Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in accordance with section 88 of the Election Act I have today laid upon the table the interim report on the late opening of the polls in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
Mr. Wildman: I want to bring to the House’s attention the Operation Falcon fiasco and to state that in our view the provincial government should institute a formal government investigation as quickly as possible into this whole matter.
As a result of this so-called investigation, two wildlife smugglers appear to have escaped criminal charges while, at the same time, 96 charges have been laid against residents of this country, all of which have failed.
For the sake of preservation of Canadian wildlife and Canadian civil liberties, a number of questions must be answered so that the mistakes of Operation Falcon are not repeated. The Ministry of Natural Resources must make clear exactly what its role was in this operation, what was the cost to the Treasury and the number of man-hours that were expended. It must be made clear why the Ministry of Natural Resources would print and circulate a report including accusations which were unsubstantiated by evidence against Ontario conservationists and business people, which led to serious injury to their personal reputations.
Mr. Sterling: Over the last week, this government has released two questionable reports on the free trade agreement. If we accept the statement of the Premier (Mr. Peterson) that he wants to bring a degree of intellectual rigour to this discussion -- a view which is not shared by his Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms. Munro), I might add -- then obviously these reports are not a crass political attempt to sway public opinion. No, they are simply badly researched written documents.
To assist the Premier and “the minister against trade” and their bureaucrats in dealing with their obvious deficiency in this area, I have purchased for the Premier a book. It is entitled The Report Writer’s Manual and it was written by two college professors from Oakville. It has startling bits of information in it like, “What is a report?” “How can you recognize a report?” and “Making a report professional.”
Among other things, it explains what a footnote is and how a footnote is used to separate facts from the report writer’s opinions. The Premier will know that yesterday’s report had a grand total of four footnotes, denoting an impartial source -- the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology -- in the bulk of the written report.
I am glad to send this manual over to the Deputy Premier (Mr. R. F. Nixon). Perhaps he can share it with “the minister against trade” so that we can finally get some neutral and professional opinions on the free trade agreement.
Mr. McGuigan: It is a tradition in this Legislature to honour an Ontarian who has acquired world-class status in his or her chosen field. We have recognized Professor Polanyi for his efforts in science and Ben Johnson for his accomplishments in sports.
Today I ask the House to join me in congratulating another world champion. She is 13-year-old Karen Lugtigheid of Blenheim. Karen is the youngest ever to win the Ontario world soybean championship judged at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Her entry required many hours of growing, sorting and polishing for her to be judged world champion and receive the award, which was presented this morning at the winter fair grounds.
Karen is continuing a family tradition. Her brother Peter won the world championship last year and her brother David won two years in a row. All are members of the Blenheim 4-H Craft Club and deserve recognition in this House as world-class competitors.
I ask members to join me in congratulating her family; her parents, John and Joan; and of course Karen, her 4-H club members and her friends at the Calvin Christian School where Karen is a grade 8 student.
Mr. Swart: My statement is particularly for the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. R. F. Nixon). This morning I was contacted by the wife of a man whom the insurance companies have found guilty of making an illegal left turn or not giving the right of way even though the courts have yet to deal with his case. Both this man and his employer fear reprisals from the insurance company involved, so I will not use their names, although we talked to both parties.
Mr. X is losing his job because of plant closure and had secured a part-time job as a driver. It was to be full-time when he would no longer be at the plant. Because of his accident, his new employer’s insurer says premiums on the vehicle will increase by $5,000 per year, even though Mr. X was driving his own car at the time of the accident. With this additional premium, the employer cannot afford to keep Mr. X; thus, his part-time job and dream of a new full-time employment are gone.
The jobs of numerous other drivers in Ontario are jeopardized in the same manner. Not only do the insurance companies, which this Liberal government so unashamedly defends, have more to do with who drives on our roads than the law does, they frequently determine who can work. This government must stop playing Charlie McCarthy for the insurance companies and end this kind of insurance terrorism against people who by law are still innocent of what is at most a minor offence.
Mr. Villeneuve: A week ago I asked the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Grandmaître) why seniors retired on nonactive farms had had their tax burdens increased. I have received calls and letters about this problem and letters have appeared in the local weekly and daily papers.
In response, the minister conjured up some illusions. He said he had been generous and implied that these seniors were receiving even more money. The truth is that they are not. The information the minister gave this House was clearly not correct, but I believe it was not deliberately meant to be so. The minister’s staff is now aware of the problem.
The effect is that a senior who has retired on a nonproducing farm must now pay the entire tax on the farm land. The senior’s eligibility for a tax grant on the property has been taken away for everything except the house and one acre. Seniors in this forgotten category have not been able to rent out their farm acreage and do not have the gross farm income to qualify under the farm tax rebate program. As a result, if a senior has 100 acres of farm land, he or she must pay full taxes.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will not let the house be severed and the senior ends up stuck in a vicious, bureaucratic circle. The minister must look into restoring seniors’ property tax grants for this category of senior. This discriminatory practice must be corrected at once.
Mr. Morin-Strom: The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) and the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) must respond to serious concerns about the incineration practices at the two hospitals in Sault Ste. Marie and the resulting environmental hazard that is posed for local residents.
Under a new Ministry of the Environment regulation, hospitals must incinerate pathological and infectious wastes rather than dumping them. However, the ageing hospital incinerators, especially at the Plummer Memorial Public Hospital, are not capable of meeting ministry standards. MOE officials admit that ash particles from the incinerators are frequently seen floating around the hospital neighbourhood.
Dr. Joseph Cummins, the University of Western Ontario genetics professor who has studied problems of hospital incinerators, has stated that if any ashy substance is released from an incinerator, it should be shut down because the substance could cause cancer and birth defects. Algoma’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Charles Eaid, has insisted that emission samples be tested to ensure the public’s health and safety. Inexplicably, the Ministry of the Environment officials now say that extensive tests are unlikely because of the cost. Meanwhile, tests are going on or are beginning on seven incinerators in southern Ontario.
Clearly, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health should get together immediately on this issue to protect the environment and health of Sault residents. Responsible action is needed now. Why must we be left at risk?
Mr. Jackson: Bill 98, which is a bill passed in this House back on June 26, radically amended legislation to assist families that had vaccine-damaged children so as to prevent recurrences in this province. When the Minister of Health tables her Health Promotion Matters in Ontario, I hope she will be as concerned with style as she will be with the process and will honour the government’s commitment, as contained in Bill 98, to ensure that we have a proper adverse-reaction reporting mechanism established through her ministry.
In the total absence of support from the government, the Ontario Medical Association is to be congratulated for providing leadership in this very sensitive area, which is clearly set out in the most recent OMA bulletin, which says, “We challenge the ministry to provide positions in health units with the resources required to fulfil these new obligations.”
Mr. Brandt: The question I have is to the Minister of Northern Development. It is in regard to the report that was released identifying certain import-sensitive industries in Ontario, which the minister may recall was released by his colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter).
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: In answer to the leader of the third party, I just came back from the north today. If he is talking about the last report yesterday, I saw what was on TV but I did not read it. That is all I can say at this point.
Mr. Brandt: To be of some assistance to the minister, in the report that was released by his colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, it was pointed out very clearly that a very substantial number of industries in northern Ontario would benefit from free trade and that there would be a rather significant amount of employment and job enhancement as a result of those industries, which are very sensitive to exports in terms of their continued viability.
With that being the operative part of the report that I wanted to bring to the minister’s attention, will he then indicate to his cabinet colleagues and to the government his support for a trade agreement that will create jobs in northern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: I was in Thunder Bay on the weekend with the cabinet subcommittee on free trade and I know what the member for Sarnia (Mr. Brandt) is talking about with regard to pulp and paper and mining. As for the sawmills people, last Friday they did not come out that strongly for free trade on account of the fact that they are still under the 15 per cent. They were not exempt; so the sawmills are not gaining at all.
At this point I can tell him -- he should know because he was on this side of the House for a long time -- that the forests in Ontario are at the maximum of production. I do not see any more sawmills and I do not see any more pulp mills. There will probably be one in Wawa if everything falls in good place; the study is positive not because of softwood but because we are going to use hardwood for the newspaper.
Another question the pulp and paper people did not answer for me was about fine paper. Fine paper could be a problem. The answer was that some will suffer and some will survive. We all know that. As for mining, they are all for it, but we knew that from the beginning. On the government side, as a minister I have to look at what is best for Ontario too.
Mr. Harris: This minister is supposed to speak for the north. He is supposed to defend northern interests. He is supposed to defend northern jobs. He does not even know that the report released yesterday, as flawed and biased as it tried to be, stated clearly that the north of this province will benefit substantially from a free trade agreement and in fact from the free trade agreement that has been negotiated.
He says there is no more wood in the Lake Temagami area. Of course, there is lots of wood; he will not let people cut it. He stated there were no problems with that mill; now we know that mill is shut down. Everybody is laid off in the plant, all the graders and what not. There is a little bit going on in the bush.
When is the minister going to keep up with his government? He supposedly sits at the cabinet table, supposedly at the priorities board or whatever they call their inner cabinet or inner sanctum. When is he going to speak up on behalf of northern Ontario? Why will he not now speak up on behalf of the north and support the free trade agreement, at least as it pertains to northern Ontario, as is his job?
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: About Temagami, the member for Nipissing should get his facts straight. He knows things about Temagami that I do not have to mention in this House; he knows that himself. The problem with the mill in Temagami has nothing to do with the forest. The problem started in 1982 and he knows it, so why does he bring that up over there?
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: I will tell the member for Nipissing that on Temagami he should tell the truth to this House. He does not want to tell the truth about Temagami and the sawmill there. There is a problem with the wood allocation, but there are other financial problems too, and he knows that. He should tell the truth in this House about the sawmill.
Mr. Harris: Is it my right to ask the Speaker? I think the minister pretty clearly implied it. I stated the mill in Temagami was shut down. If that is incorrect, then perhaps he could explain it to the 200 workers who are out of work. If it is not, perhaps he could apologize to this House.
Mr. Speaker: I cannot say what the minister said. I do not believe the member for Nipissing stated the exact words the minister used, so I am not aware. Does the minister have any comment he would wish to make?
L’hon. M. Fontaine: Si je dois m’excuser, je vais m’excuser. Mais j’ai seulement demandé au député de Nipissing qu’il dise la vérité par rapport au moulin de Temagami. Au moulin de Temagami, il y a deux problèmes. Il y a le problème de la location du bois et un problème de finances. C’est une chose qui existe depuis six ans; alors, il devrait le savoir. C’est dans ce sens-là que j’ai dit qu’il devrait dire la vérité.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I listened very carefully, and my decision is that in my view the minister did clarify the fact. It was very close to saying the member did not give out the truth, but that is very close.
Mr. B. Rae: Perhaps I could tell the Premier there are over 27,000 families who are now on the waiting list in Ontario. Given that fact, which he was not aware of, I wonder if the Premier can explain how it is that the government in the last year underspent its budget with respect to community housing by nearly $41 million. Given a waiting list of that size, the number of families who are living in basements and the number of kids who are sleeping next to water heaters, can he explain how it is conceivable that it is possible for the government to have underspent money that was appropriated by the government of Ontario to the tune of nearly $50 million total?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I certainly recognize the problem and I apologize to my honourable friend that I did not have the precise figure at my fingertips. My honourable friend is right; there is a major problem.
Plans have been put into place. Unfortunately, they could not all be taken up in the first year. My honourable friend will recognize that we have an awful lot of work to do in that area, as does this government. We think the plans have been laid and they are in very good hands, and we will see some real results for this in the not-too-distant future.
Mr. B. Rae: It is absolutely intolerable that there would be families living in the conditions that there are in the province today and have a government that allocates money and then does not spend it. The Premier should know the money that was not spent could have provided for as many as 10,000 subsidized spaces in co-op and nonprofit housing in this province. That is 10,000 families who could have been helped who were not helped by this government, and that is not acceptable to us.
Specifically with regard to this question of underspending, would the Premier at least make the commitment that the money which was not spent and not directly invested in housing will be brought forward from last year and at least invested this year so that those families will not have to wait, so that the waiting list can finally be eliminated once and for all in Ontario and so that families who need to find housing will at last get it?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The way the budgeting operates in the province, there is not a carry-forward from one year to the next year, and I am sure the member will be aware of that. That being said, I think he will see that an enormous number of programs have been undertaken that I think will make a real difference. I do not try to minimize the problem for a moment; it is a serious problem. But I think the minister has this in hand and I think the member will see some real results.
Mr. Breaugh: I would like to ask the Premier what his response has been to those tenants who sent a letter to him in August of this year. These were tenants who sat on the Rent Review Advisory Committee. They pointed out that a loophole in the rent review law now allows developers and landlords to flip buildings and get a guaranteed return of any loss of investment they might have.
Despite the recommendations that came forward from that committee and from the legislative committee that dealt with that particular piece of legislation that this should not happen, the bill has been written in such a way that it now does happen. What has been the Premier’s response to those tenants?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Frankly, I am not familiar with the problem the member is raising in the House. I am willing to look into it and come back and discuss it with my honourable friend and share it with the members of the House.
Mr. Breaugh: This is rather important, because it does deal with what is known as the economic-loss provisions of the bill. When the bill was going through committee, it was determined that they would not be able to do that on a continual basis. It was talked about at that time that perhaps in post-1975 buildings they might allow for that once.
The bill as written now, and as landlords, tenants and Royal LePage advisory groups are commenting on, provides a very broad loophole so that they can, in fact, speculate on apartment buildings and are guaranteed that the tenants will pay the price for that speculation. Has the Premier no response to them at all?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The member has raised a question here and I am certainly willing to revisit it. As the member knows, that legislation came through the House and was passed by a majority of members of this House. I have never pretended it was perfect, but we think it was a major step forward with respect to bringing the various groups together and trying to devise a system with some equity in it.
Mr. Breaugh: This letter went to the Premier in August, so he should have been aware of it for some time. Let me just read, and ask for his response to, the comments on the matter in the Canadian Real Estate 1988 Royal LePage market survey, which are remarkably similar to the tenants’ comments on the matter: “‘Bill 51 will intensify this trading,’ says the team, ‘because it has created an atmosphere in which a new owner is permitted to recover a variety of specified costs, including the costs of financing.’”
So both groups have agreed that speculation in apartment buildings will be increased because of the provisions of the bill, and that the loophole in the bill has been broadened substantially from what was originally talked about when we processed the legislation. The Premier has guaranteed that they can speculate and he has guaranteed that they will recover those costs by the laws of Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I have not seen the clipping the member is reading from. I get a lot of letters and I appreciate receiving them all. What I will do is take up with the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek) the point he raises in this House and investigate it from all of its aspects.
Mr. Brandt: My question is also to the Premier. It is in respect of the report, which we have taken some modest degree of exception to, that was released by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) relative to the number of sensitive jobs in Ontario. I would like to point out that from our perspective, after reviewing the report in detail and after some further research, there are a number of things we feel have been left out of that report.
I would like to bring to the Premier’s attention, as an example, importation of goods from the United States in the very sectors he identified in his report which he released in this House. The area of textiles, from 1981 to 1984, fell from 59 per cent to 51 per cent. In other words, textiles went down. Furniture went down from 49 per cent to 36 per cent. Clothing went down from 13 per cent to eight per cent.
With those three major categories all being identified as sensitive to importation of additional goods from the United States, would it not appear to the Premier that we are, in fact, competitive and are reducing the importation of these items from the US? Will he undertake today -- and this is the question I want to raise with him -- to provide in future reports that are going to be released by the government, of which I anticipate there will be many, a more balanced position relative to this very important debate that is going on in Canada relative to the free trade question?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: As my honourable friend has pointed out, there will be a variety of reports written by a number of people who have perspectives as best they can bring them to bear on the subject at hand. My friend does not feel this one is fair. Presumably if it agreed with him, he would think it was fair. I understand that and I just say to my honourable friend, he is welcome to bring forward in this House for public discussion here in this Legislature, across this province and across this nation his interpretation of what will happen under the so-called free trade agreement. He has so much research money now that he can publish his own reports.
Mr. Brandt: I am glad the Premier raises that point, because had he been in attendance at my response to the throne speech yesterday, I made some very small, limited contribution towards our concern about that particular issue. That is not my question.
My question was to point out the other side of the coin relative to our trade with the United States in those same sensitive industries that the Premier identified in that report, to show him how, with all of his 85,000 bureaucrats and the huge research funding he has in his party, as the government, he failed to mention that textile exports from Canada to the US went up from 32 per cent to 54 per cent. Furniture, from 1983 to 1985, went up from 92 per cent to 98 per cent. Virtually every single piece of furniture manufactured in this country is shipped south into the American market. In clothing, our exports went from 48 per cent to 81 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I disagree with my honourable friend. My honourable friend has given the impression that someone was trying to manipulate this report to give one side of the situation. Now, I say to my honourable friend that he is pointing out these statistics, which I do not have in front of me. I guess my question to him would be, if things are going so well now, why do we need the free trade agreement?
