Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, it is with a real sense of regret and deep sadness that I rise in my place today to inform this House of the passing of the Honourable Walter Baker. Perhaps more than any other member in this House my knowledge of Walter Baker goes back beyond the field of politics, beyond the time when Walter put on the mantle of politics to serve his community and his country in another way. Walter was a distinguished Canadian who was not only the ultimate worker on behalf of his constituents but also a worker for all the people of Canada.
My friendship with him goes back many years from the time Walter served as solicitor for the then township of Nepean to the time he was a Scout father of the Scout troup with which I was happy to be affiliated. In those days, and Walter never changed, he always had time for young people. I remember one incident when the Honourable Walter Baker put on a very special show for young people wearing his lawyer’s wig and robes and showing them how the judicial system worked. Walter always had time for people in the community, whether directly in his own community or all those around the Ottawa-Carleton area.
Not many members can stand and say they had the best working relationship with their federal member, but in our case, Walter and I worked extremely closely. Walter filled in for me at times when I could not be back in the riding and, similarly, I was the first one he would ask to fill in for him when he was unable, which was not very often.
Walter was a great constituency man and a great Canadian. More than that, he was a great family man and father. I know I shall not enjoy the friendship of a federal member of Walter Baker’s making in the many years to come. I hope this House will extend with me to Walter’s family, his wife Lois and three children their deepest sympathies on this loss, not only to the people of Nepean-Carleton but to Canada.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, my colleagues in the Liberal Party and I certainly would want to associate ourselves absolutely with the remarks made by the member for Carleton (Mr. Mitchell). Over the past number of years I had the opportunity to chat with the late Walter Baker who was an incomparable politician. There was none better. I know members on both sides of the House had an opportunity to work with Walter Baker on a number of occasions. He was truly a remarkable politician. I used to think Murray Gaunt was a good constituency politician, but Walter Baker was second to none in the way he served the people of his riding of Nepean-Carleton for the past 11 years.
More than just a constituency politician, Walter Baker was an outstanding member of Parliament. He was a parliamentarian of an earlier period, a man who respected Parliament in every way and in every action. Certainly, we have seen today the passing of one of the great parliamentarians of the modern period.
He was a remarkable politician, a true and warm friend, who will be missed in the ways the member for Carleton has indicated. On behalf of the Liberal Party of Ontario, I want to join the member for Carleton and all members of this assembly in expressing our condolences to his wife and family.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, it is with a real sense of personal loss that I join in this discussion. Walter Baker was a friend of mine. He befriended me when I first entered Parliament. He was an extraordinary individual. He loved people; he loved politics; he was a great politician. Walter loved to laugh at himself and at the folly of human behaviour. He enjoyed himself in an extraordinary way as the representative of his constituents whom he served incredibly well.
I can remember driving with Walter through his riding. We were going to the studio of one of the television networks in Ottawa which happened to be in Walter’s riding. We were talking about unemployment on the way back from an interview we had done together. I said to him, “Walter, what do you do with the growing number of people we are all facing coming into our offices looking for a job?” Walter said: “It is very simple. I try to find them a job. I call up every person I know. I call up every small businessman I know. I call up every garage owner I know. I do what I can.” He said it with a sense of honesty and verve, and added, “Sometimes you get them and sometimes you do not.” That was the kind of person he was.
There are politicians who are respected and liked by members of their own party. There are politicians who are not often liked by members of any party. There are politicians who are liked, loved and respected by members of all parties. Walter Baker was very definitely one of the latter. He served for a time in government and enjoyed it. He loved Parliament and was a great member of the opposition. He believed strongly in things like freedom of information and the freedom of the individual. He believed intensely in the protections people need at common law and from big government and bigness of any kind.
He was a big man in many ways. I shall miss him as a friend. I know my colleagues who knew him will feel the same way. All of us have lost something in Walter Baker’s passing. Lois has lost a great husband. The family has lost a great father. He struggled hard in the last few months. We are all sadder for the loss of Walter Baker.
Andrea Addario, Welland-Thorold; Tracey Ball, Scarborough West; Nicholas Blenkinsop, Sudbury; Gordon Bonner, Peterborough; Fraser Borden, Parry Sound; Elizabeth Brazolot, Wellington South; Jody Campbell, Essex South; Jason Christoff, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry; Jean-Paul Désilets, Cochrane North; Thomas Dillon, Northumberland; Douglas Downey, Dufferin-Simcoe; Jennifer Gerstel, Windsor-Sandwich; Kathryn Johnson, York West; Rachel Kane, Waterloo North; Andrea Mackesy, Muskoka; Derek Nunn, Oxford; Christopher Perkins, Algoma-Manitoulin; Tommy Porinchu, Hamilton Mountain; Geoffrey Ready, Mississauga North; Sarah Rice, Burlington South; Whitney Sedgwick, Lincoln; and Ramine Shaw, Lakeshore.
Mr. Speaker: I would further ask all members to join with me in recognizing and welcoming in the Speaker’s gallery the following federal parliamentary interns who are guests of our provincial parliamentary interns: Autumn Watson, Carleen Carroll, Maureen Dobbin, Joseph Garcea, Barbara Holman, Kurtis Kitagawa, Geneviève Ledoux, Michel Madore, Timothy Stutt and Freya Kristjanson.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring the honourable members up to date on the situation regarding municipal water tanks throughout the province and to announce further measures the government is taking to assist municipalities in the repair or replacement of faulty concrete elevated water storage tanks.
Concrete elevated water storage tanks are an important component of many water supply systems, principally in small communities. These tanks are used to ensure dependable supplies of drinking water and water for fire protection. There were 53 such tanks constructed throughout Ontario.
While still at an early stage in their anticipated service lifespan of 30 to 40 years, many of these concrete tanks are exhibiting symptoms of structural distress and deterioration. This problem has been aggravated by the Canadian climate. Two structural failures of municipal tanks have already occurred. Tanks owned by the towns of Dunnville and Southampton collapsed in 1976 and 1980 respectively. Fortunately, there was no loss of life or any injury associated with those problems.
In 1981, my ministry commissioned a study of concrete water tanks, which involved an assessment of all ministry-constructed tanks in the province, 31 of the total, and a review of the municipally constructed tanks, another 20. Of the 31 ministry-constructed tanks, about 20 had problems. In April 1982, based on the findings of the study, my ministry recommended subsidies for the repair of provincially built tanks. Cabinet approved the request for funds in June 1982.
Since that time, as many of the honourable members are aware, my ministry has been engaged in a comprehensive engineering and repair program involving those provincially constructed tanks identified as requiring further work. The program involves some $5.1 million extending over three and one half years.
In the fiscal year 1982-83, tanks at Glencoe, Chelmsford, Fenelon Falls and Barry’s Bay were repaired. For fiscal year 1983-84, work has begun or been projected for tanks at Woodville, Baden, Alvinston, Brigden and Camlachie. In addition, design work is well under way for repairs at Pittsburg and Brechin.
This, as the members can see, is an extensive and complex program reaching into many parts of the province. In some cases, where a tank has been taken out of service to carry out repairs, my ministry has had to set up a temporary reservoir or make other provision to ensure continued supply of drinking water and water for fire protection.
Based on my ministry’s experience of the program for repairing provincially built tanks, we had our consulting engineer and staff carry out inspections of the 20 municipally built concrete tanks to estimate the repair work required. My ministry has also been providing technical assistance and advice to the operators of municipally constructed tanks.
I now wish to announce a significant extension of our program involving the allocation of a further sum of $3 million over three years for those municipally constructed concrete tanks identified as needing repair or replacement. The province will pay 75 per cent of the cost of repair or replacement. If, in any instance, the municipal portion will impose an undue financial burden on the municipality, my ministry will consider enriching the grant to 90 per cent, an additional 15 per cent, of the total cost of the work. My ministry’s assistance program will also apply to repair costs that have already been incurred by the municipalities.
We are offering financial assistance to 19 municipalities to repair the 20 tanks they own: Cambridge, for its tanks serving Hespeler and Preston, as well as to Campbellford, Chesley, Colborne, Dundalk, the town of Durham, Gravenhurst, Iroquois Falls (Porquis Junction), Madoc, Mount Forest, Orillia, Paisley, Petrolia, Prescott, Southampton, Waterdown, Watford, West Lorne and Wingham.
Basically, repairs and new construction will entail a modified design to employ a combination of steel and concrete for the footings and bases of the tanks. Existing tanks were constructed of concrete, and deterioration of their bases and footings has occurred in many cases.
I shall be writing to the municipalities concerned to inform them of this assistance program, and my staff will contact them directly to review each specific case and to discuss the arrangements and conditions involved.
My question is to the Chairman of Management Board. It concerns the matter of the contracts issued to Matrix Communications and to Donald R. Martyn and Associates, contracts about which we have had some discussions in this chamber over the past number of weeks.
I have before me the minister’s response during the estimates debate on November 4 to questions put by, among others, my colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid). I do not see anywhere in the public record the minister’s commitment or the indication that he has yet tabled the contracts involved that were issued to the Matrix Communications group in the amount of some $206,000 over a four-year period for speechwriting, most of which is associated with the member for London South (Mr. Walker), or the $207,000 issued over a shorter period of time to Donald R. Martyn and Associates.
Can the minister in charge of the Management Board, who is responsible for the application of the Manual of Administration, indicate to this House today when he plans to table in this chamber all the contracts involved in this matter so we might all, in this Legislature and beyond, look carefully at the specifics of those contracts to see whether both the spirit and the letter of the Manual of Administration were adhered to?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member were to read on, I think it is clear that I do not intend to seek those contracts from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. I made it quite clear that it is up to the ministries to follow the Manual of Administration. As I understand from a press article in the paper, the Provincial Auditor is looking at those very contracts. I suggest that is his function and not the function of Management Board.
Mr. Conway: Does the minister in charge of Management Board not understand that the iron heel of the Tory majority stamped out an endeavour by the standing committee on public accounts to authorize the auditor to do that very thing? Is he aware his six Tory spearcarriers in the public accounts committee moved to strike down the motion of the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham) to allow the auditor to investigate?
Furthermore, why would the minister in charge of Management Board, as part of a government committed to a public restraint program, not table those contracts so that 8.5 million Ontarians could clearly understand if the spirit and the letter of the Manual of Administration were adhered to in this very important case, where something in the neighbourhood of $410,000 worth of contracts was apparently issued on an untendered basis to good and close friends of a minister of this government?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the contracts to which the member refers. I have not seen them. It is not my function. I presume the Provincial Auditor is looking at those -- at least I learned through the press that he was prepared to look at those. We have a Manual of Administration and we expect the ministers, the deputy ministers and the ministries to abide by it.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, the standing committee on public accounts was dealing with this question on motions put by the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) and the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Cunningham). We were told by the Tory spokesman on the committee that the government believed it was inappropriate for the public accounts committee to look at the matter because the minister was looking at it. Now the minister tells us he is not looking at it but that somebody else is supposed to look at it.
The minister made certain statements in this House on October 21, when the question was specifically referred to by the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds). Given these statements, why does he not see it as his specific responsibility at least to look at the contracts and see whether the government is following the regulations set down by his ministry concerning the tendering of contracts? Does he not think it is his responsibility to uphold government policy in the tendering of contracts?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I think I have answered this question already. We have a Manual of Administration. We expect the ministers, the deputy ministers and the ministries will abide by it. As members know, noncompliance with matters of this nature is something the Provincial Auditor addresses himself to on a year-by-year basis.
Mr. Conway: If the minister in charge of the Management Board, who has responsibility for the Manual of Administration, does not see it as his responsibility to ensure this is carried out, what are the taxpayers paying him $70,000 a year to do? Is it not to enforce the Manual of Administration?
Is it possible the minister has not been able to cast his eye upon those $400,000 worth of contracts issued to good friends of the member for London South and the Tory party because those contracts do not exist? It was a good Tory handshake deal among friends to allow for the expenditure of $400,000 and not a jot or tittle more.
Has the Attorney General had the opportunity to read the conclusions contained in the special examination conducted by James A. Morrison, FCA, into the famous trust companies affair? Has he read Mr. Morrison’s conclusions with respect to the performance of a number of well-known lawyers in this province? Some of them have been implicated in previous trust company scams and at least one is an honorary bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Has the Attorney General made himself aware of the alarming conclusions Mr. Morrison raised about the professional conduct of some of his fellow lawyers in this great trust companies business? If he has read the report in this connection, what does he, as an honorary bencher of this law society, intend to do about restoring public confidence in the legal profession? In some serious ways it has been undermined by the devastating conclusions of the Morrison special examination.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, there is an ongoing criminal investigation with respect to many of the matters raised by the Morrison report in general. So far as the conduct or purported conduct of any of the lawyers referred to by Mr. Morrison are concerned -- and I have read the report; it has been some time since I have read it and I could not tell the member today which lawyers are or are not mentioned -- clearly the Law Society of Upper Canada, as the governing body of the profession, is aware of the report. If it feels any disciplinary action is appropriate, the law society will take such disciplinary action.
I certainly do not intend to suggest anything at this point, particularly in view of the ongoing criminal investigation. If my recollection serves me correctly, and I could be mistaken, the member raised this issue himself with the treasurer of the law society when she was before one of the standing committees and drew this matter to her attention. My recollection is that she did say to the member that the law society was very much aware of the report. He was there, I was not; he will have a better memory than I.
Mr. Conway: In fact I was there; it was a remarkable encounter from my point of view, a country boy from the Ottawa Valley meeting the convocation of the Law Society of Upper Canada, that sanctum sanctorum of the minister’s illustrious profession. I want to ask the Attorney General whether he feels the ethics of the law society have been breached in this respect.
As he knows, the ethics of his professional society establish an obligation on all lawyers in this province. To quote rule 1, “A lawyer must discharge his duties to his client, the court, members of the public and his fellow members of the profession, with integrity.” A second rule, which I will refer to briefly, rule 4(11), indicates: “Disclosure of information necessary to prevent a crime will be justified if the lawyer has reasonable grounds for believing that a crime is likely to be committed.”
