Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, earlier today the Premier (Mr. Davis) and I officiated at the opening of the first SITEV America international automotive exposition, which is being held this week at the Canadian National Exhibition Coliseum.
This world-class exhibition is the North American equivalent of SITEV Europe, which takes place annually in Geneva, Switzerland. Unlike the European show, however, SITEV America is much more than a conventional trade fair. It will focus on the exchange of information and technology, and it will serve as a forum for auto parts manufacturers from around the world to meet for discussions on joint ventures, licensing arrangements, partnerships and opportunities for establishing production facilities.
More than 200 manufacturers of vehicles and parts have gathered in Toronto from around the world. Industry representatives from Europe, Japan, South America and the United States will be spending the next three days with our manufacturers, learning about the technology Ontario firms have to offer. In addition, industrial commissioners from 27 of Ontario’s municipalities will be attending the exhibition to make direct contact with potential investors.
SITEV has gained an international reputation as a meeting place for key decision-makers in the automotive sector. By bringing the world auto market and industry to Ontario for the first time, we are offering our parts manufacturers an opportunity to identify and follow up on joint ventures and licensing arrangements, to increase their sales to offshore manufacturers and to learn about and acquire new technology. Further, we are offering Ontario’s industrial commissioners an opportunity to promote their communities as favourable investment locations.
In addition to the opening of SITEV America, this week marked another major event in Ontario’s automotive sector. Yesterday, Ford of Canada officially opened its $533-million Essex engine plant two years ahead of schedule. The plant will manufacture fuel-efficient V-6 engines to be used in many of Ford’s 1982 model cars and trucks. This facility, together with the adjacent Essex aluminum casting plant, is already providing employment for 1,285 people just at the start, and the company will meet its undertaking to manufacture 1.5 million engines over five years.
As the members are well aware, our government was most proud to agree to supplement federal assistance by contributing $28 million to the cost of this project and making those jobs available for the auto workers in Essex.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The Premier has told me that all four Liberal members from the area were in the front row at the official opening yesterday. He indicated that the four members did not tell all those auto workers that the Liberal Party was opposed to the grant. He also indicated that the members were there as proud as can be, telling them it was just great. The member should have brought a copy of the debates from the assembly when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) opposed them. He probably left them in his office. Anyway, I hope the member had a good day.
These initiatives, bringing the world auto market to Ontario manufacturers and directly supporting major new production facilities, are examples of our government’s commitment to auto workers in this province as well as our confidence in the long-term success of that great industry in Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will not add to the opening. Yesterday in Windsor was a very significant event. I thoroughly enjoyed it; I enjoyed the four members opposite, and I want to tell their colleagues just how enthusiastically they applauded when the Premier of this great province made his brief observations of a nonpartisan, constructive nature. In fact, they led the standing applause at the conclusion of my remarks. I want to --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) said as he was leaving, “Great job, Mr. Premier.” I do not know what that meant, but anyway I appreciated it; I was delighted. I shared the credit with them, Mr. Speaker; I made that abundantly clear. But that is not why I am on my feet.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure, and it is related to the event of an hour or so ago, that I recognize and introduce to other members of this Legislature the very distinguished governor of our largest state trading partner in the United States, Governor William G. Milliken of Michigan.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I want members to know that seated to the right of Governor Milliken is a man who will not be introduced to members of the assembly, the deputy minister in the Premier’s office, who happens to have as his roots of origin the city of Windsor. That is why he is in the gallery. He is also a Detroit Tigers fan, I have to say, and a supporter of Michigan University.
Governor Milliken was born in Traverse City in Michigan and is a graduate of a little-known university in the eastern part of the United States, called Yale. I point out to members of the House that Governor Milliken is in his thirteenth year as governor of that great state, which makes him, still at a very young age, the longest-serving governor in the history of the state of Michigan. Despite the fact that he is still under 50 years of age -- well, not quite under -- he is the longest-serving governor of that great state.
Governor Milliken was elected in 1970, 1974 and 1978, and is thinking of what he is going to do in 1982. He is past chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association, the Midwestern Governors’ Conference and the National Governors’ Conference. He currently serves on the executive committee of the National Governors’ Conference, and during February of this year he very kindly invited me to join with the governors of the Great Lake states to discuss some matters of mutual concern related to air pollution, water quality, et cetera. It was really his very kind invitation that led us to interrupt the campaign in the latter part of February or early March to go to the governors’ conference in Washington to give us a little change of pace.
The governor and I also share, as do all members of the House, a continuing concern with the automotive industry. We are sharing our concerns and our experience, and we have agreed to share any information or research documentation on the issue of acid rain. I think it is also fair to tell members of the House that Governor Milliken has spent some time in this province this morning, just outside the great city of Kingston, viewing what is without question the world’s foremost intermediate-capacity transit system available anywhere.
I am very hopeful that the excellent relationships that exist between our province and that state, and between the governor of that state and the Premier of this province, will continue for the many years that are ahead of both of us in our areas of political responsibility. Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to welcome the governor to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
Mr. Ruprecht: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: On June 8, the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) made us a promise. He told us he would make public how many units would be built under the Ontario rental construction loan program in the Metropolitan Toronto area. Hansard reads: “I will be glad to get the exact figures as of today and to report back to the House tomorrow.”
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, at two o’clock this afternoon I attended on His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario with the commissioners for revising the Statutes of Ontario to report the completion of the preparation of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980. The roll was then deposited with the Clerk of the House as provided by the Statutes Revision Act, 1979.
I am recommending to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that August 1 be named as the date on which the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980, will take effect. Copies of the publication will be available for distribution by the Queen’s Printer starting tomorrow.
The minister will recall that the member for York North (Mr. Hodgson) stated in the House that he was the one who made the call the minister thought might have come from the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett). He will recall the member said he met with certain land owners who were listed and with Mr. John Dewar, the planning consultant and so on. They asked that the member call the ministry to have things re-examined. He said he spoke to Mr. David Fraser, chairman of the York regional planning committee, who asked the same thing, and then he phoned the minister. Is that not right? Unfortunately, it is wrong.
I ask the minister to consider the following. The meeting the member for York North had with Mr. John Dewar was in November 1978. Mr. David Fraser, to whom the member allegedly spoke, was no longer the regional planning committee chairman because he had been defeated in the municipal elections of 1978. Therefore, the conversation could not have been after then. Mr. Fraser says it was not after then.
Since both conversations occurred in November 1978 approximately, and since the present Minister of Agriculture and Food was not the minister until late August 1979, can the minister explain, and will he undertake to get an explanation for this House, why the member for York North, a good constituency man, would have waited almost one full year after being requested to talk to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food about the problem before contacting the minister?
Mr. Smith: Since the minister prefers his version of stonewalling on this matter rather than helping to provide the House with an explanation for what seems, on the face of it, to be a preposterous story by the member for York North, and since the minister refuses to get the facts for this House, does he still stick to the story he told the press on June 11, that he received a written message from his staff advising that there had been a call from “Housing,” that he did not return or answer the call, that he did not talk to anybody, but just took it as a signal that he ought to send the member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil) out to look at some land in the town of Vaughan? Does the minister stick to that story?
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister trying to say that there is no explanation at all, or is he saying that there is an explanation but he will not provide it to the House because he believes he is not required to answer now that the government has a majority? Does the minister have no concept of accountability to this Legislature on behalf of the people of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, it is easy to see that the leader of the third party -- I will not say it of the leader of the Liberal Party -- has now fallen into the pit that he really does not want to understand what we have said. I have answered him fully on many occasions.
Mr. Smith: Does the minister honestly believe that any person in Ontario with even a shred of sanity remaining would believe that out of the clear blue sky the minister received a message saying, “Housing phoned today,” whereupon, not knowing the topic, he did not return the call, he did not speak to anyone in his ministry, but simply decided to send the member for Elgin out in the dead of winter to look at some land in the town of Vaughan to see whether it might be possible to withdraw the Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s objection?
Is the minister prepared to have us believe that he would have been inspired, perhaps with a message from heaven, to send the member for Elgin out in wintertime to look at land in Vaughan? Did no one ask him to do that?
Mr. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, who has said that he has never seen the file on Astra/Re-Mor and does not intend to read the file on the Astra/Re-Mor matter.
Will the minister inform us whether he has read at least a summary of his ministry documents? Will he tell us whether he has read the transcripts of the hearings of the standing committee on administration of justice in January as his predecessor, the present Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea), did? Has the minister read the Bimonthly Reports I sent over to him and familiarized himself with the allegations concerning the Ontario Securities Commission?
There are three questions: Has the minister read a summary of the file on Astra/Re-Mor, if not the file itself? Has he read the transcripts of the justice committee? Has he read the Bimonthly Reports regarding the OSC?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, the interesting thing is that the member across the way thinks the Astra/Re-Mor file is one little file about half an inch thick and that anyone could read it. If he would just go back to the reports of the day, he would realize that there are 48 file drawers of evidence that were brought in, not just one file. There are probably hundreds of files when one measures them out. I suggested the other day that if I attempted to read those, it would take me five years just to thumb through them all, let alone begin to read them.
Mr. Smith: Will the minister not answer the three questions I asked? I ask the minister when he rises to his feet again to actually answer the three questions, which is whether he has read a summary of the ministry documents, the transcripts of the January justice committee and the Bimonthly Reports that I have sent him. He might at least have the courtesy of answering those questions yes or no. Surely he knows whether he has read them.
Hon. Mr. Walker: I have not read from stem to stern the entire Argosy file; I have been briefed on the Argosy matter. I and a good many people across the way here have had similar types of briefings. I have been briefed on the Argosy file; I have been briefed on the Re-Mor matter; I have been briefed on the Astra matter; I have been briefed on the CHSO matter. I have not read the files from start to finish.
In the case of the Re-Mor/Astra situation there are 48 file drawers, enough boxes and file drawers of information to fill the entire gallery two or three deep, and the member is suggesting he wants me to start reading that. I think the member should have a heart.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister explain why it is that his ministry has been prepared to make elaborate changes in the administration of the Mortgage Brokers Act and the other acts that affect Re-Mor to prevent people from being bilked in the future in the way they were with the Re-Mor affair, but the ministry has not been prepared to act with comparable diligence to ensure that the people who were bilked are compensated?
Why is it that the minister insists on seeing no evil, hearing no evil and sensing no evil when it comes to the losses of those investors, when he has indicated by means of the administrative reforms he announced last month that serious mistakes were made in the ministry?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I am very glad that the leader of the third party has brought up a number of the administrative reforms that we instituted. Throughout this process, as I indicated to some extent yesterday, but not fully, there have been some required changes that we have identified. We have changed a number of the administrative procedures involved within our ministry.
In addition to that, there is the question of whether there would be any compensation. As the honourable member knows, that hinges on the matter of negligence. But, in spite of that issue of negligence and how that is dealt with in the courts, where the proceedings are currently in view, we are in the process of entertaining as many discussions as we possibly can with federal officials to see whether there is any area in which we can accommodate the investors who lost their money in these investments.
Mr. Smith: The minister apparently has not bothered to read the transcripts of the justice committee hearings in January, which I think at least his predecessor had the decency to do. Will the minister therefore take it upon himself to read those transcripts?
Will he try to resolve for us the problem of the conflicting testimony in which the registrar and assistant registrar of mortgage brokers in his ministry said the Ontario Securities Commission had offered them no hard evidence to help them in turning down the Re-Mor application, while the OSC investigation counsel testified that he gave Messrs. Weinstein and Baird evidence that would have been sufficient to justify a refusal, and Weinstein and Baird then said that, had they had that evidence, they would have refused? There is a real conflict in testimony there.
Hon. Mr. Walker: The interesting thing is in the conflicts of testimony. There is no doubt there have been some conflicts in testimony between what the registrar would have to say and what the Ontario Securities Commission would have to say as it related to one particular aspect, as I recall. But I will --
They were talking about matters that came to their attention some two years in advance. There is no question that from time to time people do have conflicts in testimony. As a lawyer who has practised in the courts, as a person who has practised in the courts, I have seen many conflicts among people. Perhaps the member has not had that opportunity, but he probably would have noticed if he had that opportunity that there are many conflicts among people who have even seen the same kind of accident.
Hon. Mr. Walker: As a matter of fact, in reading the transcript I was particularly impressed by the faulty memory displayed by the members of the committee who gave a great argument on the very day the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), had to come into the committee and say: “This is not what the committee agreed on yesterday. We agreed on something else.” I think the member for Sudbury East will recall that.
That there were even some problems with members remembering from one day to the next whether something was awry or not suggests to me, and the member may not accept the fact, that ordinary people have failings from time to time in respect of the faulty memory on which the member made some comment. That is something the member should keep in mind. People are human.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Health about the problems in the hospital system which contributed to the difficulties at the Toronto East General Hospital which were reported yesterday.
Is the minister aware that the report on the Toronto East General Hospital made specific references to such problems as understaffing, poor physical facilities, inadequate equipment, the inappropriately small laboratory space for the blood bank, the overcrowding of the emergency department. the shortcomings of the physical plant of the emergency department and to the fact that on average there are about 130 patients in acute treatment beds who should have been in long-term care?
Will the minister not agree that these problems at the Toronto East General Hospital were the direct result of underfunding and cutbacks from the Ministry of Health? Will he also not agree that, if those problems had not been present at the Toronto East General Hospital, the hospital would have had a much better chance of resolving its problems and difficulties?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, in the four or five months that the review committee was at work, and considering that they met with about 150 people -- including one or two of the member’s colleagues, if my memory serves me correctly -- I think there was ample opportunity and scope in the terms of reference that these three gentlemen had to reach that conclusion if the facts supported the allegations.
The fact of the matter is they did not find that. What they did find was that basically the root of the problem, and page 57 at the bottom sums it all up, is: “In the opinion of the review committee, this hospital has suffered from the absence of appropriate management practices for a number of years.”
When the member talks about the physical plant, he will find in the report, or whomever has read the report to brief him will find, that they make a specific point of the fact that there has not been -- and this is one of the administrative deficiencies -- a proper capital planning program in the hospital. They make the point that there has not been a proper program planning for the replacement of obsolescent equipment and facilities.
They also point out that there was a very large building program at the hospital culminating a couple of years ago, but this was in other areas in the hospital and not in the areas identified in this report.
