public school system. Out of 30% of the students in Metro, only 20% of residential taxes go into the separate school coffers.
"We urge you to act now to restructure the way in which municipal and provincial tax dollars are apportioned so that Ontario's two principal educational systems are funded not only fully but with equity and on an equal basis."
With that I affix my signature of support.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas independent and non-partisan economic studies have concluded that the proposed changes to Ontario labour legislation will increase job losses; and
"Whereas they will cause a decline in investment in Ontario; and
"Whereas they will seriously undermine the recovery and the maintenance of a sound economic environment in the province;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ontario government declare a moratorium on any proposed changes to the labour legislation in the best interests of all the people of Ontario," including all the people who have signed these petitions.
ONTARIO WASTE MANAGEMENT CORP
Mr Ron Hansen (Lincoln): I have another petition to the Legislature of Ontario:
"Whereas the Ontario Waste Management Corp is proposing to build and operate a 'huge centralized' toxic waste incinerator and landfill site in the heart of Ontario's farm land, Niagara; and
"Whereas the toxic waste must be treated at the source because transportation of such huge volumes of toxic waste on our highways is suicidal;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to change the mandate and directions being promoted by this crown corporation, OWMC."
On this petition I have 560 signatures from residents across Ontario and I affix my name to this petition.
REVENUE FROM GAMING
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): I have three petitions. The first petition is to the Legislature of Ontario, signed by 46 residents of the towns of Haldimand and Dunnville and adjoining areas:
"Whereas the Ontario government has indicated it has plans to open gambling establishments in Niagara and other locations in Ontario,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario to abandon such plans for legalized gambling."
I've affixed my signature.
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
"Whereas independent and non-partisan economic studies have concluded that the proposed changes to the Ontario labour legislation will increase job losses; and
"Whereas they will cause a decline in investment in Ontario; and
"Whereas they will seriously undermine the recovery of the maintenance of a sound economic environment in the province,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ontario government declare a moratorium on any proposed changes to the labour legislation in the best interests of the people of Ontario."
This is signed by 141 people from North York, Wallaceburg, Downsview and Weston, and to which I attach my signature.
Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I have a petition here.
"We, the residents of a land-leased community, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the residents of Sutton-By-The-Lake felt the previous government set up a committee to report on land-leased communities but took no specific action to protect these communities; and
"Whereas the residents of Sutton-By-The-Lake feel it should be a priority of this government to release the report and take action to bring forward legislation on the following issues that surround land-leased communities; and
"Whereas the residents feel the government of Ontario should examine the problem of no protection against conversion to other uses which would result in the loss of home owners' equity; and
"Whereas the residents of these communities do not receive concise and clear information about their property tax bills; and
"Whereas there are often arbitrary rules set by landlords and owners of land-leased communities which place unfair restrictions or collect commissions on the resale of residents' homes; and
"Whereas there has been confusion resulting with the status of residents with long-term leases and where they fall under the rent review legislation,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to follow through and to release the committee report for land-leased communities and to propose legislation to give adequate protection to individuals who live in land-leased communities."
I have affixed my name.
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): I am pleased to table a petition signed by concerned employers from my riding of Oakville South and from southeast Burlington, which reads as follows:
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the proposed changes to the labour legislation will increase potential job losses and whereas they will cause a decline of investment in Ontario; and
"Whereas they will seriously undermine the recovery of a sound economic environment; and
"Whereas a recent public opinion poll showed that 83% of Ontario's citizens support the withdrawal of these proposed changes,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly as follows:
"To declare a moratorium on any proposed changes to the existing labour legislation."
I have affixed my signature to it, and these are from the people of Oakville South.
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): Signed by 44 residents of the towns of Haldimand and Dunnville and adjoining areas, to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
"The Ministry of Education has made evolutionism a compulsory core unit in senior OAC (previously grade 13) history and science. Since evolutionism and creationism are completed acts in the past, neither can be proven or disproven. In fairness to all parents and students, equal time should be given in presenting the underlying assumptions of each. Through the two-model approach, the skills of critical thinking such as recognition of bias, awareness of society's influence on one's bias and the awareness of assumptions can allow students to examine their own belief systems and better appreciate an opposing view. These skills should be incorporated into all textbooks, approved in circular 14, dealing with the question of origins."
I have affixed my signature to the petition.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): I have quite a number of names attached to the four petitions: 189, 148, 125 and 187. Not one was collected by Jack Layton, I might add, and not one cost a nickel for the province of Ontario to collect. I thought I might point that out as opposed to, say, $300 a day.
"Whereas independent and non-partisan economic studies have concluded that the proposed changes to the Ontario labour legislation will increase job losses; and
"Whereas they will cause a decline in investment in Ontario; and
"Whereas they will seriously undermine the recovery and the maintenance of a sound economic environnment in the province,
"We, the undersigned" -- and I have already mentioned that there are hundreds of signatures here, from places like Crystal Beach, Fort Erie, St Marys, Burlington, Timmins, Kingston, Windsor, Stratford, Dryden, Gloucester, Kirkton, Casselman and Don Mills, Agincourt, Scarborough and Thornhill -- "petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ontario government declare a moratorium on any proposed changes to the labour legislation in the best interests of the people of Ontario."
I once again will add that Jack Layton didn't have to collect these; these are free. I will affix my signature as well.
Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): I have a petition here signed by 45 citizens of the county of Middlesex who petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the report of the greater London arbitrator, Mr John Brant. Many of us in Middlesex have grave concerns about the size of this annexation and the recommendations with the report and would like to emphasize the importance of protecting agricultural land in the area of Middlesex county. This is an issue of great concern and the utmost importance to my constituents and to me.
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): I have a similar petition to the Legislature of Ontario, presented by 23 residents of Middlesex county and area:
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature of Ontario as follows:
"That the Legislature of Ontario reject the arbitrator's report for the greater London area in its entirety, condemn the arbitration process to resolve municipal boundary issues as being patently an undemocratic process and reject the recommendation of a massive annexation of land by the city of London."
I affix my signature.
Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): I have a petition to the honourable Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario. It's a rather refreshing petition, and I'm glad to see the Treasurer is here. It says:
"We, the following flue-cured tobacco producers, express our sincere appreciation for the support and assistance provided to our industry by the local mayors, municipal officials, chambers of commerce, communities and businesses. We believe that your support and assistance was a major contributor and contributing factor in the government's decision to suspend the export tax and not increase taxation on tobacco products. We express our deep appreciation for a job very well done."
I have affixed my signature to this petition as well.
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I have a petition that's signed by approximately 400 people. It reads as follows:
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas independent and non-partisan economic studies have concluded that the proposed changes to Ontario's labour legislation will increase job losses; and
"Whereas they will cause a decline in investment in Ontario; and
"Whereas they will seriously undermine the recovery and the maintenance of a sound economic environment in this province,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Mr Runciman from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's sixth report.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 104(g)(11), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
RETAIL BUSINESS HOLIDAYS AMENDMENT ACT (SUNDAY SHOPPING), 1992 / LOI DE 1992 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES JOURS FÉRIÉS DANS LE COMMERCE DE DÉTAIL (OUVERTURE DES COMMERCES LE DIMANCHE)
Mr Pilkey moved first reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les jours fériés dans le commerce de détail en ce qui concerne l'ouverture des commerces le dimanche.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Allan Pilkey (Solicitor General): I just want to indicate that the bill will eliminate Sunday from the current definition of holidays under the Retail Business Holidays Act, allowing stores in Ontario to open on Sundays with the exception of Easter Sunday, which is preserved as a holiday on which stores must close. The section of the act which permits stores to be open on Sundays in December will also be repealed, and the act will also make it possible for retailers who hold commercial leases to remain closed on Sundays if they wish, regardless of the terms of their lease. When the bill is passed, these amendments will come into force retroactive to today.
DUTCH CANADIAN ALLIANCE OF ONTARIO, INC. ACT, 1992
Mr Eves, on behalf of Mr Harnick, moved first reading of Bill Pr39, An Act to revive The Dutch Canadian Alliance of Ontario, Inc.
Motion agreed to.
LOI DE 1992 SUR LA SOCIÉTÉ DE LA SÉCURITÉ ROUTIÈRE DE L'ONTARIO / ONTARIO ROAD SAFETY CORPORATION ACT, 1992
M. Pouliot propose la première lecture du projet de loi 39, Loi créant la Société de la sécurité routière de l'Ontario et modifiant certaines lois dont le ministre des Transports assure l'application / An Act to establish the Ontario Road Safety Corporation and to amend certain Acts administered by the Minister of Transportation.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Gilles Pouliot (Minister of Transportation): As members will recall, I outlined the government's plan to address road safety in the House last December. Today I am pleased to be introducing a bill that will allow for the creation of the Ontario Road Safety Corp, expected to be in operation by the fall of 1993. This organization will provide provincial leadership and coordination in all matters relating to road safety. The goal of the Ontario Road Safety Corp is to reduce the number of collisions in Ontario and the terrible trauma that road crashes cause for so many of our citizens.
Reducing collisions and their costs requires attention to more than just driver behaviour, so the corporation will also have the mandate to improve the driving environment and alleviate the effects of crash injuries. Improved safety is an essential part of our government's auto insurance reform strategy. Fewer collisions will mean fewer claims, reduced health care and policing costs and, of course, lower premiums.
La Société de la sécurité routière de l'Ontario est le résultat d'une consultation entreprise auprès d'autres ministères et agences du secteur privé, des organismes de la promotion de la sécurité et de recherche et des organismes communautaires à travers toute la province.
