Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege that I deem very serious and that I would like to draw to your attention. In my judgement, it amounts to a very serious abuse of the powers of the executive of this House and is an affront to all the privileges and responsibilities of the members.
I refer to the succession of orders in council that we have had and the events subsequent to March 10, when the government, through an order in council, issued special warrants in the amount of $4,717,231,600.
You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that the House first came back on April 21. It is my view that the government should have moved immediately to regularize those special warrants. You will also recall that on April 23 we had public knowledge when the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr. McCague) filed in this House a copy of those special warrants.
As the Chairman of Management Board stated, and as you know, sir, a special warrant is an order under section 4 of the Management Board of Cabinet Act authorizing expenditures of an urgent nature for which no appropriation exists. I stress to you, sir, that they are to be of an urgent nature for which no appropriation exists.
Subsequent to this, about the middle of June, you will recall that a motion for interim supply was tabled by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), almost two months after the House had returned. I draw your attention, sir, to section 4 of the Management Board of Cabinet Act, which was the authorizing section for those particular special warrants. It says:
“Where an accident happens to any public work or building when the Legislature is not in session and an expenditure for the repair or renewal thereof is urgently required, or where any other matter arises when the Legislature is not in session in respect of which an expenditure not foreseen or provided for by the Legislature is urgently required for the public good.
I will not go on and read the rest of that section, but it says again at the end that the expenditure must be “urgently required.” In that legislation, which is about 100 years old, it is clearly contemplated that this would be done only in emergencies. I submit it is also clearly contemplated that this would be regularized immediately upon the return of the House.
I am not questioning the authority of the government to vote itself some money or to give itself some money by way of special warrant on March 10 when the House was not sitting. That is not the issue. But we did come back on April 22, and interim supply could have been brought forward at that time.
This matter has been a serious issue over a number of years. I want to quote some of the authorities who I think support my point of view that this has been a gross abuse of executive privilege and is becoming government by order in council when one of the most sacred rights of members of parliament is to pass upon the expenditures of the executive branch.
I take you, Mr. Speaker, to a discussion of this very issue in 1890 when, speaking in the debate about the Short Line Railway, which involved a similar abuse of a special warrant to finance the building of a railway, Mr. Wilfrid Laurier said:
He said: “What is the value of Parliament sitting and expressing an opinion upon any public subject, if it is within the power of the government to discard the authority of Parliament and to do precisely what the Legislature had not sanctioned their doing?”
“I cannot put the construction which the honourable gentleman does on the use of the Governor General’s warrant. These warrants are only to be used for special purposes, and the act distinctly declares for what they may be used ... Then the Governor General’s warrant” -- which is similar in this situation -- “may issue. I say it is a most gross abuse of that power which is granted for such emergencies in regard to matters which could not reasonably be foreseen or provided for, to ask His Excellency to issue a warrant taking a large sum of money from the public chest for a purpose such as this. I say that the minister who advised the issue of that warrant committed a fraud on His Excellency, and made His Excellency a tool to perpetrate a gross wrong and to offer a gross affront to the authority of Parliament.”
I call to the attention of the House the speech of George Foster who was the Conservative critic in 1896. In The Public Purse it says he held that “warrants could legally be used only to provide for unforeseen but necessary expenditures, whereas the expenses of operating the government of Canada for 1896-7 had not merely been foreseen but planned for in detail, in the very estimates which the House had refused to pass earlier in 1896.”
My point is that the money which the government passed by special warrant was not for unforeseen circumstances. It was an abuse of the system for an untold and unseemly period of time, for a three-month period.
I take you, Mr. Speaker, to a debate in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1892. Mr. W. S. Fielding, the then Premier, said: “The drawing of that (special) warrant would be as much a violation of the control of Parliament as anything else can be. If the desire is to have every dollar that is expended voted by this House, I have to say that is not the system that prevails anywhere.”
The author of the book from which that quotation is taken says this: “Like the Dominion practice, the provincial special warrants are only issued when parliament is not in session. The objections of their employment are that they do away with all effective control of government expenditures and have resulted in Canadian provincial budgets affording no correct criterion, like those of other countries, of what the public expenditures will be in any given year.”
I cite those authorities, Mr. Speaker, so that you will understand -- and I know that after you investigate it you will -- what a very serious abuse of the procedure this is. The Treasurer brought in an interim supply motion in the middle of June, backdated to June 1; and it is quite clear to you, sir, I am sure, that by abusing special warrants and interim supply they can effectively manipulate the expenditures of the government without any of the regularization that should go on by this parliament and through its various committees.
“Like supplementary estimates, interim supply and Governor General’s warrants (both of which are explained in preceding chapters) could if improperly used almost destroy parliamentary control. Just as a government could evade unwelcome scrutiny by asking for supplementaries embodying important proposals at a time when Parliament was preoccupied with some other weighty matter, or during the hot humid summer days when members are anxious to get away (and both of these events have been known to occur), so a government could time its request for interim supply in such a manner that the House of Commons would have considerable practical difficulty in refusing. Sir Robert Borden, while Prime Minister, informed the House of one revealing experience he had had: ‘I should like to say that I myself tried once, in opposition, under what I thought were somewhat serious circumstances, the policy of refusing any vote on account [that is, interim supply] and before 10 days were over, I got very tired of my position, because I heard, I think, from every province and from nearly every community in Canada on the subject.”
Upon investigation I think the sequence of events is a serious irregularity. I believe this government should have moved immediately for interim supply, rather than going by way of special warrant upon the return of this House on April 22.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to use your authority as the presiding officer of this House, to investigate this matter, to report back at your very earliest opportunity and to make sure this never happens again.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, on the point of privilege: May I compliment my friend the member for London Centre for drawing this matter to the attention of the House. I simply want to associate ourselves with the concern expressed by the member for London Centre and to require not simply your considered decision on this matter but a prompt and immediate reply from the government with respect to this breach of the rights of the members of this assembly.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to dissociate myself completely from the last remarks, because I submit this is not a breach in the sense in which he tries to portray it, and it is not something that has suddenly come to light and to the attention of members of this House today or in the last few days.
The history of the matter must be sketched. First of all, there was an election in this province on March 19, and to the best of my knowledge I cannot recall, certainly in the time since I have been an adult, an election coming at a time when the calling of the House likely would be after the beginning of a new fiscal year.
In other words, we found ourselves at that time the government of this province, although a government in the middle of an election with the prospect that the Legislature of this province, which must vote interim supply and final supply, likely would not be meeting until after the time the old estimates would run out after March 31. So it was necessary for a perfectly legal procedure to be devised to ensure that the public servants of this province would be paid and that the municipalities and school boards and children’s aid societies and so forth would receive --
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not pretending. I am telling members exactly what that money is for. The money in special warrants was money that would flow to municipalities, school boards, children’s aid societies, welfare recipients and the list goes on and on.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It would be completely unthinkable that we should allow any disruption in the flow of those funds, be they for the salaries in the public service or for any of these other public endeavours to which we transfer funds.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The point is that on the advice of the financial experts and lawyers of this government it was quite proper to use special warrants to be sure that money would be available. That process was fully looked into. The cabinet of this province, the executive council, was fully aware of it and took the necessary action to allow that to happen. It was decided that the best way to handle it would be to have special warrants for the first three months of the fiscal year, a period that normally would be covered by interim supply if this House were sitting.
I do not have the records here in front of me, but I can tell the honourable member that if he had talked to the member sitting on his immediate right he might have known a little more about this, because we discussed this at House leaders’ meetings several times. In fact. I indicated to various House leaders, whips and so forth the uniqueness and perhaps difficulty some people would have of understanding the estimates this year, because when the estimates were printed they would have within them all the facts about the special warrant.
If the member has read any of the estimates he will see that every estimate has at the bottom of it, “less special warrant.” Therefore, the amount of money to be voted by this House is the amount less the special warrant. If anybody is suggesting that this procedure was somehow to be hidden from view, it certainly can be substantiated that this is not the case, because here it is; it is in every one of the estimates. The procedure was discussed by many people at the time.
Hon. Mr. Wells: If anyone had any problem with this particular procedure, the time to have raised it was weeks ago when these estimates were tabled, and it was made very clear what the special warrant was.
I want to also say that we discussed at various times whether a motion should be put in this House, not the usual interim supply motion, but a motion that this House take note of the fact that special warrants were providing for the first three months of the supply to all these various services in this province.
My recollection is that most of the people at our meetings felt that we did not need to put that particular motion. The special warrants procedure was a legal procedure, the money was legally being paid out, it was being noted in the estimates, and the amount of the special warrant could be debated along with the estimates although it was not really a part of the estimate amount.
I must say that my preference, and the preference of the government, would have been to put a motion, but no one seemed to be very concerned that a motion needed to be put that this House take note of the special warrants, which were passed legally and which provided for the payment of that money.
I find it a little disturbing that the member should get up here today in a rather pious way and suggest that something was being hidden from the public’s eye in some procedure that is not legal. I will tell him that the procedure is legal. It has been publicly known ever since this House came back. It has allowed for the flowing of this money to the public servants of this province and all those other people who get transfer payments, and it is fully detailed in the estimates which the members will have ample opportunity to debate now and in the fall. They can also debate interim supply in the interim supply motion.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me tell the member that we backdated the interim supply motion to June 1 because in some instances the special warrants will not supply enough money for certain ministries throughout until June 31. In a very proper way we are suggesting that interim supply must be now voted, because those ministries will not have money at some point in time.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I have explained why we backdated it, and that would be a very logical thing to debate during the interim supply motion, which it was my understanding we were going to pass the other night but which was not passed, and which members will have an opportunity to consider again tonight.
I am sure that any of these procedures can be fully explained during the interim supply motion and during the estimates. I submit to the House that nothing irregular has gone on. Nothing illegal has happened. Everything concerning the special warrants has been made fully public to all the members of this House.
On Monday of this week, I asked the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) a question that had to do with whether problems and solutions identified at the Toronto East General Hospital emergency department may have general application in other hospitals and other emergency departments. In his answer the Minister of Health said: Mount Sinai Hospital down the street here does not have an emergency department.”
I want to point out to the minister not only that Mount Sinai Hospital does have an emergency department but also that last week there were seven patients in that emergency department for two days because there were no other beds available in the hospital. There were no other beds available because at any given time in Mount Sinai Hospital 30 to 45 patients are in active treatment beds when they should be in chronic care beds.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order: I am glad the honourable member raised it, because I was going to. In the course of the discussion, I was thinking of the old Mount Sinai Hospital, which is now chronic, and the emergency department has been closed.
For the member’s information, I had the executive director and the chairman of Mount Sinai Hospital in this morning, and we were discussing, among other things, this very point. Their proposal for the future is not dissimilar to many other hospitals: not more beds, but an expansion of ambulatory care programs to relieve these kinds of pressures.
Mr. Ruprecht: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Last week, you will remember that the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) promised this House he would produce and make public the number of units that were fully approved under the Ontario rental construction loan program within the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.
Some of us on the back benches here are new members, but we would like to believe in the old system whereby when a minister of the crown promises he will deliver exact figures, as he says in Hansard, then he will do that.
You also know, Mr. Speaker, that this government has been accused by my own leader and by other people of stonewalling and covering up. I want to raise this point of privilege with the minister and ask him to please produce the figures in regard to this rental construction loan program within the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. If he does not have them, he can at least stand up and be honest with the citizens of this area and of Toronto, where there is a housing crisis, and tell us --
Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding with the routine proceedings, I want to read into the record the names of the visiting parliamentary interns from the University of Michigan in Dearborn, who have been with us for the past several weeks. They are leaving tomorrow, and I am sure we are all very pleased to have had them with us. I sincerely hope their visit here has been of benefit to them.
The list is as follows: Victoria Altinok, Thomas Biggs, Paul Bisaro, Nancy Burke, Nancy Conzelman, John D’Alessandro, Barbara Fratangelo, Michael Grueber, Michael Gruskin, Julia Krohta, Calvin Matle, Carol Mitri, Garry O’Leary, Linda Plopan, Beverly Rende, Lisa Schwartz, Gretchen Stallworth, Marianne Swenson and Cynthia Vella.
Because of the nature of the bill, I wish at this time to read into the record the report of the Education Relations Commission, dated June 11, 1981, and delivered to me by the chairman, Professor Bryan Downie, on the afternoon of June 12, 1981.
“The Education Relations Commission met on Thursday, June 11, 1981, to examine the status of negotiations between the Leeds and Grenville Board of Education and the branch affiliate members of the OSSTF, District 37. The commission also considered the matter of whether the strike places in jeopardy the successful completion of courses of study in Leeds and Grenville secondary schools.
“In its deliberations the commission examined a report submitted to it by the third party appointed to act as mediator in the dispute. We were also aided by discussions with ERC staff and by background information related to the sanction.
“It is clear from all of the evidence we have at our disposal that there is a distinct danger the dispute will not settle before the end of the 1980-81 school year and, more importantly, the dispute very well may not end before classes are scheduled to resume in September.
“Despite this danger, there is an absence of convincing evidence that jeopardy to courses of study exists at this time. As of this date, there have been 25 school days lost due to the strike and by the end of the school year, 36 school days will have been lost if the dispute is not settled. This, of course, is serious. Some of the 36 school days, however, are noninstructional days or final examination days. Further, in our review of the situation, we have considered the fact that students affected by the strike will receive their final marks and that universities and community colleges in Ontario apparently will accept students into their programs on this basis. For this, and other reasons, it would be inappropriate for us to declare jeopardy at this moment.”
Hon. Miss Stephenson: “Nevertheless, the commission has consistently followed the principle that every dispute has to be examined and treated on its own merits. In this particular case, there are some very important facts which cause us concern. The state of negotiations seems to be deteriorating; the parties are, if not frozen, exceedingly rigid in their positions; and, as noted, there is a real possibility that the dispute will not end in anything approaching a reasonable time period. That is, our concern relates to the unique aspects of this particular sanction, viz. the possible continuation of the strike into a new school year after the loss of a considerable number of school days in the current school year and without any indication of a future settlement point.
“With the impending adjournment of the Legislature, this situation places the commission in a serious dilemma. Since its inception, the commission has consistently held to the position that voluntary resolution by the parties in a dispute is the preferred path to finality in teacher-board collective bargaining. At the same time, we take seriously our duty under section 61(1)(h) of the act concerning jeopardy to students’ courses of study. While in our opinion there is an absence of compelling evidence that jeopardy exists at this precise point, we feel that the government should be in a position to respond without delay should it become clear to the ERC that the continuation of the sanction will place in jeopardy the successful completion of courses of study by students affected by the strike.
“Therefore, in light of the above, the commission recommends you consider the enactment of legislation before the adjournment of the Legislature to terminate the secondary school strike in Leeds and Grenville, and that the proclamation of legislation by the Lieutenant Governor in Council be deferred at least until such time as an advisement under section 61(1)(h) is tendered by the commission. This will allow the parties to negotiate, while at the same time ensuring the public that action will be taken on jeopardy within a reasonable period of time. As well, the commission will continue to provide third party assistance to the parties in Leeds and Grenville and will continue to monitor the situation.
“The above takes into account the sometimes conflicting but equally legitimate concerns of the commission and of Bill 100: i.e., on the one hand, the voluntary resolution of collective bargaining disputes and, on the other, the protection of courses of study of students affected by a strike or lockout.
