Mr. Swart: I would like to remind this House that the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. R. F. Nixon) assured Ontarians that insurance companies have voluntarily complied with a freeze on automobile insurance rates. My assistant checked this out and was given the same assurance when he contacted the superintendent of insurance. In addition, Mr. Weir told him that if details of individual cases were forwarded to him, he would “pursue them with the insurance companies involved and bring to bear his moral suasion over those companies.”
Unfortunately, when the people of Ontario make their own inquiries, the story changes quite dramatically. John Briggs of Toronto recently received a renewal notice from his insurance company. Although he had had no accidents, claims or traffic violations, his premiums were increased by seven per cent. When Mr. Briggs called the superintendent, he was told by the individual on the phone that the superintendent’s office was aware that “not all companies are complying with the freeze.” He was further informed that there are another 250 insurance companies on the market and he was advised to shop around. No offer was made, as was made to my assistant, who identified himself, to pursue his case with the insurance company involved.
It is bad enough that this government refuses to take effective action to end this highway robbery. It is even worse when that same government parrots the line of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. When this government engages in this sort of doubletalk to protect the very companies which transferred profits to the Liberal election coffers, it has gone too far and is not worthy of the trust or respect of the very people it has sworn to represent and protect.
Mr. McLean: I would like to draw the attention of the members of this Legislature to the fact that our world-class Toronto Blue Jays have in their lineup the most valuable player in the entire American League in the person of George Bell. This MVP award marks the first occasion the award has gone to a player on a Canadian-based ball club.
At the risk of being slightly immodest, I take a certain degree of pleasure in reminding the members of this House that the former Progressive Conservative leader, Bill Davis, was most instrumental in bringing major league baseball to Ontario.
The MVP award is indeed a credit that belongs to George Bell. This very high honour is a personal honour to the prowess of Mr. Bell, but our tributes should go out as well to the Blue Jays management, owners, sponsors and fans and his teammates.
The highest honour for a major league ballplayer will only heighten the awareness to the world of our wonderful province. George Bell has won the award, but all of Ontario will stand to gain from what we can expect will be an influx of tourism to our province.
This may well be a mixed metaphor, but the ball is now in the court of this government to ensure that all of Ontario will benefit. I want to say I do not want to see them strike out, be caught between the bases or thrown out of the ballpark -- but out of office, yes.
Mr. Ruprecht: November 18 is an important date in the history of freedom-loving peoples everywhere and of special significance to our citizens of Latvian ancestry, for today is the commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the 1918 proclamation of Latvia as a sovereign and democratic nation.
We who live in a democratic society do not always appreciate our good fortune. We take for granted our freedom of speech, of press, religion and travel, and even the right to openly criticize our government.
The courageous determination of the Latvian people to regain this kind of freedom is a source of inspiration to all mankind. Indeed, having tasted freedom, neither the weapons of starvation nor prison walls could extinguish the torch of freedom and hope that has been resolutely passed on from one heroic generation to another.
Today we have reason to admire the unbreakable spirit of optimism and hope of our Latvian friends that, in spite of past tragic events, they maintain the ideal of democracy and independence and their dream that Latvians will one day determine their own future and determine their own destiny.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: This morning’s papers, both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, ran stories about great surprise about welfare levels being high in Ontario while the unemployment rates are still low. In fact, the Globe and Mail went so far as to say that in 10 years of analysis this is the first time anybody has drawn attention to this or noticed this fact, which of course would make some sense in that the Ministry of Community and Social Services is so lax about gathering statistics.
Unfortunately, what happens is that, off the top of their heads, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) and others extrapolate intolerably, in my view, as to what the causes of this are when they have no statistical basis upon which to base it. Ms. Harrington in the Toronto Star then says it is due to an in-migration of people from other provinces, with no statistical basis for that, I suggest. It is also suggested in the Globe and Mail that people are dying to get off minimum wage and on welfare because they can live so handsomely. Again, there is no statistical base for that.
I suggest it is perhaps time, because of this unfortunate phenomenon in the province, that the Minister of Community and Social Services gather this information, publish the information and take steps to co-ordinate efforts with our employment agencies in Ontario to make sure we end this terrible tragedy and not to lay blame around the province.
How could illegal American investigations continue in Canada for a year without Ontario’s knowledge? Why were two fast-talking, admitted liars and smugglers allowed to escape criminal charges by federal and provincial authorities? Why did 96 charges against Canadians fail to produce one single conviction?
Why did Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources staff print and circulate a confidential intelligence report on wildlife agencies across Canada and slander innocent people like Kay McKeever, known to conservationists as the Owl Lady and winner of the Order of Canada in 1986; the Dailley family, who own the African Lion Safari near Hamilton; and John Heppes of the Canadian Wildlife Service, who is Canadian administrator of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada?
Why did the ministry refuse to retract that intelligence report when it became public or even to issue an apology? Why has the ministry refused to disclose the cost of Operation Falcon? Why has the minister refused to take any steps to protect the integrity of the innocent or his own ministry staff by way of a full public response? The people of Ontario deserve a formal investigation to find out these answers. I call on the Premier (Mr. Peterson) to order one today.
Mr. Reville: The throne speech reveals that this government is long on concern but short on action. To use the baseball image, I guess we would say, “Good worry; no act.” Sometimes the consequences of this lack of action are simply disappointment among those of us who hoped for better. Sometimes the consequences of the lack of action, in fact, are the deaths of people in Ontario. I speak about the lack of action on the part of this government and, in particular, on the part of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to deal with the very vexing problem of the abuse of stomach bitters.
The former Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, who is glancing at me at this moment, indicated solemnly in this House in December 1985 that he was looking at the problem of stomach bitters. While he looked at it, people in Ontario, particularly in Toronto, continued to die from overdoses of stomach bitters.
It is not an easy problem to deal with substances that have a legitimate use but are abused. However, it is a problem and it is a problem that must be addressed. One wonders where the member for Parkdale (Mr. Ruprecht) has been on this issue, because most of the people who die from stomach bitters do so in Parkdale, but it is not confined to Parkdale. This government must act now to prevent people who are vulnerable from dying because of government inaction.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I would like to report to the House today on a number of important issues associated with the Treasurer’s responsibilities. In particular, I would like to provide some comments on the federal tax reform proposals. I will also be announcing the level of transfer payments to hospitals, schools, municipalities, colleges and universities for the 1988-89 fiscal year. To begin, however, I would like to review this year’s economic performance as well as Ontario’s fiscal position.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: For the past five years, the Ontario economy has experienced one of its strongest expansions on record. We are now in the 21st consecutive quarter of growth. During this time, real output has grown by more than 32 per cent and employment has grown by 19 per cent.
Current economic data indicate that the economy is fundamentally sound. There have been steady gains in employment and income. A survey by Statistics Canada indicates that business investment will rise by more than 13 per cent in 1987 over 1986 levels. As a result, nonresidential investment in the province should exceed the $25-billion level. This investment will reinforce future growth and support job creation n the province.
Based on current performance, economic growth in 1987 will be stronger than forecast in the budget. In real terms, the Ontario economy is expected to grow by 3.9 per cent this year. In line with the stronger growth of the economy, employment is even more robust than anticipated. Job creation for 1987 is expected to average over 140,000. The unemployment rate, which has displayed a downward trend throughout the year, will average 6.2 per cent in 1987. It is currently 5.7 per cent, the lowest it has been in the past decade.
In recent weeks, the disruption in world stock exchanges has injected a sobering note in the economy’s expansion. Households and businesses are faced with a heightened level of uncertainty. As a result, they can be expected to exercise prudence and caution in their spending decisions. However, it is generally believed that the stock market decline reflected overvaluation in that market and not necessarily a loss of confidence in the underlying economic performance.
The fundamental strength of the Ontario economy remains intact. Moreover, the general economic effects of the loss of stock values have been counterbalanced, in part, by interest rate and exchange rate declines. Accordingly, Ontario’s economy will continue to grow during the next year.
In December, I will be tabling the Economic and Fiscal Review prepared by Treasury staff. It will include an assessment of the current economic situation and the economic outlook for 1988 and beyond. This document will assist the standing committee on finance and economic affairs in its prebudget deliberations.
The second-quarter Ontario Finances publication shows that the 1987 budget plan is on track. I am pleased that this mid-year report shows the level of net cash requirements at $973 million for 1987-88, $7 million below the original budget estimate. The operating deficit is now forecast at $15 million, an improvement of $13 million over the budget plan.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Last summer the federal government tabled its proposals for tax reform, a two stage process that would change personal and corporate income taxes in 1988 and federal sales taxes at some future date.
Members will be aware that the federal standing committee on finance and economic affairs, the Blenkarn committee, has just tabled its report. The report contains several alternative recommendations to the federal Minister of Finance’s proposals. The Ontario standing committee on finance and economic affairs has not yet had an opportunity to review and offer advice on the white paper proposals, particularly their impact on Ontario. I hope the committee will have an opportunity to undertake that review.
My intention is to continue to study the federal changes and to listen to the advice of interested individuals and groups about the appropriateness of the reforms. Ontario’s response to these changes will be guided by the need to maintain the ability of the tax system to deliver adequate revenues in a fair, competitive and simple fashion.
The current tax system is not as fair as it could be. Too many people and corporations have been able to avoid their fair share of tax by taking advantage of tax breaks that have been built into the system over time. Reform must address this problem.
Canadian businesses compete in world markets. While many factors determine how well a corporation’s products and services stack up against the rest of the world’s, the tax regime within which a corporation operates is important. Historically, the Canadian tax system has proved to be competitive, in large part because of its treatment of investment undertaken by the manufacturing sector. We must ensure that reform does not jeopardize this competitive position.
Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to share some of my thoughts and concerns with the federal and provincial ministers of finance. I indicated that broadening tax bases and lowering tax rates will help to achieve the goals of fairness and competitiveness. It really means that our tax rates are competitive or lower than American jurisdictions, and businesses can therefore see their way on a business plan to locate here rather than elsewhere, in response to the comment from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae).
I asked Mr. Wilson to consider the growing concern that middle-income families gain the least from reform. I also left with him a number of other personal, corporate and sales tax issues that have been brought to my attention. I intend to continue the dialogue on these issues at our next meeting in early December.
The personal income tax reform proposals would remove a number of the lowest-income tax filers from the tax rolls, including 300,000 in Ontario. This is a positive step and improves the fairness of the tax system. It was for precisely this reason that Ontario enriched its tax reduction program in the two most recent budgets.
The federal reform proposals call for a cut in federal personal income tax beginning in 1988. Since Ontario’s personal income tax is calculated as 50 per cent of federal tax, this means a reduction in Ontario’s personal income tax revenues as well. Even by federal estimates, which seem conservative, Ontario’s personal income tax revenues for that year would decline by at least $430 million as a direct result of federal actions. I am currently examining how best to cope with this fiscal impact.
I should interject that the package, as presented by the Minister of Finance, if enacted, would essentially be neutral for the first two years in Ontario because of increases in corporation income tax revenues.
Federal tax reform will also affect a number of Ontario tax-based support programs for lower-income citizens. The Ontario tax credits, tax reduction and Ontario health insurance plan premium assistance all provide benefits to individuals based on their taxable income. Reform changes most people’s taxable income, primarily by converting deductions to tax credits. Ontario must restructure these important assistance programs; otherwise, most current beneficiaries would no longer be eligible.
I am reviewing options to restore the distribution of benefits in a progressive and simple fashion, but to do this, more flexibility will be required than is currently available under the tax collection agreement with Ottawa. I have asked the federal minister to provide provinces with greater freedom under these agreements to design and implement better tax and support policies for their citizens.
We are going to continue to examine the impact of free trade on Ontario’s economy. In this context, tax reform must support Ontario’s competitive position, particularly in terms of our corporate income tax structure. A more competitive tax system requires a broader base, lower rates and a fairer distribution of the burden among profitable corporations. Tax uniformity and reduced compliance costs for business are important goals, but these objectives must not be achieved at the expense of economic growth potential.
Federal tax reform proposals also need to be carefully examined in light of this government’s priorities for improved education, more affordable housing and the adoption of new technology. Federal reform proposals must be judged in terms of how well they achieve the broader economic and social priorities of Canada and Ontario.
The final details of stage one of the federal reform package will not be known until the federal position is made clear in Parliament, which is expected in the next few weeks. Once I see the legislation and assess the full impact of corporate tax reform on several key areas, I will be in a better position to determine the extent to which Ontario is able to parallel the federal proposals in the Ontario corporate tax structure.
The review of a possible corporate tax collection agreement with the federal government continues. There are compliance benefits for business in such an agreement, but there are also implications for our ability to retain control over Ontario’s fiscal and economic policy. I have commissioned a study to help me assess this important issue and will report the finding to the House in about three months.
The Wilson tax paper proposes a multistage national sales tax to replace the federal manufacturers’ sales tax and the provincial retail sales tax. Many concerns have been expressed about the possible impact of a new, broad-based sales tax on low-income Canadians. This government will not enter into an agreement on a new national sales tax unless we are provided the flexibility to ensure its fair application for low-income individuals and families through a system of tax credits or exemptions.
As well, a multistage tax could result in significant cost increases for the public sector, including local governments, hospitals, colleges and universities. I have asked the federal minister to provide either a plan for a tax-free approach or an appropriate compensation mechanism for provincial and other public sector transactions, should this new tax be implemented.
Supporters of a multistage sales tax believe that there would be significant economic benefits to be realized if such a tax were to replace the existing, poorly designed federal manufacturers’ sales tax. They cite the multistage sales tax’s fairness and the improved competitive position for the Canadian business sector. Business also believes that a joint federal-provincial sales tax would be simpler and could lower compliance costs.
To ensure that our concerns are addressed and that the potential benefits are substantiated, staff will continue discussions with federal officials on the proposal. I bring these issues to the attention of the Legislature because it is important that members be aware of the impending substantial revisions in the Canadian and Ontario tax systems. I view tax reform as an opportunity to make our tax system fairer, simpler, and of course, more equitable.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: On November 3, 1986, I announced the funding levels for major transfer programs for our current fiscal year. The budget, presented to the House on May 20, 1987, contained the necessary funding provisions. Today I would like to announce fiscal transfers for the 1988-89 fiscal year which begins next April 1.
The fundamentals of the Ontario economy remain strong. However, there are some risks surrounding the outlook for the world’s major economies, which make forward planning complicated for business and for families. The same uncertainty affects government finances and accentuates the need for wide and thorough consultations as I prepare the next budget for presentation to the House in the spring of 1988.