The Ontario Road Safety Corp will be staffed by public servants. The corporation's board of directors will be appointed by the government and will report to the Minister of Transportation. The minister will be fully accountable to this House for the agency's activities. The Ontario Road Safety Corp will have much greater financial and operational flexibility than the government ministry. The new agency will be able to engage in revenue-producing activities, joint ventures and other activities to help the corporation maximize its effectiveness.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
POWER CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1992 / LOI DE 1992 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA SOCIÉTÉ DE L'ÉLECTRICITÉ
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for third reading of Bill 118, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act / Loi modifiant la Loi sur la Société de l'électricité.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): The member for Ottawa South.
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): At the time I was speaking on this yesterday, when the proceedings were terminated, I was questioning the wisdom of having Ontario Hydro subsidize the gas utilities through a fuel-switching program. That comment was made in the face of very clear evidence to the effect that at the present time people are switching to gas whenever they can and in ever-increasing numbers. The market forces are acting in the marketplace, and as a result people are making the switch whenever they possibly can.
One of the things we have to pay some attention to is the availability of natural gas, or other problems connected with that, if we're about to embark on a program whereby we're going to switch people from one fuel, one source for heating our homes, electricity, to another, natural gas. It is not without precedent that we've had some problems in these matters. In the past, governments have paid us -- and it was the federal government at that time -- to switch from oil to electricity. Now another government is going to tell us we should be switching off electricity, on to natural gas, fuel oil or perhaps even wood. In fairness to our public, we should recognize that they are somewhat sceptical of governments getting involved in these kinds of things.
With respect to natural gas, I think we've got to consider, first of all, the fact that when we use natural gas to a greater degree than we already do we are to some extent exporting jobs. We are not generating the electricity within the province and that is a critical factor, particularly in light of the fact that we are in a recession and struggling to overcome that.
We also have to take into consideration the pipeline capacity. With increased usage of natural gas by our homes and our industry, we have to ask ourselves whether the pipelines can accommodate that. Furthermore, if we're going to switch to these combustion turbine units, there's going to be an additional need, a considerable need, in the future for natural gas supply and we've got to wonder about the capacity of the existing pipelines.
We've also got to wonder about the price. I submit that no one can offer any guarantees whatsoever with respect to price when it comes to the natural gas or other fuels we use to heat our homes, or industries for that matter. It's important to recognize as well that when we're using natural gas it is not entirely problem-free. It's a fossil fuel and commensurate with that are fogs relating to carbon dioxide emissions and nitrogen oxide. I guess the good thing it's got going for it, and we should recognize that as well, is that it does not have sulphur dioxide emissions.
Of course, the other thing we have to keep in mind in relation to natural gas is that it is a non-renewable resource and whenever possible -- I'm sure the minister and his parliamentary assistant would agree with me in this regard -- we should attempt, if we're going to switch people from one fuel to another, to give some emphasis, some priority, to our renewables. This is not a renewable.
Some of the pollution, of course, involved in the use of natural gas arises from the source and so we shouldn't be burying our heads in the sand, so to speak. We should recognize that when we use natural gas there'll be considerable pollution emanating from the source, as in Alberta. As we all well recognize today, air pollution does not recognize boundaries and sooner or later that pollution is going to catch up with us here in Ontario.
Something which has given us some cause for concern of late in dealing with natural gas is the fact that the supply of natural gas is now a matter pursuant to the free trade agreement. It's something which must adhere to the rules of a continental market. What that means is that Alberta cannot give priority to Ontario in terms of price or supply. If we ever found ourselves in a position where some states to the south of us were obtaining a supply and we needed further supply and that could not be obtained, Alberta would not have the right to sever or decrease that supply flowing into the United States in order to give us some priority.
At the same time, we should also recognize that what we are doing when we give emphasis to natural gas is placing reliance on a source outside this province. We're becoming, to some degree, dependent on a third party to supply us with a source of energy. We should not walk in that direction without being cognizant of some of the difficulties we're going to have to face along the way. Within the context of the constitutional discussions that are ongoing, that leads us to feel a little apprehensive -- I think it should -- a bit uncertain about what kind of future we're going to face and what kind of risks we are assuming when we make a decision today that we're going to rely on another province to provide us with a source of energy.
With respect to fuel substitution, we have not heard from this government and Ontario Hydro how they intend to go about subsidizing, financing and promoting or encouraging that initiative. We don't know whether they're going to proceed with loans, whether there are going to be grants, whether there are going to be forgivable loans, whether there's going to be a means test applied to the corporation looking for the subsidy. We don't know if there's going to be any preference given to any of the alternative fuels: fuel oil, natural gas or wood. I introduced an amendment during the committee hearings which would have had Hydro give some priority to renewable fuels, but that amendment was defeated.
We don't know where we're going in this regard, but a number of presenters offered us some constructive suggestions. I just want to read a very brief list of suggestions presented to us by Andrea Mitchell, chairperson of the Hydro-Electric Commission of Cambridge and North Dumfries. She presented these to the committee on January 29, 1992. She said in her submission to us:
"If the government elects to proceed with the proposed changes to the act, we urge that the following conditions be included in any fuel substitution program:
"1. That in order to qualify for the grant the home must be upgraded to current insulation and air sealing standards.
"2. That minimum efficiency standards be established for eligible equipment, ie, limited to high-efficiency gas furnaces.
"3. That participating contractors must be fully trained and qualified and be registered with the program.
"4. That an inspection be required for all installations and that an audit program be established to ensure the quality of installations meet all relevant safety and efficiency standards.
"5. That the Minister of Energy commit to producing and distributing a publication to provide customers with actual energy cost comparisons, realistic conversion costs and anticipated paybacks available from conversion to different fuel sources. One of the most common problems during the previous off-oil program was that consumers were faced with conflicting information on relative energy prices and often had unrealistic expectations of the benefits of conversion. This document should also provide comparisons with alternative expenditures on efficiency improvements.
"6. That a more realistic assessment of the potential for fuel substitution, given various incentive levels, be conducted in order to ensure that targets included in Ontario Hydro's future plans be achievable."
I think those are some very constructive suggestions offered by Ms Mitchell on behalf of Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro and it is my sincere hope that the minister and the folks at Ontario Hydro will pay close attention to them.
I paid close attention to a question asked earlier today by the member for Lanark-Renfrew with respect to the minister's commitment to obtaining input with respect to implementing fuel substitution and what forms that particular policy initiative should take. I want to remind the minister that on October 2, 1991, his ministry released a news release which quoted the minister as saying the following:
"The government recognizes the concerns that have been raised about the fuel substitution provisions. We have made a commitment to establish the criteria and appropriate financial mechanisms for implementing fuel substitution through further consultation."
It is my expectation and sincere hope the minister will follow though on that commitment and make a sincere effort to consult the parties that will be affected. Reference was made earlier in this House today to the London Public Utilities Commission. I had the opportunity and benefit of meeting with them. Those people have shown a great deal of initiative, I feel, in attempting to address the concerns that we have been dealing with within the context of Bill 118. It is my hope the minister will pay very close attention to that initiative. It's a rather interesting one. What they are doing is attempting, through load shifting for heating the hot water heaters, to reduce the peak demands of electricity within the jurisdiction of the London Public Utilities Commission.
One of the major concerns these people raised with me was that if they were to proceed with that initiative -- which, by the way, they have found to be cost-effective both in terms of their costs and in terms of reducing the overall energy costs of their ratepayers -- within the context of a massive campaign put on by Ontario Hydro to promote fuel substitution, they will simply be caught up in such a wave that their initiative will have no impact, no success and will be all for naught.
It's my hope the minister will pay close attention to that initiative and surely to other initiatives that are going to take place as a result of the sincere desire on the part of public utility commissions throughout the province to assist the ratepayers and reduce these ever-increasing hydro costs.
One of the things Bill 118 does, and you have to look at it in a global context, is it attempts to place the burden of implementing a comprehensive energy policy on one utility, one corporation; that is, Ontario Hydro. It's my feeling that the government should be giving direction to Ontario Hydro -- there's no doubt whatsoever about that -- but that it should be doing that in such a way as to encourage Ontario Hydro to minimize the environmental, economic and social costs in carrying out its mandate of providing us with power.
There has developed over the course of the history of our province a general reliance on Ontario Hydro. The notion that someone other than Ontario Hydro could fulfil a certain function in terms of providing us with electricity is one that strikes some as heretical, and it just simply makes others somewhat uncomfortable, but I think we have an obligation in 1992 to look to other places to determine whether perhaps there's someone else out there who can provide us with energy in a more efficient manner. Of course, I'm referring to non-utility generators.
With respect to this reluctance and this dependency that evolved in Ontario relating to Ontario Hydro, Mr Speaker, I want to tell you a little story that I think illustrates the point.
There was a father whose wife had died and the son visited the father from time to time, but he travelled throughout the world. He wanted to find something for his father that would lend him some comfort now that his mother was gone. His father had retired and had a sufficient amount of savings in the bank and was comfortable. So he went into a pet shop one day and he found a rather strange-looking yellow bird. He asked the sales clerk there something about this bird and the sales clerk said: "This is a rary. It's a very rare bird. It's flightless and it eats a lot, so the food bills are going to be expensive, but other than that it's something your father would probably enjoy."
So the son brought the rary home, showed it to his father and it was love at first sight. The father enjoyed the bird tremendously. It had beautiful yellow plumage and deep blue eyes. So the son left and he came back six months later. But when he came in the front door of the house and looked in the living room, he found this bird was now the size of a pony. So he turned to his father and said: "Dad, what's the idea here? Isn't this thing eating you out of house and home?" He said: "Son, it's expensive but I can't live without it. It's very, very comforting to me. Besides, look at those blue eyes."
So the son said, "All right, have it your way." He left and he came back a year later and he found the bird this time living in the garage, occupying the entire garage in fact. So the son said to the father, "Listen, surely this is reaching the point of being ridiculous." So the father conceded that he's had to put a mortgage on the house and to sell the car in order to feed this rary. He cannot convince the father that he should be getting rid of this creature, so he leaves and returns one year later. He knocks on the door, only to find that strangers have moved into the house. The strangers tell him: "Listen, your father had to sell the house. He moved out over to the end of town. He's camped out in front of the woods."