“It is the hope of the commission that a negotiated settlement will emerge in Leeds and Grenville which will negate the need for a proclamation. To facilitate that outcome, we recommend you consider legislation that includes final offer selection as the means of ultimate dispute resolution.
The bill has been drafted to meet the requests of the Education Relations Commission, and I am optimistic that it will assist the parties to resolve the current dispute and to allow the educational process to resume.
I want to direct a question to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations concerning a letter, a copy of which I have sent over to him. The letter is dated July 23, 1979. It is a letter addressed to Mr. H. Roach, the chief examiner for his ministry in the office of the registrar of trust companies. The letter deals with a client by the name of Mr. Henry Ramsey, who was taken in by Astra Trust, whereupon this person put money into Astra Trust and had it shifted into a certain Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation.
This letter makes a number of very serious allegations and provides a basis for these allegations, including the very serious allegation that the client, thinking he was doing business with Astra, had his money put into a Re-Mor mortgage.
I want to quote specifically: “It would appear that Astra Trust Company has merely been using the legal and accounting service promises as a come-on to attract funds for mortgage investments. Re-Mor Investment Management was represented to the Ramseys as being Astra Trust Mortgage Company, or a division of Astra Trust Company, by John Bentz at Astra’s Burlington office.”
Given that this letter was sent to the ministry after an oral conversation in July 1979, and given that the company was not shut down until almost a year later, and the predecessor of this minister has stated the problem was that Astra was shifting money into Re-Mor but the government acted on Re-Mor as soon as it found out about it, how can the minister continue to tell us that kind of story when his ministry was told on July 23, 1979, that Astra Trust was being used as a front by Re-Mor, and yet Re-Mor continued to operate under its mortgage licence and was not shut down?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I think there has been some confusion in the Re-Mor name here. This was under a division of the company known as Via Mare Investments. That was a mortgage brokerage company operated by Mr. Luciani from St. Catharines, I believe, and Welland, and in that particular case Via Mare had under it something called a division, Re-Mor Investment Management.
It was a long time after -- several months after this July letter -- that Re-Mor Investment Company Limited was incorporated by Montemurro and ultimately became the one that provided the vehicle through which so many of these losses occurred. I would offer that as one comment. We must not confuse the two companies. I would ask the member to go back and check and make sure that he is not talking about totally separated relationships.
Secondly, we do have this letter, and he has been very kind to send me over a letter dated July 23, 1979, from the law firm of Bowlby, Luchak, Martino, Thoman and Lofchik in Hamilton Centre, by about the tenth name on the list, one Robert F. McGlynn, who is the solicitor who identified himself, apparently, in a telephone call making a complaint about this particular streaming operation. McGlynn actually made a telephone call, and as a result of that Mr. Roach, the chief examiner, said, “Put that into writing so that we have something on which we can look into this matter to see if there is any substance to it.”
Just coincident with the time that Roach received the letter in his office, at that very moment, almost on the day it arrived -- the member will be impressed to realize this -- a telephone call came from McGlynn, the very lawyer who sent the letter, I am told, saying: “Please disregard this letter. In fact, it has no substance; the whole matter has been resolved.” To use his words, I gather he said: “It has all been fixed up and it has all been corrected. Do not do anything about the letter that I have sent you concerning this Astra Trust Company.”
Mr. Smith: The explanation is very simple, inasmuch as after Mr. Montemurro had refused repeated attempts to obtain information on behalf of Mr. Ramsey, which are outlined in the letter by Mr. McGlynn -- since, as Mr. McGlynn put in the letter, the Ramseys find themselves with an $80,000 investment and life savings with a lender and borrower of whom they know nothing, for security that may or may not be adequate, and supported by the guarantee of a company that may be totally inadequate to cover its obligations in the event of default -- and since it goes on and says that this company is acting as a front and that after repeatedly attempting to go to Mr. Montemurro, who was avoiding their calls, when he was finally confronted with this letter and information that it was going forward to the Ontario government he at that point took out a cheque book and said, “All right, here is the money back -- but only on condition that you phone the ministry and say that this matter with Ramsey has been settled,” it surely is not surprising to the minister that the lawyer would then say, “Since my clients finally have their money back I am no longer involved in this.”
Given that the detailed allegations in this letter certainly require somebody to look into them, ask the people involved exactly what happened and investigate the front that was being run by Astra Trust for its mortgage arm, in this instance Re-Mor Investment Management, surely the government should have acted then and there to do a proper investigation of these exceedingly serious allegations and not wait about a year, as it did? What explanation is there for the government totally disregarding the letter and not looking into the substance of the serious allegations that were made?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I suppose the Leader of the Opposition has more of an understanding of what Mr. Montemurro said than I have. I do not profess to suggest otherwise. All I can say is, on the basis of a letter that was received setting out a number of allegations, and then receiving a call from the individual who actually wrote the letter, followed up by a letter from him -- a copy of which I would be glad to provide the member if we are able to locate it -- saying, “Please disregard everything we have said,” would it not be reasonable to do that?
Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Shouldn’t this cause even the minister to realize that there may be many investors out there who have been treated in this manner by Astra, Re-Mor and Mr. Montemurro, and that it would be wise to have a committee of this Legislature hear evidence from those investors as well as delving into the operation of the securities commission and the registrar of mortgage brokers and other registrars? Wouldn’t that cause the minister to think this would be desirable if we are interested in getting to the bottom of this issue?
Mr. Smith: Given that the letter outlines in great detail the practices that took place at Astra Trust and Re-Mor Investment Management, that it outlines over four pages all the ways in which these people were taken in and all the ways in which they were abusing the trust people were putting into that company, does the minister not think it is a dereliction of duty on the part of his officers to simply throw the letter away and ignore it all on the basis of a phone call saying everything is now okay?
Is it not like somebody writing a detailed letter saying exactly how a bank robbery has taken place, detailing who did it, when they did it, the type of pistol used, how much money was taken, precisely the time of day, and then calling up later and saying: “Pay no attention to that. We got the money back,” and them saying, “Oh, that’s fine, we just won’t bother to look into it at all”? Does the minister not realize his own officials were told about this serious matter and did not act and that only a royal commission is going to get to the bottom of how the government operated in the matter of Astra/Re-Mor?
When we receive a letter saying, “Disregard the letter; everything has been resolved and everything has been fixed up in respect of the complaint that was registered,” I repeat the question the member did not bother to answer -- I know it is not his duty to answer questions; he never answers questions -- does he not realize it is reasonable to assume that when we get a letter from the person who wrote the first letter saying to disregard it, we can reasonably do that? Isn’t that a reasonable thing? Of course it is. I do not know how the member can come to some of the conclusions he comes to. I just cannot understand that.
Given that the minister has said he is quite confident there is no other hospital in Ontario to which the same problems might apply and the same solutions be necessary as occurred in the Toronto East General, and given the fact the investigation into the Toronto East General was actually instigated at the request of that hospital following certain allegations in the public press, and given that there exists a certain accreditation process which presumably did not signal to the ministry any problem in Toronto East General before this investigation was requested, how can the minister say with any confidence there are no other hospitals in Ontario that might have the same answers to these questions asked at the Toronto East General, especially given that the Ontario Hospital Association’s president, Merritt Henderson, said even his own hospital could possibly have exactly the same complaints if someone came in and asked the same questions?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr Speaker, I think the extent of the problems identified by the trio of inspectors with the assistance of auditors whom they engaged would indicate, as compared against the information we have from accreditation reports, annual reports and all the financial reports we have for all hospitals, that the problems with respect to the lack of written policies in regard to procedures in the hospital appear to be unique.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If this is what the honourable Leader of the Opposition is suggesting, I do not envisage that to be a problem, based on the information we have, as I started to recite, such as accreditation reports, monthly cash flow reports, annual reports, settlement reports and the like. Most of the problems, as the member will recall -- I am sure he has read the whole report -- relate to the lack of clearly stated, documented and available policies in a number of areas, and some practices that would not come out and have not come out in the reports to date.
Mr. Smith: I think the minister has made the point I am trying to make. Given that the minister said the accreditation system apparently was insufficient, along with the monthly cash flow reports and the settlement reports, to draw his attention to problems at the Toronto East General, and that it was only by a kind of fluke that the matter came out in the press and he was asked to appoint people to do a more detailed study so that the matter came to light at the Toronto East General, does the minister not recognize he is saying the accreditation system, the monthly cash flow report system and so on are simply inadequate for the purposes of pointing out even the very serious problems that apparently existed at the Toronto East General?
Rather than assuring the people that everything is fine elsewhere when he cannot possibly know that, he ought to present to this House a better accreditation system and tell us how he is going to improve the system so that problems like those at Toronto East General will not be missed again. If the problems were missed last time, then surely we need a better system --
Mr. Smith: If the problems were missed by the accreditation system last time, as the Minister of Health admits happened at the Toronto East General, surely the logical thing to do is to improve the accreditation system. Just to prove the point, will the minister please table the last two accreditation reports regarding Toronto East General Hospital?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In addition, we have the area teams of the ministry which regularly deal with the individual hospitals, reviewing their cash flow statements and their annual reports and the like, which would not routinely turn up those kinds of things.
For instance, the board of the Toronto East General Hospital had apparently ignored advice from its own auditors for three years in a row. It may well be that we are going to have to examine our own reporting procedures -- not the accreditation necessarily, because that is an entirely different matter and I do not think that is the point -- to try to identify if there are ways in which they can be improved to assist us in identifying sooner if there are difficulties in a particular hospital.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the minister has appointed an inspector, or is going to appoint one, to look into matters at the McKellar General Hospital in Thunder Bay, does his sweeping statement indicate that he is prejudging the contents of the report of the inspectors in Thunder Bay? Would the minister tell us why he feels it necessary to take the step of appointing inspectors in that case? Obviously there have been a number of things brought to his attention that caused him to make this appointment. Further, the minister does not know exactly what is going on there.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member asked me that question in a different context a week ago, before he knew the results of the inspection panel’s findings at the Toronto East General Hospital. I do not think my answer is any different this week than it was last week.
There have been expressions of concern from a variety of quarters in the Thunder Bay community: from the local MPP, from private citizens, from medical staff, the union and so forth. For at least a year there has been an ongoing series of problems there that I thought could best be assisted by asking an inspector to carry out an inspection and provide a report. The intent of the process is to assist the board to get its house in order and to resolve whatever is at the root of the problem.
Mr. Smith: Would the minister give us some indication of when he will be tightening up his general reporting procedure, given that it missed the Toronto East General Hospital totally? Would he tell us when he is going to tighten it up and, instead of telling the people of Ontario that all other hospitals are fine, undertake to talk to Dr. Henderson of the Ontario Hospital Association, who says perhaps all other hospitals have many of the same problems as Toronto East General Hospital? May we have some idea when the minister is going to tighten up these procedures rather than giving us assurances that are based on thin air?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We are constantly reviewing our procedures. For instance, in order to avoid some of the difficulties identified last year, the budget forms for 1981-82 told the hospitals they were to submit two budgets: phase one, roughly within the 10.1 per cent increase, to maintain existing programs; and phase two, to identify additional needs such as growth in population, utilization, whatever, for separate consideration. They were not to budget spending on additional staff, programs, equipment or whatever, without approval. That is a result of the experience in 1979 and 1980 leading up to it.
I cannot give the member a particular date, but I can tell him that after I met with representatives of the board of the Toronto East General Hospital on Monday -- and I think I indicated to the House on Tuesday that I met with representatives of the Ontario Hospital Association, the president, the past president and the executive director -- it was agreed there were a number of things in that report with which the OHA itself could be very helpful in working with its members to improve on the management and supervisory skills of administrators and boards of trustees. It is an ongoing process.
On March 31, 1979, there were 38,050 acute treatment hospital beds in Ontario. In the two years that followed there have been 4,276 acute treatment hospital beds shut down in Ontario. Would the minister tell us where those 4,200 beds have gone? Would he not agree that the overcrowding of hospitals, patients being forced to stay on stretchers overnight, delays on emergency wards and the postponement of operations in hospitals are a direct result of that hatchet job by the Ministry of Health?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, let me take the member back to February 7, 1978. It was on that date I announced what the policy of the government was: We would move to reduce, over a period of at least three years, the number of beds in the entire health care system of Ontario dedicated to acute care to 3.5 per 1,000 in southern Ontario and four per 1,000 in northern Ontario. At this time I indicated that what previously were the maxima for both chronic care beds and extended care or nursing home beds would from that point on become the minima. I would be glad to check the figures. I will not take the member’s figures as gospel. I have learned --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Maybe they are; I do not recognize them. If they are my figures, the member is not telling the whole story, with respect. He is not talking about the many hospitals in the province where beds were converted from a designation of acute care to one of chronic care. In the process, proper chronic programs were established in a great many communities, and I would point to Wingham or Brockville a few days ago. In many communities -- and he may have some recollection of this in his own part of the province, and the former Liberal critic I think remembers this -- chronic care programs previously existed only in name. They were little more than custodial care in many communities. They were not geared to providing chronic rehabilitative care for the patient.
As a result of this process, the total number of beds dedicated to health care has gone up. There have been additions of chronic care beds; there have been additions of nursing home beds. There is no question we have fewer beds nominally dedicated to acute care, but to cite that one figure is not giving the whole picture. It is not talking about the conversions to chronic care, nor the additions of chronic care beds and of nursing home beds that are already in place and already committed to.
Mr. Cassidy: I am not sure what the minister thinks is the whole picture. Again and again we have brought evidence before the Legislature about hospitals where the acute treatment beds are filled to capacity, hospitals where patients sometimes have to stay for two or three nights in a row on stretchers because they cannot get in. We have evidence of that being found not only at the Toronto East General but in hospitals all across the province.
Would the minister explain why the people of the province are required to pay 15 per cent extra in their OHIP premiums with this year’s budget when the Ministry of Health and the government are letting the quality of health care in the province go down the drain by cutting the equivalent of 10 general hospitals in the last three years?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First, the member says he has brought forth evidence; he has not. He has brought allegations but never evidence. He has never done that. The facts do not support his allegations. They never have.
The member is insisting on what I think is not -- I will not use the word dishonest, because I may be called to order. It is a questionable, misleading argument in that he is zeroing in on only one part of the statistics. He will not acknowledge that the policy is very clearly laid out. He has not acknowledged that in the course of that period the total number of beds in the system has gone up, nor that there are more ambulatory care programs, that there is more surgery being done on a day surgery basis so that people who do not need it are not hospitalized.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I indicated the other day that in the five fiscal years I have been Minister of Health, spending on health care in this province has gone up approximately 64 per cent. That is an awful lot more than either the rate of inflation or the amount by which OHIP premiums have gone up.
Mr. Van Horne: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: At times the minister seems to delight in pointing out we lack knowledge or information while he does have a lot of information in these reports from his area ministry teams he referred to. Would the minister table the last two reports of those area ministry teams on the Toronto East General Hospital so that we might share some of that knowledge?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to examine it and discuss it with staff. I do not believe there are any all-embracing reports on the whole operation. They would be on individual complaints or on individual matters raised by them, but I would be glad to share whatever information we have.
Mr. McClellan: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I want to tell the minister that I recall perfectly well the policy of February 7. I want to ask the minister, if it was the policy of the government to decrease acute care beds in order to expand chronic care beds, how can he possibly explain the fact that between March 1979 and March 1981 there has been a decline of 961 chronic care beds in Ontario? They were decreased from 10,820 on March 31, 1979, according to his figures tabled in this House last December, to 9,859 according to his figures tabled in this House on June 8.