Since the Morrison special examination raises very serious questions about the involvement of senior lawyers in this connection -- and because of the time problem here, I am not able to refer him to the specific conclusions of Morrison -- does he not feel that the professional ethics of his profession have been abridged by the conduct of the lawyers spoken of in the Morrison special examination?
Furthermore, as an honorary bencher of the law society, does he not feel he has an obligation with respect to the public trust to involve himself directly, since the law society, in my conversation with them six weeks ago, has no plans in that connection? Does he not think he has obligation to take a leadership role to protect the public interest from these very questionable practices of some very questionable practitioners?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I just want to make it clear that the investigations of the Morrison report are very important, and obviously there were some unflattering comments made by Mr. Morrison in relation to some of the lawyers who were involved in these transactions. The matter has been drawn to the attention of the law society, and I am quite satisfied that they are quite capable of dealing with it, as it is their responsibility.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, can the Attorney General advise us whether he has received any report at all about the criminal investigations into matters related to the trust companies? If he has not, does he expect to receive at least an interim report in the near future about the progress of those criminal investigations?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have received a report of a verbal nature and I have been assured that the police in charge of this investigation, the Ontario Provincial Police, together with whatever legal advice is required, have allocated very significant resources to the investigation. It is ongoing, as I have already mentioned, but I have not been given any date as to when they expect the investigation to be completed. I do know that there are a large number of transactions, quite apart from those that have received most of the publicity, that are being reviewed and investigated, and it could still be some little time before the investigation is concluded.
Mr. Conway: After about 14 months, tens of thousands of man-hours, after God knows how much in professional, legal and accounting services, are we to conclude that the Attorney General is not yet prepared to lay charges against Leonard Rosenberg et al?
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Fish), I would like to address a question of the Deputy Premier on a basic matter of policy. The minister will be aware that the Radio Reading Service, which provides an important service for literally hundreds of blind people in southern Ontario, has been cut off by the minister, has had to lay off two people and stopped broadcasting on November 4. The minister is quoted in the newspapers as saying it was cut off for two reasons: the cutbacks have made it impossible for her to do it, and she doubted whether it was her ministry’s responsibility to finance the project.
Given that the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture Act of 1982 states it is a function of the ministry “to foster the development of individual and community excellence, enabling Ontarians to better define the richness of their diversity and the shared vision of their community,” how can the minister’s colleague possibly say it is not that ministry’s function to fund this group? Given the importance of this service to blind people in this province, will the Deputy Premier make a commitment today that this service will be restored?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I have seen a press clipping dealing with this matter. In fact, I am quite familiar with it, because it was started some years ago within the Ministry of Culture and Recreation as part of the expanded library service. The Minister of Citizenship and Culture no doubt has had an opportunity to review this matter and would welcome a further opportunity in the House to explain the reasons why the organization is in the position it is in now. Perhaps it would be best if she had the opportunity to reply to that question when she returns to the House.
Mr. Rae: That is not good enough. There is a basic question of policy here. We had the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Drea) getting up just one week ago and saying proudly that the government of Ontario had not cut back any services to people in need. It took only four days for the Minister of Citizenship and Culture to make a liar out of her colleague the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Mr. Martel: Yes, we are. He did not accuse the minister of lying. I ask you to look back into the record. The leader of this party simply said a statement by one minister made a liar of another minister. That is not accusing anyone of lying.
Mr. Rae: I am interested in the substance of the question. Anything that needs to be withdrawn will be withdrawn, but the substance of the question remains the same. The fact is that the Minister of Citizenship and Culture has been responsible for the cutback of a very important service. The question I wanted to put very directly to the Deputy Premier is whether he is prepared on behalf of the government to ensure that this service, which has been operating for six years, will be allowed to continue and whether he will stop the process whereby every year this group of individuals has to come cap in hand to the government and ask for a year-to-year grant when it is providing a service that is important to people and is not being provided by anybody else in Ontario.
First of all, the member is no doubt aware that a series of grants has been provided to the Radio Reading Service through the vehicle of the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, as it then was, and the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, as it currently is. However, in each of the last three years in particular -- perhaps four, but certainly the last three -- the grants have been given as a final, one-time grant responding to two points being made by the good people of the Radio Reading Service.
One point was a concern they had that they would not be able to carry on in the absence of some sort of emergency grant being provided very close to the end of the fiscal year; second, carried with it were substantial undertakings and discussions about the Radio Reading Service being on the lip of major breakthroughs for technological expansion of their services, or for additional and alternative fund-raising efforts and funding support.
The matter has been reviewed very thoroughly on several occasions, notably coming up to last year’s grant being provided. The advice in the correspondence given by my predecessor was very clear indeed, namely, that the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture was simply not in a position to carry this service on a regular basis. That was made very clear, and it was understood that the Radio Reading Service would be looking for other sources of diversified funding.
I came into my portfolio in July, reviewed the materials available to me, quite reasonably reviewed the advice that was given to the Radio Reading Service and understood very clearly from that correspondence that it was a final grant and that service would look for other funding.
I might say that, concerned as I was, and as my predecessor was and is, with services to the visually impaired, we proceeded with the limited dollars we had to improve the library services to the visually impaired. It was not until September of this year that a request came to me from the provincial secretary.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, the minister no doubt will be aware that the sum we are speaking of, $40,000, is a modest sum in the context of government expenditures. The minister will also be aware that the Radio Reading Service is about to be picked up by Metro cable TV operators across the city and that the Radio Reading Service has a five-year plan to have the cost picked up in conjunction with a private trust company.
The Radio Reading Service has made this kind of effort over the past year to get itself on a financially independent footing. It seems to me when the minister talks about financial limitations within her ministry, she has to answer to the public and this House as to why she would cut off the $40,000 grant to the Radio Reading Service at the same time as her ministry has just increased its information or advertising budget by $1.67 million, which is an increase of 230 per cent.
Hon. Ms. Fish: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member misunderstands the basis upon which support had been provided. There is not and was not any ongoing support or ongoing grant. The entire point was that services to the visually handicapped through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture have been provided directly through the libraries, and the point I was about to make a moment ago was that the limited dollars and services were devoted this year to enriching the services for the visually impaired and visually handicapped with the libraries, a very considerable move that seemed to be very much in demand and was worked out very closely with representatives of the visually impaired and visually handicapped.
There was no ongoing funding that was discontinued. There was a final one-time grant last year. I make the point that there was no application to my ministry, that my ministry does not have ongoing funds or programs for direct support of this kind. When I was asked quite properly by my colleague the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mr. McCaffrey), to whom the Radio Reading Service had written or contacted in September, I did undertake a review of the available funds and simply make clear that they had already been devoted to assisting the visually impaired through library services.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, the minister stated that she doubted whether it was her ministry’s responsibility to finance the project, but in making the announcement last year when the Premier (Mr. Davis) announced in July 1982 that the government was granting $40,000 to the Radio Reading Service of Oakville, he said, “The cabinet is reviewing government approaches to community based audio services for visually handicapped people.” I would like to specifically ask the minister, if it is not the responsibility of her ministry, just whose ministry is it the responsibility of?
Hon. Ms. Fish: I would indicate, as I did before, that our interest is in servicing the visually handicapped. We have taken our programs and developed them with representatives of the visually impaired and substantially improved, as I noted before, the direct services through the library. At no time have I reviewed or given consideration to the question of whether there should be some support to Radio Reading Service.
Rather, I have looked at the overall mandate of my ministry, which is to provide the best possible service that we can to the visually impaired throughout the province. It has been our view that, taking limited dollars, we can best do that through the vehicle of direct support to the library system. That is what we have done and that is what we will continue to do.
Mr. Rae: I will have to put the question again to the Deputy Premier. Since it affects the basic matter of policy, and the Minister of Citizenship and Culture (Ms. Fish) said she does not have the money to do what she wants to do, perhaps it is a good idea if we look at where some of the government’s money has been going.
Specifically, I would like to ask the Deputy Premier about the contract involving the government of Ontario, Queensway General Hospital and Extendicare Ltd. with respect to the operation of a new 120-bed chronic care facility.
I wonder if the Deputy Premier would care to comment on the fact that as a result of the peculiar financial arrangements which have been reached, the government of Ontario through the Ministry of Health will be paying $16 a day more than the ordinary chronic care per diem rate to Extendicare, as a result of which annual payments for that amount, that extra $16, will be about $685,000.
The reason given by the government for this extra $16 a day, this extra $685,000, this extra $13.5 million over 19 and a half years, is that is the amount necessary to allow the ownership of the hospital to remain with the Queensway General Hospital. Can the Deputy Premier comment on that?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I do not have that particular detail but I would be pleased to take that question as notice and make sure the minister has a full explanation. As he is approaching his seat now, no doubt the explanation will be falling from his lips even sooner than I thought.
Mr. Rae: Does no one know what is going on around here? The minister will be aware that this $13.5-million gift to Extendicare Ltd. is a result of the fact that the government of Ontario was not prepared to put up any of the capital necessary for the construction of this 120-bed chronic care facility.
I would like to ask the minister to comment on the fact that last April when the final letter of approval from the minister at that time, the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman), came through, the rate on long-term government bonds was 11.25 per cent which would yield an annual interest payment of $535,000, which is $150,000 a year less than the amount which is being given to Extendicare Ltd.
Given the very real problems that are being experienced in ministry after ministry with respect to adequacy of funding, and by group after group in this province which is desperately in need of government assistance, how can the minister justify the overexpenditure of at least $3 million even in comparison to what it would have cost the government itself to have borrowed the money at long-term rates at that time, which indeed might not have been necessary.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I indicated I would look into this and get the information. I have listened to my friend tell me we have overexpended and explain how we should perhaps have handled this in a different way. If he would talk to his friend sitting on his left, he would find out the full story about how the Crockford Pavilion wing at Scarborough General Hospital came about and some of the innovative things that have happened in the hospital system in this province, not the least of which is happening in the hospital down east where he has been so critical of AMI (Canada) Ltd. and its operation. I would like to get all the facts before I enter into a debate with the member on this.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, in investigating the long-term lease arrangements the Queensway has with Extendicare, can the minister return to this House with an assurance that a similar kind of arrangement will not be used at Doctors’ Hospital when it attempts its 200-bed chronic care expansion, even though an executive of Extendicare has just got on to the board at Doctors’ Hospital?
Mr. Rae: The minister may be aware that on page 7 of Extendicare’s 1982 financial report it says, in talking about the Queensway contract, “The company anticipates that this precedent setting agreement” -- it might well be from the point of view of Extendicare shareholders -- “will lead to its further participation in the management of other hospitals in Canada.”
Is the minister prepared to give an assurance to the House at this time that no further arrangements will be arrived at, at least until such time as an independent committee of this House has had the alternative of looking at the finances and the economics of these contracts which have been criticized by a great many people involved in the public administration of nonprofit operations in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am certainly going to look closely at the operation of hospitals where these contracts have been let. I have already authorized two impartial observers to comment on and to give us an impartial assessment of what has happened at the Hawkesbury hospital and to report on that operation. That will help us in our --
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. Before I put it, I want to say “thanks” to him for the announcement just made; the people in my riding are quite appreciative of that.
I am sure the minister has reviewed the ministry’s budget and is appalled to find that it has been slashed by $32 million. Taking into account the effects of inflation, an extra $22 million has been lost. So there is a total cutback of $54 million.
Charles Caccia, the Minister of Environment for Canada, has said, “A worldwide environmental catastrophe as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust could occur within 20 years if nations do not address major environmental problems.” In view of that statement and the problems on the Toronto beaches, it seems to me this government is sending the wrong signal to the people who are responsible for many of these things.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, implied in that question is the suggestion that we may be close to some kind of environmental catastrophe in this province. That is an extremely remote possibility, I suggest to the honourable member; there is no chance whatsoever of that happening.
Regarding the budget cutbacks, as I indicated to the critic from the Liberal Party during the estimates, those cuts have been made essentially from municipal projects where the municipalities, as a result of the slowdown in construction and reductions in their own budgets, have not come forward with the same number of requests for construction assistance from my ministry as normally would be the case.
In fact, we have not cut back on any of our environmental protection programs. The announcement I made today about one of the largest subsidies ever given by this ministry for an environmental program, namely, the reconstruction and reinforcement of water tanks literally throughout the province at a level of 90 per cent, is a good indication of the fact that we are quite prepared to move in where there is a need and a requirement to assist communities in environmental programs.
The reduction of some $50 million which the member indicated has not come directly out of our environmental programs but is a result of a slowdown in municipal construction and has been brought about by their cutbacks.
Mr. McGuigan: We fully realize that answer from having attended the estimates; but now that those funds have been freed up, does the minister not see an opportunity to attack and to show the people of this province that he is going after some of the tougher problems?
I mention the matter of ground water in a number of places. For instance, in the Georgian Bay area a plume of poisoned water will be reaching those waters in a matter of three to five years. I point out that there are fantastic opportunities in the Great Lakes basin as a resource for recreation and sports. One item that comes to mind is a salmon fishery. This is going to become as important in the world as the salmon fishery was on our coastlines. Many people are concerned about the quality of the water. The International Joint Commission says toxic chemicals are now starting to reappear.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Knowing the lead time for some of the programs, including the matter of the beaches, which was covered in the preamble to the member’s earlier question, it is not likely that the money could be used during this year. The time required to do the engineering, the preparation and finally the construction of the programs is such that it simply would not possible in this fiscal year.
I want to assure the member that if there are any programs that would improve the environment of our province in any way, shape or form, I am more than willing to listen and to take the advice of not only my own staff experts but also members of the opposition. It was members of the opposition in great part who brought the problem of water tanks to the attention of my ministry. Many of them will be taking advantage of that particular program.
In addition, there was comment made about the reappearance of certain contaminants as a result of reports on the part of the IJC. Again I say with some frustration, the contamination that is appearing in our Great Lakes system is probably at a level of close to 99 per cent coming from our US neighbours as opposed to coming from our own jurisdiction.