So the son gets into the car and drives to the edge of the woods. On the way there he sees what he believes to be either a sunrise or a sunset, but as he approaches it he finds that this rary has grown to this tremendous size. Camped beside there in a tent is the father. So the son says, "Listen, I can't take it any more." He goes back to town, he gets a large flatbed truck, rents one of those, and he gets somebody else with a crane and they bring the flatbed truck over to the rary and they lift it gently on to the flatbed truck. They drive it to the edge of the cliff. He says to the father: "It's your bird. You've kept him all this time. You're going to have to push him over." The father looks at the son; he looks into those beautiful blue eyes of the rary; he looks down at the bottom of the cliff and he says, "Son, it's a long way to tip a rary."
The point is that Ontario Hydro is not unlike that rary. It has reached the point where, notwithstanding that it is eating us out of house and home, notwithstanding that Ontario Hydro is costing us tremendous amounts of money, notwithstanding that the facts have shown it is not operating efficiently, notwithstanding that we've just been advised that the level of productivity is the lowest in North America in relation to comparable utilities, notwithstanding all that, we continue to express this tremendous desire to continue our dependence on Ontario Hydro.
Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): Can you tell us another one of these stories? I like them.
Mr McGuinty: Okay, be good and I will.
What the government is trying to do with respect to Ontario is, I guess, jump into the front of the boat and do some rowing when it should stay in the back of the boat and do some steering.
I want to review some of the amendments I put forward on behalf of our party with respect to Bill 118 in an effort to ensure that if we are going to take steps to better control Ontario Hydro, there is in fact some real transparency, some real openness which the minister and the parliamentary assistant have so often talked about but which, to my mind, do not really exist and will not exist with the implementation of Bill 118.
Just to reiterate why there will be no openness and there will be no transparency with respect to Bill 118 when it comes to the matter of policy directives, if this government chooses to issue a policy directive to Ontario Hydro, it will not discuss that policy directive in this House. It will not be subject to debate. If it proceeds with a policy directive, that policy directive will not be discussed in caucus. It was not in the case of the policy directive issued to Ontario Hydro in connection with Elliot Lake. The only place that policy directive's going to be discussed is in cabinet, and if that is openness, if that is transparency, then I will have nothing of it.
I am going to go over some of the amendments I put forward which I felt would lend some certainty as to what Hydro's role was and to ensure that there really was transparency and openness as directives were issued.
One of the amendments I made was that we define energy conservation programs to ensure that they were restricted to conserving electrical energy. That was defeated. Technically, under the terms of the Power Corporation Act right now, Ontario Hydro could become involved in conserving the amount of propane a car uses, or gasoline or oil or anything of that nature dealing with any other kind of energy source, and it's my contention that Hydro's job should be in relation to electricity and to conserve electrical energy; it shouldn't be in the business of conserving any other form of energy.
Another amendment that was put forward by my party was the -- before I get to that, perhaps I should note that the Consumers' Association of Canada, the Ontario section, paid a visit to us during the course of our committee work. With respect to this business of increasing the number of directors from 14 to 18, they indicated to us that unless there was a reason, some kind of evidence to make the change, they, as a very credible representative group speaking to us on behalf of consumers in Ontario, were very, very leery, they were very reluctant to increase the numbers for the sake of having a larger number of people sitting on the board of directors.
I think it's also important to note that all we're really doing when we're increasing the number from 14 to 18 is increasing the number of people who are going to have to do as they are told when it comes to policy directives. That's exactly what happened in the case of the policy directive issued to Ontario Hydro in connection with Elliot Lake. Those directors were exempted from liability, and it's significant that the chairman himself, the person at the top, who is charged with the special responsibility of looking out for the interests of ratepayers, is also absolved from liability, it is my understanding, as long as he does what the government tells him.
Maybe the real question here is, do we any longer need a board of directors? Maybe it would facilitate the government's aims if we were to simply remove the board, rather than to simply supplement the existing number of directors, who are going to have to abide by the government's instructions in any event.
Another amendment I put forward was in relation to the liability of directors. I put forward an amendment which would have provided that directors would have had to exercise a duty of care with respect to their work, and the care of course was owed to their ratepayers. What my amendment did was to impose a positive duty on directors, and it specifically provided that they could not be excluded from that liability, as Bill 118 purports to do and as it will do once it becomes law in Ontario.
What the amendment I put forward says is that as a director, you can't get off the hook as a result of putting something in a contract, a resolution, a bylaw or directive. They always have to fulfil the duty of care; that's going to be paramount. It doesn't matter what the government tells the directors. At the end of the day they're going to be held accountable for exercising a duty of care which is set out there. Again, if it is not a duty that is particularly onerous, the amendment provides that they would be fulfilling that duty if they were to place reliance and good faith on financial statements, reports of auditors, advice from lawyers, accountants, engineers and so on.
So it wasn't a particularly onerous duty of care; it just said you've got to exercise the care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances. It just ensured that in doing anything, the director was going to have to put the interests of the ratepayers first and foremost.
Another amendment we put forward required that the board was going to have a duty to report to the minister whenever it exercised a power or performed a duty to which the policy directive related. Furthermore, it required that the board specify the actual or estimated cost of giving effect to the directive. What we were trying to do there, of course, was to ensure that we became fully cognizant of the true costs associated with carrying out a policy directive.
The Ontario Energy Board has already indicated to us in relation to the HR 20. That was the report of the board dealing with Hydro's proposed electricity rates for 1992. It indicated to us quite clearly that the conservation measures which had then been put in place by Ontario Hydro were simply not cost-effective. This type of amendment I had proposed would have required at least that we be provided with information so that at the end of the day we could make an intelligent judgement as to whether in fact following a policy directive was going to be cost-effective. If we're talking about accountability, if we're really talking about openness, it's that kind of provision that would ensure that we have the facts at our fingertips so we could make a judgement.
Another amendment I put forward -- and I'm going to have to commend the parliamentary assistant for this one; he took our advice, not as far as we wished but nevertheless he responded to it very positively -- was a recommendation that when the government issues a policy directive, I simply requested that the directive be made public. The parliamentary assistant agreed to that. It was a very simple amendment.
I think it was important to note that the government has decided that it's not going to allow us to debate policy directives. They're not going to consult people with respect to policy directives and they're not going to advise caucus and allow discussion for caucus with respect to policy directives. Rather they're simply going to make them public. I asked in my amendment that there be some kind of deadline imposed with respect to making that policy directive public. I had asked for seven days, but Bill 118, as amended, does not provide for any deadline.
I want to quote Mr Paul McKay, who is I would say one of the more learned people with respect to the goings-on of Ontario Hydro in this province. He was the policy adviser to the former former Minister of Energy. In a presentation before us he said the following:
"This is the price of secret policy directives. The danger and the temptation for governments to use Hydro in this way will always remain, regardless of political stripe, as long as secrecy does. I am pleased to see that the proposed amendments will compel Hydro to follow the policy direction set up by the Legislature, and I believe the changes to the Hydro board structure will help bring a broader public voice to the boardroom. However, I see no explicit requirement for cabinet or the Minister of Energy to publish the policy directives to Hydro.
"Accordingly, I would like to see subsection 9a(1) amended to read: 'The minister may issue policy directives that have been approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, and such directives must be made public within 15 days of issuance.'"
This gentleman, who was one of the primary architects in connection with Bill 118, advocated that if we really are going to make this business of issuing directions for Ontario Hydro open and transparent, then there ought to be a deadline, a time frame, within which such a directive must be made public.
Another amendment that we put forward was in relation to the business of the corporation. We would have, through our amendment, restricted the business of the corporation to the generation, transmission, distribution, supply, sale and use of power. Again, this was simply to clarify for all concerned what precisely Ontario Hydro was all about.
It also went on to indicate that in case there was any confusion in this regard -- and there is from time to time -- Ontario Hydro's mandate provides that it will supply us with power at cost. The minister may want to consider this at some point in the future. There has always been some confusion in relation to this business of supplying power at cost. It has been interpreted over the years somewhat subjectively.
Even of late, in this matter of Elliot Lake, the good people of Elliot Lake were in desperate need of financial assistance when Ontario Hydro was directed to supply some $225 million to them. The chairman of Ontario Hydro, Mr Marc Eliesen, told me before the committee it was his considered opinion that this fell within Ontario Hydro's mandate of supplying us with power at cost. Just so we fully understand that, some $65 million of that $225 million was used to pay off municipal debts and to initiate some short-term job creation programs; worthy causes undoubtedly, but what they have to do with supplying the people of this province with power at cost, I, for the life of me, simply cannot understand.
In another amendment, what I attempted to do was to restrict the purpose of an energy conservation program to encouraging the safe and efficient use of electrical energy. With respect to other forms of energy conservation, that is a matter for the Minister of Energy and for the ministry generally to undertake. Again, it is not the role, the mandate, of Ontario Hydro to engage in energy conservation in a comprehensive manner throughout the province. Ontario Hydro's role is to look out for its ratepayers and to initiate programs that will conserve electrical energy.
NDP Environmental Policy in the Turnaround Decade: A Review of Ontario NDP Environmental Policy is a publication that came out in November 1990, put out by the environment committee. It says, "The responsibility for achieving greater energy efficiency would be separated from Ontario Hydro and delivered by a crown agency responsible directly to the Minister of Energy." I think that is good advice given to us by the environmental policy committee of the NDP in November 1990. I think the minister should pay heed to that.
In another amendment, we proposed, "An energy conservation program may provide information, advice and inspection services in respect of the use of electrical energy if in the opinion of the corporation these will result in cost savings to the corporation or to users of electrical energy."