I recognize there are some deficiencies. I believe we will see proposals for the correction of those come out of this from the Toronto East General Hospital in the years to come which will be dealt with as they have been in the past.
Mr. Cassidy: If the minister says the problems at the Toronto East General Hospital were not related to underfunding or cutbacks and were related only to management deficiencies, can he explain why it is that, for example, at the Metropolitan General Hospital in Windsor they currently have been forced to close 36 beds over the summer because of funding restraints and as a consequence now have 10 to 12 patients regularly waiting in the emergency wards because they have to stay on stretchers and cannot get a bed?
Why is it that hospitals in every corner of the province are having similar problems in terms of finding enough space to put their patients and of making their budgets stretch to meet the needs if it is just a problem of management at the Toronto East General Hospital, as the minister tries to maintain?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I remind the member, the House and the public that in 1981-82 funding for the hospitals in this province, the budgets that were issued at the beginning of the year, compared to the budgets issued at the beginning of the 1980-81 fiscal year, were $314 million higher.
The fact of the matter is the member will find that in a great many of the projections of deficits -- in most of the cases I have looked at -- they include their projections of the settlements that have recently come or will soon come with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Service Employees’ International Union, the Ontario Nurses’ Association and other smaller union groups.
In the budgets sent out early in this calendar year for the current fiscal year, it was indicated to them we were assuming for the purposes of the budget calculations a 10 per cent increase in the salary and wage component. Once we know the actual salary and wage component, we can follow up. We have indicated to them that we will follow up, just as we will for the last fiscal year, once we have the final figures to settle those accounts.
It has to be said that, at whatever level of funding, there will always be demands for more. That is one of the basic problems of our system and something that is going to plague all of us for years to come.
Mr. Ruprecht: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Yesterday, my leader pointed out that some hospitals were unable to provide adequate emergency service. I want to find out from the minister, if he is concerned enough about the state of affairs, will he examine it and report to the House?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I think the allegations were to the effect that people were being turned away. If one looks into the operation of the system -- by the way, I have not answered the point about Metropolitan General Hospital in Windsor, and I will come back to that -- people who are in life-threatening situations are not turned away. People who take themselves to emergency departments one way or another, by public transit, personal vehicles or on foot, are not turned away.
There is an ongoing problem in ensuring that the existing emergency departments in any community are properly utilized and that the utilization among them and between them is properly balanced. One of the recommendations that came out of this report, which I think is a good one, was for the establishment of an ambulatory care unit at the Toronto East General Hospital.
I am sure the member knows from reading the literature that all the studies of emergency department utilization in the last four or five years have shown that 75 to 80 per cent of the people who present themselves at emergency departments are not emergencies. More and more we are seeing ambulatory care units established that can be a diversion for those people so they can be looked after, while freeing the emergency department staff to look after the 20 to 25 per cent that really are emergencies. It is an ongoing situation we are working on with hospitals, hospital councils and district health councils all over the province.
Coming back to the Metropolitan General Hospital in Windsor, we have had discussions over the last three years with that hospital about changes in the bed mix, and I would be surprised if I did not find that what the member is talking about is a combination of two things.
First, there is the normal summer closure of some beds to take account of holiday schedules. In some communities it is especially difficult to hire replacement staff for the summer, and certainly he will acknowledge that people have to have their vacations. In some communities, one has to close down some beds accordingly.
The second factor would be the reluctance of Metropolitan General Hospital in Windsor to make the changes, particularly in the obstetrics unit of that hospital vis-à-vis the Salvation Army Grace Hospital in Windsor, that would allow them to keep the same number of beds but would add some medical-surgical beds by diverting obstetrical case loads to Grace Hospital.
Mr. Cassidy: Before this gobbledegook goes on too long, is the minister saying it is normal that the situation at Windsor Met hospital should continue year after year when the hospital tells us the beds that have been closed over the summer could easily have been filled to capacity but funding restraints forced the closure? Is the minister saying that is normal?
Is the minister saying it is normal when, at the North York General Hospital, they have every bed filled to capacity and have had to cancel 190 elective surgery treatments in the last year because they did not have places to put the patients? Is it normal that at that hospital they should have to book off the ambulances for several hours at least twice a week?
Is this normal in the hospital system? Can we not expect a hospital system to exist and be able to provide care when people need it, without this kind of cheese paring and cutting back that seem to be constantly pressuring good medical care in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, in the little over four years -- close to four and a half years -- I have been Minister of Health, spending on health care in this province has increased by 64 per cent, which is well in excess of the rate of inflation. I submit that at any level of spending the potential will always be there for some complaints. There will always be demands for more facilities, more programs, even if we were to commit the entire budget, and we could never do that.
The delaying of 190 surgical cases in one year is not, in my view, evidence of a major difficulty, considering the number of days in a year and the number of surgical suites available. My colleague the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) makes a very good point; I wonder how many of those were due to the strike early this year. I would submit that to the honourable member.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The other thing I would say is that the member knows a difficulty we do have from time to time, which is entirely beyond our control and which does cause significant problems in the scheduling of elective surgery, is the question of blood supply. Only four per cent of the population donates blood, and from time to time we do run into problems. If we do not have a sufficient supply in the blood bank to support elective surgical procedures, they must be delayed. That happens regularly, I am afraid to say.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a new question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Mr. Speaker. Now that the occupation of the president’s office at Centennial College is in its sixth day and there still has been no resolution of the outrageous decision of the college’s board of governors to fire 47 maintenance workers, in the hope they will get some savings by contracting out the work, would the minister say, since this has gone on for this long, what actions she or her ministry has taken in the last six days to resolve this dispute and to find a way of saving the jobs of those 47 workers, who have served the college loyally for 10 to 15 years in many cases, and who should not be fired on the grounds proposed by the college?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think the leader of the third party should be aware that some two weeks ago, after the decision was taken by Centennial College, the ministry did indeed approach the college and suggest the board should rethink its position about this action it proposed to take. Discussions were going on, related to the alternative courses that might be taken by Centennial College, when some members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, and certain other labour organizations, made the decision to occupy the president’s office.
This morning I have requested Mr. Robert Joyce, and he has agreed, to act as a special adviser in this situation, to investigate the situation, to provide me with the information and to provide assistance to both parties in an attempt to resolve it.
Mr. Cassidy: That step of appointing Mr. Joyce to the situation could have been taken last Thursday, when, out of frustration, the leaders of the unions felt they had no choice but to sit in, given the fact that the president constantly fobbed them off and said he had no authority to give them any decision because the decision had come from the board of governors.
Is there in the ministry a policy forbidding contracting out in the college system, if it results in workers being fired, as has occurred at Centennial? Does the minister not think it is a matter of fundamental justice that workers should not be fired, as they have been at Centennial, because the college had decided to save some dollars? Those savings of dollars should not be made at the expense of workers’ livelihoods when they have given long years of loyal service.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Every employer in any jurisdiction has to make decisions about the methods of employment that will be most appropriate for those circumstances. In each of the colleges the board of governors employs certain of the staff, based on local requirements, the kinds of patterns in existence within that community and the specific concerns of that institution. I believe that decision is made in 22 different locations in 22 different ways. For the ministry to suggest that at no time ever should any college ever consider contracting anything out I think would be a ludicrous position, because in many of the areas of the province that may be the appropriate thing to do.
Mr. Cassidy: I will put my question to the minister again. Is the minister not prepared to say that workers should not be fired as a consequence of a decision to contract out? Does she not feel there is a responsibility on the province, which is the paymaster for community colleges, to endorse and to support fair labour practices in that section of the public sector, just as much as it tries to endorse them -- or I hope it tries to endorse them -- with respect to the civil service?
Mr. Wrye: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Given the disruption that has been caused by these layoffs of 47 support staff members at Centennial College, will the minister give us assurance she will take another look at the budgetary levels given Centennial? Will she see whether they cannot be increased so that Centennial is not put in the kind of financial squeeze that has led to this very unhappy situation?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the college system this year did achieve a 10.1 per cent increase in budgetary allocation from the government. I believe that is a fairly reasonable level of allocation. I do not believe Centennial College received any less than that; in fact I think it was somewhat more.
I do believe there are certain principles that each of the college boards must pursue. I also believe their decisions must be based on what they perceive as the most appropriate circumstances within the communities they serve.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister not aware of studies by bodies that are reputable, such as the Bureau of Municipal Research, which indicate that long-term savings do not flow from contracting out? Their studies say if any savings occur at all, they are only for the short term and often at the expense of the quality of service. In view of that, is the minister not prepared to make a firm stand and say this kind of contracting out at the expense of workers’ jobs should stop?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the leader of the third party has counselled me on many occasions never to intrude by making any remark in the face of ongoing negotiations, because I might be perceived to be leaning towards one side or the other. Now he is saying that as long as I tend to lean to the side of organized labour that is perfectly fine.
I will not say what he is asking me to say at this point, because those negotiations are ongoing. I am aware of that research. I would remind the honourable member I said not five minutes ago that shortly after the decision was taken by Centennial College, on the basis of our investigation and our calculations, we approached the college and told them we thought they were ill-informed in making the decision they had. We asked them to go back and discuss it with the union.
Mr. Riddell: I have a question to the Chairman, Management Board of Cabinet. Knowing how cautiously this government spends the taxpayers’ money, and knowing the reluctance of this government to offer any kind of interest rate subsidy to farmers and businessmen who are desperately needing help at this time, does the minister think it is a judicious use of the taxpayers’ money to provide the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) with a helicopter to fly him to his own riding of Lambton in order to attend the warden’s picnic?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the honourable member that he did not entice me back to my seat; I came here as a matter of duty, and I have since learned that the member cannot even entice the Minister of Education and Colleges and Universities to meet with him after question period.
Hon. Mr. McCague: The matter that has been brought to my attention by the honourable member is a matter that is within the discretion of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The member might want to ask that minister the very question he has asked me.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, if that is the case, I will redirect the question. The Minister of Agriculture and Food heard the question. I will also ask him if he would mind giving this House an estimate of the cost of flying him to that picnic. Furthermore, does he think it is right, as Minister of Agriculture and Food, to deny the farmers and businessmen their very survival in the business world in this province when he flies to attend social functions in his own riding? Is that right?
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development, in the absence of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea). Is the minister aware that the Children’s Aid Society of Sudbury has been systematically requesting the provincial court to place juvenile wards in the juvenile detention centre because there is a lack of appropriate placements for hard-to-control juveniles in that city, even though no charges have ever been laid against any of these juveniles? There has been an accusation by a local lawyer who has defended such children that the ministry is responsible. Is this a common practice throughout the province or is this an aberration?
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Will the Provincial Secretary for Social Development also please bring to the attention of the minister the fact that in the last year 17 such children, according to the CAS, have been placed in the detention centre for periods varying from two to three days to, in the case of one young boy named Alex, a number of weeks. In fact, the CAS has just applied for another three-week extension to that boy’s stay in a juvenile detention centre. The reason it gives is that there are 44 fewer spaces available in terms of foster homes and group homes --
There are 44 fewer spaces available in foster home care and in group homes for juveniles in Sudbury at the moment. As a result there are no appropriate placements and they are sticking these kids in jail, essentially, until they can find them appropriate placements. Does the minister have a policy for making sure there is going to be an increased allotment of such spaces for these kids around the province?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we do have a policy in place. There are three centres for children who are particularly difficult and who have really serious problems. I would remind the honourable member that this government has a policy of encouraging municipalities to provide the group homes required for children like this. It is incumbent upon all of us to help promote that program wherever we may live, so that children will not be placed in those kinds of situations. I will have the minister look into that situation and report back.
In view of the minister’s genuine interest in the vocation of that institution to serve the interests of all the people of eastern Ontario, including the granting of French language services, and since the minister is aware that the whole purpose of setting up the hospital and raising funds was to do exactly that, is he aware that, in spite of the fact that his ministry is granting funds to the tune of something like $60,000 per year to allow this institution to give French language services, in spite of the Dubois report back in 1979, and in spite of the later report of the Social Planning Council of Ottawa-Carleton, a recent report called Let’s Talk, dated March 1981, indicates not only that the hospital is not encouraging the giving of French language services to these young people but that the administration in fact seems to be systematically denying those services?
Will the minister review this report and accept one of its major recommendations: that they create a French language advisory committee to advise the board -- not the administrators but the board of trustees -- on matters of francophone services for this hospital and for eastern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of that report. Pursuant to the policy that I announced in Sudbury in September 1979, we have funded programs in the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in each of the last two fiscal years: $60,000 this year and $55,000 in fiscal 1980-81.
My co-ordinator for French language services, Mr. Leblanc, is going to be meeting with officials of the hospital to review the report, so at this point I am awaiting the results of the discussions he will be having with them. Once I have that report I will be in a better position to respond. I have not actually seen the report; I have only heard of its existence from Mr. Leblanc, who, as I say, is going to be meeting with officials of the hostel.
Mr. Roy: I wonder if I could emphasize to the minister, since the report’s major recommendation is the creation of this French language advisory committee for the institution, that it is important to assure that if such a committee is set up -- and I would suggest that the only way we are going to have systematic French language services in that institution is to set up such a committee -- it should report to the board of trustees and not necessarily to the administration?
Secondly, I would also ask the minister how an institution such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, for instance, could have a situation where the chaplain, the pastoral counsellor, for that institution cannot even discuss anything with the young people in French? In other words, most francophone patients of that institution happen to be Catholic and yet the pastoral services are unilingually in English. That is just one example. The report goes on to cite a variety of examples where there has been confusion. There seems to be a systematic attempt to deny French language services to these young children, which is totally unacceptable and intolerable.
Will the minister undertake not only to review this report and set up this committee, but to proceed expeditiously? The report has now been before the administration since March 1981 and there appears to be no intention of doing anything about it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am advised that the board was presented with the report towards the end of March of this year. Apparently it has not responded to the internal group that prepared the report. As a result, somebody apparently tried to leak it to the Association canadienne-francaise de l’Ontario, which is how it became public. That is perfectly fine; I take no issue with that.
I concur with the need to assure services in both languages in the parts of this province that have been designated bilingual by our national government. That is in fact the crux of the politique I released in September 1979. I want to make it clear that I have no authority to force any hospital to establish anything akin to a French-language advisory committee, a FLAC. We have found in other communities that they have been able to find ways to work with their French --
We found in other communities that they have been able to establish mechanisms for working with the staff, representatives of the board and the community to move things forward. I am told, by the way, that about 35 per cent of the staff of this hospital is bilingual now, but the member is quite right. Apparently the report has highlighted certain areas of the hospital where there are deficiencies and one of them is in the chaplaincy area.