Quite obviously, we can clean up to 100 per cent, there is always room to improve on the record we have at the moment, but I have to suggest that one of the ways we have to improve on the environment of Ontario is by getting a cleanup elsewhere as well, as the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) and other members in the Niagara area know. We have to get our American friends to clean up some of the contamination that is leaching into the Niagara River basin. We will continue to do that as well.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Deputy Premier in the absence of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Elgie), concerning the situation of Chieftain Tours which is in such financial difficulty at the moment.
Can the Deputy Premier confirm that the assets of Chieftain Tours were frozen on Tuesday, November 8? If he can confirm that, can he inform the House why the following day, namely Wednesday, November 9, travel agents who called and spoke to Norm Baird at the registrar’s office and asked, since there were rumours in the industry about the demise of yet another wholesaler, whether or not they should continue to send cheques on behalf of their clients to Chieftain Tours, were told to continue do so? How can the minister freeze the assets one day and tell the people to keep on sending in their money to the company the next day?
Certainly, my impression is that the officials of the ministry acted very responsibly, as they were entitled to do by law. All weekend I have been reading commendations on the part of people who are very close to that particular organization with respect to the activities of the ministry officials in that regard.
I am not able to be specific with respect to actual dates. I think I would be wise to leave it to the minister to respond to the concerns of the honourable member with respect to Tuesday and Wednesday. Nevertheless, with respect to consumer protection, I think the people of the province are being well served by the officials of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Mr. Philip: With regard to consumer protection, every time one of these fellows goes bankrupt he knows who pays for it. It is not the travel agents, it is the consumer who pays for it through his travel dollar.
Mr. Philip: The minister has replied -- in fact he replied over a year ago to this very issue. On November 3, 1982, as a result of the collapse of other certain companies that were brought to his attention, he said “further improvements are under consideration for presentation to the Legislature.”
Why is it that over a year later travel agents such as Free’N Easy Travel Inc. are told by the registrar to send money to this company on behalf of their clients the day after the company’s assets are frozen? Why is it that we still have bankruptcies such as this? Why is it the government has done nothing about it in a year, since it said it would over a year ago?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I think perhaps we should repeat that the protection of the consumer comes from the availability of the compensation fund. The member knows how that fund operates and how it is in fact operating in the interest of the consumer.
I am not able to give the member the specific details with respect to the dates of the freezing of assets and those other more technical questions. The minister will respond to that tomorrow, but I do think that against the background of this particular occurrence, unfortunate as it is, the compensation fund is working and indeed the registrar did act when he was legally empowered to do so.
Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, in the temporary absence of the acting Minister of Health (Mr. Wells), I will ask my question of the potential future acting Minister of Health, the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.
The minister will no doubt be aware that last week his government received a registered letter from the lawyer of a Peterborough physician calling for an investigation into the decision by the Peterborough Civic Hospital to threaten the physician’s hospital privileges because she allowed parents to stay with their babies after the birthing process. Does the minister have any intention of carrying out an investigation into the situation as described in the letter his government would have received last week?
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to disappoint my friend, but I am not aware of the registered letter. I will make certain the acting Minister of Health (Mr. Wells) is in a position to respond tomorrow.
Ms. Copps: It is unfortunate the minister is not aware of the letter. He will no doubt be aware of the case because it has been widely publicized. I think it speaks to the very issue of choices in the birthing process and, indeed, in many cases to bringing the province into the 20th century with respect to those issues.
The minister will be aware from newspaper reports that this doctor spent $10,000 of her own money, underwent a 13-hour hearing that was convened under the Public Hospitals Act and was vindicated. How can the government refuse to act, when in a subsequent move by the board, in violation of the spirit of the Public Hospitals Act, this doctor faced a potential removal of hospital privileges merely for allowing parents some choice in the birthing process?
The minister will also be aware that the government appointee on the board has resigned in protest because of conditions that led to the reversal of an earlier position taken by the hospital board. Does he not believe this speaks to the very issue of choices in the birthing process? It speaks not only to the kind of fundamental cost-effective measures we need to help hospitals in this province, but also to bringing hospitals across this province into the 20th century with regard to the issue of birthing.
Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: I do not say this in any smart-alecky way, and I am sorry the acting Minister of Health is not here. I think the member raises an important point. I am not going to pretend I know certain aspects of the issue when I do not. In deference to the member and to the importance of the question, I would just ask that she bear with me and with the acting Minister of Health. Either one of us will be in a position to respond as thoroughly as we should respond as soon as possible.
Mr. Rae: Mr. Speaker, the issue that is raised here is quite fundamental to practices going on in hospitals across the province. I am sure the minister will appreciate that. I am sure he will also appreciate that there is a great deal of different opinion in the province, that some hospitals allow certain practices and other hospitals do not. Some hospitals, in fact, encourage some practices that appear on their very face to be reasonable, but other hospitals have decided they are “dangerous” in their view.
I wonder if the minister would not undertake at the very least to have his colleague make a clear statement on behalf of the government of the province on the policy of this government with respect to these practices, not only the practices in question in the Peterborough situation, but other situations across the province, so that people who want to exercise a degree of choice will be able to exercise that choice provided it is always done under medical supervision.
I wonder if the minister could not at least undertake that a general statement will be made so that individual people and individual doctors will not be unfairly victimized as, I think one could argue, might appear to be the case in the situation in Peterborough.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. Last Monday I asked the minister a question about Du-Ter and how it had come to pass that his ministry had approved that chemical for use in the summer of 1982, some seven months after it had been deregistered by the federal government. His response was that the federal government had not informed him or any other ministry of this government of the deregistration.
Unfortunately, the inevitable has happened. The same question was raised in Ottawa by my colleague Vic Althouse, who is the New Democratic Party federal critic for Agriculture. I have in my hand a response from the federal Minister of Agriculture wherein he says, “In April 1981 a memorandum was sent to all members of the Canadian Association of Pesticide Control Officials (CAPCO), including representatives of all provincial ministries of environment, health and agriculture, informing them that the registration of this product had been discontinued.”
Has the minister investigated this matter further? Can he specifically tell us whether he has been able to locate this memorandum to which the federal Minister of Agriculture refers? Can he tell us what he is doing to ensure this kind of information problem will not occur again? This kind of slip-up, the registration and deregistration of potentially very dangerous chemicals, could have very dangerous implications in the future.
Hon. Mr. Brandt: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised at the information the member is bringing to my attention. The information I had with respect to the use of this particular pesticide was that the deregistering took place in 1981, but we were not informed until 1983. This was the information I had at the time. It was the response I gave to the member and I stand by that.
However, in light of the new information the member is bringing to my attention and which appears to be quite in conflict with what I told him, I can assure him I did not intentionally mislead him. I will check further to see if there was any such correspondence from the federal government. I was given every assurance that we had not been advised and that the use of the pesticide was continued only because we had no other knowledge but to continue its use, that it was still a pesticide registered for use in the normal fashion.
Mr. Charlton: Will the minister then report to the House, once he has investigated whether or not this memorandum of April 1981 exists? As well, will he undertake to set out for the House the normal notification procedure relating to dialogue between federal authorities and the appropriate ministries of the province in terms of registration and deregistration of very harmful chemicals? We can then take a look to see whether or not the procedure needs tightening up.
As the Attorney General is aware, the Ontario branch of the Canadian Bar Association has issued a warning with respect to the disintegration problems within the legal aid plan. I quote briefly from their recent report: “The commitment made in 1967 by the government of Ontario to provide legal services as of right to the poor has been seriously eroded. The Ontario legal aid plan has been undermined by inadequate funding, manifested in the failure to adequately compensate solicitors for their services.”
I am certain the Attorney General is familiar with the report and its findings. Can he tell me if he shares the concerns set out in this alarm which the bar association has raised? What, if anything, does he or his government intend to do to prevent the further damage the association sees is coming to the legal aid plan?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am familiar with the report, of course, I think it is a very good report on balance, a very thoughtful document. I do not share the degree of alarm which is expressed in the report because I am of the view that the legal aid plan still does serve in a very adequate fashion the needs of the disadvantaged people in this province.
Certainly, I am concerned about the future of the plan. I believe we have reached a point where the issue of adequate funding is very much with us. Down the road we may have some difficulty in maintaining the degree of participation in the plan which exists now, so far as the bar is concerned, if the level of compensation is not improved.
Mr. Breithaupt: Less than a year ago, on December 1, 1982, the Attorney General called for “the courage to dedicate a significant increase in resources to legal aid” during debate on his ministry’s estimates in the justice committee. Since he is committed to increasing the funds available for legal aid, what can we think of the present estimates, where some $2 million less is expected to be paid for legal aid this year over the actual expenditure last year? How can we believe there is a serious commitment by the government to provide the necessary services?
Will he attempt, through supplementary estimates or some other way, at least to match last year’s expenditures on legal aid? Will he try to come up with any programs that can be of assistance in increasing the availability of needed services for those referred to earlier -- the poor? They should have legal aid services available to them as a matter of right.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am hoping the budget allocation process will demonstrate the continuing commitment of the government to legal aid in next year’s estimates. In discussing adequate levels of compensation, I trust my distinguished Justice critic will continue to consult his former leader once removed, the honourable member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) --
Mr. Renwick: I am certain the Attorney General recognizes very clearly the impasse with respect to the fees which is developing under the legal aid plan is imposing an intolerable burden upon the resources of the community legal clinics in the province. I hope he recognizes that is the effect of his government’s attitude. Will the government now consider immediately bringing in legislation to remove the statutory requirement of the deduction of 25 per cent on all fees charged by lawyers operating under the legal aid plan?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I know this is not the first time this suggestion has been made and I am not in any way critical of it coming forward again from the member for Riverdale. However, the reality of the governmental budgetary process is that when any increase is permitted to any program, it is the net increase that is going to be considered by my colleagues throughout the process. I do not think, therefore, that realistically the removal of that statutory 25 per cent reduction is going to lead by itself to a greater influx of money into the plan.
Given the reality of the budgetary process, I think it probably would be a mistake to do that. At the same time, I regret very much that the public is not more aware of that statutory 25 per cent reduction. I think it is most unfortunate the public does not know to a greater extent that so many lawyers are discharging these very important services for 75 per cent of a very modest fee. They should realize this 25 per cent reduction represents a very significant contribution from many hundreds, if not thousands, of lawyers who participate in legal aid every year. But I do not think the removal of that statutory deduction by itself will alleviate the problems we undoubtedly face.
Mr. Renwick: I have a new question for the Attorney General. Regardless of the fact it was a fraud on the federal government, will he, as chief law officer of the crown, comment about the plea bargain entered into by the crown prosecutor with defence counsel in relation to Amway Corp.? This plea bargaining permitted the four executives of that corporation to have the charges against them withdrawn.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: First, I would hope by the tone of the question that the member for Riverdale is in no way reflecting on what I think was a very admirable job performed by counsel in my ministry with respect to obtaining the pleas of guilty.
One of the realities of that case is that it might have taken anywhere from two years to five years to achieve a successful extradition of those individuals, and a successful extradition was in no way assured. The admissions of personal guilt and involvement on the part of the named executives, given the fact, as Chief Justice Evans was told, there could have been another decade before this matter was finalized, these and a number of other factors, coupled with a very substantial fine and the admissions of guilt, demonstrate that the law officers of the crown responsible for this achieved an excellent result.
I might say I have already heard from south of the border, from individuals who are following this case with some interest, commenting on the very good result that was achieved “by the Canadian authorities.” As the members will know, any civil liability that is borne by Amway Corp. is in no way affected by this plea of guilty and the very substantial fine imposed.
In general terms, that represents a very significant accomplishment by Mr. Paul Lindsay and others who were involved with him in this very important case. If there are any other details the member for Riverdale would be interested in, I would be very happy, for example, to share with him the very lengthy statement that was made to the court by Mr. Lindsay on Thursday last.
This obviously was signed prior to the announcement by the Treasurer (Mr. Grossman) of the new restraint legislation. We will not know until later this week exactly whether or not it fits, but on behalf of my constituents I present this petition.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, as one of Her Majesty’s loyal and happy citizens, I have the pleasure to introduce two petitions to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor. If I could digress momentarily the Lieutenant Governor, pronounced the American way, is in New York. We were not part of all of that 200 years ago. So as one of Her Majesty’s loyal and happy citizens, it is my great pleasure to introduce on behalf of a group of nurses at the Pembroke General Hospital, and on behalf of teachers at Morison public school in the great town of Deep River, two petitions relating to the matter of public sector restraint and collective bargaining.
Mr. McEwen: Mr. Speaker, I have petitions to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. They are signed by 526 teachers from the great ridings of Frontenac-Addington and Prince Edward-Lennox. The petitions read:
I have been requested to present the Prince Edward-Lennox petition because the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton) is ill, the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. J. A. Taylor) was travelling in Saudi Arabia and the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Pollock) is unwilling to present it.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition similar to all the others that have been presented. It represents about 200 teachers who live in my own constituency but teach in various schools, both in the city of Waterloo and in the townships of Woolwich, Wellesley and some of the other surrounding communities.
The various public schools they teach in are Breslau Senior, Sandowne, Floradale, Heidelberg, Northdale, Central, Stanley Park Senior, Country Hills, Prueter, Harold W. Wagner, Maple Grove, Forest Glen, Conestogo, Winston Churchill, Wm. G. Davis Senior and Rockway.
Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to the same effect, signed by 77 staff members of the following schools in the riding of Cornwall: Central Public, Gladstone Public, John Sanfield and Eamers Corners.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from 71 nurses at the Welland County General Hospital, addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads the same as the previous petition tabled here and concludes:
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition similar to the other petitions introduced in the House today read by my colleagues. This petition is from the employees of the Leamington District Memorial Hospital. I have a similar petition from the employees of the Sun Parlor Home for Senior Citizens, and a similar one from the teaching staff of the East Mersea Public School; and I introduce these petitions for the pleasure of the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. Stokes: I have a similar petition signed by 10 nurses from the McCausland Hospital in Terrace Bay and 15 nurses from the Nipigon District Memorial Hospital. They petition for the same reasons. I support that petition.