Obviously, the question is tariffs, which industries will be vulnerable under tariffs. Our tariffs tend to be substantially higher than those in the US, as my honourable friend will know. Certain experts are giving their interpretation of what will happen in the long term under a reduced-tariff regime. That is the information that is brought forward. If the member wants to contribute to the debate with his extensive knowledge of these things, then I welcome his ideas.
Mr. Brandt: The Premier raises the question of why, if things are going so well, we have a concern about entering into a free trade agreement. Let me just say our party recognizes that the retaliatory powers of the US with respect to protectionism are a very real concern of ours. We want to enter into a long-term trade agreement that will secure those markets, secure those jobs.
The question I raise with the Premier, very simply, is this: In future reports, will he exercise his right as Premier simply to enhance the report and present both sides of the argument fairly, equitably and in a balanced fashion? That is all we are asking for.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend now comes back to his rationale for supporting the so-called free trade agreement. He says, and I gather his party agrees with him, that it will secure our access into the US market. I invite my honourable friend’s close scrutiny of this deal, because I do not think he can point to any provision of it that is going to give us any more access than we have at the moment. If he looks at the dispute settlement mechanism, all it does is enshrine US trade law at the present time. I say with great respect to my friend that I believe his analysis of the situation is substantially flawed.
With respect to his second question, let me say to my honourable friend that I do not write those reports, and I do not think he would want me to write those reports and put my imprimatur on them. He is asking me to manipulate these reports somehow or other to support his point of view.
We live in a free democracy. These reports are commissioned, they are put forward for discussion. If he does not like them, he is completely entitled to stand up in this House and say so; he is completely entitled to give his analysis of the situation. But I can tell him, that is a lot more helpful to this debate than engaging just in rhetoric about what he thinks may or may not be there, as some people in this country have done. I say to my honourable friend, let him bring forward his statistical analysis; then we will talk about the facts.
Mr. Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Health. The minister has responded to urgent requests by Hamilton-Wentworth regional officials, including the chairman and health officials, saying to the press that Hamilton has no health care delivery problems that she is aware of. My colleague the member for Cambridge (Mr. Farnan) last week raised the urgent question of paediatric care.
Is the minister aware that throughout the 1980s, on a per capita basis, the government funded our region in terms of health services at 20 per cent less than the provincial average for comparable regions? Toronto, for example, was funded at $955 per capita, Ottawa-Kingston at $945, the London area at $959 and Hamilton at $781 -- a startling contrast.
Why would the minister convey the impression to our regional officials, through the press, that she thinks there are no regional health delivery problems and what does she propose to do to bring health care funding into line with the rest of the province?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I would like to respond by saying I believe Hamilton is well served and, in fact, has a world-class facility, particularly the hospital facilities that are available to the people in Hamilton, and I believe per capita figures are not the best indicator of quality health care.
Mr. Allen: I might suggest that the minister would perhaps be candid with us in speaking on this subject and that, since her ministry lost the information file the region submitted last June in making its request, perhaps she was not aware of all the information that might have been contained in it about the problems that are attached to 20 per cent less funding for our region.
Since the minister is getting urgent requests from our region and from responsible and ranking officials, and since her ministry has not yet seen fit to do more than postpone yet again a meeting with those people until the new year, will she not find time some time between now and the end of this session to sit down with those officials and to learn at first hand what the problems are in our region, because they are significant? Notwithstanding the grand record that some of our teaching hospitals have, they too are underfunded in their own way.
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I do not believe the pressures that Hamilton is experiencing are any different from the pressures experienced across the province in many different regions. I would state again that I believe Hamilton is well served by the facilities which I think the member should be duly proud of in the delivery of services in Hamilton.
Let me state I am aware there has been some criticism of my willingness to meet, and I want to state very clearly that I explained to my critic the member for Riverdale (Mr. Reville) the method by which we are trying to accommodate all requests to the ministry in as open and as fair a way as possible. I have agreed to meet with the chairman at the earliest opportunity, but I do not consider there is a crisis or a reason to panic and therefore I am delighted to meet with him at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources with regard to a confidential leaked intelligence report prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources -- a report, I might add, that has lost its confidentiality now it has received the circulation it has. This report served as a basis for Operation Falcon, an international birds-of-prey smuggling investigation that made headlines around the world in 1984, led to 96 criminal charges laid against 12 people in Canada, charges that have not produced a single conviction.
I wonder if the minister could tell this House when he first learned about the problems with the Operation Falcon proceeding; if he could tell us and confirm that, in fact, plea bargaining set free two self-admitted liars and wildlife bandits and that their evidence was used to justify criminal proceedings against internationally respected and innocent people; and just what investigation he has carried out with respect to this affair.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I hesitate to get too much involved in this particular question because there are charges directed towards the ministry and, of course, that puts me in a position where I have to be extremely careful as to how I react to the question.
I would say that if the honourable member is as concerned as I am about protecting the gyrfalcons and the peregrine falcons that are very much threatened, my prime concern is to join together with the Americans. This is a much broader issue than just Ontario. Indeed, it deals with all of Canada, with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. There are many players involved.
I would hesitate to try to explain the whole circumstance, but I would invite the member to come any time to the ministry and I will share any information I have with him. I am sure he will understand that I am somewhat disadvantaged if there are charges pending.
However, let me say to the minister that his own chief enforcement officer, Dale Gartley, said, “A lot of the information in this confidential report is wrong.” He further said, “Some of the private individuals should never have been named,” but he said, “The ministry’s only mistake was to let this information get into somebody else’s hands.”
The whole matter was proceeded with because of a false ministry staff premise, an assumption still held by the chief Ontario investigator, that falcons cannot be bred in captivity. To quote the Kingston Whig-Standard, “His staff proceeded down a course which resulted in the innocent being slandered and the guilty set free.”
Why will the minister not agree today to a full public inquiry into Ontario’s role in this wildlife fiasco so we can determine what went wrong, why it went wrong, what compensation may be owed the innocent individuals and ensure that this cannot ever happen again here in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I think the obvious has escaped the member. The fact of the matter is that if it was a confidential report and it was being circulated among those people for speculation as to who should be charged or when or how, it was not for any kind of public circulation. If the member has a copy of it, that is something that should not have happened. I certainly have not seen a copy and I do not want to see a copy about the investigation that is ongoing.
Underlying all the questions the member raises is my determination to protect a species that is very much threatened, which is also the determination of the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States and all of the rest of Canada. I am going to do that to the best of my ability. As I said before, I have to caution the member that with charges pending we cannot get into it, but I am prepared to share with him, as a member of this Legislature, all the material that I have.
On November 4, in response to a question in the House, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) agreed that, anecdotally, one could demonstrate increased sentences for 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds under the Young Offenders Act in comparison to the sentences they would have received under the Juvenile Delinquents Act.
Does the minister agree that this development is a discriminatory practice that was not the intent of the young offenders legislation in the first place, and will the minister outline to the House what steps he is prepared to take to bring a greater sense of fairness and justice to the differences that have developed in sentencing practices for young offenders?
The question that has been asked of me does not really fall under my jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of my ministry is to take care of the people who have been sentenced to us, whether it be in parole, probation or incarceration.
Mr. Farnan: Ultimately, somebody will answer the question. It has gone to the Attorney General and it has gone to the Minister of Correctional Services. The Attorney General also indicated at that time that the Minister of Correctional Services and the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) are considering and will consider my request to integrate all young offenders under one ministry, namely, the Ministry of Community and Social Services -- “are considering and will consider.”
My question is, how long does it take? Will some minister of the government please give this House an assurance that a decision will be forthcoming in a reasonable time frame and in a specific time frame? Just how long is the minister prepared to allow these discriminatory practices to continue to exist? May I please have an answer?
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: The honourable member’s supplementary does now fall under my jurisdiction. The division of the care of the young offenders, as we inherited it from the previous government, as the member knows, is that the Ministry of Correctional Services takes 17- and 18-year-olds and the Ministry of Community and Social Services handles the 12- to 15-year-olds.
At this time we are quite satisfied with that system. We are talking with the Minister of Community and Social Services about this, but that system is quite adequate. Both our ministries are building YOA facilities at this time and pursuing that, so that we can make sure we serve these people well.
Mr. Eves: I have a question for the Minister of Health. In last Thursday’s Toronto Star, there is a report that she published a statement saying the province will ensure that the Peterborough Civic Hospital’s women’s health clinic would go ahead.
The next day, Friday, the minister is quoted as saying, “When I spoke (on Tuesday) it was supportive of the approach they have taken without having seen their proposal.” In today’s Toronto Star, she is quoted as saying, “Caplan said it is ‘premature’ to decide now whether the centres’ locations will be announced publicly.”
Could the minister please tell the members of this House and the public whether that is what she has said and if there is some doubt in her mind as to whether she is going to make the location of these centres public?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: In response to the question from my critic for the third party, let me clearly state the sequence of events and what in fact I said. When asked the question on Thursday, I responded that the approach that was being considered by the hospital in Peterborough was consistent with the approach the Ministry of Health was taking in ensuring access under the existing federal legislation to therapeutic abortion services for women in this province under a comprehensive women’s health services approach.
Mr. Eves: That is all very interesting, but I do not believe the minister has answered the question. She is quoted, also in today’s Star, as saying that she agrees with the timetable as laid out by Dr. Marion Powell, that some of these clinics will be open before the end of the year, yet the minister is telling us here -- she still has not answered the question; she is still refusing to identify where these centres will be. She may not make that public. There is some doubt in her mind, despite the fact she is building them with taxpayers’ money. I presume the idea here is to serve the public and the women of Ontario. Why will the minister not inform the public and the members of this Legislature where these clinics are going to be?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: The ministry is currently reviewing numerous proposals from across the province to provide women’s health services for women in need in this province. I believe the timetable that has been discussed is realistic, and we are committed to ensuring that service for the women of this province within the framework of the existing federal legislation to ensure that women have access not only to therapeutic abortion services but to all aspects of women’s health needs.
Mlle Martel: J’ai une question pour le ministre des Services sociaux et communautaires au sujet des garderies francophones. Le ministre doit savoir que, selon une étude faite par son propre ministère en 1982, il existait, à ce moment-là, seulement 26 garderies de langue française, soit 1.5 pour cent des garderies, alors que la population francophone se chiffre à cinq pour cent de la population totale. La situation ne semble guère s’être améliorée. Les listes actuelles du ministère ne font état que d’une trentaine de garderies francophones.
Pour autant que le ministère est en train de réviser sa politique sur les garderies de cette province, il est important d’assurer que les services de garde sont également accessibles en français. Est-ce que le ministre peut nous assurer que la politique de ce gouvernement va officiellement reconnaître les besoins spécifiques de la communauté francophone, afin d’intégrer ses membres à tout programme de service de garde à l’enfance de l’Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The short, simple answer is yes, but let me elaborate just a little bit. I have met with the francophone community in a number of locations in the province and clearly identified for them the responsibilities of my ministry, along with the rest of the government, under Bill 8, to provide francophone services where the numbers warrant them. I have committed that that will happen.
Second, I have pointed out to the francophone community that under the new directions for day care, there is a specific reference to day care provision for special-needs groups and the francophone community has been told that it is included in that.
The one point I have made to them, though, is that in some communities, particularly the larger urban areas, the need for just general day care is so great that I may not be able to move as quickly in those locations as I would like to, but the commitment has been made.
Miss Martel: It seems to me that in this case, in particular for the francophone community, the minister is probably going to have to take a very proactive approach in helping to develop their needs and helping to develop the services.
I ask him again what specific measures and funding commitments he will implement vis-à-vis French day care services in order to take into account such factors as (a) the higher costs that are associated with establishing and operating a French day care system, (b) the allocation of subsidized spaces in order to ensure that French day care centres are able to benefit from their fair share and (c) an appropriate funding mechanism to help solve some of the problems associated with transportation to French day care centres?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The honourable member will be well aware of the fact that there is a commitment in my budget for capital allocations all across the province. The members of the francophone community who have approached me indicated that is their first need, just for capital funds in order to erect facilities themselves.
The second need they have expressed to me is the training of staff. As a matter of fact it is not any different, but they point out to me, and it is recognizable, that they have to have a specific kind of staff. We have agreed to deal with that. We have also agreed to assist them with respect to materials such as booklets, games and things such as those that might be more appropriate in a francophone centre than in another one.
The one area I have indicated I am going to have some difficulty with, and I still have some difficulty with, is transportation. I do not know whether we are going to be able to afford that or not, but with respect to the first three, I have given my commitment that we will deal with those.
Mr. Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. Last spring, the Supreme Court of Canada lifted an interim injunction prohibiting the province from moving the radioactive soil from McClure Crescent to Reesor Road in Scarborough. Shortly after that, the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) said he would be making a decision this fall about moving the soil. Will the minister tell this House and the people of McClure Crescent when this soil will be moved?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member is quite correct that consultations have taken place with the Ministry of the Environment to determine, if there would be any movement of the soil, what the best movement would be. There are problems, as he would know, related to ongoing actions within the court. One action had ruled upon it, but other actions have been discussed from time to time. Until such time as all of those actions are cleared up, it is difficult to make a definitive decision on the specific movement of that soil.
There have been consultations over a period of time, as the member may know, with federal authorities to determine whether one of the sites the federal government has available might be suitable, in view of the fact that the federal government does have responsibility for matters which relate to radioactivity. That is primarily within the federal jurisdiction, and those discussions will continue.
The Minister of the Environment said there would be an announcement this fall. Now we go back to the new Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek). Has the new Minister of Housing had any consultations with the minister on this important matter, which was traditionally an area of great concern to the former Minister of Housing? Has the new Minister of Housing had any discussions with the Minister of the Environment on this subject at any time? If so, what did she say?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I simply say that because the member would know that discussions which take place within the confines of cabinet have traditionally been confidential, under the British parliamentary system.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member would also know, and I think his colleagues who have had experience would know, that discussions have gone on in various forums about this particular matter. As I say, there have been discussions with the federal authorities, between the provincial ministries, and this matter is under active review.
Mr. Ferraro: I have a question for the Treasurer. In a recent meeting with some business people in my constituency, some concern was expressed over the proposed federal tax reform, and indeed, specific reference was made as to what ramifications it will have on Ontario. I would like publicly to give the Treasurer a forum to address that issue, with specific reference to whether or not Ontario has a minimum tax on corporations.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I thank the honourable member for his question. I want to tell him and the House that it is my intention to make a statement to the House in the very near future on this matter, as well as on the progress through the year as far as tracking our budget is concerned and to announce our payments to our various transfer partners. He mentioned specifically a minimum tax, and I notice that it is recommended by Mr. Blenkarn’s committee in the federal House of Commons and has been responded to by the Minister of Finance.
I think the honourable members would know that we have, as part of the spectrum of taxation in the province, a capital tax that is based on the paid-up capital of all corporations, including the financial institutions, which in some respects acts as a minimum tax. This has worked well in the past and it seems to be working reasonably well now.
M. Pouliot: J’aimerais adresser ma question au ministre du Développement du Nord. Même si le montant paraîtra insignifiant au ministre, il se souviendra sans doute, il devrait se souvenir, qu’il y a à peu près six mois, lors du budget pré-électoral qui a été déposé en Chambre en mai dernier par le trésorier de l‘Ontario (M. R. F. Nixon), celui-ci a jugé bon d’établir un Fonds du patrimoine du Nord de l’Ontario.
Hélas, depuis mai dernier, quelque six mois se sont écoulés, et aussi, hélas, nous en sommes encore très loin du rôle et du mandat précis sur lequel, sans doute, résident les idées du ministre et ses projets de demain. Je demanderais au ministre d’essayer d’être méticuleux -- essayez, Monsieur le Ministre -- et de nous dire précisément quand et sur quel projet il entend dépenser ces quelques miettes ou ces 30 millions de dollars.
L’hon. M. Fontaine: Je tiens à féliciter mon confrère de Lac Nipigon d’avoir été nommé critique du Développement du Nord. Je l’en félicite parce que je crois qu’on va être capables de s’entendre sur bien des sujets parce qu’on a les mêmes pensées en ce qui concerne le Nord.
Une chose sur le Fonds du patrimoine, comme il doit le savoir, c’est qu’une élection s’est produite depuis le discours du trône; mais par contre, on ne l’a pas oublié. Je dois préparer une présentation au Cabinet pour être certain que l’argent va être là pour les prochaines années -- pas seulement pour un an mais pour des années. En plus, je suis en train de délibérer, avec le ministère du Développement du Nord, sur les termes de référence du fonds. Peut-être que là, on devrait être capables de le mettre en place pour le 1er janvier.
L’hon. M. Fontaine: Le député de Lac Nipigon devrait écouter s’il veut avoir des réponses au sujet de ce fonds-là, parce qu’il a ri du fonds durant toute l’élection, puis aujourd’hui, on dirait qu’il veut prendre tout le crédit pour ce qu’on va présenter d’ici quelques mois.