While he is at it, why does he not explain to us what happened to the 3,218 chronic care beds which he said would be opened during 1980? He told us that on December 12, 1980, in an answer tabled in this Legislature. Maybe those beds evaporated after March 19, 1981.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to look at each of the individual answers. If there is any inconsistency I will straighten it out, but the member cannot deny that the new chronic care beds in the last couple of years are on University Avenue at the old Mount Sinai. He cannot deny that they are at the old Grace Hospital. He cannot deny that the new beds --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I sat here and listened to the member’s question. Why is it he will not afford people even a modicum of good manners and respect to listen? If the member does not want to hear it, that is fine.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations about the tripling of retail markups for beef which has occurred over the course of the last five years according to the Ontario Cattlemen’s Action Group.
In view of the refusal of the supermarkets to respond to the charges made by the cattlemen about the very substantial increase in retail markups on beef over the course of the last four or five years, will the minister investigate it? What action will the government take to protect consumers and ensure a decent return for cattlemen and stop excessive markups on beef?
Hon. Mr. Walker: I have no beef. Mr. Speaker, with regard to the leader of the New Democratic Party’s question about the matter of beef and the complaint of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Action Group, I think there are some things that should be brought up front and mentioned before we attach ourselves to any one particular side.
All of us, of course, want those producing the beef to receive the largest amount of payment that possibly can be made, and similarly, we want a proper profit to be made by any of those people who are wholesaling or retailing the beef.
One of the problems in the Ontario Cattlemen’s Action Group complaints is that the retailers actually dispute the manner in which they are calculating their markups. The member mentioned the fact that the markup has risen by three times over the last four years, I believe. We have been monitoring the price of beef. Our monitors only go back for some 25 months but I can say that in the past year, from May 1980 until May 1981, our food prices monitoring report shows that beef has risen by only 5.2 per cent.
I suspect the member has a copy of that food prices monitoring report in his own library. It will show that in the last year there has been only a 5.2 per cent increase. Indeed, it might even be considered that is a bit marginal in terms of the rate of inflation in the last period of time.
The second aspect is that the Retail Council of Canada claims that between 1979 and 1980 -- because the 1981 figures are not available I have to give the member the 1979-80 figures -- the markups rose from 16 to 18 per cent, hardly the figure they are talking about in terms of triple over that period of four years. So there are some problems.
In addition to that, I am told one of the problems is the manner in which the cattlemen put together these prices. If one is talking about the price of a new Ford motor car, one does not add up the price of the new muffler, the new tailpipe, the new back end, the new trunk and the new seats. Apparently, the cattlemen put together their prices in a strange way. I am told they put them together by attempting to reconstitute the carcass, piece by piece: so much for the hoof, so much for the horns and so much for the hip.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Given all that, and while there may appear to be some connection between the two parts, the beef animal and the automobile, the fact of the matter is that one just cannot take a reconstitution approach to it. It has to be looked at from the whole, as the whole produced as opposed to the single parts pieced together.
I think the member should go back and take a look at the cattlemen’s attempt to put these figures together. I think he will find the facts may not be what they seem to be saying. There is no doubt there is a lot of dispute to it. Our figures do not bear that out, and we have been monitoring it for 25 months.
Mr. Cassidy: I asked the minister two specific questions: Will he investigate? He obviously is saying no. Is he be prepared to take action and what action would he take if he investigated? He is not prepared to take any action either to protect the consumers or to ensure decent returns for the cattlemen.
Since there were some specials in May, perhaps I can take the minister back just a month to April 1981, when the spread between the farm-gate price and the retail price for beef was $1.02 a pound, up from an average of 57 cents a pound in 1979. That is, the spread had risen by 80 per cent in just about a year and a half.
Is the minister saying he thinks that is a tolerable increase in the retail markup for beef? If he does not think it is reasonable, is he prepared to investigate? Is he prepared as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to come to the defence of the consumers? What action will the government take to roll back the price increase and make sure that we get charged fair prices for beef at the supermarket?
Hon. Mr. Walker: I suppose what the member is asking is, will we have an Ontario-sponsored beef price control agency? I do not think this ministry is prepared to set that up. I have to tell him our prices do not tell us the same thing he is trying to tell us. We have been monitoring it for the last 25 months, and we cannot come up with those figures. Over the last year, from May to May, the rise was 5.2 per cent for beef.
I remind the member that, when the cattlemen put together their package, one of the real complaints is they fail to take into consideration some of the specials that exist. I might tell him that, if he were to go to a Dominion store, for the next week he would be able to buy three pounds of rib steaks for a saving of $3.66 this week, down from $11.64 to $7.98. Yesterday we checked the newspapers, and the Safeway stores in Toronto actually have reduced the price of three pounds of round steak from $10.74 to $7.74. There is a $3 reduction right there, a substantial 27 per cent saving. That is the thing.
Mr. McKessock: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Does it not indicate to the minister that there is something wrong in the pricing of the chain stores when they can give reductions of $1 a pound when they put on specials? At what time does the ministry do its monitoring? Do they do it when there is $1 a pound off or when the stores are running it at full price?
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, our food price monitoring program report number 25 came out May 1981. In that process we investigate 36 communities, including Toronto, and check these out at various times. For instance, we measured from April 3, 1980, to April 2, 1981, and from May 8, 1980, to May 7, 1981.
We choose a particular day that is a constant day, whereby we check all these matters. We hope our review process is very accurate and done on the basis of certain days, picked differently at different times, so that people cannot have specials on at just the day we are checking it out.
We cover 72 food items monitored throughout the province; so we can pretty much give an assessment of it on a day-by-day basis. Does the member get this report? I think he should have a chance to look over this report.
He asked me initially the question, how could these companies bring on a $1 reduction on beef? For one thing, that is free enterprise, and I think the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) can tell him that. Secondly, I am told these companies use beef as a loss leader. They can do anything they want with a loss leader. The beauty of free enterprise, I think, is that one can lower the price from time to time too.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: I get that report, but is it not true that all the report does is monitor the retail price and that it has nothing to do with the markup? Does the minister not know that the increase he spoke about -- which he said was only 5.2 per cent -- occurred as the farm-gate price of beef went down substantially, while the supermarkets were increasing that?
Does he not realize that constitutionally he has responsibility for retail prices in this province, as pointed out by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) in a letter of December 8, 1979, where he states it would be within the competence of the Legislative Assembly to authorize the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to regulate, control or roll back prices in Ontario?
Yes, I know that we only monitor. It is not as if we are telling any secret. We actually call the report the food price monitoring program. I think anyone who has an understanding of this realizes that all we are doing is monitoring.
If the member is asking us if we are setting the prices, I tell him we are not setting the prices. If he asks us whether we are prepared to support his private bill that wants us to set the prices of food, I say no.
Mr. Boudria: Since “Ontario -- Yours To Discover!” is really a tourism theme, bilingual licence plates would not be at all inconsistent with the major thrust placed on French-language tourism promotion by the Ministry of Industry and Tourism. I want to quote from Hansard what the minister said:
Hon. Mr. Wells: The simple answer is that there is no room on the plates for anything else. I think our friends from Quebec found that out when they went for unilingual plates. This has nothing to do with the fantastic thrust that my colleague is carrying on to attract people to this province from all over and particularly from Quebec. But I think it is very important that the name “Ontario” appear on the licence plates, completely and fully, on top.
My friend suggested to me privately that to make the plates bilingual we could take “Ontario” and put it over on the side in some little wee corner. We would not want to do that. I think it is very important for tourism that, when our drivers are driving all over the other provinces and the United States, people see where they are coming from.
Mr. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I have just been handed a copy, which was dictated over the phone, of the letter that was sent to Mr. H. Roach of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, July 31, 1979, by Mr. Robert McGlynn, a letter to which the minister made reference earlier. The letter says:
“Further to my letter of July 23, 1979, in connection with investments made by Sheila and Henry Ramsey with Astra Trust, I would confirm that the Ramseys’ investment with Astra has been returned to them in full with interest to July 27, 1979.”
There is nothing there suggesting that the previous letter should be disregarded or that the charges and the litany of complaints should be withdrawn. Therefore, the minister either has been seriously misinformed by his staff on this very vital matter of when the government had knowledge of these problems or has taken it upon himself to misinform us, which I am sure he would not do intentionally.
I suggest that the privileges of the members of this House have been taken somewhat lightly by either the minister or his staff. It does not do to tell us that charges were withdrawn when all that happened was that a report was made saying the Montemurro people gave back the money when threatened that the matter was going to go to the government.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak to -- what was that, a point of privilege? I do not mind the Leader of the Opposition coming in here and being confused, but when he sits there, hears what I have to say and then takes what I said and changes it around to fit his own thought process, that disturbs me.
The fact of the matter is, I answered and said a telephone call was received from Mr. McGlynn, and the telephone call said: “Do not worry about it. You can ignore it; we have the matter entirely resolved.”
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Roach asked that that be sent in writing. Then, yes, I said a letter had been received which indicated the matter had been resolved in my mind. Those are the words I used, that the matter had been resolved. I said when I get a copy of the letter I would see to it that he got a copy of the letter.
Hon. Mr. Walker: The Leader of the Opposition can get a copy of Hansard if he pleases. That is what I had to say, and I resent that the Leader of the Opposition would suggest I changed my story. I did not change my story. Perhaps if he can get a copy of Hansard, and after he has read that he will have some view of my presentation.
The minister will be aware of a strike that began on June 12 at the Windsor Bumper division of Gulf and Western (Canada) Limited and that, as of yesterday, the owners of that company indicated to the 150 workers that the plant would be closing.
The minister also will be aware that the plant now is being occupied by 17 workers in an effort to get justification for the plant closure, something this government does not have the guts to do in legislation in this province.
Will the minister kindly explain to the members of this Legislature, the 17 workers and the other thousands of unemployed workers why they must occupy plants to get a half-assed severance pay and now to get justification for plant closure? Will he explain that to the people of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, conciliation and mediation have been going on for some time at Windsor Bumper and, as the honourable member knows full well, the mediation revolves solely around monetary matters, with the company having one position and the union another. As a result of that disagreement, a strike commenced on June 12.
It is true that, as of yesterday, the company did advise employees the plant would be closing. But it is also true that same company and that same trade union are meeting tomorrow in the company of a mediator with the director of that division to see if they still cannot resolve the dispute.
With regard to the sit-in and the reasons for it -- and I say this very sadly and frankly; I speak quite frankly -- I think that what has happened with regard to that sit-in is sad. I think it does a disservice to the members who are involved in it, a disservice to the trade union and a disservice to society.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am quite serious about that. In a society built on the basic foundations of peace, order and good government, in a society where trade unions have a legitimate role to play, they should not bring discredit upon themselves by this kind of illegal behaviour.
Mr. Cooke: As the member representing the workers in that riding, I have no hesitation in saying that I support that sit-in. The Minister of Labour will not act on the workers’ behalf; so they have to take action into their own hands.
Maybe the minister could come up with some kind of justification and explain the shutdown when it is a fact that work at that plant has increased, demand for the bumpers has increased. In fact, the number of employees has gone from 50 last year to 150.
The termination notice that went out to the workers yesterday said the plant would be closing as soon as the work that has to be done in that plant is transferred to the American plant so that customers can be satisfied.
Can the minister not see some injustice in that and why the people who are occupying that plant and losing their jobs have lost faith in this government and in the philosophy of peace, order and good government?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I hope the member is not saying he does not believe in the collective bargaining process where one party can have one position and another party have another and, if there is an impasse, each have certain options. I say to him that illegal activity should not be one of those options and it brings discredit on everybody.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary to the minister is that some six months ago he felt the problem of plant closures was so severe that he suggested and had created through the Ontario government a select committee to study plant closures. As these plant closures continue without abatement, will the minister now finally ask the cabinet to reappoint the select committee so we can finish the work that he felt was necessary six months ago?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, the member knows full well that the whole issue of the select committee on plant closures and employee adjustment received extensive consideration in an open debate in this House some two weeks ago. He well knows that this government has introduced a series of measures related to pension benefits, that a plant closure division has been established and that there has been proposed legislation, which received second reading yesterday and which we think is progressive, practical and realistic.
At the meeting that the minister attended as an observer on Thursday, June 4, his deputy minister, Mr. Campbell, gave as a response to my question about the reason for his not telling people his schedule: “People who work at senior levels of the health system unfortunately get death threats periodically; so the staff is not usually very forthcoming about schedules. But that is another problem.”
Can the minister explain to the House whether he is aware of any death threats to senior health officials? Has the minister had any? What protection is there for these people? Can the minister explain why his schedule is very publicly promulgated to each and every person across the province who might be a delegate to the Tory leadership convention, if and when that happens, but his officials will not tell the public what their schedules are?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Certainly when I travel, even when it is with the member for Rainy River on government aircraft, it is known in the community that I am coming. I cannot deny that. I guess that is part of the risk that he and I take in deciding to be involved in public life.
I am aware that from time to time there have been and there are threats made against my own person. I do not particularly care to discuss it in great detail here, because it seems to me that sort of thing unfortunately only encourages more of the same, but suffice it to say that we have taken security precautions in various offices, particularly in the office of the minister and the deputy minister.
Given the fact that this is a problem, and even though probably all of us at one time have had these threats in one way or the other for different reasons, does the minister not think that public servants’ schedules should be available to people so that we know where people are and what they are doing so that they can be accountable to the members of the Legislature and through us to the people?
I do know, as I said, we have had problems from time to time. I would be glad to discuss them with the member privately. I do not intend to do it in this kind of forum or any public forum that is going to just in a way contribute to the problem in the longer term. We have taken particular precautions where we are.
Will the minister inform the House what additional steps he may be taking to deal with the strike involving Wabco Limited and Local 558 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America in Hamilton which is now more than 30 days old?
Is the minister fully aware of all the ramifications of that strike, including the fact that the head office of Wabco has been trying to supply its Canadian customers from its American plants? That undermines the position of the workers and is somewhat akin to the deliberate blackmail we see by the company in the Windsor case.
Mr. Mackenzie: Inasmuch as the layoffs at National Steel Car take place tomorrow as a result of lack of supplies, and inasmuch as this strike now has gone on for better than 30 days, will the minister take some additional steps other than the usual mediator situation to see what can be done to bring this dispute to an end?
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In a letter to the editor of the Ontario March of Dimes newsletter, The Advocate, last month, the minister made three statements regarding the Ontario Building Code that are inaccurate. He stated: (1) that the code provided access to every suite of all newly constructed apartment buildings in Ontario exceeding 6,000 square feet that were equipped with elevators; (2) that access was required to places of employment, and (3) that recent amendments require washroom facilities on each floor of office buildings.
Ms. Copps: In the same letter, the minister claims the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontario Building Code and programs like Wintario may or may not relate to or complement each other. If the ministry’s actions or inactions do not relate to one another, how can the minister develop the kind of comprehensive policy vis-à-vis the disabled that this province so desperately needs?
Has the minister had a chance to examine the petition introduced in the House early in June by some residents of Downsview who were complaining about the extension of hours of driver testing? Has he made any decision in that regard?
Mr. Di Santo: Since the hours have been expanded from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and testing also takes place on Saturdays as a result of the closing of the Hallam Street driving test centre, does the minister not think it is a bit unfair to dump all the testing on Downsview when it would make more sense to decentralize so the residents of a particular area would not suffer the consequences?
