Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the staff of my ministry will sign a formal agreement with the South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority to provide up to $170,000 to study the phosphorus loading of Lake Simcoe. The authority will monitor Lake Simcoe water quality and initiate educational programs and demonstrations for the public.
A steering committee for this two-year study will be chaired by a representative of my ministry and will include representatives from the authority and the ministries of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Food.
Our efforts to improve the quality of water of this, our “fifth Great Lake,” reflect not only the concern of the 70,000 people living year-round along its shores but also the demands of the 40,000 to 50,000 cottagers who enjoy the good fishing on the lake and its numerous beaches. In addition, more than half this province’s population lives within an hour’s drive of the lake, and we anticipate an increasing demand for its recreational facilities.
In our latest efforts aimed at the reduction of phosphorus loading to the lake from agricultural runoff, we have placed monitoring and sampling stations at the mouths of the Holland, Black and Beaverton rivers and Pefferlaw Brook. We will follow through with an investigation of the ways and means available to reduce these loadings and will study the effects such reductions will have.
In Cook Bay, the malfunctioning private septic tanks will be replaced by a modern sewage treatment plant, and the sewage now treated in Aurora and Newmarket and discharged into the Holland River will be diverted into the $300-million York-Durham sewage treatment system.
I am confident that in a relatively short span of time these measures will enhance the recreational facilities of Lake Simcoe, reduce the stress on its fish population by enriching oxygen content and dramatically improve the water quality of that lake.
Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the honourable members that the 1982 forest fire season began April 1. My ministry’s fire management staff, with the co-operation of the Atmospheric Environment Service, has monitored the over-winter weather and has analysed the long-term forecast to assess the probable severity of the 1982 fire season.
Over winter, much of Ontario’s fire region received near-normal snowfall. Cooler than normal temperatures were experienced in early April across much of Ontario and this, coupled with the expected normal April rainfall, has resulted in a fairly slow snow melt. This means a significant shortening of the period of time the forest is exposed to drying before green-up occurs in mid-May.
This forecast indicates that the fire occurrence period could be a week or two later than in recent years and that fire occurrences would be at a near-normal level. To date, that prediction has been correct.
Fine weather over the past week has dried out grass and other light fuels in the open, creating conditions that allow surface fires to start and run. Up to yesterday morning there had been 324 of these fires, mainly in southern Ontario and the southern parts of the northern regions. Shower activity in the last two or three days has reduced the incidence of fire occurrence.
With the exception of the south, most lakes are still frozen. The ice is starting to give, but it will be a week or so before full-scale float plane transportation and water bombing operations are possible. Weather patterns will continue to be closely monitored by my staff fire specialists to identify as early as possible any developing trends that could produce hazardous burning conditions in or beyond the spring period.
My predecessor, the Honourable James Auld, issued a news release in early April 1981 outlining a prediction for an anticipated early and severe forest fire problem last spring. In order to cope with such a probability, an additional $6 million was made available to fund an early and enhanced fire control capability. This increased funding enabled my fire management staff to successfully cope with the early serious fire situation that did occur.
I am pleased to report that although this year’s prediction is somewhat more optimistic, the level of funding has been maintained for 1982 and this has enabled the staff to establish a level of fire preparedness similar to last year’s.
As was the case in 1981, we have enhanced our Ministry of Natural Resources water-bombing fleet of 35 aircraft by nine contract heavy-water bombers from the private sector and 17 light and medium helitack units, as well as increasing our total number of fire unit crews to 175.
I can also report that the lightning locator system that was operational in the northwestern region in Dryden in 1981, which enabled a more effective deployment of resources for rapid initial attack on lightning fires, will be in operation again this season. As well, additional funding has enabled us to initiate the establishment of the same system into the north-central region, headquartered in Thunder Bay.
The very active role and commitment of the forest industry in fire control activities last summer was very encouraging. Industry participation in the fire control program continues in 1982, and their woods work force is being integrated into the initial attack systems across the province. In this regard, industry crewman training is well under way, as well as the training of initial attack fire bosses from the industry ranks. The co-operation and active and effective involvement of the woods industry and their staff will further increase our total provincial fire control capabilities.
I am therefore confident that the level of our forest fire protection preparedness and capabilities, and the co-operation and assistance of all forest users, will enable my ministry to successfully cope with the anticipated 1982 fire load.
Ross Hahn, the treasurer of the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital, told the Liberal health committee that the new business-oriented new development program, which I am sure the minister is familiar with, would steadily eat away at hospital capital funds and donations from the community and would, “in my opinion, be an absolute abortion of the health delivery system that we have -- medicare -- because you will end up with no money to purchase any equipment to run a hospital with. You know, if you want to run us into the ground, that is a real good way of doing it real fast.”
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, will the Treasurer be so kind as to consult with his colleague the Minister of Health and ask the minister where the study of waiting lists for elective surgery is, now that the new beds-for-sale program, the BOND program, is in effect? The minister promised to monitor hospitals to make a determination of whether there would be a difference in waiting periods for elective surgery between pay beds and nonpay beds. Some of us are curious to know whether the minister intends to provide that information.
Ms. Copps: In view of the fact that the Ontario Hospital Association feels that the potential of the BOND program will be only between 0.5 and 1.5 per cent of all hospital budgets in Ontario, and in view of the fact that the province has allowed only $120 million for capital expenditure over the next few years, what does the minister plan to do to alleviate a situation we saw this week in the city of Timmins, where some patients were forced to wait up to seven days before they could even get out of an emergency ward and into a hospital bed?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I tried to redirect the question to the Minister of Health. Those questions are appropriately his; they have all been his. I only suggest to the member that I have great confidence in the quality of the health care in this province; the member may not have. She is running around asking a lot of questions; which is fine, I encourage her to do it; but I suggest she also go to some other jurisdictions to learn how good our system is compared to theirs.
Ms. Copps: This question is directed to the Minister of Health, in view of the fact that he has finally arrived. The Liberal health care committee has seen the wreckage of psychiatric care across Ontario, and I think the minister himself was privy to some individual incidents in Parkdale. I want the minister to know that it is not just a Parkdale problem, it is an Ontario-wide problem.
Does the minister know that there is only one psychiatrist to serve the whole population of more than 140,000 people northeast of North Bay? In the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, there are open wards that have eight to 12 psychiatrically disturbed people who cannot have private rooms because the ventilation in that facility is not adequate. Is this the 1982 ideal of modern psychiatric care?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, as I am sure the honourable member has learned from all of the 10 people who attended her task force hearing in North Bay, Timmins or wherever, the ministry is well aware of the problem we have had in getting a psychiatrist for that area.
In the meantime, rather than have the area neglected, other psychiatrists working in our system have been rotated in and out of that facility to make sure people who need psychiatric treatment are well looked after in the interim. Dr. Copeman reports to me that he is rather hopeful the problem is about to be solved and psychiatric services will be available on a full-time basis with some psychiatrists very shortly.
Ms. Copps: The minister is certainly aware of everything that went on in our hearings. I wonder whether the minister is aware of and responsible for the fact that employees and general practitioners in the city of North Bay, who in many instances handle as many psychiatric cases as those helped and handled by the psychiatric staff at the hospital, were called together prior to our meeting at the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, briefed as to what they should say and how they should say it and drilled to make sure they gave the right answers to the Liberal health care committee.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am sure the member is not calling into question the bona fides of the hospitals in that area. If she is, she should make that direct accusation to the board of the hospital and the physicians in that hospital, because this ministry does not have the power to tell them what to do, nor would that hospital or any other hospital take directions from us with regard to what public stance to take.
The proof of all that is that various hospitals that have been appearing before the member from time to time have voiced some complaints. If she is therefore taking the position that one particular hospital had a meeting beforehand and decided not to say things to her, she should have the courage to go into that community and say she alleges specifically that the physicians, the administrator and all the people involved were involved in some sort of conspiracy to deal with her attempts to get some headlines.
I have to tell her that, if she is as courageous as she wants to pose as being, she should stand up and make that accusation. I can answer for the ministry and for the minister in saying, point-blank and without equivocation, that any suggestion she wants to make that we ordered that to occur in that particular institution is totally, completely and entirely false.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister will agree that psychiatric services across northern Ontario are inadequate. I hope he can now respond to the letter I sent to him with regard to psychiatric care across northern Ontario, specifically in the North Bay-Cochrane district and in Sault Ste. Marie. Can he explain why his official, Dr. Copeman, who is in charge of the underserviced areas program, is not more actively involved in attracting psychiatrists to northern Ontario in general and specifically to Sault Ste. Marie, where we have only one psychiatrist serving a population of approximately 120,000 people?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: With respect, Mr. Speaker, I have not denied the problem with regard to the number of psychiatrists serving the member’s part of the province. However, I take some exception to the suggestion that Dr. Copeman is not working hard on this problem.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I want to deal with that. I object to the suggestion that Dr. Copeman is not as involved as he might be. In fact, he is spending an extraordinary amount of time in trying to solve that problem.
As I indicated earlier, I believe he is fairly close to solving it, at least as it regards North Bay. He is working with my sister ministries with regard to trying to put together whatever we have to put together to solve that problem in the northern part of this province. I do not want to pretend it is not a problem. It is a real problem. It causes us a great deal of concern and we are working very hard to try to solve it.
Why is the minister not standing up like his colleague the member for Cambridge (Mr. Barlow), who had the courage to admit, as quoted in the Globe and Mail of May 6, 1982, that “the money for Suncor would have been better spent on health care”? Why does the minister not have the courage to stand up and fight with his cabinet colleagues for health care?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The Health critic, who has been conducting her task force and bringing back these stories, would be wise to take the following advice: “It is offensive to set up a partisan task force to report on this matter. Instead of setting themselves up as a partisan group, they should have gone in and worked with those citizens’ groups and others who have been working on these problems for years.” That was said by the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) two months ago when he was talking about the New Democratic Party task force with regard to the Niagara River pollution.
First, the member raised the matter of the business-oriented new development program with the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) a moment ago and pointed out that, in her words, we had only $120 million for capital projects. May I remind her that the BOND program relates not to capital but to operating costs; so any connection she wishes to make between the BOND program and the $120 million we have for capital shows that perhaps she is a little confused about the purposes of that program and our capital projects.
With regard to the spending of moneys on Suncor, the government will spend at least $6 billion this year on health care. Over the course of the Suncor investment, which may last 10, 15 or 20 years, I expect the amount of money this government will spend on health care to amount to $60 billion or $100 billion, as compared with the $650 million that will help secure the energy future of Ontario.
I would find the argument put by the Health critic for the NDP -- for the Liberal Party; I should not make that confusion, but it is understandable -- a little more credible if, for example, she and some of her colleagues would write to this government and say they are turning back all Wintario or cultural grants to their ridings to ensure that there is enough money for what she considers to be some underfunding in the system.
The member also raised the question of the district health councils. Since she asked me to address this, it may be an opportunity to remind the member that her understanding of the district health councils and appointment to them is perhaps somewhat inaccurate. Mr. Speaker, as you well know from your area, members of the district health councils are not appointed from lists provided by the government; they are appointed from lists provided from the district health councils.
Twenty per cent of the members of the district health councils are appointed directly by and from municipal councils; we have absolutely no say in that. The other 80 per cent of the members are provided from names supplied to the government, not by my colleagues and not by the provincial Progressive Conservative Party but by the district health councils. We have the authority to say we find one or two of those names less preferable than the others, but the ultimate appointment to the district health councils is by the district health council --
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I wonder if you could tell us whether the minister’s suggestion to us that the purchase of Suncor would enhance energy security in Ontario is misleading the House.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer. In a recent speech the Treasurer stated he wanted the people of Ontario to believe that this is the province of opportunity and that he is going to use the tools at his disposal in the forthcoming budget to achieve that. Does this mean the minister is now prepared to make the public investment in the manufacturing sector which would be necessary to create jobs in this province in such sectors as automotive machinery and food processing?
Mr. Martel: I hope my good friend will be prepared to respond to the predictions of the Conference Board of Canada made yesterday with respect to what is happening in this province. With 550,000 people unemployed in this province and with a bleak economic outlook, will the minister consider short-term funding in housing and energy conservation and, at the same time, long-term financing to restructure the economic deficiencies in this province in such areas as the automotive industry, resource machinery, energy and food processing?
Hon. F. S. Miller: The honourable member has now referred to the Conference Board’s report, and I did respond to it somewhat briefly the other day, pointing out that I had the great good fortune of knowing what was in my budget and how that would cure some of the economic ills of the province, also allowing for the fact that in the past, where the economic forecasts for employment and so on have been made by the Conference Board, they sometimes have been more pessimistic than we have been. History will show that on average we have been more correct than they have been.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, during the first ministers’ conference on the state of the economy and in the Treasurer’s Blueprint for Economic Development he suggested that, “A national automotive parts programs should be implemented to enable the auto parts industry to restructure in order to meet the competition for building components for the future generation of autos.”
Will the Treasurer make a commitment today that since 95 per cent of the auto industry exists here in Ontario, he will set up a provincial automotive parts program to stimulate that sector and prepare the sector here in Ontario for the next generation of cars that are coming out?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, in that kind of area I would be guided by my colleague the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker). At this moment I believe there happens to be the annual meeting of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association of Canada going on in Toronto, at the Royal York Hotel.
Hon. F. S. Miller: There he is. I did not say, “He is there.” I said, “There happens to be a conference going on at the Royal York Hotel of the Auto Parts Manufacturers’ Association.” Since the member brought this point up, I was there last night at the Royal York Hotel and I understand 120 Liberals and 780 conscripts were there. I happened to be on the floor below these 900 people, trying to have a quiet, peaceful little dinner with the auto parts people. There was a thumping on the floor going on, a steady thumping like a trip-hammer. We sent to find out what it was and it was the people at the Suncor table beating their heads against the wall. That literally happened.