Une chose que je veux lui rappeler, c’est que ce fonds va être dépensé dans le Nord, il ne sera pas dépensé dans le Sud, certain; c’est une chose que je peux lui dire. Alors, on sait par le rapport Rosehart qu’il y a des secteurs qu’on va regarder: le secteur de l’infrastructure, le secteur de la petite entreprise. On va peut-être regarder du côté du développement et peut-être mettre des fonds dans du capital de risque.
Alors, je sais que le député est impatient, mais une chose qu’il doit comprendre, c’est que cette recommandation-là a été faite il y a à peu près six mois, je suis d’accord; mais tout de même, j’ai été nommé ministre il y a deux mois. Nous sommes en train d’essayer de mettre ça en place pour la fin de l’année. C’est la seule chose que je puisse lui dire pour le moment.
Mrs. Marland: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. The cost-sharing arrangement for subsidized daycare spaces is approximately 20 per cent municipal, 30 per cent provincial and 50 per cent federal, but because municipalities have discretionary power in providing subsidized day care, some municipalities in Ontario -- for example, London, the Premier’s (Mr. Peterson) own riding -- have chosen not to do so. This has created an uneven distribution of subsidized day care spaces across Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: A slight correction to the honourable member’s figures, because there are certain aspects of the day care program that the federal government does not share in at all. As a matter of fact, their full share is around 38 or 39 per cent, not 50. The province picks up the balance. She is correct in terms of straight subsidies. The local municipality that chooses to deal with these subsidies does pay 20 per cent.
The member may be aware of the fact that at present there is an ongoing review between the municipalities and our ministry over a whole range of cost-sharing programs, and day care is one of them. At the present time, I intend to make no changes with respect to the 20 per cent cost sharing, but that very well may change as a result of the recommendations that come from the review.
I share with the honourable member the disappointment that some communities, even though they are offered day care subsidies, choose not to pick them up. One of the possible recommendations could very well be that this would be a mandated program. I am not saying it will, but this could be one of the outcomes of that study.
Mrs. Marland: The minister has also said the province will provide mechanisms to encourage municipalities to include day care in new commercial and residential developments. Will the minister tell us what these mechanisms are?
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: The previous answer partially deals with that. We have indicated to them that just as we in this government have taken the initiative through the Ministry of Education to include day care centres in all new schools and through our ministry to provide capital funds to renovate empty space in schools, we have spoken to our municipal colleagues and indicated that when they are giving planning approval to new commercial centres, whether it be a plaza or a high commercial building, we would also like them to consider the involvement of a day care centre as part of that planning approval.
There are some municipalities that have indicated very strongly to us that they are prepared to do this. We have no mandate at present to require them to do this, but the cost-sharing review I talked about before would take that factor into consideration. If there are some municipalities that are going to generate for themselves greater costs because they take this initiative, then we are prepared to recognize that and pick up a fair share of that extra cost ourselves.
Mr. Callahan: In the great riding of Brampton South, there is a proposed incinerator planned that requires an environmental assessment hearing. There is also a proposal for an incinerator at the airport or in the vicinity of Pearson airport. Is this a matter that comes within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Assessment Act of Ontario or is it an application of the federal minister?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: This is a very good question. Contrary to what the opposition thinks, I did not know this question was coming or what it was about. They always think we know all these things and we do not.
There has been a proposal. I have not seen anything in a formal sense, but there have been news reports of a proposal that would call for the erection and implementation of an incinerator at Toronto international airport to deal with the wastes that come off the airplanes. It would be such things as food and the containers for food and so on.
As some members of the House who are experienced in this matter may know, this comes under federal jurisdiction because it is on federal government territory and it is a federal initiative. Under our Constitution, that supersedes the provincial government. I have on occasions such as this, however, always indicated to the federal government that we would want it to subject any such proposal to the most stringent federal assessment that is available, and that that assessment be as comprehensive and as detailed as our provincial government assessment, but the ultimate decision will be made by the Minister of Transport, the Honourable John Crosbie.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question of the Premier. During the recent election campaign, the Premier’s party ran an election ad that outlined a number of conditions that came out of his speech that he made in Windsor, the famous six conditions. The ad starts out, “We would be better off with no deal if it is not the right deal,” and concludes by saying: “And there can be no deal on free trade if it guts the auto pact. Canada’s auto industry cannot be a bargaining chip, and that is my bottom line.”
I would like to ask the Premier very simply what did that commitment mean. What was the bottom line? On the date that these ads were played and the speech made in Windsor, how did the Premier plan on implementing that commitment to the people who live in every auto city in this province?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think the people who live in the auto communities in this province understand very well our view of the trade agreement. I am sure my honourable friend would agree with me that the trade agreement has substantially affected the provisions of the auto pact for the worse and not for the better. In spite of some people casting this as an auto pact plus, in fact it is not.
We have registered, as my honourable friend will be aware, that the auto pact was negotiated between two sovereign governments, between the federal United States and federal Canadian governments. Ontario did not participate in that. As he knows, we put forward our six conditions in that campaign. I am glad my honourable friend has paid as much attention as he did to our ads. He is obviously moved by them, and I appreciate that.
In our view, they did not meet those six conditions. This province stands unequivocally against the deal that has been negotiated by the Prime Minister. As the member knows, we are doing what we can do to persuade people of this country that it is not in the national interest.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: When the Premier made his promises in Windsor to all the auto communities in this province, he said there cannot be a deal if it guts the auto pact. He knew in August that the auto pact was a deal that was struck between the federal American government and our federal government. Why could he make that commitment in August and now not deliver on stopping the free trade agreement since it does not meet his six conditions and it does gut the auto pact?
I say to the member that we are doing what we can do, given the way the deal has been crafted. The member’s leader has asked me the same question on a number of occasions, and I give the member the same response that I give to his leader.
This deal does not have our support. This deal is going to be debated right across this country. Ultimately, the member is going to see a federal resolution to this question and the people of this country will have an opportunity to pass judgement on it. That being said, we are going to do what we can to contribute to an informed debate on this.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friends in the front row over there are rather exercised. Their bitterness goes back some long way. I understand that bitterness, but let me say we are doing everything we can in our power to stop this deal.
Hon. Ms. Hosek: I rise on a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, in response to a question from the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh), I used the number 4.7 in the wrong context. The rent review number 4.7 applies to the increases in 1988. To the best of our experience in the past, the vast majority of tenants in Ontario will receive rent increases of 4.7 per cent or less in 1988.
Mr. Speaker: Before the orders of the day, I would just remind the members that pursuant to standing order 30, the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) gave notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs. Wilson) and that this matter will be debated at six o’clock this evening.
It is indeed an honour for me to rise today as the first member elected for the new electoral district of St. Catharines-Brock. The riding is made up of the previous Brock riding and now encompasses part of the previous riding of the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley). I pledge that I will continue to serve the residents of this area with the same dedication and purpose as my honourable friend and colleague.
St. Catharines-Brock is an area rich in history and tradition and I invite those who have never had an opportunity to visit the area to come and experience the beauty and charm of areas like historic Niagara-on-the-Lake, Queenston Heights, the Niagara Parkway and the Welland Canal, which has a group of concerned residents working on the development of this historic corridor.
Our cultural, ethnic and agricultural heritage is reflected in such annual events and celebrations as the Folk Arts Festival, the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and the Shaw Festival theatre. These are some of the attractions that enhance and invite tourism to the Niagara region on a year-round basis.
The riding of St. Catharines-Brock has a diverse economic base. This riding is the centre for automotive parts manufacturing and has a combination of both light and heavy industry. Our enviable geographic location, between two of the largest market areas in North America -- southern Ontario and northeastern United States -- provides area manufacturers with a distinct advantage to market access. Our region is within one day’s trucking of 120 million consumers.
Through such organizations as the Niagara Region Development Corp. we work to attract new business to the area on an ongoing basis. Agriculture is another important factor contributing to the area’s economic stability. I hope that all the members of this House have had an opportunity to sample some of the excellent Ontario wines and the delicious tender fruits which are produced in the riding I represent.
Despite our apparent prosperity, a dark cloud looms on the horizon. That cloud is the free trade agreement. It was apparent to me as I listened to the speech from the throne that this government was determined to fight for the people of this province, St. Catharines-Brock and many other communities like it. The cabinet subcommittee on free trade recently visited my riding to hear the concerns of local industry and local people.
As the committee is aware, this agreement spells disaster for our grape growers, our wine makers, our tender fruit producers and our auto workers. It is no secret that this federal government has given away far more than it has gained in these negotiations. The draft agreement does not meet the six conditions that were outlined by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) as essential for Ontario.
Furthermore, compounding existing problems is the recent General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ruling. This government must be diligent in its support of our agricultural and wine industries. It is with great pride that I take my seat on the government side and prepare to join with my colleagues to meet these challenges.
The people of St. Catharines-Brock are concerned about the environment they live in. The pollution in the Niagara River and Lake Ontario are problems they live with every day. The beauty of this region is threatened by acid rain and by water and air pollution. Our tourist industry suffers because of the pollution in our lakes, rivers and air. However, under the excellent leadership of the Minister of the Environment, our government has taken important steps in dealing with this problem. Our environmental initiatives are highly regarded worldwide.
We will continue to meet these challenges with the progressive programs outlined in the throne speech but we will not stop there. We will continue to examine new technology to deal with these serious challenges. The steps that we have taken are in the right direction and we will continue in our quest for a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations.
During the recent election campaign, I found that education was a high priority with my constituents. At the top of the escarpment on the southern boundary of my riding sits our university. Named for Sir Isaac Brock, commander of the British forces during the War of 1812, this university in just 23 years has expanded to become a centre for not only academic pursuit but also social and cultural activities for the entire Niagara region. It is smaller than most Ontario universities, yet is highly regarded for its top academic standards.
This government in the past two years has made great strides in improving funding for colleges and universities to overcome years of neglect. The university now enjoys a record enrolment of 9,580 students. This has created great stress on existing lecture, study, parking, residence and recreational space. The administration has been innovative in dealing with the new projects, such as the science development fund, which helped develop a new facility for the science department.
Brock last month retired its deficit, which had been as high as $800,000. The entire community has raised $6.6 million for this university in just five years, which is an amazing achievement and illustrates the commitment our community has for this institution.
The Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs. McLeod) was recently at this beautiful university to open a new language lab, a facility which will provide excellent training for our language students. I am sure that she understands the problems we face and we will accept the challenges to assist our universities in meeting the demands of increasing student enrolment.
Another educational institution in our area, the Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology, has made an important contribution to local industry by providing a skilled labour force. It has a history of co-operation with area manufacturers to develop programs specific to their needs. This college also boasts of co-operation programs with the arts, and it works with local theatre groups to provide hands-on training in theatre production and enhance the cultural base of our community, a very integral part of Ontario.
My constituents are pleased with the commitment made by this throne speech to place renewed emphasis on the quality of our children’s education, especially in the early school years. The establishment of a select committee on education to increase the consultation process with parents, teachers and school boards is welcomed by parents across this province who wish to take an active role in their children’s education. It reflects our open, accessible Ontario government.
Our changing society requires that our educators be provided with the highest-quality resources available to educate our children. I am pleased that this government has made the commitment to assist our school boards and teachers by providing them with the dollars necessary to purchase current textbooks and replace outdated material. It is important that our children have the tools to help them adapt to modern society. Our desire to reduce class sizes in the formative years of our children’s education must be recognized as an important step in improving the quality of education in this province.
The riding of St. Catharines-Brock, like many other ridings in Ontario, has an important historical flavour. The people of my riding look to the government to help them retain our heritage with innovative programs which will assist them in preserving our past. The Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms. Munro) and the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. O’Neil) are only too well aware of the importance of preserving the unique flavour of our history in communities across this province. I am sure they will continue to provide the leadership and programs necessary so that future generations will also enjoy the beauty these historical treasures bring to our province.
I commend the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek) for her initiatives in terms of making affordable housing available to all and I offer my assistance to the honourable minister in the creation of a new, dynamic strategy that encompasses the socioeconomic factors of a feasible housing plan.
Another issue that requires our attention is the development and enhancement of small business programs that are already in place. It is important that we in government ensure that all who want to work can work. Small business has been, and will continue to be, a major source of job creation in Ontario. Especially with those dark clouds of free trade looming over our heads, it is important that we have trump cards to play for Ontario.
I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) for bringing forward auto insurance legislation to provide a system to ensure that Ontario consumers receive fair coverage at fair prices. This was an issue of great importance during the recent election and our government in the early days of the Legislature delivered as promised.
The demographics of our society are changing, creating new concerns that this government will need to address. The throne speech outlines new programs that will improve the quality of life for our seniors, the disabled and others in need of specialized services and quality health care. We are aware that the changing demographic patterns create new pressures on transportation systems and housing programs. This government is committed to programs that will improve the quality of life for all the residents of this great province of ours. This government has a vision of Ontario, we believe, that is rich in potential for this province.
The people of St. Catharines-Brock have entrusted me with a grave responsibility, a responsibility that I will work tirelessly towards fulfilling. They have entrusted to this government that same responsibility and I know this government will work diligently towards accomplishing this mandate.
I am proud that the speech from the throne clearly illustrates the commitment we as a Liberal government made to the electorate of Ontario. We promised a new, vital alternative to the old and tired policies that existed before 1985 and I believe that our determination will make it happen.
Mr. Cureatz: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I appreciate my honourable colleague’s comments about this being the member’s maiden speech, but in his concluding remarks I was hoping he would be a little more specific once again in letting us know where the Premier stands in regard to the wine industry in his part of the riding, about which he has said he is so concerned.
Mr. Dietsch: It is with a great deal of pleasure that I stand on this government side and serve with my colleagues to fulfil our goals. I appreciate the opportunity to earn the trust and respect of the people of St. Catharines-Brock.
Mr. Wildman: I would like to congratulate the member for St. Catharines-Brock on his maiden speech in this House, but I would like it if he could clarify for us what is going to be done by the government to sweep away the dark cloud, as he called it, that is facing the grape producers and the wineries in his area. Since, as we know from the election campaign, the Premier did say that if the six conditions he set forward were not met there would be no deal, could he clarify for us what the government’s intentions are with regard to the regulations for wineries in his area to ensure that we will be able to continue to have a grape-growing industry in St. Catharines-Brock?
That being the case, I again would like to follow up with him that indeed he does have a very grave responsibility, representing that area of Ontario that is certainly going to be severely affected under the new trade arrangement with the United States. We, of course, compliment him on his election for that area that was formerly partly represented by a Conservative colleague of mine.
That being the case, we would like to again bring to his attention that he is going to have a difficult row to hoe in terms of supporting his party and his Premier in terms of the vagueness of what the Premier has to say about the free trade agreement, and more particularly the area that is going to be affected, the area represented by the member who has just spoken.
I do not envy the member one bit, because he is going to be saddled by the leadership of his party, by the Premier, with some vague policies in regard to free trade and the wine industry, and he is going to have to go back home and try to sell it. It is going to be a tough job for him. He is going to be scratching his head, driving back along the Queen Elizabeth Way, wondering how in the world he got himself into this position when he was elected on the basis of the five or six points that the Premier had brought out in regard to free trade, guaranteeing to his constituents that he is going to be looking after the wine industry in his particular area and knowing full well, over the next few weeks when he is driving home, trying to answer to his constituents in his riding office and on radio and in his columns, about the vagueness of the Premier’s commitment and how he is doing his darnedest to try to convince him that he has to do more.
I do not envy the member one bit, and I will tell him he has a big job ahead of him. We would like to hear some comments on how he is going to convince the Premier to be a little more specific on what he is going to be doing under his responsibilities about the free trade agreement in protecting the wine industry in southern Ontario.
I appreciate the opportunity to address the House on the honourable gentleman’s question. I will say that I do recognize the importance of what the grape-growing industry is going through with free trade. He will no doubt remember some of the Premier’s replies in the House when asked the question of what was intending to be done about the free trade agreement. I feel quite confident that the Premier is looking at the agreement, going over it with a fine-toothed comb. When the final legal text of the agreement comes forward for perusal, I am sure the answers will be put forward in a straight, forthright manner.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I want to first congratulate you on your elevation to your high office. I know you will carry out your duties with aplomb, and I am sure we will all enjoy your easy and friendly way of applying the rules to the debates in the House and ensuring that all members of the Legislature are able to participate fully in the debates about the affairs of the province.
At the outset, I am proud to have been re-elected in the riding of Algoma, to represent my friends and neighbours in what is the fourth-largest constituency in this province in terms of geography. I suspect many members do not realize that the distance from one end of Algoma district to the other is approximately the same as that from Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto.
It is a very large area and one that is very diversified in terms of the kinds of communities that must be represented and the concerns that must be put forward on their behalf in this Legislature. I do that with a good deal of pride that I have been reselected for the fifth time in Algoma and I hope this will be a productive session for them and for the people of the province in general.
While I do not have any members of my own caucus here with me, I am pleased that the member for Durham East has deigned to join me and that we do have, at least for a moment, one of the members of the front bench, on the Treasury bench, present with us this afternoon.
As I came back to the Legislature after the last provincial election I was not certain what kind of throne speech to expect. After all, we have come through a period of a great deal of activity, politically, in this province, the period of the two-year accord signed between the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party which brought about a change of government in 1985, a period where we were very busy bringing about a number of changes that were long overdue.