My amendment also went on to provide, "An energy conservation program may include the substitution of other forms of energy for electrical energy if the substitution would result in cost savings to users of electrical energy."
The amendment finally provided that there was an obligation on the part of Ontario Hydro to give priority to renewable energy sources whenever there was going to be a fuel substitution program put in place.
What I was saying there is that there is nothing wrong with Ontario Hydro getting into the energy conservation program business, but it's got to result at all times in cost savings to the corporation or users of electrical energy, not to users of other forms of energy, which could be brought about through the implementation of Bill 118 at the present time, since it contains no specific restrictions regarding the creation of a fuel substitution program.
I also indicated through that amendment that it was perfectly acceptable for Hydro to get into the business of fuel switching, but again there's an important proviso there; that is, Hydro can do that as long as it results in cost savings to users of electrical energy.
The last amendment I want to make reference to deals with a requirement that Ontario Hydro file a report in March of every year to the minister and to the members of this House "...specifying the cost of each energy conservation program undertaken by the corporation and the benefits achieved, including the quantity, if any, of additional electrical generation avoided or planned to be avoided."
Again, what I was attempting to do there was to put in place another provision that would guarantee some of the openness and transparency this government has talked so much about during the course of the life of Bill 118. My amendment would have placed a requirement on Ontario Hydro that it file a report with the minister and with the assembly. I think that would have been the responsible thing to do to ensure that we get a full briefing from Hydro as to what the results of any energy programs would be.
I think it's important to note that Ontario Hydro has now embarked on a course where it's going to be spending some $6 billion on energy conservation programs from now until the year 2000 or 2002. That's an astonishingly large sum of money. I am very concerned about the manner in which it is going to be spent and very concerned whether it is going to result at the end of the day in benefits to Hydro's ratepayers.
In that regard, I want to caution the minister. I want to bring to his attention once again some of the comments made by the Ontario Energy Board, a body which has acquired considerable expertise in matters of energy and Ontario Hydro and which surely can be considered objective in its dealings with Ontario Hydro.
I'm going to quote from page 29 of the report of the board, HR 20. That report was one prepared in relation to Hydro's proposed electricity rates for 1992. The board made the following findings:
"The board is very concerned with the cost-effectiveness of Hydro's energy management expenditures. Since HR 19, Hydro has increased substantially its energy management expenditures, partly in response to the government directive to redirect nuclear pre-engineering expenditures. The board notes Hydro's testimony that the additional expenditures are not planned to result in additional long-term savings. Hydro has expressed some hope that they may do so, but the board questions the usefulness of spending the money based on hopes of future savings."
I continue with the quote. It says:
"In short, the board finds that the additional expenditures will not likely result in cost-effective energy management savings, but only in additional costs and lost revenue in the short term. In the board's view, this is not short-term pain for long-term gain, rather this is short-term pain for little or no gain. The fact that Hydro is struggling to spend the funds is of little comfort to the board."
Finally, I'll conclude with a recommendation made by the energy board in this particular report. It says:
"The board recommends that Hydro assign priorities to its energy management programs on the basis of program cost-effectiveness. Hydro also should emphasize the measurement and monitoring of savings in its energy management funding process. The board recommends that Hydro re-examine anticipated energy management expenditures in 1992 against these objectives."
What I was attempting to do through my amendments which were proposed in committee during clause-by-clause was to address the very recommendations made by the Ontario Energy Board. I was attempting to ensure that the people of this province could gain a clear understanding of what it was the government was directing Ontario Hydro to do whenever it did so, a clear understanding of the proposed costs of such an undertaking and, finally, a clear understanding at the end of the day of what the net result of those initiatives prove to be.
In this matter of costs, I want to emphasize once again that what we have today in this province in relation to energy, in relation to Ontario Hydro, as our most serious issue, is the issue of skyrocketing rates. We are witnessing skyrocketing rates in the context of a severe recession.
The government's response to this problem has been to implement an energy conservation program. It has set for itself some very ambitious targets, and surely that is a noble objective and we have to make a sincere attempt to achieve those targets, but at the same time, being a government, this government has a responsibility to be responsible in terms of setting those targets.
But back to this issue of rates and the conservation initiatives: We have been advised just recently, as a result of materials filed with the Ontario Energy Board, which is looking into the matter of the 8.6% general rate increase proposed by Ontario Hydro for 1993, that over the course of the next four years, the net costs of Hydro's implementing the conservation programs is going to be some $2 billion; $1.9 billion in fact. What we can conclude is that the government's response to the skyrocketing rates lies in conservation but that the manner in which it is implementing its conservation programs is going to result at the end of the day in an increase in our Hydro rates. The proposed solution is in fact leading to an aggravation of the existing problem.
I want to make it clear that my party certainly favours energy conservation, and in fact I don't recall one presenter appearing before our committee who did not espouse, either explicitly or implicitly, energy conservation. However, what I am questioning, just as the Ontario Energy Board did, is the effectiveness of the programs that are presently in place at Ontario Hydro as a result of directions received from this government.
I am going to wind up and request that the minister and the parliamentary assistant give serious consideration to striking a committee of this House that would study the Hydro issue and energy policy in a more comprehensive manner so that we can get under way in this province an intelligent approach to dealing with the energy issues we face today.
At the present time -- and it's symptomatic of Bill 118 -- the government is attempting to address energy policy in a comprehensive manner through Ontario Hydro. I say that is unacceptable and it's going to result in additional costs to the ratepayers who are already struggling under the weight of ever-increasing rates.
To summarize, Bill 118 attempts to control Ontario Hydro. I guess "control" is not the proper word. The net result will be that it will dominate Ontario Hydro. It has removed the ability from Hydro's board of directors to act in the interests of ratepayers. The bill fails to recognize the important distinction between ratepayers and taxpayers.
The other thing the bill does is that it's going to enable Ontario Hydro to promote fuel substitution. Hydro is going to pay people to switch off electricity and on to another fuel for purposes of heating or other matters. We're very concerned, given the record of this government and the comments made by the Ontario Energy Board with respect to Hydro's conservation programs generally, as to what that is really going to mean for ratepayers. We have every reason, given the record, as I say, to expect that at least initially such a fuel substitution program, as the public utility people have been telling us, will result in an increase in rates.
The Deputy Speaker: Questions or comments?
Mr Ruprecht: As you know, we listen very carefully to the member for Ottawa South when he speaks on the issue of Hydro and how Hydro affects rates at present. He raises a number of very important points that I would hope the Minister of Energy will take seriously and will provide this party with an answer. One of the more important points he's raised, of course, is the directorship increases from 14 to 18.
When the Consumers' Association of Canada appeared before the committee and made that very point and asked that very question to Hydro, why is it the minister was unable to give us a correct answer? Since the government is trying to be politically correct in so many other issues, we would expect a politically correct answer to the increase of directorships from 14 to 18.
Second, the member indicated that the Power Corporation Act empowers Hydro to get involved in other sources of energy and the saving thereof. The question, of course, that should also be asked is, should Hydro, in terms of reducing its rates today to those who are unable to afford any increases and are consequently losing -- as he indicated, the yellow bird will take over the house. In short, Hydro rates not only will inevitably eat up the savings but will be a terrible misuse in terms of reducing the ability of people to pay these rates.
The question that should really be asked is should Hydro not concentrate, in terms of looking for savings, on the electrical energy field itself or should it be empowered to go abroad and look at other sources of energy as well.
Mr Bob Huget (Sarnia): I followed with interest the couple of days' journey through Bill 118, both real and imagined, on behalf of the member of the opposition party. I notice he raises some concerns, as did the previous speaker, about the size of Hydro's board and suggested in his speech that we should have done some kind of a study as to whether or not that would be a wise thing to do.
I find that instruction a little strange at this time, because unfortunately the previous government saw no need for such a study in 1989 when it increased the board by four members. Quite clearly, an increased board will mean a wider representation of public interests, and that can only be in everyone's best interests.
The member also expressed concern about Hydro participating in economic development, and again I'm a little confused. Provisions relating to Hydro's participation in economic development were enacted in 1989 by -- guess who? -- the previous government, the member's government.
As well, there was some concern about openness and accountability, and we've introduced proactively an amendment that requires the Minister of Energy to publish policy directives in the Ontario Gazette and to give notice to all members of the Legislative Assembly from all parties. We have nothing to hide.
The member has expressed concerns about the recent rate increases, and we too are concerned. But let's be clear about where these high rates come from. They are a result of decisions made by previous governments. More than half of the 1992 increase is due to the nuclear program. Up to three quarters of the proposed 1993 increase is due to Darlington. These rate increases underscore the importance of this government's new energy directions. Increased energy efficiency and conservation will reduce customers' bills.
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I rise to compliment the member for Ottawa South on his fine presentation this afternoon and yesterday afternoon. I served with the member on the resources development committee as the committee travelled the province on Bill 118, and I believe that he evaluated and brought out a number of very interesting points with respect to this bill.
I don't want to get into great detail because I hope to speak on this bill as well, but I think we have seen the response to this bill that came from the opposition parties. We were able to work quite productively together in the committee and I think that was due to a very positive attitude that was brought forward by the Liberal Party and by our own party.
Unfortunately that didn't yield all that many results. The government did not listen to our amendments, did not particularly listen to many of the presentations that were coming forward from professional organizations, from business, from public utilities commissions, all of which brought forward excellent points that were totally ignored, as far as I am concerned, by the government side.
I'm not going to take my full two minutes. I just wanted to compliment the member for Ottawa South on his fine presentation and look forward to the rest of the debate this afternoon.
Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I too wish to convey my appreciation of the work done by the Energy critic for the official opposition, the member for Ottawa South.