The five major transfer payments I am announcing today are made up of operating support to hospitals, schools, universities and colleges and a range of grants to municipalities. These payments amount to more than 40 per cent of the whole provincial expenditures. With such a large share of expenditures committed in this way several months prior to the actual budget tabling and the beginning of the next fiscal year, we must plan carefully in order to retain the fiscal flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.
At the same time, I have to consider the situation of the public institutions that receive these major transfer payments. They also have to plan. Municipalities and school boards must set their budgets and mill rates for their fiscal year which begins January 1. Hospitals and post-secondary institutions need a basis on which to ensure quality service to the public. In the past two years, the province has strengthened its partnership with these important institutions, and we must continue to share in our common goals with the resources available to us.
With these factors in mind, I have decided to continue the government’s practice of making early announcements of the major transfer payment levels. As noted in the recent speech from the throne, the government will meet the commitments it has made within a framework of fiscal responsibility.
In 1988-89, grants to universities will increase by 6.7 per cent to more than $1.5 billion. This amount includes special funding to assure accessibility for all qualified students in recognition of recent enrolment increases. Grants to colleges of applied arts and technology will increase by a total of six per cent to more than $660 million, including special funding for northern colleges and special-needs students.
The Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) will soon be making an announcement regarding hospital funding, which will exceed $5.4 billion in 1988-89. Resources available to hospitals for their costs of operation will increase by 6.9 per cent in 1988-89.
Operating grants to school boards, to be funded by next year’s budget, will increase by 6.8 per cent to more than $3.8 billion. This amount incorporates the full extension of provincial support to separate schools, and initial funding to implement the government’s commitment to reduce class size in elementary schools.
Last year, Treasury staff and I benefited from the advice received from the new standing committee on finance and economic affairs. The prebudget hearings held by the committee were a valued innovation in opening the budget process to wider public participation.
Guided by the principles of Bills 30 and 75, and respecting the requirements of the Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights, the committee was asked to recommend procedures for the creation of stable and representative school board structures for the Prescott-Russell community.
Le résultat de ces démarches fait l’objet d’un rapport exhaustif sur les besoins de la population de Prescott-Russell. Mon ministère étudiera attentivement le rapport du comité et les recommandations qu’il contient.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) is a major one covering economic issues, transfer issues, tax issues and federal tax issues, I wonder whether we could have unanimous consent of the House to allow each opposition party to have 10 minutes to respond to a major statement. We do not very often have major statements of this kind; I am asking for unanimous consent.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, observing the interest of the opposition and also noting that the standing orders do set out very clear provisions in this respect, limiting ministerial statements to a maximum of 20 minutes and members’ statements to a maximum of 10 minutes, I certainly would not want to curtail debate, and so we have no objection to the honourable member’s position.
Ms. Bryden: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: As the previous speaker noted, since the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) covers both Treasury matters and Revenue matters, as well as a good many other matters that concern a lot of the members, it would have been appropriate at least to provide the Revenue critic with a copy of the statement -- there is none on my desk -- and possibly to provide all members with a copy of the statement prior to its delivery.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On the point of order: We were fairly careful to see that copies were provided to the leaders and the Treasury critics. They might have shared those. Next time I will certainly see that Revenue critics get it as well. Frankly, copies of this are now being made available to everybody here, as far as I know, because every member of the House is deeply involved in this important matter.
Mr. B. Rae: I welcome the statement of the Treasurer today. First, I want to say I think it is only appropriate that he would announce the transfers as he has done, because of the uncertainty which he himself created along with his seatmate, the Premier (Mr. Peterson). In a sense, he is the victim of his own problems, having panicked as a result of the so-called Black Monday on the stock market and created as much uncertainty as his remarks caused in a great many municipalities, hospitals and school boards. It is perfectly obvious that the Treasurer had no alternative but to now assure those school boards and others that transfer payments would be forthcoming.
My colleagues will be responding to some comments made with respect to the transfer payments. If I could start with those, the one comment I would make is that it is very difficult for us to respond to the simple bald number, except by saying that if one looks, for example, at the area of the school boards, which my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. R. F. Johnston) will be commenting on, when one takes into account the fact that this 6.8 per cent increase includes both the additional cost of separate school funding as well as what is described here as “the initial funding” -- I do not know what that means -- “to implement the government’s commitment to reduce class size in elementary schools,” it is clear that the rest of the system will not be seeing a substantial increase.
We can only say that until we get the fine-tuned numbers from the Ministry of Education, it is going to be difficult for us to launch a full-scale critique, which I know the Treasurer wants to have from us. It is very difficult for us to comment on those numbers in the absence of any sense of what the priorities of the government are and precisely where this money is being spent.
Mr. B. Rae: Let me comment on the Treasurer’s overall statement with respect to the economy. I guess the major comment I would make is that his choice of statistics is interestingly selective, because while he reflects the official conventional wisdom of the day that everything is going extremely well, the deficit is down a little bit -- I will be speaking to that -- the rate of unemployment continues to fall -- which we, of course, all welcome -- and the degree of growth has been substantial -- it has really been remarkable in the last five years and continues to be very substantial -- it is remarkable not because the Treasurer is doing anything differently than any other Minister of Finance will do. In fact, the longer he occupies that august office, except for perhaps the occasional sartorial lapse on his part, he resembles more and more the fiscal conservative that he used to decry so often when he was on this side of the House.
There is another face to what is going on in the province today. There is the face of the fact that today there are still kids in the province who are going to school hungry. There are thousands of people who are homeless. Yes, it is true that Jaguar sales are up. In fact, anybody looking around town will find that there are more and more of these luxury cars from Europe being sold and bought in the province, some of them, in fact, even belonging to very distinguished members of the Treasurer’s own party.
But the fact remains that what is also happening at the same time is that the number of people who are waiting to get into Ontario Housing has increased by 50 per cent since this government took office, the number of children who are hungry and homeless has increased since this government took office and the food bank, which now services over 130 agencies in the city of Toronto today, issued a report last month showing that 20 per cent of its clients are under the age of five.
I think it is time, when the Treasurer of this province makes a statement as to what the economic health of this province is, that he talk about some of those economic realities, not simply the official statistics as they emerged from Statistics Canada, but about what it is like on the street today in this province and what hardships people are facing, because those too are statistics that mean something to people and that reflect the reality of life in the province.
Yes, it is true that we are more affluent than ever before, but the irony that we have today -- and it is the first time in post-war history that we can say it -- is that as affluence grows, so is poverty growing in the province today, and we are not addressing that issue, the Legislature is not being asked to address that issue and the Treasurer has not addressed that issue. That, to me, is something which should be addressed at the heart of a Treasurer’s report in the province today: what is happening to people, what is happening to their working conditions and what is happening to real wages.
I think it is fair to say that at the same time as we have a decline in the rate of unemployment, we also have the reality that people who themselves are employed are going to these food banks because the minimum wage does not allow them to keep body and soul together.
The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) announced last week an eight per cent increase in the shelter allowance for people who are on general welfare benefits and family benefits. I say to the minister and to the Treasurer that when we have as much as two thirds or three quarters of that allowance being used for shelter in Ontario today, which is what is happening, we can rest assured that what working families and poor families are being asked to do is take from the pot that should be going to food and they are being forced to put it into housing. There are people who are going hungry today simply because this province has not figured out a way of distributing its income properly.
So I look forward to hearing from the Treasurer in December as he prepares his Economic and Fiscal Review. I only hope and expect that review would in fact indicate just exactly what is happening with respect to the real economy in the province today and what is happening to working people.
Mr. B. Rae: I have one comment to make on the sales tax issue with respect to the statement that the minister has made on tax reform. It is fundamentally this: I have not heard a clear statement from the Treasurer as to whether or not he believes that corporations should be paying a larger share, which is the thrust of both Mr. Wilson’s statement and Mr. Blenkarn’s report. If what I have heard from him today is correct, he has managed to place himself to the right of Don Blenkarn. As somebody who knows Don Blenkarn, I can only congratulate the Treasurer for occupying that turf, because I do not think any political analyst thought there was any ground there to occupy, but he is managing to stake it out.
The Treasurer should listen to the comments he is making in this report. He is saying that our corporate tax structure has to match and, in fact, be lower than that of the United States. This is a government that is objecting to free trade. At the same time it is objecting to free trade, it is saying, “We must have free trade in taxation in order to be able to compete,” which means that the Minister of Economics for Ontario, the person who is going to be setting our tax rate in Ontario, is not the Honourable Robert Nixon, the Treasurer, it is Ronald Reagan in the United States. That is essentially what the Treasurer is saying.
All I can say is, if that is his message to Ottawa, he is indeed delivering a mixed message. The message he seems to be delivering to Ottawa is, “Go easy on the corporate tax side, because if you do anything too tough to require insurance companies and banks to start paying some tax, there are going to be problems.”
So I am glad the Treasurer made the statement. I am glad we have had a few moments to comment on it. It is obvious that it is going to be the subject of some considerable debate in this province for some time to come.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have just a couple of comments on the statement by the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) on the report of the Prescott-Russell School Board Study Committee. I am pleased to have the statement. I notice there was no discussion by the minister of the content of the statement, and I presume that means it is problematic and that he is being confronted with some difficult choices, as the people in Prescott-Russell have been for these many years, in terms of the role of a French board there. As yet, I have not had a chance to review it in detail, so I am not able to respond at this time to the detail.
I would like to say, though, that it is welcome that it has come, that it is time for us to deal with it and that it is also time we heard from the government about what it is doing about other French-language boards across the province. We were told there would be a two-year study of French school boards across the province, and we have yet to hear anything further about when that is going to be undertaken and who is to head it up.
Mr. Harris: I do want to comment briefly on the economic statement. As indicated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. B. Rae), we are going to have to wait and see the specifics of a number of these things to find out whether in fact the transfers are going to mean anything or whether they are not going to mean anything.
I do want to comment briefly, though, on a few of the things that are mentioned in the statement by the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon). He says, “In real terms, the Ontario economy is expected to grow by 3.9 per cent.” I point that out because if we add inflation and the growth in the economy to the money likely available to the Treasurer, we are probably looking at somewhere in the order of another eight or nine per cent increase in revenues over the next year for this Treasurer and for this government.
None of the transfers that we just heard announced comes anywhere close to that, so the first thing that jumps out at me is that the Treasurer does not intend to pass on, through his transfers to those agencies, nearly the increase in the amount of money that he and the government of Ontario are going to get. He has not done that in the past, either.
Whoever gets the biggest piece of money is always the Treasurer and the government; somehow it does not go towards the deficit. A little bit has gone towards the deficit -- some 10 per cent of his increased revenues go in that direction -- but it is really a disgrace when we take a look at the amount of money that he has had over this period of time.
So what the Treasurer is telling us is that his revenues will go up by the rate of inflation, whatever that is going to be; most people say five per cent. Of course, in the city of Toronto, if we look at the municipal transfers, inflation in Toronto is running at 5.9 per cent, the highest in the province, so what the Treasurer has really said to them is, “We will transfer to you 0.8 per cent.” With inflation in Toronto running at 5.9 per cent, he is going to transfer 6.7 per cent. So the city of Toronto will get 0.8 per cent. The Treasurer tells us the economic activity is going to be up 3.9 per cent, so he is going to grab three per cent from the city of Toronto to put into his own program somewhere or other.
I mention it in those terms because, of course, the Treasurer does not put it in those terms. He puts out this percentage. Yet in one part of the report he is so proud of the growth, in another part of the report he is so proud of the amount of money he is transferring and then in another part of his statement he talks about fiscal responsibility. We have not seen from the Treasurer fiscal responsibility, because all this extra money he gets he does not pass on at a level equivalent to inflation and increase in economic activity through all the transfer payments he makes, but it still all gets eaten up somewhere in the budget, when he finally does bring out a budget.
I guess it would be passing strange of me to comment that most of the 3.9 per cent in that activity is, I am sure, based on trade and most of it trade with the United States, which I find a little ironic with the view this government has there.
I asked a question of the Treasurer last week on the $350 million in cuts. He said, “I will have a statement to make and some of it will become clear then.” When the second-quarter statements came out, I did not see anything there or anything today that tells us where the $350 million is being cut from and the government is more than halfway through the budget plan. The Treasurer says the budget plan is on track, but where is the $350 million in cuts? That is what will tell us if it is on track or not. Of course, that is a ridiculous statement.
The Treasurer also says in here that he is pleased that the midyear report shows the level of net cash requirements at $973 million. It is a disgrace that there is any net cash requirement in this year or last year, and the Treasurer knows that. He says it is $7 million below the original budget estimate. The operating deficit is now forecast at $15 million, an improvement of $13 million over the budget plan. What the Treasurer does not say is that after the first quarter it was an improvement of $15 million over the budget plan, so he is referring here to the second-quarter statements. What has happened is a worsening of the position from the end of the first quarter to the second quarter. I guess he hopes he has enough of a cushion in the first quarter. He will keep referring back there instead of giving us the real picture. The government has a $2-million deficit there between the first and the second quarter.
It is not in the statement but I found it interesting that while the Treasurer was talking about Canadian businesses competing, I think he gave a little aside that the cost of doing business in Ontario is cheaper than in the United States. I did not see it, however, in the written text. It will appear in Hansard if he does not recall having said that.
Mr. Harris: I am interested in that particular part of the Treasurer’s statement because I would be interested in knowing what are all the factors he has included in there. I know many Ontario businessmen disagree with him. Many though, quite frankly, do agree with him. The interesting point is that he believes it and he said it. If the cost of doing business in Ontario is cheaper than in the United States why would he have the slightest concern about a freer trade agreement with the United States? I just find that passing strange as well.
Mr. Harris: It does not add up, of course, and in fact it is silly and it reflects the silliness of this government on free trade. They talk about how wonderful Ontario is and how we can compete, but we should be afraid of it. What does the public think and what stand should be taken to help poor, old John Turner? There are so many contradictions in the things the government does.
Mr. Harris: I want to allow a minute or two for my colleague the member for Burlington South (Mr. Jackson) to comment on the education transfers. When we get into the specific transfers, it is obvious that the government is not passing on all the economic activity that it is receiving and, of course, if we look at hospitals, for example, at 6.9 per cent, the lowest percentage increase, lower than 1986, lower than 1985, lower than 1984, lower than 1983, and all this great economic activity the government has, it is less than inflation plus the economic activity it is getting and is the lowest increase in the last five or six years plus. Until we see the breakdown, we do not know whether it will even be inflation on the existing programs depending on how much growth is in the system.