In any case, we are working quite seriously and we are taking the member’s position seriously. We are very concerned about the need to see auto parts both fortified in terms of market and in terms of technology. I hope on one hand the auto parts technology centre that is now under way will help. And I hope, on the other, that measures taken in co-operation with the federal government -- and I believe we will have their co-operation -- will also help.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer disagrees with the Conference Board of Canada’s figures that our gross provincial product will dip 2.1 per cent this year. I gather he disagrees that we will have the worst record in Canada.
Could the Treasurer tell us what his predictions are about how much our gross provincial product will fall this year? Will we be 10th and last or will we be eighth or ninth in terms of performance across this country?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I will be giving detailed estimates in the budget. The Leader of the Opposition knows that. I do not know whether he delights in being the initiator of the belief that we are 10th and last. His previous leader tried that and was proven to be very unsuccessful.
The Deputy Speaker: To the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), thank you for allowing the disruption in rotation. Would you allow the Minister of Culture and Citizenship to answer a question previously asked?
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Is he aware that in Sudbury one of his inspectors is in the process of sabotaging a health and safety committee formed between the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Sudbury District Roman Catholic Separate School Board?
“Local 1369 of CUPE is the bargaining agent for the workers employed by the Sudbury District Roman Catholic Separate School Board. We have spent nearly a year in discussion with the board regarding the structure and responsibility of the joint health and safety committee. After many hours of discussion we finally came to an agreement that both the union and the board felt would work.
“I must point out that at no time did we require any input from your ministry. However, it is being sabotaged by your inspector. An inspector in that area is advising members of the committee that it has no power and no standing under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the circumstances the member for Sudbury East has described to me. We have that matter before the legal branch at the present time for an interpretation and we expect to follow up on it very shortly.
Mr. Martel: To prove that my friend, the minister, himself is not a pussycat, even if the act is, is he prepared now to comply with the request by CUPE that he use subsection 8(3) of the act? Will he write an order declaring that the joint health and safety committee established at the work site be recognized as having full powers and responsibilities spelled out under the act?
Mr. Martel: Does the ministry not recognize the hypocrisy in the way this act is being applied? In Sudbury because there are not 20 workers on a work site, there is a voluntary committee that has no power.
Is the minister aware that in Ottawa at the present time the department of physical environment has six work sites with more than 20 employees in each and the city is refusing to recognize them as work sites which would give them the right to have committees with full power under the act? Is the minister now prepared to move in on the city of Ottawa and use his power under subsection 8(3) which says that they, by subsection 8(2) of the act, have the right to those committees by law?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I am also aware of the circumstances the honourable member has described. In response to both circumstances he has brought to our attention today, until I am absolutely convinced we cannot do it on a voluntary basis I am not going to do it on a compulsory basis. I think the act was set up to do it voluntarily with the full co-operation of both parties. That is what we are striving for. Only when I am fully and completely convinced that will not work will I take mandatory action.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, last Friday the Leader of the Opposition asked a question on the McMichael Canadian Collection. I apologize for not getting back to him until now. I was not satisfied at the end of question period on Friday with the tentative answer I had given and indicated that in a note to him. I was out of town until yesterday. It is a long answer. I trust the Leader of the Opposition will bear with me if I just touch on the highlights of it.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. May I say to the minister that we have had problems from time to time with long answers. He has indicated he will highlight it. I trust the highlight will be extremely short.
Mr. Bell, director and chief executive officer of the McMichael Canadian Collection, has proposed that the tour to the midwestern United States be postponed for approximately a year and a half. I have been assured he is planning to consult with US officials to see if some alternative arrangements might be made.
He will also investigate what works from the collection might be made available without jeopardizing the exhibitions already planned for the opening at Kleinburg. I think most people realize the partial reopening is scheduled, and on target, for June 15.
I believe these alternatives could include a tour of some different works than those originally proposed, the 45 the member alluded to, or the delay of the tour as suggested earlier. I realize Mr. Bell confirmed the commitment to the US tour in February. I feel the subsequent turnaround was unfortunate.
The member must realize, however, that Mr. Bell decided to confirm the tour at a time when many of his energies were required for reorientation of staff, establishing his presence as director and chief executive officer of that gallery and, of course, appearing before the standing committee on social development which was examining the new act at that time.
I understand Mr. Bell spoke with the US museum officials yesterday. He proposed alternative works for the tour and although they, in the US, are naturally disappointed he will continue to work with them.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, as I understand the minister’s statement, I gather one of his options is to provide an alternative travelling show now or else wait for some months. He is aware contracts have been entered into in the United States on the basis of the undertaking by Mr. Bell. If it does not go through, is he worried about any legal jeopardy the gallery could suffer because of those contracts entered into in good faith on behalf of the American promoters?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: That is a good question. I am not unaware of those legal implications. I am not concerned about them at the moment because I think there is a legitimate and serious spirit of goodwill, both on the US side and certainly on the part of Mr. Bell, to see if alternative works can now be made available at least to facilitate the earlier US proposals.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Treasurer. The Treasurer is aware the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) has told us on numerous occasions that we have had considerable information with respect to the Suncor purchase. However, on Tuesday the Treasurer said in the House, and I quote from Instant Hansard, “I think it is very easy to sit with incomplete information and come up with incomplete answers.”
I am sure he now probably understands the absurdity of the statement he made on Tuesday. Did he realize that what he was saying was no one could criticize the Suncor purchase because he did not have the information? It is the government that is failing to provide that information. Does the Treasurer not feel we have a right to know? Does he not feel this should have been subjected to independent scrutiny, and does he not feel he has completely mishandled this business from the beginning?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, the member knows the context of that response. It relates to an article that led off the question period that day, and I was referring to the person writing the article. I also pointed out in answer to questions that it was my understanding we had requested permission to release the balance of information and that permission was denied. There is certain other information, as my colleague has pointed out, that would have been available, had he had his way.
Mr. Peterson: What the Treasurer is saying is that we will never know, because he does not have the right to give out that information. We have incomplete information, and we will never have the correct information. Therefore, no one will ever know. He has spent $650 million for which he, as Treasurer, is responsible, in a way that will never be turned up to the light of public scrutiny. He should be very happy about that.
I was asked to name financial analysts who disagreed on the basis of what little we could all determine at the time. Let me give a list of the people who did know, because I assume they had some access to the confidential information the Treasurer will not release. After looking at it they decided they would not touch it. One is Noranda, another is Hiram Walker --
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that Noranda, Hiram Walker, Brascan, Seagram’s and a variety of other companies, up to 15 I am told, looked at that company from the point of view of making an investment, presumably having access to all the information, and that they determined it was not a good investment? How could the Treasurer have determined it was a good investment?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I have no idea, because I was not privy to any of those companies’ approaches. I have no idea how much of the information they saw that we saw. How would I know? I was not in their boardrooms. But these are not the kinds of people my colleague the Minister of Energy challenged the member to produce. He challenged him to produce investment dealers and analysts who are professionals and who would have said the same thing.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, in view of the response of the Treasurer and the response of his colleague the Minister of Energy the other day with regard to what he would have liked to have seen happen with the confidentiality agreement, how can the Treasurer justify living up to this agreement with Suncor to maintain confidentiality and at the same time not provide information to the taxpayers of this province? Is it not true that the only way to get out of this agreement and to have an accurate study of all the facts is to have a public inquiry or royal commission?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Apart from this specific information, the government is often privy to all kinds of information of a classified nature about all kinds of matters. Through the select committee process, there have been times when information has been deemed confidential. This is not a question of denying information to the member or me as citizens, but because it is the kind of information that could be used against a corporation by its competitors.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Treasurer on the Conference Board of Canada report. This report indicated that economic growth in this province was going to be minus 2.1 per cent and that unemployment was going to increase to well over seven per cent, approaching eight per cent -- and we are close to that already, even though the Treasurer said this was a worst-case scenario.
Since both aspects of the Treasurer’s plan of economic growth, through more foreign investment and the megaprojects, have fallen apart, is it not about time the government took the lead in economic planning? Is it not time the government accepted that, at a time of recession, the government must take an interventionist approach and lead the economy, rather than trying to rely on the private sector, which has failed this province in the creation of jobs in the last number of years?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, the private sector has not only not failed to provide jobs in this province in the last few years, it has produced jobs at a rate that has not been equalled elsewhere in the developed world. The member should know that. That is a fact.
Second, I take exception to his easy use of figures. The member was using the figure of 550,000 unemployed this morning. I do not know where he got that figure. That is his estimation. The latest figure I saw from StatsCan was 398,000. I am not proud of that either but he has been inflating it by about 150,000 people as if he had some facts to show that.
Mr. Cooke: The 544,000 was a figure StatsCan released; it included those who are traditionally categorized under its very rigid definition of unemployment, plus those who are hidden unemployed in this province.
In the budget the Treasurer will be bringing down next week, would he not accept the principle that the people who are at the lowest income levels in this province need some protection? Will he not accept that we need to look at specific sectors of the economy -- such as auto, machinery and food processing -- that have huge and increasing deficits? But while those are huge deficits, they offer huge opportunities for job creation.
Would the minister not finally accept that in those sectors the private sector has failed to come in with import replacement and it is time this government took the lead and showed some economic leadership and planning to create jobs in the province?
He should go to Great Britain and look at the levels. He will find that wherever Socialists have been in power they have destroyed the basic economy and it cannot be recovered once the Conservatives get back in because there is not time. They just undo it all. He knows they do.
There is concern in western Ontario about the financial position of the cattle dealer named Stewart McIntyre of Appin. Does the minister have any knowledge of the financial problems and can he advise the House as to the extent of losses that might be incurred in this situation?
Mr. Speaker, yesterday our ministry did become aware of an indication of some problems involving this livestock dealer. Since then I have had Dr. McDermid, the executive director of the quality and standards division, and his staff investigating. At this point I have some preliminary figures which I would rather not use until I have a complete report. Once I have such a report from Dr. McDermid and his staff I will be happy to share the figures with the member to address his concerns and those of his constituents.
Mr. Watson: Mr. Speaker, has the minister had discussions with any of the people in the red meat industry, particularly the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association, concerning this? Are they prepared to participate in some kind of protection system to help out in situations such as this?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I met with the cattlemen’s association about two weeks ago and we did discuss the question of financial protection and the question of the licensing of dealers, sales and processors, among other things. At that time I put the question to each executive member of the association who was present as to what his position was. I think it is fair to say there was not a consensus in support of either compulsory licensing or some form of voluntary licensing scheme.
I will be meeting with them again today. I have asked them to come in because of my concern about this report I got yesterday and which is still under investigation. I think this is an example of the kind of thing we should be trying to prevent through a licensing and financial protection plan.
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, it is a very important matter when a farmer in my area has a $160,000 cheque that bounces because of a domino effect of, I think, McIntyre and then the sales yard in Chatham. Is the minister checking to see if the Royal Bank of Canada is holding these cheques more than 24 hours so they then can seize the cheque under the writ from McIntyre for his stock, but yet McIntyre’s cheques then were NSF because the bank seized his assets?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The honourable member would know better than I, but the number of transactions involved is bound to be considerable. Quite frankly, in 24 hours it has not been possible for my staff to delve into every transaction of this dealer, the producers, the yard and everybody else involved.
In addition to the work Dr. McDermid and his staff are doing through the quality and standards division, I have had other staff of the ministry pursuing the matter with the bank. We hope to amass a complete picture of what has happened and what can or should be done.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, I understand that last year this livestock producer had a turnover in the range of $35 million. Will the investigation the minister is making give us some indication of what the impact is of this kind of collapse, not only on individual farmers but on agribusiness, and I shall be generous and include the banks?
I think it should be obvious to the honourable member, by the concern evidenced by the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. Watson) and the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston), that this sort of thing can have an impact on a great many people in different sectors of the red meat industry.
Even though we spoke of it with the cattlemen’s association only two weeks ago, I have asked them to come in again today. I will seeing them within the next half hour to discuss it further because, quite frankly, more and more I am inclined to believe that some compulsory licensing and financial protection plan is probably in the best interests of all concerned.
Mr. Elston: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of the Environment: On January 19, 1982, the Minister of the Environment’s federal cousin, John Fraser, the former federal Minister of the Environment, stated that if the General Public Utilities export were approved without conditions on air emissions, “the Americans will be able to crucify us saying we are a pack of hypocrites.”
In light of this comment, and of this minister’s promise of March 15, 1982, that this export will be a clean one, how will he make sure that it is a clean export and ensure that his well-intentioned legal interventions in the US are not viewed as being hypocritical?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, the Honourable John Fraser is a man who has a high degree of credibility in the United States and has been very effective in his work in Washington on this issue. As far as initiatives at the federal level in this country are concerned, even the present minister acknowledges that it was John Fraser who really turned the federal government in the direction that the Ontario government had been leading for some time. For that support, we are really very grateful.
As I recall, I did have some communication from the Honourable John Fraser, and I think he also would understand the process and realize that process is not yet complete. One of three levels of approval has been granted. There are two yet to go, so I think the member is jumping the gun a little bit.
Mr. Elston: Let us try and get the gun loaded so that we are ready to deliver the shell when the time is right, Mr. Speaker. Let me remind the minister that last Monday when he was addressing the Canadian Bar Association on the topic of public participation in environmental decision-making, he said: “While government may have an array of experts at hand to consult on a given issue, there is no question that it has a surer guarantee of complete and accurate” -- and I would add emphasis -- ”information if the public is also involved. With the opinions of the many competing and interested parties on a given proposal laid before government, decisions will be made” -- again I add emphasis -- “which more readily reflect the public interest.”
Given the sincerity of these words expressed by the minister, would he consider holding a special hearing -- which could be relatively short -- dealing exclusively with environmentally related concerns of the GPU deal, which would follow the intent of the Environmental Assessment Act, rather than conducting an in-house review in his ministry and the in-camera discussions which are taking place with Ontario Hydro?
I can assure the honourable member that many options have been examined for dealing with this matter in preparation for it coming before cabinet. I will be making certain recommendations to my colleagues on the matter. In the collegial tradition of parliamentary democracy, we will be making our decision in due course, at which time we will advise the honourable members.