I would like to go back into the public hearing process, of which I was not a part, but what concerned me and what should concern most members is that the impact in this bill is most severely felt on rural Ontario and on northern, rural Ontario in particular. I won't go into the reasons for that other than to say that those are the people who will be most severely impacted by the rate increases because clearly the energy consumption in those places from Hydro sources is of course the greatest.
I was very concerned when the committee was planning where it would go, where it would conduct public hearings. I said to my friend the member for Ottawa South: "See if we can go to some of the small rural communities, the communities that don't have natural gas. See if we can take them to Gore Bay or to Mindemoya, someplace where real people live, real people who don't have the opportunity to go to natural gas." Mr McGuinty, unfortunately, reported to me that the government said, "No way. We won't go out where those real people are. We won't go out to Wikwemikong. We won't go out to West Bay. We won't go to Spanish. We won't go to any of these places because we only want to go to the cities where there is natural gas. We want to go where there is a big media audience."
But who is most severely impacted by the provisions that are inherent in Bill 118? It is my constituents. It is the constituents of members from rural municipalities, representing rural areas, representing farms, representing farmers. That is who is most severely impacted, and this government, through its majority on the committee, would not agree to go out and talk to the people who would be most impacted because this government did not want to hear the bad news that my constituents are unhappy.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Ottawa South, you have two minutes to reply.
Mr McGuinty: I want to take the opportunity to thank my fellow members for their comments. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin of course raises a very good point, one which relates to the equity of Bill 118 and the inequity that is going to result when the fuel-substitution program is implemented. It's been made perfectly clear to us today, as a result of information we recently received -- and this was to be expected, of course -- that when you lower your sales you're going to have to charge more for each unit sold. That applies if you're operating a corner store where you have fixed costs of rent and insurance and taxes, and the same thing applies with Hydro: You still have to pay for your employees, you have to pay for the costs of generation and the cost of transmission. All those things are going to result in increasing rates.
When the people who are in the more populous areas of this province are able to take advantage of the fuel-substitution program and thereby lower their overall energy usage, the rates are going to go up. As a result, those who are living in areas which simply do not have access to natural gas and will not have access to natural gas -- I think we have to take it for granted that there are some areas in this province which are just too remote to make it economical for natural gas to reach them -- are going to see their rates go up.
In addition, there are some people who do not wish to switch to natural gas, and those people too are going to see their rates go up. Perhaps that is one of the most glaring deficiencies in Bill 118: that it does not attempt to address that kind of inequity.
The Deputy Speaker: Are there any other members who wish to participate in this debate?
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I take this as a special privilege this afternoon to have the opportunity to review Bill 118. I wonder if we're not really making history here this afternoon, because I have three copies of Bill 118: one is the Honourable Jenny Carter, Minister of Energy, one is the Honourable W. Ferguson, Minister of Energy, and one is the Honourable B. Charlton, Minister of Energy. Does this simple fact not indicate to the people of Ontario really the true problem Ontario is facing, not only with Bill 118 but with this government and its flip-flop and indecision today? Three ministers of Energy just while we're trying to process one bill: Is that not a record in itself?
I'm sure when the Honourable Jenny Carter introduced this bill, in a hurry, I might say, in June 1991, she had reason to do so at that time without perhaps enough deep thought into the real effects it might have across this province. I know she has stated very clearly, and it's on the record, that she needed this bill to ensure that there was a moratorium on nuclear energy, the same as she said, "I need a chairman who will not only put a moratorium on nuclear energy but will maintain that moratorium." And so that has been done. Not only that, but the government has been successful in increasing the number of members on the board, naturally with members who will also support a moratorium on nuclear energy.
I say, before I spend the people's time on this bill, that the minister -- whoever's going to decide which minister it is; the acting minister, I assume, who's not in the House -- should really at this time, in all fairness to the people of Ontario and Ontario Hydro, just withdraw the bill. The bill is so badly flawed that it hasn't got a chance of leading this province out of the recession we're in. It's going to mess up not only Ontario Hydro but industry.
As you know, Mr Speaker, Ontario Hydro used to be known as the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario. At that time it was very much controlled by the government. As the utility grew, the government of the day was smart enough to realize that this could no longer be an arm of the government: "This is now a large corporation. We must recognize it as such and we must set up the proper legislation so that in fact it can operate as a corporation." The government of the day did that. It dropped the name Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario and called it Ontario Hydro, a corporation with a board of directors, a president, a chief executive officer and a chairman.
In those days we were moving from the general development of hydraulic sites to a major investment in steam -- not only steam but the different methods of creating steam. As you know, coal and natural gas were certainly considered and used, but the research department of Ontario Hydro, in conjunction with Atomic Energy of Canada, saw that to have an independent supply for Ontario in the future it was necessary and wise to take a really good look at the use of uranium to create the heat through its action to make the steam for the generation of power. They proceeded with that.
I can recall that in those early days when we were in the development of Pickering we had members of the New Democratic Party, who feared nuclear energy because they didn't understand it and made no effort to understand it, doing many things. They were trying to block machinery coming on to the site, climbing flagpoles and basically making a nuisance out of themselves. Of course, progress did take place, and Canada, Ontario especially, is the leader in the generation of power through nuclear energy.
I think the government should realize what it's doing here with Bill 118. With the demands for power that we have today and having their own chairman and the board of directors very responsive to them, they don't need this bill at all. The board of directors doesn't have any power because the Minister of Energy has the right to overpower the board. It says in the bill:
"10(3) Compliance with a policy directive shall be considered to be in the best interests of the corporation.
"(4) The corporation may do such things as in its opinion are necessary, usual or incidental to the furtherance of the objectives set out in a policy directive."
But think about this, Mr Speaker: "(5) The directors shall ensure that policy directives are implemented promptly and efficiently."
If you were a director sitting on that Hydro board and you received a directive from the Minister of Energy, with that kind of an amendment to the Power Corporation Act what alternative would you have but to implement it immediately? Then they relieve the director of his worry or concern because they say, "(6) A director is not accountable for any consequences arising from the implementation of a policy directive if he or she acted honestly and in good faith in relation to its implementation."
My God, certainly he acted honestly and in good faith. He was directed to do it by the Minister of Energy.
Then, "(7) The board shall report to the minister whenever it exercises a power or performs a duty to which a policy directive relates." You can understand what the government is doing with Bill 118. Certainly it is not bringing Ontario Hydro back to the people; it is bringing Ontario Hydro back to the members of the government.
I would like to remind the government that I was elected in the riding of Lanark-Renfrew and I would like the opportunity, on major government directives going over to Hydro, to have a chance to debate them here in this House on behalf of the people. What has happened to democracy here is the same as is happening with all the other legislation. It's not being brought forward; it's being held back. Then when it is brought forward, they don't want debate; they don't want discussion. They want us to rubber-stamp it, get it through, and "Let's go with it because we're doing it anyhow."
That's not only happening in this House; it happened all across the province of Ontario on Bill 118. We had people put themselves out to a great extent to come to give evidence before that committee on the fallacies and the problems with this bill. The parliamentary assistant, if he wants to pretend he was part of that committee, would only have to say that they completely ignored 25 major utilities and 15 large industries that came before us and told us what was going to happen to Ontario Hydro and Ontario Hydro rates if this bill was allowed to pass. They pleaded with us to ask the government to withdraw this bill, which we did, and we asked the government to refer it to a committee on energy, period; let's look at all energies, not just electricity.
They didn't listen. They would like to say: "We went across the province. We consulted. We listened." The only thing they did to try to appease the Municipal Electric Association was state that they would not issue a policy directive that was outside the Power Corporation Act. Of course, this was an attempt to blindfold the Municipal Electric Association to the fact that they wouldn't introduce social programs and so on to be paid on your hydro bill. But, you see, by Bill 118, when it receives third reading and becomes part of the Power Corporation Act, it's quite clear they've given themselves the right.
Let me read section 4:
"(3) An energy conservation program may include, but is not limited to, the following:
"1. The safe use of energy."
That's all energy. The cost of that is on your hydro bill, not on your gas bill, not on your oil bill; it's on your hydro bill.
"2. The improvement of an energy system in a building."
Think about that. Think about how quickly $6 billion is going to disappear on all these different aspects that they're free to move about and implement without question.
"3. The substitution of other forms of energy for electrical energy."
It doesn't say anything about the substitution of electrical energy for other forms of energy. Absolutely not. I can tell you many areas where electrical energy is a good substitution for oil or natural gas and is more efficient and can do the job better, and industry is going to do that in spite of handouts from this government.
"5. The reduction of electrical energy use through more efficient use of energy.
"6. The shifting of electrical loads from times of high demand to times of lower demand."
Industry has been doing this for years. Any large industry that's managing its costs is not waiting on direction from the Minister of Energy, or Ontario Hydro either. Most of them have implemented very good plans.
This conservation program, by the way, that they've given all the new names to has been in place since about 1967. I swear all they did was take the old manuals and put new covers on them and give it a different name, because an energy audit is an energy audit; I don't care how you want to name it or what book you want to put it in. But an energy audit is a very commonsense approach to conservation of energy in a building.
I would suggest to the Minister of Energy, if he's serious, that he start right here at Queen's Park. We met the other night and we couldn't stay in the room; the rads were so hot you couldn't touch them and the windows were wide open. Here we are paying $150 an audit throughout Ontario, telling other people how to conserve energy. What are we doing here? We have the whole Legislature lighted to suit television cameras. In my opinion, this should be assessed. I'd like to know the candlepower that's being used here.
When you go out any door, be it the east door, the south or any of them -- I find the east door wide open regardless of temperature. I find the doors lacking up to an inch of meeting, and yet these people want us to believe they are serious about energy conservation. I think it's like anything else: Clean up your own backyard before you start out beating a trail to the other customers of Ontario Hydro.