Obviously, from our side of the House, we would like to have seen further changes. We were disappointed that all of the reforms that might have been brought about were not achieved in that period, but I was in a way hoping that despite the change in the political configuration of this place we would see a continuation of the reform agenda that was begun by the new government with the co-operation of my party in the last House. I did not know whether that was going to be the agenda that would be put forward or whether we might see a change in the approach of this government now that it has such a significant majority.
I should say in a spirit of nonpartisanship, Mr. Speaker, as you know I am wont to do from time to time, that I do congratulate the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and his colleagues on their success at the polls. Obviously, from my point of view and from the point of view of our party, it was disappointing. I do welcome the new members of the Legislature and I hope I will get to know them over the next months and years and that we will be able to co-operate on behalf of the people of the province.
I think it is important for the Liberal members in the House to recognize that, while they did gain a significant victory, 75 per cent of the seats in the assembly, in fact 52 per cent of the population voted against them. While this government has an enormous majority and a tremendous mandate to act on behalf of the people of Ontario, they still achieved only a minority support in terms of popular vote.
There is no question that seats count; I recognize that. But it is important, and I think it is a risk the experienced members of the House will attest to, that a government which has such a majority does run the risk of forgetting it did not get 75 per cent of the vote as well as 75 per cent of the seats.
At any rate, I did not know what to expect. I did not know whether we would see a new dynamism on behalf of the government to continue the reform agenda or whether we would see a government that perhaps might be tempted, because of its success in September, to rest on its laurels, a party that might be satisfied to say: “OK, we have a period of activity, of change; maybe it is time to pull back a bit.”
I heard the speech delivered by His Honour and I must say I was -- I suppose not surprisingly for the members opposite -- disappointed. I did hope, as I said, that it would be a continuation, but I thought maybe that is just my bias. Obviously, I am not a member of that party; I do not see things the way it does. Maybe it is just I who expected more, and maybe it is just the fact that I am a member of the opposition and want to be critical that I did not find the speech as stimulating as some members opposite seem to find it.
So I thought that perhaps I should consult the public press, the media, that their assessment of the speech would help to give me a more balanced view, one that I could present on behalf not only of the 61 per cent of the voters who voted for me in the last election but also of that other 39 per cent who chose to support one of the other two political parties. I did consult the press widely, I must say, across the province.
Mr. Wildman: Perhaps it is a Tory journal; I am not sure. The member for St. Catharines-Brock (Mr. Dietsch) would probably be able to indicate to us. I think the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) has on occasion commented on this periodical and how close he is to the editorial board. I am sure he discussed their view of the speech from the throne with them and helped them come up with this title, “Peterson at Rest.”
“Tuesday’s throne speech was as dull as dishwater. Having come to power two years ago by kind permission of the New Democratic Party, Premier Peterson now appears to be resting on his laurels. At long last able to do whatever he wants to do, Peterson seems unable to think of anything that might excite the imagination.
“During the election campaign there were comparisons between Peterson and former Conservative Premier Bill Davis, who proved during the early part of his tenure that bland works. Having achieved his whopping majority with Liberals filling 95 of the 130 seats, Peterson appears set to justify those comparisons.”
I want to point out that this is not a New Democratic Party periodical. I tried to go to one that I knew would not ever be accused of parroting the socialist line. I thought that perhaps by choosing a periodical of the high standard of the St. Catharines Standard I would find one with an unbiased view, and I am sure we would all have to ponder carefully the comment that the throne speech was as dull as dishwater and that the Premier appears to have decided to follow the example of his predecessor once removed, Mr. Davis, in the idea of following the phrase “bland works,” because this in fact was a bland throne speech. In comparison to the throne speeches of the period of the accord, it really was disappointing, in my view, and that editorial certainly does bear that out.
I do not want to bore the House with other editorials, but I would like to deal specifically with some of the comments in the throne speech. In a serious vein, I was interested in the comments in the throne speech about the economy of this province. At one point it states, “Ontario’s economy is fundamentally strong and diversified.” That probably is true in the sense of the boom we are experiencing in the Metropolitan Toronto area. There is an enormous expansion of economic activity in this area, but I think everyone here will admit that is not the case across the province. We have serious regional disparities.
To be fair, in the throne speech the government does recognize that there are regional disparities. It says there is a need for economic development in eastern and northern Ontario. It even says there is a need for growth and development in northern Ontario. It says that growth and development in our part of the province requires “ongoing attention.”
I am not sure what “ongoing attention” means. It certainly is better than being ignored, but I do not know whether it means the kind of thing the member for St. Catharines-Brock said in response to the questions about the Premier’s approach to free trade and protecting the grape growers and the wine industry. What he said was that the Premier would continue to look at it. I think that was the sum total of his response. I suppose that is some comfort, but it is not much of a comfort if all the government is going to do is to give it attention. It is a first step, but that is all it is, just a first step.
There were a couple of things that were mentioned in the throne speech specifically related to the needs of northern Ontario. For one thing, the government said it was going to introduce a buy-north program. We do not know the details of that, but it does sound as if it might in some way reflect an attempt by this government to deal with the need for import replacement. If that is what they are attempting, then they have our support. I am not sure though, particularly in regard to the comments in the throne speech about the need to assist exporters to expand their markets.
It seems to us on this side of the House that there is a tremendous opportunity to provide jobs by replacing some of the imports we now use by producing those products ourselves. I refer specifically to northern Ontario, where we are the third largest mining economy in the world, and yet we are the number one importer of mining machinery in the world.
In the previous government, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, as he was called before his unfortunate brush with conflict of interest, was kind enough to appoint me and my colleague the member for Carleton East (Mr. Morin), along with the former member for Rainy River, to a committee of business and labour people looking at the needs of northern Ontario. One of the opportunities we had, at the minister’s insistence, was to travel to Sweden. I think the member for Carleton East would agree with me that this was one of the most stimulating and interesting periods during our work on that committee.
Mr. Wildman: This was not a parliamentary committee, actually. I think it was much to the chagrin of the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) that we went on this committee. This was extraparliamentary. There were parliamentarians on the committee, but it was also made up of business people and labour people, so we were somehow exempt from the rule set by the Treasurer that no parliamentary committee could travel over water. I do not know what that means but I think it was salt water we were not allowed to travel over, and we were able to travel across salt water to Sweden.
Anyway, we met a number of people in Kiruna, which is an iron ore mining town. It is underground mining, one of the few underground mines. I think the only one in North America that produces iron ore is in Wawa. Kiruna is very similar to that. The thing we found there that was very interesting was that they have a company called Kiruna Truck that produces underground heavy equipment like scoop trams.
Here we are north of the Arctic circle in Sweden and those scoop trams are used in Sudbury and Elliot Lake in northern Ontario. They export them from Sweden to northern Ontario. This is a tribute to the tenacity of that company and to the entrepreneur who has worked for a long time to develop that company, but it also points to the inability of the mining companies, business and government in Ontario to ensure that those kinds of products are produced here so that those kinds of machines could be used by our mining industry rather than importing them from Sweden.
Obviously, we also have a tremendous opportunity in producing machinery for the forestry industry and for the pulp and paper industry. While we were in Sweden, I did not have the opportunity to do it, but the member for Carleton East did: he went to a small community where they produce scarifiers. This company -- l think it only employed somewhere around nine or 10 people -- produces all the scarifiers that are used in the world market. We import those scarifiers to Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario.
For those members who may not know what a scarifier is, it is the machine that is used to work up the ground after there has been a cutover, after the area has been cut. It is sort of like a harrow in farming, a disc or a harrow, to dig up the ground, to loosen it up to make it possible for planting to take place.
Mr. Wildman: We have been known at some times to use the -- at any rate, it seemed to me very strange that a company in a very small community near Ostersund in Sweden would be producing these kinds of machines that are imported to northwestern Ontario and used there when the most interesting part of this is that the original design for those scarifiers came from northern Ontario. The technology was developed here and the entrepreneur, the company in Sweden, imported that technology, developed it further and now is exporting that machinery to northern Ontario.
It is a fact that is ignored by many members of the House and the general public in Ontario that the largest employer in this province is the forestry and pulp and paper industry. Directly and indirectly, that industry employs more people than any other industry, including the auto industry, in Ontario. We import a tremendous amount of machinery. Again, we could be manufacturing those machines in northern Ontario to provide the linkages to the resource-based industry we have, and there was nothing in the throne speech about that. There was a reference to buying north, but there was no reference to stimulating that kind of economic activity in our part of the province.
It is imperative that we respond to the needs of the north. The people of northern Ontario are known for their self-reliance, their creativity and their commitment to their part of the province. We have the human resources we need, even though it is a little less than one tenth of the population and covering something like 90 per cent of the geographic area of the province. We have the human resources, but what is needed is a government commitment to provide those people with the capital and the assistance that are necessary to diversify the economy of our part of the province.
Mr. Speaker, as you will know, unemployment in northern Ontario currently is running at more than twice the provincial average. So while we have a boom in Metropolitan Toronto, there is anything but a boom taking place in northern Ontario. We have not really recovered from the recession of 1982 as yet. Certainly things are not as bad as they were -- and we are all thankful for that -- but we still remain very vulnerable.
We could in fact face another recession in the not-too-distant future. The developments on the stock market and the inability of the Americans to get hold of their economic situation do not bode well for the resource industries that are so dependent on exports to the United States, so we are very vulnerable.
There were a couple of other comments in the throne speech about northern Ontario. There was a statement that the government would be appointing a council to oversee and direct the expenditures under the northern Ontario heritage fund. Some of us on this side of the House have treated the northern Ontario heritage fund, as proposed by the Liberal government, as a bit of a joke, a sad joke. I think the members opposite could understand that if they knew something of the background of this fund.
Members of our caucus have been campaigning hard since the late 1970s for the establishment of a fund similar to the fund that has been set up in Alberta, that would use some of the revenue from the extraction of the resources from northern Ontario, some of the government revenue, return it to the north to set up a fund which then could be used to assist entrepreneurs; to invest, to give loans, to invest in joint ventures and directly to diversify the economy of northern Ontario. We saw this kind of fund as being developed along the same lines as the Alberta heritage fund, in proportion to the size of the population and the revenue coming from our resources.
The Treasurer admitted in this House some time ago that in fact a lot more revenue comes to the government from our resources than is returned to the north. So we expected that when there was a statement finally from the government that it was going to set up a fund, we would be getting one that was substantial, one that would provide the kind of capital that is needed to develop the resources of northern Ontario, and not just to develop those resources but also to diversify the economy.
So what did we get after last spring’s budget? We got $30 million. Thirty million dollars is peanuts, and it is a bit of a sick joke. I suppose to the ordinary individual, the ordinary family in this province, $30 million is a lot of money. It certainly is a great deal compared to what most people ever will earn in their whole lifetime, but it is not very much when you compare it to the total budget of this government, or even to the expenditures of this government on a few programs in southern Ontario.
Thirty million dollars: it is just a trifling amount when you consider that at the same time, in that same budget, about $50 million was allocated for the setting up of one plant in Cambridge -- $50 million for one project, $20 million more than the total amount for all of northern Ontario. I am not opposed to the investment of the funds to stimulate employment in Cambridge, obviously -- not at all -- but I think the comparison shows the kind of inadequate commitment of this government to northern development.
It is also interesting that $30 million is approximately the same amount that the government has budgeted as its share for the one project in Metropolitan Toronto, the big sexy project, the SkyDome. So we are getting for all of northern Ontario, the whole area, the same amount of money that the government is sinking into one hole in downtown Toronto. Perhaps the Argos are a higher priority -- something has to help them -- than diversification in northern Ontario, but I do not think so.
Anyway, we got this fund. We said it was not enough, but it is there. So we now have the announcement in this throne speech that there is going to be a council that is going to deal with the fund. Mr. Speaker, I ask you, what has happened to that fund since the spring? The answer is nothing. None of that money has been allocated. None of the small amount that has been set forward there has even gotten into the hands of entrepreneurs or other groups that want to develop businesses and jobs in northern Ontario.
The reason, partly, is that the government has not as yet even developed the criteria for the allocation of the funds, six months later. First, we do not get enough money and then we do not get any allocation and, only six months later, we get a council that is going to deal with the fund. I think that says a lot about the lack of commitment on the part of this government to northern Ontario.
I have talked about diversification in our part of the province. Obviously, we cannot remain completely dependent on the extraction and exporting of our raw materials, because every time we export ore or raw logs or semi-processed products from northern Ontario, we are exporting jobs. We have been doing that since the north was first opened up, and nothing has changed with this government and nothing in the throne speech has changed.
Frankly, I will say this, and I say it sincerely, I regret the personal comment made about my good friend the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) in the House today. I think it was meant in a jocular way and I regret that comment, but I must say I am disappointed that the member has not been more effective. I think he genuinely wants to change things. He is not another empereur du Nord, like Mr. Bernier; but I do not think he has the effect in cabinet to do it, and I regret that.
It is our position as New Democrats that there should have been a commitment on the part of the government to actually change the way things happen in northern Ontario, not just to continue exporting our resources and jobs and then to throw money back at the problem, giving small grants here and there to municipalities, to entrepreneurs and companies to try to ameliorate the problem.
That has been the history of northern development right from the outset. It certainly was brought almost to the state of an art by Leo Bernier. If the Liberals across the way or the group adjacent feel a little uncomfortable about having themselves compared to Leo Bernier, and I hope they do, I say that the government has the opportunity to change things in northern Ontario, and there is nothing in the throne speech that indicates it is going to do that.
We have suggested that the government should enter into resource planning agreements with the communities so that, when a company wants to develop an ore body or to get involved in logging or in forestry operations, in fact it enter into an agreement, a five-year plan, with the government and the community so that everybody involved knows the kind of infrastructure the community is going to require, knows the plans of the company and is committed to the ongoing expansion of the community. But there is nothing in the throne speech of any kind like that.
There is not even any mention in the throne speech about reforestation programs. Those of us who have been working in northern Ontario for some time will know that under the previous government, historically, only about one third of the cutover areas in northern Ontario were regenerated. Another third was supposed to regenerate itself and another third was left barren.
It is true that the previous government, in the last couple of years before its demise, set up the forest management agreements to try to get the industry involved in replanting the forests. Those forest management agreements deal only with the cutover areas that are happening now, they do not deal with the backlog, and there is a tremendous backlog, to the point where the member for Cochrane North, the Minister of Northern Development, would admit that in the Hearst area in 10 years we may be short of timber. Already in the Chapleau area there is not enough timber to support the number of mills.
Timber is being transported many, many miles to mills now because we have had a history of cut it out and get out. I am talking about this as if it were a problem, but frankly I consider it a great opportunity and a challenge that we must meet. I think we could produce a tremendous number of jobs in our reforestation program. As a member of the opposition, I hope that what I am saying is not falling on deaf ears the way it did with the previous government.
My colleague the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) would certainly agree with me that one of the ways we could be producing jobs and employment in northern Ontario is to ensure that we refine the ores that we dig out of the ground in northern Ontario in our province. The previous government continued the situation where companies such as Falconbridge export the ore for refining to Norway. This government likes to think of itself as a government of reform and change. Was there any comment, any reference at all to that in the throne speech? Are we going to change the regulations to require that the regulations in the Mining Act are followed, that companies that mine in the north refine in the north, or even in Ontario at all?
Mr. Wildman: Oh, I have driven him across the way already. We have heard from members of the Liberal Party in the throne speech debate. They have listed things the government has done or promised for northern Ontario, and that is normally what government members do in a throne speech debate. That is not unusual. It is not surprising, but I am surprised that they would in fact raise things such as the amount of money the government is going to spend on roads in northern Ontario.
The government, when it announced in the budget last spring that it was going to budget an additional $26 million for roads in northern Ontario this year, was a little taken aback when we said that was a pittance. The reason we said it was a pittance was that an official of the Ministry of Transportation informed us that it cost $1 million to build one mile of new highway in northern Ontario and up to $2 million if rock has to be moved. Anybody that knows anything about the topography of northern Ontario understands that we have a lot of rock. It costs a great deal to build roads. For $26 million what do we get? I guess we get 13 miles of road, or maybe, at the most, 20 to 26 miles of road. I thought perhaps this was one of the government’s commitments to tourism in northern Ontario, that it was going to build one section of good road in northern Ontario somewhere. I do not know where. I suppose it would then advertise in Ontario North Now and through their Ministry of Tourism and Recreation programs and say, “Come and travel on this portion of road; see what a good road is really like,” because $26 million is not going to do anything for the construction of roads in northern Ontario. There is a tremendous backlog.
One of the problems we have, I will admit, is that the previous government, through its restraint program from 1976 on, I guess, did not budget enough money to maintain the roads, much less expand the highway network that we have in northern Ontario.
We were told by the officials of the ministry that they must renew or upgrade about seven per cent of the Ontario highway system each year in order just to maintain it, but since 1976 the government has been maintaining only between three and four per cent of the highway system in this province each year. That means each year there was about a three per cent compounded backlog developing of roads that needed to be upgraded. So it is a problem for this government to respond to that need, but $26 million was not going to do anything about it, much less the promise that was made at the time that this would mean we would in fact see the four-laning of the Trans-Canada Highway in northern Ontario.
The Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) and the federal Minister of Transport have been playing sort of an Abbott and Costello act about funding of the four-laning of Highway 17 through northern Ontario. It is sort of the “Who’s on first?” act. The Minister of Transportation says he asked Mr. Crosbie for $2.7 billion to assist in upgrading Highway 17. Mr. Crosbie has informed us that he stated in a letter to my federal colleague, the member for Kenora-Rainy River, Mr. Parry, the following:
“As no large-scale improvement program for the Trans-Canada Highway has been initiated by the provincial government, nor have any relevant official representations been received by the federal authorities, I cannot envisage any federal involvement in the project.”
I do not know what that means. I suspect it means that if the Minister of Transportation did make any representations to Mr. Crosbie, Mr. Crosbie did not consider them relevant, or maybe he did not consider the minister relevant. Either that or it means Mr. Crosbie thought the request for $2.6 billion or $2.7 billion, whatever it was, was frivolous and not serious.
At any rate, I think this is a bit much for the Minister of Transportation to go around saying he asked the federal government for money and it said no; and have the federal government, on the other hand, say, “Well, we haven’t had any serious requests; there’s no project planned and we’re not going to get involved.”
I welcome the acceleration of some road projects in the throne speech. Highway 129 in my riding is supposed to be upgraded at a faster pace than was originally planned, and I welcome that, but it is important to recognize that there are hundreds of millions of dollars committed by this government for upgrading roads in Metropolitan Toronto and very, very little for roads in the north.
We all recognize that there is a tremendous traffic problem in southern Ontario, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto, and there needs to be assistance for roads in this area. But there is no commitment on the part of this government to four-laning Highway 17 through northern Ontario. The fact of the matter is that once you get past Kenora and across the Manitoba border, you are driving on a very good road, a four-lane highway; and as soon as you hit Ontario, you are headed back into the bush, you are on a bush road.
There are a number of other things that have to be responded to in northern Ontario. We all have recognized in this House, I think, that there is a serious shortage in northern Ontario of medical services, which are taken for granted in the rest of the province. We have a shortage of medical practitioners and therapists in northern Ontario.
I recognize that in the election campaign the Premier promised more bursaries for therapists who might be prepared to go and practise in northern Ontario. I think the Premier’s heart is in the right place in that proposal, but the fact is, regrettably, it will not work. That is a continuation again of the same kind of approaches that were taken by the Conservatives in trying to attract professionals into northern Ontario, and it does not work.
The main reason it does not work is that medical professionals and therapists do not choose to practise in northern Ontario, not so much because of income or assistance for education but because they feel cut off from their colleagues in their own fields and they do not have the same kind of contact with new developments.
The only way we are going to resolve this is if we again follow the example that we saw in Sweden and if the government bucks the educational system and the medical profession and says it is going to establish a medical school in northern Ontario and training facilities for therapists in the north, so that we can train more northerners in the north and find that most of them will practise in the north after they graduate. They will be close to new research developments and teaching facilities in their areas. They will not feel as isolated and will be able to practise in the north.
It will cost a good deal of money, but if a province like Saskatchewan can afford to have a major university medical school and training facilities for therapists in its small province, an area of our province which has approximately the same population as Saskatchewan could, in fact, support the same, if this government was prepared to do it. There was no comment at all about that in the throne speech.
There is a comment in the throne speech that there is an effort by the government to have more services for the elderly to assist them to stay in their own homes, and I welcome that. There was a pilot project in my part of the province on that over the last couple of years that has proved very successful. I want to emphasize, though, that while we support that initiative, it cannot in any way inhibit the development of the EldCap program in northern Ontario. Specifically, in my area, there have been applications from Wawa, Hornepayne and Blind River.
The previous government announced that program and then sat on it and did not do anything. Nothing happened. I think there were 12 applications and none of them were approved; just nothing happened. Leo Bernier went around talking about it, and it was basically a lot of hot air because it did not mean anything. I suppose it might have been delivered if Leo could have ridden a fire truck into town with the siren blazing and the light going. Then it would have come about, but it did not.
When we got this change of government, one of the first things we as New Democrats put in the negotiation of the accord was the EldCap program, and the government said, “Yes, we are going to act on it.” Initially, they did go around, they accepted applications, they asked for consultants’ reports and so on, but the fact remains that as yet we still do not have any of those facilities and no comment about them in the throne speech.
Obviously, a lot of the comments I made about northern Ontario economy relate to what is seen as a major issue before us, and that is free trade. In the throne speech the government reiterates its concerns about the proposed Mulroney trade agreement. It states that we have not seen the final text and so we cannot comment on it. It says that the Liberal government in Ontario believes that the federal Conservatives have given up more than they have gained in these negotiations. It says, and I agree, that this proposed agreement does not ensure access to US markets and it states that Canadian products are not shielded from US restrictive practices.
All of those statements are quite true, but what is missing in the throne speech is a statement of what this government is going to do to live up to the commitment made by the Premier during the election campaign that there would be no deal unless the conditions set forward by the Premier were met.
The proponents of a free trade agreement with the United States have been selling it in northern Ontario on the basis that we need a binding trade dispute settlement mechanism that would get us out of the situation of having to continue to fight countervailing actions by United States industries and antidumping legislation in the United States.
What this agreement apparently sets forward is some kind of panel that will be the final appeal body. You would be able to go to this panel rather than to the courts to deal with trade disputes. That is an improvement, but it is not the kind of binding dispute settlement mechanism that the proponents said we needed. Even the president of the Interprovincial Steel and Pipe Corp., the Saskatchewan steel producer, has stated that this agreement does not protect us from antidumping measures in the United States.
Such a dispute settlement mechanism was one of the six conditions set forward by the Premier in the election campaign. The panel does not do that. All the panel does is review any decision that is taken, for instance, a countervail duty that is imposed, on the basis of trying to determine whether it is in accordance with US law; or on the other hand, if it is an American who is appealing, whether a countervail done by the Canadian government is in accordance with Canadian law. It does not exempt us from the full application of American trade law. Even from the point of view of the proponents of freer trade, I do not see how anyone can support this deal.
What did the throne speech say this government was going to do about it? In the throne speech it was stated that the Premier would introduce a resolution in the House, once the final text is brought forward, that the matter would be referred to a committee of the House. In my view, that does not do very much. It certainly does not assist the softwood lumber operators who are having to deal with the 15 per cent tax on their exports.
Again, I thought perhaps I was being too harsh with the Premier. I listened to what he said during the election campaign and I thought that just because I am opposed to free trade -- and I do not think it will help this province, in fact it will mean the loss of a lot of jobs -- perhaps I was being unfair and that I should consult again with some unbiased media people to see what they had to say about the agreement.
I have an editorial from the Ottawa Citizen. I do not know what the political stripe of the Ottawa Citizen is, but it is certainly not a New Democratic Party periodical. On occasion, it has been known to support the Liberal Party, and on other occasions it has been known to support the Conservative Party. At any rate, I thought that, being in touch with the national scene as an Ottawa periodical would be, it would be a good one to consult about the proposed trade agreement Mulroney has signed with Reagan.
The Ottawa Citizen says: “The throne speech merely repeated Peterson’s concerns about the free trade deal signed last month. He believes Canada has given up more than it has gained, that security of access to the US market is not guaranteed, that Canadian exporters are not protected from restrictive US trade practices.
“However, the brief, seven-paragraph reference to free trade in the 28-page speech only hinted at what the Liberal government might do to block a deal that it considers to be disastrous for the province. Nowhere in the speech, for example, does the government indicate it might try to block the free trade deal, possibly by refusing to implement those elements of the package that fall within provincial jurisdiction.”
It is most disappointing that in the throne speech the government did not make clear what its “bottom line” really is on free trade. During the election campaign the Premier seemed to make it very clear that there would be no deal unless certain conditions were met, and now he seems to have moved his bottom line to the point of saying there will be a debate on free trade because these conditions were not met, but not that the deal would be blocked by Ontario.
He has even indicated that he does not know how the deal might be blocked by Ontario. He never said that in the election campaign. He never went to the people of this province and said: "We are concerned about this deal as proposed by Mulroney. We do not think it will be good for Ontario. We think it will mean a loss of jobs in this province, but we do not know what we can do about it.” That is not what he said to the people of this province. He said, “There will be no deal.” That is what is so alarming about this government.
Mr. Wildman: We hear one of the supporters of the Treasury bench, the member for Kitchener (Mr. D. R. Cooke) saying, how would I block it? I did not go to the people of Algoma and say, “If you elect a New Democratic Party government in Ontario, there will be no deal.” In fact, what I said was: “I am very concerned about this deal and what it may mean for jobs in this province and I am opposed to it. I do not think this Premier or this government should have agreed to the negotiations and if this government has a veto, the government should exercise it.”
I also said that I thought the federal government should call an election on the issue before it is implemented and that if it was confident the people of this country were in favour of free trade, it should go to the electorate and fight an election on free trade. That is what I said.
But no, the Liberals said: “Vote for the Liberals and there will be no deal if it is not good enough for Ontario. There will be no deal.” That is what they said. Now they are saying, “What can we do about it?” Frankly, that was phoney. It was a phoney campaign. They did not say: “We are concerned. We do not think this is a good deal. We are opposed to what Mr. Mulroney is doing but we do not know what we as a provincial government might be able to do about it.” No, the Premier said there would be no deal. Well, that is phoney.
I also want to consult with another unbiased media outlet. In this case I went to one that I am sure the members would all agree does not support my party. This is Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun. He says in an editorial that was written in early November, this month, in the Toronto Sun:
“Now, having received that mandate and decided that it” -- the deal -- “is bad, he has abandoned that posture, saying that while he’s against free trade he can’t stop it and doesn’t want to lead the fight against it.
I think that sums up this government’s position. It said, “Vote for us and we will stop free trade.” After the people voted for them, they said: “We are not sure if we can stop it. We are concerned about it and we are going to continue the debate but we are not even going to debate outside of this province. We do not want to lead a fight against the federal government in this debate.”
The one other area I want to refer to before I close is agriculture. As members will know, in my constituency we have a number of dairy producers, sheep producers and also pork producers who are very concerned about free trade. The pork producers are thinking that perhaps it might not be bad for them, but they are not sure. The dairy producers are very worried. They think that it is not as bad as it might have been because there appears to be protection of supply management in the agreement, but they are very concerned about import quotas and what it might mean for products such as ice cream and yoghurt. So there is a good deal of confusion on their part.
I do not think that is too surprising because the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) himself is rather confused. I heard a speech he gave in which he stated that perhaps we could have free trade or maybe not. That was the sum total of his speech, sort of like the Mackenzie King approach to politics: free trade, if necessary, but not necessarily free trade. It is certainly the case that in this throne speech, agriculture in general was given a very low priority. All we have is a motherhood statement that the government will continue to use innovative approaches for assisting Ontario farmers, and that is it. That is all it says about agriculture in the whole 28-page speech.
Mr. Wildman: Let us look at the record. This government only spends 1.4 per cent of the total budget on agriculture. That is the lowest of any provincial jurisdiction in this country. We face a crisis of foreclosures in the agricultural sector. More than 1 million acres have gone out of production in the last 10 years. That is 275 acres a day. The Ontario farm debt has increased from just under $1 million to over $5 billion over the last 20 years. Right now, servicing farm debt eats up about half of the farmer’s net income. Farmers in Ontario today face a 50-50 chance of having to go before the Farm Debt Review Board in the next year. Over the last nine years, the average net income of farmers has declined by 30 per cent in real terms.
There is no program in Ontario for long-term interest for farmers. The Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program is of some assistance. It is a good program but it does not meet the need. I am sure that my friend the member for Essex-Kent (Mr. McGuigan) would agree with the position that we are in a very serious situation in terms of agriculture and the preservation of the primary industry in this province. I regret that the government chose not to make any commitment in the throne speech to resolving those problems. For too long in Ontario, we have said, “It is up to the federal government, in conjunction with the other provinces, to act.” We cannot continue to pass the buck to the federal government; we must act on our own.
I do not think that this throne speech indicated a commitment on the part of the government to respond to the needs of northern Ontario. I do not think it indicated a commitment on the part of the government to protect Ontario from the Mulroney deal with Reagan. I do not think there was any attempt in the throne speech to respond to the serious needs that the agricultural communities face in this province. For that reason, I find the throne speech very disappointing.
At the outset, I said I did not know what to expect when we came in for His Honour’s speech. I did not know whether we were going to see a continuation of the dynamic reform program that was initiated after the change of government as a result of the accord between the Liberals and the New Democrats or whether we were going to see a government that was prepared to rest on its laurels, perhaps return to the small-c conservative approach of the previous government, the “bland works” approach. Unfortunately, it appears that is what we have seen. There is no commitment to change in responding to the serious needs of those parts of Ontario that are not experiencing the same boom in the economy that we see in Metropolitan Toronto. Instead, we have a government that seems self-satisfied and complacent. I regret that.
I hope the new members of the House elected in September will do all they can to ensure that this government responds to the needs of their constituents and the province as a whole, rather than sitting back, simply listing a number of programs and saying, “Look at all the wonderful things we have done,” and ignoring the serious problems; rather than meeting the challenge and making it possible to use the great potential in human and economic terms that we have in Ontario to build a better province for all of the people of this great part of Canada.
Mr. Villeneuve: The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) quite obviously is very interested in what is happening and what did not happen in this speech from the throne. I was somewhat amazed that he mentioned that pork producers were not sure where they stood on free trade. I must tell him that the pork producers in the great riding that I represent know where they stand on free trade.
I would also like to question the member for Algoma regarding beef producers. I know beef is a very important industry in northwestern Ontario and I am sure he has a number of cow/calf producers. I would like him to comment on what their reaction may be to the prospects of free trade -- a free trade agreement as being proposed.
There was a question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food yesterday regarding the very strong possibility that tariffs would be imposed on imported yoghurt and ice cream. If that indeed occurs or historical situations are put into place where there would not be any more yoghurt or ice cream coming in from the United States as there has traditionally been, I believe, with all due respect, that the status quo as we have known will then be a thing of the past.
We are facing the realities of 600 protectionist bills by the United States in the omnibus bill that is coming forth. We need to remind our friends at the federal level, the Minister of Agriculture for Canada and many in the federal cabinet, that we must work together towards reinforcing this agreement and not be subject to this omnibus bill that would be very detrimental, not only to the basic producers. Northern Ontario would benefit from a free trade agreement outside of agriculture, and I believe agriculture, for the people the member represents, would be benefited.
He forgot to mention that this government increased the agricultural budget by 72 per cent, somewhat over half a billion dollars. While the percentage holds fairly constant, or it is better than it was, it is because the economy in general has been rising at such a rate. When we take a look at it in absolute dollars, this government has committed more money to agriculture in two years, an increase in two years, than any other government on record.
There are some hopeful signs. I will mention that they are small signs, but there are some hopeful signs. One is that the GATT people have now agreed to take a look at subsidies. The United States has said it is aiming by the end of the century to try to reduce those subsidies to zero. I do not expect that is going to happen. Knowing politics in various countries, I think it is not liable to happen. Nevertheless, there are some moves towards that.
Just to give an example of the distortions that there are in agriculture, in the European Community countries, for the energy component in feeding their chickens, instead of feeding them the barley they raise in Europe -- and they raise some corn there -- they feed them tapioca, which they bring in from Thailand. Can you imagine such a distortion? A product that is produced by hand labour in Thailand is brought into the EC to feed the chickens.
Mr. Wildman: I thank the members for their comments and questions. In response to my friend from the united counties, I did not say that the pork producers were unsure. What I said generally is that members of the farm community, as well as other members of the community as a whole, are confused about free trade, and that while the pork producers think they would benefit --
Mr. Wildman: I am, frankly. I am confused about this government’s approach. The pork producers generally are in favour of the free trade agreement, as are, I think, the beef producers. But they are concerned about what this may mean in the long run. That goes for the dairy producers as well. That is basically what I meant to say.
I think it is important to recognize, though, that even if the free trade agreement is ratified, it will not protect Canada, the farmers or anyone from the omnibus trade bill that is being introduced in the Congress of the United States. In fact, the agreement does not come into effect until 1989; so all of the protectionist measures that are passed between now and then will have effect and the so-called agreement between Mulroney and Reagan will not protect us at all. The member should not try to tell us that we will be protected from the omnibus bill by this agreement. We will not be.
In response to my friend the member for Essex-Kent, it is true that this government has increased the total dollars spent on agriculture. I applaud that, but the fact remains that we still are the lowest provincial jurisdiction in Canada in terms of the percentage of our budget that we spend on agriculture. That is most regrettable. I think this province, which is supposed to be the richest in this country, should be able to support its agricultural community at a far greater level than 1.4 per cent of the total provincial budget. I think it is shameful that there is nothing more than a motherhood comment in the throne speech about agriculture.