I mentioned the municipal transfers. It is the same problem there. What are the unconditional grants? What are not? When we see that we will be able to comment as to whether the government is even keeping up with inflation, let alone the economic activity. I will leave the education comments to our critic, my friend the member for Burlington South.
I guess the most disappointing thing of all in the statement -- and I will conclude as quickly as I can -- is the deficit, the total lack of control over spending. I guess maybe it is the hacks and flacks and the high-paced help, the baggage that came to this administration from Ottawa. I do not think it is the Robert Nixon I used to know, but it is the David Peterson I used to know. We have in Ontario essentially Trudeau economics: “If you have it, spend it all. If you do not have it, borrow it.” The Treasurer knows what this is going to leave in the years to come, particularly for the young people and for those people who are going to have to pay in the future for the spending he is doing now.
Mr. Jackson: It is perhaps fitting that the news to school boards is contained on page 13 in the Treasurer’s report. It is a most unlucky number for school boards in the coming year. Last year their funding arrangement was 7.5 per cent, which included the implementation of grade 12 in accordance with Bill 30, special program enhancements and general grants. This year we are looking at 6.8 per cent, which is expected to carry not only last year’s grade 12 transfer, but also grade 13.
There is the funny statement about initial funding. What does “initial funding” mean for our elementary schoolchildren? Does it mean it is going to be only grade 1 this year, or does it mean it is going to be grades 1 and 2? The Treasurer has abandoned his commitment to 60 per cent funding. It is going to take him 100 years at this level of funding in order to honour his commitment to bring the funding levels in this province back to 60 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I regret to inform the House that Charlie MacNaughton, a former member of the provincial Parliament for Huron and former cabinet minister of the Ontario government, has passed away. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Charlie, one of Huron county’s finest sons.
For many years Charlie was one of the leading figures in Ontario politics, playing an important role in the formation of government policy under John Robarts and Bill Davis. Charlie served as a cabinet minister for more than 11 years and held nine different posts, a number that few others have matched. He may be best remembered in his role as Provincial Treasurer from 1966 to 1971, although he also made his mark in such other portfolios as Highways and Management Board.
Although he served the province well, Charlie always remembered his Huron county roots. Before being elected in a May 1958 by-election, Charlie had been heavily involved in the community. He was a founding member of the South Huron Hospital in Exeter and served as a member of the South Huron District High School Board for nine years, including two as chairman. After being elected, Charlie quickly gained a reputation as a solid constituency man who always had the interests of Huron county at heart.
He fought hard to keep Centralia alive and well after the federal government decided to close the Royal Canadian Air Force base in June 1966. The success of Centralia today, with its agricultural college, its industries and its residential area, is a tribute to the determination and foresight of Charlie MacNaughton.
I felt honoured to be given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Charlie in providing Huron county with strong representation at Queen’s Park. As a matter of fact, after I was elected, I adopted as my theme song -- I believe it was an old Charlie Pride song -- I’m Walking in the Shoes that Charlie Wore.
Charlie was an amiable man most of the time, with a warm personality, but from time to time his temper was known to flare in the House. He had a number of memorable exchanges in the House, particularly with our current Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Stephen Lewis, who was then of course the leader of the New Democratic Party.
I well recall an exchange he had with the present Treasurer, the member for Brant-Haldimand (Mr. R. F. Nixon), at the time of the by-election in 1973. The member for Brant-Haldimand was kind enough to come down to the riding to lend me a hand for one day. We happened to be walking down the street and he noticed this nice house. He said, “Who lives in there?” I said, “That is the home of Charlie MacNaughton.” He said: “I know Charlie and Addie well. Let’s drop in and pay them a visit.” That is exactly what we did. Little did we know at the time that a reporter with the Exeter Times-Advocate was following on our heels and took a picture or two.
Charlie was not at home, by the way. Addie was there and we had a nice visit with her, but about midnight that night Charlie phoned the home of the member for Brant-Haldimand. He was not very happy, apparently, with the visit we had paid to Addie and he was not long in telling the member for Brant-Haldimand that he did not think it was right that he should be taking the candidate into his home to pay Addie a visit at the time of the Huron by-election. I am sure the member for Brant-Haldimand recalls that well.
On behalf of myself, my party, the government and the people of Ontario, I offer sincere sympathy to Charlie’s wife, Adeline, commonly referred to as Addie, who still lives in Exeter, as well as to his son, John, of Toronto, and his daughter, Heather, Mrs. Bill Howlitt of Windsor. He is also survived by his brother, John, of Ladysmith, British Columbia.
Charlie will be long remembered for his contribution both to the province of Ontario and the people of Huron. For the interest of those members who would like to pay their respects, please be advised that Charlie is resting at the Dinney Funeral Home in Exeter, where visitations can be made on Thursday between the hours of two and four and seven and 10. Funeral services will be conducted at the Exeter United Church on Friday at 2 p.m.
Mr. Swart: I am pleased to rise and express on behalf of my party our tribute to Charles MacNaughton. I was not a colleague of his in this House but I met him on many occasions when I was in municipal government, both when I was reeve of Thorold and warden of Welland county and on the Niagara regional government. On one or two occasions I had occasion to feel a little bit of his anger, whether it was real or contrived, but in the meetings that I and my colleagues in council had with him we found him to be fair and we found him to be knowledgeable about his ministry.
I want to pay tribute to the great contribution that he made in this Legislature and to the people of Ontario over one and a half decades. In my contact with Charles MacNaughton, I sometimes found him to be partisan, even at the municipal level, but are we not all in a partisan field? I grew to respect him over those numbers of years I knew him, and this House and this province are indebted for the contribution he made.
I listened with interest to the comments that were made by both my colleagues who spoke on behalf of the government and the New Democratic Party. I do not want to repeat all the things that were said but I do not think we mentioned that Charlie came to us from Saskatchewan. He received his education in Brandon, Manitoba. He later entered the seed business, which he operated in Brandon and Winnipeg until 1942 when, very fortunately, I believe, for us and for the people of Ontario, he moved to Ontario. He headed a very prominent seed house at Exeter before he decided to share his time and his talents with the people of Ontario.
It was mentioned that Mr. MacNaughton held nine ministries. Certainly up until that time, it was more than any other person in the history of the province. I suspect that record probably holds; I did not have time to check that out, but I do not know of anybody else off the top of my head, and I guess it would have been a member of our party, who would have come close to that record.
He was in cabinet from 1961 to 1973 and was certainly one of the most respected Treasurers this province has ever had. I have an interesting quote from January 13, 1973, that I would like to read to the members; I thought the current Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) would enjoy it. It says: “Mr. MacNaughton was not the sort of man comfortable with deficits. A solid citizen of Exeter, he was attracted to political life by the policies of the late Conservative leader, George Drew.”
The deficits, of course, attracted my attention, and I hold before me a budget for 1970. That is not very long ago, I say to the Treasurer and the Premier (Mr. Peterson). It is Charlie MacNaughton’s budget of 1970. I thought the House might be interested in two of the figures from that budget. They will astound members by their size, I am sure. The net general revenue for 1970 was $3,739,300,000; the net general expenditure was $3,728,018,000. A $10-million surplus, I guess, was budgeted in that year. Charlie MacNaughton must surely be astounded. In 1970, he was able to balance the budget. We were spending at that time $3.7 billion, which, as was said by my leader, is the amount of money that appears to be spilled by this Treasurer from one year to the next. It is astounding.
On behalf of our caucus, we extend our appreciation to Mr. MacNaughton’s wife and his family for sharing him with us and for sharing him with the province of Ontario. We too extend our sympathies to his wife and family on his passing.
Mr. Pouliot: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Under standing order 19(d)11, I wish to apologize to the member for Cochrane North, the Minister of Northern Development (Mr. Fontaine), for use of insulting language during question period yesterday. I can assure the minister that there was no malice intended. However, I fully recognize and realize that language of this type is conducive to disorder. I know the minister to be most competent, sincere and dedicated. I want to thank the minister for the help he has given me in the past, but much more important, for the help he has conveyed to northerners at every opportunity.
Mr. B. Rae: I have a question for the Treasurer. He states on page 5 of his statement, “Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to share some of my thoughts and concerns with the federal and provincial ministers of finance.” He also indicates throughout the document that he has, in fact, shared a lot of information and given his points of view to the federal authorities. I wonder if the Treasurer can do us the favour of making public all the submissions that have been made by Ontario with respect to corporate and personal income taxes and with respect to tax reform.
Mr. B. Rae: That is progress. The question I want to ask the Treasurer on that score is if he can tell us precisely just what is the thrust of his recommendations with respect to corporate taxation. He will know that one of the major features of the Blenkarn report, which was released just a couple of days ago, was the clear statement that the corporations must pay a larger share with respect to the balance between corporate and personal income tax.
The Treasurer’s comments would tend to indicate that he is concerned about the impact on Ontario’s competitive position and about what he calls the “economic growth potential.” I hope these comments would not be sending a message to the federal government that it should not be imposing a very fair, and indeed rigorous, tax on corporations that are making profits at the present time.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I had hoped really to include a good deal more information in the statement, but having to fit it into the 20-minute rule of the House, I cut out some of the details that the honourable member is asking for. Since he has now asked for it specifically in question period, I will tell him that he will be aware that the federal white paper broadened the base of the corporation income tax substantially by removing so-called loopholes, so-called avenues for what used to be called by one of the federal parties, corporate welfare bums -- a phrase I do not often use myself.
At the same time, since the base was substantially broadened, the recommendation from Mr. Wilson is that the corporation tax rate be reduced. When the government of Ontario makes any adjustments to its corporation tax rate, we have a rule that almost invariably parallels those changes, but since most of the productive corporations -- let us rephrase this.
Many of the corporations that are most productive in Canada are found in Ontario. The impact of those base-broadening rules will certainly have a great impact here. One of the ones certainly that has had most of the discussion, and one that I have discussed with the other treasurers and the Minister of Finance, has been his new approach to capital cost allowance, which would have replaced a write-off over three years for manufacturing machinery and other aspects of investment with a declining write-off of 25 per cent that just keeps getting smaller and smaller until there is very little left. It would have really meant a substantial impact, not in the total tax paid by corporations over a number of years, but in the rate at which those payments would have been made.
We have been very competitive with the Americans in our capital cost allowance and this particular change would be a negative one as far as we are concerned. I have given him specific proposals for another capital cost allowance program that we --
Mr. B. Rae: It is very difficult in the absence of a full statement by the Treasurer as to what Ontario’s position has been. We have the publication of the federal report and we have the publication of the Blenkarn report. Ontario’s submissions have all been made in private, but I wonder if the Treasurer can at least give us the assurance that nothing the Treasurer has recommended shows a decrease in the total amount of revenues being generated from the corporate sector under tax reform. Can he at least give us that assurance?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The member has to remember that the revenues from corporation tax are based on the rate as well as the taxation base. Mr. Wilson’s white paper was fairly careful to make the changes neutral as far as Ontario is concerned. He did his best presumably for the other provinces, but in our instance, if no changes are made, I think our revenue goes down by something like $30 million. We are reviewing the tax --
I want to make it clear that Mr. Wilson has met with the treasurers regularly, and I appreciate that, but the assistance I get in establishing policy comes from my colleagues, it comes from people that I ask, as far as their advice is concerned, who proffer their advice, and also from the standing committee of the Legislature. That committee has not had an opportunity to hear the views of its own committee members and other members of the House and anybody else. I am looking forward to getting a report from them.
Mr. B. Rae: I have a question of the Minister of Housing. The minister stated outside the House that the reason for the underspending of some $50 million was that the programs that were being offered by the government were not taken up by many of the groups that were expected by the government to take them up.
Can the minister confirm that when one looks at the nonprofit and co-op housing programs, applications for those programs, plans for those programs, detailed architectural drawings and proposals from various co-op groups and non-profit housing corporations across the province have consistently far exceeded the supply in the provincial program? Can she confirm that in 1986 they received 20,000 applications under the nonprofit program, 10,000 applications under Project 3000 and, for 1987, 24,000 applications under the nonprofit program?
In fact, what she allocated to each of those programs was about 25 to 30 per cent of what was being asked for, at the same time as she is going outside the House and giving very misleading information to the press with respect to the government’s programs and the takeup rate.
Hon. Ms. Hošek: This government has done more for housing than any other government has done before. The money that has not been spent in the past year is not lost. The commitment of $645 million that this government has made for spending on housing will be maintained.
Mr. B. Rae: The minister has just contradicted directly the answer that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) gave yesterday. He said the money could not be carried forward. The minister today is saying that the money is not lost. One of them is telling the truth. It would be interesting to find out which one it is.
The question I have of the minister is specifically with respect to the so-called convert-to-rent program. The minister has stated that this is one of the programs that is going to continue; this is one of the programs that is one of the pillars upon which the government is directing its approach. Can the minister explain why the convert-to-rent program was one of the worst villains in the underspending department last year, at the same time as there are thousands of applications in the nonprofit program, far more applications than there is funding?
Why not take the money out of the programs that have not worked and that were not working and put it in the programs where people are applying, and do it in a way that is going to make sure that housing is brought on stream as soon as possible?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I am committed to spending the money that has been allocated on housing in the most efficient and effective way possible. It is for this reason that, when it was clear to us that the takeup in Renterprise was not as quick as we would have wanted, we decided we would reallocate that money to areas where we think the takeup would be quicker.
What I said outside the House yesterday, and I am very happy to reiterate today, is that we are always looking at all of our programs to see that they are as effective as they can possibly be in changing market conditions and that we are prepared to look at all of their effectiveness and to reallocate resources to make sure that the greatest impact and the quickest impact is felt for the people who really need the housing. They are our primary commitment. We will use our resources as effectively as possible, and we are always looking at all of our programs to see how to do that best.
Can the minister explain how she could say no to nonprofit groups which have their proposals in front of her and at the same time allow convert-to-rent proposals such as the one that was made to her from Ariann Developments, which operates a thing called Litwin Place at 235 Grandravine in North York?
The minister gave these people $70,000 under the convert-to-rent program. She financed that, and they promptly turned around and sold the equity shares in those apartments which she helped to finance. It would appear to be in contravention of provincial legislation. How can she be so inflexible to nonprofit groups and so flexible that she financed private sector developments which are breaking her own laws?