Section 5 is kind of dangerous. It says: "As part of an energy conservation program, the corporation may, in addition to its powers under subsection (1)" -- now listen carefully -- "loan such money and provide such incentives and other assistance as the corporation determines in order to assist in the carrying out of the program."
You see what they're going to try to do. We'll take Perth, Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, Almonte, Renfrew -- any of the towns in my riding. We have a public utilities commission elected by the people. We have a chairman and a manager. We have identity.
As I understand it, the mandate of Ontario Hydro is to supply and deliver electrical energy to my community at cost. I will pay Ontario Hydro -- "I" meaning the utility -- for the kilowatt at that metering point and I, as part of the utility, will have it delivered to my customers as I determine what the rates and the marketing program should be.
You talk about disentanglement from municipal governments, but we're doing the exact opposite here. We are entangling ourselves so much with Ontario Hydro that there won't be a corporation any more; it will just be an arm of the government, a commission of the government. You still will not have the right -- and I'd like to discuss this with the Minister of Municipal Affairs -- to come inside the parameter of my community and dictate a marketing policy to my elected representatives who have been placed there by the people to look after the retail of electrical energy to us who live there.
What's happening is, you see, if they hit a small utility and the small utility says, "We can't afford to participate in this program," the government's saying, "We'll loan you the money." As part of an energy conservation program, the corporation, not the government now, may in addition to its powers under subsection (1) loan such money and provide such incentives and other assistance as the corporation determines in order to assist in carrying out the program.
Can't you see what's going to happen? A small utility, perhaps not well informed, is going to be sold a marketing program that will eventually be the means of abolishing that utility completely because of the debt that will be built up. I am really tired of listening to this government talking about, "A kilowatt saved is a kilowatt made." It forgets all about the kilowatt to be sold. It forgets all about the revenue you need to operate the utility.
The utility's income now is getting so close to the interest on the money owed that it's at a dangerous point. I can tell you, and it's recently stated here, Hydro now plans to withdraw $93 million from its rate stabilization fund this year instead of -- what it had planned to do was add $50 million. Just two months ago it said it was going to add $50 million to its reserve. Now it says it can't do that, it is going to have to withdraw $93 million.
The slumping Ontario economy plus the effects of energy conservation are eating into Hydro's revenues. It's not the right time, if there ever is a right time, for such spending of the people's money to reduce revenues to the utility as is happening today, because I can assure you what the end result is. I've told this in committee and I've told it here in the House that, like any other business, the smaller the number of units sold the higher the unit cost. That's exactly where we're headed: to a very expensive electrical essential service, you might say, because I can tell you that only the upper-middle-income and the ones above in a year and a half will be able to afford their hydro.
That's what we're looking at. Is that what we want? Look back over the years at Ontario Hydro, when it was the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario. The sign in any community was, "Hydro is yours, use it." The government of the day saw fit in some cases to assist in getting rural lines across this province. That leadership, along with keeping in mind a certainty of supply and certainty of cost to industry, made Ontario what it is today.
You cannot sit down at a conference table with industry and make any sense by saying, "Yes, we think we can supply you. We've got this conservation program and it's working, so if we can have kilowatts saved here we'll be able to let you use them after you establish in Ontario." That's not how you deal with industry coming into Ontario. They can go across the border and get a five-year guarantee on rates and service.
I don't think that when the minister, the Honourable Jenny Carter, introduced this bill, she had any idea of the consequences. I think the idea of the bill at that time was simply to get control of Ontario Hydro. As my colleague mentioned, we went across the province with this committee, and it was a very congenial committee with a lot of communication on a one-to-one basis and I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The people who came forward to speak on Bill 118 were anything from individuals to presidents and vice-presidents of companies. But our sincere hope was that with the kind of reception we got across the province the members there would collectively say: "This bill is not required. We do have faith in Ontario Hydro. We do have faith in their board of directors. We do have faith in their research department. We do have faith in their environmental department."
The environmental studies that go on within Ontario Hydro before they're ever presented to the outside Environmental Assessment Board are exceptional. I doubt if there's any other corporation that does it in such detail as Ontario Hydro does, with the customers and the people generally their main interest. They have a heavy obligation to a constant supply of power at reasonable rates.
Under the presidency of Bob Franklin this study was done over a five-year period -- very detailed, very easy to read and understand. Do you know what happened very quickly? In I think five months this is what we found from the present Ministry of Energy through Ontario Hydro. It is called Update 1992. You can imagine the time and research that have gone into this as compared to this and you can imagine the confidence the people in the province had in the original study as compared to this study today.
The minister will probably say that the economy is different, that the recession is here and that there is time or a need to change the approach, but to just have that one objective: Kill nuclear energy at any cost, regardless.
In this document, Ontario Hydro wasn't putting all its eggs in one basket. No, they had been doing, and I don't know if they're still doing, a lot of research on the Candu system. They had a small generating plant of about 450 megawatts almost ready to be considered for construction. But in here was the study of hydraulic sites, the study of the use of oil and natural gas and the study of the rehabilitation of the older existing plants. They are all included here and very well done, if anybody wants to take the time to study it.
I know the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario is meeting at every opportunity it can. They come to my office to see if there isn't some way we can block, or plead with the government to stop, implementation of Bill 118. They want Ontario Hydro to stay a corporation. They want Ontario Hydro to have a good board of directors that is answerable to the people, that can make good decisions for the province and that will relay them and keep in contact with the government through the chairman. If we could revert to that, you would find that we would once again have a very efficient utility in the province of Ontario.
I don't think I need to say any more about the board of directors, because increasing it in number and having the deputy minister sit on it to make sure their directives are carried out is not giving any confidence to the people in the province. They told us that at the meetings.
I might move on to fuel switching. This is something that is causing the Municipal Electric Association a great lot of concern. This is one of the main things in this bill that's going to interfere with the democracy of my home utility. This acting Minister of Energy -- we've had three now -- is going to dictate to my utility what marketing programs shall be in place. They're going to start providing incentives. There are many ways. If a utility doesn't conform under this bill, it won't have much choice.
What we can see happening here without consultation -- my colleague has stated to me: "Oh yes, we have consulted. We consulted with the executive of the Municipal Electric Association." I'm sorry; one of the most progressive utilities in the province of Ontario says this:
"Ontario Hydro has unilaterally announced specific fuel substitution targets and called for strategic alliances with the natural gas distribution industry. These announcements, released in a presentation to the Canadian Gas Association, were made despite prior commitments from the Ministry of Energy and Ontario Hydro that municipal electrical utilities would be consulted and involved in the design of any fuel substitution programs prior to their implementation."
Now, don't tell me they've been consulted. I asked the minister in the House today whether he would please hold this fuel substitution program until he had time to consult with the municipal electric utilities. He said, "No, I will not."
The London Public Utilities Commission goes on to say:
"In addition, programs must be shown to be economically viable in advance of instituting them. The announcements occurred against a background of widespread opposition to the provisions of Bill 118 by municipal utilities and several well-known interest groups. These announcements have also occurred without the Legislature's consent."
There was no discussion here in the Legislature about it. How am I supposed to represent the people in my riding? How do the backbenchers on the government side go home to their ridings and express, with any knowledge, the discussions that took place? When you get a utility like the London Public Utilities Commission, one of the foremost in the province, expressing this much concern, you can be sure there's a real problem there.
The other point is that London Public Utilities had established not a fuel-switching program but a fuel substitution program. That brings me to the point of reaching peak demand. Probably they don't want to even hear "peak demand." But I tell you, regardless of the economy, regardless of the recession, the peak is going to grow; 2.5% last year, while everything else was going the other way. What do you have to do? You have to have the generation to meet that 20-minute peak. If the Minister of Energy wants to take the responsibility, through Bill 118, in his directives, I can assure you he should be man enough to accept the accountability that goes with it, because you can't have one without the other. That's where we are.
The substitution program they're talking about is, first of all, their water heater program. Here's what they are saying: "Early commitments made by the Minister of Energy: 'I expect that in developing its approach, Ontario Hydro will consult closely" -- this is in just developing its approach -- "with its partners, the municipal utilities. I expect that fuel substitution programs supported by Ontario Hydro will stand up to economic scrutiny and will be in the best interests of the electrical system and the people of Ontario.'" That was by one of the ministers, the Honourable Will Ferguson.
The chairman of Ontario Hydro says, "Fuel substitution is viable only when electricity is not the most appropriate energy and where there are benefits to the customer." What's happening here is that a fuel substitution program -- and we can go back to the water heaters -- can actually bankrupt a utility. London Public Utilities could foresee that because of its interest in the size of the utility. The utilities in my riding are smaller. The towns are from 10,000 to 4,000 in population; six major towns across the riding. Of course, the rural municipalities in my riding, in the majority of cases, do not have access to this so-called fuel-switching program, because natural gas is not available there.
At one of the meetings we had in Chatham, we had the gas company saying -- I'm not quoting here, but the impression I got from the meeting was that once fuel substitution became a fact, there would be money available to extend natural gas maybe a kilometre down the street to pick up a customer to give him the benefit of an alternative use. But, you see, the Ontario Energy Board limits the gas company, because when I'm paying my gas bill, I am protected against being part of a capital contribution for the extension of that line to pick up your house. An extension of a line has to have sufficient customers to make the capital investment a good investment. But really, it will be interesting to see. I honestly believe this government is considering, under this substitution program, making capital available to extend gas lines in Ontario.