Mrs. Marland: At the outset, I think it is certainly worth noting that in the House at this moment we have one member of the cabinet; the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Ramsay) is here. We now have 13 members present in total, which is really significant now that we have 95 Liberal members.
Mrs. Marland: Oh, I am sorry. I forgot the rump to my left. With respect, I add five more members. That would give us 18 members present out of 95. Perhaps that is an indication of the commitment of these members to their own throne speech. Certainly, we will take great regard for that indication.
I think it is unfortunate that no other cabinet member but the Minister of Correctional Services is present. That is significant in the light of the fact that sometimes, when we have these debates, there are ongoing meetings of committees that conflict with our time here in the House. Today that is not the reason, since there are no committees meeting today. I think that is a significant note.
We certainly were very well aware during the recent campaign that one of the major priorities for the Liberal Party in Ontario was education. When I saw what their announcements were and where they were stepping up their priorities, I thought that was a very interesting statement, if it was a statement of the change in their commitment to education in Ontario.
However, in rising today to speak in response to this most recent throne speech, I may say that in the last two and a half years I have had the privilege of rising to speak in response now to four throne speeches. In fact, in order to do that, I could probably just as well have brought into the House today the comments from my first response to their first throne speech. That is interesting, because it was their first throne speech in how many years did we hear over and over again? -- in 42 years. This was the great new opportunity for Ontario.
I want to say I am very disappointed that this great new opportunity for Ontario simply has not materialized for those people who supported the Liberal Party. It must be a tremendous disappointment for those people who, in supporting the Liberal Party in this election particularly, thought that it was going to be something new, innovative and certainly would respond to the needs of the people of this province.
In dealing with the priority of education, we have to look in reality at the fact that this throne speech does not address or meet the needs for education in this province. We heard a great deal about the reduction of class size. In the region of Peel, the average class size is 25; so the big announcement to reduce the class sizes in two grades only, grades 1 and 2, when in Peel the average class size in elementary school is already 25, did not bear any relevance or have any impact on the people whom I represent.
If they are going to talk about reducing class size, we had better know where those classes are going to be in the physical sense. I have very many parents of children in both the public system and the separate school system in the region of Peel who would willingly say: “Just give me a class or just give me a room. Just give me something other than a portable for my children.”
When you look at that issue of portables in the Dufferin-Peel board in particular, I think they now have in excess of 400 portables in the region of Peel and Dufferin county. That is not a satisfactory service. That is not a satisfactory approach to providing education for the children today in this wealthy province. It is very clear that education is underfunded in Ontario, and it is still going to be underfunded after the statements that have been made in this throne speech.
If you go back to a previous election and look again very closely at the promises made by the Liberals at that time, and certainly by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) himself, the Liberal Party in 1985 promised that it would restore the 60 per cent funding for education. That was two and a half years ago. Is it not interesting that four throne speeches later we are not experiencing an increase in the percentage of provincial funding for education, but we are experiencing a decrease? It is very sad, and it is particularly sad in the region of Peel because, quite honestly, that equation in the region of Peel drops down to 27 per cent from the province.
The people whom I represent are very concerned about that because the cost of education has increased, naturally, and where the tax base is the source for funding education, we certainly are looking in Mississauga and the region of Peel at paying almost 75 cents on the dollar in property taxes for education.
I have a letter from the chairman of the Peel Board of Education, and I quote from her letter of October 21, 1987. The chairman of the Peel board is Mrs. Margaret McKee. In this letter to me, she says, “While the board is dealt with fairly by the Ministry of Education personnel complying with existing rules, the constraints under which these rules are applied requires examination.”
The Peel Board of Education is the largest public school board in Canada, and today it is a school system with insufficient accommodation. Peel requested $32 million for new school construction in 1987 and -- take careful note -- it received $24 million, which was an $8-million shortfall. In 1988, Peel requires $43 million for new school construction. Over the next five years, the Peel Board of Education will require $130 million for new school construction.
There are currently 356 portables at Peel schools, and this number will likely increase to over 500 portables by September 1988. It is less than one year away until we are looking at 500 portables in the region of Peel.
Why is Peel competing for capital allocations within the central region of the Ministry of Education, where there is a great deal of growth, instead of being considered against provincial priorities? Why is there competition between requests for financing new school construction and upgrading older facilities? I may say, since quite a part of my riding has older schools, that we are now in a situation where the parent-teacher groups are fund-raising to redecorate the schools, simply because there is no budget for simple maintenance and upgrading. Certainly, upgrading an older school to today’s standards is an issue itself, but when schools cannot budget for simple maintenance in an older building because of the shortage of funding, that is pretty extreme.
The province has a rule that requires boards to adopt a school closure policy. The Peel Board of Education has closed 11 schools since 1979. Therefore, the goodwill on the part of the Peel board to be committed to a provincial policy and direction is well demonstrated.
Over a large number of years, the Peel board has produced sound data to support capital allocations from the province; yet insufficient money is made available for school construction and upgrading. The result is that portable classrooms are becoming a replacement for permanent accommodation. It seems to be accepted that if there is some kind of accommodation for these students, it does not matter any more that it is a portable. It does not matter that portables themselves cause very grave program limitations.
The problem is that priorities are established against unclear, outdated rules, ministry traditions and unclear government direction. For example, the Peel board was directed by the Ministry of Education to include accommodation for day care in its most recently approved schools. This is a particularly interesting point. This required a redesign of existing school plans. A recent memorandum from the ministry requesting capital forecasts states that plans for day care should not be included in future school approval requests. Until the expectations for day care are clarified, it is difficult to design schools efficiently and reserve appropriate-sized school sites.
Is that not amazing? On the one hand, a school board is asked to provide accommodation for day care in its plans. The school boards go to the expense of having new schools redesigned, and then the ministry says, “We do not want to hear about it in your long-term forecasts.”
It is very difficult to reserve school sites. When a municipality is approving plans for subdivisions, there are certain acreages set aside for the use of the school board which relate to whatever type of school it is. It also relates to the amount of acreage that has to be reserved.
That land costs money. How can any planning be done, either by the municipality or by a school board, when we have a Ministry of Education that on the one hand is saying, “Provide for this service,” and on the other hand is saying, “But don’t tell us about it, because we don’t want to hear about it.”
Also complicating the range of planning variables is the announcement made in the recent provincial election campaign to reduce the class size at the primary level. Will this result in more portable classrooms, or will the construction of permanent facilities further aggravate the ability of trustees to prioritize capital requisitions?
I really wish, before this Ministry of Education decided, through its minister, that this reduction of class size should be a priority, that it had talked to the parents, that it had dealt honestly with the regional school boards. I think it is very unfair to campaign with a great big carrot that says, “Vote for us; we will reduce the class size,” without ever saying to the people they are asking to vote for them, “That will cost you X dollars on your property taxes,” because as long as this Ministry of Education is not funding the cost of education at the percentage and at the level it should be, every time it announces a new program, there is nobody who pays for it except the person at the local property tax level.
When we have elderly people who are being taxed out of their homes because of the fact that they are paying 60 cents on their local municipal tax dollar for education, then I have to ask, is it fair to introduce programs and announce programs, as a campaign ploy, which simply cannot be funded, cannot be afforded? Is it honest to campaign with those kinds of promises?
It is interesting, because when you think about the impact on the local school board -- and I have given members the multimillion-dollar shortfall in the region of Peel alone -- when we are looking at an $8-million shortfall this year for capital construction, we are not even talking about the luxury of the program that will go into those buildings; we are talking about having the buildings. When those requests are made by the Peel Board of Education, they are not made by some formula out of the sky. They are made because the kids are there. The children are there. They need those classrooms. They need those schools today.
On the one hand, the provincial Liberal government is saying, “We cannot give you that money.” We heard it all last year from the former Minister of Education, the Minister of Mines (Mr. Conway). He had done what he could for this board and that board. Yet during the Liberal election promises on the campaign trail, they said: “But we will reduce the class size for you. We will just please all the parents of all the grade 1’s and grade 2’s, because we are now going to reduce the class size from 30 to 20.”
I think it is dishonest. I think it is dishonest because they know that if they announce a program like that, they are not going to be paying for it. The local person is paying for it on his property taxes.
It is also dishonest for me personally because, tragically, I have -- as I am sure every member in this House has -- an unlimited number of young children in need of special education in this province, for whom there are no programs. The reason there are no programs is that the government says it cannot afford them.
Do not tell me the government cannot afford a program for my 10-year-old boy, an example in my riding, who can neither walk nor speak. Members can imagine the very specialized program that young child needs. Do not tell me the government cannot afford a program for him and then tell me on the campaign trail that it can afford to reduce class size from 30 to 20. I really find that I have become rather disillusioned about the whole process of election campaign promises.
The Peel Board of Education will implement a junior kindergarten program in September 1988. This decision is consistent with Ministry of Education philosophy for early childhood education. To what extent will the province provide financial support to accommodate students in this program?
I could probably talk about education alone for two or three hours because there are many areas of concern. I come from a very strong background, having been a trustee on the Peel Board of Education for four years. I know the problems that are faced in education today. If there is one thing I would like to ask this government -- I certainly am pleased to see that the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Ward) has arrived, because perhaps --
Through this record in Hansard I will request that the Minister of Education clarify the rules for capital allocation requests, because until that is done, those allocation requests will not eliminate all the accommodation problems. If he would at least clarify the rules for capital allocation, it would certainly help.
Another area that was certainly used by the Liberal Party in the campaign was what they were going to do for affordable housing. Certainly last week and this week in this House we have heard the questions and we have heard the answers by the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek): absolutely no answers. When you have a Premier, as we had, go around this province in the last campaign and promise 102,000 new housing units in three years, that was probably a very exciting statement, a very exciting announcement. However, the sad part is that we now know that was wrong, too. That, too, was dishonest.
At this point, I would just interrupt my response to the throne speech to welcome Madam Speaker and congratulate her on that appointment. It certainly is a wonderful day in the Ontario Legislature to have you, Madam Speaker, in that chair.
The Premier campaigned promising 102,000 new housing units in three years, but now we have learned that it is in fact 66,000 units, and not even in three years but over five years. We have the tremendous reduction in units and we have an added two years. We are looking at 66,000 units in five years, yet in the throne speech we had a commitment to “continue to directly create and preserve low- and moderately-priced housing.” I have to ask: How is that going to happen soon enough even to meet the commitment that was made in the campaign? We now know that commitment was impossible, is impossible.
Therefore, a commitment, made on a campaign, which is totally impossible is, in my opinion, totally dishonest and unfair. It is unfair to those people who thought: “We will vote Liberal this time because they are going to get us a house; they are going to get us an apartment unit; they are going to help us get off these waiting lists.” It has not happened.
We also heard the big fanfare that the Ministry of Housing is going to use government lands to increase the overall supply of affordable housing. I understand they are looking closely at using perhaps the government lands in the Rouge Valley. Perhaps they had better look very closely before they step in that direction. That will be a direction in the wrong way.
It is a very interesting experience to go through a campaign, as I did, my first re-election campaign in the provincial Legislature. Although after 14 years in politics I have had lots of experience with campaigns, I never realized before how it works at the Ontario level. I did learn a great deal. One example I would like to give members is on the subject of sound barriers.
In my riding, which is the south part of Mississauga, the northern boundary is the Queen Elizabeth Way. For two years I have been asking the Minister of Transportation (Mr. Fulton) for some segments of sound barriers along the south side of the Queen Elizabeth Way. For two years I was told that, other than the ones that had already been allocated on a priority basis, we would have to wait for this final segment, and it may be interesting to tell members where that is. The south side from east of Erin Mills Parkway over to Highway 10, I was told when I was asking the minister, was not in the budget and was not affordable. Is it not amazing how these money trees suddenly appear during election campaigns? Suddenly, on August 31, 1987, there was a very exciting news release from the Minister of Transportation and Communications. This says:
“Additional funding for noise barriers, Toronto. The province will double its yearly expenditure for highway noise barriers with an additional allocation of $2 million, Ontario Minister of Transportation and Communications, Ed Fulton, said today.”
Mrs. Marland: It is very, very interesting. It actually talks about two sites, the one that I have just referred to in my riding, and one elsewhere. I am wondering if the member in the other area even knows anything about it.
What is interesting about that announcement -- and I note with some sadness the applause of the Liberal members of the government side of the House to my reading this statement -- is that now you should know, Madam Speaker, that there has been no mention of this announcement in any government publication since. I understand it is not even included in the five-year plan of the Ministry of Transportation, as it is now called, and I use the new name for that ministry.
It is amazing that on August 31 there was this big announcement, yet we have not heard anything of it since. I understand the staff has received no instruction to begin design, that there is no engineering study, and I know that the design and the engineering study itself will take at least two years. Yet here was the announcement, here was the funding and nobody in the ministry knows anything about it, no one has been given any direction since then.
Is it any wonder that the people who heard this -- and of course it made all the media, and certainly the person running as the Liberal candidate in this area went up and down the road, knocking on the doors of the homes that back on to the Queen Elizabeth Way saying, “Look what my government will get for you” -- I am glad that those people who obviously demonstrated their faith in the Conservative candidate for that area recognized this for what it was. It was a campaign ploy, a campaign ploy the same as the one I gave the example of in terms of education.
It is very sad to note how this government really works with its announcements to mislead the people. I would not mind that announcement being made if it were now being followed up, but I challenge the Minister of Transportation, who obviously is not in the House today, to try to tell us when this is going to be built.
Mr. Ferraro: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: With respect to the honourable member, I sat here and listened to her use some words like “dishonest” on a number of occasions, and now to say the word “misleading,” when in fact she does not know categorically for a fact whether the minister is going to withdraw that promise or not. I quite frankly need a ruling, and indeed, I think an apology is in order.
Mr. Pouliot: Madam Speaker, with respect, I would like to draw your attention to the standing orders. I was just reviewing them for my own speech tomorrow. With respect, standing order 19(d)8 states, “Makes allegations against another member,” and we have heard some pretty unparliamentary and very strong language.
Mrs. Marland: Madam Speaker, I would be happy to withdraw the word “misleading” if I were saying that the person in the House was misleading. I said the statement is misleading, I did not say the person, and Hansard will show that I was referring to this statement, this press release, as being misleading.
Mr. Ferraro: With respect, Madam Speaker, whether or not she indicated an individual by name or in a statement, it implies motive, and if she is indicating that someone is misleading the House, it is the same thing.
Mrs. Marland: Thank you for your fairness and your ruling, Madam Speaker. I think you will feel assured when you see the Hansard that I was referring to this news release and that the member who challenged me was actually wrong, but I accept the fact that now that the member for Guelph has arrived in the House, he is very stimulated by my speech, and I welcome him to listen to my response to the throne speech.
In dealing with the subject of the environment, obviously in my riding in Mississauga South, with all the south end of my riding having as the boundary the north shore of Lake Ontario or a portion thereof, I am very concerned about a number of areas regarding the environment.
In particular, I would like to just refer to the fact that we have something unique taking place in Mississauga South, and that is the decommissioning of an oil refinery, namely, the Texaco plant. There is another oil refinery being decommissioned in Oakville, I understand, and there is one in Alberta, but this is unique, obviously. We are just now coming to the point in our history in our country where refineries may be decommissioned.
The decommissioning of the Texaco lands is very critical to the people who live not only within the immediate area but also within the community as a whole because we are concerned about the future use of those lands and the safety of the use of those lands. So that is an area I am monitoring very carefully, not only as the Environment critic for the Conservative Party but also as the representative for that community. Obviously, before those lands can be used for any safe redevelopment purpose, the Ministry of the Environment is going to have to have developed very close, tight criteria, and it is my intention to monitor the development of those criteria very closely.
While we are looking at the subject of the environment, we have to look at the subject of garbage disposal. I am very proud to tell members that in the city of Mississauga we do have a recycling program as part of the regular garbage pickup, and that is something I would like to see this government show some direction in.
I would like to challenge this government to make recycling of domestic garbage mandatory in municipalities across the province, mandatory from the standpoint that it obviously puts to use some of the garbage that previously went into landfill sites. Also, it will reduce the amount of landfill-site property that will be needed around the province, and just simply, there has to be a solution as to what to do with garbage.
I think of the problem that Metro is having in solving its site; I think of the example of Tiny township now; there are examples around the province where what municipalities can do with their volumes of garbage is a very real problem. Certainly the Ministry of the Environment has not given us any excitement in the throne speech as to what it is willing to do in terms of funding a solution for garbage.
Energy-from-waste plants are a consideration right now in Brampton. There is a site that is being proposed for an EFW, the Petro-Sun proposal. That is going through its environmental assessment, but in reality, the solution for EFW plants has to be one that we do not leap into but that we move towards very cautiously, as with very strict protection for the future environment.
On a provincial base, we have to look at our responsibility in Ontario for the water quality in the Great Lakes. On that point, I would hope to see very soon that there is an announcement that the select committee on the environment, which held meetings earlier this year in Ontario, will be resumed. We have not yet seen an announcement about that select committee.