Mr. Sargent: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The minister said there had been two approvals on the GPU. According to a story by Tom Claridge, GPU denied having approved any part of any purchase of power from the Ontario government.
The Deputy Speaker: I have sad news for you: that is not a point of order. The opportunity for rotation will come shortly. As soon as we are finished with the supplementary to the question by the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton), you will have an opportunity for a brand new question.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, in light of the efforts by the minister and some federal efforts across the border to deal with the acid rain situation, the decision to approve the GPU sale has been perceived by the public, especially on the other side of the border, as hypocritical. In the fight to reduce the emissions from the other side of the border, does the minister not feel that it is in his best interests to do whatever he possibly can to get as many facts out publicly as he is capable of getting out?
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member refers to allegations of hypocrisy, which I believe come mainly from two sources -- I say this on very good information because we maintain close contact with what is going on in the United States, particularly in Washington -- the coal producers and power generators in the United States and the critics in Ontario.
If one believed in the conspiracy theory, it would appear that the member may be in league with the coal lobbyists in the United States, because he is mouthing the same things. Let me assure him we will use every opportunity, as we have done throughout this issue and the broader issue of acid precipitation, to disseminate the correct information as it develops and as new information is available. This week I have been on two or three open-line radio programs responding to questions from the public and explaining the facts about this issue. I will continue to do that.
If the member is suggesting there are other ways of disseminating information accurately, I will consider any reasonable, additional efforts, because it is in our best interest and in the best interests of the people of this province that correct information be disseminated. I would suggest to the member that it appears there are some people who are in the dissemination business whose facts are not correct.
Since the deal was first announced by the Premier (Mr. Davis) two weeks ago in the House and no subsequent information has been disclosed by either the minister or the Premier to the House, could the minister now inform the House about the deal in terms of how many jobs it means for Ontario, what kind of performance bond is Ontario or the UTDC committed to posting as part of the deal, and what type of production we will be getting as part of the deal?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Very roughly, Mr. Speaker, the contract for the Detroit system is about $110 million. Approximately 50 per cent of that contract will be put into place in Detroit. That is the civil engineering, the building of the concrete structures, the electrical substations, and all of that type of construction which obviously has to be put into place at the site.
The other 50 per cent will be Canadian content and will include the cars that will be built at the Kingston facility and other products that will be Canadian manufactured. There are literally hundreds of subcontractors who supply parts and pieces for the cars.
It is very difficult for me to put a figure on the number of actual jobs that would be produced, but there will be $55 million of economic activity, a great deal of it going into materials and wages here in Ontario and in other Canadian provinces, that will be exported to the city of Detroit.
Secondly, since apparently only $19.6 million of the total $110 million cost of the project has been authorized by the American Congress, and since the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority has had to make its case for additional funding from the American federal government each year, I gather, and since the future of the project depends on the performance of the American economy and the will of the US Congress, can the minister inform the House exactly what degree of certitude and commitment this project has from the American government and what commitments have been made to UTDC as to completion, funding and other types of deadlines?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I do not have it with me today. I carried some of this material for several days anticipating such questions, which were not forthcoming. I can supply the member with a photocopy of the estimates tabled in Washington. These are the recommendations in the estimates of the Secretary of Transportation, federal government, USA, which show the proposed cash flow over a four-year period for this project.
As I am sure the member must realize, a similar situation arises many times in this province where I give a commitment, or this government gives a commitment to a municipality to carry out the construction of a road or a bridge over a period of three or four years. I cannot give a definite, ironclad commitment beyond the one year, which is the year in which the funds are voted by this Legislature.
I think the same situation applies in the United States. The $19.5 million, or whatever it is, is voted for this year. I have seen copies of correspondence from the federal government in Washington to the city of Detroit setting out the proposed cash flow over the next four years which includes, I believe, 80 per cent of the $110 million which is being provided federally.
I believe I am safe in saying it was not the federal administration that put this project into the budget. It was the Congress of the United States that insisted this money be put in. Congress made the commitment. Congress insisted the money be included this year and I fully expect Congress will insist the ongoing funding take place.
There is a performance bond. If the member wants more information, I would be happy to table copies of the contract, perhaps on Monday. I do not have them with me today. Because of commitments in northern Ontario, I will not be in the House tomorrow, but if the member wishes I will table copies of the contract on Monday and perhaps copies of the letters from the Secretary of Transportation which I am sure will answer all the questions. There is a performance bond. I cannot tell him the exact amount offhand.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, given the fact UTDC wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars buying luxurious homes in British Columbia for some of its personnel, would the minister give a commitment to this Legislature that he will inform UTDC his government would frown on any purchase of homes in Detroit or in Michigan for UTDC personnel if it chooses to do so?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the member’s oratory at the beginning of what eventually ended up as a question, I guess, that the UTDC has wasted money buying houses in the city of Vancouver. If he only understood a little about business, he would know that when one relocates employees in a situation like that on a short-term basis one has to assist them with their housing needs.
If the member had been with me on the day, a few weeks ago, when the mayor of Vancouver in the House during question period and was interviewed in the corridor later, he would have heard him say to the press, which was asking him about this matter, that UTDC probably will end up making a substantial profit on the houses it bought in Vancouver when they are sold after the project is completed. I am sure if there is a profit on that, it goes back into the contract.
To get back to the question, I cannot give him a guarantee we will not have to assist in some way senior staff or staff we transfer to Detroit to carry out a contract. I hope the member understands we cannot carry out a $110-million contract in Detroit without having any people there to do it. Maybe he can, but I cannot. I understand the housing situation in Detroit is something altogether different. I hope it will not be necessary to invest in real estate in Detroit.
Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. I remind the Premier of a question I asked the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) a few weeks ago concerning the lack of government action in the mediation process with the Whitedog Indian band concerning mercury health claims, which ended unsuccessfully last May.
The Premier will recall the minister stated: “We started off with some 30 issues that had to be resolved with respect to financial matters and resource allocation matters. Most of them have been resolved.” Can the Premier explain the discrepancy between that statement and a statement in a letter from a negotiator for the Whitedog Indian band to the Premier two weeks ago?
The letter states, “Contrary to the inference of one of your ministers in the House in recent days, not one major issue in the Ontario package has been resolved after 40 months of meetings with Ontario officials.” Will the Premier tell us why the province refuses to settle with the band on the outstanding issues still to be negotiated? Will he now admit the negotiation process that was set up was simply a public relations gesture?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I feel badly that the member would put that connotation on it. I do not think he really believes the latter part of his question. In case he does, I will disabuse him of that and say the answer is very simply no. If he wishes to raise some of his concerns with the minister who has responsibility in this area, he can ask him again.
Mr. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that I have discussed this matter with the Minister of Community and Social Services and I am hoping that very soon he will answer the question I asked two and a half weeks ago. He indicated the other day he would reply to it in the House, and he has made that indication to me now for about a week and a half. I know our facts are pretty well correct this time. Maybe that is why he does not want to answer it.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, with a degree of fairness, the member talked to me the other day and I told him I was replying to him in writing. I have never seen a guy who cannot keep his head straight for two days. Does he want the answer in writing or does he want it here?
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, the bill provides an informal procedure whereby the 1981 and 1982 assessment of real property in which urea formaldehyde foam insulation was installed before December 18, 1980, may be reduced by half and any overpayment of taxes may be refunded. The bill also provides that in an ordinary assessment appeal it shall be presumed that the value of real property in which urea formaldehyde foam insulation was installed before December 18, 1980, has thereby been reduced by half. It is my hope the provincial government will reimburse municipalities for all revenues that would potentially be lost in this process.
Mr. Di Santo: Can we speak on the bill, Mr. Speaker? Since this bill was already introduced by my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), I wonder whether at this point we can make a few --
The Deputy Speaker: Order for a moment. Will all members please tone down their private conversations? It is always difficult during private members’ hour, when the first speaker is about to begin, with people still talking as they are leaving the chamber, including the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) and the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel).
The purpose of this bill is quite simple. It is to extend to all tenants of new buildings the same rights and privileges as tenants of older buildings. It is to put an end to the excessive rent increases in post-1976 buildings. There is a principle behind this bill, which is that it is unfair and illogical that there should be two classes of tenants, those protected by rent review and those unprotected simply because their building was occupied after January 1, 1976.
As most members of this House have stated on different occasions and in different forums, if we believe in the rent review system, if we believe that it is worth having at all, then surely it is worth having by all. At the present time there are something like 960,000 controlled rental units in Ontario. Four hundred and fifty thousand of these are located in Metropolitan Toronto. Another way of looking at this is that one million residents of Toronto, or 38 per cent, are living in rent control or rent review buildings.
There are, however, 540,000 rental units in Ontario which are exempt from controls. Even if we subtract from those the 83,675 units that are under the Ontario Housing Corp., even if we exempt nonprofit housing in its various forms, and even if we exempt those buildings that have been exempted because their rents are over $750 a month, we are still left with a very large number of units -- an increasingly larger number of units as a matter of fact -- that are not covered by rent review whatsoever.
In some parts of this province, such as Scarborough, Mississauga and Rexdale where land is more readily accessible, those buildings exempt from rent controls can equal those covered by rent review at the present time. These are the areas that are developing. These are the areas where new construction has gone in in recent years. Thus, a very large number of people in the communities that I, the Mississauga members and the Scarborough members represent -- and the member for Downsview (Mr. Di Santo) represents, he informs me -- have large numbers of buildings and a large percentage of rental units that are not covered under rent review at the present time.
As rents skyrocket in the downtown areas of Toronto and other cities, as rooming houses are gradually converted to luxury town homes, as older buildings are demolished, seniors, poor people and ex-psychiatric patients are flooding to the suburbs, to the very areas which have the buildings that are not under rent review whatsoever. It is those very poor people, those lower-income people who are being forced into the buildings without rent controls. They can often be staggered by a $150 rent increase in one year.
I remind members that studies such as the 1974 Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. survey shows that single parents and seniors are the most likely to benefit by rent review. But because of the system of demolition that this government has allowed in the centre core of the city, because of the increase in luxury condominiums and other uses for the downtown areas, the people who are being forced into non-rent-controlled buildings are the very people who can least afford to pay the rents in those buildings.
Where will these people live? OHC’s own figures show that the rate of turnover is declining. In each of the last three years it has been down one percentage point and the waiting list gets longer and longer.
It is a serious problem when it makes the front page of local community newspapers. I refer the members to the front page of the Etobicoke Advertiser/Guardian of yesterday. It just shows how current the problem is. The headline on the front page is not the usual headline one sees in community newspapers, but it is a description of the problem we are facing in the Rexdale area and in many other areas of this city. The headline is “His parishioners bailing out.” A smaller heading reads “Huge rent increases drive families from building.”
The article says: “Father Patrick Doran of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church told the Advertiser/ Guardian five families left the church and moved away in the last two weeks because they could not pay the $100 to $150 monthly rent increases. Father Doran expects more families to leave. ‘It’s a great concern to the priests here, but what can we do?’ asks Father Doran. ‘We’re losing a lot of parishioners when the leases come up. Many are single parents, broken families and underprivileged people.’ Father Doran knows one family with three children moving at the end of May from their Annabelle Towers apartment on Kipling Avenue to smaller, shabbier rooms in Toronto after their rent of $400 jumped to $520.”
The buildings that Father Doran is talking about on the front page of the Etobicoke Advertiser/Guardian are buildings that are exempt from rent review because they were occupied after January 1, 1976. The people he is talking about are real people, people he deals with day after day in what can only be described as a very courageous service by one of the greatest people I have run into in our community.
This bill is an attempt to rectify the injustice which commenced in 1975 and was repeated in 1977 with the revision of the Residential Tenancies Act. Needless to say, it was a disappointment to me and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party, and more particularly to the various tenant groups we worked with across this province, when under the minority government the Liberals chose to vote with the Conservatives and the landlords against the amendment that in 1977 would have done the very thing we are attempting to do today.
I did not expect the Conservatives, who had to be dragged into rent review by Stephen Lewis and the NDP, to go along with the removal of the exemption, but one would have thought the Liberals in their pragmatic way, knowing full well the tenants outnumber landlords, would have at least voted for their constituents and not for the landlords. Instead, in some bizarre fashion under the minority government, when the Liberals could have made the change they chose to vote for the landlords against their constituents and with the Tories.
I am told some of them are now thinking of voting for this bill. These fellows will probably vote against it. Their tears, their empathy for their constituents and for their tenants is a little bit misplaced. I hope they will show this deathbed repentance, but it is a little late. We welcome their vote on the bill, assuming that the rascals do not block it.
Mr. Philip: They can vote against it if they want to. It is their choice. That is fine. They voted against it before. They can do it again if that is their choice, but I say to them that I think my arguments will persuade even those people that they have to vote for it.
The developers argue that the rent control system at present discourages, and particularly with its extension to new buildings would further discourage, new rental construction. However, even without rent control on new buildings construction is down. In recent times new rental accommodation has not been built. The irony is the development industry is begging for more and more handouts, while in boom time it is the first to attack government intervention in the private enterprise system.
As early as a year and a half ago federal Minister of Housing Paul Cosgrove argued we should remove rent review entirely to stimulate rental construction. At that time I challenged him, in a debate on the Shulman File, to show one bit of evidence that rent review was responsible for the slowdown in construction. He could not.
I asked Mr. Cosgrove to explain why, the year after Alberta removed rent review entirely, rental construction starts hit a 14-year low. He would not offer any kind of explanation. He knew who the culprit was. He knew it was not rent control that was stopping construction. He knew it was his made-in-US economic policies that were stopping rental construction in this city and that he was the one who was largely responsible for it.
We face the argument that even though the removal of rent review in its entirety in other provinces has not stimulated the construction of apartment buildings, keeping out one small section of it will somehow stimulate construction.