Hon. Mr. Snow: We have extended the hours in an attempt to give better service to the public and provide better opportunities to those people who may be working at steady jobs every day and who would have to take off a half a day or a day from work to take a driving test. This has not only happened at the Downsview depot, it has happened in a number of municipalities in the busier areas of the province. I hope we are going to be able to do it in more areas across the province in the near future.
Mr. Martel: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I want to correct the record. In the last several weeks, as we have raised questions with respect to plant shutdowns and layoffs, continual reference has been made to a “report” by the select committee. Mr. Speaker, you were a member of that select committee. I think the House should know that what the Minister of Labour said today and what some of his colleagues are making reference to is not a report by the select committee; it is merely a working document that the select committee did not have an opportunity even to discuss so that a final report could be presented to the Legislature.
This constant reference to that supposed report is merely a lot of nonsense. The members had no input at all. It was merely a working document prepared by a member of the research staff. To try to imply from that document that something can be enacted by the government with some assurance that members had input into that document is simply nonsense. I do not think ministers should try to make a link between the two, because it is not valid.
If the government wants to reappoint the select committee so that we can make final recommendations, I can assure it that both parties on this side of the House would be absolutely delighted to go along with that select committee.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, the member will recall that yesterday when the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke) referred to the report I concurred that it was not a report of that select committee, so nobody is trying to mislead the House about that. What I said was that there was a full and complete debate on that document -- if I said report I was in error -- in which everyone had a clear opportunity to explain his position on the issues that were in that document and those that were not.
Mr. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: On the question of the serious allegations made about the use of Astra Trust as a front for Re-Mor and about the serious misuse of the licence of a company that was licensed provincially, and on the matter of whether the lawyer did in fact withdraw those allegations, I want to tell this House that the lawyer is prepared to state that he never did withdraw the allegations.
Secondly, the letter I have read into the record said only that the clients got their money back -- nothing about disregarding the previous letter, nothing at all. When the minister answered my previous point of privilege he said all he had said was that the phone call -- not the letter, only the phone call -- had said, “Withdraw my previous letter and ignore it.” In fact neither the phone call nor the letter did that.
More to the point, I want to quote from the Instant Hansard, which is in my hand at the moment, what the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations said earlier today. He said, on page 1440-1, “All I can say is, on the basis of the letter that was received setting out a number of allegations, and then receiving a call from the individual who actually wrote the letter, followed up by a letter from him -- a copy of which I would be glad to provide the member if we are able to locate it -- saying ‘Please disregard everything we have said,’ wouldn’t it be reasonable to do that?” The letter said no such thing.
Further, the minister said later on in the question period: “I know it is not your duty to answer questions. You never answer questions. But do you not realize that it is reasonable to assume, when the person who wrote the letter sends another letter saying to disregard it, that you can reasonably do that?”
The minister, when he denies having said he received a second letter saying “Disregard the first,” clearly has a faulty memory of what he said 20 minutes earlier, which is recorded in Hansard. Further, this extremely serious and grave matter, which demonstrates that a list of serious allegations, all of which proved to be entirely correct, was sent to the ministry and never withdrawn, and that the ministry was merely informed that, under the pressure of being told this letter had gone forward, Mr. Montemurro coughed up the money -- and that is all the ministry was informed about -- is further evidence of the negligence and the dereliction of duty in the ministry.
Further to that, the minister has been misinformed today by his staff on this very matter. If this does not point out the need for an independent inquiry into this whole affair, I do not know what in heaven’s name ever will point out that need. The minister knew about it a year before he had to.
Hon. Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, in speaking to the point of privilege that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, I have a copy of the Instant Hansard. What he is saying is that I interpreted the letter and said what the letter had said. Here is what I said. It is on page 1435-1. Look at that. Just refer back another page there. The member is so busy rehearsing --
Hon. Mr. Walker: -- “There was a telephone call that came from McGlynn, the very lawyer who sent the letter, saying: ‘Please disregard this letter. In fact, it has not substance. In fact, the whole matter has been resolved.’ To use his words, I gather he said: ‘It has all been fixed up and it has all been corrected. Don’t do anything about the letter that I sent you concerning this Astra Trust Company.’”
Mr. Speaker, I am merely relaying the information that has been relayed to me by my superintendent of insurance. That was apparently written on the file as a memo to file immediately after the telephone call came in. Later on at 1440-1, where the Leader of the Opposition chose again to quote me, depending on the emphasis he happens to put on the word “saying” -- he comes up with it relating to the letter -- I would say “saying” relates to a telephone call. It seems to me that in relation to a telephone call the word “say” is in proper context. In relation to a letter, the word “state” is the proper context.
But here is what I said in my reply at 1440-1: “All I can say is, on the basis of the letter that was received setting out a number of allegations, and then receiving a call” -- underline the words “a call” -- from the individual who actually wrote the letter, followed up by a letter from him -- a copy of which I would be glad to provide the member if we were able to locate it -- saying” -- -and the “saying” relates to the call -- “‘Please disregard everything we have said,’ wouldn’t it be reasonable to do that?”
Hon. Mr. Walker: It seems to me I was pointing out as clearly as possible what I could. I said I did not have a copy of the letter. I said if we can locate the letter -- I have not read a copy of the letter, but I was giving the impression I had of the memo to file. As well as that, I was giving the general impression I had of the letter. We all have a copy of the letter now to show exactly what it says. The fact of the matter is that the lawyer who was involved basically withdrew his objections. That is all I was merely trying to communicate to the member. I do not think it is anything more than that. I want the member to remember that he is getting confused in the companies. He should not get these two confused.
Hon. Mr. Walker: There is Re-Mor Investment -- and the member calls it a company -- which is connected with Via Mare, and there is Re-Mor Investment Company Limited. Do not get the two confused. All I am saying is it behooves this member to give us all the details here, not just a few. If he has a letter, it is interesting that he had that letter.
Mr. Smith: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, the man purported to quote to you what he said, only he did not do so. Because on page 1440-2 of Instant Hansard, there is a sentence that says “Don’t you realize it is reasonable to assume when the person who wrote you the letter sends another letter saying to disregard it...”
I ask you please to consider that I stood up earlier in the question period and said that the letter which had been sent did not ask anybody to disregard the previous allegations. You understand that the nub of the whole matter is if the ministry knew back then, it had no business saying it has not been told. This is the nub. This is the key issue in this whole Re-Mor matter.
If they were given a list of allegations and did not look into them on the notion that they were sent another letter saying ignore the first letter, you might or might not understand it, but since the letter they were sent did not say ignore the first letter but merely said Montemurro has now paid up -- and in fact he paid up under threat of that letter having gone in -- and since when I raised that matter earlier, the minister’s defence was he had never said that the letter had asked him to disregard the previous letter when on page 1440-2 the words of the minister are, “You never answer questions, but don’t you realize it is reasonable to assume when the person who wrote the letter sends another letter saying to disregard it, that you can reasonably do that. Isn’t that a reasonable thing?”
That is what the minister said, but the second letter did not say disregard the first letter. It merely said, “My clients have recovered their money from Montemurro.” In no way did it say disregard the serious list of allegations which they made in the first letter. That was probably one of the first, if not the first time that the government was given a detailed list of allegations which it should have investigated. Apparently it did not do so, which is another sign of negligence.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by 20 members to present to you in view of the Minister of Health’s indifference to the health problem of the urea-formaldehyde foam insulation in homes, to the extent where he will not even locate the homes or have them tested or even issue instructions about what the people should do. I table a petition pursuant to standing order 33(b) of the Legislative Assembly: The undersigned members of the Assembly hereby petition that the annual report of the Ministry of Health for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1980, be referred to the standing committee on social development for such consideration of the report as the committee may determine.
The first of these amendments is designed to revise the criteria for appointment to the advisory board of the foundation, which proposes to permit representation from fields such as psychology and epidemiology to the board, whose members to date have come from medicine only.
This change in board composition will offer a multidisciplinary approach consistent with developments in mental health care over the past 20 years. This approach promises a greater scope to the knowledge upon which decisions affecting mental health research are based.
The second amendment will put McMaster University on the list of health sciences centres now recommending people for membership to the board. The reason for this is that McMaster did not have a faculty of medicine when the act was passed in 1960.
Honourable members will recall the Ontario Mental Health Foundation was created to produce a program of mental health research, diagnosis and treatment. It is my hope the amendments to the OMHF Act can be passed at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Members are supposed to receive a compendium of information which would indicate the issue at stake. I have the compendium of information before me and the statement prepared by the minister. Surely if we are being asked to vote on a bill that in my estimation is going to destroy collective bargaining in this dispute we should at least have the courtesy of receiving what is at dispute.
There is a strike. My understanding is the strike is over class size enrolment. But there is nothing in the compendium of information which even indicates what issues are at stake. We are being asked to vote on a bill which will see any side prepared to stonewall from here on until the government is prepared to intervene. We are expected to vote on that without any information concerning what is at issue. I am just not prepared to support that sort of bill.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the issues at stake and a review of the activities carried out by the very able mediator could be provided for the honourable member. I did not expect him to support it anyway.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I find the attitude of the minister disturbing: it matters not whether the opposition supports government legislation, as the Premier (Mr. Davis) has reminded us so often about the realities of March 19.
Similarly, the essence of the rule in the standing orders about a compendium is that the compendium by its definition should be complete. As my colleague from Sudbury East points out, it is not complete.
Also, we do not have at hand the number of meetings that have taken place between the parties involved, the issues that have been settled and so on. One sheet and a one-letter compendium of information in this very serious matter, in my humble view, is incomplete. As a member of this Legislative Assembly, I feel my privileges have not been adhered to in this case.
That this House reaffirm its support for producer operated provincial and national marketing boards, which provide an effective means of marketing many farm products in this country, and which give farmers much needed bargaining power in the marketplace and have been an effective mechanism to provide consumers with a stable supply of wholesome food products at reasonable prices, and which are supportive of the family farm, small business, and the promotion and development of food resources throughout this province and country.
After having read the motion, which I believe is very topical today, I do not pretend to know all about marketing boards, their functions and their mechanisms, but agriculture is a very important topic to the people we represent. Indeed, there are many people in this Legislature, new people, who have a great deal of knowledge about this, such as the member for Lincoln (Mr. Andrewes), the member for Durham York (Mr. Stevenson), the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. Watson), the member for Wentworth (Mr. Dean), the member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) and the member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean). These new members bring to this Legislature a great deal of information on agriculture and agricultural products.
“The government I lead is aware that this province was founded by farmers. We believe the farmers of this province are among the most enterprising, innovative and productive groups in our society. Over the years, we have tried to develop a partnership between government and the farm community, a partnership which has produced policies and programs designed to help farmers help themselves.
“Overall we have sought to develop an approach to agriculture which is designed to help farmers help themselves, and to keep the state out of those activities which no government could ever perform as well as the enterprising farmer can on his own.
“We recognize your right to do so, if you wish. Many of you have chosen to do that. Many of you have chosen to go it alone. Either option has its advantages. My government will maintain your right to choose freely as long as we have the opportunity of representing the interests of this province.”
I would like to expand on this motion on how 24 separate marketing boards operating in Ontario succeed to present agriculture in its best light. These boards have developed over a 45-year period in response to a number of difficult marketing situations. Some of the boards for poultry and milk are affiliated with the equivalent national marketing agencies which operate to share markets between the provinces on the basis of equity to farmers wherever they are found.
There is a great deal of criticism of some national marketing boards, and much of this criticism is warranted, particularly when it favours one province over another and when it is unrelated to the ability of those provinces to produce for their local demand. There are many methods of operation on these marketing boards. Some of the boards negotiate with their buyers to establish minimum prices and uniform terms and conditions of sale. An outstanding example of this is the Ontario Vegetable Growers’ Marketing Board, which functions for 12 main processing crops. This board and the Ontario Food Processors Association have developed a unique bargaining system called final offer selection.
To resolve their annual negotiations, they use this selection method. The actual crops are grown under contract with the processors in keeping with their share of the domestic and export market. Sweet corn for processing is an ideal example. Pricing arrangements are made available to stimulate exports, particularly from central and eastern Ontario.
While I readily admit all procedures will not apply equally to all boards or all commodities, experimentation, innovation and change should be welcomed. There was a 1979 study produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food at their request which resulted in many changes in agriculture in Ontario.
Other kinds of marketing boards establish the price on the basis of consultation with the buyers and in the face of market demand. For example, the fresh peach crop is marketed by the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers’ Marketing Board which does a good job with the retailers and wholesalers to distribute a perishable crop in a way consumers appreciate.
Finally, there are the well-known marketing boards in poultry and dairy products which exercise supply management in addition to establishing prices for their commodities. Some of these are referred to as quotas, and although I am not satisfied with the quotas received by Ontario from some of the federal marketing boards, I think this is being negotiated and should be more forcefully negotiated with the federal boards to see that Ontario farmers receive a more adequate share of quotas.
As indicated in my motion, the boards give farmers much needed bargaining power. This bargaining power is needed in the marketplace where it is sometimes dog eat dog. We want our farmers farming and not negotiating at the processing stands when they bring their produce to market.
After all, we are talking about 70,000 family farm businesses of every conceivable size and type, and a relatively concentrated buying, wholesaling and retailing market that has great power to manipulate those prices. These buyers recognize the value to them of a stable marketplace which allows for development of high quality and good service to their customers.
The farmers are growers, experts on the land. This needs their most constant attention and the product is a perishable one that has to be sold at a particular time of the year when it comes to market. They cannot be pushed around by the large retailers who must consider these items more precisely in their marketing procedures. The farmers cannot be both at the marketing stand and at the farm, and we need them more on the farming end of it.
They are trying to provide the consumer with a low cost, high quality product. The time, energy and knowledge provided by boards allow the farmers to provide for the growing of produce. The boards provide the marketing and assistance in that marketing.
The consumers of Ontario are blessed with a reliable supply of wholesome food products at reasonable prices well within the means of Ontario citizens. Our consumers have a bewildering array of choices in the market. Rarely does one find a true shortage of any class of food in the marketplace. I wonder sometimes if many of the consumers realize the extent of what our farmers do in getting that food to market and the great effort that is put forward to provide that fine quality food. Those of us who have urban backgrounds just go into our supermarkets and receive that fine, fresh produce.
When I pass through the Holland Marsh, back and forth from my riding, I watch the hard work that goes into the growth of the farm products that are feeding most of the Metro region and markets all over North America. A great deal of hard work, energy and innovation are needed to get those products to market.
The family farm is an efficient method of agricultural production. A farm manager, blessed with a hard working family as many of them are, can provide the highest quality crops in competition with anyone provided that when he brings that crop to market he gets a fair price for it in keeping with the cost of production. The marketing boards often guarantee that fair price.
We know the cost of production is rising in relation to oil, fertilizer, equipment, labour, feed and interest rates, to name just a few. The running of a farm, family or otherwise, is no longer simple. Boards assist in supply, price, delivery and promotion. They remove some of those vagaries of the market that in earlier systems made a hotchpotch of the marketing of our farm products. These ingredients are now co-ordinated so the farmer can receive the best price for his product.
The agribusiness is able to operate profitably as both a supplier to and a buyer from the marketing boards in Ontario. As buyers, they can be assured that their substantial investments in plants will have a steady supply year after year in a market climate that will allow them to develop their full sales potential in keeping with their own quality standards and skills.