We are very interested in supporting the nonprofit and co-operative sector and have added funds to that sector in the past year. I can only repeat what I have said before. All our programs are meant to be as effective as they possibly can to deliver housing to the people who need it. If we discover that our programs are not being taken up as quickly as we would like, we are prepared to look at them and to reallocate our resources to the areas that will be most effective and quickest.
Mr. Brandt: My question, surprisingly, is to the Treasurer. I want to ask him about the statement he makes in his release of information today -- I believe it is on page 3 -- the comment that Ontario’s economy will grow next year, a rather optimistic statement in light of some of the more recent reports that are coming out that I would like to share with the Treasurer.
The London Free Press this morning indicates that a vice-president, an economist with the Bank of Montreal, says the economy will stall in 1988. The specific quote from the economist in that particular article indicates that growth will come to “an abrupt halt” in Ontario.
I realize those two statements are a bit of a dichotomy in that the Treasurer is exhibiting a level of optimism while the economist is being somewhat more pessimistic. Was the Treasurer’s statement drafted, in the context of his anticipated growth for next year, before or after Black Monday and the crash of the stock market a couple of weeks ago?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Specifically, I can tell the honourable member that the information in the statement is as up-to-date as yesterday, and my projections are based on the views and expressions of opinion and assistance of the Ministry of Economics. I am very confident those economists are effective. That does not mean their views are the exclusive ones used by myself and the other Treasury officials in this matter.
The honourable member points out a statement made by an economist for the Bank of Montreal. I think he is aware that other banks have made varying projections and other institutions in Canada and the United States have also already come on record as indicating what they hope the future to be.
I simply draw to the member’s attention that I hope to table in the next few weeks a more detailed projection of what we expect the economy to do and how it is to perform in the areas of jobs and investment and, of course, from our point of view, revenue, in the next 12 months. This will be tabled in the House and I hope the standing committee would use it as one of the vehicles upon which it would carry out its discussions and research, to offer advice to the House and the Treasurer as to how we might amend any views that are presently expressed to the House and how they might be reflected in the budget.
Mr. Brandt: Recognizing that we are entering at least some period of uncertainty, I think it is interesting to note that, as a result primarily of increases in sales tax revenue, the Treasurer did receive a windfall of some $350 million, of which, based on the past performance of this government, he has spent virtually every single, solitary dime of that additional money.
I would ask the Treasurer: In light of the fact that there are at least some voices out there that are saying, “Be cautious about the future” as a result of the possibility of an economic slowdown, why would the Treasurer not in fact take a look at that additional revenue of $350 million and apply at least a portion of that, as my colleague the critic for the Treasurer has indicated, to the deficit in order to provide him with some additional flexibility in the days and months ahead when he may well need it?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The honourable member says he does not approve of the way that money was spent. The extra was spent for community and social services at a rate of an additional $103 million and for health services at a rate of an additional $119 million; those are the two major ones. If the honourable member is indicating that he does not feel those worthy community services should be supported, then I disagree with him.
Mr. Brandt: The Treasurer will always be able to cite needs, certainly, and I do not disagree with many of the needs he has pointed out. Of course, he has inadvertently forgotten to mention that he has also, in the course of the last two years, hired an additional 5,000 civil servants, which has cost this province an additional $250 million a year, or no less than $1 billion over a four-year period.
My question to the Treasurer is simply this: The deficit which he projected in his budget statement today of some $970 million would of course have to take into effect some $350 million of additional in-year cuts that he had proposed for the various ministries. Since we are about halfway through the year in terms of his budgeting process, could the Treasurer share with us now how much of that $350 million he has been able to realize in terms of cuts, and is he in fact on target with those additional cuts that will be required to bring the total deficit below the magic $1-billion mark?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The honourable member would be relieved to know that the salary bill for the civil servants is now substantially decreased as a percentage of the budget of the province, compared to what it was. He would also be glad to know that of the new employees who are hired in areas of substantial significance and importance in delivering provincial programs, most of them are working not in Toronto but out in the province, including the move to northern Ontario, where so many of our very important operations are going to be concentrated now and in the future.
In connection to the honourable member’s question which dealt with in-year cuts, I can report to the honourable member that we are on target, the program is moving forward and the report of where those cuts come is premature at this time, although it is well in hand. When the fiscal year is completed, I will be able to detail to the honourable member where this comes from. Some of it will come from capital, some will come from our ordinary expenses, and I am sure the honourable member would be delighted to support the concept, since it really came into this Legislature from the mind and at the hand of Frank Miller of blessed memory.
Mr. Harris: I also have a question for the Treasurer, who I would hope -- maybe in his own way of answering -- will start to relate to the facts as well as his own way. It has to do with the second-quarter report that was released yesterday, a report which heightened our concerns about his government’s commitment to deficit reduction and any semblance of expenditure control. Could the Treasurer tell us what portion or percentage of the increased revenues his government has collected since coming to office has been applied to reducing the deficit?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: The cash requirement reduction plan that has been a part of our program of fiscal responsibility is well known to the members of the House, or certainly to the previous members of the House. I will be glad to try to describe it in detail to the present members. When we took office -- we really do not want to talk about the days prior to office -- the spending program on the day we took office in fact had a deficit projection of about $2.6 billion. We have progressively reduced that over the three budgets I have been involved with. Now it is below one billion.
I wish it had been substantially lower, but it is below $1 billion so we have been able to apply the increased revenues in a way that strengthened our programs and made up for other kinds of deficits in this province having to do with inadequate funding on education, roads, environmental programs and a wide variety of important aspects.
The question was what percentage and the answer, if the Treasurer would use the facts, is really quite simple; it is eight per cent. Eight per cent of the total revenue increases he has received since he has been in office is what he has applied to reducing the deficit. He has managed, successfully I might add, to spend the remaining 92 per cent of the increases he has received.
In the current fiscal year, as of this statement that we saw yesterday, he has applied less than two per cent of the total in-year revenue increases. This is the windfall over and above his budget. Two per cent of that he has applied to deficit reduction. In his three budgets, he has been able to reduce the deficit by less than one half of the more than $2 billion in windfall; not the $10 billion or so he has, just the $2 billion in windfall. Less than one half of that has gone towards the deficit.
Mr. Harris: I wonder if the Treasurer is able to explain to the long-suffering taxpayer why, in the midst of this sustained period of economic growth, he has made such a minimal commitment to reducing the deficit, and when, if ever, does this Treasurer see the day when this province might have a balanced budget?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I would like to point out to the honourable member that our current budget is presently balanced or very close to it. From a business point of view, to actually balance our revenues with our day-to-day expenditures for the operation of the government is an aim that I set for myself and that has been accomplished within a very narrow range. I think we should remember that this year we are spending $2.6 billion in capital. In order to accomplish that, we are borrowing less than $1 billion. I do not know many well-ordered businesses that are able to conduct their affairs in such an effective and fiscally responsible way.
Mr. Harris: If we take into account the differences in the way governments and businesses operate, every well-run business I know does it better than the Treasurer is doing it. I think the Treasurer knows the real reason he has not eliminated the deficit is that his cabinet colleagues have turned into spending junkies and it is the taxpayer who is paying for their $96 million-a-day habit. The only time we hear him talk about fiscal responsibility is when he is hedging his commitments or signing accords.
The Treasurer and his colleagues have overspent his budget plan every year they have been in office. The Treasurer’s three budgets have increased spending by an average annual rate of 10 per cent. He knows that his expenditures in relation to the size of the economy are at near-recessionary levels. Does the Treasurer not agree that the only hope he has of increasing the province’s flexibility, let alone of delivering on these campaign promises, is to get his colleagues’ and the Premier’s (Mr. Peterson) spending under control? It has not worked for three years. Could he tell us what new controls he has that by some miracle are going to work now?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: We think that our spending program is under control. We are not spending the money on programs that are not supported on all sides of this House. We are concerned about delivering medical services in a more effective way and keeping up to date. We are concerned about the quality of education and a variety of welfare programs. We want to have programs that are going to stimulate the development of the north so that some of the northern members can spend more time down here.
I do not apologize for that and I am not going to be talking about the inadequacies of the previous administration. It is not necessary. Everybody knows about them. I do not have to bring it to their attention.
Mr. Swart: My question is to the Solicitor General. She will know that just this morning the chairman of the Niagara Regional Police Commission announced that the commission by a unanimous vote had called on the Solicitor General to hold a public inquiry into the allegations of impropriety against the Niagara Regional Police force.
Given that this call came from the reform commission initiated by her government specifically to straighten out the scandal that has existed for a long time in the Niagara Regional Police force, and given that the call to her was made after an investigation in depth by the commission on the 741-page report from its own internal investigation, why has the Solicitor General rejected that reasonable and responsible request and turned the whole issue back to the police chief and to the commission?
Hon. Mrs. Smith: As the member for Welland-Thorold knows, we do indeed have a capable chairman of the board of the police commission in that area. On taking office, she herself was concerned about the scandals reputed to be in that force, particularly around the police chief, and caused charges to be laid against the police chief under the Police Act. These were in the process of being investigated, I believe, by the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police force when the police chief himself resigned, stepping out of office. This caused the charges to die, as they were charges laid under the Police Act and he was no longer a policeman.
After discussion in the Solicitor General’s office, this police commission and its chairman decided to pursue their own investigation internally into this matter. They have now completed the investigation and have just as of now submitted it for our review. We will be glad to review it and see what problems, if any, exist in this report and take whatever necessary action is called for.
Mr. Swart: I am surprised that the minister does not have more of a handle on her ministry. Does she not know that she signed a letter rejecting it and then referring it back to the police commission? I would have thought she would have jumped at the opportunity to clean and clear the situation that we have down there.
The minister must know that in recent years her ministry did two comprehensive investigations and refused to release the reports. Even the brief summaries whitewashed the police force there. Yet the cache of 500 illegal weapons was found by the new chief and the commission immediately after they started their own investigation. Does the minister not think this shows gross incompetence or negligence or even coverup by her investigators? Is that not the real reason she does not want a public inquiry? The trail of guilt might lead right up to her ministry.
Hon. Mrs. Smith: If the member would listen carefully, I responded to her that the letter she had written to me seemed to indicate that the commission was doing the investigation and that this was an inappropriate way for her to go about it. Along with the letter I received last night, saying that she would be demanding a public inquiry, was an attached letter in which she corrected those errors in her original letter. So, indeed, she herself has now submitted a second, more accurate request for a public inquiry, and we will take a look at it. But I would point out to the member that, generally speaking, when the police investigate something, they themselves look to what action should be taken and recommend on that. We will look for the recommendations of the chief of police in this matter.
Mr. Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. As part of her campaign commitment to build 102,000 units of housing by 1989, the minister stated in this House on November 5 that 12,000 housing units will be developed over the next five years on government-owned land. Will the minister inform this House what consultation she has had with local municipalities and in what municipalities she intends to erect these units of housing?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I am glad to see the member for Markham here today. Yesterday, when we were supposed to be having a discussion that he himself called for on a question he had asked previously, he did not seem to have the time to be here to discuss this question. I hope the next time he is very interested in a question of housing and the provision of affordable housing, he will be here to listen to the answer.
Mr. Cousens: Will the Minister of Housing, in view of the almost unanimous decision by Scarborough council, tell us whether the Rouge Valley lands will be used for housing? The minister did not answer the other question. Can she answer this one?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: As a result of the decision of Scarborough council concerning those lands, this whole matter is now in the hands of the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins), who will take a look at the impact of that decision on all of the provincial interests in the area, which include the interests of the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and several others. When that process is complete, the cabinet will decide what the appropriate response will be.
It looks, in general, as if the Treasurer has reduced the amount to the public education system from about a 7.5 per cent transfer last year to 6.8 per cent this year. The minister has included the costs of the extension to the separate school system as a result of Bill 30 within that total amount of 6.8 per cent; last year, 1.5 per cent of that total amount went to separate school funding. Can the minister tell us how much of it is going in this year to separate school funding, how much is going in for the other things he promised during the election campaign and how much is really left for base assistance to the public education system? Is it in fact above the cost-of-living rise or is it less than that?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member is aware that these operating transfers, of course, do not include any capital transfers, which will be announced separately. The member is aware that those are very large as well and in many instances have to do with the Catholic schools and the public schools which have to have expanding facilities in many communities, and that the changes for public education, as he has pointed out, are: for colleges from 4.3 per cent to six per cent, for universities from 7.3 per cent to 6.7 per cent and for schools from six per cent to 6.8 per cent.
I would be the last to say that these transfers are sufficient in the light of the needs that any one of us as members of the Legislature can identify in our own community, and I cannot divide these, as the honourable member has asked, into the components that he has suggested. I will tell him, however, that as part of the statement I indicated that the members of cabinet directly associated will be making statements within the next two weeks -- I think one of them, at least, is due tomorrow -- indicating clearly what the application of the funds is.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It is disconcerting to know that the minister cannot separate out these figures. I cannot understand for the life of me why he cannot today, and I am very disappointed to hear that.
Dealing specifically with problems of access and overcrowding at the university level, since this is a drop from 7.3 per cent last year and we already know that about 15 per cent of the students who applied for university entrance and were eligible students were turned down or did not receive any place in a university this year, next year, with the Ontario Schools, Intermediate and Senior Divisions curriculum guidelines coming in, there is going to be a huge jump of perhaps as high as 15 per cent in applications.
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Once again, I would like to leave the answer to the minister concerned, who has a statement coming up on the application of these figures, but I would tell the member that in the consideration of the transfers, the accessibility was considered.
Mr. McLean: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The average home owner in the towns of Penetanguishene and Midland will be paying an increase of about $100 extra in garbage disposal next year. In the village of Port McNicoll it will rise from $37,000 to $91,000 in 1987, for an average increase of over $100 per household.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The garbage crisis to which the member makes reference, of course, is one which -- and I know we do not like to do this; to go into history on this -- but one which was left with me. That was the undertaking our government made to chase the Pauzé landfill site because of problems that were identified with the Pauzé landfill site and the plume, which was moving in the direction of Georgian Bay, and it has been documented for some time.
I can recall when we were in opposition being vociferous in the criticism of the operation of that particular site. It was not a viable option -- and I know there were people in the area, perhaps even the member himself -- but one of the options that was presented to me was to keep that landfill open, in violation of a pledge we had made and in violation of some information that had been provided to us that it would not be a good environmental option.
As a result, we did show leadership in assisting a number of municipalities in finding a temporary place where they could place their waste material until such time as they are through their environmental assessment, until such time as they have selected a site or a facility to deal with it.