That is as crazy as saying that if the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) pumps a million dollars into an industry it will have no effect but we are going to pump in a quarter of a million dollars because it will have some effect. The logic just escapes the imagination.
Under this bill the landlord would set his own base rent. It would mean he would set a rent that would provide him with a reasonable rate of return on his investment, and would take into account the present mortgage costs and so forth. He would decide the base rent, but from there on the building would be covered under rent review. Surely this would at least stop the loss-leader technique of filling buildings.
The landlord, and there are numerous examples in my riding and across the province, sets a reasonable rent for the first year of his operations. He is thereby able to fill his building quickly and has a larger number of applicants to pick and choose from. People are attracted away from rent review buildings into new buildings because they have to pay only a little more; it may even be the same price.
Then after one year, zap, up goes the rent. They remove their children from schools and put them into new schools. They may have spent a lot of money on moving or in decorating their new apartments and then, suddenly, up goes the rent. If all buildings were covered under rent review this kind of trickery by landlords would not continue to take place.
Why should we not have the more rational approach of allowing the new landlord to set his base rent and be under rent review from then on? It is not as though landlords who are under rent review are losing money. If we look at the average rent increases granted by rent review for those landlords who have made application, we see it is above the rate of inflation. That does not take into account the even greater profits they are making by capital appreciation, which in one year in Toronto alone amounted to 23 per cent return on investment without taking into account any profits.
Why is it that Bill Pr13 has not yet been scheduled? I see the chairman of the standing committee on administration of justice over there. Maybe he can answer that question. It was first referred to another committee for a long period of time, then shuffled into his committee and it still is not scheduled. The fact is this government is doing everything it can to make sure Bill Pr13 does not come up in this House.
Pr13 is a reasonable bill. It would give Toronto the right to say to a landlord: “No, you may not demolish this building. It has no major structural problems. It is a safe building. The number of inhabitants in the building is complementary to the zoning we have placed in that area.”
Already the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Mr. Bennett) have stated publicly that they are in opposition to Bill Pr13 and to a larger bill I have introduced that would encompass a number of municipalities. It is quite similar to this one.
They have stated that they do not want to interfere with property rights. But what about the rights of those seniors in the Attorney General’s riding who are being driven from their neighbourhood, from their clubs and the synagogues in that area, from their cultural groups? What about those who are driven into buildings exempt from rent review where rents can skyrocket $150 in one year, which has often been the case?
This bill will not overcome the culture shock those people in the Attorney General’s riding face as they move into the suburbs, but at least it will give them some stability in their rent. It will provide some small comfort for the fact that this government has already indicated it will stop the demolition bill from passing.
Similarly, this government has failed to act in any way to prevent the removal of existing controlled units from rent review by making cosmetic changes and evicting the tenants to do so. Tenants groups and we in the NDP have told the government about these problems. I, in turn, have introduced private member’s bills dealing in a very precise way with how we can control that kind of manipulation by developers. This government continues to meet with tenants -- even though these bills have been endorsed by the tenants’ groups -- and says it is studying the situation. That is the new minister’s latest response.
One would have hoped the new minister at least would have had something prepared by the previous minister that would say: “Here are reasonable demands by tenant groups. Here are reasonable bills introduced by the NDP. Here are reasonable ways of making rent review work.” But they refused to do so. So what we have is a situation where the downtown cores of cities are gradually becoming the ghettos of the rich, and others are being forced into the suburbs which have large numbers of buildings that are not covered by rent review whatsoever.
Yesterday I attended the funeral of a man I have disagreed with politically. I did not agree with his choice of political party, but very few people I have met have done as much for tenants in this city. Nelson Clarke was a man who devoted a large amount of his energies to working for those people. It was tragic that he passed away on the weekend.
I found some of the eulogies a little -- what shall I say? -- to the left of the political philosophy I might adopt, but none the less he was a man who had devoted his time and energy to try to educate all of us. Maybe his work on behalf of tenants might be well served -- and I cannot help but think he would appreciate it -- if at least one of the bills which he approved of and which he urged on this government were passed in this House. That would be a memorial to a man who I think was misguided politically but who was certainly very sensitive, very intelligent and very perceptive about what was needed on behalf of tenants. Perhaps better than any eulogy, the passage of this bill would be a tribute to Nelson Clarke.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, before we proceed, I have a point of order. This seems to be a very important bill, and I am sure the contribution of my colleague will be important. Could we check for a quorum?
With regard to the remarks made by the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), may I first comment on his reference to two classes of tenants: those under rent control and those not under rent control. I find it somewhat irrelevant to be attempting to set up two classes of anything. If the member takes that to its logical conclusion, he will have merchants with and without bank loans and home owners with and without mortgages. I really do not see that with-and-without rent control is relevant, except as an attempt to set up artificial levels of the oppressed and the oppressor, which my friend was trying to do in his debate.
I also wish to refer briefly to the Etobicoke newspaper of yesterday, which my friend used in an effort to bring relevance to that remark and which stated that rent review was very much needed etc. I have with me the Woodstock-Ingersoll Sentinel Review, which has a vast circulation in Metro Toronto, dated as recently as May 4. It states that supply of rental accommodation is tight largely because of rent control.
Mr. Treleaven: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have three main topics. The first is credibility. If the bill that the member for Etobicoke is putting forward is passed and supported by this House, neither this government nor this House will have credibility.
In 1975, there was a commitment. If I may draw an analogy -- the two solicitors from the Liberal Party who are in the House will enjoy this -- the Planning Act legislation of the late 1960s whitewashed the Planning Act; if any errors had been made prior to that time, they were all expunged. Right now, many solicitors and, I am sure, the contingency fund and the insurers would know --
If that act were to be whitewashed every 10 years or so, there would be no credibility, nor would there be care taken by the solicitors. It would be the same thing if the member’s bill were to assure builders that after X days all buildings would be exempted from this act. That would be misleading them. I suggest that it would be dishonest to do that and then to close the trap on them by saying, “Now you are in,” and then -- so we can encourage the building of new units -- saying to other builders, “All you fellows, from date Y onwards, are exempt.” Perhaps five years down the road the member would bring in a similar bill to try to catch these builders. There would be no government credibility left.
I draw another analogy, one that goes back to the 1930s, to a bill known as the Farm Loans Adjustment Act. During the 1920s and in the early 1930s -- I see I have the attention of the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) -- under the Farm Loans Adjustment act, if someone defaulted he could apply to a local board and have the interest rate lessened, the principal reduced and arrears cancelled. As a result of that legislation, farm mortgages dried up totally until the 1960s. Then the Ontario Junior Farmers Establishment Loan Corp. and the Farm Credit Corp. of the federal government had to come into being, because faith in farm mortgages and in farm financing had been lost.
The second point I would like to mention is vacancy rates. I have already read from the Woodstock-Ingersoll Sentinel Review, that epistle of Oxford county. Vacancy rates are low now for two main reasons: rent review and the federal Liberal government’s high interest rate policy. There are two main reasons, one a New Democratic Party matter and the other a Liberal matter.
Right now, the vacancy rate in most cities is less than one per cent, with the exception of Windsor and perhaps London more latterly. In Oshawa, is it not correct that the vacancy rate is zero and the Ministry of Revenue employees are having trouble finding places there?
Mr. Treleaven: If we permit this bill to go through and to be voted for, if we were to support it, it would have two effects: it would remove the incentive to build; and it would increase the incentive to demolish, to convert those borderline dwellings, etc., it will add an incentive to that.
Mr. Treleaven: Thank you. There are two sides to the rent control matter; I recognize and appreciate both of them. I recognize two sides for the tenants: the short-term security of rent control -- and there certainly is security; and the long-term insecurity of the supply. The supply is affected. The tenants are the losers with the landlords in the long run. Throughout the entire province, the building industries are all at a loss in the long run; that is the price of some short-term stability in the dollar value of their rent.
First, interference in the marketplace is not something desirable if there is another method of solving a problem. My friend the member for Etobicoke is trying to interfere with the marketplace. It is arbitrary interference. If one takes the matter to its logical conclusion, the government would legislate sale prices. There is an analogy.
My friend is saying we should legislate and control rentals. Then why do we not control sale prices and tell each vendor, as he sells, how much he can make each year as a profit, with only a six or eight per cent increase in the equity when he sells? Why not? I do not think that would fly in Ontario; but, logically, if one is okay, why not the other? I throw it out.
In summary, there is no need for the bill. It only exerts more unnecessary interference in people’s lives and in the marketplace, to the long-term detriment of the entire population of Ontario and, therefore, the bill should not be supported.
Mr. Spensieri: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to stand in my place and speak on the bill introduced by my neighbour the member for Etobicoke. Speaking on behalf of our party, I will be enjoining the members to support this bill.
Mr. Spensieri: Far from a deathbed repentance, I might add for the member for Etobicoke, we should advise him, as I am sure he knows, that the concerns of the tenants in this province have not been the preserve of his party and that, in fact, under the former member for St. George, Mrs. Margaret Campbell, the tenants of this province began their slow road towards some kind of acceptance.
I also want to speak to him of the NDP flip-flop in Manitoba, where an NDP government, under its own residential tenancies act, not only has introduced but also is now bolstering exemptions for new construction and has exempted apartment buildings that rent for more than $1,000 per month.
Having said that, it remains a fact that exempting buildings built after January 1976, especially in suburban centres such as the one I have the honour to represent and the one the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) represents, constitutes a severe discriminatory practice in the sense that two classes are being created. This is also true in the sense that using the date of construction as the criterion is unfair, inasmuch as we could easily use, for instance, the colour of brick or the type of exterior as a criterion. It is arbitrary, it is not founded on reason and on common commercial practice and, therefore, it ought to be removed from our statutes.
The real problem is not the inclusion or the exclusion of properties built and occupied after 1976. This government and, indeed, members of this House must address the larger issue of routinely granted exemptions given by our rental review board. That is to say that in addition to the automatic exemption, say, for the $750-a-month building, or the automatic exemption for certain classes of buildings, we routinely see huge increases being handed out by the rent review board as a result of precedent and practice which build up within the rent review board.
We are also seeing a further erosion of the rental review and the rental control aspect by the practice that is becoming quite widespread in North York of introducing net net leases. Before, they were used only in conjunction with commercial properties, but now they are being introduced in residential tenancies. Net net leases, members will understand, call for a basic rent and then an automatic yearly increase for taxes, insurance premiums, maintenance and other related costs. More and more tenants are being subjected, through this contract of adhesion, to enter into these various net net leases, so that the whole concept of rent review, rent control and limitation of rent increases is becoming a mockery.
We are also seeing more and more the practice of contracting out of the control and review provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act. That is to say that parties -- often, I must admit, under the advice of their legal advisers -- will contract out of certain provisions of the act. We must be ever-vigilant in this House that these kinds of commercial practice, such as the net net lease and the opting out by private contract, do not become the norm. Otherwise, it is pointless to talk about buildings that are exempt and buildings that are included in control, because the whole process will have been vitiated and rendered useless.
The next thorny issue is the question of refinancing. More and more, the rent review board has taken the view that refinancing at today’s higher costs automatically entitles the landlords to a corresponding increase. What we must be concerned with, and I am sure the member for Etobicoke is concerned with it and probably will be introducing a bill and dealing with it later, is the question of the extent to which we should permit the practice of refinancing and the passing on of the resultant larger costs from refinancing to the tenant. Those are the burning issues, not so much the question of what buildings we include and what buildings we do not include.
Lastly, as landlords acquire equity in their buildings there has been a growing practice by developers of financing them to the hilt to finance further projects. That kind of equity financing on the backs of the tenants, is also something that this party, with the concurrence of all other members, will be looking into.
In conclusion, we are going to support the removal of the condition contained in the present clause 134(c) because it removes one more arbitrary element in the review process. We support it because it fosters the objectives of this province, and certainly the objectives of us as working members, to provide security of tenure, to provide for the alleviation of hardship in housing and to ensure some measure of social justice.
Simply removing this section from our statute books does not go far enough or quickly enough towards the support and the wellbeing of our tenant population, particularly in the suburban and growing centres of Metro Toronto. We will however, support the private bill introduced by the member for Etobicoke and we will wait for a later day to expand on other measures which this party feels are required to meet the modern-day realities of being tenants in Metro Toronto and of living with a very unsatisfactory availability picture for affordable housing.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I remind the House that this bill is part of a package which has been put forward by my colleague the member for Etobicoke. He has been second to no one in this entire Legislature in speaking on behalf of the interests of tenants and working with tenants in Metropolitan Toronto and across Ontario.
As someone who once had the position of housing critic within the New Democratic Party caucus, I know the amount of work, effort and energy involved in maintaining contact and knowing what the real problems are. I know what is involved in bringing those problems to this Legislature and then fighting a government that has consistently shown itself to be in favour of the interests of developers and to be opposed to the interests of tenants.
This is just a start. The government should understand that the majority of people who live in the major cities of this province are tenants and that they should have rights too. If the members of the government party would simply accept this bill, we might go forward together and co-operatively ensure that there was a genuine charter of rights to make certain tenants were no longer treated as second-class citizens in Ontario.
I am sorry the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie) is not here. He used to bathe us in his concern for workers when he was the Minister of Labour. That concern has been noticeably absent since he took his new portfolio.
I want to put on record one case that is symptomatic of what is happening to people who are living in new buildings in my riding of Ottawa Centre. This involves a lady who lives at 151 Bay Street in Park Square in my riding. I think it is a two-bedroom apartment. The apartment building was built less than five years ago and is therefore not under rent review. On July 1, 1980, her rent was $631. On July 1, 1981, it went up 10 per cent to $695. On July 1, 1982, her rent is going to increase by 20 per cent to $835 a month. At that rate, next year it will go up by 30 per cent to $1,085. Goodness knows what it will go up to the following year.
This woman is a senior citizen. She is living on a nurse’s pension. She lives with a sister, who is also on a fixed income. Their rent is now $835 a month. It has gone up by 30 per cent in the past two years. If it were under rent control, no increase more than six per cent per annum could have been permitted without having to be justified.