I welcome this opportunity to commend the efforts of marketing boards in the service of Ontario agriculture. Marketing boards suggested by producers were legislated into existence usually to deal with severe economic problems. They have successfully raised the standard of living of thousands of farm families who have been in a position to develop their businesses and take an active and equal role in society.
The consumer spends approximately 17.7 per cent of disposable income on food. That includes both home and restaurant business. In the 1950s, the figure was 25 per cent of disposable income spent on food.
Marketing boards account for one half of the gross farm income in Ontario, which is now close to $4 billion annually. Although we have been concerned about marketing board issues, including appropriate price levels and quota allotments, these concerns have to do with the fine tuning of the system. Some of the producers who are currently facing difficulties as a result of the free market price of their commodities and the high cost of financing and purchasing inputs look to the marketing board systems with some justifiable envy.
However, marketing boards will not automatically solve every problem unless we are very careful in considering applications for this type of legislation on new commodities in the future. I quote from Reforming Regulation, a recent document by the Economic Council of Canada. This document has received a great deal of notoriety in our media lately, and some of it I wish to emphasize.
On page 65 of that document it says, under the heading “Conclusions and Recommendations”: “Our examination of selected agricultural marketing boards suggests that those principally aimed at establishing countervailing power for farmers, such as the hog boards, the fruit and vegetable boards and the Canadian Wheat Board, have generally been operating successfully and to the benefit of society. These boards have worked to the advantage of producers, who are now able to secure the fair return formerly denied them because of their insufficient bargaining power. To the extent that markets function better, that additional detailed information is provided and that quality is controlled, both the consumer and the producer benefit. No doubt, as in the case of other institutions, the operation of the boards could be improved. Nevertheless, the council endorses their activities and sees no need for radical changes in their mandates.”
I emphasize that last part. That is why I spoke of fine tuning. We cannot just disregard the marketing boards. Even the Economic Council of Canada does not say that. It says, naturally, that their activities have to be monitored, that there is no need for radical changes, but that they have to have some changes. That is where the fine tuning comes in. That is what this debate is about and what the marketing boards have to secure for themselves in the future.
I also quote from page 67, where it says: “None the less, we have decided not to recommend altering the existing mandate or composition of individual commodity boards. Farmers have fought hard to obtain a degree of control over the effects of economic conditions, and a radical change might undermine their confidence in such boards. Rather, increased accountability might be obtained by changing the composition and procedures of the supervisory boards. In this connection we believe that a number of minor changes” -- and I emphasize “minor” -- “should be introduced so that all regional and national supply management schemes are subject to the same accountability and supervisory provisions.”
The boards also should not unduly restrict the individual farmer from expanding or from entering the field of farming. We should be more and ever vigilant that initiative is not stifled, that ambition is not retarded, that farmers and their capacity to buy is not regulated to the point where they are reluctant to continue in a most positive and inspirational way.
Other purposes, such as research and development of foreign markets, are part of the marketing board tradition. Marketing boards are leaders in sales development. The pork board, the milk board and the poultry boards have made the consumer aware of their products and their nutritional values for the family. In particular, we commend the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, which tells teenagers as well as others to enjoy milk. There again, they are being positive about the product they sell.
I believe the wording of my resolution expresses very well the function that marketing boards perform. They are an effective means of marketing many farm products in Canada and they give farmers very necessary bargaining power in the marketplace. In addition, they serve the interests of the consumers by ensuring a stable supply of wholesome food products at reasonable prices. Marketing boards help make possible the preservation of the family farm and the agricultural traditions we value in this province while at the same time promoting the development of our food resources.
I am sure a number of my colleagues in this Legislature will wish to draw attention to this important subject, and I welcome their comments. Indeed, the farming community is supplying to their producer-operated marketing boards some very fine assistance to provide consumers with an excellent product.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, the author of this resolution, the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. W. Taylor), knows full well he will get support from the Liberal Party. Not only did the federal Liberal government pave the way for supply management boards in the first place, but also it has been the Liberal Party in Ontario that has continued to champion the cause of farmers ever since there was a need for government involvement in the agricultural industry.
The member for Simcoe Centre needs to look to his own colleagues for support, considering the ill-conceived comments that the Minister for Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Walker) made just recently to the Ontario chapter of the Consumers’ Association of Canada about marketing boards.
Such bashing of marketing boards by individuals and concerns such as those of the minister, the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the Economic Council of Canada, gives me great concern about the future of marketing boards in this country.
We read articles that indicate Canadian consumers are paying hundreds of millions of dollars every year in higher food prices because some government marketing boards are controlling food production to keep the prices artificially high.
Many economists and consumer groups say Canadians are paying substantially more for such basic items as eggs, chickens and turkeys because producers of these food items have organized themselves into virtual domestic OPECs whose monopoly powers dictate production levels and fix prices.
The era of supply management began in Canada in 1972, when the federal government passed the Farm Products Marketing Agencies Act, which paved the way for federal supply management boards. Since then, producers of eggs, turkeys and broiler chickens have come under a national supply management program.
At the time the legislation for the boards was enacted, the federal government felt that farmers were in need of income stabilization. The idea was to protect them from the often wide income swings associated with the gluts and shortages that characterize most agricultural products.
There is no question in my mind that marketing boards and national supply management programs are needed in this country to give our farmers an opportunity to compete with the American producers, who have lower capital and labour costs and a much superior climate for growing a wide variety of agricultural products. I am convinced that, in the broiler chicken industry, the low cost of American imports would wipe out our producers if they did not have a marketing board.
However, it is alleged that marketing boards have been costly to the consumer. Using eggs as an example, it is alleged that Ontario consumers are paying as much as seven cents a dozen more for eggs than they would if the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency did not exist. This information is being widely publicized to consumers, yet I have not seen the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) defending marketing boards other than by way of speeches he gives to groups who are already convinced that marketing boards in the long run are a benefit to the consumer.
I personally do not believe that marketing boards contribute to higher prices if one compares the price of the product under a supply management program with the price of products that are sold on a free market. That is not to say I do not think there are problems with marketing boards.
The Canadian Egg Marketing Agency is an excellent example of how supply management works. CEMA sets production quotas for each producer. It is believed that by restricting supplies the price of eggs can be kept artificially high, but this is not the case. CEMA fixes prices according to a complex pricing formula that takes into consideration the average cost of production within the industry plus a fair return to the farmer on his capital investment in farm machinery. The number of eggs produced has very little bearing on the price.
Consumers understandably become suspicious of marketing board motives when they learn of such programs as the one implemented recently by CEMA to pay farmers to kill 1.5 million laying hens, but they fail to realize there is no sense in producing eggs that cannot be marketed.
Overproduction of eggs, even if it means reduced prices, does not mean people will buy more eggs. Egg consumption has declined in Canada over the past few years, but it has fallen even more in the United States, and they do not have a supply management program.
Because CEMA takes the average production cost across the nation weighted according to province and transportation costs, the efficient producer is allegedly prevented from passing on the benefits of his low-cost operation to the consumer in lower prices.
Consumers are led to believe that Canadian egg buyers pay higher prices to help the less efficient producers stay in business. The production quota as given to egg producers becomes, in effect, an additional cost of production that is passed on to consumers. The farmer can sell his quota of eggs at a fixed guaranteed price to CEMA; so a quota value is set up that reflects the guaranteed income.
There have been many studies of marketing boards throughout Canada, and it does become a concern when one reads such statements as, “A quota is something like a corporate or government bond; the more income guaranteed, the higher its price”; or, “A quota is like a licence to steal money; so new farmers and old expansion-minded farmers are prepared to pay a price for that licence.”
Unfortunately, our future generation of farmers, if they are to buy a chicken farm, for example, will have to pay the going rate plus sometimes as much as $20 extra per bird because of the quota system. I do not envy anyone making a profit, but I do have a soft feeling in my heart for those young people who would dearly love to get into that part of farming which is controlled by supply management.
Let us look at the milk business in Ontario. A study by the Ontario Economic Council of the Ontario Milk Marketing Board stated that an Ontario milk producer pays as much for his milk quota as he does for his cows. That is allegedly passed on to Ontario consumers, who pay an estimated 1.3 cents a quart more for their milk than they would without the board. In terms of this province’s consumption, according to the economic council, that adds up to $11 billion a year in extra milk costs.
The economic council forgets about the federal subsidy on powdered skim milk, which was really a subsidy to the consumer. The Consumers’ Association of Canada vehemently objected to the curtailment of this subsidy, but they seem to be opposed to any kind of assistance to the farmers. Let me tell the consumers, if they want an abundance and variety of high-quality food at reasonable prices, then they had better support the programs that will help the farmers produce this food.
Like CEMA and the provincial milk boards, turkey producers across Canada are given production quotas by the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency, which was set up in 1974. My concern about turkey production in this province is that most of the production has fallen into the hands of very few producers, and it is very difficult for new producers to get into the business.
I reiterate that marketing boards are not without their problems, but let us not forget that the primary aim of marketing boards is to give the producers a fair return on their investment. I believe the national supply agencies have done this. The main benefactor, of course, is the consumer, who can purchase the highest quality food at the lowest prices anywhere in the world.
As I indicated previously, producer costs are higher in Canada than in the United States. If we hope to compete in the food industry, then I am sure we will have to rely on marketing boards. As I said before, the chicken producers needed the supply management program if they were to stay in business. Without the board, I am convinced there would not be a broiler industry in Ontario. We simply could not compete with the United States producers.
I do not feel that the Minister of Agriculture and Food has taken a strong enough stand in defending marketing boards. As a matter of fact, I think the minister did a disservice to marketing boards by making some of the statements he did about the dairy industry in Ontario.
Admittedly, the system is not perfect, but I do not think the question is whether marketing boards are serving a purpose but whether something should be done about escalating quota values. I do not think anyone objects to producers getting together to promote and protect their interests but, with legislation delegating the authority to govern to marketing boards, the Ontario government has some responsibility to monitor and control the authority of such delegated governing powers.
We have experimented with supply management for some years now, and perhaps the time has come to ask whether it is doing the job it was intended to do. I have always been a proponent of marketing boards but, on the other hand, I am concerned about quota values and the way they are handled at present. The restricted entry into production governed by marketing boards also causes me some concern.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I was intrigued by the latter words of the honourable member who has just taken his seat. They had an echo of the statement that trade unions used to be a good thing but they have outlived their usefulness and maybe we should take a second look at them. Supply management used to be a good thing, but maybe it has outlived its usefulness and maybe we should take a look at it. That is how the member. as a Liberal, can get on both sides of the issue at the same time.
However, let me say this: This is a motherhood resolution. In the context of this Legislature, and the stated policies of all the parties, nobody is going to be opposed to it unless he is going to break with stated party policy. It is about as innovative and unexpected a resolution as if the Premier (Mr. Davis) were to introduce a resolution calling upon the Legislature to reaffirm our allegiance to the monarchy.
I suppose the obvious question is why it was introduced at this particular time. The answer, of course, is obvious. Farm marketing boards today are under massive attack. Ironically, they are under attack at a time when the worth and the need for farm marketing boards has never been more clearly indicated, particularly in those segments of agriculture where they are facing the greatest difficulty.
When we talk about pricing problems and the compounding problem of high interest rates, the two groups that are always mentioned are hog and beef producers. We are all aware that, in the instance of hogs, we have had a farm marketing board for quite some years. But it is not a farm marketing board that has any real control over prices. It just regulates the market to see that nobody is rigging or dominating it. It has no control over supply management, with the result that hog producers have found themselves, as often as not in recent years, marketing their hogs and losing money with every hog they market.
As for the beef producers, they are led by a group of people who are ideologically free enterprisers in an economy from which free enterprise has long since gone. It is as outmoded as Aunt Minnie’s hooped skirt, but they continue to admire the rhetoric of it, and they now have to be reminded by the federal Minister of Agriculture and, interestingly enough, even by the provincial Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson) that if they want to do something about their price problem, and that is their basic problem of which the interest rate is only a compounding factor, they should exercise the power that is there for them to exercise under the farm marketing legislation in Ontario.
I therefore, think this resolution gives us an opportunity to take a look in depth at the whole issue of farm marketing and what it really means, to take a look at some of the philosophic concepts. Here I may even capture the attention of my friend the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan), who used to be regarded as the sort of resident philosopher of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture before he moved into the nasty game of politics.
Collective bargaining to secure a fair return for the fruits of one’s labour is a basic right of everyone in a free society. Traditionally, that basic right has been exercised most extensively by workers through their trade unions. Doctors and lawyers have achieved the same result through legislative powers that were really delegated to them by sympathetic governments, but today collective bargaining is widely used throughout all of our society. There is hardly a remaining segment of society that is not using it, or moving towards it, from professionals to strip-tease artists, and now we are even told the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are using it.
The farmers’ attitude toward this basic right is ambivalent, if not contradictory. I want to really face this issue. Some 40 years ago they began to organize marketing boards which, for all their deficiencies, represent the only means farmers have devised to achieve greater security in their income and their marketing procedures.
In Ontario, there is a wider range of marketing boards than can be found in any other jurisdiction on the North American continent. While many of them are merely trade organizations for the promotion of their commodity, others exercise pricing and supply management powers that render them as effective a collective bargaining agent as any trade union or professional association.
Today, as I indicated earlier, farm marketing boards are under massive attack. It not only comes from the traditional spokesmen of the business world, and their partners in the editorial rooms of our newspapers, but also is being supported today ever more frequently by so-called studies done by the academic lackeys of these people in the editorial rooms and in the business world. Unfortunately, too often, short-sighted spokesmen for consumers join this chorus of criticism.
It is significant to bear in mind not only that marketing boards have stabilized prices to both the consumers and the farmers but also that, with rare exceptions, prices of those commodities that are handled by marketing boards have escalated less than the general food index.
I am a little surprised and a little disappointed that the honourable member who sponsored this resolution quotes the Economic Council of Canada report, which was a real attack on marketing boards, accusing them of ripoffs with the result that consumers were paying hundreds of millions of dollars more than was necessary in this province.
The fact of the matter is that under marketing boards there has been less of an escalation in price for those commodities than in the general food index. The current contention that marketing boards have been responsible for a ripoff of the consuming public is a simplistic propaganda theme advanced by those who are ignorant of the farmers’ experience in the marketplace, an experience that forced them to get into marketing boards to protect their own interests, or else they object to their loss of control over the so-called free market. That is the real answer to it.
Farmers are closing ranks in defence of their marketing boards, and well they should. The battle to retain adequate public support to forestall government action designed to destroy marketing boards is a relentless one. Farmers cannot afford to alienate any major group from support of their collective bargaining rights through marketing boards.
Here is where the ambivalence, if not the contradiction, in the attitude of farmers comes right into the picture. Even though trade unions through their provincial organizations have publicly expressed their support for farm marketing boards, there is widespread antipathy among farmers towards trade unions. Its latest manifestation is the reports of bitter opposition to the proposal that farm workers should exercise their basic rights to collective bargaining.
I suggest, and I say this to my friends in the agricultural community whose cause I have espoused since the day I entered this Legislature, that the agricultural community cannot have it both ways. If collective bargaining rights to establish the income security of the family farm and its need for orderly marketing through marketing boards are to be exercised by the farmers, then farmers cannot deny the same right to others in society, be they industrial workers or farm workers.