My ministry has provided some funding, for instance for the transfer station, and has attempted to be of assistance in many ways to those municipalities in meeting their obligations. But there is no question, I would say to the member, that the cost --
Mr. McLean: Due to the fact of the delay that will take place until the new site is probably found, and the increased costs to those local municipalities, would the minister indicate to the Legislature and those people that he would be prepared to look into the possibility of picking up part of the cost?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I appreciate the member’s concern; I think it is very legitimate. We are not in a position, however, as he knows, to begin to subsidize the transportation of wastes around Ontario, for instance. If we were to do so, it would discourage municipalities from finding solutions which are somewhat close to home.
We do have a number of programs that the member may or may not be aware of that may be of some assistance to those municipalities. There are some I announced in June 1987 which have some generous funding in them which may help a number of those municipalities meet their obligations. I would be happy to have my ministry officials review those programs with the municipalities to see if there is anything they could take advantage of so that they would not have as much of the burden borne at the local level.
L’hon. M. Grandmaître: Je suis très fier d’annoncer, non seulement à mon collègue le député de Carleton-Est (M. Morin) mais à tous les députés qui ont participé à l’élaboration du projet de loi 8, qu’aujourd’hui on fête la première année de l’implantation de cette loi, et je suis très fier de leur apprendre que la majorité des plans de mise en oeuvre, soit 98 pour cent des plans, ont été présentés devant la Commission des services en français de l’Ontario et l’Office des affaires francophones.
Alors, nous avons deux ans pour continuer à travailler pour l’implantation de cette loi et, avec les efforts des différentes communautés et des organismes francophones en Ontario, je suis sûr que la Loi 8 va connaître le grand succès qu’on lui souhaite.
Mr. Hampton: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister will recall that in late July of this year he announced that the newly created Ontario Fisheries Advisory Council would meet in early August and that its membership would be expanded to include a representative from northwestern Ontario communities west of Thunder Bay.
However following the election, on September 28 -- 18 days after the provincial general election -- in a letter to Rick Morgan, president of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the minister indicated that an additional person from west of Thunder Bay would not be added to the fisheries advisory council.
Which is it? Which is the position of the minister? Does he stand by the statement that he made before the election? If he does stand by that, when will we see the appointment of a 12th member from one of the communities west of Thunder Bay?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: This of course is following the initiation of a fishing licence in Ontario to return the resource to what it was not that many years ago. We are definitely going to provide opportunities for all the people who visit northern Ontario, as well as the residents, to renew the kinds of opportunities that existed before.
There were those who questioned this initiative. I think I have convinced them that I propose to do this in a very meaningful way and that I would set up a group of people across the province who would tell this government and share the responsibility of how the moneys are going to be spent.
I feel very proud now that this has happened. I was at my first meeting with this group in Thunder Bay last week with Dr. E. J. Crossman, a well-respected biologist, as chairman. He has had no one quarrel with his chairmanship. He was asked the first question by the minister as to whether this new board thought it would be appropriate that it should have more members and that one of them should come from the area the member has described.
Mr. Hampton: So that the minister understands the position exactly, I want to read to him from the Dryden Observer. This is the Wednesday, July 29, edition of the Dryden Observer, and he said in it that the 12th member of the fishing advisory council would be appointed in time to take part in the early August meeting of the fishing advisory council. Following that, in the September 9 edition of the Dryden Observer --
Mr. Hampton: -- the Premier (Mr. Peterson) also stated the appointment would be made very soon. So my question is, the minister said it would happen in early August. The Premier repeated his words. The question is when. He said it was going to happen by early August. When is he going to appoint the 12th person from communities west of Thunder Bay, a promise he made back in July, which the Premier repeated early in September?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: This is not a short-term involvement. This group is going to be in place as long as it takes me to rebuild the fishery, and it is going to take quite a while, because we are going to have to put in new hatcheries. We are going to have to clean up the habitat. We are working, of course, with the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley), because as often as he cleans up a stream in this province, I am going to stock it with fish.
So I want the member to understand that a few months standing in the way of a committee, that is going to be producing such good work in this province to renew the resource to what it was not that long ago, is something that I do not think anyone would quarrel with for the time frame we have described. I have already said that we are going to add representation from that area to that group, when I decide.
I wonder whether the minister is familiar with the problem of the Oshawa Auto Auction, Lloyd’s bank and the 200 car dealers who sold their cars on October 21 and October 28 with the understanding that the money from the cars sold would go into a trust fund and the dealers would be paid promptly. The car dealers who sold on the 21st sent their cheques in for payment, and payment was withheld until October 29, and then they came back marked “Not sufficient funds.”
Mr. Wiseman: Would the minister and his colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye) look into the matter as to why the bank took that money, held it and put it against other debts the person owning the Oshawa Auto Auction had incurred?
Hon. R. F. Nixon: I have carefully perused my briefing book, and there is not a thing in there about the matter. I will certainly undertake to get the information for the honourable member and see that it is placed at his disposal without delay.
Mr. Wiseman: I appreciate that, but can the Treasurer tell us whether he and his colleague the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations have replied to the executive director of the used car association, who has been trying to get a meeting between himself and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations all this week? It is important. One person from my riding is a small dealer who stands to lose $32,000, but there are an awful lot of them out there. These are all small dealers, and I would appreciate it if the Treasurer could give me the commitment --
Hon. R. F. Nixon: Both my colleague the honourable minister and myself are usually readily accessible, and I will certainly see that the response goes to the member’s constituent and I will keep the member informed.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions. The committee dealing with the Ombudsman’s report rejected the Ombudsman’s recommendation to compensate the Argosy victims. The committee, however, did make a recommendation that there should be an ex gratia payment to the Argosy victims, and I am wondering if the minister can tell us if the government has made any decision on this matter.
Mr. Mackenzie: During the election, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) stated on several occasions that the issue would be brought before the cabinet. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) is said to have indicated his sympathy for this particular position. Has it been discussed in cabinet or has this minister just totally rejected it now and was that just an election comment?
Mr. Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Correctional Services. In response to a question yesterday, he mentioned his ministry was in the process of building young offenders facilities. Based on that comment, I wonder if he can inform us of the status of the secure young offenders facility that was announced for Brockville over two years ago?
Mr. Runciman: I have to take issue with the minister’s lack of knowledge in this particular subject area. I wrote him shortly after he was appointed to the executive council and he is still not familiar with the issue. His predecessor, in my view, delayed it purely on political grounds simply because that seat was not held by a member of the governing party. I am asking the minister --
Mr. Runciman: During the election campaign, the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr. Keyes), the former Minister of Correctional Services, indicated that Brockville was the ideal site. He confirmed that is the site the facility should go in. I just wonder if the minister will today commit himself to following through on that commitment, that promise, that announcement made over two years ago.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: In answer to the honourable member, I will not commit myself to that today because I want to review all the new construction and the rehabilitation of existing facilities in regard to young offenders.
Mr. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes is meeting in Toledo, Ohio, and today they are about to sign the Great Lakes water quality agreement, an update of the 1978 agreement. It calls for a scheduled cleanup of the lakes and strengthening the 1978 agreement. Is the minister aware of this and is he satisfied that the Ontario Great Lakes portion is going to be protected?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: This is a very important agreement. The member represents a constituency that is on Lake Erie so he would have a special interest in this. I want to say that this particular agreement is the culmination of some considerable negotiation. There was some fear that to tamper with the 1978 agreement, which in principle is a good agreement, might weaken it in view of the lack of resolve to deal with environmental issues in some part, but I can assure the member that the input of Ontario, and I must say the input of environmental groups, Great Lakes United and others, has been very beneficial in coming up with an agreement which I think is superior to the one we had last time.
Mr. Reville: I have a question for the Minister of Revenue. Today’s newspapers deliver us the latest entry in the Metro Toronto property tax lottery. It is a kind of mug’s game in which local councillors count up winners and then they count up losers. I wonder if the House should expect this minister to behave as the previous minister did. He used to smile disarmingly at the House and suggest that it really had nothing to do with him at all, but that he had to respond to requests.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I think the former minister did a marvellous job. If I can follow in his footsteps, I will be very pleased. I want to assure the member that this government is interested in reassessment, as we have been for the last two and a half years. If Metro can make up its mind about what it is looking for, my ministry will gladly assist.
Mr. Reville: I think it is beneath this government to start blaming the victim for things. The totally marvellous job the previous minister did was to create a situation in which Metro council is contemplating a scheme by which thousands of people will lose their homes, thousands of people will lose their apartments and thousands of people will lose their businesses.
Will the minister finally undertake real property tax reform -- I will give him some hints -- a reform that would be based on the taxpayer’s ability to pay, a reform that would be based on taking education off the property tax and a reform that would be based on reversing the trend of senior governments of dumping more and more fiscal responsibilities on the property tax so that assessment-poor municipalities struggle and struggle to deliver services to their ratepayers?
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: I think the present legislation is a very good piece of legislation. We will continue to use it for the simple reason that 76 per cent of all municipalities in this province have used the present legislation. I think we can do the very same thing. We can offer these services to individual municipalities in Metro or to Metro itself. Again, we do not know if the resolution or the assessment program presented yesterday by the committee will be accepted by Metro, and until it is accepted by Metro I cannot comment on it.
Mrs. Marland: My question is of the Minister of the Environment. I know that for some time now the minister has been promising air pollution guidelines. I am also aware of the fact the minister is fully knowledgeable that at this time there is an environmental assessment hearing taking place into a proposed energy-from-waste plant to burn domestic and industrial garbage, a project by Petro-Sun in the southeast part of Brampton.
I would like to ask the minister, in view of the fact that this environmental assessment hearing is now taking place and in view of the absence of any air pollution guidelines, how can the minister measure the decision of the panel against any benchmark that does not exist for air emissions from such a plant?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I find it interesting because in some instances I hear from her party that it is very pro incineration, that this is the solution and why are we allowing any more landfills in Ontario. The next question I get seems to talk about being opposed to incineration and so on. It really points to --
Hon. Mr. Bradley: It was a legitimate question and the member for Carleton was interrupting me. The fact is that the panel will take into consideration all evidence that is presented. In co-operation with the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario, there have been some federal pieces of work done on incineration. There has been some testing done. There has been a lot of work on evidence provided from around the world on the issue of incineration, and I know the panel will take that fully into consideration before rendering a decision one way or another.
Ultimately, of course, the Ministry of the Environment takes into consideration the viewpoint which the board expresses, and it is very rarely that we will see a government overturn the Environmental Assessment Board when it brings forward its decision to cabinet, because it is usually based on an introduction of evidence from a variety of groups. Members will know, of course, that this government provided intervener funding so that the opponents could make their cases in the most appropriate fashion.
Mr. Cousens: Mr. Speaker, under section 30 of the standing orders, I give formal written notice to yourself and the Clerk of dissatisfaction with the answer given by the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek) and I look forward to the opportunity of seeing her.
Mr. Cousens: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker: When I had scheduled the earlier dissatisfaction notice, I was able to come; but then when another function arose, out of the gentlemanly heart that I have, I gave her notice and said, “Look, there will be another opportunity.” It has come very quickly.
Mr. Kozyra: On behalf of my colleague the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine), I would like to submit to the Legislature a petition signed by 143 people of or near the riding of Cochrane North. This petition states:
“We, the undersigned, firmly believe that the residents of the Cochrane Temiskaming Resource Centre, who are developmentally handicapped children and adults, should remain in that facility to meet all their needs.”
I am pleased today to rise and to take part in this debate on the speech from the throne. It was interesting yesterday afternoon when the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black) made his remarks. Some comments were made with regard to the educational aspects of the speech from the throne, with regard to the additional portables and the additional costs that were going to be injected into the educational field. I do not think there are many people in this province who want to see more portables in schoolyards. I think they want to see bricks and mortar and better educational facilities for their children.
It indicated that what the speech from the throne really does is to send out signals of what the government intends to do in a program it wants to establish and follow. I believe that is all it does: send out signals. There were many signals sent out in the previous throne speech which were never followed through on or even brought into this Legislature for debate. Unfortunately, the government’s throne speech appears to be a carbon copy of its previous two speeches. This is not an agenda for action. This does not outline policies that are aimed at assisting the people of this province.
What did we get? Again, it appears to be a more-work project for Liberal back-benchers who will generate more committees, more reports, reviews and new studies. This is clearly not action on the part of the government. Rather, it shows that a sense of complacency and stagnation has already set in with a government that won a massive majority in the Legislature. That majority was won only two months ago and the people of this province have now seen how quickly arrogance and complacency have come to the forefront of this government.
The throne speech does not outline a clear and coherent strategy or lay the necessary foundation for a healthy future, the social or economic development of my riding of Simcoe East or the rest of the province. What this government has given the people of Ontario is only episode 3 in a series of throne speeches similar to the mini-series that were once popular on television. The popularity of network television mini-series has plummeted over the years and by presenting this throne speech, the Liberal government is facing the same fate from an audience that is or soon will be fed up with a government that hands down a hodgepodge of unrelated programs, a rerun of past announcements and a mountain of committees, studies and reviews.
There is nothing in this document that indicates where the government is taking Ontario over the next four years. Hardly any legislation has been introduced in the Legislature for this session. The conflict-of-interest bill has been introduced: that is one key. I do not know of too many others that have been introduced other than the auto insurance bill, and those in a whole legislative program are coming on stream very slowly. To me, this throne speech indicates that the ship of government is rudderless and the people of Ontario who are on that ship will be cast adrift in a sea of studies.
As my party’s critic for Tourism and Recreation, I am deeply concerned that this government appears to be satisfied with the gains Ontario’s tourist industry has made over the past years. There is no mention of tourism or recreation in the throne speech. That is interesting, when we look at the substantial increase we had last year: There is no mention of tourism, of how they are going to further expand the tourism program.
Can we expect to see the gains of 30 per cent we saw last year? Tourism contributes a lot of money and employment in my riding of Simcoe East. It provides an important economic counterbalance when things are not going so well for local business and industry. Judging by this throne speech, we can only assume this government is turning its back on the tourism industry in Ontario which was once “yours to discover.” It is now being wiped off the tourist map. Rather than severing ties with our tourist industry, this government should be announcing new initiatives, new aims to keep the industry healthy and vibrant. There is nothing of tourism in the throne speech, and that is a crying shame.