Again I can only go by a very brief note I have, basically covering the same things the member has already told me. Mr. Leblanc will be meeting with officials of the hospital and we would take the basic position that the hospital should then issue a statement indicating the policies it hopes will meet with the approval of the people of eastern Ontario, particularly the francophone population.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment with reference to the statement he made in the House last Thursday regarding water quality in Whitchurch Stouffville. I quote in part from his statement:
“Based on these results, there is absolutely no indication that the drinking waters are contaminated by the landfill or any other source. In testing for 20 general water quality parameters, 24 metals and 66 industrial chemicals, pesticides and related compounds, we found nothing which would in any way affect or threaten drinking water quality. All in all, our sampling has shown outstanding water quality in the community.
How does the minister reconcile that statement with the report submitted to the Environmental Assessment Board hearing by HB and O Engineering Limited, consultants to the town, in which they made the statement, “Measurable damage is now being done to the well water of a few private properties close to landfill No. 4,” and they went through and listed contaminants which are normally used as parameters in normal testing of water quality -- chlorides rising in wells at rather excessive rates, sulphates and conductivity. How does the minister justify the statement he made, in view of the report that was submitted before his board at the hearing in Stouffville?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I have not seen the specific report the honourable member refers to as having been submitted to the hearing. I can say the testing that was done by our ministry covered some 2,000 tests, including 13 private wells plus the municipal water supply. On the basis of our tests, I stand by the conclusions I indicated to the House. I do not know specifically which wells might have been dealt with in the testing the member refers to.
I do not recall the specific chemicals or compounds the member referred to, but there are certain compounds that are commonly found in water. I would be glad if he would send me a copy of the report, if he has it, so that I can look at it and make a comparison with the results we found to see whether their results varied from ours in any significant way that would indicate any level of impairment of water quality.
In the meantime I would have to stand firmly with the conclusion as a result of the most comprehensive testing of any water supply in the history of this province, using some of the most sophisticated methods available to us. I do not know anything about the methodology used by the consultants for the municipality. I do not know whether they have access to the same sophisticated equipment we have, but I would be glad to look at the report if the member will share it with me.
It is my understanding that, when testing for water quality, the substances I referred to are normally a part of the water quality parameters the minister outlined in his statement. One of the three chemicals I mentioned was chloride. The specific wells and rates of increase are listed in the report. In the case of chloride, the report showed two wells increasing at rates of 33 and 38 per cent a year. There were projections that those wells would be over the acceptable level.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I think that must be kept in perspective. The member, by his own admission in his supplementary question, has suggested there is no indication for alarm in terms of the present water quality. Any evidence of increasing concentrations, albeit at a harmless level to human health, ought to be something that is considered by the hearing tribunal and I am sure it will be.
I would caution the member not to play upon the fears of the public by raising matters that are not threats to public health in such a way that they might be perceived that way from the manner in which he presents them.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While there are certain parameters that are arguable as they relate to the safety of drinking water in the province, would the minister tell us whether he monitors wells in the areas of landfill sites to see if there have been major changes in the quality of the water; not whether it is within the limits of what the minister and some of his staff have decided is acceptable, but whether there are major changes?
Does the minister think it is time those people who are close to these landfill sites and other intrusions on their privacy should know if there are major changes in the quality of their water? Should they know whether the minister or his ministry considers them dangerous or whether it is an intrusion on something they were enjoying before he got there?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that in many instances we do inform them. I cannot say we do so in all municipal landfill sites across Ontario. I think it is doubtful that we do it on a regular basis in all cases, but we certainly do it regularly in many instances.
It is also important to know that there are certain early indicators of leachate from landfill sites. In the case of the Whitchurch-Stouffville site, none of those indicators exists in any of the testing we have done to indicate that there are even early indications of leachate. That is something that is very significant, and we ought to bear it in mind as we continue to monitor the situation during the period of the hearings.
In view of the fact that his ministry sponsored a bankers’ school at the University of Guelph between June 7 and 12, and I believe it was the twenty-seventh annual bankers’ school, it would appear that for the first 26 years the minister had some difficulty getting through to them, because on or about June 10 or 11 the bankers of this province collectively or individually made statements that they were going to be more humane and less ruthless when it came to dealing with loans and the problems of the farm community in this province. I am led by that to believe that at that school in Guelph he must have got the message through to them.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member is saying is correct. In addition to that, my own deputy met with one of their directors last Thursday at noon, and it was a very good meeting, with great co-operation.
Ms. Copps: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I may be a new member, but I understood that this question period was to be used to ask questions and receive answers, not to have setup statements by the minister. Why does he not use the time for ministerial statements?
Mr. Mancini: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Do you not feel that the question period is specifically for the back-benchers of the House who have no direct contact with the cabinet and that the parliamentary assistants should ask questions --
Mr. Mancini: Just let me finish. Does the Speaker not feel that the parliamentary assistants should be able to ask questions only on the most important issues of the day and not use the time of question period with those types of political statements, thereby taking away the opportunity of ordinary back-benchers who need this particular time to question the minister? Will the Speaker consider adding the time used by the parliamentary assistant to this question period?
Mr. Wildman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the minister was so effective in getting through to the bankers at the bankers’ school, will he please explain why they retracted the agreement a few days afterwards?
Mr. Riddell: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If indeed the minister got the kind of co-operation from the bankers that has been indicated here just now, what kind of co-operation are we going to get from the government in connection with some assistance when the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) indicated he has $100 million to play with? How is he playing with it? Are we going to get it through to the farmers?
On a quick review of the ministry’s report on the water quality in Whitchurch-Stouffville I also note, and I want to bring to the member’s attention, that in certain offsite private wells -- I was trying to see how many might be involved -- there was an indication of an increase in certain parameters, such as conductivity, hardness, sulphate and chloride in two offsite wells in our testing.
The examination by our staff in the ministry concluded that was not as a result of contamination from the landfill site but rather from other natural sources in some instances and possibly from road salt in one instance; it was not from the landfill site.
I again reassure the members that the conclusion reached was that the levels measured certainly did not impair water quality from a health standpoint but did cause some aesthetic problems, such as staining, as a result of the use of that water.
Mr. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I do not believe, sir, there is any provision for a minister to actually add material to an answer already given to a question that was asked earlier. I may be wrong, but I do not believe there is provision for that. I respectfully ask that you consider adding the time to the question period.
Hon. Mr. Norton: In speaking to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether it is the intention of the Leader of the Opposition to suggest that a minister ought not to try to answer questions as fully, frankly and openly as possible. Is that what the honourable member is suggesting?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I indicated when I rose the second time that in a quick review of the report, which frankly I have not memorized, I came up with specific information that related to a specific question that a member asked me. I felt I owed a responsibility to this House and to that member to be as complete in my response as possible.
As the minister knows, the plan provides a home buyer with a warranty covering many items for the first year as well as major structural defects in the home for the first five years. A number of my constituents have been told by HUDAC that water leaks in their basement resulting from cracks in the foundation arising after the first year after the warranty plan are not considered major structural defects.
Can the minister assure this House that cracks in the foundation of a home which allow water to seep in, and even water mixed with sand to seep in, are indeed major structural defects and are covered by the plan for the full five years of the warranty?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I cannot give that assurance, but I would like to receive some of the individual complaints and I will have people in the ministry determine the information and supply the member with that as soon as possible.
Mr. Van Horne: The total amount paid to claimants in the last five years was $8.5 million, but only $250,000 of that has been awarded to claimants for major structural defects. There is every evidence that HUDAC is deliberately trying to limit access to the fund under the category of major structural defects.
Mr. Sargent: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: This is a matter, I believe, of urgent public importance. Representing the people of Grey-Bruce, I have to find out something from the Premier today which is of great importance to the people in our area.
Mr. Sargent: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker: It is very important that we establish now whether we raise $10 million or whether we forget about the whole thing for our hospital. I want to get a guarantee from the Premier --
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by a number of injured workers and addressed to the Minister of Labour. It says: “We, the undersigned, petition the Minister of Labour to introduce immediate changes to the Workmen’s Compensation Act in order to increase benefits for injured workers receiving permanent disability pensions.”
In part one, we have concluded the work undertaken by our predecessors in the last parliament, in reviewing the 1,141 regulations filed pursuant to the Regulations Act in 1980. Of these regulations, the committee found only 39 in some way irregular or warranting comment. We believe this speaks well for the public service officials who are involved in the preparation and processing of delegated legislation in the ministries and in the office of the registrar of regulations.
In part two, the committee has continued with its primary responsibility, the vetting of regulations, and through the excellent work of our counsel, L. R. MacTavish, QC, our review is current up to April 30, 1981.
Of the 264 regulations filed in the first four months of 1981, 13 were found to be irregular in some respect. The committee will continue to be as up to date as possible in reporting to the House on regulations as they are filed and published.
The committee has also addressed itself to a number of other matters, including access to regulations and their comprehensibility. Our comments in this regard are to be found in chapter eight of the report.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to permit the regional council to exempt any class or classes of shops in any designated part or parts of the regional area from any provisions of its store closing bylaw during a particular day or days of the year.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to give the Ontario Milk Marketing Board the authority to collect funding which they committed under the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corporation.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the proposed section 1 in this bill is to provide that the Legislature sit part of every month during the year instead of the current policy whereby it may sit continuously for four months in the spring, two months in the fall and be recessed or adjourned for the rest of the year.
The proposed section 2 declares that the designations “a member of the Legislative Assembly” or “MLA” are the official designations of persons elected to the Legislative Assembly. The intent is to have a designation conform more closely to designations used in other provinces and to eliminate confusion between the designations “MPP” and “MP.”
Section 2: The act now provides that certain classes of persons may vote by proxy. The effect of the proposed amendment will be to permit any person who is unable to vote because of his absence from his polling subdivision during the election period to vote by proxy.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I am a little puzzled. If a bill has already been introduced that has the same clause or purpose as one that is being introduced, is it in order? One section of that bill has already been introduced in this Legislature.
Section 1: The Employment Standards Act, 1974, is amended to prohibit an employer from including mandatory retirement below the age of 70 as a term or condition of a benefit plan offered to employees.
Section 4: The provision permits an employer to cause an employee to retire after attaining the age of 65 where, because of his state of health or other reasons, the employee is no longer able to perform his duties. An employee retiring under this provision would incur no penalty for early retirement.
On Thursday of last week I had intended to rise and bring to the attention of the House the birthday of a former member for Renfrew South. As a matter of fact, it was his 101st birthday but, because of the donnybrook that took place, I was unable to do so. Because of pressing events in my riding I was not able to do so on Friday or yesterday either.
I want to call to the attention of the House that on Thursday, June 10, Mr. Thomas P. Murray of Barry’s Bay, who served in this Legislature from October 30, 1929, until, I believe, June 16, 1945, celebrated his one hundred and first birthday quietly in his home in Barry’s Bay. He has made a significant contribution to his community and to this province, and I feel it should not go unrecognized. I understand that his grandson, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), celebrated last night by making a very commendable speech in this Legislature on the supply estimates.
Last week, this House also remembered the late Dr. Charles Best and Dr. Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin. That discovery was so phenomenal, so remarkable, that Mr. H. J. Chapeskie of Barry’s Bay, who came down with diabetes very severely around August 1932, found insulin, like others, and lived a healthy, active, productive life for 48 years until, I believe, February of this year. I thought that also should go on the record, because it is very significant.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day I have had question 92 in regard to public opinion polls on the Notice Paper since May 19, 1981. It is indicated that the approximate date on which information will be made available is mid-June 1981. Since this is hardly a surprise to the government, and in view of their commitment to freedom of information, I wonder when we are going to see these public opinion polls.
Mr. Martel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: May I ask the government House leader, in view of the fact that some 75 questions were supposed to be answered by mid-June and that, today being June 16, we have now passed that deadline, whether he intends to present a deluge of answers in the next two or three days to the approximately 75 questions awaiting response?
While I am at it, may I ask the government House leader about the government’s responses in oral question period as well? We are being told by various ministers that they will respond to questions down the road a little way, but in some instances a month and a half to two months go by and we are still awaiting the responses from those various ministers who indicated their intention to respond. I can think of four that I alone have raised with respect to labour, health, mining tax and so on, and I am still awaiting those responses.
I would hate to have to ask all my colleagues to put together the questions they have raised and to which they have not received responses. But I would ask the government House leader to look into the matter with his cabinet colleagues and start to produce some of those oral answers before we have a list equal in length to that now on the Order Paper for written questions.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend in regard to the last point he brought up that it really is the responsibility of the members who ask the questions to follow up and make sure they get answers. I can assure him that all my colleagues will diligently answer the questions.
I have no way of knowing whether they have mailed the members an answer, talked to them in the hall or in some other way answered the questions, and the members have privately said, “Yes, that’s fine, that answers our questions.”
I think as far as oral questions are concerned, I can say my colleagues will diligently answer them to the best of their ability and as quickly as possible, but the responsibility perhaps rests also with the member asking the question. If he does not feel he is getting the answer in time, he should rise in question period and ask the minister why he did not get the answer. As far as written questions are concerned, I will be happy to look into that particular matter and take it up with the people who compile the answers, because, here again, we very carefully attempt to have them done within the spirit of the standing orders of this House and have them answered in that manner.
Mr. Foulds: Surely if a minister in this House, in his answer to an oral question, makes a commitment to reply more fully, that is a commitment made to this Legislative Assembly as a whole and should be met without a private member having to use one of his further questions to extract that answer from the cabinet minister. I understand fully that a minister may or may not answer a question as he sees fit, but if he makes a commitment in this House to this Legislative Assembly to answer more fully, then he has an obligation, not only as a cabinet minister but as a member of this assembly, to answer that question fully before the House adjourns.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, this bill, as the minister has previously indicated, is going to stay the writs until December 31 of this year. Obviously we will be supporting the bill. It is, of course, partially in response to the Swadron report, which we have here and which is going to be debated at greater length in the future when the government has an opportunity to study the whole matter a little more thoroughly and come forth with recommendations with respect to the island community.