Those people who have been in business on the government side know perfectly well that when that building was built two or three years ago the chances are that the financing was for at least five years. Therefore, every penny of those big rent increases on a new building, which does not require a great deal of maintenance, is simply unearned profit going into the pockets of developers.
That is intolerable considering that comparable apartments in older buildings would be available at between $350 to $400 a month in my riding, and less in some other parts of the province. Why should a two-class system exist for people who are forced to take newer apartments and pay as much as double what people living in older accommodation are paying? That is beyond me. I wish there was some concern from the minister for this kind of situation, and some real action to match it, which he did not often show as Minister of Labour.
We welcome the support of the member for Yorkview (Mr. Spensieri) on behalf of the Liberal caucus. I do wish, however, that the Liberal caucus could have supported the New Democratic Party’s efforts to remove the exemption on buildings built since 1976 with regard to rent review when it counted. It is almost as though the Liberals are prepared to support applying rent review to newer buildings when they know it will not hurt their landlord friends. Where were the Liberals when we were in a minority situation and those Liberal votes could have counted to change the law and benefit all those tenants living in accommodations built since 1976? The Liberals were absent.
In committee, they voted the other way. They voted to perpetuate the situation where the exemption continues. They voted for my constituent paying $835 a month because nothing was done by the Liberals at the time when it could have counted.
There was a time when Margaret Campbell, the former member for St. George, did speak up on behalf of tenants through the Liberal caucus, but she stood virtually alone. When she looked to her left, to her right and behind her in order to find support for tenant issues, the support was not there.
The member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) has acknowledged that the vacancy rate is less than one per cent in our major cities across the province. It is 0.4 per cent in the city of Ottawa. Four apartments in every 1,000 are vacant at this time, when a reasonable level of vacancies is between three and four per cent. For families, the vacancy level is virtually zero. The major developers and landlords such as Urbandale, Campeau and Minto are all going to rent review to take advantage of the situation and all the loopholes, games and manipulations that are permitted because of the rotten Tory administration of rent review in Ontario. They are taking advantage of that in order to get rent increases that exceed six per cent, whether or not they are justified or justifiable.
Again and again, the tenants are being shoved to one side and told by the rent review commissioners, “You know nothing about the situation; step to one side, we will judge on your behalf.” Too often those judgements are unfair and increases unconscionably large.
It has now been six years since the exemption began. Surely if the exemption was to have created a continuing supply of new apartments, as was claimed in 1975 when the rent review legislation was passed, we would see the results by now. On the contrary, we have seen no results at all. We see a continuing shrinkage of the new supply of housing and a continuing reduction in new rental housing starts. In fact, the only rental housing starts are those that have been subsidized in various ways by governments. The government gives $6,000 per unit to developers who will put up new apartments yet it will not ask them for one ounce of responsibility in return, such as asking them to agree to rent review on apartments that are being publicly subsidized.
The consequence of the shrinking vacancy rate is that the demand for social housing in my area is shooting up. There are 1,108 families who have applied for public housing and there are 439 on the senior citizens’ housing list. That is almost double what it was a couple of years ago. Applications for nonprofit housing in Ottawa have doubled in a couple of years to 981 families and 87 seniors. The co-ops in my riding have as many people on their waiting lists as they have units actually occupied. That means those people will have six or seven years on the waiting list if we look at the number of people who vacate their units. There is very little overlap among those three particular lists.
People are being driven to distraction because of high rents, because they have no protection through rent review and because if they live in newer buildings, they find they simply cannot get any protection from landlords who are being greedy and taking advantage of the situation to get every penny they can.
People with special needs are being particularly hard hit. Ten years ago there were nine or 10 rooming houses offering very low-income accommodation on the block where I live at Waverley Street near Cartier in Ottawa. Today there are only one or two. Around the corner, homes that used to rent for $100 a month are now $85,000 townhouses, obviously serving quite a different market. Low-income single people of 40 or 50, whose incomes are $10,000 or $12,000, simply do not know where to turn, because they are not eligible for public housing or many forms of social housing. They cannot afford rents in the private market unless they pay 40 or 50 per cent of their income on rent and they --
In 1975, the government said, “Spare this new accommodation because otherwise it won’t come.” It has not come, Mr. Speaker, and I say in conjunction with my colleague and friend, the member for Etobicoke, it is about time the shabby deal that was made in 1975 and 1976 was reversed. It is about time we kept faith with the tenants of this province and ensured that every tenant of Ontario had the same protection against unconscionable rent increases by landlords in this province.
Mr. Cousens: Oh, in Richmond Hill we have apartments and we have a number in Markham. What we are seeing here in this House today is the Legislature in microcosm. First, we see the third party assuming it has the exclusive preserve of the interest of the tenants, with a most honourable and sincere interest in the needs of tenants, as if to say other honourable members do not have as genuine and as deep a concern. That is also something that sometimes --
Mr. Cousens: The member for Ottawa Centre will see there is a microcosm here today. Everybody in this House is concerned for the need of tenants to have accommodation, to be able to rent property within their means. Certainly the province is doing things to achieve this; but here is the thing: we have a sincere group of people who decide they have the exclusive preserve of it and they are not the only ones. We also see the flip-flop of the official opposition which is a delight --
I think what we are seeing again is the official opposition having a convenient change of position to accommodate the needs of the third party. That is also something that happens rather occasionally in this House.
Mr. Cousens: I will change it when I see the situation is right. I think that is an honourable thing to do. May I suggest to members, as people look on from the galleries and read Hansard, they are seeing in this Legislature, first, a group that thinks it has the right answer; second, another group changing its position; and third, hearing comment on something that should really be brought up in another bill. If people are concerned about anomalies, discrepancies and problems with the rent review committee process, there are other ways in which changes can be brought about. Obviously those concerns are really not part of Bill 57 as the member for Etobicoke has brought it forward.
I can see the headlines, and certainly the member for Etobicoke has brought headlines to the fore. They are going to read, “Government reneges,” or “Government breaks the promise;” the members opposite have given all the words beforehand. What has happened is there has been commitment by this province over a period of time, and not just to tenants. The province will continue to have a genuine interest in the needs of tenants, but it has also to see that accommodation is being built that people can go and rent. The honourable members might consider that we are all concerned about the need for more rental accommodation in this province.
The position that has been presented by the member for Etobicoke fails to outline that there is a problem for the developer when he comes along and starts to look at a change in government plans. Government is seen as being fickle, changing its mind all the time. I would like to see the government have some kind of constancy and some kind of long-term continuance in the way it goes about things. To come along in 1976 and say one thing, and then six years later just to make it convenient or to have it in common, or to say “We want to have everything controlled,” is not really to address the total problem.
We want, and I think this is something happening now within the Ontario government, to encourage further participation by the private sector in developing more rental accommodation. To do so, I think one has to leave a certain opportunity for them to make a reasonable return on their investments.
The second thing we have to look at is that the Ontario government at present has a program in position, the Ontario rental construction loan program. There are similar federal programs to stimulate rental housing.
We really have to give it a chance to work. My friend the member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) talked about high interest rates. We are seeing problems in this country that do not originate from this province, that come from the federal government. There is certainly a way in which, if we come along and start giving more controls, we are also then saying, “Do not get more involved.”
By looking at what the member for Etobicoke suggests, and the Liberals have now changed their minds to agree with it, I would be inclined to think we are going to hurt the existing programs which we are trying to make effective.
The other factor I think honourable members should remember is that the costs of the structure of rental accommodation built since 1976 are in the fairly high-priced area anyway. There are not that many people who are going to be affected positively by a change in the regulation.
To me there is a bottom line. The bottom line is to maintain the faith and keep the integrity of a government rather than being fickle and changeable, and breaking the trust. I think those people who rented accommodation built since 1976 know the rules. There is no reason for them to expect anything unless they have been misled by some of the statements that have been made. The landlords knew the rules and the landlords know the rules now. Therefore, they are in a position to respond by making an investment to continue the development of more rental accommodation. I say to the members, I know this government wants to see more rental accommodation in this province and is doing its best to see it can happen. That is one basic point.
The second point is that the future developments that are going to take place will be based on our government having good planning. That planning is now in process. We have a combination of the trust that has been built up over the years and the good plans that are being put together under the Ontario rental construction loan program. We will then be in a position to come out with a headline that the member for Etobicoke can read: “Ontario government solving problems for tenants. Ontario government succeeds in meeting the needs of its people.” We are trying to do that. If we had more co-operation from other levels of government, we would be far more successful in achieving it.
To start changing in midstream as suggested by this motion is the wrong way to go. I suggest this House today is a microcosm of the larger part of the Legislature. As to the flipping, the flopping and the exclusivity of concern, we are all concerned and this government has the policies and the plans to make it work.
I am pleased to see we have rental controls now. There are levels in place and it is something that has to continue. I am pleased our government is at least looking at ways of making that happen and making that stay. Let us hope we can keep the faith with these people who have to have rental accommodation and build a program around good policy rather than just be changeable all the time.
Mr. Ruprecht: Mr. Speaker, I rise as the member for Parkdale to support Bill 57. I fully believe that anyone who represents a Toronto riding and who is somewhat familiar with the problems of the tenants and the low vacancy rate, can really only come to one conclusion: try to overcome the two-class tier system that is at present organized in the city of Toronto and other places.
We had hoped when we advocated the continuation of rent review back in 1978, that a healthy market would make rent review unnecessary by 1981 or soon after. We believe as most members do that only a properly functioning housing market can provide long-term protection for tenants. Unfortunately, the provincial government has been unsuccessful in improving the market conditions that caused rents to soar before controls were introduced in 1975.
Until very recently the government did nothing. The sad truth is that when it finally acted with the Ontario rental construction loan program, which an honourable member just mentioned, it was too little, too late. The program has been a total failure in the municipality where it was most needed and where it was most wanted, here in Metropolitan Toronto.
As members are well aware, especially after the session last year, we consistently urged the minister to continue to expend moneys in the right direction for an increase in the number of rental units. The whole program is a colossal failure. I personally hope, as I stand here to speak to this bill, that the minister will take note and try to do his utmost in order to either reorganize it or reshape it so we will have more rental housing units in the city of Toronto and Metro Toronto.
I am aware of the argument that if rent control was abolished then the supply problem would disappear. I do not believe that. I do not think that most analysts believe it. The market conditions that led to the drying up of new rental construction in 1975 are with us today. In fact, these market conditions are worse. Interest rates are sky high. Construction costs have risen dramatically, in fact doubling over the period of 1971-79, and land costs have soared spectacularly.
As members know, rent controls were removed in Alberta last year. There has been no appreciable increase in the construction of rental housing in that province. That is a fact that anyone can analyse and look at. It is admittedly a dilemma, but for us the protection of tenants in the situation of drastic shortage of rental housing here must remain a priority. That is why I, as the member for Parkdale in the city of Toronto, support this particular legislation. I think it is good legislation.
To come back to the context of my discussion, I want to remind the government that when it extended the original rent review legislation several years ago, it announced that it would undertake measures to stimulate the production of rental housing. We regret that the government’s failure to fulfil this commitment is obvious. It is this failure that makes the continuation of rent review necessary at this time, extended to all buildings built from 1976 onwards as well.
The supply situation, as I have indicated earlier, has worsened since 1978, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. predicted recently that by the end of 1981 no fewer than 12 municipalities in Ontario will have vacancy rates below one per cent. That is where the figure rests today; it is roughly in that neighbourhood.
Without continued rent review, this shortage of rental housing gives tenants virtually no option but to pay whatever increases are demanded. It is our view that rent review cannot be lifted before the rental housing market improves. That is why we put forward, as the members will remember, our own rental housing supply incentive plan during the election. I will not go into details here now, suffice it to say that it would have stimulated the construction of new, moderate income rental housing in areas of Ontario with low vacancy rates, especially in Toronto.
We are all aware that there are some inequities in the system because tenants who live in post-1976 buildings are not protected by rent review while the rest are. I am also aware that rent control can contribute to inefficient use of rental housing stocks since people are not anxious to move from rent controlled units.
But in this context, let me tell members what really bothers me. I remember the Premier (Mr. Davis) saying in Kingston: “I just want to make it abundantly clear, I said some weeks ago, I have repeated it since, that we have no intention of altering the existing rent control program. That is specific and that is definite.” How things have changed since majority rule.
Now we have heard the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) say to the tenants of Ontario: “We are going to have to come up with a figure more in keeping with the inflation rate or the consumer price index -- something in the range of 12 or 13 per cent.
“The Premier and I find this really quite amazing,” he says, “rent control will stay at least until 1985. Only the ceiling will be raised.” That is like saying we will continue to have speed limits to maintain highway safety in the province but that the existing speed limit can be doubled.
The minister talks about linking the allowable rent increase to the rate of inflation and to the consumer price index. Yet at least one of the people who have spoken here in the past -- I am thinking especially of Dr. Larry Smith -- urged that precisely this kind of indexing as a method for getting out of rent control altogether is not good. If one links the rent level to the consumer price index, one is phasing out rent control. Let there be no mistake about that.
At the same time one is compounding the problem of inflation because, as we all know, housing and rental costs are the chief components of inflation and of the very same consumer price index. I wonder if this is what the Tories meant in their famous advertisement we heard so much, “Davis can do it.”
The fact is that 960,000 out of 1.6 million rental units are under rent control. In my own area of Parkdale some tenants not under control have received increases of more than 50 per cent. That does not seem fair to me, Mr. Speaker, and I think you would agree with that.
What is the situation here in Metro Toronto? We know when we read the papers that older apartments can be demolished or reconversion can take place. We have no clear and distinct policy on conversion. I would quote from the Ontario Municipal Board decision on that subject. It says, “There is no specific policy in the Planning Act or that Condominium Act which relates to this issue of conversion, nor was the board made aware of any other legislation in which it might be contained.”