The select committee on the environment, on which I was fortunate enough to sit as a member, had only begun its discussions and its responsibility towards the needs for the future planning of the protection of the environment today. We had dealt with the subject of acid rain only, and we had a whole list of items we were looking forward to pursuing. I am certainly confident that the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier) of the New Democratic Party will be as concerned as I am to ensure that the select committee on the environment is reinstated and starts meetings as early as possible.
We were going to be looking at the quality of the water in Lake Ontario as it related to the contributions from New York state through the Niagara River of all the contaminants that we are concerned about. We have been waiting for several years for air pollution regulations. I do not see those yet. We certainly have to have those as quickly as possible.
Another thing that really concerned me about this throne speech was the fact that for the first time in 10 years there was no mention of acid rain. Does that suddenly mean that in this government’s opinion the subject of acid rain is no longer a priority, not even of concern enough to be mentioned in the throne speech? I really challenge that.
I also want to question the number of exemptions that have been made by this Liberal government under the Environmental Assessment Act. I happen to have a list here of those exemptions. There are 61 exemptions to the environmental assessment process and we know from questions in the House last week that the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) is considering the request, which he has not formally received but we understand is certainly coming, from Metro to exempt its newest garbage landfill-site location.
It is very interesting to look at this list of exemptions because I think that in the throne speech the references to the environment were limited. When we look at this list of exemptions, there are many that are government projects. In fact, even the Ministry of the Environment has many exemptions here, but it is primarily the Ministry of Government Services that has a lot of exemptions. I am sure there would be an explanation for some of them but I have to wonder how the construction of a highway -- in this case it was Highway 403 from Highway 2 and 53 in Ancaster to the Highway 403 bypass in Brantford -- gets an exemption.
I also wonder about the last item on this list which is in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. I do not even know what this would mean. It says, “Straighten the parts of north and east boundaries of the Keele valley landfill.” With the sensitivity of the public to what is done with landfill sites, I really have to wonder how that would be exempt from environmental assessment.
During the last session, I introduced a private member’s bill, Bill 41. I had to introduce that bill because of a concern with rusty water in Mississauga South. It is an example of the fact that in 1987 in Ontario we are faced with major needs for watermain replacements. I know the members are also aware that we have major needs for sewage treatment plants, for upgrading, rebuilding, redesigning and replacement. In my private member’s bill, I asked that the government help fund the replacement of watermains around the province, not only in my riding although in the region of Peel today we have 173 kilometres of watermains that need replacing. The cost today is $50 million but who knows how much it would be by the time that work is done because the cost of that replacement is escalating daily.
We have seen some announcements by the Minister of the Environment to provide money for municipalities to do an inventory of their needs in terms of infrastructure replacement for watermains and sewage treatment plants, but to give the money to do the inventory simply is not enough. It certainly is not enough in a year when this provincial government has a $1.3-billion surplus, more money than any government has ever before had to allocate to needs of this kind of emergency, and I certainly did not see in this throne speech where it was willing to resolve the problem as quickly as it needs to be resolved in order that it is even affordable for the taxpayers in Ontario.
I also noticed that in this throne speech there was an announcement that “an Ecological Reserves Act to preserve areas of outstanding environmental significance” would be introduced by this government. I wonder how that is going to work. I wonder how an Ecological Reserves Act will deal with the possibility that this government is considering building homes in the Rouge Valley.
Also, we have in Mississauga South, the Lakefront Promenade Park. I tell the members this as an example of a very real concern about how the Ministry of Natural Resources is operating. Through the throne speech again I do not see the solution for this problem. Lakefront Promenade Park is a landfill project into Lake Ontario. It needs now $4.5 million to be completed.
On May 12, I had a meeting with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio); the regional chairman of Peel, Frank Bean; the mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion; the mayor of Brampton, Ken Whillans; the general manager of the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, Vicki Barron; and Councillor Harold Kennedy in whose municipal ward the Lakefront Promenade Park exists.
At that meeting on May 12, 1987, the Minister of Natural Resources listened very carefully to their request for the $4.5 million to complete this park. It is not simply for the purpose of being a recreational park; it is also part of a shoreline protection program, so it is utilitarian as well as functional, recreationally speaking.
At this meeting on May 12, the minister assured us that we would have his answer in three weeks’ time. I think the date today is November 17. It does not take very much to calculate from May 12 to November 17 and we are yet to receive the response from the Minister of Natural Resources for the funding to complete Lakefront Promenade Park.
To move to the subject of day care, this again seems to be an area where this government has made many, many promises. So that I will not upset the member for Guelph, I will not describe those promises as anything but delayed. We have been waiting for a policy on day care for two years, since this Liberal government took office. We understand that there is no demonstrated commitment to move on this. This government keeps blaming the federal government for not announcing its policy. I feel that this Liberal government is just pretending to care. They are hoping that the issue will go away. In the meantime, they do not look at any interim solutions.
In dealing with an announcement that was made yesterday in this Legislature pertaining to the disabled, I feel I have to reiterate the comments I made yesterday. The announcement was made by the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Mr. Mancini). He introduced the annual report for 1986-87 of the Ontario Advisory Council for Disabled Persons.
I joined with that minister in commending the people who produced this report, the Ontario Advisory Council for Disabled Persons. This is now a new name, changed from the Ontario Advisory Council on the Physically Handicapped. In tabling this report and commending the people who have put the work into preparing it, I certainly sense some insincerity on the part of the government -- I hope, for the member for Guelph, “insincerity” is appropriate. I sensed some insincerity on the part of the government, a government which yesterday said it would study the recommendations of this report particularly as it pertained to transportation for seniors and the disabled.
However, the report it is going to study, and bear in mind it made this announcement yesterday on November 16, 1987, is called The Freedom to Move is Life Itself. That is a report this advisory council worked extremely hard in preparing. They did a tremendous amount of work. The report deals with access to transportation for the seniors and disabled. What the Minister without Portfolio responsible for the disabled did not say yesterday was that the report was tabled in March 1987. Now, in November, we have an announcement that the government will study the report and perhaps in the new year it will have some recommendations.
I have to challenge the commitment of this government to the disabled people and the seniors and elderly in this province when it has had a report since March and then in November says it will study it. I think it is very unfair to those people who have a very real need today in terms of transportation. If you are physically disabled or you are an elderly person for whom public transportation is a very difficult challenge at best and impossible at worst, I think it is very unfair for a government to have a priority that allows a report to sit from March until November and then says that in the new year, if we are lucky, we will get some recommendations.
When a throne speech makes a statement that the government is going “to continue to expand this network of support services” and “improve access to transportation services for seniors and the disabled,” I have to wonder about it, when it could actually have made announcements of remedies for the problems of transportation for the elderly and the disabled back in -- well, it got the report in March -- maybe May, maybe even in June. Instead of which we lose a whole year for those people who not only need the transportation in order to survive emotionally and socially, but maybe to survive economically, those people who need access to public transportation in order to have jobs and employment.
The throne speech, as far as I am concerned, is a very big disappointment in many areas. I do not see the kinds of remedies for the kinds of human needs in this province today that there should be, when we live in an affluent province such as Ontario. I do not see the programs for the youth. I do not see the skills development. I hear a lot of things that are very much walking the middle of the line.
We hear this government talking about the subject of free trade. I do not think we could have a better example of a middle-of-the-road political position on any subject than this government has on free trade. This government is generating fear. It is giving partial information. It is taking part in a partisan discussion of a very serious issue. This issue of free trade should go beyond the partisan aspect. If everybody could be totally honest on the subject of free trade, we would all decide based on facts, not on misrepresentation and fiction and fear.
Regardless of our political party’s stripe, we have a responsibility not only to the future of this country but also to the future of this province, and I feel this Liberal government in Ontario today should be more responsible, especially when it has a secure, five-year mandate. If it were a responsible government, it would be building competitive strengths.
This throne speech simply has no plans for the future, for harder times that might face us. If we do not plan for the future in the good times, in the affluent times when we have surpluses, then we can look for very serious problems when our financial budget is not in those conditions.
In closing, the one comment I want to make about this speech is that it was in one sentence totally different from the previous throne speech, and I think that has to be the saddest comment of all. The fact that earlier in the year, when we had the other throne speech, we had everything promised to everybody -- and I recognized that that would not in fact enter the real world -- but the fact that we had a throne speech that promises everything to everybody and that we know is impossible to implement, maybe on that score alone this throne speech was more, dare I say, honest? Maybe this throne speech was more representative of the real world.
Then we have to wonder what the throne speech earlier this year meant, where the government promises everything to everyone and has a solution for every single human need in this province, and yet less than six months later, it comes in with a throne speech that seems to ignore those previous commitments, all those previous statements of solutions and remedies for every single cause.
That is my gravest concern about this throne speech: It is so different. I have to ask, is it so different because one was made prior to a pending election? At that time, we did not know when -- at least, we in the opposition did not know when, but I recognize that perhaps even when that throne speech was made, the election date was planned; that is the prerogative of the government. But I really have to wonder if that is the difference between that speech and this one, because in this throne speech we have very little substance of anything. My regret is that, at this time in our history in Ontario, this government had an opportunity to give a throne speech that really meant something in reality for the people of Ontario. I regret that that did not happen, and I regret it on behalf of not only the people in Mississauga South but the people in the province as a whole.
Mr. Ferraro: Let me, by way of editorial, say that it did not go without significant notice that the member mentioned sound barriers in her speech, and I would say there are occasions when we could certainly utilize sound barriers even in the House.
Having said that, she went at great length to talk about the unfulfilled promises of my government. By way of personal experience in my riding in Guelph, for example, her party, the Conservative Party, was in power for 42 years. For 20 years we waited for capital funds for hospital redevelopment. On two occasions they actually committed funds and then subsequently withdrew. It was not until the new Liberal government under the Premier got elected that, indeed, we got the injection of capital funds.
I have a question. I say with respect to my colleague the member for Mississauga South (Mrs. Marland), I have a question. She talked at great length -- and I understand it is part of the job of being in opposition -- and criticized my government and the promises and the unfulfilled promises and used such words as “being dishonest,” which I still do not think is parliamentary.
Having said that, I am just wondering; there were promises indicated by all three parties, as politicians will make during elections. The New Democratic Party, I believe -- and these are the media statistics -- promised something like $4 billion. The Liberal Party was something like $2 billion. The Conservative Party, under Larry Grossman, was going to reduce personal income taxes by 10 per cent and balance the budget, and its total promises amounted to $10 billion. So my question to the member is this: If we are dishonest promising $2 billion, does that necessarily mean the Conservatives are five times as dishonest?
Hon. Mr. Ward: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend the member for Mississauga South for her supportive comments with regard to the government’s initiatives in education. She did make some reference, however, to the funds that are allocated for capital and disbursed to various school boards to meet the needs of the students within the community, and I would just like to remind the honourable member that during her short-lived incarnation as a government member, the total amount of capital funds available in 1985, I believe, was in the neighbourhood of $60 million.
In 1986 when a new government assumed responsibility in this province, that figure was increased to more than double: $134 million; in 1987 the amount was $147 million; and this year it is $226 million, triple the amount that was available in 1985 when her party had the responsibilities of government.
Mrs. Marland: I would just say in response to the member for Guelph that he would perhaps do well not to discuss the subjects of hospitals and hospital funding because unfortunately, because of the delay for the hospital in Barrie, it was my understanding we had some rather tragic incidents because of the way that was bounced back and forth under the present government’s administration.
I want to be very clear about the comment of the member for Guelph about sound barriers sometimes being needed in this House. I always think it is an indication of the source when someone reduces his comments to a personal attack. I do not think I would actually stand in the House and suggest that I would want to miss the speeches of the member for Guelph on any subject by the use of a sound barrier. Quite frankly, I would welcome the opportunity to hear his words of wisdom at some time in the future and I would not want to lose or miss any of those.
When the member for Wentworth North talks about my support of the Ministry of Education initiatives in the throne speech, I think unfortunately he was not in the House the whole time because I do not recall giving any applause to the initiatives towards education in the throne speech.
My concern was directed totally to the fact that the funding of education in this province is not, in any board in any area of the province, where it must be and needs to be, and as I said earlier, if we do not do it in the years when we have money, then do not go around announcing programs that are in fact a ploy to get votes, pure and simple, which the taxpayer of the local municipality must then pay for.
Hon. Mr. Ward: Mr. Speaker, I want to withdraw my remarks if I misrepresented the member for Mississauga South. I assumed that she supported our funding initiatives in education, but I stand corrected.
Mr. Adams: This is an important moment for me. I worked for 12 years to achieve this place. Before I begin my remarks, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might deal with a couple of housekeeping matters over which you have some responsibility.
We have been briefed, and in this House we have one of the finest television systems operating in a parliament anywhere in the world. One of the principal camera shots in that system is a north-to-south shot in which you and your colleagues are the central focus. That is most appropriate, and I think it is a very fine camera shot.
It happens that this position, towards which I have worked so hard these many years, is just out of view in that camera shot. I wonder if you and your colleagues would consider a couple of very simple solutions to this small problem which I have.
The first possibility I would suggest you and your colleagues might consider is that you would move your chair about a metre in this direction. The second is that from time to time I be allowed to sit on this corner of my desk, which is in view of the cameras in that important shot. I would be grateful if you would consider those matters.
It is a great honour for me to be the member for Peterborough. I am very conscious of the responsibilities which accompany that office, and I intend to do all in my power to live up to the expectations of my constituents.
The Peterborough riding is one of the largest, if not the largest, riding in the province. We have almost 60,000 voters. It is also a riding that in quite a remarkable way is a miniature of the province as a whole. The northern part of the riding, like much of northern Ontario, is Canadian Shield, with lakes and forests which are the basis of the Kawartha Lakes tourist industry. We no longer have a mine in the riding, but we do have one close by, and oil processing is a feature of the local economy.
The southern part of the riding is typical of what most of us think of as rural southern Ontario. There are more lakes, but these are surrounded by farm land, which is the base for sophisticated and vigorous agriculture, including dairy, beef, pork and poultry farming. This agriculture is reflected in the city of Peterborough, where we have agriculture service and support industries, including food processing. Among other things, Peterborough is the Canadian headquarters for Quaker Oats Ltd.
However, the most noticeable part of the economy of the city of Peterborough is a diversified manufacturing sector. The city is among the top 20 cities in Canada for its manufacturing labour force, although it is only just in the top 20 in terms of total population size. We have scores of manufacturing firms, heavy and light manufacturing, high tech and low tech, including Canadian General Electric, Outboard Marine Corp., Fisher Gauge Ltd. and many others.
Peterborough is a national education centre, principally through the presence of Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College. Both of these are unusual in the province in terms of the percentage of their students who do not come from the local area. One of the campuses of Sir Sandford, for example, receives no less than 98 per cent of its students from outside the greater Peterborough area. More than 80 per cent of all Trent students come from elsewhere. Thus, we provide a very real service to the entire province and, indeed, to Canada and the world.
We are also a major regional health centre with two hospitals, Peterborough Civic Hospital and St. Joseph’s General Hospital, and the Five Counties Children’s Centre. We have a variety of other regional health organizations. Thus, Peterborough riding has a broadly based economy which includes virtually every one of the main planks of the provincial economy: agriculture, tourism, education, heavy and light manufacturing.
The demography of the riding also reflects that of Ontario as a whole. We have a well-established and productive native community and the full spectrum of ethnic groups and religious affiliations. In various ways, Peterborough riding is Ontario in miniature. It has often been used as a centre for the test marketing of products and policies. So, Mr. Speaker, if you ever need a rapid and inexpensive, I might say, idea of what the province is thinking, you might just give me a call.
On September 10, we test-marketed the speech from the throne in Peterborough riding and we received a dramatically positive response to it. I know it seems odd to say we were dealing with the speech from the throne in September when His Honour the Lieutenant Governor delivered it only a couple of weeks ago, but this, in effect, is what we did.
I was surprised, and I am sure you, Mr. Speaker, were surprised, that some people opposite were surprised that there were no surprises in the speech from the throne. As the speech simply represented this government’s clear statement that it intends to follow through on policies and programs presented to the province in an intense election campaign, why should there have been any surprises? Those on the other side of the House who decry this speech should bear in mind the endorsement which it, in effect, received on September 10.
I propose to address only two or three aspects of the speech. My colleagues have been doing and will continue to do justice to the rest. The first thrust of the speech that I would like to mention has to do with the proposals dealing with the orderly development of what is called the greater Toronto area.
Although at times those of us who live outside Metro can be resentful of the attention which it appears to receive, in our calmer moments we do realize that Metro is the heart of the provincial economy. In a very real sense, the health of the whole province depends on the health of this heart. We realize that, in part because of the intense economic activity of recent years, that heart is not functioning as well as it might. The arteries feeding it are clogging up and there are other problems which do not bode well for Metro itself or the province at large. I feel the speech from the throne addresses these matters.
With regard to transportation specifically, from our vantage point in Peterborough we sense that the clogging up is most obvious towards the southwest of Metro, along the Queen Elizabeth Way and beyond. This is the direction in which metropolitan growth is impinging directly on those great provincial and national assets, the Niagara Escarpment and the unique orchard lands and other farm lands of our province. We are delighted, therefore, that there are real signs that Metro is at last being channelled towards the east. There are province-wide advantages to this as well as real advantages to eastern and central Ontario.