The 750 or 800 residents, or whatever number are there, are obviously looking forward to some kind of long-term permanent solution. Ever since this particular matter was turned over by the city of Toronto to Metropolitan Toronto back in 1956, there have been some eyebrows raised and questions asked with respect to the islands being turned over to Metro. There were a lot of people opposed to it in 1956, and it was because of the financial constraints of the city of Toronto that the islands were turned over to Metro.
The Swadron report has about 36 recommendations, a major one of which is the fact that the island community remains intact as it is now and that the city of Toronto has an important say in the management of the islands. Obviously the city of Toronto council’s thinking is much more attuned to that of the island residents than the thinking of Metro council. As you know, Mr. Speaker, Metro council has allocated $250,000 for a campaign to win support for making that island a park.
In this party we hope the island community will stay and I think the government has so indicated. The question is: What will the exact details of that be? The government has until December to make up its mind. I hope it is not going to leave it until the last minute as it did last year. Last year we dealt with this matter on November 14 and I think it was the next day the writs were supposed to be issued.
The government has the whole summer. It has had two or three months to study the report, which came out in mid-March. The government has an opportunity to study the report thoroughly, make its recommendations and bring in legislation in the fall so the final death knell can be dealt to those people who hope to remove all the residents from the island. Based on a number of surveys, I think the majority of residents in the city of Toronto and in Metropolitan Toronto support the continuation of the island community, as do we in this House.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak again on the Toronto Islands bill. I rise in support of Bill 103, An Act to amend the Toronto Islands Act, 1980, although all it does is extend the period during which the writs cannot be acted upon by Metropolitan Toronto until December 31, thus buying more time for the government.
This is a major development for us. When we had this legislation brought before us previously, we had only 24 hours before the writs were to be issued. This time, it is two weeks in advance and we can have a long, leisurely debate on extending this period of time. I think that is a positive move by the government.
The most disappointing thing is we do not have the legislation in front of us today that would bring the final lasting solution for the islanders -- or at least the 25-year solution that Mr. Swadron recommended -- and we would have this issue out of the way once and for all. Instead, we have it hanging over our heads and, more importantly, over the heads of the islanders for another few months. There is a series of questions before those people which must make them feel a little uncertain about their futures.
I would like to go back to the initial bills brought in by the government to put this into context. The initial bills were essentially bills of attrition. They did not accept the concept that the community should stay, but instead talked about the individual citizens who lived there and talked about those citizens, as individuals, being able to stay.
These bills were persisted with right up to the last minute and there was great confrontation in the House, even though it was understood that was totally unacceptable to the islanders. It was also unacceptable to the opposition, which at that time was in the majority compared to the governing party.
There was great reluctance because of a large and deep division in the Tory ranks about the future of the islanders. The present Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) and the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) championed the rights of the islanders. There were a number of others who were just as adamantly opposed to the islanders. The Speaker is shaking his head, wanting to dissociate himself from any of them; however, that was a large group. The minister was caught in the middle trying to find the attrition route as his way out.
Up to the last minute on November 14, when the writs were to be issued the next day, the minister was speaking about three alternatives, two of which were not real alternatives at all. The only alternative was to extend the writs until the Swadron report was brought down. The minister did not do that until the last minute. Then there were delays following Mr. Swadron’s report.
Mr. Swadron and I had the pleasure of sitting together on the way back from Thunder Bay the other day. He alleged that he wished to talk to me about any number of the myriad items upon which I can converse with great lucidity, as you can well presume, but by the end of the trip it was quite clear what he was really interested in knowing: how had I received a copy of his report in advance of everybody else in Ontario. That was really the meaning of it.
We waited two and a half to three months from the time of his report being completed and put into the hands of the minister to its release in the House. Yet, in the speeches made in the House, there was a request made of the minister that he not delay, that he come through with recommendations and that we have a chance to debate it before an election, and if not before an election, at least well before the writs would come due this July. Instead, what we have run into is just another prolongation, a bill which prolongs the time in which the sheriff can act, and nothing which guarantees the position of the islanders.
I would like to compliment Mr. Swadron on his report, both the version I saw earlier and that which has now been given to all members. I recommend it to all members for reading. It is probably the best written report I have read in my limited time here in the Legislature, considering the hurried fashion and the constraints he was under. Pressure Island chronicles the history of the islanders and their problems better than any of the major debates I have heard on the issue, whether at the Metropolitan Toronto level or here in the House. I will not go back into that but I urge all members to read it to try to understand that issue.
I leaked the recommendations of that document during the election because I wanted to make sure we did not get to the situation, which did occur, of a majority government. I did not stop the election of a majority government, but by leaking that information I did cause the government to make a statement of intent about the Toronto Islands before the election was over, so that it would feel constrained and committed to a certain course of action no matter what the result of that election.
I believe we gained something towards that end because of that release. The minister indicated in a press conference upon the official release of the document that the essence of the report would be implemented. He never allowed himself to be more specific than that, but he did state that the government would now accept the essence of the report. That is a substantial move away from the old attrition view, because there is nothing in that report which indicates that attrition is acceptable. That has been a cause of great hope for the islanders and those of us who have been fighting on their side.
There is, though, still a great concern. Here we are sitting and talking about a bill that extends the issuance of the writs but does not let us know what the government is actually going to do. It does not give us any inkling at all as to what the government’s formal legislation which is going out for public hearing is going to touch upon. That is a major concern to myself and to many islanders.
Does the government mean that by accepting the essence of the report it accepts the bulk of the 36 recommendations that come at the end of that report? Is that what we are to understand? If that is the case, then we can all revel in the fact that legislation is just a little difficult to come forward with but it will be coming with that kind of thing in it. Or is the government going to start to limit its interpretation of what is the essence of Swadron? And if it does so, will it be jeopardizing the life of that community? That is the concern raised by many at the moment.
There are four or five major items in that report which I would consider to be the essence, and I would be interested in hearing in the minister’s summary his comments on any of these particular items. One was the lease, the lease going for 25 years, to 2005 or whatever. That acceptance of a long-term lease, the ability of the community to stay, is an important principle within the Swadron recommendations. Has that been absolutely accepted?
I think the concept of no profiteering is vital. The people who have been living as owners on the island for some time are now going to be tenants and are not going to be able to sell their property for profit during the course of this lease agreement. I think that is vital in terms of the concerns of the broader community which does not want to see a lot of small-time speculation going on and the development of a ritzy little area on the island.
The cost of upgrading the buildings is another important component of what Swadron was talking about. In connection with that there is the possibility of relocating homes which are in flood danger areas. Moving those to a more confined area of the community as he lays it out is also an important principle we would want to see as part of the essence of the Swadron report.
There is also the notion of preference in terms of who may be a tenant. I think the concept he came forward with is very just -- that is, that people who are resident there now would be given preference. The absentee landlords, those who have moved from the island in the last number of years but maintain ownership and sublet, have a secondary right, not a primary one, to residency on the island. Has that principle been accepted and will it be coming forward in the legislation?
The other vital thing he talked about, in my view, is the upgrading of the general facilities on the island. He spoke of the responsibility of the city of Toronto, in conjunction with Metropolitan Toronto, to pick up the cost of improved sanitation, sidewalks, lighting, et cetera; that is mentioned in his report.
In my view that would comprise the essence of the Swadron report. If that is what the minister is talking about in terms of the essence of the Swadron report then I am glad to wait and see what the government comes forward with.
I welcome the notion of public hearings, and I would raise a couple of matters. The member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) just raised the issue of the motion by the Metropolitan Toronto government to spend $250,000 to bring forward its case in terms of the need for park land over there.
My concern is that these people refused to participate in the Swadron hearings. That was an opportunity for them to have presented their case. Now they are going to come forward at a time when we would be holding public hearings on some specific legislation and propagandize -- to a fairly large degree with that amount of money -- the people of Toronto to try to swing public opinion against it. I think that is a very negative thing to have happen at a time when these hearings would be going on.
I know the vitriolic side of that council in a very personal way. It passed a three-stage motion. The first was to condemn the proposed legislation. The second was to have $250,000 worth of propaganda and third was basically to investigate the cause of the leak of the document.
They asked the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate how that leak ever occurred -- how Johnston ever got hold of this information. They did this in a horrible, small-minded, petty way to try to find some kind of scapegoat. Their rationale behind this was that it was just shocking to have what they considered a cabinet document being leaked. These are people, of course, who have no responsibility to cabinet. The cabinet, as I understand it, exists here at the Legislature and not at Metropolitan Toronto council. Yet they were able to request the provincial police to come and investigate it.
The provincial police did not find themselves able to investigate. It was not in their area of jurisdiction. So they notified their boss, the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry). The motion read specifically that the OPP investigate, but the Solicitor General decided not just to send back the motion saying it was inappropriate -- and maybe with no extra comments about the petty, small-mindedness of it -- but that it was something worth looking into. He sent it down to the Metropolitan Toronto Police who then put two policemen on the case. For a number of weeks they went around talking to Mr. Swadron, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), to myself, to CITY-TV, to anybody they could, about just where this leak had taken place. Finally, after great cost to the taxpayer, they determined there was nothing to be discovered, and there were no major conclusions to their report at all.
This is the nature of that council and its view. So as we come forward to have a public hearing on this matter, and legislation that hopefully will be bringing forward the essence of the Swadron report, we are going to have this council doing everything in its power to try to turn public opinion against us. I think that is an unfortunate thing and would hope there would be some action taken.
I would hope, just in conclusion -- so I do not repeat myself too much at this point -- that the minister in summing up will respond to what he considers to be the essence of the Swadron report, and will explain what he considers the major principles that will be embodied in the bill.
I know he says he has had difficulty in drafting this bill and that is the reason we have not seen it at this point, but if at least he could tell us the principles that will be embodied, we will have some idea before this particular bill is passed as to whether or not we can feel pretty secure that the battle against the forces that wish to get rid of the island homes will be successful, or whether we are going in on shaky ground against a very determined opposition in Metro council.
Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the essential nature of Bill 103. As all of us know, the fight for the Toronto Islands has been going on for a long time. The reason Metro council has used the basic argument of instability of the houses on the islands was to discourage repairs. They say the houses are really in a very detrimental condition, and if nothing is done fairly soon these houses will fall down of their own accord. That is one of the basic arguments that was being used on the Metro scene. We find that argument is being used against the islanders for a very specific reason, because that would, in turn, discourage any repairs. It would discourage anyone from spending extra money to build up the sewer system, or to build up the quality of their home.
By introducing the essential instability framework for the islands, Metro council was able to produce a psychology on the islanders that was not in tune with fixing up one’s home. That strategy was fairly effective. When one goes to the island, one finds some of these homes are really in a great state of disrepair.
I would indicate the reason for that is fairly simple to understand. The islanders were almost ready on a daily basis to vacate their premises. In fact, they had been asked to vacate by some of the sheriffs who had been sent over by Metro council to take possession of these homes. It is small wonder then that some of these homes were not being repaired, and that this kind of a strategy had actually worked to the detriment of that.
The point I am trying to raise here is simple, and that is that some of the members on the Metro council scene have really been misinformed. For instance, it was indicated on Metro council while I was still present that the sewer systems were totally inadequate in that they are actually below the level of the water. Consequently, there would be backup into their homes, and that was not very healthy. The health inspectors were sent to the island homes to determine the state of that.
The other reason being utilized by Metro council was that we need an increase in the size of the park. They said Metropolitan Toronto needs to be in a position to have all kinds of people go to the island and use it as park space. When we look at the facts of the matter we find that we have sufficient park space on the islands, and that the park space is underutilized at present. The argument about getting in there and cleaning out the island homes and making it into open space for other Metro residents is not a fair argument, simply because we have statistics that prove there is plenty of room for any Metro resident over there at any time.
The other point I wanted to make is that I think it is a very good idea for the island residents to stay because it simply means there is a built-in effect against any further commercial expansion. I think that idea is very important to understand. If Metro council, for instance, wanted to expand the island airport and introduce a new type of jet to fly in, there would simply be no person, no organized group, no one there to say, “Your expansion of the airport would indeed bother us because we live in the area.” I indicate we should keep that in mind, that the essential nature of the islands as they are now could be maintained by the presence of these islanders. If we remove them, we have removed the main bulwark and the main argument against an expansion of the commercial enterprise of the island airport.
As a citizen of the city of Toronto, having also served on the city council, I would find that a good argument against the expansion to a bigger service than the one we agree on now -- we have agreed to permit the Dash-7 to go in there. The basic fear on the part of the city of Toronto council has been that permission being granted for that particular aircraft was the thin edge of the wedge and that once we permit those kinds of airplanes to go in there it automatically means we are permitting a greater use and a commercial expansion of the island airport. Let us not underestimate the fact that the island community in this case would be the major organized community which would stop an expanded airport. I think that is very important and the reason why we should move as soon as possible to pass this legislation.
The other point I wanted to make is that if the island community goes we would not have sufficient police protection to look at and examine all the activity -- and there has been incident after incident -- that went on there in the summertime and in the wintertime. By the very existence of the island homes and the islanders being there in many cases -- and this can be documented -- life-saving situations have occurred. The islanders, in walking across the island to get to their homes and just being around in the neighbourhood, their physical presence, have been responsible for some saving of life that has already taken place there. So really one of the other advantages we are receiving by the very fact of the island community being there is free protection, and it does not cost us a cent to help to maintain not only the quality of the island but also its beauty. We almost had a police force over there looking at the preservation of the quality of life and I think that is another fairly important aspect to consider.
Mention has already been made by two honourable members here that $250,000 has been set aside to campaign against the recommendations in the Swadron report. Let me say that we are unequivocally the final arbitrators of the split and the arguments between Metropolitan Toronto and the city of Toronto. Where else can they go? There simply is not a higher political authority than this government and the cabinet, supported in this case I am sure by all members of the House. Consequently, we should realize our role in this endeavour, that we have a very important responsibility to ensure that the island community can stay. Metro Toronto and the city of Toronto will have to come to us and we are now making a decision that the island community should stay. I think that is a great idea.
In conclusion, we should move quickly and as soon as possible on the essential nature of these recommendations. I am positive that when we do we will see a significant increase in the quality of the houses there and in the quality of the physical nature of not only the island homes but of the surrounding area.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly about the bill. I had the opportunity to read at leisure shortly after the election the report on the islands and the problems that are involved in the solution of the difficult question that was placed before the commissioner.