I might read this:
"Fuel substitution response to Bill 118. While these commitments were being made, Bill 118 was before the standing committee on resources development and the response was not favourable. The following 21 municipal utilities made submissions registering their concern about the premature adoption of fuel substitution programs: St Catharines Hydro, North York Hydro, Atikokan Hydro, Fort Frances PUC, Thunder Bay Hydro, Cochrane PUC, Sioux Lookout Hydro, Sudbury Hydro, Ottawa Hydro, Markham Hydro, York Hydro, Guelph Hydro, Waterloo North Hydro, Niagara Falls Hydro, Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro, Arthur PUC" -- which my colleague the member for Wellington represents -- "Mount Forest PUC" -- also in his riding -- "Toronto Hydro, Pickering Hydro, London PUC, Smiths Falls Hydro, Perth Public Utilities, Almonte," and it goes on.
How can a government say: "We're going to listen to the people and make amendments in accordance with their wishes. We're here to serve the people"? I don't like to have to say it, but I think this bill is very self-serving to the government. Again, I'm going to ask that they seriously consider withdrawing the bill.
It's not only what this government could do under that bill. I have many letters here relative to the same concerns, and more in the office.
My colleague the member for Ottawa South touched on the effect of the rates on the residential customer. The residential customers have no representation outside of the commissioners they've elected at home and on through to the Municipal Electrical Association. I believe the Municipal Electrical Association, which represents 75% of the customers in Ontario, has one or two members on the board. They asked for better representation relative to the customers they serve, and as far as I know, to date there has been no positive reply from the government.
I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario is more than concerned. I understand they've met with the Ministry of Energy, because when they come to our meetings they are just frustrated. They cannot seem to get through the seriousness of what's happening. So they've formed a joint industry task force of the electrical industry in Ontario.
What is the joint industry task force? The joint industry task force on electricity supply in Ontario is made up of representatives from major associations sharing an important goal, ensuring a continued, reliable supply of electricity in Ontario. It represents people and organizations that depend on a reliable supply of electricity to serve the needs of electricity consumers and to produce goods and services.
The question arises, why are these people so concerned? Who are these people? The chairman of our caucus, myself and the member for Oakville South met with the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario, we met with the Canadian Electrical Distributors Association Inc, we met with the Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association of Canada, we met with the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario and we met with the allied trade union representative who is very concerned.
Perhaps I should read all the members of this industry task force, but I think it would be better if I concentrated on a little history. They say:
"Why are we concerned? During the late 1970s and early 1980s the North American system was overbuilt. However, that excess capacity is now being fully utilized to satisfy current demand and Ontario Hydro's predictions for how much electricity we will need in the future have been too low for the last several years. The joint industry task force strongly supports demand management and energy conservation, but fears Ontario Hydro has overestimated how much power we will be able to save this way and how quickly these savings can be realized." They're recognizing we can get more electricity from private generation and so on.
We had the opportunity to visit the Clarkson control centre on Lakeshore Boulevard; the province of Ontario is controlled basically from that centre. They have a backup near the airport, but that is the main control centre for the province. It would be well worth anyone's time to visit that centre so he could go back to his riding and at least explain what happens when you don't have the supply.
Let me go back again for a minute to that 20-minute peak. The off-peak power during a recession goes down and your revenue goes down, but that's the nature of the system. It's something like farming in that way, in that you invest a lot of money in machinery and you may only use it for two weeks to plant your crop in the spring of the year, but if you don't have the proper machinery for those two weeks and the proper equipment, then you're out of business. This is where we're going to end up with this utility.
Yes, I know you can bring on a gas-burning generator in three or four years, you can emit CO2 into the air and this is all looked into in the major study done by Ontario Hydro. Of course, one of their reasons for sticking with nuclear was that it's an industry in itself. Nuclear generation is an industry in itself and it's the most benign to the environment. Anybody who wants to read up on the Candu system and visit Pickering station and become familiar with it will realize that all these fairy tales we hear about how dangerous it is and all that just aren't so.
I think it's the responsibility of me as a member and it's the responsibility of each member to get the best information he can and relay it to his riding, because what the electrical industry is worrying about is storage of the spent-fuel bundles. They shouldn't be worrying about that at all because Atomic Energy of Canada, in conjunction with other associations, has solved that problem. It's there; the solution is there just like that desk is there. We just have no need to move that far at the present moment because we have safe storage where it is. Not only that, but research and studies are going on to see if in these spent-fuel bundles we can't have more energy from them in different forms before we discard them completely.
In killing the nuclear industry you're killing the progress of the province, because really what you see down the road is not a large base plant like Darlington or Pickering.
I'm not in a position to state here today in this Legislature or anywhere else the progress that Ontario Hydro has made relative to the use of uranium for energy in the province, but think back to the oil crisis when we were being told: "You'd better get off oil. Get on electricity because the cartel has had a meeting and they're going to cut off the province of Ontario. Oil's going to be very expensive." At that time it was a great sense of security to know that we did have expertise in the nuclear industry, that we did have a supply of uranium in Ontario and that we could, in fact, under such severe conditions, be self-sustaining in electrical energy.
Of course, as we've said many times, electrical energy is and was the engine that drove Ontario to be an industrialized, efficient province, ready to compete anywhere on the continent. We are, through the policies you plan -- whether you want to call them control of Ontario Hydro or whatever -- taking that away. People are coming to us every day and saying, "We've lost our competitive edge." How did we lose it? Your Hydro rates.
I would like to read for a moment from one of our meetings as we went across the province. This was from Ivaco Rolling Mills. Mr David Goldsmith is the vice-chairman of that company. You're probably familiar with the company, Mr Speaker. He says:
"In 1991 we purchased 315 million kilowatt-hours of electricity from Ontario Hydro. We are the largest customer in eastern Ontario....Also in 1991 we were awarded the Canadian Electrical Association's prestigious Energy Efficient Industry Award for the achievements we have made in peak load control and in becoming more energy efficient since our programs began in the late 1970s."
Would you please hear that, the members of the government? Since their program began in the late 1970s, and you're trying to sell this conservation program as something new? This is where you're going to be fooled, in the kilowatt-hours saved. You're beginning to realize today, as the press points out, that the revenue isn't coming in. You're not selling your product. The demand has gone down in conjunction with your conservation program. So what are you going to do: borrow some more money, as the government did, or go into a further deficit to operate?
That's the way the Treasurer started out with his new government. He thought all he had to do was go into a deficit position and the money would keep rolling in and he could maintain all the services with no cutbacks. The Premier and the Treasurer have found out much differently. We're going to find out the same thing at Ontario Hydro.
Mr Goldsmith states:
"Bill 118 fundamentally alters the way in which Ontario Hydro does business. It does this by providing for extensive government interference in the operations of the utility such that it almost becomes another government department rather than a crown corporation, and it redefines the cost of power to accommodate this interference."
He goes on to state:
"There are four elements of Bill 118 which I would like to address: the principle of power at cost, the change in responsibilities of the board of directors, the designation of the chief executive officer and fuel switching."
I think I have covered most of these, Mr Speaker, except perhaps the chief executive officer. You know yourself that to have any long-term planning in a corporation you need a chief executive officer who is not a political appointment. When the former minister, the Honourable Jenny Carter, brought in this bill on June 5, 1991, I said then that it was a very dark day for Ontario Hydro. Those words may prove to be more than you would like to think they are if these policies continue. The whole drive then was that the existing board of directors had appointed a president and chief executive officer. But the fear of the government was that this chief executive officer would not be cooperative enough in placing a moratorium on nuclear energy.
It's sad that the whole thing centres on that, but it's a fact. To go on to say Ontario Hydro is out of control and it's time we got control -- before I go any further, I would like to say that Ontario Hydro is being misrepresented in that there are 312 utilities across this province that supply approximately 75% of the needs of the province. As I said earlier, all these utilities have elected officials.
To say that Ontario Hydro is a monster is absolutely ridiculous. A monster is just a figment of your imagination about something you don't understand; that's really why you're using the word. But if you thought about it, I thought at first that was what my colleague was describing earlier this afternoon. Perhaps it referred to the previous government -- I'm not sure -- but it was entertaining anyhow.
This gentleman, the president of his company, has very real concerns. With your permission I would just like to read:
"Ontario already has the third-highest power rates in Canada. It is not a cheap province for electricity, and it has not been since 1984." What does that tell you?
Mr George Mammoliti (Yorkview): It tells me it's almost six o'clock.
Mr Jordan: That's good; you can at least tell the time. I have a problem there.
Take note: "At our facility we pay over 18% more for electricity than our sister" plant pays in Cartersville, Georgia. "They do not have a sweetheart deal with their power utility. They are buying power on a published rate and their rate is firm for five years.
This is important: "We are aware that the government has agreed to limit any policy directives that are issued to Ontario Hydro to the corporation's exercise of its duties under the act. This, however, does not provide us with any comfort since the government itself will make the decision as to whether the directive is within the corporation's mandate." Think about that: You're trying to appease the municipal electrical associations by saying, "We won't go outside the directive." This vice-president has studied all that. This is what he's saying.
You're not convincing the people and you're not convincing large industry. They realize now that should this Bill 118 not be withdrawn this afternoon, they're going to have to look very seriously at where they operate and where they expand their plants. We can blame it on whatever we like, but trade on the North American continent now is part of global trade. It's not only free trade; it's almost global. I can tell you this is an industry that has worked hard since 1970 to modernize its plant to have as efficient an operation as it can and it's still having a great problem.
The other point the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario has asked me to touch on is the operation, maintenance and administration budget of Ontario Hydro. Do you know that they just recently appointed 13 new directorships in Ontario Hydro? Here we are in a declining economy, a recession, and here we have a utility which is not connecting many new customers, which is losing a lot of the good customers it did have through plant closures, and, would you believe it, it has announced a reorganization and it's going to have 13 new directorships. Guess what the salary is going to be? It can go up to $154,000 per year. They haven't decided yet what the rates are going to be, but that's the parameter they have to work with.