Condominiums have also been a problem for Toronto residents. In my own area, some people have been thrown out of certain units that were furnished by the owner. Especially on Jameson Avenue, owners were accusing people of overcrowding the premises and using this as a reason to throw them out. That is precisely what happened. They were kicked out and the next day new furniture was put in. Suddenly the landlord was charging twice the price for those units that was charged before.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in support of Bill 57, introduced by my colleague, the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), which would get rid of the double standard for buildings erected since 1975.
First I want to respond to a few of the things said by some of the members opposite, including the almost scurrilous remarks of the member for York Centre (Mr. Cousens). I believe the Speaker is familiar with them. He was speaking about the beneficence and wonderful planning that has already gone into housing policy by the provincial government and the plans they have to turn around the disastrous situation we find now in rental accommodation.
These Conservatives have had 40 years. They could be said to have been the ones who brought about, in social planning terms or in housing planning terms, our present conundrum in the rental housing market.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I will come to condominiums shortly. I believe there are some members opposite who get confused between condominiums and rental housing. There is a distinction and I will try to make it for the member, if lean, in the few minutes I have.
Along with the member for York Centre, the member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) got up and said this government’s credibility, if one can believe it, would be shattered if now it was to turn and get rid of that particular provision exempting buildings built after 1975. Might I say that on occasion the government has been known to change? For instance, the bringing in of rent review in the first place, in 1975, could have been seen as a slight change in Conservative policy up to that time in terms of government intervention.
I know change every six years is a bit precipitous, and it is a bit dangerous for the government to look at change now after six years of having this particular piece of unfair legislation as part of its rent review package. But I suggest that perhaps the government could change and its credibility would not be any more adversely affected than when it confuses some of its right-wing supporters by buying Suncor or confuses some people who believe it believes in universal health care when in the next week or so it raises health premiums. I do not think it would affect the government’s credibility a great deal more than some of its present actions do.
The piece of legislation that has been brought in today is just one of many that have been introduced by the member for Etobicoke containing amendments that are needed now to stop the punishment of tenants in this province to the benefit of landlords in this province. I would like it to be very clear that one has to be on one side or the other in this business. One cannot play it both ways. Why was this provision brought in in the first place? It was to stimulate new building. I believe that was the major rationale. The government did not want to hold people back from building new buildings. Let us look at the vacancy rate. The provision has not worked. So why maintain it? It did not fulfil its function, so why keep it?
Three buildings have been built in my riding since 1975. They hold about 2,000 tenants at 30 Denton, 10 Macey and 50 Burnhill. Those tenants, in comparison with the many thousands of other tenants in my riding, have no rights and no protection. Those prime locations right on the subway are still below the ceiling of $750 and would, therefore, be under rent review if this particular piece of inequity was not in the act at the moment. Those buildings have had increases of 50 per cent and 60 per cent in each of the last two years; if one can believe that. So the turnover of people in those buildings has been incredible. Something like 52 per cent of the people who lived at 30 Denton 18 months ago no longer live there. They have moved because they cannot afford to stay.
At the very least, as they move into that building the tenants should be told that building is not covered by rent review. Instead they go in there blind, thinking they are protected, and are faced with the need to pay 50 per cent more or move. That is totally unjust, in my view. There should at least be that provision in the Residential Tenancies Act. The profits have been made by those companies magnificently over the last five years. I would suggest it is time they were brought under control. This bill would make sure that was done.
If I might put it succinctly, the problem in Toronto at the moment is where those people can go, as the member for Etobicoke said. We have a negative vacancy rate in Toronto at the moment. We have 30,000 people on waiting lists for assisted housing, another part of the major planning and provision of housing by the Conservative government of this province. Thirty thousand people are waiting for assisted housing and they are not going to get places.
There are places being renovated and turned into condominiums in a sort of madness towards condominiums that is going on at the moment; taking over places people could normally afford and converting them so they can no longer afford them. It is like trying to buy a house when one tries to buy a condominium. We are going from a negative vacancy rate to even less than that.
This particular provision of the member does not seem to be the answer. He just wanted the members of this House to twig to what is going on out there and how serious the problem is. This is just one element of a major review that has to be done. If the members opposite are nervous about major change, continually adjusting and improving legislation, then perhaps the least they could do would be to add this one small portion, revamping justice and giving an equalization to tenants in Ontario. The minister should grant at least this one small amendment.
I am pleased to see that the members of the Liberal Party are going to join my colleagues in supporting this bill. I will not take the occasion now to berate them for having voted against this provision back in 1977. I would not do that. Others, I notice, have undertaken that unfair attack but I will not even allude to it. I will just thank them very much for their support today. With my succinct answer and wrapping up and with your support, Mr. Speaker, and that of the members, I am sure this vote will carry.
I found it a disappointment that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie), the one minister responsible for rent review, has decided it was not worth his time to be in the House. I also found it a shame that the one member of this Legislature who has more constituents living in apartment buildings than any other member in this Legislature, namely the member for St. George (Ms. Fish), did not decide to even be in the House, let alone talk on the bill. They had to go to the agricultural member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) in order to find someone to speak against the tenants.
At least Margaret Campbell, the former member for St. George, was in favour of this motion. She tried to convince her caucus in 1977 to vote for it, but was unsuccessful at that time. In that instance she had a lot more sense and concern for tenants than the present member.
The member for Oxford stated that this bill, if enacted, would hurt the credibility of the government, but this is a regulatory bill and the government constantly interferes in the marketplace through regulations. That is what the transport board legislation is all about and that is what the Ontario Securities Commission legislation is all about. We see constant changes in regulation and in --
That this House acknowledges Ontario’s need for an expanded, more aggressive “Buy Canadian” program, thereby increasing Ontarians’ awareness that buying Canadian-made goods is essential to maintaining and creating employment opportunities in our province. In addition, Ontario should undertake meaningful discussion with the federal government and the provinces to identify and assist Canadian suppliers to capitalize on the material and equipment demands from national megaprojects.
The Deputy Speaker: I would like to point out to the honourable member that he has exactly 20 minutes in terms of his resolution. Keep in mind that you may reserve any part of that time to conclude your debate. Would you like to do that?
I would like to move into the main topic here today, and that is to help the economy in any way this government possibly can. It requires some assistance. We all know that Canada is in a recession and that unemployment is at record levels across this country.
It is the responsibility of government at all levels to pursue a more aggressive buy-Canadian program in order to increase public awareness that buying Canadian-made goods is essential to maintaining and creating jobs in our nation.
Manufacturing in Ontario employs more people than do agriculture, mining, forestry, construction, finance, insurance, real estate and transportation combined. About one million people or 25 per cent of all jobs in Ontario are directly involved in the manufacturing sector, and for every 100 jobs in manufacturing, there are about 68 spinoff jobs created in the service and support industries.
But the trends in manufacturing employment in recent years have not been encouraging. The reasons for our poor performance are often beyond the control of this government. Canadian manufacturing has access to the smallest domestic market of any of the world’s major industrialized nations.
Traditionally, Canada has relied heavily on tariffs to protect our industries from international competition. In recent years, however, increasing competition in labour intensive manufacturing industries from less developed countries has rendered tariff protection insufficient for many of our industries.
At the same time, the investment necessary to permit Canadian manufacturing to compete in high-technology areas has not always been there. As a result, our domestic market has become one of the most deeply import-penetrated markets of any major industrialized nation in the world.
I am particularly concerned with the current position of our manufacturing sector because it has a direct impact on my riding. Cambridge is unique in comparison with many of the communities in Ontario because of its concentration of high employment in the manufacturing sector. The total labour force in Cambridge is estimated at approximately 40,000 people. More than one half, or 20,700, are directly employed in the manufacturing sector.
Historically, Cambridge has been known for its concentration of footwear, textile and knitting mills. More recently, however, metal fabrication, with 20 per cent of the manufacturing work force, and machinery production, with a further 17.5 per cent, have become very prominent and are now the two largest manufacturing sectors in Cambridge.
Because of the dependence on manufacturing it is evident that fluctuations in the provincial economy and subsequent downturns in specific manufacturing sectors will have a significant effect on the economy of Cambridge.
For example, auto-related industries and appliance, plumbing and furniture manufacturing have all suffered layoffs recently as a result of a drop in consumer product demand and stagnation in the housing market. The relatively high concentration of employment in textile and leather industries presents a vulnerable situation for Cambridge with regard to the protection of these industries through trade and tariff regulation. The recent removal of federal quotas on imported leather footwear will have a significant effect on the Cambridge area, where there are four large shoe manufacturers.
In the past decade, import penetration has steadily increased in Canada in the following areas. In the domestic machinery market, import penetration has increased from 50 per cent in 1970 to 70 per cent this past year. In 1979, the metal fabricating industry faced a trade deficit of $664 million.
In 1980, Canada imported $1.6 billion worth of textiles, creating a trade deficit of over $1.2 billion in this sector. According to a federal government source, Canada was second to the European Economic Community in 1980 in per capita textile imports from developed countries. Finally, the trade deficit in footwear was over $200 million in 1980, increasing import penetration of this sector to 34 per cent.
To ensure the wellbeing of our manufacturing sector and to secure jobs in Ontario, Ontarians must change their buying practices. I would like to bring to the honourable members’ attention a program that is being concentrated on right now in the city of Cambridge, the Jobs For Cambridge Committee.
The Jobs For Cambridge Committee is promoting a program and I have taken the liberty of having it deposited in each member’s mailbox downstairs. If the members have not already received it, it is a brochure and a pamphlet promoting buying products in Cambridge. It was produced by a citizens’ committee and concentrates on getting our own people to buy our own products. The program will stress the importance to the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturer of buying Canadian, not only for the health of Cambridge but for the whole Canadian economy.
Education will be the major thrust of the campaign. The education program will attempt to build pride in Canadian-made goods and will attack the myth that Canadian goods are more expensive and of inferior quality. None of these is true and the Cambridge committee is trying to set that aside. The program is to begin on Monday of next week, running through until Saturday, May 15. It will present a strong and valid argument for equalization with competitors from other countries who export their goods here but who do have to meet any of the safety, health or work standards that we in Canada do.
As part of the promotion, the Jobs For Cambridge Committee has planned a series of initiatives. These initiatives include an advertisement and news stories in local newspapers and over the local radio station. There is a television documentary, billboard advertising throughout the city, window displays, cards and posters for distribution to retail stores throughout Cambridge. There are automobile bumper stickers distributed throughout the various participating plants and local unions. There are lapel buttons distributed to a variety of organizations and awareness brochures are to be distributed to local industries at the various rallies and at retail malls throughout the city.
The kits have been prepared and are distributed to the members. The one thing I did not include was the red buttons. They looked too much like a certain political party’s campaign button, so we did not want to muddy the waters with that.
Private initiatives, as demonstrated by the Jobs For Cambridge Committee, need to be recognized, applauded and, where necessary, assisted. Our private sector companies have demonstrated time and time again that they are good corporate citizens and are prepared to take action to ensure that jobs are maintained and created in Ontario. Our government has been involved in promoting buy-Canadian practices.
Ontario has led the way by establishing a clear across-the-board policy of offering Canadian-made goods a 10 per cent price preference in all government purchasing. Total government expenditures on goods and services in this country amount to over $35 billion annually. If more of that money can be used to purchase products with a higher Canadian content, then there are obvious advantages to Canada in terms of jobs and a healthier Canadian industry.
A prime example of this is the joint federal-provincial program initiated by Ontario in 1980 to reduce the importation of health care products by 10 per cent with Canadian-made products. The health products industry is typical of many industries in Canada. Although the Canadian market for medical and health care products amounts to $1.2 billion annually, about $850 million is supplied by foreign imports.
The results of our co-operative health care imports replacement program are very encouraging. The program has helped to create $86 million worth of new sales for Canadian companies and has assisted in the expansion of 52 companies which have made new investments of over $80 million.
Import replacement programs are essential to the wellbeing of our economy. Jobs must be created in Ontario, not in foreign jurisdictions. Our government must make it a priority to pursue meaningful discussion with the federal government and other provinces to encourage import replacement and buy-Canadian practices.
We were talking earlier about megaprojects. I realize every member here was disappointed and unhappy when those two announcements were made last Friday, but there are still other projects that can and should be moved ahead as quickly as possible.
Mr. Barlow: The member asked me to name them. Oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort sea; the Norman Wells oilfield development in the Northwest Territories; the Quintette coal development in British Columbia; hydro projects in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec; the Trans Quebec and Maritime Pipeline Inc.; the lower Churchill power development; rail upgrading in western Canada: and heavy crude oil and fuel oil upgrading projects. These are all megaprojects that would be of benefit to the Ontario economy and should come on stream and be advanced as quickly as possible. It is imperative that our provincial government engage in discussions with the federal government and the provinces to ensure the successful undertaking of these projects.
I want to reserve a few minutes to wrap up later on, but I wanted to emphasize to the members the importance of a buy-Canadian program. Ontario must work towards implementing some formal process or mechanism by which the provinces and the federal government can develop mutually beneficial policies to stimulate buy-Canadian practices.
Mr. Boudria: Mr. Speaker, I am happy today to participate in this very important resolution. I read it thoroughly and listened very attentively to the member’s speech. As a matter of fact I participated in it a little.
I cannot believe the hypocrisy of this government for coming up with statements like the one we have just heard. It is downright incredible. Let me show the House an example of this hypocrisy. I have here a file box, a Ministry of Government Services stock item, which was made in Franklin Park, Illinois. Is it not true that Prestonia Stationery, which is located in the member’s riding, makes similar boxes? That’s terrible.
My next example is a Swing Line brand stapler which has the government of Ontario logo on it. All members will want to see this. When I turn it around it says Swing Line Inc., Long Island County, New York.
This is a government issue letter opener. It says Ertan Stainless, made in Taiwan. I suppose the member thinks we cannot make a letter opener in Ontario. We have to go to some other jurisdiction for that advanced technology.
This item is known as a three-hole punch. Again, this is a very complicated and sophisticated piece of equipment. It is made in Austria. That too is very interesting. This is the member who is telling us that the government of Ontario is encouraging a buy-Canadian policy.