I want to compliment the commissioner and his staff for what I think is not only a very readable but also brilliant exposition of the state of the islands at the present time. Apart from the immediate problem it had to address, it will certainly be a reference work for some time to come. I found it fascinating from the point of view of the history that was outlined in the report of all of the interests, competing and otherwise, that are involved in the use of the islands and the way in which the islands fit into the city and Metropolitan Toronto in particular, as well as other areas surrounding this part of the world.
I have little, if any, sympathy for the Metropolitan Toronto council. At the time this commission was appointed to deal with the matter, Metro Toronto council felt it should not be handled by a commission but that the writs of eviction should proceed.
At the very time that was taking place and the government decided to appoint the commission, one finds in the body of the report what the Metropolitan Toronto council was doing in June, July, August and September of 1980. It was extending the leases or granting new leases to the three private yacht clubs for an acreage which exceeds the acreage occupied by the islanders. If anybody talks about an Achilles’ heel in the position of Metropolitan Toronto, that is it.
Whatever sympathy one might have for the ideal position that the Toronto Islands should be devoted solely and exclusively to park purposes disappeared when the integrity of the Metropolitan Toronto council disappeared in September 1980 after it approved the grant of 25-year leases to the three private yacht clubs.
As the report very clearly states, you and I are not entitled to walk on the lands of those yacht clubs; you and I are trespassers if we go near those yacht clubs. That is not true of the island community. In the island community, the rights of the individual persons to their own homes is certainly private, but access in and out through the boardwalks, the sidewalks and the other areas of access to the community is available to any citizen who wants to make use of it.
I cannot understand the way in which Metro council has dealt with this matter. As has been mentioned, it now is prepared to spend several thousand dollars to subvert the work of the commissioner in trying to reach a solution to the problem. The integrity of Metro council on this issue has simply disappeared.
I want to speak about one major problem, as I see it. I am going to assume that, as my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) has said and as the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) has said, the gut substance of the recommendations of the commissioner will be accepted. I am going to make that assumption; it is a dangerous assumption, but I am going to take whatever I could read of the minister’s statements from time to time as indicating that, yes, the islanders’ community will be retained in the position where it now is, as delineated by the commissioner, and it will be under the intricate legal arrangements for a 25-year period.
What distressed me was the avenue that it led, if this assembly is not careful, to an attrition program by default, either an attrition program by default or a program which will result in many of the present islanders not being able to remain in the island homes. I want to try to draw attention to it. I will stand to be corrected in my understanding of the report if the matter is covered, but it is very clearly an omission on the part of the commissioner or perhaps either an oversight or a matter to which he would like to address his attention. If he does not, I want the minister to know that when the bill comes to us in the fall for consideration to implement it, I want the matter to be covered.
What we are interested in is protecting the people who have, subject to all of this fighting, the first right to get the subleases from the city of Toronto with respect to their island homes. Those are the people I am talking about. Over a period of time I would hope, subject to the usual mobility in an area such as this, that those are the people who will be protected in their tenure. I understand the problem the commissioner has stressed and I accept the position he has taken of the necessity of not providing a windfall benefit to the island people simply by the grant of leases subject to a right to assign.
At page 559, I think it is, of his report when he is dealing with this question, he indicates quite clearly that we cannot, by the mere granting of a lease, create a valuable asset in the hands of the tenants of the property. I accept that. I also accept as a lawyer that one must preclude that salable value or usable value or incremental value that would fall to the tenants by prohibiting assignments. I can well understand there must be some flexibility with respect to occasional consents to sublease where the actual tenant is going to be away for a short period of time.
Let me also say I accept the proposition that to the extent the tenant has had to bring the property up to minimal standards over the years, and then, as is forecast in the report, up to the general standards required by the bylaws of the city of Toronto, on surrender of the lease the tenant would be entitled to proper recompense for the improvements that have been made to it. I accept all of those principles as set out by the commissioner. But if one looks at page 500 of the report and the few pages surrounding that, we get some sense of the immense financial outlay that members of that community are going to be faced with in order to bring their homes up to the standards which are required.
In an endeavour to focus attention on the point which I think has to be addressed by the government in preparing the bill, let me just quote from page 500 of the report: “Repair costs to bring all homes in compliance with housing bylaw 1973 number 68 were estimated at $1,728,558. Costs to comply with health and safety matters alone were estimated at $354,849.”
“The average cost for complying with housing standards at Ward’s is an amount over $8,000, and on Algonquin over $5,000. Average cost to comply with health and safety regulations at Ward’s is almost $2,000, and on Algonquin just over $900. The range for bylaw compliance at Ward’s Island is from about $250 to over $18,000; the parallel range on Algonquin is from $135 to about $19,000. These figures give one an indication of just how expensive it would be to bring the premises into compliance with minimum housing standards. The costs of rehabilitating a residence beyond minimal standards would be even more expensive.”
It goes on to elaborate to some extent on that question. It then deals with the question of the cost to be borne if a proper sewage system is installed. The additional connection charge for that is estimated to be $600; it is the same if a proper water system is installed.
So there are very significant costs to be borne by the tenants on the island to bring their properties up to the standard that will be required. I recognize clearly that the commissioner foresaw that it would be done in a staged process so they would not be expected to do everything at once. But the minimum health and safety standards would have to be met, and then the general standards would have to be met; and those costs would have to be borne by the tenants themselves.
But there is no way, according to this report, that a tenant can have the assistance of his lease for the purpose of financing those costs. I do not know how one would do it; I do not know how one would arrange it. But it does seem to me unreasonable to expect any tenant on that island to look to, say, an average expense of approximately $10,000 to be able to go and either borrow it or have the benefit of $10,000 in order to bring the property up to those standards, unless in some way he can bank the lease. There may be other ways to deal with it, but for most of the people on the island, as I understand it from reading the report, that means in substance they will not be able to stay there even though they have the benefit of a sublease from the city for a 25-year period.
I think that question simply has to be addressed. If not, then one can see what will happen: either the leases will be surrendered by the present tenants and the city of Toronto will sublet them on some basis to various other people -- and there is no indication whatsoever that it is going to be done in such a way as to provide low-cost housing for the tenants who will remain on the island; or there will be a gradual surrender of leases to the city, and, in a way, attrition will take place.
I think that is a gap in the report. It is not a criticism of the report; it is simply to point out to the minister that when they are giving consideration to the kind of bill we will deal with in the fall, this matter has to be addressed. How in this day and age are the present tenants on the island going to finance the costs of bringing those properties up to the standard which the commissioner foresaw and which is a very reasonable and proper objective?
Is the province going to provide funds through the city of Toronto by way of reasonably low-cost loans or otherwise to the tenants? What is the vehicle by which the money can come to the tenants? I would guarantee that very few of the tenants on the island at the present time could walk into a bank, even if they could afford to pay the interest rate, and simply get an open loan for the amount that would be required without being asked the basic and fundamental question, “Where is the security?” If the program set out in this report is accepted, the tenant would reply, “I am sorry, I cannot give you by way of assignment my sublease of the premises as security for the repayment of the moneys.”
I am not suggesting how it should be done. I do not have the imagination to put forward all the alternatives or to suggest what they should be. I want the minister to clearly understand that particular problem must be addressed in a satisfactory way. The purpose and intent of the commissioner’s report was to secure the tenure of the people now on the island, subject to the usual mobility of life in this particular area. People do move around, they change their wishes, and they will not always be on the island simply because they are now tenants.
I want to point out to the minister that if this report is implemented not a single tenant now entitled to obtain a lease on his home for the 25-year period should be subject to the kind of pressure that says he has no alternative but to surrender his lease because he cannot get the dollars at a reasonable cost to permit him to upgrade the property over a period of time to the standards required.
I trust I have made my position and the concern I have about the report very clear. I wanted to signal it very clearly to the government, because without that kind of provision in the new bill or without some kind of solution to that problem we will only have the mythology that everybody on the island has a 25-year lease and is secure in their tenure in the usual way. We will find one of two things: either a substantial attrition over a period of time or a substantial change in the nature of the community on the island. I do not think the fight that has gone on about the island homes was for the purpose of creating a particular enclave of well-to-do people who would be acceptable tenants for those homes because they could afford the cost of upgrading. That was not the intention or the purpose.
There is one indication in the report of an avenue through which this can be accomplished. It is the reference to the Toronto Islands’ co-operative. In my judgement, if all the properties -- in the intricacies of land tenure -- could be sublet by the city to the co-operative under suitable and satisfactory terms, it may be possible to turn the island community into a model co-operative where all these problems could be resolved with proper assistance from the government. I do not think the city need bear all the costs. With proper assistance from the city, from Metro -- if it is decreed by this assembly that Metro should participate -- and failing that, from this government, some of those financing problems can be solved.
I want the minister to understand the fundamental and basic concerns I have about the report. I close as I opened, by complimenting the commissioner and his staff on the excellence and readability of the report.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members for their contribution to this debate. This is a very short and simple bill. It extends the deadline for preventing the serving of the writs that are outstanding against those homes now on the island.
As I explained when I introduced the bill, the reason for this is so that we can have more time to draft it and carry out the complete discussions necessary to bring forward a proper bill which will carry out the announced intention of the government. That has been enunciated by several members in this debate: that is, to implement the essence of the Swadron report, which is that a community on the Toronto Islands should be continued.
But that is only half of what I said at the time. I said, and I am quoting again from my statement, the essence of the report is that a community on the Toronto Islands should be continued and those who are resident in that community should pay their way. That is an integral part of the policy this government announced concerning the Toronto Islands. We believe in a residential community on the islands. We believe that on Algonquin and Ward’s islands a residential community should remain. We believe those people living there should have certain preferences and precedence. We believe the city of Toronto should handle the leasing and arrangements with those residents rather than Metro. But we also fully believe those people living in that community should pay their way.
I believe the bill I will be bringing in later this year will fulfil that statement of policy I enunciated. It will provide for leases for 25 years. It will prohibit profiteering. It will provide for upgrading of the buildings and the general facilities. The whole matter of who will get preference is one of those delicate things still to be decided. I cannot tell my friend now how the bill will read in that regard because that is one of the areas that will have to be straightened out. It must be worded very carefully. That is one of the sections that caused us to delay a little in bringing in the final bill.
It is my intention to get a draft ready. I will not bring it into this House for first reading, but probably make it available to members of this House, certainly to Metropolitan Toronto and the city of Toronto people and the island people so that we can have some discussion and meetings with various groups over the summer. By the time the House reassembles, we will have had our discussions, we will have input and we should have a final bill pretty well in place.
I think I said publicly when I brought this bill in for first reading that it has already been seen by the legal departments of both Metropolitan Toronto and the city of Toronto and we have had some input from them. We will continue that process because there are a number of legal things connected with the bill which must be addressed. We feel this can best be done working together with the lawyers for both those municipal corporations.
As other members have said, I would certainly criticize very strongly the intention of Metropolitan Toronto to use public funds to fight this legislation. I think it is an atrocious thing to do. I have said that before and will continue to say that. The use of moneys for some kind of an advertising campaign is completely unnecessary and uncalled for. I hope they will reconsider in the spirit we offer of letting them work to develop this bill.
The other thing which makes us very cautious in drafting this bill is the threat -- I do not know whether threat is a good word to use -- the indication of prolonged court action once the bill is passed. This leads us to want to be sure the bill is drafted in a way that is, I guess to use a nonlegal but vernacular term, airtight, if such can ever be. I am not sure that such can ever be, but that is what we are trying to do. We want to be sure that we are able to draft a bill that will not end up being the subject of court battles for the next five or six years.
In so far as the comments raised by the member for Riverdale are concerned, I must tell him that it certainly is not the intention of this government to provide any funds, low interest loans or funds of any kind to those people living on the islands to help them upgrade the premises. I do not think that was ever considered, and I cannot conceive of us considering any arrangement in that regard. It would certainly be my opinion that if anything is to be provided in the way of assistance for people who have to meet certain standards that assistance should be provided by the city of Toronto and that they should work out some kind of plan for the residents since they will be the ones who will be arranging the leases. Certainly, that would be our comment to the city of Toronto.
I just want to make it abundantly clear that we have no plans, and indeed I would not foresee any arrangement that would provide in this bill, or any other arrangement that would provide some kind of financial help for those people who are living on the islands in order that they can fulfil certain standards that they might be required to fulfil or, indeed as they will be required, to pay certain back taxes and back bills that are outstanding. I think they are going to have to make those arrangements themselves, or with the city of Toronto. I believe that is the proper way it should be handled.
Mr. Andrewes: Mr. Speaker, I have some opening comments. This bill amends the Power Corporation Act and the Public Utilities Act. As a result of this legislation, Ontario Hydro and the municipal hydro utilities will be able to carry out an energy conservation program as defined in the bill.
Specifically, Ontario Hydro will be authorized to carry out an energy conservation program in its rural service area, and make loans to its own customers and to customers of the municipal utilities for the purposes of the program. The bill also provides the authority for each municipal hydro utility to undertake or participate in an energy conservation program in its community, and to act as an agent for Ontario Hydro in making loans for carrying out the purposes of the program.
Ontario Hydro’s residential energy advisory program, which would be implemented in accordance with the provisions of the bill, includes an assessment of insulation and weatherization of homes, an assessment of the electrical wiring system, an assessment of the home heating system and loans of up to $2,000 to carry out the recommended work. After the work is done, a follow-up inspection will be made to ensure that the customer will obtain proper performance from changes made in his home.
A second purpose of the bill is to enable Ontario Hydro to supply and sell steam and hot water as primary products on a similar basis to the production of electrical power. Ontario Hydro’s thermal stations, both nuclear and fossil fired, produce great quantities of steam for use in the generation of electric power. This steam, particularly from nuclear stations, is produced at an attractive cost relative to alternative steam sources and therefore can contribute to industrial development near these stations.
The first major instance where this new authority will be used will be the Bruce energy centre. This major industrial development, outlined in the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development document, will rely on the provision of relatively inexpensive and inflation resistant steam from the Bruce nuclear power development. Ontario Hydro proposes to enter into an agreement with the Ontario Energy Corporation for the provision of steam once this bill has been approved so that steam will be available in the energy centre by the fall of 1982.