This petition is signed by 31 people on staff at the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital. I am sure the members to my left will be glad to know I always support the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I want to open by encouraging my opposition critics, the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) and the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes), to give us the benefit of their advice and criticism as we go through the examination of my ministry’s estimates.
It is my pleasure to present, for the seventh year now, the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. In the remarks that follow, I will not be adhering strictly to the vote and item schedule as found in members’ briefing books; I will attempt to touch on areas in which the ministry is actively involved in addressing the needs of the residents of northern Ontario.
As I said a moment ago, I know the members opposite will be eager to take this opportunity to suggest ways in which the Ministry of Northern Affairs can do an even better job of serving the north. I look forward to their comments and constructive suggestions.
To make sure I am not alone to hear the benefit of their views, I have several people from my ministry with me today, and I know the critics will want to recognize them in the course of their remarks.
There is my deputy minister, David Hobbs, who travels extensively across northern Ontario. If members have been up there, I am sure they would have crossed his path, because much of his time is spent there.
The assistant deputy minister from the far west, Bill Lees, is also here. He was formerly located in Thunder Bay. He went to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Sudbury. He has seen the opportunities with the Ministry of Northern Affairs to help that great area of northwestern Ontario and is now back as the assistant deputy minister in Kenora.
Also with me is Dennis Tieman, the executive director responsible for planning and administration; Sheila Willis, our director of communications, responsible for public information; Dorothy Templeton, the executive assistant to the deputy minister, responsible for co-ordinating a number of administrative procedures and other matters; and Fran Grant, responsible for audit procedures.
Northern Affairs is a very small ministry, and it is a very small staff to have here. As I have said on many occasions, 70 per cent of our staff is in northern Ontario. It is very important that they have an opportunity to come here and listen firsthand to suggestions and comments.
I am sure the members present will agree with me when I say the experiment begun seven years ago has worked. The Ministry of Northern Affairs has fully established itself as a valid and effective agency of the Ontario government for dealing with the north’s special concerns and opportunities.
When we began, we were a prototype ministry for the type of mandate and policies given to us. Not all such experiments work. In other provinces, different concepts and delivery agencies for northern programs have been changed and even abandoned. By contrast, Ontario’s approach has been the subject of studies by representatives of other provinces.
Our local services boards -- there are now some 33 communities involved -- and the medical recruitment techniques, to cite only two small examples, have attracted interest from both government and the academic community.
Working from its mandate to co-ordinate programs and policies of the Ontario government that affect the north, the ministry has actively addressed a broad range of northern issues and has sought out unique approaches to meeting northern needs. Indeed, after seven years I think it is fair to say we are moving away from things that had to be done to things that ought to be done.
As members will see from the remarks that follow, the ministry is now looking at more programs of a social or even cultural nature in addition to providing such basic services as sewer and water facilities or industrial servicing.
One important example where the basic objective has been nearly achieved is fire protection in unorganized communities. My staff informed me recently that with an acceleration in the unorganized communities assistance fund we would ensure that by 1987 every unorganized community in the north had a basic form of fire protection. In response to that, I am pleased to announce that I am increasing my ministry’s funding for fire protection by $400,000 per year. By 1987 virtually all of the 300 unorganized communities in the north will have this most vital service.
As I go through this introduction to the ministry’s spending estimates I will be pointing out how all the programs we support, from essential infrastructure to cultural activities, fit into our broad economic and social development goals for the north.
A key area for the Ministry of Northern Affairs is its role as an advocate for the north. As a co-ordinating agency that works closely with nearly all other ministries in delivering our programs and which participates in many cabinet committees, Northern Affairs is frankly biased towards the north. That is our mandate. It means on many programs and issues we are going to become involved in discussion and debate with our fellow ministries over objectives, funding levels, timetables -- a range of policy and planning elements.
This is normal. In a democratic government it is part of the system of checks and balances that ensures tax dollars are well spent and needed programs are provided -- in our case, of course, to the northern residents. We are the watchdog for northern Ontario and we watch everything that goes by.
Those of us who form the government are therefore surprised when, every time there is some interministerial discussion on an issue, calls go up from the opposition for resignations. In our case our advocacy role demands that I and my staff bring a northern perspective to the boardroom when discussions affecting the north are taking place in Queen’s Park. We have done this vigorously on such issues as hydro rates, land use planning and many more.
I mentioned a moment ago that I would try to show the planned linkage between various programs that unites them in our overall objective to support increased economic development and diversification in the north. I would begin this by noting two programs that provide essential infrastructure in the north: water and sewage systems and northern highways.
Both of these programs provide basic services essential to development. Expanded water and sewer facilities provide the capacity for expansion in both the industrial and residential sectors of our northern communities. Our annual funding for the King’s and secondary highway system in northern Ontario provides for a safe and efficient network for the transportation of people and goods.
In both of these areas we work closely with the two ministries with the line responsibility, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. In the case of the former, we frequently step in to provide additional funding to municipalities in order to make a project happen or to make it happen sooner than would otherwise be the case. The reason for this is simple: building water and sewage systems in the north’s climate and geography can be an expensive proposition, so the funding formulas applied generally to the municipalities are not often adequate, particularly for many small municipalities with limited tax bases.
We have also joined the federal government in providing funds for several major water and sewer projects in the northeast. In Sault Ste. Marie, work is proceeding on schedule for a 7O-million expansion to that City’s water and sewage system. Another major project will soon begin in Timmins.
We also fund, as I mentioned, the northern roads program, which involves construction and rehabilitation of the King’s and secondary highways in northern Ontario. We set the priority on what gets done, where and when. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications carries out the work on our behalf and is, of course, responsible for maintenance. This year we will be spending $55,680,000 on the northern roads program.
This year, two major bypasses are under construction in the north, one in Sudbury, the other in Kenora. Both of these projects will provide safer, more efficient traffic routes around these two municipalities. Both are also contributing to economic development in their respective regions right now in the form of jobs and demand for material and services.
Besides highways, the most familiar of these to members who have travelled north will be the passenger services of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, which reports through the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: To support the economic and the social contribution made by reliable scheduled passenger services, the Ministry of Northern Affairs annually funds the operating deficit for the provision of these services in the north.
They include norOntair, one of the most successful local airlines of its type in the world, the northeast rail services of the Ontario Northland Railway from Toronto through to Kapuskasing, and the Chi-Cheemaun ferry service from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island.
NorOntair, which carried close to 100,000 passengers last year, is scheduled to take delivery of the first two de Havilland Dash-8s next fall. My colleague from Cochrane North is very sensitive to that.
This will enable the airline to realize some cost efficiencies in the long term, while providing some striking improvements in the areas of comfort and speed for norOntair passengers. As members know, the operations of norOntair are contracted out to three different private sector carriers in the north, providing support for the aviation sector in northern Ontario. This will continue to be the case with the Dash-8s.
I should add, regarding production of the Dash-8, that we are watching the federal discussions over continued funding for de Havilland’s Dash-8 program with more than a little interest. De Havilland has been one of the real strengths of the Canadian aerospace industry and the Dash-8 is one of the finest products ever. I hope the federal government will make an early and positive decision so that we can get on with the job.
In answer to the question of the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid), we have proposals ready to go to Management Board of Cabinet with respect to the operation of the Dash-8 but we are waiting for the federal government to make a decision with respect to the production of the Dash-8 here in Downsview.
I had to admit publicly that I was very disappointed that the federal government should put so much money into Canadair and assure them that it would be a viable operation, put so much money into a helicopter manufacturing plant in Quebec, also to assist --
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, there is no question about that, but the federal government has poured literally hundreds of millions of dollars into the Quebec aerospace industry and has ignored de Havilland.
I would hope that the many federal members who make up the Liberal Party in this province would stand up and be counted when the chips are down, because I do not think in anybody’s opinion de Havilland can be short-changed on this production opportunity. It has to go. There has been no firm decision with regard to production of the Dash-8 at this time. I think they have sufficient to manufacture something like 15.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Another Ministry of Northern Affairs program in the area of transportation is the remote airport program providing airstrips and ground facilities in remote settlements in the far north. I was pleased recently to participate in the opening of airstrips at Sachigo and Deer Lake, bringing the total constructed to 18. Work is proceeding well on our current project at Cat Lake.
Regarding the remote airport program, I would like to mention briefly here the report of the interministerial Task Force Study of Transportation and Living Costs in the Far North, released by my ministry this past summer. The report noted the value of this program in providing year-round access to communities that had been cut off from the world for up to six weeks during spring thaw and fall freeze-up when float planes could not get in. Now larger planes can get in all through the year, bringing bulk supplies and fresh food. Beyond these obvious benefits the airports, which were nicknamed “highways in the sky” when the program was first announced, have generally reduced the isolation of these communities.
When I talk about the social benefits of the remote airport program. I am reminded that in other areas the social fabric of northern Ontario is being weakened by cutbacks in service. I refer to the continued efforts by Via Rail to remove services from the north. My colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and I have expressed our concerns over Via’s growing reluctance to provide a basic level of rail service to northern communities.
We are also party to a committee which includes Via and several other agencies which are looking into the options for retaining rail service on many of the routes now slated to be cut. I sincerely hope the committee’s recommendations address our concerns, especially for those communities whose only access is by rail.
Here I must express my disappointment at learning recently of the Canadian Transport Commission’s decision to hold hearings in Sioux Lookout and Thunder Bay with respect to the discontinuing of passenger service from Sioux Lookout to Thunder Bay in advance of this committee’s recommendations coming down. I expressed my disappointment at that time.
Turning now to another important area of the ministry’s transportation responsibility, I would like to talk for a moment about our involvement in access roads, or economic development roads as we sometimes call them.
I took part in a pleasant ceremony last week in Detour Lake, where the largest gold mine to open in North America in many years was officially christened with the unveiling of its first brick of bullion. This mine opening was made possible in part by the swift action of the Ministry of Northern Affairs back in 1980 in committing itself to fund construction of the access road into that area, thus ensuring that 95 per cent of the jobs and the benefits flowing out of that mine would remain in Ontario, most of them in the north.
These include an estimated $660 million return to the province over the mine’s expected 20-year life in the form of licence fees and taxes alone. Another $15 million a year or more will flow into the local economy in the form of salaries paid to employees living in the area, and the mine’s own requirements for materials and supplies.
Detour Lake is a project where Northern Affairs was able to play a part in ensuring that benefits from a northern resource went to the north. We do the same thing on a smaller scale regularly through the northern Ontario resources transportation committee, of which I am chairman. NORT, as we call it, provides funds for access roads, primarily to mineral and timber resources.
Through NORT, we provide assistance to enable companies to build roads that might otherwise be deferred or put off entirely. Later on, the province will benefit from tax revenues from the economic activity generated by these roads. This year, 725 kilometres of all-weather road will be constructed as well as 685 kilometres of winter roads to bring bulk fuel and supplies to the communities of Round Lake, Sandy Lake, Deer Lake, Pikangikum and those communities north of Moosonee on the shore of James Bay.
To sum up this portion of my remarks, each year the ministry spends a large portion of its budget on transportation, but for some quite different reasons. From basic roads to winter roads, from planes to boats and trains, we support transportation development, resource development, tourism development and social development in the north through our funding for transportation.
I would like now to turn to a second major area, resource development, and describe briefly some other programs through which we encourage the increase of and effective utilization of the resources of the north.
The Ministry of Northern Affairs is involved in the funding of a forest management program, one large component of which is road building. The $72.5 million forest management subsidiary agreement has in it $56 million for roads. Many of these roads are cost-shared with the forest industry they serve. They provide access to vast stands of mature and overmature timber to ensure this valuable timber is used before it falls prey to fire, insects or disease.
The roads are constructed under the supervision of the Ministry of Natural Resources and there is considerable consultation with residents and tourist operators in the affected areas beforehand. During this fiscal year, some 100 kilometres of roads will be completed under the agreement, providing access to 700,000 cords of timber.
Other activities undertaken through the FMSA include silviculture camps, tree nursery expansion, soil surveys, hardwood utilization studies and applied research and development. This agreement is complementary to the pulp and paper agreement between Ontario and the federal government, which ensures the future viability of our mills through an intensive program of upgrading and modernization. Together they are strengthening our forest industries and the communities that rely on those industries.
Another area through which we work with the Ministry of Natural Resources to increase the benefits flowing to the north from those resources is the northern Ontario geological survey. Through a variety of programs which provide geophysical and electromagnetic surveying as well as mapping and community geologists, we participate in facilitating the discovery and development of new ore bodies.
I might mention in passing that recently I visited the area of the Hemlo gold camp. It is truly heartening to see the development which is taking place there. Hemlo provides an example of the co-ordinating or lead ministry role that MNA plays in northern Ontario.
The members will recall the interministerial committee that was established to develop a government approach to deal with distressed single-industry communities in northern Ontario. The committee reported to cabinet last year and provided a framework for dealing with individual single resource communities which were facing economic difficulties. The committee’s report was accepted by cabinet. As a result of its principal recommendation, my ministry has been given a clear mandate to take the lead ministry role on matters affecting single-resource-industry communities in northern Ontario.
We have undertaken that role with communities that are facing difficulties, most notably Atikokan. Hemlo represents the other, the “boom” side of the coin, where development pressures require a co-ordinated Ontario government response to deal with the situation. As a result, we are serving as lead ministry on an interministerial committee whose job it is to see that the rapid development in the Hemlo area takes place in an orderly manner and will provide maximum benefits to the people and communities of that area.
One very successful mechanism for assisting resource development in northern Ontario is the northern Ontario rural development agreement which, on the provincial side, is the responsibility of my ministry. NORDA provides assistance for a number of resource-related activities in the areas of agriculture, mineral and forest product development, tourism and small business development.