In Peterborough we see the GO Transit rail link to Oshawa combined with the rapid completion of Highway 115 as being important for the health of Metro and for the proper development of central and eastern Ontario. These two things, GO Transit and Highway 115, are things that I will be working for and watching for from my vantage point here just outside the main camera view of which you are such an interesting focus.
The second aspect of the speech from the throne on which I would like to comment is the part which deals with community-based health care, preventive health policies, independent living for seniors and disabled persons and related matters.
I welcome policies which move the province towards a comprehensive community-based health care system. This approach is very important in regions like Peterborough, which are somewhat isolated independent communities which cannot depend on Metro for all their services. Indeed, in Peterborough we have been caring for ourselves for generations and we have taken steps to co-ordinate our services at the community level with regard to senior citizen care, health and other care for children in terms of physical and mental rehabilitation, and so on.
I would like to mention one example of leadership which Peterborough has shown in what is called in the speech from the throne the lifestyle area of preventive health. Peterborough was virtually the first Participaction community in Canada. For nearly two decades it has had exercise programs, health promotional programs and so on developed from the grassroots up. We are at present the national exercise capital of Canada for a community of our size.
The Peterborough Participaction movement spawned a large variety of local sports and exercise activities and these are still continuing and have spread across the province. That same Participaction organization also developed workplace fitness programs in local industries, exercise programs in the schools and exercise programs for seniors. We are, therefore, delighted to receive support for these and related activities in the speech from the throne.
Health care should be community-based and it should stress prevention, but we must remember, and I know this government will remember it, that community-based programs require an institutional response. A simple example of this is the way in which hospitals have had to develop athletes’ clinics in response to the huge increase in exercise which has occurred in this province in recent years. There was a great surge ins community activity, in this case exercise and, hopefully, that exercise reduces the need for hospitals in some respects, but it also generated the need for clinics focusing specifically on exercise problems.
The same point can be made for virtually all the so-called community-based activities envisaged in the speech from the throne. For example, if seniors are to stay in their own homes, they need easily accessible health and other supports. If disabled children are to be fully integrated into the community, they too need institutional support of various types. The same point can be made for mental health patients and others. We have to address the matter of institutional response to community-based programs while we are developing those community-based programs.
In the case of Peterborough, we simply cannot rely on services elsewhere if the health care system is to be truly community-based. This translates into a need in Peterborough for sophisticated rehabilitation programs connected with the hospitals and a sophisticated rehabilitation facility in the very near future.
I will pass over many of the items in the speech from the throne, not out of lack of interest but, as I mentioned, because I am sure my colleagues will deal with them. I like the speech’s emphasis on competitiveness of the provincial economy; I like its educational themes; I support the thrust for affordable housing, and I support the emphasis on the environment and so on.
I will conclude my remarks by mentioning that part of the speech from the throne which dealt with eastern and northern Ontario. In Peterborough we are of course pleased that eastern Ontario will continue to receive the emphasis it deserves. Highway 115 is a priority and the Eastern Ontario Development Corp. and such programs as Destinations East are all having a significant effect in Peterborough riding, but I thought I would close by mentioning something about the north rather than the east, in part because of the remarks of the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) who spoke before me.
I have some personal interest in this, as I worked in the north throughout my adult life. However, on behalf of Peterborough riding, a community which is, as I said, representative of southern Ontario, I would like to say to the people of northern Ontario that there are people on this side of the House, northerners and non-northerners, who support programs to improve the economy and quality of life in northern Ontario. We believe that the province as a whole will benefit if its various parts are healthy. The people of northern Ontario should know that they have support in Peterborough and that they have real support on this side of the House.
Finally, I would return to September 10 and our test-marketing of the speech from the throne in the riding of Peterborough. As I said, we received a dramatic mandate to pursue certain policies and carry out certain programs. I intend as responsibly as I can, to follow through on those promises, both as an individual and as a member of this government.
However, I know the response I received was not unanimous. The two parties opposite, despite the empty seats at present, have considerable support in my riding, and this is something I am very conscious of.
Thus, although I am firm in my resolve to fulfil the mandate I have been given, I want everyone in Peterborough to know that my door is always open and that my mind is equally open to new ideas and input of all kinds. I welcome suggestions of any type at any time. In saying this, I am sure I speak for the government, including its progressive, creative and compassionate back benchers.
Mr. McLean: I would certainly be pleased to make a comment or two. I want to compliment the member for Peterborough on his address. I want to say there are some things within his remarks that concern me. Some of the commitments and promises that have been made concern me.
One basic part of his speech I want to draw his attention to that I am very concerned about is the community-based health care program his government has said it wants to initiate. I would like to hear some of the details of that program. I have not seen in print yet what the details are -- just a very vague policy statement. However, he has made comments towards that, and I would be very interested in hearing some of his comments on how they plan to implement community-based home care.
I would also like to comment on the member’s euphoric statement about urban transportation problems in the Metro region and his faith that the Liberal government is going to be able to solve all those tremendous problems by some sort of a Pooh-Bah whom it intends to appoint to develop and co-ordinate the regional needs of, roughly, the area of the Golden Horseshoe in the transportation field.
I agree that it is a tremendous problem and that it is getting worse every day. A good deal of it can be laid at the door of the provincial government, which has been encouraging a lot of the downtown development in Toronto, particularly the domed stadium in the middle of town and the Harbourfront development, which all governments have had a part in, plus new transit developments down in the Harbourfront area; in other words, funnelling more and more people into the centre of Toronto for various reasons and not dealing with the transportation needs of the people who are being funnelled in.
More and more people are commuting from great distances, mainly because of the housing prices, which I lay at the door of the two preceding governments. If we did not have such a serious housing crisis, with no affordable housing in the city of Toronto, particularly no affordable rental housing, we would not have people buying houses and condominiums way out in the outlying regions, even as far as Peterborough, and certainly as far as Hamilton, and driving in. I think the member should be looking for much more action in this field.
Mr. Adams: I would draw the member’s attention to the fact that the speech from the throne is not supposed to be a detailed statement of every act of this government over a certain period of time. A speech from the throne, as I understand it, is a series of signals of the way in which the government will proceed. It is that, because otherwise it would be thicker than the Metropolitan Toronto telephone directory. I think members opposite should realize this.
Earlier on, we heard discussion about the north, and I tried to address that. The north receives considerable attention in the speech from the throne. That is an indication of what this government intends to do.
The member for Simcoe East (Mr. McLean) asked about community-based health care. That is an area which receives considerable attention in the speech from the throne, which is a signal, as I see it, of an emphasis that this government will have.
I would say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden), similarly, that the areas of transportation and affordable housing are specifically mentioned. Both of those are signals that this government intends to address transportation and affordable housing in Metro.
Mr. Black: I am proud to stand here today as the first representative of the new riding of Muskoka-Georgian Bay. As many members know, my riding now encompasses two of Ontario’s most scenic areas. It is a diverse riding, both geographically and economically. It ranges from the farm lands of Simcoe county to the wilderness areas which border Algonquin Provincial Park and includes the rocky outcroppings of the Canadian Shield, the waters of Georgian Bay and the lakes and rivers of Muskoka.
It is in some ways a typical rural and small-town Ontario riding. It is, at the same time, unique in that it contains a substantial number of small and medium-sized manufacturing and processing industries and is, at the same time, the leading holiday and resort area in this province. It is an area in which many members of this Legislature and many people from across this province vacation and the area to which they turn for their rest, their relaxation and their recreation. These people will understand my love for the unique and beautiful part of Ontario which I represent.
Prior to the recent election, my riding was represented by two members of the Progressive Conservative faith. Naturally, it has taken only one Liberal to replace them. One of those two continues to sit as the member for Simcoe East. I am confident the time will come in the not-too-distant future when a new member, of my party, will have the opportunity to pay a tribute to him.
Today, however, I want to recognize the contributions of my predecessor in Muskoka, Frank Miller. His contributions to political life in this province are well documented. For 15 years he served the people of Muskoka and the people of Ontario with integrity and with commitment. Prior to becoming the leader of his party and the Premier of this province, Frank Miller held four different cabinet positions. In each of these, he performed with distinction.
Frank achieved the highest political office in this province. But whether it was in his many moments of success or his few moments of frustration, Frank Miller continued to be a decent, civil person. His warmth, his outgoing personality and his sense of humour won him affection and respect from both sides of this Legislature. I am proud and honoured to follow him, and I hope to continue the tradition of providing excellent representation to the people of my riding.
On September 10 the people of Muskoka-Georgian Bay, like so many others in this province, delivered a clear message. They indicated that they believe the actions of the David Peterson government in the past two years to be both progressive and positive. They believe government had started to work again, and so had Ontario. As a result, they chose to be represented by someone who would be a part of that government. My constituents said yes to Liberal action, yes to Liberal decisiveness and yes to Liberal change. As a new member of the government team, I am pleased by the clear indications in the speech from the throne that my government is committed to continue with this activist approach.
I am encouraged by the assurances that the supply of affordable housing will be increased, and I am confident that the new Minister of Housing (Ms. Hosek) will provide the leadership to allow this government to meet its objectives in that area.
I look forward to the development of new strategies to promote healthy living in this province. Surely it must be recognized by all of us who sit in this House that this approach to health care in Ontario holds tremendous potential benefits for the people we represent. It may also provide the only practical solution to spiralling health care costs.
I also applaud the commitment to continue and to strengthen our efforts to clean up and protect our environment. People in my riding have particular concerns in this area. The impact of acid rain on the soils, the forests and the lakes and rivers of Muskoka are well documented. Problems resulting from inadequate waste disposal facilities continue to be a source of major concern on the Georgian Bay side of my riding, as they do throughout many parts of this province.
This government has made significant strides forward in the care of our environment, but much more remains to be done. The protection of our environment must continue to be the high priority in the future that it has been in the past two years.
Having had some experience in the field of education, I was particularly pleased with the new initiatives planned for that area. There is now ample research to support the fact that the early years of a child’s education are key to later success. The fundamentals of language development and the basic skills of communication and numeracy are vital to later learning. Educators across this province will applaud this government’s commitment to reduce class sizes in grades 1 and 2.
As our friends across the Legislature have identified, this will not be implemented without some difficulties. Additional facilities will be required. More portable classrooms may indeed be the result in the short term. But let there be no misunderstanding: Better, far better, to have smaller pupil-teacher ratios in temporary facilities than to wait until the time when we can provide permanent facilities for all the students in this province. We cannot afford to delay this much-needed step for even one year.
The establishment of new provincial benchmarks for language, mathematics, science and social studies and the development of more effective ways of measuring student achievement against those benchmarks is a second initiative that will be welcomed by parents and teachers. No forward-thinking person would advocate a return to standardized testing in this province. Nineteenth-century solutions to problems in an education system that is currently preparing children for life in the 21st century are simply not acceptable. However, the need to ensure accountability and to maintain public confidence in our education system is vital. This new program should go a long way towards doing just that.
Perhaps the most important initiative in the field of education will be the appointment of a select committee on education. There are many problems facing this government in the months and years ahead. Questions related to teacher training, teacher-school board negotiations, facilities and the difficulty of funding two public systems of education are just some of the issues which must be addressed.
The opportunity to gather input and ideas from a cross-section of both the education community and the community at large will prove of unquestionable value in strengthening our education system which is so vital to keeping Ontario competitive and to maintaining the quality of our lifestyle in the years ahead. A society based on a spirit of caring entrepreneurship must build on the foundation of excellence in its education system.
In conclusion, I am pleased and honoured to take my seat in this Legislature as the first member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay. I look forward with anticipation to the challenge of serving my constituents and the people of this province with vigour, with vitality and with integrity.
Mr. McLean: Mr. Speaker, I certainly would like to make some comments, but first of all I would like to congratulate the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay on his maiden speech in this Legislature. It was interesting to note during his comments where he indicated that the constituents said yes to the Liberal government and to the Liberal promises. It will be interesting to watch the implementation of those.
He talked at great length about education and indicated in his remarks that there will be more portables. It will be interesting when we have some questions in the Legislature to the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) as to whether he agrees with that aspect of his remarks. With regard to the announcement of 60 per cent funding over the five years, it is interesting that over the past two years the funding has decreased by approximately six per cent to seven per cent, so it will be interesting now to watch the progress the government makes with regard to funding for education.
The select committee that is going to be appointed on education will also be something we will be looking forward to and be part of to make sure the young people in our society get the quality education they deserve. However, in the remarks of the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay, I do not observe how that will happen.
Mr. Black: I thank the member for Simcoe East for his comments. I am particularly pleased to note his interest in education. The difficulties in education are significant, and I think this government has recognized that. They will be taking steps to correct the problems they have inherited. We have had to direct an increasing amount of our money into new capital funding to try to rebuild the classrooms that have been neglected in this province for many years by previous governments.
Mr. Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 30, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been put, and I understand that the member for Beaches-Woodbine wishes to speak for up to five minutes. The Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs. Wilson) may reply for up to five minutes.
Ms. Bryden: With regard to my question on November 10 on a dental program for seniors, the reason for my dissatisfaction with the answer of the minister responsible for senior citizens’ affairs is that, in fact, her response had no teeth in it. I had asked the minister whether she had yet brought to cabinet a program and a timetable for carrying out the Liberal election promises made in both the 1985 and 1987 campaigns to bring in a dental care program for seniors. Her response mentioned a variety of government health programs for seniors now in the planning stages, but she said absolutely nothing about a dental program.
The plight of our senior citizens with dental problems has been well documented. A recent city of Toronto survey showed that more than half of the 75,000 seniors in the city had not seen a dentist in five years, even though 90 per cent had some form of gum disease. They are not eligible for most dental insurance plans and simply cannot afford adequate dental care on their meagre incomes. As a result, many lose their teeth prematurely or live on toast and tea or put up with ill-fitting, inadequate dentures. Their overall health is affected by bad teeth. Their nutrition suffers and their self-image and ability to socialize are gravely reduced.
Away back in 1980, the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens produced a 30-page position paper on seniors’ dental care needs. They updated that paper in 1985 and actually set forth a suggested timetable for implementation of a comprehensive, publicly funded dental care plan to begin in 1985, the first year in which the Premier (Mr. Peterson) latched on to the idea as part of his platform. What have he and this government been doing since then? Nothing.
At this time we do not need more studies, but today the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan), apparently responding to my question, promised us just that: more studies. She is going to revive the Advisory Committee on Dental Care for Ontario Children, which had just been put out to pasture after completing plans for a very inadequate means test for a dental plan for children, which is due to start this fall. Apparently, the government felt it had fulfilled its promises on dental care by looking at only a very small part of the problem.
The Minister of Health in her statement today proposes long-term studies of seniors’ dental needs and methods of service delivery. There is no time limit on the studies and no deadline for the report.
The longer the government delays implementation by such unnecessary studies, the more seniors will lose their teeth prematurely and suffer from the bad effects of poor dental care on their overall wellbeing.
In her statement, the Minister of Health acknowledged, “Many elderly residents are financially unable to receive necessary dental treatment,” but she condemns them to an indefinite wait for relief of any kind.
I urge the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs to persuade cabinet that implementation of paid dental care for seniors is, in the name of humanity, most urgent and cannot wait for more studies. The upcoming budget must contain adequate funding for such a program so that it can get started immediately; otherwise, our senior citizens will lose faith in the credibility of Liberal promises in this field.
Hon. Mrs. Wilson: As I recall, the original question from the member for Beaches-Woodbine was whether I had taken to cabinet a program and timetable for the implementation of a dental treatment program for seniors. Dental care is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, any proposal for a seniors’ dental program would be brought forth by the Minister of Health.
The responsibility of my office lies primarily in the area of strategic policy and planning. However, I would like to take this opportunity to point out that this government has moved positively in the area of dental care. When the Liberal Party first brought forth these proposals in 1985, the intention was to serve two target groups: one, elementary school children; and two, senior citizens receiving guaranteed annual income system for the aged and homebound and institutionalized seniors.
Our first step was to introduce a dental program for elementary school children whose families were unable to pay for urgently needed treatment, effective this September. Public health unit dental staff is identifying children in need of urgent dental treatment during the annual screening programs in schools this fall and is advising parents of children with problems that financial assistance is now available.
We recognize the importance of dental care for seniors and that some seniors are financially unable to obtain dental treatment. Accordingly, last July, when the then Minister of Health, the member for Bruce (Mr. Elston), introduced the dental treatment program for elementary school children, he announced his intention to reconvene the advisory committee on dental care to assess the dental needs of seniors.
This morning, as was mentioned, my colleague the Minister of Health announced the advisory committee’s terms of reference and composition. I am pleased that my office will be involved in this committee’s work, as will a representative from the United Senior Citizens of Ontario. The work undertaken by the committee should provide the necessary research to help us develop an effective dental care program for those seniors in need. I refer you to my colleague the Minister of Health for the specifics on this issue.