In the recent kerfuffle that has emerged with regard to the possibility of unions emerging among farm workers, I was interested to find one clear-thinking farmer, Adrian Vos, a former member, I think, of the executive of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, who wrote an article in Farm and Country on May 12. I am not going to digress and take a great length of time, but it is entitled “Farmers Should Welcome Labour Union.” The theme is summed up in a sentence:
Mr. MacDonald: Back to the marketing board. Well, the marketing board is their collective bargaining right. If farmers want marketing boards and if they really believe in it -- and sometimes I wonder whether the member who has just interjected really does believe in it --
Mr. MacDonald: Let me sum it up this way -- and I go back to the patron saint of the party of which I am proud to be a member. J. S. Woodsworth put it many years ago in his famous prayer: “What we wish for ourselves, we desire for all.” If we wish collective bargaining for farmers, we are willing to grant that right to farm workers or anybody else. An acknowledgement of this ultimately may be the only means of maintaining adequate public support from all sectors of society so as to protect farm marketing boards from the attack that is mounting every day
Mr. Stevenson: Mr. Speaker, agriculture is a very large basic industry. In a modern industrial society, a basic industry tends to be dominated by a fairly small number of large companies. These companies are large enough to influence the market for their products to a very considerable degree.
In our economic system, up to a point this is an accepted principle of doing business. Every company, whether it purveys something as basic as food or luxury items such as cosmetics, does its best to secure as much of the market as possible and to ensure that the market for its products is secure. Without this kind of behaviour, a business could not do any long-range planning, could not make a profit and might go broke.
It is not only businesses that behave this way; skilled labourers and professional people do this also. They band together in unions or associations to market their skills and to give themselves a larger voice in the protection of their income. If they did not take steps to ensure a fair income for their services, their economic situation might also suffer.
Attempts to make the marketplace a secure place to do business, together with attempts to ensure a reasonable income for an investment of time, labour and capital, are hallowed hallmarks of our economic system. Considering all these facts, I am amazed that farmers are singled out as some kind of economic monster when they attempt to do the same thing.
As I said a moment ago, agriculture is a large basic industry. But it is unique in that it is carried out by 70,000 individuals and their families. Agricultural production is not dominated by a few large companies. Farmers represent 70,000 small businessmen and women. They need the same kind of market security that large companies need, and they need the same kind of income security that individuals need. Therefore, many of them band together in organizations frequently based on a single commodity or a group of commodities. This is not surprising, or it certainly should not be: people with common interests frequently band together to accomplish an end.
Farm organizations range all the way from fairly loose groups to formally organized ones, such as the marketing boards which are the subject of this debate today. Farm businessmen have literally billions of dollars invested in land, equipment, livestock and buildings. They must spend millions more in input costs. In today’s world this is the price of doing business as a farmer.
The product they produce with all this investment is the food we eat every day, three times a day if not more often. They have a great deal to lose, and so do we, if their attempts to secure their markets and their incomes fail. Marketing boards are frequently accused of contributing to increasing food prices. The public is concerned about food prices and rightly so, but it is not the marketing boards which have fueled price increases.
I would like to review a few statistics which were referred to a few minutes ago to refresh members’ minds about the cost of living in the recent past. I believe the comparisons between 1975 and 1980 are instructive. I will use the consumer price index which is based on 1971 as 100. In the five years between 1975 and 1980, all items in the index increased 52 per cent, from 138.5 in 1975 to 210.6 in 1980.
For the food items, the increase was more pronounced. The food section of the index rose 61 per cent, from 161.9 in 1975 to 260.6 in 1980. Chicken, for example, increased by only 38 per cent as compared to 61 per cent for the food component as a whole. Eggs rose by 34 per cent, fluid milk by 43 per cent, turkeys by 46 per cent and other dairy products by 51 per cent.
The products I have just listed are those covered by supply management boards. Every one of them rose at a rate substantially lower than the food figures generally. Fresh fruit on the other hand, much of which is imported during Ontario’s off season, rose 100 per cent. Coffee, which is entirely imported, rose 200 per cent.
This House has heard recently of the troubles being experienced by pork producers. I would like to point out pork producers are suffering from the inability to secure their markets and to keep their incomes level with their costs. They are losing money. The pork board has done just about everything a forward looking organization can do to alleviate the situation short of supply management. The pressures of a relatively free market system, which include variations in United States production and supply, are making it impossible for our pork industry to make any return on investment. This situation can go on only so long.
Look at the situation from the point of view of per capita income. Between 1975 and 1979 the per capita income in all Ontario industry rose from an average of $6,596 to an average of $9,608. At the same time the realized net income per farm in Ontario was dropping from just over $8,000 in 1975 to $6,200 by 1980. This drop was caused mainly by increased operating expenses and depreciation on buildings and equipment, two items that no farmer, no matter how efficient or innovative, can really do much about.
I would like the members of this House to consider these figures for a moment and I would like them to ask themselves how many people in other parts of our economy would have settled for a drop of that magnitude or indeed a drop at all in their net income.
The input costs are interesting to consider. Gross farm receipts went from $2.7 billion in 1975 to $4.3 billion in 1980, but operating expenses and depreciation went from $2 billion to $3.9 billion. In other words, a farmer must spend a disproportionate amount of what he can earn in the marketplace on supplies, equipment and services. All farmers are suffering from soaring costs but those handling it best are those whose products are under supply management.
The other major backbreaker in agriculture at this time is interest rates, and of course it is not only farmers who are suffering. Some of our other necessary industries are being endangered and many consumers are hard hit, but few individuals operate at anything like the scale of a farmer. In total, Ontario farmers averaged $2.1 billion in debt outstanding from chartered banks in 1980. The total farm debt in Ontario is $4.1 billion, which is just about the same as the farm gate receipts for the year I was talking about.
At the moment, the egg marketing board is updating its pricing formula. There is considerable work going into looking at marketing boards and so on, and certainly marketing boards try to keep up to date and keep things moving well. There is never a shortage of experts -- self-appointed or otherwise -- who would like to take a crack at marketing boards.
Although this resolution does not specifically mention supply management it indicates it does refer to it. I know there are some marketing boards without supply management that tend to do a reasonable job, but my feelings are that only with supply management do they do an adequate job.
Why marketing boards and supply management? Marketing boards and supply management are not only for the producer’s benefit but for the consumer’s benefit as well. Lately the Economic Council of Canada and the Consumers’ Association of Canada have made some statements. One of the previous speakers said one was for and the other against marketing boards and supply management. My feeling is that the reports that have been coming out in the papers tend to make some damaging statements when they refer to marketing boards and supply management -- if anyone was gullible enough to believe what was said.
I believe most consumers are intelligent enough to know food prices in Canada are at present the lowest in the world, next to the United States. Food prices take a smaller percentage of disposable income now than has been the case in any other time in history.
I believe most consumers want a continuous supply of good quality food at a reasonable price. Marketing boards and supply management will do this and at the same time give the farmers a reasonable return for their investment, labour and management. Marketing boards do not guarantee the farmer a living, but if he is an efficient producer he will be paid for his efforts. If he is inefficient he will go broke. Marketing boards and supply management are somewhat the same as union contracts, although I do not feel farmers get quite as good a deal.
The worker offers so many hours of work for so many dollars per hour. The farmer offers a product for so many dollars. Two people do not show up at the factory in the morning and say, “We will both work here today and split our wages.” So why should the farmer offer two steers or two quarts of milk to the public in place of one and say he will cut his price in half?
There is one difference between unions and marketing boards in setting price. Unions negotiate, whereas marketing boards take into account the cost of production, input costs, labour and a little for management. Marketing boards set price by the cost of production. Then this price has to be approved by the government.
I am a supporter of supply management and marketing boards partly because I worked under the Ontario Milk Marketing Board as a milk producer for 15 years, partly because I am now a beef producer with no marketing board and supply management system, and partly because I do not want to see the family farm disappear, as I am convinced it will if the farm products not now covered by marketing boards and supply management do not establish this system shortly.
I want to point out how vulnerable the family farm is at the present time if its products are not covered by a marketing board and supply management. I think of vulnerability especially in regard to high interest rates. Within the last month I visited a company in Toronto that employs about 150 people. I said to the manager, “These high interest rates must be affecting you pretty badly,” and he said: “Not really. We can work it into our prices.” It is different when it comes to the farmer. He has trouble working this into his return price.
I do not have much time left, but I would like to quote from an accountant at Ward Mallette who wrote an article stating, “Farms May Not Survive High Cost of Borrowing.” He points out: “Now in almost all farming operations the revenue-to-asset ratio is extremely low in comparison with other businesses. In farming a lot of money is invested to make a little, comparatively speaking. This revenue-to-asset ratio is normally as low as one to five or one to 10 in farming. In other words, farm assets worth $1 million might produce only $100,000 or $200,000 in revenue, whereas in other retail businesses it might be on a one to one or even a two to one ratio.”
It is important that this issue of marketing boards and supply management has been debated today in the light of the recent statements made by the Economic Council of Canada, and in view of the present farming situation and the fact that if the family farm is going to survive, more marketing boards and supply management systems must be set up in the future.
Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the many comments made by the members around here, I am pleased the member for York South said this was a motherhood issue, because that is what this resolution is about. It is about our country, our mother earth, and it is one of those basic items that keep our families fed and our agricultural workers working and the family farm together. Because this motion has now been on, I think, three Thursdays and has finally arrived, I was pleased to see the member for York South was finally able to read his press release this week, although it went out last week.
I would also like to emphasize what he said about supporting marketing boards. This resolution certainly does support marketing boards, which support is very important today because it is so crucial. It gives us an opportunity to debate and support what marketing boards do, what the farmers involved in those marketing boards do, what the people, what the legislation and what our cabinet ministers and this government do in support of marketing boards, It gives us the ability to air our comments on it when it is such a topical item.
The member mentioned that I quoted from the report of the Economic Council of Canada which he indicated was a damning report. It was a damning report as interpreted by the media. But when one gets down to reading through the different details in the report, it was not as damning as it is made out to be. That is why I quoted a couple of passages from it. It talked about fine tuning and making some changes, but not about throwing the boards out. It said they were not ripping off the public, but that they were very necessary and needed by the farmers and by the agricultural community.
Indeed, I chose one sentence which I did not read before but which I found very interesting. It is on page 62 in the agricultural section, after they go on for a number of paragraphs about marketing boards: “Recognizably, the estimates reflect certain assumptions that some would debate.” I think that is a damning comment in itself. They go about making certain assumptions and then they say some will debate those assumptions, the very basic assumptions on which they are stating their premise.
The report is probably going down on both sides of the issue, yet it allows an airing, it allows a comment, it allows discussion of a very important topic. I think that is the opportunity this forum and private members’ hour provides in this Legislature and one we should not reduce in any way.
I am sure if the member for Northumberland (Mr. Sheppard) had an opportunity to talk, he would have discussed the milk marketing boards and the information and experience he has had with them in greater detail. I am sure many members in the House would have had that opportunity. Indeed, regarding comments made about our own Minister of Agriculture and Food, he is the one who has been pressing the federal government to make some of those changes. The Economic Council of Canada stresses and emphatically states that the federal operations, the egg boards and the milk marketing boards, are the ones with the greater problems. If the quotas were put out more equitably we would have a better and greater product and it would be more help to our farmers.
When they compare them here, they say Ontario boards are running fine. They give credit to the Ontario boards. There again, our Minister of Agriculture and Food has supported farmers and the marketing boards. I think he will continue to do that and achieve great success for our farmers and marketing products so that the consumer can get the best product.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 57 in an attempt to bring to the attention of the members of the Legislature the fact that our labour legislation carries a degree of discrimination which affects about 70 per cent of Ontario’s work force. They have no redress or protection against unjust dismissal, or developments relating to the aspects of job security, layoffs and disciplinary action. The majority of Ontario workers have no access to the Ontario Labour Relations Board in respect to the employee grievance hearings.
Section 2(1) of the bill regarding a complaint to the Ontario Labour Relations Board states; “Where an employee who has been discharged or otherwise disciplined for cause by his employer is of the opinion that the penalty is unduly harsh and where the employee’s contract of employment is not governed by a collective agreement under the Labour Relations Act and does not contain a specific penalty for the infraction for which the discharge or other discipline was imposed, the employee may file a complaint with the board.”
The principle of this outline is in no way an attempt to create a union-free environment, but to provide a process in labour relations to protect workers in Ontario against unjust dismissal or harsh disciplinary action on the part of employers and management.
I believe non-union workers have for too long been ignored by the government of Ontario. All workers in Ontario in an employee-employer dispute should receive substantially the same judicial opinion that has been afforded through arbitration in the union sector in relation to a grievance. Non-union employees must be provided with such a procedure.
The majority of employees in the non-union sector find their employment is conditional on management, personnel policies and, hopefully, job security. I am also aware that the majority of employees do have good working conditions. Dofasco can be considered in that category.
Atlas Steel in Welland and John Deere are non-union firms, but some firms have an association or a group of employees who may well be considered to be company unions or an agency used for communication between management and employees. Many firms are considered good corporate citizens providing excellent worker-management relations. There are some firms that use collective bargaining procedures in the event of layoffs or cutbacks or in areas of disciplinary action.
One could hardly find fault with that principle, but on a number of occasions I have received complaints from individual employees that this is not so. They have been dismissed for no reasonable cause. For example, an employee working in an industry was discharged in a disciplinary action for reasons he believed were not related to on-the-job performance.
The parties were attending a sports event. As the game became more exciting, fans became more involved in supporting their favourite team. In the excitement, a dialogue between employees in the same industry, one from management and one from the assembly line, entered into a quarrel and eventually an assault occurred.
When management was informed of the matter, the assembly line employee was discharged. The discharged employee found he had no recourse for a grievance hearing. The Ontario Labour Relations Board deals only with a union that has been certified as part of an employee bargaining unit.
The Ontario Liberal-Labour Task Force which held hearings in many sectors of Ontario in the summer of 1980 received numerous complaints from employees in non-union establishments who felt they had been dismissed or discharged without just cause. In some cases they were discharged on presumptions or hearsay of another employee on matters not related to job performance or on matters not related to his or her employment responsibility. Because these employees were not members of an employee bargaining unit, they were denied entitlement to a grievance hearing before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
I wonder what those ex-employees think of the Tory theme, “Help keep the promise.” Are there any equal rights to employment opportunities in Ontario? I question that; I doubt it. It may well be many companies have an open-door policy under which a worker can take his or her grievance to top management. This procedure may bring to the attention of management that a problem exists, but it often does not alleviate an employee’s fear of retribution for his or her complaint.
Is it reasonable and fair that employment practices for all workers in Ontario be governed by the same rules in relationship to just-cause principles? The majority of other jurisdictions do have guidelines established to cover areas of concern in labour relations. The standards or rules applicable to employees must be clear. The penalty for infraction must be clear. The standard or rule must be reasonable. Proof of misconduct must be adequate and investigation must be fair. Discipline must be applied to employees in a non-discriminatory manner.
Recent amendments to the Canada Labour Code have a similar type of legislation which I have suggested we should accept this afternoon. Arbitration has become the appeal form for raising issues, because just-cause protections are becoming increasingly noticeable in employees’ complaints.
The amendments to the Canada Labour Code add credibility to the purpose of my amendment. Protection against unjust dismissal or complaints arising out of a layoff resulting from lack of work or the end of a job operation may be considered under the unjust dismissal provisions of the Canada Labour Code.
Bill 57 provides measures to establish the procedure of the Labour Relations Act for adjudicating employees’ complaints on the grounds of discrimination and improper dismissal or in other areas in which he or she may feel a grievance in a labour dispute.