For a moment I would like to focus on agriculture, an area in which we believe there is considerable potential for development in the north. Since 1981, when I signed the northern Ontario rural development agreement, NORDA has provided grants to nearly 900 farmers in the north for land clearing in Rainy River, tile drainage in the Temiskaming clay belt and pasture management on Manitoulin Island. NORDA is also providing grants for farm products marketing and for demonstration projects aimed at improving the efficiency of northern agriculture through the application of proven technology.
Beyond the area of NORDA funding, members may recall that last spring the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Timbrell) and I announced the seed potato upgrading and distribution program for northern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is right. We have a very strong northern caucus on this side of the House. All the members are very much involved with what is happening in northern Ontario. They are well up to date and they are very supportive of this ministry and what we are doing.
The seed potato upgrading and distribution program, which is known as SPUD, will be based at the New Liskeard College of Agricultural Technology. Its goal is to supply enough early generation potato stock by 1987 to produce 80 per cent of this province’s seed potato needs. That will do two things. First, it will create a new industry in the north worth an additional $800,000 a year in gross farm income; second, it will considerably reduce our dependence on imports of seed potatoes.
The SPUD program is only the latest innovative agricultural initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in the north. There will be more. In order to realize the development potential of agriculture in northern Ontario, we are working closely with OMAF to put into place a northern Ontario agricultural strategy that will expand the agricultural base and the overall economic base of the north.
Another area that has great potential in the north is tourism. Again, NORDA has been valuable here in bridging the gaps between conventional funding sources. Apart from moneys for feasibility studies and specific attractions, NORDA has helped many small outfitters and operators to develop an implement marketing plans to attract an increasing number of visitors to northern Ontario.
Northern Affairs also provides support for tourism infrastructure, such as the parking and viewing facilities at Ouimet Canyon -- I was there just a month or so ago -- and at Kakabeka Falls. It is beautiful.
In the past year we have also provided assistance for tourist information centres at Fort Frances, Vermilion Bay and also at Sudbury. With the assistance of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development, we will be funding construction of a tourist information centre in the part of the Sudbury area known as Rainbow Country.
Many potential tourists to northern Ontario go through Ontario Place each summer. We are undertaking a major revamping of Ontario North Now at Ontario Place this winter, adding more space and exhibits and emphasizing the tourist potential of northern Ontario. We are also active each year in promoting northern tourism in Toronto through our participation in the annual sportsmen’s and ski shows.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am sure the members will want to hear about Minaki Lodge. I hope they plan to ask a lot of questions about Minaki Lodge because I have a lot of information, and I will be happy to share it with them.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: In fact, I was with the member’s brother just two days ago. He was still high on Minaki Lodge and he is still going to find some way to get some federal funding for Minaki Lodge. That is how dedicated he is.
Mr. Piché: We do something for the north and this is what we get, even from members from the north. I cannot understand it. You should be the ones who should support Minaki Lodge. It is the best thing that ever happened in northern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Let me say, Mr. Chairman, the owners and the operators of Minaki Lodge have reason to be pleased at its performance in its first new season. The lodge took in $2 million in revenue and had a 60 per cent occupancy rate. While not quite as good as projections, I believe its performance in its first year after many years of absence from the market was very satisfactory. If the members present today have not yet visited Minaki Lodge, I urge them to do so during the next season. When they do, I am sure they will be as enthusiastic supporters of Minaki Lodge as I am.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Tourism is an important and growing sector of the northern Ontario economy. My ministry will continue to increase its support for the sector through assistance for studies, tourism infrastructure, specific attractions and individual operators.
An area in which we have seen some dramatic improvements over the past few years in northern Ontario is health and social services in the north. Heath facilities and services constitute essential social services and provide an indirect boost to local economic development by improving a community’s chances of attracting and retaining new business and new people.
Our objectives in working with the ministries of Health and Community and Social Services are to reduce the disparities between north and south and to increase the north’s self-sufficiency for those requiring basic and specialized health care, and our efforts are working.
With the introduction of a first-class air ambulance system, for which we have another $4 million budgeted this year, the construction of 16 medical-dental centres and the increased number of dentists and doctors in the north, we have seen a change in the self-image of many of our northern communities. There is a reduction in the sense of isolation, of helplessness in the face of a medical problem, whether minor or major.
Our latest initiative with the Ministry of Health in this area was the announcement that extended care facilities with up to 20 beds would be constructed in Atikokan, Geraldton, Dryden and Smooth Rock Falls. We are awaiting a decision from the federal government on combined services for the two hospitals in Sioux Lookout before beginning planning for the committed extended care facilities in that community. There are a number of communities that are anxious for extended care facilities. We have announced approvals only for those where we have firm funding approval. When we receive further firm funding approvals, we will be in a position to make the next major step.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, we have not. I might say on this particular program that the enthusiasm expressed by many of the small communities was overwhelming. As I stated in my opening remarks, I think at the estimates last year, where we had a specific amount of money we would provide funding over a five-year period. I am confident that as the program moves ahead all those communities that want them and can come up with their one sixth will have extended care services. I believe there was some problem with Chapleau coming up with its portion.
In the area of health recruitment, we continued our support this year for the annual tour of community representatives who come down to southern Ontario universities to talk face to face with medical and dental students about working in the north. This is a most successful program which is paying real dividends. We also continue to provide bursaries to encourage doctors, dentists and other health and social care professionals to practise in designated underserviced areas of the north.
We did something this past spring that gives a good idea of how the ministry’s program and budget flexibility allow it to move quickly to take advantage of an opportunity to help the north. A young dentist from Brechin, Ontario, who has worked in the Sioux Lookout zone for five years, phoned me to tell me the University of Toronto dentistry faculty was getting rid of some old dental chairs and stools to make room for new ones.
They were very good chairs. We were able to get 50 of these chairs and stools, which are really in good shape and quite comfortable -- I know because I sat in them -- and they have been delivered to 35 reserves across the north and to 15 locations in the Kenora area. We paid only the cost of transporting them; the chairs were free.
I know this is not a big deal, but it was something that needed to be done because most of those reserves had only the army field unit type of chair. We were not even acting within our jurisdiction strictly, but as I say, it was an opportunity that we felt warranted quick action.
Shifting to the area of cultural services, we have had a tremendous response to the TVOntario extension program. Some 50 communities are receiving TVO by satellite now, and a total of 170 will be on stream by the time the program is completed, probably next year. The ministry provides the dish antennas and the low power rebroadcasting equipment to these communities free of charge. TVO helps them get the licence and install the equipment.
As with health and social services, this type of assistance provides indirect support for economic development through community enhancement. One more channel on one’s TV set may not seem like much to someone living in Toronto who is used to getting 20 or 30 stations, but if all one is used to receiving is the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s northern programming, it is a welcome addition, believe me.
I would like to spend a little time on some of our programs through which we contribute directly to economic development and diversification in northern Ontario. The first of these is our community economic development program, which was mentioned in last year’s throne speech and announced this past summer. The purpose of this program is to assist communities, particularly small single-industry communities, to identify and pursue opportunities to develop and diversify their local economies.
The community economic development program consolidates some of the advisory and financial assistance activities we had been providing and adds to them. Besides staff assistance and grants for individual projects, it provides money for opportunity studies, industrial development and community economic profile publications. To date, $249,000 has been committed to seven communities: Atikokan, Kenora, Gore Bay, Sudbury. Timmins, West Nipissing and Hearst. Other communities which have benefited from the program or with which we have entered discussions are Sault Ste. Marie, Chapleau, Dymond township, Espanola, the North Shore Development Association, the North Clay Belt Development Association and Wawa.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I do not know if we have had discussions with them yet. I am sure we have had a lot of discussions about Foleyet, but I am not sure about the economic development. One very interesting discussion we have had is that they want to move to another constituency. The member is aware of that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: In one area of interest to many northern communities, a number of waterfront development studies were undertaken this past summer, following the publication by this ministry of the recommendations that emerged from the very successful waterfront development seminars held in the northeast and northwest.
With the completion of these studies and the growing interest in waterfront development, pre-construction work has actually begun in several communities. The development is aimed at spurring tourism-related commercial development on commercial harbour facilities. The studies for these projects also identified sources for funds for harbour or marine development. In most cases, they pay for themselves in the long term.
In this area of economic development, I touched earlier on NORDA, the federal-provincial economic development agreement for rural northern Ontario. The direct new jobs created by NORDA by the end of March 1983 were 119 in tourism and 335 in other areas, for a total of 454. This will increase to about 550 by next year. These are mostly full-time permanent jobs created at an average cost of less than $5,000 each.
In the employment incentives program of NORDA, a government investment of about $2 million has levered $8 million in private sector investment. In its third year, NORDA is realizing the goals we set for it of reaching out into the north’s rural areas to tap the entrepreneurial spirit and provide incentive funding for small-scale projects for which conventional funds were not available. NORDA has proven to be an innovative and effective spur to investment in all sectors across the north. It is producing jobs and helping us achieve our objectives for economic development and diversification.
During the past year the Ministry of Northern Affairs was able to lend assistance to Sudbury region’s intensive effort to seek out means of diversifying the economic base of the community. Our role was not only one of financial assistance but the type of co-ordinating, partisanship help we can bring to the north. Our job was to serve as a lead ministry in assessing projects proposed by the Sudbury job creation task forces and, where possible, to accelerate and bring forward government projects slated for Sudbury. We also contributed $60,000 to the region to commission the development of a comprehensive industrial strategy.
We must give credit to Tom Davies, the regional chairman, the people of Sudbury, including the local member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) who was very helpful to this committee, other government people, the labour people, academics and the private sector, people who were able to work together as a true community to bring forward a range of projects that are now being investigated for their feasibility.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Centennial? At any rate, there is a new spirit in Sudbury. I think you will agree with me there. It is important that there is a whole new attitude and new spirit, a spirit of pushing ahead with progress.
During this past year the ministry also participated in the design and delivery of the Canada-Ontario employment development program. COED was a great boon for the north. By identifying projects that could both meet the program’s criteria and do some real good in the north, we contributed to the creation of 5,760 short-term jobs. In many areas, such as Manitoulin Island, the projects funded took virtually everyone off the welfare and unemployment rolls for the summer.
We also administered Ontario’s own northern employment incentive program for unorganized areas, which created more than 600 short-term jobs in small and remote communities across northern Ontario. This was part of the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development job-creation program that created more than 7,500 jobs in the north during 1982.
I could go on and describe other areas in which the ministry is working to help the north help itself -- the successful pilot projects we have funded in the areas of energy, resources and innovative sewage systems. Community development and economic development go hand in hand. An integral element of our community services work is the consistent job done by our northern affairs officers in providing information and one-window access to government services. They serve the residents of 29 northern communities. This year we are expanding our service to Nipigon and Armstrong and looking at other communities where this service could prove beneficial.
In my remarks today, I have tried to show how the programs of my ministry bridge policy fields and interlock to promote economic development, directly through our northern community economic development program, for example, and indirectly through programs aimed at community enhancement.
With a lot of the basic infrastructure and health and social services in place, we are able to devote more time and dollars to local economic development in its pure forms. As I indicated earlier, a lot of the early groundwork that had to be done is done now in many municipalities, and the way is cleared for concerted economic development efforts in which we can act with those municipalities as facilitators to make it easier for the private sector to do what it does best, namely, to create new industry and new long-term jobs.
I would now like to look at the future of the north in terms of the role my ministry expects to play as the future unfolds. The north’s vast size and diversity work against the type of uniform development that has taken place in southern Ontario. In the years ahead, my ministry will retain the budget and program flexibility to respond creatively and quickly to meet the needs and opportunities as they arise.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Advocacy, co-ordination and direct action will continue to be our main tools. In particular, we will continue to evolve our own programs, as we have for the unorganized areas where existing programs and other ministries do not answer the needs.
In the larger picture, the basic demand for the north’s resources will not diminish, although we do anticipate more of the structural changes we have seen in the forest and mining sectors. Therefore, our objectives will be to contribute to measures that will enable our basic sectors to remain competitive, increase the value added in northern Ontario and diversify the economic base by developing areas such as agriculture, tourism and the small and medium-sized business sector in our northern municipalities and rural areas.
Specifically, we will be looking at the following areas. In economic development, we will encourage the development of entrepreneurship and small businesses and the training needed to make them successful. We will be trying to persuade the federal government of the need for more regionally focused agreements like the northern Ontario rural development agreement and other agreements targeted for specific sectors.
In the major resource sectors, we will continue to provide funding for the development of the mining and forest industry sectors. We will continue to support the multiple-use concept in land use to bring about a balance between development and recreational and tourism use that will benefit northern residents. We will be particularly looking to support innovative projects that strengthen the economic base and provide more jobs.
In the area of tourism, we will continue to recognize the special value of this rapidly growing sector for the north in particular. We will continue and aim to increase our support for tourism infrastructure, feasibility studies, promotional material, the development of packaged or circle tours, regional and local information centres and other activities. With the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, we will be moving ahead with the construction of a provincial rest stop and information centre network along our major northern Ontario highways.
In agriculture, we will continue to support increased agricultural production in the north through research and development of short-season crop varieties and the adoption of farming techniques appropriate to the north. We will also encourage the substitution of imports where possible, as we are doing with seed potatoes through SPUD, our seed potato upgrading and distribution program. We also will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food to develop new market opportunities while continuing our support for land clearing and tile drainage programs aimed at bringing more crop land into production.
In the field of energy, we will continue to provide funds for worthwhile small-scale pilot projects aimed at substituting indigenous fuels for oil and gas. We will encourage the Ministry of Energy to extend electrical power to remote communities, and we will monitor pricing systems for electricity in the north.
In health and social services, we will continue to support programs aimed at improving the north’s self-sufficiency. In particular, we will be addressing the requirements of the elderly and other groups requiring special assistance or facilities.
In closing, I trust these remarks will give the members a good overview of the broad range of activities my ministry is involved in. Our bottom line is doing things in the north and meeting northern needs. I think we have done a good job in the past seven years. I look forward to the future and to the continuing beneficial role the Ministry of Northern Affairs can play in northern Ontario.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Chairman, the first thing I have to do, as the minister did, is to recognize those people who work along with me in the role I play as the Northern Affairs critic for our party. The minister made reference to his deputy ministers and assistants, many of whom are either present or were here at the beginning of his remarks. We on this side of the House have to recognize those researchers who provide us with as much information as possible regarding the affairs of the northern part of this grand province of ours.