As my party’s deputy critic for Agriculture and Food, I was disturbed by what this government has offered to the farmers of Ontario. What they got from this throne speech is a commitment to develop innovative approaches assisting Ontario farmers. That sounds great, but it means absolutely nothing. The programs announced by this government during the recent provincial election campaign were only a rehash of programs already announced in the last budget. The farmers of Ontario have a long, proud history and, it appears that history will soon come to an end unless this government does more than dangle promises of studies, reviews and consultations rather than acting now.
The Evans commission, which was this government’s long-standing excuse for inaction in the health care field, has reported and recommended that an emphasis be placed on the prevention of illness and programs that operate outside of the hospital environment. What has this government done with the Evans commission report? Was there any mention of new programs in the throne speech? No. There was only a passing mention of a proposed Premier’s council on health strategy which may or may not encourage the development of programs.
There was also no mention of programs aimed at helping to enlarge existing hospitals or to build new ones in Ontario. The Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in my riding of Simcoe East is bursting at the seams. Prior to the recent election campaign, the government allocated $30 million to enlarge the hospital, but that financial infusion came after the health ministry was informed that the existing site is too small for any form of expansion. This is one election promise goody that just will not wash.
I know that there are many other communities throughout Ontario that require new or expanded hospitals. I also know that there are only so many dollars to go around. The financial pot is not bottomless and that is why I called on the government earlier this year to set up a hospital lottery with proceeds to be used for hospital construction in this province. A great idea, and there was no mention of that in the throne speech. Our health care delivery system is in a state of deterioration and that process is speeding up rapidly.
I would like to say a few things about the environment because this government seems unwilling to do so. The throne speech fails to mention any new programs aimed at reducing acid rain or the emissions from factories and automobiles that cause acid rain. If there were newspaper, radio or television reports that indicate the problem of acid rain has been resolved, I failed to read, hear or see these headlines or stories that we have conquered acid rain and it is no longer a problem. It appears from this throne speech, in the lack of reference to acid rain, that acid rain is no longer with us. But I know better.
This government has shown an acute lack of leadership in a related environmental field. I am referring to the garbage crisis that is confronting the people of Simcoe East and throughout the rest of Ontario. We can no longer afford to use valuable land in this province as dumping grounds for garbage. There will always be garbage, but there will not always be enough land. Garbage is currently being transferred from six northern municipalities to a landfill site north of Toronto. This is an expensive process and places an unacceptable financial burden on the taxpayers of Penetanguishene, Midland, Port McNicoll, Victoria Harbour, Tay township and the township of Tiny.
The average home owner will be paying approximately $100 more next year for the disposal of wastes. The average home owner can expect to see his taxes increased by over $100 just to cover the cost of transportation to the Keele disposal site.
This government seems to think the garbage crisis can be resolved by shipping trash around this province or by creating massive dumping grounds. This government seems to think the garbage crisis is a disposable problem that can be tossed away and forgotten about. There are no new policies or programs in this throne speech aimed at solving this extremely serious garbage problem that is confronting the municipalities of Ontario. This government has failed to show leadership.
It was only during the campaign that my Liberal opponent came to Toronto with some of his colleagues to make a sweetheart deal to have the garbage shipped to the city of Orillia. Can one imagine, with a disposal site on the shores of Lake Simcoe with environmental approval for approximately 15 years, these six municipalities with the leadership of the Liberal candidate wanting to bring all that garbage to the city of Orillia. The people of my riding made a wise choice on September 10, a very wise choice because if it were not for the choice they made they would be accepting garbage in the city of Orillia, something that is very unacceptable to me.
In the area of financial management, the throne speech had one brief mention about fiscal responsibility and then went on to completely ignore financial management. This government has not indicated that it is committed to reversing the erosion of expenditure constraints that has been experienced over the past two years. The government has failed to address the issue of tax reform at the provincial or federal levels or in relation to what may be required to maintain Ontario’s competitive position in a free trade environment, if and when a free trade agreement is completed with the United States.
Where is this government’s commitment to debt and deficit reduction? That commitment was also strangely absent from the throne speech. Major transfer payment recipients such as our health care and education systems found nothing in the throne speech to address their concerns that this government will use the recent stock market decline as an excuse to freeze their transfer payments.
During the recent provincial election campaign this government tossed out promises of major financial infusions into our health and education systems and then did a complete turnaround when the stock market crashed by warning officials in our education and health systems that their transfer payments could very well be frozen at last year’s levels or even reduced. How can any advance planning take place for our education or health care systems if officials in these fields get little or no direction from the government?
The necessary advance planning will have to be put on hold. It was interesting today when the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) made his speech in the Legislature with regard to the financial situation and how he was going to proceed with the transfer payments. The question was asked as to what would happen if there were tough times in 1988. The Treasurer had indicated that due to the problems of October 19 there could be a freeze. There is no indication in his statement today that this will not happen. He still was very vague and left it open, “These are my proposals, but times could change.”
Most of the education initiatives mentioned in this throne speech were first announced in last spring’s throne speech and enlarged upon during the summer provincial election campaign. This government appears intent on reducing the school dropout rate by one third over a five-year period. Now the intent appears to be a reduction of illiteracy. This government’s focus on education policy continues to shift haphazardly and is getting hazier with each passing day.
The throne speech mentions initiatives aimed at reducing class sizes. I would like this government to tell me where it will find the classrooms required for a class size reduction program. Just where are these classrooms that can be used in an education system that has acutely overcrowded schools?
In my own riding, the Simcoe County Board of Education has managed to jam approximately 600 secondary and 3,450 elementary school students in portable classrooms for this 1987-88 school year. That is a total of over 4,000 students in portable classrooms. Yesterday, the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black) indicated that there are going to be more portable classrooms. It is totally unacceptable.
There is a pressing need for at least two new elementary schools and the Simcoe County Roman Catholic Separate School Board has more than 780 secondary and at least 2,000 elementary students taking classes in portables this year. That board requires one new secondary school and a whopping six new elementary schools. St. Ann’s in Penetanguishene is one that is totally in portables. The program as laid out by this government with regard to portable classrooms is unacceptable.
There is no doubt about it. New schools are required immediately in Simcoe county and throughout the rest of the province to meet the growing elementary enrolment in our education system. This government failed to address the needs in the throne speech. I firmly believe our educational system must be reformed and properly funded. With this throne speech, the government has failed to make any serious investment in the future of our youth by continuing to seriously underfund Ontario’s education system.
Education system funding has decreased by over six per cent in the last two years, down to approximately 43 per cent. The goal of this government, as indicated, is that it is to be increased to 60 per cent over five years. That was a promise that was made two years ago by this government. I cannot understand it. What did they do? It was decreased by approximately six per cent. They go to the public again and say: “Elect us. We will increase it to 60 per cent.” How many times are the people going to be told? Obviously they did not hear it the first time, but I am sure they will the next time.
The throne speech offered only a vague statement of intent to continue to create directly and to preserve low and moderately priced housing, which indicated to me that this government plans to continue its existing programs that resulted in a steadily worsening housing situation. The throne speech mentions the government’s election campaign pledge to provide tax breaks to some first-time home buyers, but another election promise to provide 5,000 new residence spaces to alleviate the student housing crisis is not mentioned at all. Are these students supposed to live in all the excess classrooms this government seems to think exist in our education system?
The question that has been asked in this Legislature lately with regard to the millions of dollars that were not spent last year on housing is interesting. It is interesting that a large complex in my riding in the city of Orillia, the Royal Canadian Legion complex, wanted expansion. They wanted to create housing in the city for residents in need. They were turned down. Why, with some $52 million unspent, were these applications not carried through? Why are these people not being looked after?
The Ontario Human Rights Commission changes ministries faster than a Canadian Football League team changes its players’ roster. First it was part of the Ministry of Labour. Then it was shifted to the Ministry of the Attorney General. Now it is going to the new Ministry of Citizenship and race relations. This continuous game of musical chairs with the human rights commission only creates uncertainty, a lack of direction and a great deal of confusion. Rather than creating chaos, this government should be doing more to ensure that the human rights commission can do its job thoroughly, effectively and efficiently.
During the summer election, Mr. Speaker, one you had an easy time in because your riding is very safe as far as being reselected is concerned -- while I am mentioning you, I would like to take this time to congratulate you on being elected to your very honourable position as Deputy Speaker. I have had the opportunity of working with you in the last few years in this Legislature. I have enjoyed it immensely and found you to be very fair and obliging and I know you will continue to do that in the chair you occupy there.
As I was saying, during the summer election campaign, this government announced it was committing $14 million each year to upgrade and modernize apprenticeships as well as attracting those who would normally not consider or pursue an apprenticeship program.
To me, this $14-million commitment seems somewhat premature when the federal and Ontario governments have not even completed the joint review of the apprenticeship program. In fact, the review is only now getting under way. That review was delayed in the first place due to a lack of initiative and action by this government. The review was to be completed and a new plan released by January 1, 1987. However, the provincial government did not even commission the study needed for this review until two months ago. As I said, under these circumstances, the $14-million commitment is premature.
The throne speech also failed to address retraining for older workers in Ontario. I am referring to older workers, those in the 50 to 65 age group who are laid off due to factory closings or advances in technology that they are not able to keep pace with. These older workers want to continue their contributions to their employers. They want to continue making a decent living rather than depending solely on welfare or unemployment insurance. These older workers have given too much of their skills, initiative and experience just to be cast aside by a government that does not care. They were ignored in the throne speech. Our older workers should be retrained and not ignored.
The throne speech contains repeated references to this government’s opposition to the draft free trade agreement between Canada and the United States. This government has made the commitment to refer the deal to the House standing committee on finance and economic affairs. This happens at a time when the Premier (Mr. Peterson) is scurrying around the province and making comments with regard to free trade.
In January the Premier said the provinces would have a veto over any free trade negotiated by the two neighbouring nations. In February he said Ontario has a de facto veto over the implementation of the pact at the appropriate time. He repeatedly said in this Legislature and to reporters and to the voters during the recent election campaign that there would be no deal if his six conditions were not met. Times change and so has the Premier’s stance on free trade. Earlier this month, he said that under this country’s Constitution the federal government, not the provinces, has the power to conclude treaties with foreign governments I have to wonder when the Premier had this great revelation from on high. When exactly did he realize that the federal government has the right to negotiate foreign treaties?
Rather than continue to voice his opposition to the free trade agreement, especially when the final document has not even been completed yet, the Premier should have used the throne speech to announce programs aimed at assisting Ontario’s industries during a transition period, aimed at assisting Ontario’s industries if this agreement is approved.
As well, the Premier could have used the throne speech to indicate what his government plans to do to assist Ontario’s exporters in maintaining their access to markets in the United States in the event a free trade agreement is not approved by both countries.
These are only a few of the opportunities this government missed in its vague throne speech. These are only a few, but there are more, many more that I am sure my colleagues will be discussing as this debate continues.
I am certain my colleagues will note the throne speech’s failings in the areas of transportation, conflict of interest, the Premier’s Council and energy in northern Ontario, to name but a few, and how the Premier is trying to slough off his responsibility in this conflict-of-interest act so that he will not have to answer to the people. He will appoint a commissioner, let him do the work for him and say, “This is his duty, not mine.” What is he ashamed of? His conflict-of-interest act, I am sure, needs some very serious amendments that will improve it drastically.
I am truly sorry this government used this throne speech to point out the problems facing Ontario without offering any concrete solutions. I am sorry this government believes that a growing number of studies, reviews, committees and commissions is an acceptable replacement for commitment and action. There is no coherent strategy for Ontario’s social and economic future in this speech. There is really no agenda, no vision. There is only a lengthy list of studies, reports, reviews and new committees aimed at keeping the Liberal back-benchers busy and out of trouble. Well, you do not get in trouble when you come to this great place.
Also, there was very little mention in the throne speech with regard to energy. It is going to be interesting to know whether units five, six, seven and eight at Darlington are going to be proceeded with. Nobody has answered that question. What is happening with regard to that?
The question was asked in the Legislature the other day. No answer. I believe the other day the question was asked with regard to Oak Ridge: When is that new facility going to be built? I do not recall hearing an answer. I do not recall hearing any answer to the 88 recommendations in the Hucker report for that facility on what is to be done. The minister did not have the answer. I can tell members that there needs to be a new facility built there. This Hucker report has been done for over a year now and very few of the recommendations contained within that report, to my knowledge, have been followed.
The Ministry of the Environment: inaction in its waste disposal guidelines and inaction in its recycling and reusing programs. Where is the initiative? It is not saying to the municipalities, “We have this program. Come and use it. We want to see recycling take place more strongly than ever before.” I have never seen any memos sent around saying that these are the programs we want; very few. There are many municipalities represented in this House right at the present time that have the same problems we have in Simcoe North with regard to their disposal situation.
I am pleased to have had the opportunity to take part in this throne speech debate where the government has indicated some of the avenues it would like to see initiated. Very few are clearly identified; very broad in concept. Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to say a few words.
Mr. Kozyra: It is an honour and a pleasure to rise in the House to deliver my first address: an honour to represent the riding of Port Arthur and a special pleasure because my two daughters are in the audience for this occasion.
I am certain the responsibility of office weighs heavily on each of us. In my case, following in the footsteps of Jim Foulds, who for 16 years served the Port Arthur constituents with much dedication and distinction, will be no easy task. However, I commit myself to that challenge.
The city of Thunder Bay, half of which is in the Port Arthur riding, is often referred to as the gateway to the west. Historically the great rendezvous place for the fur traders, it now serves with its many grain elevators as the storage, cleaning and shipping port for 40 per cent of Canada’s grain. Forest products: The pulp and paper industry is the second main employer for the region, providing thousands of jobs.
Dominating the harbour is the famous Sleeping Giant, a huge peninsular rock formation in the form of a reclining Indian brave. The spirit of Nanabozho guards the bay and the Silver Islet mine, once the richest silver mine in North America. The Sleeping Giant peninsula is part of Sibley Provincial Park, one of Ontario’s as yet lesser known but most beautiful natural settings.
Thunder Bay, a thriving modern city of 115,000, serves as the regional centre for a quarter of a million northerners. In 1981, Thunder Bay successfully hosted the Canada Summer Games, a two-week athletic and cultural extravaganza for 3,000 of Canada’s young athletes and 1,000 of Canada’s brightest artistic performers. The new and beautiful community auditorium regularly draws top-notch international entertainers, while Old Fort William, a truly magnificent historical recreation, is a major reason for the nearly half a million tourists who visit Thunder Bay.