The bill provides a two-stage process for reviewing complaints involving harsh discipline. Initially, a labour relations officer would be appointed to effect a settlement which would be reduced to writing and which would have to be complied with according to its terms. Then if no settlement is reached or a settlement is not likely, the Ontario Labour Relations Board would inquire into the matter. If the board is satisfied the complaint is justified, it will have the power to make an order substituting such a penalty as is just and reasonable in the circumstances.
I find the bill is a reasonable one. It will provide an opportunity for a number of non-unionized employees in the province who need this type of protection in employment. I suggest all members consider it this afternoon. I hope they will all support it, because I feel in a number of cases many persons in Ontario do not want to become part of a union.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill 57. I am not going to oppose it. We will support it, but the best I can say of it is that the intentions appear to be good. It is an effort to provide some protection, some avenue of appeal, some grievance procedure. As far as I am concerned, this is an admirable objective. For that reason I am going to support the bill, although I do so with very grave reservations. I want to point out some of these and I trust the member who introduced the bill will give them some thought. I make that statement of support right at the beginning of my comments because if I spend any great amount of time on my reservations I might not be able to come back to that position again.
During my first year in this House, 1975-76, I considered such a bill based on some substantial individual injustices that were brought to my attention by workers who were not fortunate enough to have a trade union to represent them. I spent more than a little time thinking about the possibilities of the legislation. I went so far as to talk to the legislative counsel about such a bill. I also talked with an awful lot of my colleagues at the Canadian Labour Congress and Ontario Federation of Labour, within my own union of Steelworkers, and a number of other unions as to what the implications were of such a bill.
I also took the trouble to check into the realities of the federal legislation where they do have such coverage; at least I was led to understand it covered the workers under federal jurisdiction who were not covered by the protection of a union. I do not know whether the member took the trouble to do this kind of checking with some of the union people, some of the people who have been handling the federal legislation and some of the results of it. Neither do I know if he took the trouble to monitor some of the cases. For about six months I had them send me a copy of every case that was raised under the federal legislation. He may have some of them. I took some trouble to look at them and they say a number of interesting things.
I ask the mover of the motion whether or not he did that kind of careful checking, because I see he has his perennial Bill 58 on the Order Paper as well. He and I obviously disagree on that. I see that as nothing short of Taft-Hartley legislation. It may have some support from a few members in his own area but it is almost universally opposed by the trade union movement right across this country. I think it would be very dangerous legislation. I am rather surprised to see it coming from the Liberal Party.
For one thing, I do not believe the bill begins to take into account the personnel numbers, training and the cost that might be involved to the Ministry of Labour if it took over the responsibility of basic grievance procedure. It would be feasible if it was discharges alone, I suppose, but the bill does say other unjust situations. I am not at all sure that does not really mean wherever an employee who is not covered by a union feels he has been unfairly done by he has the right to use this mechanism. That could happen if workers took advantage of it.
There is the serious question of whether any thinking or caring worker would really want the responsibilities for individual grievances -- because this is what we are talking about in this bill -- “transferred over” or “conferred on government”; that also raises very serious questions in my mind and establishes a precedent that worries me. I am not sure I want the Ministry of Labour involved in handling individual workers’ grievances on an ongoing basis in plants wherever they do not have a union.
Surely the mover of the bill is not suggesting that highly trained, highly paid conciliation and arbitration officers would be saddled with this kind of basic grievance work. I am just not sure of the implications or ramifications of this particular bill.
I also get a little bit of a kick out of wondering about the additional employees who would be involved -- and if workers took advantage of the bill there is no question that we would need a sizeably increased government staff. I usually hear the less-government line, not the more-government line, from the Liberal benches.
The facts are that the procedures suggested by this bill could very well undermine the efforts to organize the unorganized workers in Ontario. And it is a difficult job; it is not easy to begin with, to carry out organization, especially in a situation in which fear exists, as it does in some of the smaller plants. There is also always a danger of institutionalizing a false sense of security for unorganized workers, because they may think: “Hey, you do not need a union. You can go to the Ministry of Labour if you feel you have been unfairly dealt with in your job.”
The potential of undermining the efforts of the legitimate trade union movement to organize workers is a real one. A one-time entry by a Ministry of Labour officer into a dispute, minor, medium or serious, without the follow-up monitoring that one gets from a local union with its steward bodies or its executive, leaves the worker who complained even more susceptible to open, overt or subtle harassment by the management. And let me tell the members that it does go on; it goes on even in some cases where there is a union shop. But usually the mechanism is there to monitor it and protect against it, and one has the right of additional grievances if one feels that one is being harassed.
Without a union, without the recognized grievance procedure and without the various committees -- safety and health is a classic example -- there is no ongoing protection on the job even if there was success in the original complaint of the worker.
We could say, of course, that one could launch another and another grievance through this mechanism. But let me tell the members that my experience -- and I have worked in both union and non-union shops in my day -- is that a union is one heck of a lot better. If they want to harass you and do a job on you they can do it when you do not have the protection of a union.
What does this bill do to the cost that might be necessary to establish a grievance -- things like lost time for fellow workers, for example, if they are needed to prove a case in a hearing? Is that also charged entirely to the Ministry of Labour? What protection would there be in this bill for any third parties who might have to be involved in establishing the fact that one does have a legitimate case? I do not see it covered in the bill, and I can see that as both a problem and an additional cost factor.
Further, is the member who is moving the bill aware that in many cases -- for example, in most of the cases I looked into that came before the federal Department of Labour over a six-month period -- before the case ever went to that federal officer the complainant, to see if he had a case and to see how he would handle it or how he could prepare it, ended up going to one of the established unions there or to a lawyer -- and there were cases in Windsor that we used as cases in point.
I was surprised in going over the cases at how often this happens. As a matter of fact I called brother Monaghan and brother Brooks, before he had his unfortunate accident -- this is going back several years -- a couple of the staff people in the United Auto Workers office. I asked them if they were getting any complaints from workers who are not fortunate enough to have a union and who have either been discharged or had some other penalty they felt was unfair imposed upon them.
I was surprised to find that they had dealt with a number of such cases. I do not know of one that was turned away, but I sure got some grumbling. In one particular case that I recall we followed through, some three or four hours of preparatory work were done in advance by the union staff person. They sure as hell undertake a lot, and they are usually proud of community activities in a number of areas. But servicing unorganized workers to that extent when they cannot follow through to the end result in any event is certainly not their job or responsibility.
The workers who had the complaints were having to establish if they had a case. How could they do it? How did they present a case to have some chance, even to the Ministry of Labour people? They were going to the already organized trade movement or to lawyers, and when they went to lawyers there was a substantial cost involved. Usually there was no cost; certainly in every case where they went to an already established union or to some of its officers or staff people there would not be a cost. But we found that in most of the cases where this route was taken under the federal legislation, they had to go, as I said, to a lawyer or to the trade union movement before they ever started it.
Mr. Mackenzie: I will finish up, Mr. Speaker. They were already doing this kind of work. Is the member suggesting that even more workers with their problems from unorganized shops should be loaded on the backs of those who have had the gumption and the determination to organize a shop? How long are we going to have workers riding on the backs of others and not accepting the responsibility of actually getting in and organizing in that shop?
In conclusion, it is only because some workers do not have the strength to organize -- and there is some pretty nasty management -- that I give any credence at all to a bill such as this, which, while it might help in some individual cases, also threatens at least to undermine the already onerous job of labour organizations and of organization and certification.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter the debate on Bill 57, the Non-Unionized Workers’ Protection Act, but I believe it is a classic example of an old problem: excellent intentions marred unfortunately by a poorly conceived solution. The proposed solution is so poorly conceived that, despite its excellent intentions, I am compelled to oppose this bill.
Bill 57, as I read it, contains a number of hidden costs both to our system of labour relations in Ontario and to the public in general. The member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) seems to have made no effort to avoid these pitfalls and may have ignored the experience of other Canadian and overseas jurisdictions with similar types of legislation in place now.
Let me begin by outlining the main provisions of Bill 57, as I understand them. Any non-unionized worker who feels himself or herself the victim of unjust dismissal or of unduly harsh disciplinary action on the part of his or her employer may lodge a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. At this stage a two-tier review procedure begins. First, a labour relations officer is appointed to attempt to negotiate a settlement. Second, if no settlement is reached, the labour relations board may hear the case again and whatever penalty or compensation it deems appropriate is applied.
The bill says any employee -- presumably even one with no seniority at all -- who may have been hired one day and fired the next, may use this complaint procedure. Further, it provides no mechanism whereby the board may dismiss frivolous, repeated or otherwise unwarranted complaints. Additionally, the bill specifies that, if the employee’s contract contains definite penalties for infractions leading to discharge or disciplinary action, then the employee may not file a complaint with the board. That, in essence, is my interpretation of Bill 57.
Turning to some of the specific problems of implementation, I think there are some that would quickly arise if the bill is passed. There are approximately 2.5 million non-unionized workers in this province. This is a massive clientele that the member for Erie is attempting to serve. As I mentioned earlier, there is no restriction specified regarding the seniority or length of service of the worker involved. This stands in direct contrast to the legislation of the three Canadian jurisdictions that now provide protection from unjust dismissal.
In the federal service, the provisions of the Canada Labour Code extend only to workers who have at least one year’s service. In Quebec, the minimum service requirement is five years. In Nova Scotia, protection is extended only to workers with at least 10 years’ service. Clearly, each of these jurisdictions thinks it is wise to exclude temporary workers, casual workers and workers who have been hired on an initial probationary basis from their particular complaint procedures.
Quebec, and especially Nova Scotia, would seem to be working under the philosophy that only long-service workers should qualify for this sort of special protection. Bill 57, though, seems to have no such philosophy. It contradicts the experience of these other Canadian jurisdictions, and the already heavy caseload of the labour relations board would be greatly increased, because the member of Erie seems not to have seen fit to benefit from this previous experience.
Another example along the same lines is that this bill covers disciplinary action, such as fines, suspensions, reprimands and so on, as well as the basic issue of dismissal. Here too, it seems the member for Erie is breaking new ground, for no other Canadian jurisdiction attempts to protect workers from all the forms of disciplinary action short of dismissal. They confine themselves simply to cases of alleged unjust dismissal. In other words, Bill 57 seems to again ignore the experience of Ottawa, Quebec and Nova Scotia. I believe the result would be a further augmentation of the workload of the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
One more point is that the Canada Labour Code gives the federal Minister of Labour the power to dismiss cases beyond the scope of the code or those cases that appear to be either frivolous or unwarranted. This screening method greatly streamlines the federal procedure and as a result of that, I am sure, gives a great deal of satisfaction to those people who have bona fide complaints. They are able to separate one from another and not be necessarily tied in by time to those which perhaps should not be brought before the board.
However, Bill 57 seems to contain no such screening procedure. It does not take much imagination to foresee a situation, should this bill be passed, where all sorts of cases beyond the intent of the bill would be referred to the board, the provincial Ombudsman or to the courts.
I have tried to list three of the major problems that I see with Bill 57, problems that do not take into account the experience of other jurisdictions with similar types of legislation and would greatly add to the case load of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. How would the board handle that extra work that it seems the member for Erie wants to foist upon it? Bill 57 is remarkably silent on that point, but obviously more labour relations officers would have to be hired and the bureaucracy of the board, if I may use that term, would have to be greatly expanded.
I want to dwell on this point for a moment, because it is equally obvious that the ordinary taxpayers of Ontario would be asked to bear the brunt of these additional costs. Again, I look at the experience of other jurisdictions, something the member may have overlooked in his preparation of this bill.
In Britain, the Employment Protection Act contains provisions protecting workers from unfair dismissal. The British experience shows that if we pass Bill 57 we could expect a complaint rate of one complaint for every 600 workers.
With a bit of extrapolation, I am sure the member would realize that we can estimate that this bill would generate more than 4,000 additional cases for the Ontario Labour Relations Board each year. This in turn would mean that some 30 to 50 additional labour relations officers would be required for investigation purposes alone. We would require 30 to 50 new officers, and that does not even speak to the matter of how much additional support staff would have to be behind those individuals.
I do not suppose there are many members on either side of the House who are surprised to find that Bill 57 totally ignores these important considerations. We are all aware that it is Liberal policy not to discuss details such as how much it will cost or how they will attempt to pay for it.
Meanwhile, it has long been the Liberal policy, and still may be, that the provincial budget must be balanced at the earliest possible time. Various Liberals have been quoted all over Ontario saying that, “Every ministry, every agency will have to pare to the bone.” That particular quotation, that gem, comes from the Leader of the Opposition and was made in the city of Kingston.
I must say it is fascinating to see that the member for Erie’s idea of paring the Ontario Labour Relations Board to the bone is to add 30 to 50 additional officers plus a support staff to go with them. All of this seems to be without the benefit of any public discussion of this new expenditure or any proposition as to where the money may come from otherwise. They cannot have it both ways; they cannot advocate paring every ministry to the bone and, on the other hand, propose massive new expenditures for the very agencies that they would have us restrain.
Let me read for the member for Erie a question his colleague the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), who is the Liberal Treasury critic, asked during his reply to the budget a few days ago. The member for London Centre said:
“We have to ask the basic question: Where will we get the money? There are only two choices. One is to tax higher ... the other is to go to the public marketplace in the future to borrow those moneys and to start squeezing it out of private enterprise.”
In the basic tradition of our parliamentary democracy, none of us in this chamber opposes the principle of protecting the rights of non-unionized workers. To the extent that this is trying to solve this problem, the member for Erie is to be congratulated. Unfortunately, in my respectful opinion, he has gone about trying to deal with the issue in a rather haphazard manner, showing that he may not have had the benefit or not have profited from the experience of other senior jurisdictions.
Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer a few remarks in support of this much-needed initiative which has been raised by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty). Before explaining some of the reasons I support the legislation, I want to deal with some of the comments that have been made by the two previous speakers.
I want to start out with the comments by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Robinson). For the last 10 minutes he has told us he supports the principle of the legislation, but then has run around trying to find excuses why he cannot vote in favour of it. I think the main thing he has proved in the last 10 minutes is why he is a Tory.
I say to my friend, do not go away. I do not think the member should be going away, because I was going to tell him how he could get that money for the added labour relations officers. If we were to pare off some of the “communications officers” from the rolls -- they are the PR flacks for the government -- we could come up with some money pretty rapidly.
In addition, if we were to cut back on the money to the pulp and paper industry, we could come up with more than enough money to protect the unorganized workers in this province. But I do not think the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere is really very concerned about the unorganized workers. I suspect he is probably not terribly concerned about those who are organized.
I do want to say a word or two about the speech by the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie). While I share his concerns that the advent of this kind of policy to protect the unorganized might have some dampening effect on organizational efforts by the trade union movement, on balance I think the trade union movement can stand on its own two feet. It can and does offer the workers very many positive advantages in joining the trade union movement. I do not think workers will be deterred from joining a trade union and given the extra protection of grievance rights from their own union by the fact that they can obtain some grievance rights through this legislation.
I want to mention the problem of ongoing harassment raised by both speakers. There may be some concern on that score, but surely the stepping in of the labour relations board on those occasions when it is deemed necessary is certainly an advantage to the holus-bolus dismissal, discipline or whatever that now goes on all too often with non-unionized workers.
I want to relate to the House an experience I had shortly after becoming a member of this assembly. A young lady in my constituency approached me with a story that she had been dismissed by one of the department stores in Windsor, Woolco by name. She was a permanent part-time employee and had been for some two years. She had never had a blot on her record -- never a verbal or written reprimand.