There is just no end to this kind of nonsense. The member is probably aware of a company known as Brownline which makes binders. They are located here in this city. This is a government issue appointment book; Textron, printed in USA.
This is the pen of the government of Ontario. This is probably what they give to dignitaries when they come here. It is a Papermate made in the USA. I will give my pen to the member so he can read what is on it. I will have the page pick up this item and give it to the member for Cambridge.
This is a pencil, again something we are not very famous for here in Ontario. It is very complicated. There is not much wood around. This is called a Stabilo, Paper, Glass, Plastic, Metal; made in Germany. They now make fine pencils in Germany.
I have a few photographs here that members may want to see. Right in front of this building last year there was a gardener who happens to work for the government and he was putting wood chips around the trees. Some of us took a picture of the product he was using. It came from Southern Importers Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina. We do not have wood chips in Ontario; we cut down all the trees I suppose.
There is a piece of equipment here -- I guess it is called a pallet lifter or a skid lifter. This machine goes inside our hangars and buildings and we move things around with it. The brand name on this piece of equipment is Toyota. Members may have heard of that company before -- it is very Canadian.
This government certainly displays all the good examples it can. Let me have a ruler. There is not much steel here in Ontario. I suppose we do not have any steel factories. At least that is what one would think. We have the Bates ruler -- no relation to the minister over there -- made in Hackettstown, New Jersey, another very Canadian city. I am going to continue, because this gets more interesting as I go along. We also have here one dozen paper clips made in Taiwan.
All those items are government stationery items. They are in the office products stationery supply catalogue of the Ministry of Government Services, dated April 1982. That is obviously the most recent issue. All those objects, with the exception of the photographs, came from inside my office. That just shows the kind of leadership this government is displaying.
Many of us use this fine piece of equipment here when there is too much heckling going on from members to my left. We use this little speaker to hear what is going on on the other side. It says on that made in USA. That is just terrible. Then there is this particular item, which is known as a file spike. The Speaker may have one of these on his desk. As we see, this again is very sophisticated piece of equipment. This is called a memodex organizer made by the Rolodex Corp. of Secaucus, New Jersey. Again I wonder if the member for Cambridge ever saw this particular item.
Mr. Boudria: Maybe what the resolution should have said is, “We hereby condemn the government of this province for failing to buy Canadian-made products and to encourage the industries of this province.”
Here is an IBM typewriter ribbon. I am sure members know that IBM’s head office is in the United States, but there is a company in Ottawa that makes ribbons for just about every kind of typewriter. This one does not come from there; it comes from International Business Machines, and is made in the USA again.
Then there is this little marker, called a highlighter and made by Dennison Manufacturing. Dennison even has an office here in Bowmanville, Ontario. Did you know that, Mr. Speaker? But this pencil was not made there. It comes from the Dennison USA company, not Dennison in Bowmanville.
We have here what is called a paper moistener. This is made by Ideal Manufacturing and Sales Corp., Carlstadt, New Jersey. Last but not least, the very dishes I ate my lunch on at noon today say underneath, Royal Doulton chinaware, made in England. There is a company in Canada known as Syracuse China of Canada Ltd. in Joliette, Quebec. It manufactures --
Mr. Boudria: Syracuse China, yes. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Syracuse China Corp. of Syracuse, New York, but I would like members to know that New York company belongs wholly to the Canadian Pacific Railway system. So no matter how one looks at it, buying this is wrong, just like all the other things the member came up with today.
Mr. Boudria: I have just about concluded. I have one more item here I want members to see. This is a two-hole paper punch similar to the one I showed a little while ago, a little bit less complicated maybe than the previous one. This is made by New England Paper Punch Co. in Natick, Massachusetts, USA.
As we can see, the government is displaying all the good examples we want to have in this regard. What does the government do? It spends its time and money publishing things like this with a much larger picture of the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) than we all care to see. That is what it spends time, energy and money on doing, publishing pictures of ministers instead of helping the industry and the businesses of this province. This government does not deserve to rule this province.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to add to the fine exposé of the Liberal member by informing the House that the unbelievable member for Cambridge, with his unbelievable speech on government procurement, made that speech into a microphone made in Austria.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with the comments made by the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) regarding the hypocrisy of this resolution and that it would have been much better to have worded it in a way that this House condemns --
Mr. Wildman: Oh, I would not put it that way; I think that member himself may be sincere. He has a serious problem in his riding; he wants to provide jobs and he is sort of a voice in the wilderness from the back benches hoping that he can persuade the cabinet to see the light to buy Canadian.
I want to talk about a matter that came before this House which is along the same lines as the list of products that the member for Prescott-Russell listed. I refer to the contract with Exide. We raised some questions about Exide. In that case, the government was making a major purchase of computers and computer equipment. There was a bid submitted by a Canadian company from Mississauga.
The member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) applauds when he hears that. I wonder whether he applauded the decision of his colleague the Minister for Government Services (Mr. Wiseman) not to accept that bid even though it was the lowest one. Instead, the contract went to an American company to provide the components that were being purchased by this government. That is not acceptable, and it is an example of the unwillingness and the inability of this government to purchase Canadian.
The honourable member in his resolution does not just talk about the buy-Canadian program. He talks about the need for the federal and provincial governments to work together “to identify and assist Canadian suppliers to capitalize on material and equipment demands from national megaprojects.”
Obviously the member wrote his resolution and submitted it long before we saw the complete failure of the strategy set out by the federal Liberal government and the provincial Conservative government of tying their hopes for economic development to megaprojects related to energy developments in the west.
The fact that the government has tied the whole future of this province for jobs and development to those energy projects is an example of its inability to deal with the major problem we have in the economy of this province, in the manufacturing sector, to deal with the tremendous number of imports into Canada and to deal with the question of import replacement.
We have been debating Bill 38 in this House, the act which will create the Ministry of Industry and Trade. We all know the attitudes of the minister who has been appointed to head up that ministry. The member for London South (Mr. Walker) has stated that he wants to deal with the import problem and that he wants to create greater opportunities for Canadian products, but he also has said clearly that he wants to increase foreign investment in Canada. That is the error this government and the federal government make.
The fact that this member in his remarks did not even mention foreign ownership or that foreign ownership in our economy is the major reason for our tremendous importation of manufactured products is an indication of the inability of the Conservatives in this province, as well as the Liberals at the federal level, to deal with the very structural problems that are bringing us to the serious economic difficulties we are facing today.
All of us accept the fact that the buy-Canadian program has to be expanded: we want more products purchased here; we want import replacement. But a public relations program by this government or, for that matter, by the federal government is not going to turn around the situation we have if at the same time both of those levels of government are actively encouraging further foreign investment in this economy. The fact is that multinational firms are integrated in such a way that they will ship components, manufacturing parts and machinery parts into this country and continue to do so. The PR program is not going to resolve that problem.
Canada imports an incredible $18 billion more worth of manufactured goods than it exports. We are the only industrial nation in the world that imports more than 50 per cent of its manufactured products, and we still refer to ourselves as an industrial country.
Earlier in this House I referred to comments that were made recently by Dr. Kerwin, the president of the National Research Council, who stated that Canadian industry is in danger of being buried by imports.
We import about $16.8 billion worth of machinery and tools. In general purpose and special purpose machinery, the deficit is $6.7 billion; in agricultural machinery and tractors, it is more than $2 billion; and in equipment and tools, it is more than $8 billion. When all of this is balanced out with exports, we have an overall deficit in machinery products of $11.8 billion. This government and the member who proposed this resolution do not deal with the main reason for that, and the main reason is foreign ownership.
The studies that have been done at the federal level have indicated that foreign-owned firms are the major conduits for machine imports into Canada. Branch plants import 72 per cent of our imported components and materials for manufacturers. Branch plants import five times as much as Canadian firms in this field.
I do not think a PR program is going to persuade the transnationals to change that kind of behaviour. It is not profitable for them to do it. Obviously it pays the multinational to export from the parent firm to the branch plant the components, machinery products, tools and equipment that are produced there, because it affects their overall profit picture. That creates a greater and greater trade deficit for us.
Federal studies have indicated that no matter how efficient independent Canadian suppliers are, those suppliers will never be able to compete, in terms of price, with the purchasing practices of the multinationals. It does not pay a multinational firm to purchase Canadian, no matter what the PR is.
It is fine, I suppose. A PR system will persuade consumers to look at the bottom of the product, turn it over to see where it is made before purchasing. That is good. But I ask the member, what good is that going to do if the consumer goes all around the retail outlet, looks at every product and finds there is not one of them made in Canada but they are all made elsewhere? We have to deal with the structural problems. Public relations proposals are not going to do it. The minister wants to have more foreign investment, which will worsen the problem, not improve it.
I hope the member who has introduced this resolution will look very carefully at the reasoned amendment proposed by this party to Bill 38, An Act to establish the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and that he will support our efforts to make it a stated objective of that ministry to increase Canadian ownership in our economy. Let us give the government the tools with which to do that, so that it can take an active role towards increasing Canadian ownership, Canadian production and real import replacement for Ontario. A promotional system is fine, resolutions like this are fine; but let us stop playing around with the issue and deal with the real problems.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be able to participate with my colleague the member for Cambridge in speaking to this fundamentally important resolution which is before the House this afternoon.
First and foremost, I wish to applaud the Jobs For Cambridge Committee, which has taken the local initiatives described to us by the member for Cambridge. It indicates that community is doing something about the difficult economic times we are going through; it is doing positive things.
Their member in the Legislature, who supports them, is to be commended for bringing this to the attention of all the people of Ontario through his speech in the House today. What happens in Cambridge will have a ripple effect and will encourage other people in Ontario to be more aggressive in the same direction. It will also benefit the people of Canada. I applaud the member and that committee for what they are doing in Cambridge. It is a very positive initiative.
What caught my attention in the member’s address is his observation that our government has been involved in promoting buy-Canadian practices and has shown leadership in this field. In the limited time available to me, I want to point out in a positive way that this province has indeed shown leadership in the buy-Canadian program. I am delighted to be able to put on record where this government has taken the lead among all the provincial governments. We are showing leadership in our actions and not just in our talk.
We know that in these difficult times some provinces have started to get on the bandwagon and are encouraging the business community in their jurisdictions to buy Canadian whenever possible. This government, by contrast, has been in the business of giving preference to Canadian-made goods for more than 14 years. Ontario led the other provincial governments and the federal government in giving preferential buying treatment.
Let us get down to specifics and the more recent initiatives we have been taking. As recently as November 1980, this government announced there would be 10 per cent Canadian content in goods and services, and expanded the 14-year-old program so that it applied to all provincially funded bodies such as colleges, universities, school boards, municipalities and hospitals.
Then, only a month after that announcement was made, the government announced the creation of the office of procurement policy within the then Ministry of Industry and Tourism, to which my colleague referred briefly in his remarks. The office’s basic mandate is to ensure that Canada receives the maximum benefit in economic development, employment and profits from the expenditure of public funds.
Two projects recently undertaken by the office of procurement policy include working with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to ensure that the new warehouse facility in Pickering incorporates the most advanced technology developed by Canadian companies. Second, and of particular interest to me as I am closely associated with the Ministry of Revenue, the suppliers for the new office of the future that is being completed in Oshawa for the Ministry of Revenue’s new headquarters stresses Canadian-built content. Here are two major undertakings that well illustrate the fine record of this government in buy-Canadian activities.
More recently yet, I draw the attention of the members in the House to what we did no less than two months ago when the Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Walker) announced that Ontario is embarking on a co-operative, federal-provincial effort to increase the Canadian share of six categories of goods purchased by our governments and public institutions.
More specifically, our government’s goal is similar to that of the successful health care program, which is to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in the $1.5 billion worth of imports in government purchases, particularly in the six areas of acquisition of furniture and fixtures, appliances, laboratory and scientific equipment, sporting goods, nonprinted education supplies and material, and audio-visual equipment. These goods will be replaced with Canadian goods of comparable price and quality. It is anticipated that success in this area will result in some $150 million in new orders for Canadian manufacturers and at least 1,200 new jobs for Canadians. That is, indeed, an impressive undertaking.
This new import replacement program really has three key components. First, our government will be launching a major awareness program in which purchasing agents in all governments and institutions will be informed of the import replacement effort and the importance of buying Canadian-made products. Second, there will be a systematic effort to provide purchasing agents with information on Canadian sources for products in those six major sectors. Third, there will be a major trade show and exhibition in Winnipeg this fall at which purchasing agents from all governments will display imported products for which they would like Canadian sources.
We all appreciate and understand that there are numerous factors which are creating strains in our manufacturing industry; they include inflation, high interest and increased energy prices. The problem of small production runs and high production costs as a result of the relatively small marketplace is another concern. In some areas there may be poor technological performance. Of course, we have that most serious problem of all, the increasing import penetration of our domestic marketplace.
What I would like to address myself to is an area of great concern that is not an in-market problem but rather an in-government problem. It relates to the discriminatory, interprovincial trade barriers that are further aggravating the difficulties facing our manufacturing industries.
It is regrettable to have to put on the record the fact that there are no fewer than seven provincial governments that have adopted a much narrower purchasing policy that puts province-first procurement as the main theme of their purchasing policy. There are actually two provincial governments that have imposed tendering restrictions inhibiting access to contracts for Canadian suppliers outside their respective jurisdictions.
Let me be specific. On March 12, 1980, the governments of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island jointly announced a new marketing program that put province first, Maritimes second and Canada third. That situation is mild compared with the policy that exists in our neighbouring province, Quebec. I point to the cabinet directive that was issued by the government of Quebec in 1977, which was amended twice up to 1980. I highlight the two areas of concern in that policy --
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, it is pretty difficult to disagree with a resolution like this. I have no hesitation about going on record as agreeing in principle with everything that is in it. But let me immediately couple that with the statement that it is the sheerest hypocrisy for any member of the government party to introduce a resolution like this when we look at its record.