When you have a right as a government and you have your board of directors over there, I think instead of facing 8%, 10%, 12% rate increases, we should be facing a zero rate increase. If Ontario Hydro makes up its mind through attrition and early pension, it can reduce a good number of high-salaried people and it will cause hardship to no one. I'm sure many of the employees I refer to would welcome such a policy by Ontario Hydro to have these people phased out. Let's face the facts as we see them in Ontario today. We are in a recession. Were the number of employees reduced at Ontario Hydro last year? No, they were increased by approximately 2,000. While revenue falls, we increase our numbers.
The OMNA budget I referred to is operation, maintenance and administration. For many of us members, especially from the rural, what we see from our Ontario Hydro offices in the rural appears to be a fairly efficient, well-managed service. We get excellent service, we don't have power interruptions, if we do have them they're quickly restored and we have a good level of energy. We have good voltage. We could have computers in our homes out in the rural. We could enjoy that at the present time.
But, as I said earlier, what's going to happen? People like my friend the member for Renfrew North will be able to enjoy it, but certainly a lot of my people in Lanark-Renfrew in the lower-income brackets will end up with perhaps one light, which is fine. My colleague the member for Sarnia should recall our meeting at Chatham where the elderly retired Hydro employee, a line superintendent, who was over 80 years of age, came in the afternoon and came back in the evening. I congratulate the Chairman for giving him the opportunity that evening, although he wasn't on the agenda, to have some input into the record, which he did.
I would like to repeat the phrase he remembered, which was "Live better electrically." With his experience in Hydro camps and across the province and in rural Ontario, certainly he was in a good position to speak for "Live better electrically." That phrase is going to be gone. It's a reality still, but we just won't be able to afford it. Oh yes, certain incomes will have it and they'll be able to pay the rate that's going to be charged in order that Ontario Hydro can continue to operate and pay the interest on its debt.
I just want to touch lightly on the seniors in my riding. I received several letters from them. I'll mention a customer in Perth, Robert Trombley, who built a beautiful, all-electric, Gold Medallion home, radiant heat in the ceilings, no heating equipment in sight and a big item in those days. You were presented with a nice plaque for having the foresight to have a Gold Medallion home. Ontario Hydro led the field in establishing building specs for residents. At that time it was six inches of insulation in the attic and three in the walls, and we'd have two inches to two and a half feet below grade.
You know what happened, Mr Speaker? The gas furnaces at that time couldn't function in that home. They weren't the efficient gas unit they have today, but they couldn't function in that home because there wasn't enough incoming air through leakage around windows, doors and so on to feed the oxygen to the fire to keep the furnace going. What happened was that the building code was amended and you had to put an outside supply of air to keep those units going.
Of course I don't believe Ontario Hydro ever got much credit for leading the field in that area, but the reason they did it was that the energy at that time was 25% more expensive than any other energy, gas or oil. But the people still wanted it, and you're going to see that today. There's going to be a certain number of people who see an electrically heated home as the Cadillac of the system.
Now what Bob Trombley is saying to me is, "Here I am, no duct work, cable heat in the ceiling, natural gas going down the street, and I'm going to ask my neighbour to help me pay for it on his hydro bill to put in duct work so I can transfer to gas." It's not very sensible policy to be putting on to the people of my riding or anyone in Ontario.
I have a similar letter on behalf of the seniors from Arnprior from a Mr Wilfred Heckey. He's going on to say basically the same thing: "The enclosed writeup is to confirm my opinion that the time has come to take measures to suppress the anticipated rate increases, as forecast by Ontario Hydro for 1993."
Here they are on a fixed income, these pensioners, and we've had a 22% increase on an $800-a-year heating bill in the last two years. So you take that into consideration. I think Ontario Hydro, like every other business or corporation, through better management is going to have to absorb the cost rather than just pass it on to the people.
If you're elected at the municipal level of government, you don't have an opposition party, as you well know, Mr Speaker; your opposition is the people. They assess your policies, your actions and they stand just outside your door. You're going to meet them at home and they're going to come and visit you on a one-to-one basis at your council meeting.
So I say to you that if you're going to have power through Bill 118, please take into consideration management of the utility in such a way that these rate increases are not required; and this thing of going to a reserve fund every time you need some money is as bad as creating a deficit.
For the record, during the hearings, as we went around the province we had different groups coming before us, and they all seemed to have the same story. I'm sure someone rehearsed it and said, "Show up because we want you to tell this story." You know what they were telling us? They were telling us that it cost $50,000 a kilowatt to install electric heat in a residence. On that basis they were trying to convince us that it was not a good investment, that it should be discontinued and that the utility was subsidizing those homes because of that price per kilowatt.
I questioned where they got their figures, and what happened? They came back with quite a revision.
"You asked about the cost of installing electric heat in Ontario homes. The most up-to-date figures are contained in Ontario Hydro's response to interrogatory 4.7.26 from the Coalition of Environmental Groups at the Environmental Assessment Board's hearing into the demand-supply plan. The response, which is attached, estimates that to supply electric space heating to a 15-kilowatt furnace in an Ontario home would require about $7,000" and could range up to $11,000 depending on the net capital cost and the source of generation.
We found out $7,000 was the actual figure, not $50,000. So these people on the committee were sitting back with their hands folded, smiling at this $50,000 because it made electric heat look like not a good investment for the utility.
"Since that response was prepared, Ontario Hydro has updated its overall forecasts. We published these changes in the DS/P Update released on January 15.... The Update foresees the possibility of capacity surpluses through much of the next decade. This is a change from the outlook when the original plan was published in December.... As a result of this change, the incremental cost for the system to supply space heating load will be different" even from that estimate. "In particular, the short-term system incremental capital cost of supplying the space heating load is likely to be lower than previously foreseen."
So I say to the government that I would give direction to Ontario Hydro. You picture a curve, your peak and your valley power. I would give instructions to Ontario Hydro to install the automatic equipment that London PUC is using on its water heaters in these all-electric homes and have the special rate from 11 pm till 6 am. Of course, when the sun is down and there's no cooking going on generally in the house and there isn't the heat from the people because they normally have retired, that is when the heat loss is highest for the residents. So that is when the highest consumption is going to be used to heat that house, during those hours when the sun is down.
Then we would have revenue. We would have the generation to meet the 20 minutes, but we would have revenue. Instead of just calling it spinning reserve, over and above the spinning reserve, and as part of it, we could use that revenue at a lesser cost to give these people what we can refer to, as London PUC did for the water heaters, not as "load substitution" but "load shifting," which means to have it on the off-peak time.
This would be managing the utility. This would be doing something for the people of Ontario. This would be doing something for the existing customers who have their Gold Medallion homes, who are seniors, who recognize electric energy as the most safe and clean they can have in the house. Regardless of how you go back to its generation, whether it's hydraulic, steam by coal, steam by oil or steam from uranium, it still is most benign to the environment.
If we want to see Ontario progress, I suggest that this government, if it insists on Bill 118, use it to the best advantage if it feels the board of directors isn't capable of running the corporation, which to me is an insult, to think that the Ministry of Energy and the government have more knowhow than the people over at Ontario Hydro, the research department, the environmental section, the engineering division.
I don't think you gave any thought to what you think the requirement here was. I think you moved too quickly and too severely and you've given the government too much power. Whether you exercise it or not, God knows what can happen in the future, because you have amended the Power Corporation Act. I don't think it's right, if this bill goes through, to refer any longer to Ontario Hydro as a corporation. It is nothing more than a department of the government, a commission of the government, and the people might as well know that.
I think really, as my colleague the member for Ottawa South stated and as we stated at the end of the hearings after going across the province, the Minister of Energy has to understand that there's more than electricity in the province of Ontario relative to conservation. He's the Minister of Energy for the province, of all energies, and perhaps he should cast his eye around to some of the other energies as far as conservation goes.
The other energies are all going to benefit from these conservation programs. If I were to put in natural gas, I would have the benefit of the conservation program paid for by my neighbour on his hydro bill, so I use less natural gas. I'm going to help pay him to convert to natural gas. I'm going to help pay for him to extend the natural gas line down the road. All that's going to appear on my hydro bill.
In closing, the other fear is that this government has already -- and I understand they have future plans to add some social costs. Some social programs will be hidden on my hydro bill.
Mr Huget: Get real. Tell the truth.
Mr Jordan: You've already done it. You've already done it at Elliot Lake. You certainly did. You've been out trying to defend this light program that you spent $7 million on, and the most you could get out of it was $4 million, even by your own calculations.
Do you know what they did, Mr Speaker? They sent these bulbs across the province not properly wrapped. When they arrived at the homes, the filament was broken. They might have lasted for two days and the bulb was gone. Anyone who would send that out into the rural mail boxes, just like your newspaper is delivered -- it arrives, bang. It's not packed, only in a plastic bag. Now how much thought went into that program? Certainly there was none that went into how it was going to be delivered.
If the program was that good, why didn't they send their Ontario Hydro rep from the office? Yes, it would have cost them money, but at the same time, he could have done an energy audit while he was there. They didn't have to be delivered in two weeks. If it was a good program, it could have taken three months and we could have covered the province with Energy people coming to the home explaining to the people why the bulb was there and how to use it and taking an assessment of what was already being used.
I say to this government, please take a few minutes, take a few days and assess your conservation program. The Minister of Energy told us in estimates in 1990 that they would demand from Ontario Hydro, every three months, a net amount of energy saved and he would see that it was reported to the Legislature. The president at that time said that would be very difficult to measure, because you're not dealing with furniture; you're dealing with people.
To measure demand power in industry is very simple, but to measure the efficiency of a conservation program on a residential base is very difficult. At peak load time, energy conservation or not, when the couple comes home from work, they're going to use it. They know it's peak time, but if you give them some incentive in their rates they'll probably think otherwise. Education is what we need, not more legislation.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Villeneuve): It now being 6 of the clock, this House will stand adjourned until tomorrow, June 4, at 10 am.
The House adjourned at 1800.