One day, in a fit of pique or whatever, her boss simply dismissed her. This is a young person going to university. This is the kind of person this government is going to need to pull it out of the economic depths it has got this province into. This is a very articulate, intelligent university student who is paying her way through. One moment she has a job and the next moment she does not. In the next moment she has no money, no way to go to university.
She made the choice not to return to the job, but we have removed that blot from her work record, because it was unjustified. In dealing with the superiors of the manager, I was able to easily convince them it was unjustified. She has been allowed to terminate her employment voluntarily. She was given extra severance pay and she has received a letter of recommendation.
If she had not had that, her working life would have started with the stigma of dismissal, unjust as it might be. It is absolutely shameful that we do not have any means to protect unorganized workers, because not every plant, not every shop, not every store, not every office is going to be unionized, much as the trade union movement would will it otherwise. We must have some protection in place for those workers who do not enjoy the benefits of the trade union movement.
I understand that. I was dismissed during the election campaign, and I currently have a grievance. I had the benefit of the trade union movement, and I am sure when we reach arbitration we will be successful. But, had I been a non-union worker, what would my protection have been? I could go to the courts, and that would drag out for years on end. I think this kind of legislation is needed.
Through our debate and discussion today, I hope the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) will look at once again adding to the labour policies of Ontario and will put us back in the forefront. I might make mention that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere said, “Ours would go much further than the legislation at the federal level, in Quebec or in Nova Scotia.”
As he detailed what was in the legislation -- and I am sure the member for Erie knows this -- the legislation is simply inadequate and that is why, in preparing this legislation, he went far beyond that to get us far more advanced than those other jurisdictions. To complain that Ontario should never be a leader, as this government always does, is hardly an excuse for not supporting this legislation.
I want to close by saying I hope the members on the other side will allow this bill to come to a vote and, when it does come to a vote, that they will give it their support. I am pleased to hear that the member for Hamilton East, in spite of his reservations, will support the principle of the legislation. I hope the rest of the members of his party will follow. For my part, I intend to vote in favour of this bill and offer it my support.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak briefly for about 10 minutes on this bill this afternoon. A bill like this always makes me uneasy. I am certain it is for the same reasons expressed by my colleague the member for Hamilton East because, although I was not able to be here when he spoke on that bill, we discussed the bill prior to his speaking today.
The commitment, the concern and the uneasiness is very simple. The hard-fought and hard-won rights of organized labour were fought and won at a great expense in this province over many years, and I become concerned when by acts of this Legislature we confer on everyone else the benefits of that fight without the fight and without the cost.
Let me go back a little. The Conservative government, shortly after it was elected in 1943, on behalf of the employers and on behalf of business in the province negotiated with the labour movement a sort of treaty of peace by bringing in the Labour Relations Act. It is quite clear it was not acting out of any love for labour when it brought in the Labour Relations Act. It brought it in as its way of effecting something it called industrial peace in the province. The collective agreements negotiated prior to that act and after that act came into force represent fights made by labour to obtain benefits for their workers.
The member for Erie, who introduced this bill, knows that as well as I do. He says, “Why shouldn’t every employee have a grievance right?” Who can fight against that? Of course every person should have a grievance right. However, the member for Erie does not understand that the guts of a grievance procedure is to shift the onus to the employer in the case of alleged improper discharge, hardship or penalty imposed on the employee. I think section 40(a) of the Labour Relations Act does that. The member’s bill does not do that. It is a very serious flaw. It makes it almost a patsy bill.
I want to get on to the next part of it. The courts are not an adequate remedy for the ordinary employee with respect to damages for hardship which he may suffer because of unjust treatment by his employer. I agree with that. It is totally inadequate.
Let me very quickly refer to the way in which the matter is dealt with in the United Kingdom. In 1963, when they were dealing with the same vexed question of notice to employees on plant shutdowns, when workers were in grave danger of becoming redundant, they passed a bill called the Contracts of Employment Act. Let me refer, if I may, to the pertinent provisions of that bill. At least if we are going to go that route, let us do it well. This is certainly a model that could be considered. I am not saying it is perfect or that it applies to all our situations, but at least it is a model.
In the United Kingdom, not later than 13 weeks after the beginning of an employee’s period of employment with an employer, “the employer shall give to the employee a written statement identifying the parties, specifying the date when the employment began and giving the following particulars of the terms of employment as at a specified date, not more than one week before the statement is given; that is:
“(d) any terms and conditions relating to: (1) entitlement to holidays, including public holidays, and holiday pay, the particulars given being sufficient to enable the employee’s entitlement, including any entitlement to accrued holiday pay on the termination of employment, to be precisely calculated; (2) incapacity for work due to sickness or injury, including any provisions for sick pay; (3) pensions and pension schemes; and
“(a) indicating the nature of the employee’s rights under section 5 of an appropriate industrial relations act which relates to the rights of workers in respect of trade union membership and activities, including where an agency shop agreement or an approved closed shop agreement is in force which applies to him the effect of that agreement on those rights;
“(b) specifying by description or otherwise” -- and I wish my colleague the member for Erie would listen to this -- “a person to whom the employee can apply for the purpose of seeking redress of any grievance relating to his employment and the manner in which any such application should be made; and
It seems to me that, given that one cannot vote against a bill that says every worker should have a grievance procedure to try to settle and adjust grievances -- one cannot vote against that -- given that, let us at least go in the proper direction and require an employee at the commencement of his employment to be given a clear and concise statement covering a number of those items I listed, which is the contract of employment. This way one starts out clearly understanding all the terms and conditions. That would be of immense help to everybody. Then, as it states in that, the grievance procedure to be followed should be specified.
I think the labour relations board should not be dealing with matters not related to organized labour. I believe -- with one single exception -- it does not deal with anything else. I am reluctant to have it given this other jurisdiction. The grievance procedure here should include a person selected by agreement of the employee and the employer from among a panel of persons or if necessary a three-person panel chaired by someone designated by the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
If we want to go that route let us clearly acknowledge that the rights being given to unorganized workers in Ontario are a result of the efforts of organized labour. Let us get that clearly on the record. Let us do all we can to facilitate the unorganized worker, understanding his entitlement to organize and join the labour movement. Let us make certain the grievance procedure in some way relates to people who have an understanding for and a capacity to deal with employees’ interests.
In this province, that is the Ontario Federation of Labour. Let us use the facilities of that body to name the person who is going to settle these kinds of grievances. In that way, over a period of time, employees would understand that a statute can only give them minimal protection. That is all it will ever do in this province under this government. Let us make absolutely certain the employee understands the protection is minimal and if he wants the kind of adequate protection available his access is through the organized labour movement.
Therefore this is the position we take on the bill. Despite the uneasiness these things always create, this at least is a model, the kind of contract of employment I have spoken about. We in this caucus would support such a bill because of the principle involved in it, but it is inadequate in effectively protecting the employee it intended to protect, for the reasons I have stated.
Mr. Dean: Mr. Speaker, Ontario is one of the most enlightened jurisdictions anywhere in the world when it comes to legislation to protect the rights of both employers and workers. Unions have flourished here. In spite of the odd difficulty from time to time they have helped to ensure a climate of prosperity and relatively good working conditions for the labouring men and women of our province. We all depend on their efforts, just as we all depend on the efforts of the entrepreneurs who create employment opportunities.
It is always a pleasure for me to see a matter brought before the consideration of this House that may serve to enhance and improve the conditions under which our people work. At the same time I believe we are fortunate to live in a jurisdiction which by and large respects the autonomy and freedom of the individual. Also, it is a good thing for Ontarians the affairs of this province are managed by a government that emphasizes customer service and minimal regulation in business and the work place.
Although I am not sure exactly what proportion of our work force is unionized, I believe it is something like one third. So when we start talking about the so-called rights of non-unionized workers we have to keep in mind we are talking about a good number of people.
I have given careful consideration to the implications of this bill. I can see where a woman who feels she has been dismissed because of a negative response to sexual harassment would want recourse to the law. But under the present Ontario Human Rights Code, such cases have been successfully dealt with and the new code which this government is bringing forth makes such protection quite explicit.
I suppose sometimes people may feel they have been dismissed or otherwise disciplined because the boss did not like them. No doubt a personality conflict is often at the bottom of many disputes between people in the working world.
I cannot help but believe that by and large what most employers desire is to get the jobs done that have to be done. I really cannot see where personal likes and dislikes would enter into the picture with great frequency. I do not feel it would be feasible for some kind of tribunal or the mechanism proposed in this bill to act as an agency of redress in such an abstract situation.
I realize under our present legislation a non-unionized worker’s only recourse is a civil action for wrongful dismissal. I am well aware this procedure can be costly and complex. Recoverable damages tend to be less than is hoped for, especially for hourly paid workers. Furthermore, I understand that courts have no power to order reinstatement of a dismissed employee.
While the area is admittedly a problematic one, and one that is under review by our own Ministry of Labour, the proposals contained in the bill we are considering today are, unfortunately, not the answer.
For example, the provisions of a low-cost or zero-cost review procedure governing discharge or disciplinary actions against unorganized workers would contrast sharply with practice in the organized private sector. It is usual for the parties to pay their own costs in grievance or arbitration proceedings. A significantly lower cost procedure for unorganized workers to which the organized would not have access could be expected to give rise to objections on the part of trade unions and would be seen by them as a disincentive to organize.
Further, Bill 57 may in practice provide an ineffective remedy against unjust dismissal since in section 2(1) it exempts from coverage unorganized workers whose employment contract contains specific penalties for infractions leading to discharge or disciplinary action.
It is entirely possible employers may seek to escape the bill’s provisions by ensuring that disciplinary penalties are included in the employment contract. There is no guarantee these penalties will be in any sense reasonable or that employees will be accorded fair treatment in disciplinary cases.
Also, section 5 clearly provides for the stacking of rights acquired by the proposed act with those conferred by existing law. This creates the possibility employees may obtain compensation for wrongful dismissal through the courts and, subsequently, apply for reinstatement under the act. This is a major flaw in the legislation being considered this afternoon.
Mr. Dean: In closing, I would like to assure members of this House that while I cannot support the legislation we are considering at the moment I would not wish to have my views construed as being against the legitimate rights of non-unionized workers. On the contrary, I urge all members to work whenever and wherever possible to ensure that Ontarians in all walks of life receive the full support and benefit of this government.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a few comments about what the previous speakers have said, particularly the member for Hamilton East and the member for Riverdale. I was concerned when I went to the legislative counsel to have the bill prepared. I know it is not a cure-all, but it does bring to the attention of the Legislature that there is a problem in the working conditions of the labour force in Ontario.
England was mentioned. England has similar legislation. It is something like what I have tried to put forward. It has worked well over there, but one of the things I find in England is that where there have been some difficulties and grievances, the employed persons did not resent the union movement. In a number of cases they had formed unions through this type of association for following a grievance procedure.
I suggest that Bill 57 no doubt will do the same thing in Ontario as more persons become aware of that type of legislation and know what their rights are under that bill. They may not get full protection, let us say, in a non-union shop, but eventually they will head to a union to get fuller and better coverage and protection by it. I think unions have done an excellent job in that area.
I was more concerned about what the members on the Tory side were saying about costs. They say it is going to overload the Ontario Labour Relations Board with about 50 more employees, and they wanted to know where the money would come from. I can tell the members one place it could come from: the $18 to $20 million that is spent on advertising by this government year after year and on “Preserve it, conserve it” could go to a worthy cause. I suggest that.
I look at the amendments to the Ontario Human Rights Code. There has been no mention by government members of what this is going to cost the taxpayers. There are going to be many hearings held through the new amendments that are proposed under the Ontario Human Rights Code. It is going to cost somebody some money, and it is going to be a considerable cost. So that form of arbitration or grievance procedure is costly also.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Robinson) mentioned the type of policy or program they have in England, which gives some protection to labour -- the Employment Standards Act. If the members over there were brave enough they would bring in amendments to the Employment Standards Act to give these persons protection in Ontario. But if anyone has had any dealings with the Employment Standards Act in Ontario they will tell him that there is a problem in this area -- it is regrettable, but we cannot do a thing for him. There is no recourse to a hearing, or an inquiry or an arbitration proceeding. I am just a bit surprised that the Conservative members would oppose such an amendment, because I think it is a step in the right direction that does provide employees in Ontario some access to a grievance procedure in the case of an unjust dismissal.
I have quoted some of the standards that were set and applied in other jurisdictions, and I think the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) had mentioned that. I had covered it in my leadoff speech. I thought if you had a code or practice that was approved under the Employment Standards Act saying that these guidelines are set, all employees would know their rights the minute they signed on the dotted line for employment in industries or in any employment in Ontario even if they are not informed in that particular area.
So there are areas in which the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) can become involved to assist those persons when they do have a grievance to have a fair and just hearing. I said before I am surprised that a government that speaks of equal opportunity in Ontario will be opposing this bill this afternoon. Where is that equal opportunity of employment in Ontario? They are denying those persons that right.
There are cases which really require that. If not, the federal government would not have moved into this type of legislation. I grant that the bill I had before the members is not perfect, but it can be changed. It is an idea for the minister to bring in his legislation and make those changes as he sees proper at the present time to cover those people.
Mr. Haggerty: I appreciate the comments from the New Democratic Party and their support for this particular bill, because I think they understand labour problems far better than the government members over there do. I suggest perhaps they can reconsider their position. I wish the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere would bring forward what it is going to cost to administer those amendments under the Ontario Human Rights Code. It is going to be costly, but bring forth those costs.
Boudria, Bradley, Breaugh, Breithaupt, Bryden, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Cunningham, Di Santo, Eakins, Edighoffer, Elston, Epp, Foulds, Grande, Haggerty, Johnston, R. F., Laughren, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McGuigan, McKessock;
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bernier, Birch, Brandt, Cousens, Cureatz, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gordon, Gregory, Harris, Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson, Johnson J. M., Kells, Kerr, Kerrio, Kolyn, Lane, Leluk, MacQuarrie, McCaffrey, McCague, McLean, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Mitchell;
Norton, Piché, Pollock, Pope, Ramsay, Robinson, Rotenberg, Runciman, Scrivener, Sheppard, Shymko, Stephenson, B. M., Sterling, Stevenson, K. R., Taylor, G. W., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Treleaven, Villeneuve, Watson, Wells, Williams, Wiseman.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the standing orders, I would like to indicate to members the business for the rest of this week and part of next week. By agreement, we are only announcing the business up until Tuesday evening and we will have a statement either Monday or Tuesday for the remainder of next week.
Tonight, the House will consider the interim supply motion, followed by second reading of Bill 70 which stands in the name of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). If time permits, that will be followed by Bill 90, which will be followed by Bill 67.
Tomorrow morning, we will continue with any of those items that I just announced that have not been completed, with the exception of Bill 90, the waste management bill, which will not be considered tomorrow morning.
On Monday afternoon, June 22, we will proceed with legislation, second readings in this order: Bill 90, Bill 72, Bill 73, Bill 78, Bill 85, Bill 113, Bill 116, Bill 124, Bill 68 and Bill 67 and any bills in committee of the whole stage that appear on the Order Paper.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am sorry, in the afternoon is the no-confidence motion of the official opposition. In the evening, we will consider legislation, second readings of the bills I have just indicated. On Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening, we will continue with legislation, following the order that I indicated of those bills that have not been completed.