One other aspect of this part of the bill clarifies that Ontario Hydro’s research and development function includes activities dealing with any source of energy, such as heat, solar, fusion or hydrogen, and not just electricity. These amendments are necessary in order for Ontario Hydro to carry out important parts of the government’s BILD program. I believe this important legislation deserves the support of all members of this House.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to divide this bill into two major areas -- one connected with the energy conservation program as it applies to Ontario Hydro and the other connected with the amendments to facilitate the sale of steam and hot water from what will initially be the Bruce nuclear plant. I would like to deal with that section first.
Would the honourable member who is carrying the bill in place of the minister, who is absent today, say what necessitates an amendment to the Power Corporation Act to allow Hydro to do this? Let me refer to section 1 of the Power Commission Act of 1970, which as far as I know has not been amended. It identifies the word “power” in clause (f) -- and I will quote from the Act, “(f) ‘power’ includes electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, nuclear, steam, gas or other power and also includes energy.”
Every one of us in this Legislature is keenly interested in the utilization of the waste heat from all the thermal plants in the electric power system. One would, at first glance, look at this part of the bill and say that is fine, this is all necessary and good -- apple pie and motherhood and so on. But I wonder if the honourable member could please explain why it is necessary in the first place, since Hydro is given, through the Power Commission Act, the power to do whatever it wants.
The only thing one can ascertain in this part of the bill is that maybe it reduces some of the necessity of having the approval of the Lieutenant Governor. But even there, section 4 of these amendments says, “58d. The Corporation, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, may...” So I really believe there has to be a tremendous amount of clarification. The government should be in a position to justify the apparent need to have these amendments at all.
I am also concerned that these amendments would add a certain amount of exclusivity to the sale of energy -- that is, if Hydro does not already have exclusivity over the sale of energy in Ontario. It might prohibit free enterprise transactions involving heat energy in the future, as it does at the present time with electrical energy.
Ontario Hydro has exclusivity over the sale of electrical power in Ontario at the present time. While an individual may generate power for his or her own use subject to inspection by Ontario Hydro, it specifically gives Hydro the mandate to sell power to the exclusion of all others. The Power Commission Act says the commission may take and acquire one’s holdings if one has a generating plant. It may do whatever it jolly well pleases.
I ask again why we are dealing with these amendments at all. What is the purpose of them? I give notice to this House that we will be interested in the comments of the honourable member to ascertain how we in this party deal with this bill.
We would like to support the idea of utilizing waste heat and raising the efficiency of the electric power system and any other generating systems that ultimately can be classified as cogenerators. We support that and as a matter of fact the transcripts of the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs will show, I believe, that we were one of the initiators of that concept. We need some answers before we can proceed with approval.
The other section of this act is the one which concerns this party deeply. I am sure it concerns members of the opposition and it should concern members on the government side as well. While these amendments are cloaked in the guise of energy conservation, what they are really and truly doing is providing the means for Ontario Hydro to enter into a promotional war with other utilities. I want to read from a few parts of this bill to underline our deep concern.
First, section 3 of the bill says, “An energy conservation program may provide information, advice and inspection services in respect to the use of all forms of energy and may include but is not limited to...” et cetera.,
This constructs a mechanism for going in, doing an assessment on a home and telling them if they put in baseboard heaters or whatever it happens to be they are going to get a loan. They will not have any moneys available to them to make the right decision -- which might not be electrical energy in a particular instance. It might be propane for all we know. It might be a wood burner. It might be something else entirely.
My party has said all along, and I believe the former energy critic of the New Democratic Party has said all along, this kind of thing that involves energy auditing and so on should be under the purview of an independent body and not Ontario Hydro. Only through an independent view can one get a true judgement call on energy conservation and energy efficiency that really reflects the highest end use of the energy forms that are available and the costs of those energy forms to the people of the province.
One wonders why the medium of the long-promised renewable energy corporation might not be used for this energy conservation program rather than Ontario Hydro. Why could it not serve for the creation of an energy conservation corporation or some such medium that will lend an air of objectivity to what is being proposed here?
It does not take anybody with a crystal ball to see that the response is going to be a promotional war between the electric power utility and the other utilities in the business of supplying the people of Ontario. It is a great setup, this free energy audit: they will come into people’s homes and do an energy audit and will tell them how to upgrade using their product.
It is an old sales gimmick. For any of us who have been in the sales business it is an old tool. We are going to provide them with a service and here is our product. This is a matter of deep concern, because the way it is being proposed here through the Power Corporation Act removes any semblance of objectivity. I cannot really find any reason why we should support a bill giving Ontario Hydro this sort of authorization.
As I said at the outset of this debate, Ontario Hydro’s mandate is pretty complete as it is now. Why would we want to do this? What we are doing is creating a mechanism for forcing electric power on to the consumers of Ontario. It is not honest, it is not objective and it is really not going to serve anybody’s interests whatsoever to do it.
If we were to succeed in having some mass changeover to the use of resistance electric heating, we would create an even less efficient system from the standpoint of the utilization of electric power than we have at the present time because we still have not introduced the complement that is necessary. If one is using electric heat, the natural complement is to be able to use that electricity for some other purpose during the months that we do not use electric heat or during the hours that we do not.
It has been calculated that any committed generator for electric heating purposes only runs about one-seventh of the time. So one’s actual capital investment is much larger, specific to electric heat, than it is for other end uses.
If we are going to look at what this bill is going to do in the future, it would be unfortunate if it were to pass in the condition it is in at the present time. I wonder if the people who are out doing the energy audits and objective assessments of what the householder will need will bring some of that information to the citizens. I rather think not. I really doubt that anybody who has a self-interest to protect can be totally objective.
In this situation, if we are going to deal with conservation, let us make conservation the self-interest. That is why it is necessary to use a medium that is devoted to energy conservation. That way the true value of the conservation ethic, if I may call it that, will be able to be presented. I cannot see it happening through this bill.
This part of the bill is specific in that it limits this whole thing to electrical energy. That is a shame, at least in terms of the way the money is to be loaned. The householder is not going to get a loan here for the use of gas, and yet we are going to come in and do what is supposed to be an objective analysis of the need. I just cannot see how that will work.
I would like to put the government on notice that my party will be bringing forward an amendment to this bill to delete those sections dealing with the energy conservation program through Hydro, making it quite clear in this debate here and now on the so-called principle of this bill, that we believe if true conservation is to be pursued it has to be pursued independently. It has to be pursued objectively. It cannot be pursued under the aegis of Ontario Hydro. I understand we have more personnel in the public relations and advertising division of Ontario Hydro than we have in the conservation division right now. This can only get worse. It cannot do anything to promote true conservation in Ontario.
I regret that I may be perceived at some future time as being opposed to conservation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past almost six years in this House I have been a continuous and outspoken spokesman for true energy conservation, both quantitative and qualitative. We have not touched qualitative conservation in Ontario. We pay some attention to quantitative -- that is, using less -- but we are not paying any attention at this point to qualitative conservation, that is, utilizing the energies available to their highest end use.
If we bring in this bill as it stands and Hydro becomes the arbiter, any approach to qualitative conservation might well be forgotten. We know the self-interest that is naturally there will not allow it to happen. Therefore we are going to move an amendment in committee to delete that portion. If the government would choose to rewrite the bill and perhaps introduce it as two bills, then with some questioning and clarification we might be able to support the part that talks about the sale of heat, even if it is redundant. We wonder at this point if it is not redundant. But this other part, in my view, has to be opposed unless we take it out of the aegis of Ontario Hydro and put it into an independent, objective body.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to make some comments about keeping the promise, particularly since it was the NDP that promised to warm up Ontario, a campaign proposal that was eventually adopted by the government and is being implemented in the bill here today. Before I comment on that, I want to talk for a moment about the energy centre in the Bruce, which is also a subject of this bill, and about the rather insidious misuse of Ontario Hydro and the Ontario Energy Corporation which the Conservatives were guilty of during the course of the election campaign.
During the course of the election campaign the Premier (Mr. Davis), the local Conservative candidates, senior officials of the Ontario Energy Corporation and of Ontario Hydro all trooped up -- great public expense was involved -- to the Bruce during the campaign so that the Premier could make an announcement about the energy centre. I have here the brochure that was distributed at that time. Beautiful multicolour documents came out. Ontario Hydro, the Ontario government and the Ontario Energy Corporation are all given great billing. The Premier made a long speech, which was distributed under his seal as Premier of Ontario, and it was in fact a campaign event for the Conservative Party in the election campaign.
I took the liberty of writing to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) -- and I am sorry that he is not here in the House right now. It seemed to me, as somebody who is a taxpayer in the province and has some regard for propriety in these things, that if Hydro, which is a public corporation, and the energy corporation, which was involved as well, were lending their services to the Conservative campaign, at the very least the Conservative Party would have paid for those services, just as I assume the New Democrat would be expected to pay for a similar kind of show.
I asked if I could have a figure on the expenditures by Hydro and the energy corporation. I suggested that maybe the Conservative Party should plan to reimburse the province or Hydro for these expenditures in view of the electoral use the party made of them on this occasion. I asked the minister, in case he should decide to do so, how much he would reimburse.
The minister’s letter did not happen to be so frank as all that. I regret to say that, with all his regard for truth in government and for appearing to be without blemish, the Minister of Energy did not even mention that question in his reply. He said, “Neither the Minister of Energy nor any other minister was involved in the announcement.” He thus ignored the Minister of Energy’s responsibility for those public corporations, the Ontario Energy Corporation and Ontario Hydro, for which the government -- the Conservative Party -- is certainly never loath to claim credit.
He pointed out that the energy corporation fulfilled technical and public relations functions and then got paid by the participants in the agripark for doing that. Then he said, “Events that draw attention to the progress of the Bruce energy centre are eagerly sought.” He said, The decision to launch the energy centre was regarded by the charter members, private and public sector, as being important to highlight the significance of this development in the community. Elected officials and senior corporate executives who were present lent to the event the public recognition it deserves.”
He does not comment on my point that there were not only elected officials there but also a number of officials who hoped to be elected, including the Conservative candidates from the area but not including the Liberal or New Democratic candidates from the area. They somehow would not lend the right tone to that event. Then the minister says, “The costs incurred by Ontario Hydro were no more and no less than those which it provides to any recognized public group interested in the Bruce nuclear power development.”
That is very interesting to me as well. The member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) was a member of the election planning committee as well, but I do not recall any invitation to the New Democrats to see whether we would like to come along and perhaps either grace this opening or have a similar event with a similar attendance of the top brass of the energy corporation and of Hydro and so on.
The member for Middlesex (Mr. Eaton) laughs a bit. I am just suggesting that the letter clearly indicates that this was open to everybody, but that somehow they forgot to make the phone call to the Liberals or the New Democrats to suggest that we might want to participate as well.
The fact is this whole thing is a sham. Ontario Hydro and the Ontario Energy Corporation were being shamelessly politicized for the interests of the Conservative Party in its re-election campaign. As evidence of that I would point out that a meeting was taking place at the same time in Thunder Bay which was sponsored by private groups -- not political groups but interest groups -- who were concerned about the ecology of the northwest and the misuse of provincial parks and public crown land in the area. They were trying to get public dialogue over the strategic land use planning of the Ministry of Natural Resources. The minister is here at this time. The minister smiles because he knows how far out of court his ministry was at that time.
They called the ministry’s local office and said, “Would you please send an official to discuss it with us.” Obviously the officials, in the case of the Ministry of Energy and its crown corporation, were not loath to come to meetings because they all showed up at the Bruce; however, in this instance they got a call back saying, “We are awfully sorry but we think it is inappropriate for civil servants to engage in any kind of dialogue of that nature during the course of a political provincial election campaign.”
In other words there is one rule for Conservatives and another for New Democrats and Liberals. There is also another rule for people in the private sector who simply wanted to have some dialogue with what they thought was their government and who particularly wanted to put pressure on the government at the time of an election campaign.
The government comes up with the Bruce energy centre. There are questions we have about it. For example, what is going to happen to the greenhouse operators in the Chatham area and around Amherstburg who are now threatened with a loss of livelihood because of the transfer of greenhouses to the very heavily-subsidized agripark being set up in the Bruce? That question has not been answered.
Rather than coming forward with a program that would ensure the expansion of the greenhouse industry across Ontario the government has come up with a program that, with $15 million in public funds, will ensure the creation of a hothouse-greenhouse industry in the Bruce and nothing more. None the less, we are supporting the bill.
The major portion of the bill relates to energy conservation. I want to talk about that for a while because the bill is drawn from some very good ideas proposed by the New Democrats in the course of the election campaign. But because of the obsession of the Conservative government with the nuclear power program and its obsession to justify the extent of the program in the province, the bill is badly flawed. But even in its present form it is a consequence of the NDP election campaign. It has not gone any further because there is still no genuine commitment by the government to energy conservation or to an understanding of the need to get off oil in our energy policy.
The government really thought this bill was important. While I have great respect for the new parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Andrewes) -- I am sure he will do a capable job -- the fact is that the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) is Deputy Premier. He has the clout, if he chooses to use it, to make conservation a way of life for every person in Ontario. That is something the parliamentary assistant has yet to show he is capable of. He is a new member from the back benches. He is not the Deputy Premier. I think the Minister of Energy should be showing, by his presence, that he has the commitment this kind of approach needs.
During the campaign I made a number of speeches on the question of energy conservation. I made a proposal called “Warm Up Ontario.” We showed how “Warm Up Ontario” could save the people of this province $10 billion in spending, on gas and particularly on oil, over the course of the next 10 years. We showed how, in this province alone, a “Warm Up Ontario” campaign could cut Canada’s import of very expensive world-price oil by 14 per cent of the current annual imports. We showed it would be possible for people to cut their heating bills by half and this was only when we applied the “Warm Up Ontario” scheme to the residential heating market. We were not talking about commercial construction, shops or industry where conservation also has enormous potential to save on oil, gas and electricity.
I paid a visit to the home of George and Norma McPhail in Peterborough. Their home is just opposite the Sandford Fleming School. From the street it looks like a typical suburban one-and-a-half storey home. The only difference is that it has a large porch with large windows on the south side. This home was designed to be so energy efficient that the cost of hydroelectricity, the cost of the heat pump operation, the cost of light, the cost of running the stereo, the cost of hot water, the cost of every bit of energy used for that home is less than what I and my family spend in the city of Toronto just to have hot water on a year-round basis.
Along with heating, for $250 a year that family was providing electricity and light, was running the dishwasher and absolutely everything in a home which from the outside and the inside seemed to be almost the same as any other typical house of that size and income level.