The people of Thunder Bay, like all northerners, are both tough and vulnerable. While being proud of our ability to survive adversity, we are ever conscious of our isolation and susceptibility to the vagaries of the economy. For these reasons, we listened carefully to the most recent speech from the throne and found reassurance in the Liberal government’s commitment to completing the job and maintaining its strong interest in the north. As a classroom teacher for more than 20 years, I was extremely pleased with the government’s bold initiative in education that places emphasis on the early years where it will do the most good. The ravages of illiteracy are all too evident in the north.
The recommitment to more affordable quality housing will go a long way to meeting the needs of the many still seeking the security and dignity of a place they can call their own. Being heavily related to resource-based industries, we welcomed the government’s initiatives towards international competitiveness. We welcomed the proposed review of the Power Corporation Act. I hope consideration will be given to reducing Ontario Hydro rates for new northern industries. This reduction would make competition with Manitoba and Hydro-Québec more equitable and would translate into thousands of new jobs for the north.
The emphasis on independent healthy living correctly addresses the monumental health challenge for a preventive approach. However, this futuristic look cannot avoid the realities of increasing chronic illnesses, bed shortages and rising costs of medical technology. Thunder Bay feels that a modern, central medical facility with an adjoining medical school should not be out of the question. The economic, medical and social benefits of this regional Rochester of the north are obvious.
The recently announced centre of entrepreneurship program and the subsequent awarding of one centre to Thunder Bay confirms the belief in the vital role the north can and will play in Ontario’s economic future.
A few days from now, Thunder Bay will host the second Premier’s conference on northern business, entrepreneurship and competitiveness. It will be the culmination of a year of conferences and seminars throughout the north that provided a distillation of creative, enterprising approaches to northern development.
A few weeks ago in Sudbury, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a conference specifically aimed at young entrepreneurs, 60 men and women under the age of 30. The vitality and originality of their northern vision was truly inspiring. People such as these are the key in reversing the youth and brain drain to the south and making the north an exciting, rewarding place in which to live.
Increased funding for northern Ontario highways was also welcomed. No one in the north is so naïve as to think our highway requirements can be met overnight. Although the present government has committed more than $100 million to highway construction and improvements in 1988, much more remains to be done. Many northerners feel that a four-lane Trans-Canada Highway should not be just a dream. Just as the coast-to-coast railway united Canada in the last century, so too this four-lane concrete ribbon would tie northern and southern Ontario.
The economic benefits from better and increased trucking access and tourist travel would be enormous. Safety concerns would be reduced, but the symbolic aspects of having the northerners say, “We rate; we have arrived” is perhaps the most important of all.
Soon, Thunder Bay will boast a brand-new government building on its beautiful marine waterfront. As part of this government’s decentralized policy, it will mean over 200 jobs for the region. The buy-north program focuses government attention on northern goods and services.
The opposition has characteristically labelled the speech from the throne as “complacent, arrogant and inactive.” It is clear to anyone caring to give it an honest look and appraisal that it is anything but. Perhaps a quote from Thunder Bay’s local newspaper sums it up best: “That the Ontario Liberals want to work on doing what they said they would is a measure of good government, not staleness or timidity.”
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It is hard to comment on such a short speech. In view of the tradition here, no doubt we will find that his next speech will jump exponentially, and the one following that. My first speech in this House took about 45 seconds. I had worked on it for two weeks.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It was my best speech, definitely my most effective. It was on the whole question of pay equity at that time. It was a private member’s bill by Mr. Bounsall from Windsor. I was third member up speaking for my party in private members’ hour and did not realize that the third member often did not get a chance to speak. When I rose, after two weeks of research on my paper, the Speaker -- and he was a New Democrat -- said, “You have one minute left.” I said, “But, Mr. Speaker, I have been working on this for two weeks” and he said, “You have 45 seconds.” I summarized it in such a brilliant way that we won the vote and it actually went out to committee.
This will be a much longer and much less effective speech, which will have no impact at all on the 95 members of the Liberal majority, I am sure, or any of the ministers and, therefore, will just fill the time.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am always happy to see the member for Norfolk -- has it changed? Is it still Norfolk? I have not kept up with all the changes. There are too many of them in this House at this point. It is good to see some of those who have heard my speeches before still here, as well as those who have not had to put up with them before. I appreciate their attendance.
Again, although I have already welcomed you to the chair before this, as it is the tradition within speeches on the speech to the throne, I would like to welcome you again, Madam Speaker, and encourage you to be lenient with me if I get too obstreperous today.
Throne speeches are always boring. I guess that is one of the rules, so this is an excellent speech. This is perhaps one of the most boring throne speeches I have sat through in my eight years here. It meets all the requirements. It was definitely written by a committee -- you can tell the different styles that are in it -- and luckily, it is not contradictory. That is the main thing you have to be concerned about in a throne speech.
But it is also a little disappointing at this stage, especially after the two years we have had here with the accord and the excitement of change that took place after 42 years of Tory rule. One would have expected that in the aftermath of an election in which the Liberal Party was to gain the recognition for the mood of reform that was here and come back with such a large majority, we would see a blueprint of what we could expect of a reform government over the next four years. One would have expected that this would set the tone for some imagination -- the word does come up several times -- and vision, but I do wonder what kind of myopia we are talking about here.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Yes, it is an old Tory slogan. I must comment that the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) is correct. We talked about doing things by stages and in the fullness of time. All those old Tory adages seem to be coming back.
It is wonderful to watch the way the Premier’s actual physical deportment is changing, and he is looking more and more like William Grenville Davis, the past Premier of this province. I do not know if all members have noticed it, but there was that wonderful picture in the Globe and Mail where they had the two profiles, and it was really hard to tell the Brothers Karamazov apart; they really did look quite alike. The past Premier’s style -- in terms of evasion of issues and the long, winding sentences which go nowhere and leave us all gasping, stunned and wondering what we should ask next -- have now become the style of this Premier.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: -- reincarnation can show itself while the Premier past has just gone off to deal with the dome or whatever he deals with. But even being that far away, he can become reincarnated here in the House, and it is very surprising to see.
I want to talk first about free trade, because surely at this time in our history one would have presumed that that would be the first thing dealt with in this speech; that after the kind of campaign we all went through, this would be the first matter dealt with in this speech; that it would be dealt with forthrightly; that we would have some real idea about what the government was going to do to bring about its statements of the past in terms of free trade, and yet that is not what we have seen.
I would love to read into the record -- but I do not have it with me here; perhaps some of the Liberals who know it by heart could do it for me -- that wonderful ad that the Premier did on the radio during the campaign, “There can be no deal if....” What he was basically saying was: “I will stop this deal if it does not meet these conditions. There can be no deal. That is my bottom line.”
All we are seeing now from the Premier, as in response to a question yesterday, is: “We will have a debate. We will talk about this in every corner of this province, and maybe in Prince Edward Island. But we certainly are not going to say that there will not be a deal, I mean, because hey, these things are all federal, you know what I mean?” They were not six months ago, they were not during the summer election, when he made the people think he needed a mandate to be able to tell Brian Mulroney that if these six things were not done, there could be no deal, that would be the bottom line and Ontario and David Peterson would put an end to that.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: It certainly has worked. They signed the document a few weeks later and included all the things the Premier thought should not be in it. Now he says: “Well, we should talk about that, but not too loudly. We have to be careful where, because we do not want to alienate people in western Canada or in other parts of the country. And we are still opposed. I mean, I want you to know we are still opposed, because we are going to bring out papers every few days that will show you why people should be opposed. There are some strange statistics in them as the Conservative Party has been wont to point out because it is in favour of free trade. That is about all I can do right at the moment, and until we see the actual text we won’t know what we are going to do.”
Even though I have been saying this somewhat facetiously, I am profoundly disappointed by the action of this government and the lack of action by the Premier at this point. There are some areas where it is really questionable what we can do in terms of legislation about a federal action; that is true. But in terms of mounting a battle against it and taking all the steps we can to stop it, there is little indication at the moment that this government is willing to act.
There is no reason at all, for instance, that we cannot be in Washington, that we cannot have a presence in Washington at the time when the Congress is trying to come to grips with this issue and that we do not have lobbyists there who are saying every day that the government of Ontario does not want this to go through. Do not forget what the American negotiator said; that is, if the provinces are not all in agreement, then it will not happen. We are here to say it should not happen and we do not want it.
We have not heard any statement from the minister responsible, the Premier, that we will have that kind of presence, that he intends to go to Washington, that he intends to have people there on a daily basis during that debate in Congress to tell them we are opposed and we expect them to turn it down because we are opposed.
We have not heard the Premier say that he will take action under provincial law to protect the wine industry, as he once indicated he might do on a handshake; that good old, “You can trust me, I am Dave Peterson, I flip hamburgers,” kind of approach that he had in that last election. That is gone. The notion now is, “Well, if GATT even is against any protection for our wine industry, no, I cannot do anything there.” He is not talking of what we might do in terms of bringing in proactive legislation in this province to challenge the concepts of free trade.
I really do start to wonder what the economic philosophy of this government is. If they really believe free trade is the greatest threat to our sovereignty as a nation and to the concepts of how our economy should work and has worked traditionally, as I believe it is, then I do not understand why they are not talking about the things we should be doing to preserve the kind of Canada and Ontario we think we need here, and saying we are going to take that action whether the federal government likes it or not and that by taking that kind of action we will be able to scuttle this deal.
I want to go into this a little bit, but I want to warn the members of the Liberal Party who may think they can deal with this in a pussyfooting kind of way, because they want to make sure that John Turner is well placed federally and they do not want to upset things for John out west or in Quebec and may think they can even take the chance of this thing going through with the hope that Big John will come through after the election and send it all back and destroy the whole deal.
If it is in the heads of Liberals at this moment that they can play this kind of game on the vague possibility that Mr. Turner might be the next Prime Minister and might actually revert the deal, I suggest to them that they had better think twice because once this goes into effect and the major multinational corporations based in the United States take advantage of every aspect of free trade that is there in the next year and a bit before an election takes place, it is going to be damned hard for any government, let alone a Liberal government, to change that trade deal.
If they think they are going to be able to change that trade deal after the fact without major punishment from the United States of America, they have got another thing coming. That Liberal government, if it ever took place federally, would have to deal with that issue. Is it willing to risk major retaliation, major economic consequences after the deal is signed and delivered and has been in place for a year? I suggest that Mr. Turner, if he ever got into that position, would be put in an almost impossible predicament.
In fact, it would take a government like ours would be to take that on, to attract all that negative attention that would come to it and which would be very dangerous to a federal New Democratic Party government, if that dream should ever take place, to make that happen. Even we would have enormous problems with it. The consequences for the country in terms of the retaliation from the United States and the feeling of bad faith that would seep into our trade relationships afterwards would be devastating.
The argument I want to make to the House is that it must be stopped now, and it cannot be stopped by pussyfooting around about the issue. We must be really clear, in opposition to this, that we believe we can stop it and that we will take the necessary action to stop it, not that we are just going to have a debate about it.
I am coming back, surely, to our concept of our economy. Just listening to some of the things the Premier used to say about free trade, I presume he believes, as I do, that this is a threat to our sovereignty and that, as a nation, we have the right to decide what aspects of our economy are necessary to being self-sufficient. How much of our agricultural development and industry needs to be something which is done here in this province and not imported, in order to actually feel that we are not just totally at the whim of the international trading market but in fact have the capacity to look after our own country?
We have to look at that in terms of the industries of this province. It is especially important to Ontario, which has been, since Macdonald made the National Policy, a crucial element in the east-west linkage of trade in Canada, which makes us possible as a practically impossible geographical nation. If it were not for the National Policy that Macdonald developed, even though it has had negative side-effects because of lack of government action following in terms of development of other areas of the country, we would not have the economic structure that could hold together this kind of country, because we are stretched too thin along too long a border.
If one destroys that concept of what the industrial base of Ontario has to be to the country by allowing free trade to come in and decimate our capacity to have any industrial planning in this province, I suggest that the country is not going to be long alive, because the economic structures which will develop will bear no relationship to the kind of country and geographical integrity that we need to maintain a country. I think it is just that basic.
We have to look then at the kinds of industries we want some control over. We want to make sure that we will always have a major automobile industry. We will always want to make sure we have control of our own steel industry, and surely most important, we will want to have control of our natural resources.
Liberals have often been divided on that latter issue. One thought that with the national energy plan of a number of years ago, they finally came to grips with it and decided that, yes, too many of our natural resources were in foreign control and that it was time we took control of our own oil development. That is now going to be thrown down the toilet. That protection will be gone totally. Our capacity as a country to control our energy needs in terms of economic development and our social integrity will be gone.
I cannot think of any more profound reason that people should oppose free trade, not just in a rhetorical sense, but as a means of stopping it with every ounce of strength we have. For the Premier to be sending out signals that he is no longer quite as strong on this as he was before, that it is no longer “There can be no deal” but “We will defeat this issue,” is a very dangerous thing to be happening at this point.
I remind members that when the battle on free trade takes place, the money that is going to be involved on the other side is going to be enormous. When that propaganda battle really heats up in the next few months, the money on the other side is going to be overwhelming. If we get mixed messages from this government in terms of how tough it is going to be -- the major ally upon which the alliance of groups against this free trade initiative is relying; that is, the province of Ontario and the mandate the government got in the last election -- the crux of their campaign will be taken away from them. I say we cannot tolerate much longer the kinds of lines we have been receiving from the Premier on that, which were started in the throne speech and which we have had from time to time in the last number of days.
The other thing I would suggest, which is an issue Ontario has to think about in terms of free trade -- again, in terms of the kind of economy we want -- is, do we really wish to attach ourselves to the total-free-enterprise ethic of the United States at a time when it is in major decline, or do we want to be true to our own traditions of a mixed economy with a strong government presence and look much more broadly in terms of what kind of trade diversification is going to be crucial to this country maintaining itself in the future?
I would suggest that Canada’s traditions lie somewhere, in economic terms, between the total-free-enterprise notions of the United States and the major state involvement of, say, Japan with the entrepreneurial group in its society. We lie somewhere in between in terms of our planning concepts and our social intervention ideas. We are not at one extreme or the other.
The danger with free trade along those lines, in my view, is that we are tying ourselves to this enormous market south of us, with no controls in terms of our own social planning and economic planning, and so the major barons of American industry will start to develop a free hand in the development of Canadian industrial policy.