About two or three weeks ago the Premier (Mr. Davis) went to New York state. He rubbed his hands and said what great trading partners we are -- the United States and Canada -- and how we have to have these wonderful open doors between us. Then he went on to remind the Americans of the way in which their buy-American policy was having an impact on Ontario. He would really like them to take another look at that. But the buy-American policy works in the United States because it is legislated. They did not bring in a lot of these dumb resolutions that have no impact whatsoever.
What I am saying is, if the member of the government party had any real guts he would have brought in a bill -- a piece of legislation. As the New Democratic Party critic for Industry and Trade has pointed out, the legislation of the Minister of Industry and Trade in this province should have had that section in it as well. In other words, we will believe he is serious when he puts it in legislation, not in resolutions. That is the problem, and that is the hypocrisy I talk about.
The decision by the government of Ontario to ask, request, suggest, recommend that government agencies and boards and government-supported institutions buy Canadian if the price differential was no more than 10 per cent was announced in 1974. The member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) just a few minutes ago showed how far the government has come along to that up to 1981. In 1980, of the $750 million worth of goods this provincial government bought, $375 million, fully 50 per cent, were imports.
Mr. Sweeney: Okay, okay. They do not like to talk about the jet. I will tell them that $1.5 million of the purchase price of that jet is being spent in Texas. This is the government party that has a member who has the unmitigated gall to bring in a resolution to say we should buy Canadian.
I ask my friends, why did they send a Canadian-built airplane, purchased by the Ontario government, to Texas to be outfitted? They might tell us there is no place here that could do it. But I want to share something with the honourable members. There is a Canadian company known as Intertech that does exactly the same thing as the firm in Dallas, Texas, by the name of Associated Air Centre. They did not have to send it to Texas at all; it could have been done right here in Canada. They could have put in all the fancy bars, the fancy leather padded seats, the fancy carpet and everything else. That could have been done right here. It is a bloody scandal that the government is spending $10.5 million, but it is a bigger scandal that $1.5 million is being spent in Texas when it could have been spent right here. That is the lowest kind of hypocrisy.
Let us talk about the biggest deal this government has made in 40 years. They are spending $650 million of Ontario money to buy an oil company. And where is that money going? It is going to the United States, is it not? It is not staying here in Ontario. It is going to the United States.
I want to tell the honourable members on the other side that they have no credibility whatsoever; none at all. The record of this government is to import capital, to import skilled labour and to import manufactured goods; “import” is the only word they understand.
Canada, and primarily Ontario, spends 24 per cent of its gross national product and gross provincial product on imports. Would the members want to note some of the comparative figures of our trading partners? The United States spends eight per cent; one third of the Canadian figure. We are told that Japan has to import all of its raw material. Do the members opposite know how much of the Japanese gross national product is spent on imports? It is 10 per cent, or less than half of what Ontario and Canada spend.
The principle is good. The principle is needed in Ontario. Jobs are needed in Ontario. Manufacturing base is needed in Ontario. But we do not believe the government. We do not think they mean it. We do not think they have the will. They certainly do not have the credibility. The principle is good. The principle should be carried out.
If they really mean it, they should have one of the members of the government party or, better still, the Premier or the Minister of Industry and Trade, or whoever one they want, bring in a piece of legislation during the next couple of weeks. Then we will believe them. Then we will support them. Then we will vote with them. But not with this nonsense.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I and all of my colleagues are going to support this resolution, but not without some anguish because of the problems which the member for Prescott-Russell, I thought very appropriately, outlined in his remarks.
For some time now there has been evidence, not just in Ontario but elsewhere in Canada, as to the amount of premium which is being offered for the purchase of Canadian goods. In other words, in Ontario we have a 10 per cent benefit to buy Canadian goods. Government departments can pay 10 per cent more for the same product.
A federal study has been done for the Department of Communications and there was an Alberta economist who did a study as well, which indicated we have not even begun to scratch the surface in the potential for buying Canadian because that 10 per cent preference is inadequate.
In one study done on communications equipment, which is high technology but, at the same time, has a high labour content, one could have a preference as high as 76 per cent and the net benefit would still accrue to the taxpayers of the jurisdiction, in this case Ontario. That is the kind of benefit which is there and the kind of preference one can build into a government procurement policy. But this government simply has shrugged that off.
A couple of years ago, when the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) was the Minister of Industry and Tourism, there was quite a kerfuffle in the Legislature about government procurement policy. It was before the last provincial election so the member for Cambridge was not here to learn from that experience. If he had been here, he would have seen the then Minister of Industry and Tourism squirming as people in the private sector wrote letters to him with copies to us wondering why, in the specs which were being put out for purchase orders, the examples always being used for comparison were American products.
I will give a couple of examples. There was a tender from the Ministry of the Environment in which the tender said, “Derive price and delivery for equipment as follows or similar substitute: Bell and Howell commuter microfiche reader, portable;” using an American company, an American product as the model on which others must bid.
The Ministry of Government Services, in the microfiche area as well, called for the standard spec as being a “Micron 780 microfiche reader or approved equivalent;” once again using an American product when there is a good Canadian product which could have been purchased. Instead of using that as the model, as the bench-mark, the ministry has been using American products. Government Services did the same thing on a Micron 785 microfiche reader. When the companies tried to approach the minister to get a hearing, they did not even get responses to their letters.
This government has a sad record when it comes to government procurement. Perhaps we are not giving the member for Cambridge enough credit for being acute in this regard. Perhaps he knows of the dismal record of the government. Perhaps he knows how bad it is and he is simply, in his own inimitable fashion, trying to prod them a little. Maybe that is what he is doing. Maybe he is doing as the member for York Centre (Mr. Cousens) does, when he prods the government in his own inimitable way in certain areas where he thinks it might be lacking. Perhaps that is what the member for Cambridge is doing.
There is only one item of all the products which we supply in abundance, and which the government could buy in abundance, which it buys Canadian with a preferential payment. Do the members know what that item is? It is the only item on which I have ever seen this government buy Canadian. It was Lady Godiva riding habits. That is the only thing about which those people have enough sense to buy Canadian. That is all, a high technology, labour intensive item like that. That is the one area --
Mr. Laughren: No, there is only one kind of Lady Godiva riding habit. That is what this government buys and it is made here in Ontario. That is the only thing because, no matter which sector one looks at out there, this government is not doing its job to stimulate manufacturing here in this province or in this country. It is simply not happening.
I actually did some reading on a federal study and this is what it says about government procurement. When it is put this way, it starts to sink in just how important it could be. Talking about government procurement, “The objective is to encourage Canadian domestic industry and the method is to purchase its products even though the prices may be higher than those of imported products.”
The study focuses on the extent to which the government is justified on economic grounds in paying a higher price for a Canadian-produced commodity. More particularly, it develops a method of computing just how much extra the government should be willing to pay for a Canadian commodity. This is based on identification of and, as far as possible, quantification of the benefits and costs associated with such a purchase under current conditions.
When this study was done, I believe about four years ago, economic conditions were not as bad as they are now and at that time one could justify a 76 per cent price preferential for a Canadian product. What would it be now? Obviously it would be higher than 76 per cent. However, we also know that when a government is looking to buy something, or a government agency -- we tend to forget about government agencies, municipal governments and so forth -- very often when they are out there trying to make a purchase and put out tenders, they may not even know what products are available. That is one problem.
The second problem is the product they want may very well not be made in this country. That has been outlined by other speakers this afternoon and it is a very serious problem. We are number one in the world when it comes to being underdeveloped. We are the most underdeveloped developed country on the face of the earth. As a percentage of exports, our manufactured goods are 17 per cent, excluding auto, and we do not need to go into the disaster in the auto parts sector. Excluding auto and auto parts, 17 per cent of our exports are manufactured goods and that is a very serious problem.
Last year, our deficit on manufactured goods in this country was $21 billion. Do members know what that represents? When the government is out there trying to make purchases, I am sure very often it looks in vain for products that simply are not made in this country or this province. One would think with an aggressive government procurement policy the government would have somebody saying: “Look, there are all these products we are buying elsewhere. Let’s get our act together and see which of these products should and could be made in this province.”
But no, that does not happen. The government just goes merrily on, buying the imported products the member for Prescott-Russell was pointing out earlier this afternoon. How does it justify its purchases of those imports? Those products would produce very direct jobs in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada. We do not want to be parochial about it. As a matter of fact, the laws of Canada prevent us from saying it must be Ontario rather than Canada.
It is disturbing to see the member come in with a resolution that has no percentage attached to it. What does he mean by being “more aggressive” with government procurement? What preferential is he talking about? Does he want more than 10 per cent? Does he want 20 per cent or 30 per cent? Does he want the percentage preferential to be dependent on the type of goods? I do not know what he wants, and I do not think it is appropriate just to talk about it in a vague way.
I look at the amount of goods the government must buy, increasingly in the high technology area. We are going to be slipping further and further behind in that area unless the government gets its act together and says: “These are key sectors. We are no longer going to tolerate the import of goods in these key sectors in the future. We are going to insist and help to make sure that they are manufactured in this province.”
An expanded, more aggressive, buy-Canadian program is essential in assisting our manufacturing industry to retain its competitive edge. There is no doubt that manufacturing is the backbone of our economy. More than one quarter of all the jobs in Ontario are manufacturing jobs. Other countries with significant manufacturing capability have for years deliberately and consistently promoted their own goods within their own borders. It is time that we adopted similar practices.
The United States, our largest trading partner, has actively pursued buy-American policies, often to the detriment of Canadian manufacturers. The Surface Transportation Assistance Act, for example, requires 50 per cent American content on final assembly of transit equipment funded by the federal government. This legislation represents a serious impediment to the efforts of Canadian manufacturers in penetrating the US mass transit market.
The Surface Transportation Assistance Act also has had a negative impact on our exports of steel. With a minimum US material level of 50 per cent for highway material, Canadian suppliers are at a disadvantage. This situation is further aggravated by the number of American states now moving to protect their own markets. Thirty-seven states now prohibit the use of Canadian steel or other equipment on government-funded projects.
Market research studies have indicated that about 67 per cent of the people in Ontario believe they benefit directly when they buy Canadian-made goods. However, the same studies also show that in many cases that belief does not translate into actual support for Canadian manufacturers. According to Gallup Poll surveys, only 40 per cent of the people in Ontario report that they always remember to check the country of origin when they are shopping or buying.
Given these statistics, a full-scale government advertising campaign would go a long way towards creating a public awareness of the importance of buying-Canadian. The advertising initiatives launched by the private sector are to be highly commended. I am convinced that the ripple effect of these initiatives will have a positive effect on our manufacturing sector, particularly on our auto and steel industries.
Stelco, as my colleague has already mentioned, has begun a $500,000 campaign promoting the advantages of North American-made cars through a month-long print campaign in 48 papers. As a result of Stelco’s initiatives, Dofasco has its own plan under consideration.
The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association of Canada has also taken out full-page newspaper ads across the country to emphasize the importance of buying Canadian-made cars. For several years, Algoma Steel has been running a television, radio and print campaign on the relationship between the steel and auto industries.
Our provincial government’s efforts to promote a buy-Canadian policy also merit mention. The office of procurement policy has been very successful in its goal to maximize Canadian content of goods and services purchased by public bodies of Ontario. The office is effectively increasing Canadian industry’s knowledge of opportunities of doing business with public bodies, facilitating and encouraging Canadian industry to bid on public contracts, as well as increasing public purchasers’ knowledge of and confidence in Canadian industry’s ability to provide goods and services.
Ontario has also taken an aggressive lead in promoting federal-provincial import replacement programs. The highly successful import replacement program in the health care field has prompted the Ministry of Industry and Trade to investigate similar ventures. The recently announced import replacement program in government purchases of furniture and fixtures, appliances --
I want to thank the member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria) for bringing to the attention of the opposition members, but also the government side of the House, some of the inadequacies in the procurement program of the Ministry of Government Services. I shall see that the minister receives a copy of Hansard so he can correct those little problems that have arisen over the years.
The members talked about foreign ownership. We have known for a long time here that Canada cannot support its own industry. We do require outside assistance. We cannot live on just our own Canadian companies. Certainly we would like to have more Canadian ownership, there is no question about that. But as we all know, this country cannot survive on Canadian ownership. It is not possible.
The member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) asked why we did not bring in a bill instead of a resolution. A good resolution brought into this House by any member on either side of the House will gain support; the government will act on that resolution. It will bring in proper legislation that can be supported by both sides of the House. Certainly there is no way a weak resolution, one that is against government policy, is going to be passed by this government.
The government will always support a resolution that is of good content and responsibility. And people in Ontario are willing and prepared to start buying Canadian. They realize what the problems are.
I have here a poll taken by the Cambridge Daily Reporter. It was a small survey but it was of young people. Their pictures are here; they are all young people. They look at labels before they buy now. They did not in the past but they do now. People are ready and willing at all times to buy Canadian. We need assistance from everybody to promote this and to bring on Canadian programs.
Mr. Barlow: I told the members about the brochure the Cambridge council is bringing out. Inside it there are phone numbers for people that members can call to run their own campaigns -- to have their own people run their campaigns in their own ridings. We have many examples of Ontario products that merit the support of all people in this province. Foodland Ontario is just one small example.
I want to thank all members in advance for supporting this resolution to develop and to encourage people to buy Canadian, buy Ontarian. It requires the support of all members, all industry, all labour, all business.
Andrewes, Ashe, Barlow, Bernier, Cousens, Dean, Drea, Eaton, Elgie, Gillies, Gregory, Grossman, Harris, Johnson, J. M., Kennedy, Kerr, Lane, McCaffrey, McCague, Miller, F. S., Norton, Pollock, Ramsay, Runciman, Sheppard, Taylor, G. W., Villeneuve, Watson, Williams -- 29.
On Thursday, May 13, in the afternoon we will debate ballot items standing in the names of the member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer) and the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy). In the evening the Treasurer will deliver his budget statement.