Just as important to us are the residents of northern Ontario. Many of them have been there for a long time but a considerable number of them are more recent transplants from the south or from other provinces. They have chosen the north because of all the things it has to offer in terms of hunting, fishing, opportunities to get into a business or whatever. People such as those have come to recognize that we are not only interested but also able on many occasions to provide a voice for them if they find the government’s voice or its action falling short of the mark. They are coming to us.
I do not say that to belittle the efforts of government. I think the government has tried in its own inimitable way to meet the needs of the north. It obviously felt the need some seven or eight years ago to establish this ministry because the other ministries were not able to address themselves to the specifics of the north. This ministry was a relatively new phenomenon -- an attempt by the government to meet the needs of the people in northern Ontario.
The unfortunate thing is that we see again a government that has been in power for some 40 years still struggling, if not to accommodate the needs to identity them. We witnessed in this House last week a resolution brought to us by the member from Cochrane North to establish a commissioner of northern transportation. We supported that resolution, I would remind members. I think it was observed at that time, but it bears repeating, that if there is a need, why is it that we are finding it before this Legislature in 1983? What has gone wrong over the 40 years that this Conservative government has not been able to address itself to the needs of the north?
One final point here: I am sure the minister would admit, perhaps not in the light of day but in the darkness of an evening in Ontario, that the attempts of our party to reach out and provide a voice for the north can be witnessed in the results of a poll that came out this past summer. I do not want to dwell on that, because it might be embarrassing for the government, but there is an awareness in northern Ontario that the Ontario Liberals are alive and well, even though we have only one member, from Rainy River. We have reached out and provided the opportunity for northerners to consider an alternative view. I want that to be on the record, because a lot of people who are basically volunteer people are assisting us in this reaching out.
The final point in terms of general observations -- I tried to check this before I got into the House today, and I understand it is public information -- is to pay tribute to the member for Lake Nipigon, who has been in this chamber for some time.
I understand that when this particular parliament ceases the member for Lake Nipigon will not seek re-election and will pursue other interests. He is a family man; he has family commitments and obligations that he wants to catch up with. I think it is fair to say that over the years he has devoted a lot of time to this province of ours, to this chamber and to the political process. That, unfortunately, has been at the expense of his wife and family, who have had to get along without him.
He is a talented man. He has been a good member and has helped to keep the government on its toes and has helped to put a focus on northern affairs and on the Ministry of Northern Affairs, and on occasion he has given the ministry something more than just a little jab to remind it of the needs that it has to meet in accommodating northern citizens.
Let me pay tribute to the member for Lake Nipigon on behalf of myself and the colleagues who sit with me on this side of our House. We recognize his contributions and we wish him well in whatever endeavour he pursues on leaving this chamber.
I observed in my introductory remarks that there is a need to remind the government that it has not been letter-perfect in the attention given to the north or in the addressing of the problems of the north.
The minister has given us an overview of the role of the ministry. He has indicated, I think relatively clearly -- as clear as fog can be -- that the lead role of the ministry covers a wide variety of responsibilities. But in many instances he has not given us too many specific references. When we get to the vote-by-vote part of the estimates process I will be asking him for specifics in the various themes he touched on.
I note too that in terms of areas of concern which we as a political party have there are some items or topics conspicuous by their absence. Let me go to these in my remarks. Unfortunately, I do not have a typewritten statement, such as the minister has. I have reference notes, and I will gladly provide him with a copy of them if there is anything that needs clarification. These are simply reference notes for me. The same is true for the Hansard people who asked earlier this afternoon whether I had a prepared statement. My statement is based on these notes, and I will gladly provide a copy of the reference notes I am using.
However, let me get into some of the specifics that I think are conspicuous by their absence. I want first to dwell on the decline of our forest resources. It is very clear that the forests in Ontario are among our most significant economic factors. Forestry and forest products have an impact on Ontario at large in that they provide some 64,000 jobs with a payroll of approximately $1.5 billion; but in the north, the impact is much more pronounced. The forest industry accounts for 55 per cent of the manufacturing jobs in northern Ontario, 58 per cent of manufacturing wages, 57 per cent of total production and 58 per cent of value added, or a sum of $1.8 billion. That is the impact of the forest industry on the north. Therefore, we can neither deny it nor ignore it and I am puzzled by the minister’s rather light-handed treatment in any reference to the forest industry.
Beyond that impact on the north, more than 10 communities across the north of the province are wholly or in a majority sense, dependent on the forest industry. To safeguard northern Ontario jobs, it strikes me that the Ontario government must stop its present mining treatment -- that is dig it out, ship it away and not worry about replenishment -- of the forest industry.
It is our view that throughout the past three or four decades, the government mismanagement of the forestry industry has permitted the cutting of more trees than have been replaced. Therefore, many northern communities are facing imminent timber shortages. The problems in forest regeneration have been recognized and have been largely unaddressed since the early 1900s. What has been lacking has been the political will by the present government in Ontario to solve these problems.
Let us go back to 1975 and the Ontario Timber Revenue Task Force report, which concluded bluntly: “Given a continuance of the current level of regeneration, there is a distinct potential for timber shortages in the 1980s.”
Let us move up to 1980, when the Report on Wood Fibre Supply in Northern Ontario. by F. L. C. Reed, found that in all four northern regions of the Ministry of Natural Resources the mill requirements of the integrated pulp and paper companies were larger than the permitted harvest from their own timber limits. Reed projected that the situation would worsen over the next 20 years, when the annual allowable cuts would be reduced to more realistic levels.
A September 30, 1981, federal report, called A Forest Sector Strategy for Canada, stated that in Ontario a reduction of the annual allowable cut had already been made and others were likely because of a failure to adequately regenerate a large proportion of forest lands cut over during the previous decade. Shortages would become more widespread in the 1980s unless forest renewal performance improved dramatically.
In February 1981, a report of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment, entitled the Economic Future of the Forest Products Industry in Ontario, stated that “fibre supplies are not only insufficient to support additional manufacturing capacity, they are inadequate to support existing capacity without major improvements in utilization.”
Finally, the March 1983 report Canada’s Threatened Forests, by the Science Council of Canada, warned, “We have been felling, selling and shipping timber for so long and at such a rate that today a $23-billion industry is facing economic stagnation.” It also stated that without sharply increased spending on reforestation over the next 20 years the harvest will decline, causing mill closings and unemployment in up to 300 forestry communities. Again, that is a Canadian report going from coast to coast, involving 300 communities.
The total backlog of unregenerated cutover forest lands since 1971, according to our figures anyway, is over 1.4 million acres and growing at a rate of 180,000 acres per year. Of the 562,000 acres of total cutover in 1982-83, regeneration was undertaken on only 38 per cent of the land, a decline from 43 per cent in the previous year. Some 180,000 acres were left untreated, essentially written off. This unregenerated land has greatly increased from the 31,000 acres or 12 per cent of the cutover that fell into the unavailable for treatment class some 10 years ago in 1973-74.
I want to stop for a moment and anticipate that the minister might respond, if he had to right this instant, that this is a problem for the Ministry of Natural Resources and he would direct these criticisms and these comments to that minister. But I have to remind the Minister of Northern Affairs that he dwelt on the role he plays as a coordinator, as a lead minister, etc.
Certainly I do not think one can divorce or even separate the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources when one gets into themes such as reforestation. Beyond that, I would add that the record to which I have just referred in some detail makes a mockery of the government’s commitment.
Mr. Van Horne: Yes, there is a rebirth, but the same problem. The government did make a commitment in 1977 through its famous, or infamous if you will, Mr. Chairman, Brampton charter. I am sure you were more than passingly interested in politics when that famous document came down the pipe.
The Brampton charter of 1977 indicated that replacing at least two trees for every one harvested and regenerating every acre harvested was the promise of the government of Ontario. A promise made, a promise broken. Whatever happened to that famous Brampton charter? Clearly, this promise remains unfulfilled because of government mismanagement of this resource. Mills in areas such as Hearst, Chapleau, Thunder Bay, Nipigon and Atikokan, to name only a few, face serious shortages in wood supply.
It is ironic that the provincial government has chosen to designate the white pine -- I am shifting into another theme here -- as this province’s official tree. It provides a grim reminder of the government’s failed reforestation record. This tree, the white pine, which as recently as 20 years ago formed nearly one half of Ontario’s sawmill output, is now so depleted as to make it an endangered species, with but one single Ontario sawmill dedicated to its harvest.
I do not want to get into a further digression by asking about some kind of competition I understand took place for the designation of this particular tree. I wonder how much that little affair may have cost. When we consider the need to restrain ourselves, we have to wonder about expenditures of that sort. If there was no money spent on that, I would be delighted to find out that it was an effort free of any cost. What was the cost, if any, of designating the white pine as the province’s official tree?
Clear-cutting remains the predominant system of wood harvesting in Ontario, and in some regions virtual deserts of contiguous clear-cuts of up to 50,000 acres exist. A June 1976 government report had recommended that a clear-cut limit of 300 acres be imposed. Nevertheless, the recommended guideline was ignored because of the desire not to inconvenience the industry. Wasteful cutting practices remain unchecked by the government even though countless government studies have concluded that action must be taken to remove such waste if existing capacity is to be supported.
Current direct expenditures in Ontario on silviculture are about $22 million, of which the federal government provides about $1.4 million through cost-sharing agreements. An annual expenditure of about $45 million is required to meet the wood supply target. The current annual shortfall is $23 million.
To close the province’s regeneration gap, we must double our current regeneration program from about 197,000 acres up to about 395,000 acres. Moreover, in order to reverse the continuing depletion of our forest resources, a number of government initiatives are required. These are urgings of our party to the minister’s government. They are found in various references to our party policy, if the minister wants to get into that theme. Not only I, but my colleague the member for Rainy River would gladly accommodate such a debate, but these are points which we feel should be pursued, requirements we feel should be met.
First would be the regeneration of all cutover lands and backlog of unsatisfactory restocked crown lands. This would ensure adequate supplies to meet current demands and allow future expansion. The province must double its current regeneration program and its annual silviculture expenditures if we are to meet our wood supply target.
In 1974, 1976, 1977 and again in 1980, over one million hectares of productive forest land and timber were destroyed by fire. The Ontario government’s reluctant purchase of two CL-215 water bombers comes after a similar purchase was rejected at a lower cost in 1977 and after public pressure forced the cancellation of the Premier’s famous executive jet. Moreover, it fails to match Quebec’s air fleet of 15 such planes for forest fire suppression with, we understand, another four on order.
Another theme is research and development in support of forest renewal and intensive forest management, and increased funding for forestry schools, such as Lakehead University, which are facing severe budget cuts at a time of great demand again for silviculturists.
I want to shift into another area which is of concern to our party and that is the development of northern agriculture. The minister did make more reference to agriculture in his opening remarks than he did to the forestry industry, and again let me go through the reference notes I have here with a little ad libbing along the way.
We would point out, first, that northern Ontario should not have to be totally dependent on southern Ontario, or for that matter dependent on other provinces or the United States for the things that it could and should produce for itself. What we are saying in that statement is that there is a potential for agricultural development to meet some of the demands or needs of the north, a potential which has not been tapped adequately.
Northern Ontario’s agricultural potential is far greater than is at present being utilized. Of course, we feel the major obstacle to a more self-sufficient northern agricultural policy has been the lack of adequate provincial policy along with the accompanying financial incentives to develop that potential.
Northern Ontario contains over three million acres of unused crop land and it is favoured in the production of certain crops because of its climate. Moreover, the clay belt of northeastern Ontario possesses vast potential for crop production with millions of untapped arable acres of land. The potential for beef production in the north has also hardly been touched.
Let me digress for just a moment to point out to the minister that it was my pleasure to attend an agricultural conference in the spring of this year along with our critic the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell). We were quite impressed with the input the northern farmers made at the conference we attended in Kapuskasing.
I am a little surprised that in the minister’s remarks there was no detail on the potential of sheep farming in northern Ontario. Certainly on the day when the member for Huron-Middlesex and I attended, there was considerable discussion about that potential and considerable discussion about the market for sheep in an area such as Toronto. The ethnic communities of Metro Toronto require that food commodity, lamb. I am surprised there was not some detail. As we get into the vote-by-vote, perhaps the minister can make reference to the potential for sheep farming in the north.
Going back to my notes, even though the government has announced marketing studies since 1977 to examine the question of northern agricultural development, we have yet to see the introduction of any substantial programs to develop this potential, perhaps with the exception of the SPUD program that was mentioned by the minister earlier today.
What northern farmers are hearing is statements such as the one we found in the North Bay Nugget in September of this year which quotes Mr. Ediger, the executive director of the food land development branch in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. “As production efficiency increases, he said farmers won’t need as much land to produce the same amount of food.” He does not see any need for plans to open up more of the north to produce food and feed Canadians and the world.
We seem to find a problem in understanding what the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is saying in one breath and then what the Minister of Northern Affairs is saying in another. There is some kind of discrepancy in their comments.
Another observation is that northern farmers are still awaiting the introduction of the acreage improvement fund promised in the government’s Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program in 1981 for the upgrading of a million acres of northern and eastern Ontario land into high-quality farm land.
They are still awaiting the so-called northern agricultural strategy promised by the Minister of Agriculture and Food in a speech at Manitoulin Island last year. Perhaps the minister could inform us as to the status of this so-called strategy.
Of course, the farmers are still awaiting the promise in the throne speech this year. I think the minister touched on it. I would have to go back to his notes. But I would like a little more detail, if he could, on the long-term development of northern agricultural resources.
We in the Ontario Liberal Party believe a northern agricultural industry must be given much more emphasis than it is being given by this present government. Programs must be initiated to assist new farmers and to encourage production diversification by established firms.