During the election campaign I visited people at the University of Waterloo who have been researching an insultile, a simple device for creating insulated concrete slabs. They intend to build a house near Stratford which, using these insulated concrete slabs that are cheap to produce, would allow heating of the house for about $75 a year compared to perhaps $750 to $1,000 a year for electrical, oil or natural gas heating. That is an indication of what technology can do with the climate we have to cope with in Ontario today.
In Saskatchewan, under the New Democratic Party, the Saskatchewan conservation house has succeeded in bringing down the costs of all forms of energy for a home. It is a bit different from the typical suburban prairie house but none the less provides for a normal suburban lifestyle.
That house is heated and lit and everything else for a cost of maybe $75 or $100 a year. That compares with energy bills for homes in Ontario today that run at $900 or $1,200. In the case of larger or less efficient homes the energy bills run at $1,500, $1,800 or even $2,000 a year. The possibilities for savings are enormous. My regret is those savings will not be achieved with the half-baked program proposed in the government’s legislation today.
The legislation does not concentrate adequately on conservation despite the fact conservation is only one quarter of the cost of new nuclear power capacity and perhaps half the cost of oil supplies imported into this province. The reason, quite simply, is there is an undercommitment to the whole area of conservation as far as this government is concerned.
In 1980 the government was so committed to conservation that it committed $4.9 million to a campaign to help home owners make their homes more energy efficient. Over five years, they intended to help 175,000 home owners. At that rate, it would have taken 60 years to have gone to every home owner across the province who needed help.
In the year ending March 31, 1980, the Provincial Auditor found the government was spending only 70 per cent of the funds allocated to the energy conservation program of the Ministry of Energy. That was not a one-year shortfall. There was a shortfall in 1977, in 1978 and in 1979. There is probably a shortfall again today. It has just kept on.
Even after additional staff positions were approved in early 1980, I recall my colleague the then member for Carleton East, Ms. Gigantes, got up repeatedly to ask the Minister of Energy why it was, when the Legislature had given the ministry and the government the authority to move forward in the area of conservation and renewable energy, adequate steps were not being taken to use that authority.
Back in 1980, there was a ceiling of 54 people for the program and 21 were hired. In November we again asked what had been happening and we found that out of 47 positions authorized in the areas of conservation and renewable energy in April last year, only half had been filled. One asks if the government is really committed.
I was in Peterborough and met the officials of the Peterborough Public Utilities Commission. In 1977, they instituted a program to help home owners insulate their basements and save in the use of all forms of energy, oil, gas and electricity. They went to Ontario Hydro and Hydro wrote a very supportive letter about how it was making every effort to foster conservation. It then proceeded to say that conservation was not in the mandate of Hydro and, therefore, not in the mandate of the Peterborough PUC and they were awfully sorry but while they supported the idea in principle they were not prepared to allow the Peterborough PUC to advance the funds to make the loans to allow the conservation to take place.
If Hydro found out in 1977 that there was a problem why did it not come to the government and look for a change in the mandate? I do not know. Why did not the government, with a Ministry of Energy, turn around and get a piece of legislation adopted in this House that would have changed the mandate? That legislation would have been supported. The minister or the parliamentary assistant knows that, but there was not a finger lifted in order to try and ensure that the mandate would be changed. In fact, on the contrary, the government continued to stonewall efforts from various municipalities to move forward in the area of conservation.
I recall that it was less than a year ago, in October 1980, when we had a private bill from the city of Ottawa which requested that the city be given the power to have an energy use plan and power to require a minimum standard of energy efficiency before commercial developments could proceed. It was a good bill. It came from a progressive council in the city of Ottawa which has an NDP mayor, among other things. That bill would have allowed the city of Ottawa to insist on energy conservation.
The parliamentary assistant can explain part of what happened to that bill. He can explain why his party opposed it. Perhaps some spokesperson from the Liberal Party can explain why it is that when their energy critic professes to be so supportive of conservation, the Liberals joined with the Conservatives to defeat those sections of the bill that would have given the city of Ottawa the powers to insist on energy conservation in new private developments.
Mr. Cassidy: My goodness, when the member for Niagara Falls runs for the leadership he can explain that one. How is it that his party professes to support conservation, but the time it had the chance to support conservation for the city of Ottawa -- the city of Ottawa is a good city too -- the Liberals on the private bills committee quite adamantly opposed it because they felt there should not be that kind of interference with private enterprise. It is rather like the specious arguments that have just been advanced by the Liberal energy critic. He says that the Liberals are so in favour of conservation that they are going to oppose conservation as it’s proposed in this particular bill.
This bill is not perfect. It ties Hydro into promoting electricity rather than promoting conservation. None the less, it moves forward a substantial distance from where Hydro has been since 1908. If the Liberal Party of Ontario was really devoted to conservation it would be looking for some means to persuade the government to ensure that Hydro, which is a public crown corporation, would have a mandate to become a conservation utility. There is no use saying we will have an energy conservation utility one of these decades when the Liberals ever take power in Ontario. That will not be until after the year 2000, if it ever occurs.
Mr. Cassidy: The fact is that what the Liberal energy critic is proposing is that rather than using a utility which now bills 99.5 per cent of all the home owners in Ontario, with the exception of a few people, a few industrial consumers in Niagara Falls and a few people who have their own privately generated electricity, he is saying to give them 10 years to set up a separate energy conservation utility.
Rather than using the utility that gets into every home with a bill every two months; the utility which has some 200 municipal utilities capable of having a direct relationship with local people; the utility whose municipal utilities are locally run, are locally directored, have locally elected or locally selected directors to carry out a program, the Liberals turn their backs on that mechanism and they say, “Give us 10 years to set up a separate energy conservation utility which will do the job.”
Frankly, it is pie in the sky because they are not going to be in government to implement the plan. It is pie in the sky as well because they are turning their backs on the fact that Hydro, as a crown corporation, is there to respond to the mandate which is given to it by this Legislature. If this Legislature is prepared to tell Hydro what to do, and to tell Hydro to become a conservation utility, then by God that is what Hydro should become. If Hydro does not become a conservation utility and carry out the mandate and the instructions that are given to it by this Legislature then that means Hydro has spun out of control. That raises questions about whether the government is capable of actually ensuring that Hydro respects the wishes and the directions that come from the government and from the Legislature.
If Hydro does spin out of control, if Hydro has participated in a direction that says it will promote electricity rather than promoting conservation, it is because this government’s commitment to conservation is so weak and so equivocal. I know the targets; I know the fancy documents. They come out every year or so, Ontario’s Energy Future and so on. They come fresh-minted off the drawing board of some public relations man in the Ministry of Energy or in Ontario Hydro. We have had those “Preserve it, conserve it” ads, which I believe were far more dedicated to preserving the Conservative Party’s tenure in power in Ontario than to really assisting people who were trying to grapple with the very practical problems of what to do, where to go, where to get impartial advice, how to pay for it, how to know that a hired contractor is going to be a reliable contractor.
I recall the NDP’s slogan during the election campaign to “Warm up Ontario.” We said use the local utilities. As a matter of fact, I made my first speech on the subject a day after the BILD program came out. The BILD program said, and I quote, “Ontario and Canada must make a major effort to use less oil, if the goals of the national energy policy are to be met.” Fair enough, but then the BILD program went on to say that the government intended to implement policies to assist home owners in converting from fuel oil to electricity, and that was all. Almost no mention was made at all of the need for conservation as a major thrust of the government.
We said local utilities should deliver a program. We said there should be an energy audit. We said people should come to the door and make simple improvements like weather-stripping. We called them house doctors. We said that through the local utilities, and through Hydro in the rural areas, impartial advice should be provided to home owners who wanted to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. We said there should be loans provided, and suggested $2,500 at five per cent interest, in order to finance the conservation measure, or the change from oil to gas, or from oil to propane, or from oil to electricity, depending on what made sense. We said help should be given to find contractors, and we said there should be a final inspection to make sure the work had been done adequately.
Lo and behold on March 2, the Premier came along with his speech before the Ontario Municipal Electric Association, which looked as though it were drawn directly from the speech I had given a month or so before, outlining the NDP’s “Warm up Ontario” campaign. And lo and behold, the Premier was promising a home audit program, an advisory service, a program to talk about the benefits of various kinds of heating systems -- although he confined it to electrical heating systems -- a loan program for $2,000, rather than $2,500 as we had recommended, and assistance to locate qualified contractors so there would be some assurance that the work was being reasonably done. In other words, it was a straight steal, and the Premier did not even have the courtesy to give the credit to the NDP. I guess that is politics.
The government began with a very modest commitment, and it increased that commitment over the course of the campaign, because of what we talked about with “Warm up Ontario”. But it still remained committed to getting rid of all that excess electrical energy being generated through the Darlington nuclear power plant and the nuclear power program in the province, electricity being generated far ahead of need, and, in many cases, that may never be needed in Ontario. That ignores the big question, the fact that this province now imports $7 billion worth of oil and gas. By 1985, we will be importing from Alberta, and to a small extent from the rest of the world, $12 billion worth of oil and gas, and the program involved in these amendments to the Power Corporation Act is inadequate, by a large measure, in terms of coming to grips with the need to get us off oil. It does not encourage switching from oil to forms of fuel other than electricity.
I think there was a statement here the other day -- or perhaps in the recent energy document -- that we have enough natural gas in Canada to meet our needs well into the twenty-first century; we have enough natural gas that we can afford to take every domestic oil furnace in the province out of use and switch over to some other form of energy. The costs of doing that combined with the conservation program are, I suspect, a lot less than the costs of the program the government is suggesting for a switch to electrical energy.
Our number one priority in this province should not be on to electricity, it should be off oil; and that is not being implemented in this bill. I asked the parliamentary assistant if he would not talk about that during the course of the debate on this bill. Why is an amendment put in here -- which we intend to have changed -- that narrows the definition of power to electrical energy and leaves out the other forms of power that used to be covered? I would assume it once included such things as oil and natural gas.
Why is it the government intends to confine lending under this section to lending for systems of electrical heating and not for systems that might be propane or might include natural gas? Why is the intention here to encourage the conversion of space heating systems to heating systems based on electrical energy when often that will not be the best deal? Why is it people whose advantage it is to switch to gas or to propane should be left to the clutches of Darcy McKeough and his colleagues in the private gas supply industry when in many cases people should get objective advice and maybe conservation loans from Ontario Hydro? None of those question is answered in this bill.
Why is it, as well, we are risking making such bad financial investments as are likely to flow from this bill? At $2,000 per kilowatt in today’s dollars for new nuclear power capacity, the cost of the added nuclear power plant needed to serve a home that is going to be electrically heated and is coming on stream will be something like $20,000 or $30,000 for 10 or 15 kilowatts of capacity. I have asked the minister for some precise figures, but that is the kind of range one is talking about.
If conservation can be carried out in many homes for $2,000 or $3,000, if conservation measures have the effect of creating jobs and saving oil or natural gas right now, then surely it makes more sense to put our dollars into that than into nuclear power stations like Darlington which involve billions of dollars worth of investments and no payback at all until the 1990s or beyond.
For example, just the interest on the power capacity required to fuel one electrically-heated house would be enough in one year to pay the cost of retrofitting the average house in Ontario -- that is $2,000 or $2,500 at today’s interest rates. The government has yet to come up with an explanation of what will happen to all of the added nuclear power capacity in, for example, June 1983 when the temperature will be at 20 or 25 degrees Celsius, as it is today, and when nobody is going to want the electrical heating system on.
Where is that power going to go? Is it just going to spin idly? Or will nuclear power plants which are built to run at 80 or 90 per cent of capacity on a year-round basis be running at 40, 30 or 25 per cent capacity and therefore bankrupting the system? We cannot afford the capital costs if the nuclear power is not being generated almost on a year-round basis.
The government talks a good line on electricity, but it is distorting the priorities for Ontario to the point where we are spending $6.8 billion on Darlington over the course of the next seven or eight years and yet over the next five years the government is spending only $1.5 billion on all of the BILD program -- that is including federal and private spending -- and the BILD program is meant to encompass whatever spending will go into the energy conservation measures that are being proposed in this particular bill.
I want to suggest as well that if the government could get its courage up to move into making Ontario Hydro a conservation utility and not just a utility whose job it is to peddle electricity, then we would find enormous benefits for the province at a time when we have 300,000 people unemployed. We did some estimates which indicated that jobs can be created now for the kind of warmup campaign the New Democrats have been proposing and will continue to propose.
We propose that the house doctors, for example, could be working by August if the government was really serious about energy conservation. We foresaw as many as 1,000 house doctors being trained and going out across the province to help people learn how to save energy. That is 1,000 jobs for 10 years. We foresaw about 9,000 jobs in retrofitting in the construction industry to put in insulation and to make the other changes and improvements that would allow people to cut their energy bills. We foresaw 4,000 or 5,000 jobs in the area of the industries that would produce fibreglass, and other insulation and conservation products. That could be done here in Ontario. Those jobs could be geared up, not in the course of 10 or 15 years, but starting now.
We looked at such things as the imports of conservation products that could be produced here. Two years ago it amounted to $102 million worth of products that could be made here in Ontario. These are such things as the new efficient gas furnaces which could be encouraged if Hydro’s mandate was not being so limited as it is in this particular bill; and such things as $7 million worth of doors being imported into Ontario from the United States, when we could be making those here and they could be creating jobs for Ontario’s workers. There are such things as another $65 million worth of conservation products which are in demand in the rest of the country, much of which could also be produced by industry here.
So what we are looking at is this: On the one hand, while the program launches Hydro in the area of conservation it is quite inadequate in terms of how far it could go in giving Hydro responsibility for being a conservation utility; on the other hand, we are looking at a program that will save dollars, create jobs here in the province and that will create those jobs now and will help in a very major way to reduce Ontario and Canada’s dependence on imported oil; whether that oil is imported from the sheikhs of Arabia, Venezuela or from the Premier’s Conservative colleagues in Alberta.
When 15,000 jobs could be created, the government is really at fault for coming up with a proposal that will create only a few hundred jobs. When we could be saving 14 million barrels of oil per year by means of an effective off-oil program and energy conservation program carried out by Hydro, the government is at fault for imposing new taxes and for not being prepared to carry through in order to make necessary and potential savings in terms of the oil we could be saving.