There should also be better marketing of northern agricultural products to ensure the creation of a central distribution point in the north. An immediate study is needed to determine the feasibility of a grain handling facility in Timiskaming, which has doubled the number of acres of cereal crops in the past six years to more than 50,000 acres. Increased research must be undertaken for the development of crop varieties and management practices that offset the limitations of climate and soil in the northern regions. Finally, the expansion of available agricultural land must be achieved through a doubling of the present funds available for provincial low-interest tile drainage loans.
I will shift to another subject, one that has been ignored more often than addressed in this chamber -- the province’s role in the Whitedog mercury mediation dispute. This government has abdicated its moral responsibilities to the Indians of the Whitedog band whose fishing was wiped out by mercury pollution in the early 1970s. Hydro development, community relocation and industrial pollution have severely impaired the development of the Ojibway communities of Whitedog and Grassy Narrows to survive as viable economic entities.
Meanwhile, tourist operators and outfitters in the area have suffered ongoing hardship because of a controversy not of their making. The tragedy is that divisions between people and communities now run so deep that they militate against a just settlement of these matters.
It serves no one’s purpose to have these matters continue to be unresolved for many years. It is fully 26 years since hydro development caused flooding in the upriver Indian communities. It has been 20 years since the community of Grassy Narrows was severely dislocated. It has been 13 years since methyl mercury pollution contaminated the fish stock throughout the English-Wabigoon river system. Fully five years have passed since mediation efforts began to redress the damage caused by these events, which were beyond the control of the native people.
It is my understanding that today, November 14, the Honourable John Munro is meeting in Ottawa to determine the position of the Reed Paper Co. and Great Lakes, who have yet to make any settlement offer. I also understand a couple of cabinet colleagues of the Minister of Northern Affairs are attending that meeting. I am not sure he wants to verify that or whether he would be able to. However, I understand both the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Sterling) and the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) are attending in Ottawa with the federal minister today.
The involvement of the federal minister raises a question about the Ontario government’s actions. Having facilitated the sale of the Dryden mill to Great Lakes and having provided a guaranteed ceiling of 15 million on liabilities while picking up excess liabilities on behalf of both Reed and Great Lakes, why is the province unwilling to play any role whatsoever in seeing the victims, the Indian communities, get compensation from the two paper companies the province has assisted?
Maybe that statement bears some altering in the light of the debate today; I do not know. However, we on this side of the House say the injustice can no longer be allowed to continue. As Justice Patrick Hartt said in 1978, “What justification for immediate government action is required here other than common decency and the restoration of human dignity?” That is the plea, the call we would make to the government.
Mr. Van Horne: The matter of wild rice licences is something I would like to spend a moment or two on. I would ask the minister if he could indicate what is the status of the wild rice harvesting moratorium. We got into some debate on this last year. It seems that from year to year the debate goes on. It then seems to go on to a back burner or into some back room to be forgotten until the estimates roll around another year. Would the minister please bring us up to date with that wild rice harvesting moratorium, which I understand expired on May 1 this year?
The moratorium on issuing any new wild rice licences for a period of five years was accepted in 1978 when the interim report of the Royal Commission on the Northern Environment suggested that wild rice could be a key natural resource on which to base the Indian economy if proper water control devices were constructed. The five years between 1978 and 1983 have passed. Please let us know what the situation is.
In that same statement, part of the recommendation was that the government should provide assistance, for example, by examining the influence of water control structures on the productivity of harvests by appropriate research into improved growing and harvesting methods and by necessary training programs. When we get into the dollar expenditures, I wish the minister would indicate to us the process he follows when he gets into researching.
Is all the research farmed out? How much of it is done within the ministry? How much research does he get from other ministries? How does he determine whether or not what he is getting is adequate? What cross-checks or cross-references does he have for the research the ministry does? Going back to the recommendation on examining the influence of water control structures, I would like to ascertain whether there has been any action taken on that recommendation. If anything, the government’s lack of action has hindered the Indians from developing this resource as a base of their economy.
What about new wild rice licences? Are they going to be issued before the Indians’ rights to wild rice have been settled? Where are we going with that theme? Finally, what is the status of negotiations with the Indian bands and what does the government plan to do now that this moratorium has expired?
Let me go to a few other themes. In his remarks the minister did elaborate to a degree on the topic of single-resource communities. We all know that many of the economic problems that northern communities face from time to time are rooted in their dependence on single-resource industries. We know these industries are particularly prone to cyclical turn-downs as we have seen in recent years. Turn-downs, downturns, problems, whatever one wants to call them, the bottom falls out of the market and the community gets hammered.
I will digress for a moment. We all had the Sudbury example first and foremost in our minds in this last year because of the problems of the nickel industry across the North American continent. We are much aware of the problems nickel has in the auto industry, as just one example.
We have been told by the media there is a slight upturn in Sudbury. This past weekend I had occasion to be with some people from that particular community who were visiting the University of Western Ontario. I am going to digress even further and point out that one of the members of the University of Western Ontario diving team is a resident of Sudbury. He is a third-year student who has transferred to Western, an excellent athlete by the name of Larry Ross, who is doing a good job. He is attending the university as a student and diver. Also, on occasion he provides me with information and insights on the north that I might otherwise not have.
Some of his colleagues and I were chatting on the weekend. They are still concerned about the Inco situation and what might happen to Sudbury another five or 10 years down the road if the nickel industry continues to suffer.
Looking at the report presented in the spring of this year on the government’s intention to assist single-industry communities, we think it has fallen short of the mark. From what we can see, the government is not providing much more than a counselling service or an advisory group service for these communities.
I think they are resilient enough to be able to come up with some answers. From time to time we see mayors, reeves and representatives of northern communities in the gallery. They come to Toronto to discuss their problems with the government. I am sure the government would agree that when they get down here they can come up with some legitimate suggestions.
On the other hand, I am sure there are occasions when the government’s sources and resources provide insights into economics and industry that many northern communities may never have thought of. I would expect the government would provide a little more than it indicated when it made its report in June of this year. The report I am referring to is about assistance for single-industry towns, which was referred to by the minister on June 14, 1983.
Again going to the notes I have in front of me, after boasting that the ministry had for six years been providing assistance for transportation, water and sewer projects in the north, assistance which is provided as a matter of course to all municipalities in the province, the minister went on to say $750,000 would be made available “to allow our professional staff help communities become aware of and get in touch with other government agencies providing specific industrial development support programs.”
That is really the specific I would quarrel with. That statement I just read was a direct quote from the minister. To me, that is far too general. I think the government has an obligation to be much more specific when it is talking about assisting single-industry communities in the north.
That seems to be the extent of the long-awaited community economic development program, an amount of money equal to three hours’ worth of interest on the provincial debt, to provide services. In other words, the $750,000 the minister is talking about is nothing more or less than what it costs us in Ontario to pay the interest for three hours on our provincial debt. That is really what the minister is providing for the north and that is what we are saying is far from adequate.
Mr. Van Horne: If he is saying he is going to provide a $750,000 counselling service, I am saying that is not adequate. If he can give me specifics, then I might be able to sit down and say, “All right, those specifics should be worth $7 million, $8 million, $10 million or $20 million.”
Beyond that, the minister makes it awkward for us on occasion because some of the in-house things he uses to help himself to come up with answers are never shared with the House. I think last year we asked the minister, and I am going to ask him again, about the in-house interministerial committee on single-resource-industry communities.
A report was done, and my understanding is that the particular committee was established some three or four years ago. It did its work, but other than statements made by the minister at random, how are we to know what is in there? Is this so secret? Is the north so secret that the minister cannot share the report with us? Did the minister by chance send over an envelope some day when I happened to be away and I never got it? Did the minister share that with us, or is it still one of his secret documents? We cannot help him if we do not know what --
Mr. Van Horne: Let me get into one or two more themes and then turn the floor over to the member for Lake Nipigon so that he can get his remarks at least started today. He probably will not conclude because I know on occasion he is inclined to be very detailed in his remarks and requires considerable time to do them justice.
Let me go on to one or two other themes and then I will stop. Let me ask the minister about the log-hauling situation in the north. In the fall of 1982 and the spring of 1983, there was considerable controversy. Questions were raised in the House by both opposition parties and questions were raised in the media about the status of log hauling in northern Ontario. Can the minister provide us with an update on the recommendations contained in the report of the ad hoc committee on log hauling in Ontario?
We know there was a considerable number of recommendations in that report. How many of them are being adopted? How many of those recommendations is the minister’s colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications considering bringing in through his ministry if. in fact, he is considering any of them? Again, this is a critical problem for those people who are in the forestry industry and for those travelling the roads of the north. I think something should be said by the minister before these estimates are completed.
I want to touch on another theme. My colleagues the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) and the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. A. Reed) on many occasions have prodded the government on the renewable energy development theme. Again, I am sure the member for Lake Nipigon will want to address a few remarks to this, but let me ask a very few questions about renewable energy development.
We talked about this last year, and I stressed the need to develop the alternative energy resources which are available in the north. Northern Ontario has six viable energy sources which have unlimited potential for future development: peat, lignite, hydroelectric power, wood, uranium and, of course, wind power.
Ontario has the third largest resource of peat fuel in the world. Peat is already widely used as a fuel in Europe. I should digress again for a moment and recall the visit the minister, the member for Lake Nipigon and I made to Quebec last year. It was about this time of the year that we visited and discussed with officials of Hydro-Québec their plans for the use of peat. What has happened between that time and now? Where is that development? Where is Ontario’s thinking in relation to that particular development?
We feel it is very unfortunate that Ontario Hydro has chosen to cancel its plans for the development of some 17 small hydraulic sites across this province of ours, most of them in the north. The leading site for new hydraulic generating development was Little Jackfish River, north of Lake Nipigon. Plans for this 140-megawatt, $400-million plant were shelved in January of this year. Again, the member for Lake Nipigon will also probably be asking questions on that cancelled development.
Ontario Hydro has chosen to cancel the development of the Onakawana lignite reserve in the James Bay area. This cancellation came after years of government studies and promises that these deposits would be developed. Could the minister give us a little bit of elaboration on that? Has Ontario Hydro shared with him fully the details of that particular project and the reasons for its cancellation?
Further, reference was made in the throne speech to the fact that the Ministry of Northern Affairs would co-ordinate programs to stimulate and encourage pilot projects using peat and waste wood. Could the minister indicate how many such pilot projects have been developed, or was that reference in the throne speech just so many words?
The government response to alternative energy development in the north has been inadequate, it would seem. An all-out effort to develop these resources would not only provide the energy, but in addition would act as a great boost to the economy of northern Ontario.
I have one or two other random themes. The concern the government has on occasion -- I would have to say seldom -- for education in the north is one on which I would have wished the minister had elaborated in his remarks. If he is not able to do so in the next day or so, I would hope he would check with his colleague the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) to see just what in heaven’s name this government is going to do to assist the educators and, more important, the students of northern Ontario in their studies in elementary and secondary schooling. How can they meet the demands put on them by the government with the new Ontario Schools: Intermediate/Senior curriculum guidelines for secondary school programming? What are they going to do with the post-secondary education system in northern Ontario?
We get one report after another saying something contradictory. As the minister said in response to me just a few moments ago, the proof is in the pudding. Let me give him a little bit of pudding back from this side of the House.
Here is a statement that comes from a northern Ontario newspaper from, I believe, October 1983. I will have to check this when I conclude these remarks, because the photocopy has cut off the month of the year. The article is headed, “Ontario Is Where the Resources Are.” The opening paragraph in this article reads as follows:
“What makes northern Ontario strong and prosperous? Answer: Natural resources. What makes northern Ontario’s two universities” -- that is, Lakehead and Laurentian -- “and their mining and forestry programs in particular so unique? Answer: Proximity to these resources. Where does the provincial government want to establish a resource research centre? Answer: Why, at the University of Toronto, of course.”
This sort of thing just blows the mind of any intelligent person who tries to sit down and accommodate in his or her thinking the problems that are faced in northern Ontario post-secondary institutions. How can one resolve this kind of dilemma? I do not know. I would like the minister to address some of his remarks in response to this particular problem.
Mr. Van Horne: The member for Nipigon says the Minister of Education beat him out. This must have been quite a slugfest, because the Minister of Education is no small force to contend with, in physical size or anything else for that matter. That is perhaps unfair, because she is not here to defend herself. I am sure the Minister of Northern Affairs will apprise her of my remarks and she will come back and give me what-for in the hallway tomorrow. I just hope she stays off my bad foot.
The other observation I would like to make is with respect to the Parrott commission report on the structure for the proposed new university in northeastern Ontario. In this report, we find a certain lack of reference to the dollar problems. I just wonder what kind of debate is going on now in terms of accommodating the dollar problems of the post-secondary institutions in the north in general and specifically in this Parrott commission report. What comments can the minister give to us about the funding of post-secondary education in northern Ontario?
The whole theme of health services in northern Ontario is one that is of grave concern to us, as I am sure it is to the minister. He talked about some of the peripheral things, such as ambulance service. I know that is critical, but in terms of the actual work going on within the hospital or within the community, I would call it peripheral. Again, I do not say that in a disparaging way.
A year ago, our party spent considerable time and effort in trying to assess the needs of the health system in Ontario -- not just the north, but in Ontario -- from the Quebec border to the Manitoba border, from the Great Lakes right up to the bays. We attempted to be objective and fair in the observations we made about the delivery and what is needed to improve it.
Mr. Van Horne: Has the minister not got a copy? I find that passing strange, because a year ago other members of the cabinet were certainly quick to respond within a few days. The then Minister of Health was quick to criticize this, and others of his colleagues were quick to criticize it. I will see that he has a copy shortly.
I would like to refer to one or two of the themes we touched on in this report. One of those themes was the delivery of psychiatric assistance or care in northern communities. I have made reference to this report being a 1982 report, one presented in the summer of 1982. This past summer, in 1983, the press was quite alert and curious to find out which of these recommendations had been acted on in the course of the past year. We were sad to report that, as far as northern Ontario is concerned and the various problems we identified in northern Ontario, only three of them had received any significant attention in the north.
One area was the cancer treatment unit in Sudbury. The government was quick to jump on that and did provide some assistance. But again, and I am going by what I hear from people in Sudbury, there are still significant needs in accommodating patients from that part of the country who have cancer problems. The other two areas that were addressed in terms of recommendations in this report come from the Thunder Bay area and, I believe, from just outside Sault Ste. Marie; I would have to check the exactness of that.
One of the major themes was the need for psychiatric assistance. I could go on with the others, but in fairness, if the minister does not have the report, I will not dwell on them now. I will deal with them as we go through his dollar expenditures. But there is still a crying need for the provision of assistance to people with psychiatric problems in northern Ontario.
I also wanted to ask very briefly why there is no more detail in so far as alternative travel methods in northern Ontario are concerned. That theme was addressed early in his comments. I had intended to make reference to studies that have been done in England, for example. If the rail service is pulling out, we are all upset. I have to tell the minister I read his remarks and the remarks of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. He indicated he was upset with the federal government and with Via Rail. I can find those comments in the October 31 issue of the publication Background. Both he and the Minister of Transportation and Communications are quoted.
I could offer the same criticism. That bothers me very much both as an Ontarian and as a person whose ancestors were directly involved with the rail industry. I can lay claim to an ancestor who helped to put the rail system across Canada. Sir William Cornelius Van Horne is the person to whom I make reference. I am proud of that ancestor. It bothers me that the rail service would be either cut down or cut out. Both of those things are happening in northern Ontario.
When I ask during my rambling to get more detail from the minister, let us take a look at a little clipping from the February 1983 issue of a magazine called Mass Transit. The article to which I am referring is headed, “When You Look at the Options You Will Find There Is No Alternative.” Reference is specifically made here to Northern Ireland railways and British Rail’s choice of an alternative method of transport, the BRE-Leyland rail bus.
The minister on occasion sings the praises of the Urban Transportation Development Corp. and other of the research facilities, but is he looking at alternatives such as this? If the minister does not have this document, I will have it photocopied and share it with him. It is not necessarily the only answer, but it may be the answer for some communities that have had problems; this was the alternative British Rail and Northern Ireland found.
It is fine to take a shot at Via Rail, and I will join the minister in taking shots at it. I will also join him if he wants to take a shot at the feds because they cannot summarily dispose of the north by saying, “It is too costly; cut it out.” But rather than criticizing, we have to take a positive attitude. We must point out alternatives if Via Rail or the feds have fallen short of meeting the needs. Perhaps on occasion we members of the opposition fall short of the mark by simply criticizing, but quite often we try to point out alternatives if we find something wrong.
Here is one thing we found that could be an alternative. Let us take a look at it; let us give them a shot. At the same time let us give the people in the north an alternative to think about. We cannot talk long enough, in the few hours we have in this debate, about the problems the north faces in terms of transportation. I know those members who reside in the north and who have spent most if not all of their lives there take some things for granted. But perhaps when some things have to be changed they go by without too much criticism because it is perceived to be progress -- something that just had to happen.
These are viewpoints from someone whose permanent home is not in the north; one who has to find the best way around for himself when he gets there. Sometimes I goof by not finding the best bus route or the best way of getting there; I do not have the luxury of government aircraft or things like that to move me about. Sometimes when I am dropped off in the north, I borrow cars provided through the courtesy of some of my Liberal friends in the north; they will find a car I can borrow.
But when one is stuck, one is really stuck -- in spades. In southern Ontario one can usually find a way around the problem, but it is really tough in the north when one finds oneself stranded in a small community without transportation. This has happened to me on occasion.
Mr. Van Horne: I have done that too. I have enjoyed not only the roads but also finding out what it is like to be in something other than a hotel, a motel or a private home. To accommodate that, we have camped. The first time I ran into Pancake Lake, I left in an awful hurry because the water was so cold I could hardly stand it.
Mr. Van Horne: Not only did I try to swim but we also took some wonderful pictures of some of the plants and wildlife that one simply does not find in southern Ontario. At any rate, I am getting off theme, and I do not want to make all this sound as if I am a member of the minister’s fan club. I think I should get back to the critical theme for a moment or two.
in my view, the minister has a scope as wide as any minister could want. I think there is a need for him to offer some more specifics for the north. it is fine to be the nice guy. I have not heard too many people say the minister is a nasty man or anything like that. But there are some who wonder a little bit about the attention given to whatever has to be done to be re-elected as opposed to what has to be done to accommodate the north.
I think on occasion we get a little bit concerned about the window-dressing that goes on up there. Take, for example, the little picnic for the minister up in northern Ontario this summer. I do not begrudge anyone doing that. We have our fund-raising things and so on, but I have yet to invite the cardinal to any of my fund-raising affairs or my little social gatherings. I am just curious, maybe the minister would like --
Mr. Van Horne: I am just wondering about that, in response to the interjection of the member for Lake Nipigon. I am sure he paid his own way up. He would not have gone up in a government aircraft, but perhaps the minister would like to give us a little more detail on the cardinal’s visit. I will leave that up to the minister.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Chairman, first of all, I would like to thank the member for London North for his complimentary remarks. When we get into estimates like this or when we deal with natural resources or anything specifically pertaining to the north, I always get involved. These are issues I feel very strongly about and will continue to do so even after I depart this place. So I want to thank the member for his kind remarks.
I also want to associate myself with the remarks made by the minister in his introductory comments about those people who sit under the gallery. They do not have an opportunity in a setting like this that they otherwise might have if these estimates were held in committee, where the proceedings are much less formal and which gives us an opportunity to ask questions of senior personnel within the ministry. I do not know why those who order things around here always schedule these estimates for the House as opposed to, as I say, a much less formal setting in committee where we have an opportunity for a much freer exchange of opinions.
I am sure it does not make much difference to the member for London North which days we schedule these estimates, but it also has occurred to me that we always schedule them for a Monday afternoon and a Friday morning for people coming from the north. I usually try to be here five days a week, but it is passing strange that whether it is the government House leader, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) or the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), when they set about scheduling these things, they always arrange to have the Northern Affairs critics here first thing on Monday and last thing on Friday. We are always here, but personally I object.
I also welcome the invitation by the minister to have us make constructive suggestions as to the way in which his ministry can be much more effective in terms of its responsibilities in northern Ontario, and I intend to do that. Most of my comments will be constructive, but I have always felt that one really did not have the right to criticize until one came up with a positive alternative, a better way of doing things. I intend to do that, but if by way of reinforcing my comments I become a bit negative by way of example, I am sure the House, the minister and his staff will forgive me.
I sense that in the past seven years since this ministry has been functioning in the north, at the outset we felt it was an experiment worth while trying and let us give it some time to work its way into the things that it could do much better than any other ministry, either in a leading function or as a co-ordinator or an expediter, one that would cut out bureaucracy and red tape, and give it an opportunity to see whether or not it was a proper vehicle for the delivery of services to that part of Ontario north of the French River where we have less than one tenth of the province’s population, but about five sixths of the geography.
Mr. Stokes: I am not sure what the figures are, but every time we buy a gallon of gas or a litre of fuel oil, every time we pay anything where the provincial sales tax applies, I know we pay a proportionately much higher rate of tax in the north than is paid in the south because, as the member well knows, the retail sales tax is based on the retail selling price of an article. There are very few things one can buy more cheaply in the north than in the south, so to that extent the member is right.
I want to say that one cannot stand still in any endeavour. One cannot reach the pinnacle and just by either sitting there or spinning one’s wheels feel one is doing something useful, productive and worth while. I sense in this ministry -- I was going to use the terms “apathy” and “complacency,” but this ministry has done some good things. The planning of roads, for example, the work and the maintenance, was usually done by the old Department of Highways, now the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
The funds for that and the priority setting for those activities now rests with this ministry, and I do not quarrel with who should do it. All I know is that whenever I want to get any information with regard to road projects, whenever I want to get any information about maintenance problems, I do not call this ministry. It would be futile to call this ministry because it is not on top of those things on a daily basis.
That is still the responsibility of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. I do not quarrel about whether the millions and millions of dollars that are appropriated for new construction and maintenance fall within this ministry or the other. When we are dealing with transportation problems in the north, of necessity we have to deal with MTC on a daily basis.
There was a different thrust -- the minister is wont to use that word -- with regard to social services. He does get involved in the construction of extended care beds and ambulance services. When listening to the minister in his opening comments I thought it was ironic to hear him say how wonderful the services were; everything was just fine and dandy.
I wish the member for Cochrane North were here because I would like to quote from the lead editorial in the Northern Times, which I understand is published in Kapuskasing and owned, if not operated, by the member for Cochrane North. It is very convenient he is not here. I find it ironic that the minister was patting himself on the back for the forward look this ministry is taking and how it is co-ordinating all the health needs of residents of northern Ontario.
The headline is, “Air Ambulance Cuts May Cost More in Other Areas.” The story reads: “It is quite reasonable for administrators to seek means of keeping expenses in check, particularly when costs are outstripping the budget. The trick is to impose cuts in the proper areas.
“The health emergency branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health found it was spending more on air ambulance services in the north than had been anticipated. To try and stay within its budget, the department ordered medical attendants not to log any overtime.” That means you cannot get sick after hours.
“The measure means that hospitals evacuating patients between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. must provide their own medical personnel to accompany the patients. They must also send along all necessary equipment. Obviously, hospitals cannot be expected to do this at no cost to them.
“Since hospitals get their funding from the same ministry as the air ambulance program, there is little reasoning behind the cuts. If the hospitals are able to absorb the added expense without cutting their own programs, then the air ambulance branch will have come up with a brilliant plan.
“But where this does not happen, the ministry will be asked to increase funding. It is quite possible the end result will be a greater expense for the province than if the air ambulance attendants had been permitted to continue logging overtime, or better yet. if additional personnel had been hired for the night shift.”
I could go on and quote the member for Cochrane North who thinks it is a little stupid for the emergency services branch of the Ministry of Health to be cutting back, thereby putting the onus on the hospitals who in turn have to ask another section of the Ministry of Health for the necessary funds to carry on the services that are being abdicated by the emergency health branch of the Ministry of Health.
The point I am trying to make is that of late this ministry has done yeoman service in assisting in the provision of health services for the north in a variety of fields, in the recruitment of professionals and paramedics, in the provision of that excellent ambulance service and in extended care.
But when we see this kind of thing happening -- and I am sure the minister must be aware it is happening; the member for Cochrane North is doing his job, I am sure he has brought this incident to the attention of the minister.
Let me give another example. A week ago last Saturday, I was invited to Long Lake Indian Reserve 58, an Indian reserve on the outskirts of the town of Longlac. The night before, I attended a meeting in Nakina concerning the Nakina runthrough. That is something I want to get to. I travelled to Long Lake and about 15 minutes before the festivities, the sod-turning ceremonies, were to get under way, who shows up but the diminutive parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Northern Affairs, the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy), with a great big knee-length parka on and his pipe. He was there for the official opening, the sod-turning ceremony.
It is almost a $4-million project where they are hooking up Long Lake Indian Reserve 58 for water and sewage with the township of Longlac. Most of the money came from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. About $800,000 came from the Department of Regional Economic Expansion and about $110,000 from this ministry. I was happy to see people there from DIAND and DREE at the federal level, and our colleague the member for Fort William.
Mr. Stokes: Yes, one shovel. We were not too successful. We got a little bit of dirt and had our pictures taken. It took all of about one minute and 30 seconds. We were advised all the speechmaking and laudatory comments were going to be made at the Woodlands Inn in town later on.
The chap who was representing DREE took off and away he went. The member for Fort William said, “This is just a federal boondoggle anyway,” so he jumped in his car and he took off. There I was with people from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development carrying the ball for all those dignitaries who came in to get their picture taken for the sod-turning ceremony.
It might sound picky even raising a matter like that in this House, but a local person such as Francesco Morelli, an excellent northern affairs officer whom I am happy to call friend -- I think he is doing an excellent job on the minister’s behalf -- Francesco Morelli and I, a contractor and a couple of bureaucrats from Indian Affairs were there to make sure that the native people who had worked so long and hard to get this project under way and make them feel they were doing something worth while. We were there to support them and to say how appreciative we were of the work they had done on behalf of their band members.
However, it does not serve us well when we have somebody who drives 180 miles in a big car and spends one minute and 30 seconds in a little picture-taking ceremony and we are all invited over for dinner and he says, “Thanks, but no thanks.” That is just not the way to do it. The minister knows how he is received if he goes into one of those northern communities and says, “I have 10 or 15 minutes, or an hour.” He knows what is going to happen if he goes into Sandy Lake or North Spirit Lake or any of those communities and tells them he has 10 or 15 minutes or even a hour. They will say, “Why did you bother coming?”
That is just not the way we operate in the north. I think everybody should know that even if the minister brings a few people up to carry the weight during the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association conferences we have once a year, if he goes into a bearpit session and does not have more than an hour to spend with them, he knows what he is going to be told. If he goes to a joint chamber of commerce meeting in northwestern Ontario he knows what he is going to be told.
Why does the Minister of Northern Affairs not make it a point to have cabinet meetings in the north for a couple of days, maybe one in northwestern Ontario, or in the Sault Ste. Marie area, or in northeastern Ontario? It is not just a glad-handing kind of exercise, it is an exercise where people feel they are being heard, they have an opportunity to be constructive, as the minister has just offered us here in this assembly. There are so many ways we could break down the barriers of misunderstanding.
I am not being critical of any one of those ministers over there, but I am sure if the newly appointed boys were to go up to many areas where we have environmental problems or Ministry of Revenue problems it would be a whole new experience for them. Not only would the people in the north feel they were a part of this whole exercise where we spend $23 billion a year of their money, but if we got them, the new boys along with the old boys, up there they could listen first hand to the very things the member for London North was talking about, the very things the minister was talking about. Then the people up there will believe we are truly interested in sharing their problems and concerns and coming up with constructive suggestions as to how we can improve the quality of life in northern Ontario.