When there are savings for the consumers of this province of $1 billion per year for their home heating, it is not good enough for Hydro to send energy auditors around to peddle more electricity in the name of conservation. While we support the bill, I fear that is all that can happen unless there is more of a will for conservation shown by this government than it has ever shown us in the past.
While we support the bill, I am making some suggestions where we believe the bill can be made a lot tougher, Ontario Hydro’s mandate can be made a lot more definite and Hydro can lead the way in North America in terms of ensuring that Ontario conserves energy rather than squandering it.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the bill. We support it in principle because it has an area worth considering in putting to good use energy from our thermal plants, but I am afraid I have to part company with anything in the bill that smacks of a real effort to talk about meaningful conservation.
This is not really a conservation bill. One might say this is a bill to justify bad management of Ontario Hydro and that in lieu of good management, good load forecasting and building a Hydro that would supply the needs of the people of Ontario, we have a bill here that would attempt to substitute electricity while we should be going to many different areas that would make a great deal more sense in relation to true conservation.
When we talk about conservation and think of the modern times we are in, of the research capability that exists throughout the province and the great strides man has made in space, it is incredible to think that in this day we have not even harnessed the simple passive rays of the sun. We have not even gone to the simple changes in building codes that would allow houses to be insulated to the point where it makes some sense.
While the government puts bills before us that appear to have some credibility, it is incredible to think in this day and age we would be heating swimming pools, for instance, with electricity or natural gas when there is a simple form of solar panel basically used only in the summertime. It already has a circulating pump on it. We do not see fit to pass amendments to the Building Code Act to see that those energies could be saved immediately, not five or 10 years down the road.
To think that there are no changes in the code! There are two-by-four walls in some of our homes; when they are cut down to the size the lumber yards provide, one does not have adequate space to put in any kind of insulation. One thinks of heating one’s home where one has an automatic damper in the furnace in one’s basement that has a constant flow of heated air going up the chimney.
It is incredible to think a government could sit there and talk about being modern, being interested in the people of Ontario, doing something in the forefront of this great energy process and fall completely flat when it comes to putting in the simplest forms of solar and other types of heating that would save a great deal of energy and money.
The other thing that is happening to us that the government must be fully aware of is we have passed those years when it seemed we had unlimited funds to do some of the things that may have been worthwhile. Now we are looking to do things that would put all the expense and onus on other people in the province. The government sits over there without having made any move at all towards a really meaningful program as it relates to conservation.
We could draw up a list as long as one’s arm that would have to do with alternative fuels, with setting up a corporation -- and this is where we part company with the Socialists -- that does not have a vested interest, a corporation that would truly be an energy corporation. It would not represent Ontario Hydro, the gas companies or the oil interests. It would sit there and in an impartial way make determinations as to what is best for the people of Ontario. That cannot be done by Ontario Hydro in any way, shape or form.
Let me bring this point to bear. If we were to set up such a corporation that would truly look into what is in the best interests of the people of Ontario, it might consider a plan I have put to the Premier (Mr. Davis) on more than one occasion. I would like to repeat it now because I think it has some significance in relation to this bill.
In regard to saving energy coming from offshore, I do not consider like our Socialist friends that if one brings energy from another province one is importing it. I think we are fighting for the very life of this great country of ours in trying to bring it together and I do not see anything wrong with talking about dealing with Alberta and taking oil or gas from Alberta if it is a better way to go.
My proposal would be that because Canada has a tremendous supply of iron ore in the ground it has the capacity to melt that down, smelt it and make the finest steel in the world. Not many people know, and I suggest this might come as a surprise to some people, that the private enterprise group of steelmakers in Canada happen to be the best in the world. They do not ask any help from government or anybody else in that business. We just happen to have the best people in the world, in comparison with Germany, England, Japan or anywhere else. We should support that industry, because it works in the form of private enterprise.
I suggest if we were to make a determination to substitute gas for oil in this province -- I mean gas that comes from the west -- with a pipeline, we have the ore here in Canada, we have the smelters here that make the steel, we have one of the most modern pipe mills in all the world in Welland, Ontario, which can produce 2.5 miles of 36-inch pipe every day; we have the Canadian talent to put that in place.
That is my idea of going to a program that would save bringing oil from offshore. It would let us provide jobs and finished products rather than putting the pipeline out west and sending our gas down into the US and providing them with nice clean power.
Mr. Kerrio: Certainly I am speaking to the bill. We are talking about energy conservation. I am talking about this government thinking that if we use electricity we are conserving energy. I say we are not. I think if we bring coal in from offshore and burn it we are certainly not saving any kind of energy when we decide to substitute electricity for oil that comes from Arabia. I fail to see that as a valid argument to make in the face of this bill before us.
The crux of this whole discussion is that if we are going to have a proper energy conservation program, a corporation will have be set up that does not answer to any interest group, that will look out for the best interests of the people of Ontario. Whether it used gas from Alberta or nuclear power from Ontario or the best power of all, hydraulic power from Niagara Falls, we would have a corporation that would be truly looking after the best interests of the people of Ontario and not tumbling over themselves for any power group like the one in that glass building just down the street.
I may have wandered just a little, Mr. Speaker, but I think you might agree that in the fullness of argument and discussion this would be a true proposal for energy conservation that would be in the best interests of the people of Ontario.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I think I can fit my comments succinctly into the time before we break for the evening meal. I listened to the concerns expressed by the Liberal Party with regard to the dangers of using Ontario Hydro as an energy conservation utility. To a small degree, I share some of those concerns. But I make this point, which my leader has already made, that the main problem in Ontario in terms of an energy conservation program rests right over there with the government.
It has come to the realization of its validity very late in the game. It is pouring out reams of rhetoric on paper -- the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) speaks five times a week. I know he is preparing for the next leadership contest, but he speaks five times a week. Consolidated-Bathurst and other paper companies must have increased profits stemming primarily from the Ministry of Energy here in Ontario.
But the significant thing is that the amount of money being spent on conservation in Ontario is a few million dollars. This is in contrast to the fact that this year Ontario Hydro is going to be borrowing $2.3 billion, most of which is going to be used to extend its current generating capacity; and most of that new generating capacity is nuclear. I will come back in a moment to the fact that it is not going to be needed; certainly it is going to be available far in advance of the time it might be needed.
The concern of the Liberal critic was that under the cloak of conservation we were really going to be adding to the thrust of selling electric power and therefore justifying the overexpanded system. That is a legitimate concern. But as my leader has pointed out, if we have a government that is really committed and is willing to put the money behind a conservation program, and if it passes this bill which says that Ontario Hydro is going to become a genuine conservation utility, then we have the whip hand to make certain we move in that direction.
I know that Ontario Hydro, led by the Premier (Mr. Davis) and now the Minister of Energy, is talking about electric power and the switch to electricity as being the answer to our overcapacity. It is not happening, and I want to suggest it is not likely to happen. In 1979 there was a 2.9 per cent increase in electric energy sales in Ontario. The year before it was 2.7 per cent. In 1980 -- and let this sink in -- there was a 0.8 per cent increase over 1979.
So that is what is happening to this massive expansion. In spite of all the rhetoric and all the speeches that come from over there it simply is not happening. The government is not going to persuade people to use electricity to the extent it wants, even though it has that overcapacity sitting there.
After some intensive digging a week or two ago in this off-oil-to-electricity idea, which is now the major thrust on the government side, I was interested to discover that they hope to convert an average of about 21,000 homes a year over the next 10 years. May I go to an authoritative person -- and I am sure no one on the other side of the House is going to deny this -- Darcy McKeough? In the instance of off-oil-to-gas it is 42,000 homes a year -- at least that is what Darcy has told the public. They are now engaged in that kind of conversion program.
So the prospect that Ontario is suddenly going to switch to electricity simply is not justified by the cold, hard facts apart from the rhetoric of the Premier and the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson).
This bias towards using electricity is, I grant, a matter of concern. I share this concern to some degree with the energy spokesman for the Liberal Party. It is not going to work; the people are not going to fall for it. They are switching to gas -- they are doing what the Minister of Energy said a year or so ago they should be doing before he got whipped into line and caught up in the propaganda theme of the government and Hydro, that we should switch to electricity instead.
This is where I come back to this incredible proposition that Hydro will be borrowing $2.3 billion in the coming year, most of which will go into expanding our nuclear generating capacity to even more than we have now. We found in the select committee -- I think you were on the committee at that point, Mr. Speaker, or perhaps it was before you came on the committee -- if the annual increase in the sales of electric power in this province were dropped to two to three per cent, Darlington would not be needed until the years 1996 to 2004. In the last three years the growth has been 0.8 per cent, 2.9 per cent, and 2.7 per cent. We are down in the range the select committee predicted likely for the long term, though Hydro has had to pull it down from 4.6 per cent to 3.4 per cent, and then to 3.1 per cent. I suspect that by next year they will have to face the reality the select committee discovered.
We are building and spending money in developing an already-oversized system when the redirection of that money for conservation would save energy. It would have a genuine energy conservation program instead of what is the danger here if we do not get a greater commitment from the government and make certain that Hydro becomes an energy utility in real fashion.
May I digress in this connection? I understand in the next few days on the other side of the House, among the powers who really decide these things, the decision will be made as to whether the government is willing to establish a select committee on energy. I hope, as Hydro has said they hope and as the Liberal Party has said they hope, that the government will do it. If there is one thing that would well serve the people of Ontario it is to have a committee that operates as the select committee on Hydro affairs did, but in the broader field of energy. One of the areas that should be looked at is how one builds a genuine energy conservation utility.
Many of the utilities in the United States are headed in that direction. They are far down the road. They are not at the stage of just passing legislation now to authorize it. By examining programs and making recommendations that kind of committee could provide a very useful purpose in stepping up an energy conservation program in relation to Hydro and making certain it does not have that excessive bias towards electricity, and that it would make the best end use of all the various alternatives into view.
A second thing in this bill I commend, which makes it worthy of support, is that in the latter portion it extends this same capacity to the local public utilities. I will not go into the details. My leader pointed out what happened in Peterborough a few years ago when they came up with a program in which they were going to fulfil what nominally was the objective of this government and of society as a whole -- saving energy. They came up with a program by which the local public utility would provide the money, would take it back in monthly payments along with the electric bills, and they were told they could not do it because the Power Corporation Act and the Public Utilities Act would not permit it. It has taken them four years to get around to removing that statutory or legal roadblock to what the local public utility is doing. This should be supported, if for no other reason than to permit those 200-plus local power utilities to get into the game.
Let me switch to a final comment with regard to the observations of the Liberal energy spokesman concerning whether or not we need a bill like this to give Hydro the right to do what presumably it is now going to have the right to do under this statute. His argument was that the definition of power under the existing Power Corporation Act gave Hydro all the power it needed. I am inclined to agree with that, but I am told that the lawyers -- and God help us when the lawyers get in on it -- have said it is not clear, that it was open to an interpretation that might be challenged in the courts, or something of that nature.
Therefore, if the lawyers have persuaded the government and Hydro that we need to have these changes, then let us welcome them so that we can get on with the job. I hope in the process they are not so redefining it that they are not assisting in this more restricted focus on electricity. The original definition of power covered the range and Hydro had the right to move in on it.
In conclusion, the government’s rhetoric suggests we should be moving to a switch to electricity and therefore using that bias to turn this energy conservation program into one that is directed in one exclusive direction rather than into the many directions it should if there is to be genuine energy conservation.
Even now I share the concern about this government having a very limited commitment, beyond the rhetoric, to a genuine conservation program. But at least this bill is going to give us a weapon to persuade the government -- to whip the government if you will -- into a more intensive program.
It will also make certain that Hydro and all of its facilities will be retained, rather than that dream world of a new corporation the Liberals have come up with. That would have to be built and all its infrastructure would have to be established before it could begin to do the job. Hydro has all of that. All we have to do is make certain we in this Legislature establish a statute and that Hydro abides by that statute to use all of the existing infrastructure -- its engineering, its billing procedures and everything else. And we have to make certain the conservation program proceeds.
The honourable member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. A. Reed), questioned the purpose of the bill which is really to give Ontario Hydro the authority to go out and sell more electricity because the government and Hydro are embarrassed about the huge surplus capacity of Ontario Hydro. With greatest respect, the purpose of the bill does not enable Hydro to carry out this kind of a program. It is to enable Hydro to carry out an energy conservation program and to sell steam and hot water.
He also questioned the loan being limited to the electric power and not to other forms of energy. In answer to that, the loans are designed to cover other energy conservation items -- insulation, weatherization, certain wiring improvements and additions to enhance conservation in electric heating.
Mr. Andrewes: I agree with the honourable member that it does not cover gas but the audit is not restrictive. The audit does not require the home owner to undertake electrification. It makes suggestions. The loan is designed to fulfil these suggestions.
He also questioned why the legislation is needed, given the existing definition of power in the present Power Corporation Act. The legal opinions from advisers within both the Ministry of Energy and Ontario Hydro as well as legal counsel from outside indicate that within the body of the existing act the use of the word “power” really refers to electrical power and is not as all encompassing as the definition would imply. This revised definition removes some of the confusion and limits its meaning simply to electrical power, including electrical energy.
From that point on, certain new authorities for heat energy are clearly required. It invites the question, does this give an exclusive right to Ontario Hydro over steam, as it does over electricity? No. This is enabling legislation with respect to Ontario Hydro only. It neither grants, nor does it inhibit, authority for the private sector, for municipalities or other agencies to produce and sell steam and hot water.
Mr. Andrewes: I will try to be very brief. The honourable leader of the third party suggested the bill does not have a strong commitment to conservation, as the “Warm up Ontario” bill does. I would have to agree that this bill does encompass certain of the views of the “Warm up Ontario” bill. I think the only real difference is that this bill does not meet the suggestions of the New Democratic Party with respect to the interest rates. In terms of the estimated impact, I think Ontario Hydro anticipates oil savings, in their rural areas alone, of 880 million gallons over the next 10 years.
In regard to his question as to why we should encourage electrical heating, given the high cost of nuclear power versus conservation or versus the use of natural gas, this program supports conservation, as well as the off-oil program. Construction of additional nuclear capacity at Darlington, for instance, makes good economic sense at this time. It allows the displacement of higher-cost fossil fuel plants and it allows this government to exemplify its commitment to reducing air pollution from fossil-fuel generation.