I suggest that is not where we want to go, and we will not be enough to save America from the economic destruction it is going to go through if it does not change from its total sort of hatred of the concept of planning, that word which is basically anathema to Ronald Reagan and those kinds of people. I presume there are not many on the Liberal side of the House who are Reaganites, who are monetarists, and they see that kind of concept imposed upon this country by Mr. Mulroney as foreign to this province and country and as potentially extremely dangerous for us.
I think we all understand that is not the view of this country that we have had. We can hear it a bit with the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) today responding in terms of how he views a deficit. That is not what I would call traditional Milton Friedman that we heard today. That was a sense that a deficit at times is a useful instrument, as well as potentially a negative instrument in the economy.
If we tie ourselves totally to a monetarist society based on the total liberty of free enterprise, with their capacity to buy us out totally in the next little while and to do -- I love our entrepreneurs. Of course, now they need a college for entrepreneurs here -- I guess we would call it the Conrad Black Memorial Institute or something; now we need to train our entrepreneurs on how to be entrepreneurs, that is how sure we are about their capacity. But our entrepreneurs are all saying, “Oh, we can compete with those guys down there.” Like heck they can; it is just a matter of scale.
We do not have the billions that they have to buy them out. We are a tenth the size they are, and if we totally tie ourselves to that economy, I suggest it will not be long before we are gone. So why is it that it is now, “We will debate”? Why is it not, “There can be no deal”? What has happened to the rhetoric? The election was a great time to get extra seats so we can have this invasion of the opposition’s side of the House, but if they are not going to use it to be tough after the election, there is really no point in it at all.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I do not know which back-bencher that was, but he says, “The unemployment may even drop a little further with free trade.” Is that the price for which he would sell his country? I believe that is how fundamental this question is, and I do not think we can take the kind of posturing that we have had lately that, somehow, “We will wait until we see the full text before we know how we are going to fight this thing.”
This is something which members of this House who have been here before have heard me talk about a great deal; the others should get a bit of a swat at this time as well before the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen) totally takes all my responsibilities in terms of poverty issues.
We had a $1-billion windfall last year. We heard today and yesterday that we have another $500 million more than we expected this year. We have people on the streets of this province who do not have a place to live; we have people lining up for food at Stop 103 and other places like it around the province, people who are working and people who are on our social assistance plans which supposedly keep people out of poverty; and we have a government which gave basically a five per cent increase to the poor this fall and whose mentions in the throne speech of what it is going to do about poverty were essentially limited to saying, “We’re waiting for Judge Thomson’s committee to report and then we’ll take action.”
The affront that is to my social conscience and, I presume, to the social consciences of most Liberal members who have been social activists in their backgrounds before they came into this place, is enormous. We can talk about transfer payments. I will come to that in a minute or two, since the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs. McLeod) is here. We do not normally get ministers in the House very often these days, so I think I owe it to her to talk about that.
When, with the wealth that we have, people in our province are not even able to have the basic things we take for granted, a meal on the table and a roof over our heads, and a Liberal reform government makes no mention of what its plan is for those people in its throne speech and then a few days later says, “We’ll give them a five per cent increase, because that is about the cost of living, or a little bit above. Isn’t that nice of us? And we’ve given them 22 per cent over the last few years, if you include the last Tory increase just before we came in” -- no, they did not say that – “we have given them that kind of money,” I say that is intolerable.
Then, just two days ago, the Treasurer gives out information that he has $500 million more than he expected to have. I cannot believe that Liberal members do not understand the lack of coherence between what I would have thought was a Liberal reform philosophy and ethic, and economic action or inaction by their government. Maybe some Liberal members think they are going to get into cabinet some day by being quiet or being nice to ministers and that kind of thing; there are some here, not to name names, who know that is not the way to get in. Sometimes being on the opposite side does not get one in either, but that is another matter.
I would suggest to members opposite with their huge majority that if they want to have a meaningful role as back-benchers in this parliament over the next four years, then they really should think seriously about what they want to accomplish while they are here. They may just look at that one issue, which I presume is as fundamental to reform liberalism as it is to social democracy, and get their government to come to grips with the fact that we cannot leave behind a major portion of our society while the rest of us do well.
It should be intolerable to have condominiums going up in this city that are being sold for over $1 million and to have $52 million of money that was designed to go to subsidized housing not being spent. Surely if there is something that triggers their action as back-benchers, in terms of not just throwing up the lobs in question period for the ministers to knock out of the park but of actually having an impact on this place, those are the kinds of things they should be raising as much as we are in opposition over here.
I would deal as well with other groups that are left out, but I promised that I would be relatively short in my speech today. The matters affecting the disabled are dealt with so cursorily in this throne speech, and the way we have shut those people out from meaningful participation in our society is something which, again, all members of this House should focus themselves on. The members should wonder whether, as Liberals, they really believe they should have a minister responsible for disabled persons who has no line budget, no programs to deliver at all, really, but is totally dependent upon the goodwill of the ministers of Health, Community and Social Services, etc., to implement the kinds of things he or she thinks are important.
The members should ask themselves whether it is all right to talk about transportation policy in a way which just sees the extension of parallel systems and does not understand that the basic affront to disabled people is that we exclude them from our public transit systems. There was at least one member, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Faubert), who was at the opening of the light rail transit line out to Scarborough and knows that Beryl Potter and others were picketing there that day because even that most recent high-technology phenomenon was not made accessible for those people. We are moving at it a bit at a time but we are not taking the issue at hand. I suggest to the back-benchers that they may want to look at that kind of matter.
I now have new responsibilities in which I am sort of a new member myself these days. As some members can tell you, I can talk for an hour and a half, without notes, on income maintenance. I cannot do that on education or on colleges and universities at this stage. Give me a week.
I want to talk a little bit about education in Ontario. I worry that the kind of approach the government is taking around education at the senior level is one of developing these envelopes of money which it then sends off to the universities, centres of excellence, centres to develop entrepreneurs or whatever they are going to do with those people, and forget the base funding problems those institutions have had.
What I was trying to raise with my questions today to the Treasurer, which he neatly ducked, as he is so good at doing, was that if you look at the increases in transfers to the colleges and universities that were made today compared with last year, they are down. If you look at them without these specialized envelopes in which the government is trying to set the agenda of universities rather than looking at some of the basic problems the universities have, you get figures that now come down to cost of living; slightly above, perhaps. Maybe we will find out in the next week or two when the minister deigns to tell us what those figures will be.
I just want to draw to the members’ attention the fact that basic structural problems in the universities have not been dealt with. We have the same problems of accessibility we have always had. The poor, kids from working-class families, do not go to universities to the same degree that the sons of doctors and daughters of lawyers do. That is reality.
I invite members who are here in Toronto with extra time on their hands, those who do not live here and are members from outside, to go down to one of our inner-city schools in Regent Park. There are three or four there that a member could go to, to talk to some of the teachers about what happens to their kids from those schools, about how they get streamed in our education system. The member will discover that the huge majority of them get streamed into the basic level, which perpetuates the probability of insecure, low-paying jobs and frittering at the margins of poverty for the rest of their lives, as their parents have had to do in the past. A tiny percentage of them actually get streamed into such courses that could get them into a community college some day or maybe just graduate them from high school.
As many members will know, there is a drop-out problem in our high schools, but if they would care to look at what happens in a high school in Forest Hill in terms of drop-out, with one of the schools designed to give people a vocational background, they will notice there is a huge discrepancy. Some of our vocational schools actually have drop-out rates of almost 80 per cent.
I think about that as a statement about our education system. If we have that kind of a structure at the bottom, is it any wonder that so few of these kids actually make it to university and that the percentages of kids from lower-economic families going to universities have not changed dramatically over the last 30 years?
Now again for a Liberal reform government -- I do not mean to lay this term on them if they do not want it; they can call themselves Progressive Conservatives or whatever they want, I am not sure -- but if they are members of a Liberal reform government, as I have heard tell they might be surely that should run against their basic thinking. It should stick in their craw. It should make them want to change the system dramatically and not just fund it at the present levels of funding. It should make them say, “Something is seriously wrong here.”
This last year in the universities about 15 per cent of the eligible applicants did not find a place. I want to talk more about this with the minister in the House and in committee. This government promised us that there would be full accessibility and that anybody who was eligible for university would be able to go, maybe not to the one he wanted but he would be able to go to a university.
If we look at the figures from this last year, there was a five per cent increase in the first-year class and a six per cent increase in eligible applications for the first-year class across Ontario. Next year, as most members are probably aware, the Ontario Schools, Intermediate and Senior Divisions curriculum guidelines come into play and grade 13 ends. Instead of a six per cent increase in first-year applications, we will see an increase of between 10 per cent and 15 per cent in applications to universities.
Some universities -- most of them of one kind or another, but some of them -- have very specific caps on how many students they will take. At Western, for instance, I think it will work out to 400 plus, the figure that was established in 1979, so maybe that university will be able to accept a five per cent increase next year. What is going to happen to all those kids who want to go to university in this province next year for whom there will not be physical plant and for whom there will not be trained teachers to be able to look after their needs? I think we will come back to that often in this Legislature over the next little while.
I worry that the things we heard about in the throne speech address some things that I think are misdirections in terms of what is wrong with education. When they start to list the small list of things they are interested in in education and they include in it that they want benchmarks and standardized testing and they place that as their emphasis, rather than some of the other goals I think are more important in education, I really wonder whether this government is a Liberal government or a Conservative government.
Most of them went through high school, I presume. I should not be presumptuous but most of us in this august body went to high school in Ontario at a time when there was standardized testing. I do not know if they remember what those grade 13 tests were like, if any of the members took them, but they were a disaster and they brought out all the worst kinds of things in education that one can imagine.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr. Philip) indicates that he came from a more enlightened province and it shows in the kinds of things he asks in the House and in his general deportment. Do we have a consensus on that?
We can remember what teachers did in those days. They got us ready for the exam. They did not teach us to learn or get us to think about who we were or give us some sense of our responsibilities as young adults. It was an authoritarian system where they drummed into us what it was we had to know in order to pass our grade 13 exam. I suggest to members that anybody who wants to go back to those kinds of basics is really making a major mistake.
This government, as well, has decided it is going to deal with literacy through the Ministry of Skills Development. I know it is dangerous to deal with concepts all the time and I am sorry to do that. Perhaps I should not try to challenge people so much, but why on earth would a Liberal reform government want to deal with the basic education problem -- that is, illiteracy -- by tying it to job preparation and putting it in the Ministry of Skills Development rather than seeing it as the basic responsibility of our education system? In philosophical terms, what a silly decision that is, what a limiting concept of illiteracy that is.
So what are we talking about? About getting people literate enough to achieve a certain level to go out and function in a certain kind of job in our society, rather than about the basic education system’s responsibility to make sure that illiteracy is wiped out.
When you look at the kind of resources that are put into it, you then understand why. The Ministry of Skills Development does not have much money. It is not a major line ministry, and neither is the commitment to wiping out illiteracy a major function of this government’s notions of education.
The final thing I want to raise on education is the whole question of child care. I think all of us agree that there has to be an integration of child care within education in some way or other, but at this stage I see us sending out messages to the school boards of this province about placing day care centres in schools with no concept at all as to whose responsibility they are and what we see as the overall role of day care within the school system.
To bring my remarks to a close, I suppose this is why we have a select committee being struck on education: This government does not really know what it wants to do in education. It really has not worked out the large philosophical questions that should underlie any reform of the education system. As a delay tactic, it establishes a select committee that will give some members per diems -- and me too; I am delighted -- and time to talk about things that one would have presumed would be part of any throne speech that any government worth its salt going into its third year would have come to grips with already.
I just want to come back to what is lacking in this speech from the throne and why I am disappointed with it. It lacks vision, any notion of where this government is going in the future. Any areas that are major philosophical challenges have been put off to committee. It backed down on the most profound challenge to any government in Canadian history -- that is, the free trade challenge -- which it made its cause célèbre and reason for calling an election.
If there is no greater condemnation of a government that I can think of, it is that it is putting itself on a very slippery slope towards the complacency of past Tory regimes by backing away so quickly from all of the principles that are involved in Liberal reform that I would have expected from this government.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: First of all, I would like to congratulate the member for Scarborough West on one of his usually good speeches. I am not going to agree with him on the first part of his speech on free trade. I am not totally against many of the things he mentioned because I too have some concerns about it. I would like to comment on the part of his speech that dealt with the poor of this province. It concerns me as well.
I come from the riding of Wellington, one of the richest farming communities in this province. On Sunday I attended church and they had a box in the lobby of the church where people could donate food. It bothers me that we have such a rich province and yet there are people who exist on handouts. There is something tragic with our society that this should happen. I do not intend to blame the Liberal government or any government, it is society. But surely we have an obligation or a responsibility to do something to solve problems such as this. We have to deal with it and address it. I hope we can work together to alleviate this problem if there is any meaning in a just society.
Mr. Beer: I would like to comment on a couple of aspects of the educational comments that were made by the member for Scarborough West. I ask him to go back to look at the throne speech and some of the things that were said during the election and also in last April’s throne speech. I think there are several thrusts there that are aimed at the question of literacy.
One of them is the emphasis on the primary grades. If we can be successful in putting more emphasis on that area, this will have an impact as we go along. Indeed, in terms of their basic skills, a number of the students he was referring to will be allowed to develop better basic skills through the secondary level and on to university. I think everyone would agree with him that we must ensure that far more people get to university. That thrust is an important one and in that context having literacy also dealt with in the area of skills development makes sense for those who have gone beyond the elementary and secondary levels.
The third point I would make is that I would much rather see a select committee addressing education at this point than perhaps passing it off to a royal commission because there are some real arguments out there about where we are going. There is not agreement, for example, on where standardized testing should fit.
I see it as part of the means but certainly not the only means, nor should it be. Yesterday, we heard that expressed very well by my colleague the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr. Black). I think it is through something like the select committee on education that we can bring together a lot of those views that are out there now and we will then have the input to make the decisions on where we go.
Mr. Faubert: I would like to commend the member for Scarborough West on his comments and his speech, especially in the area of free trade. I think he is far more eloquent than his leader on this issue, and I would like to point out to the House that is probably one of the reasons he survived the last election when the Liberals took five of the six Scarborough seats. He speaks so passionately on many issues that all of us are concerned about and which we think are important.
Mr. Faubert: On free trade. We have heard a lot of comment and a lot of criticism related to this issue and criticisms of the Premier, but I would like to hear one single positive suggestion from that side of the House.
First, I think my point at the beginning that short speeches are more eloquent than long ones was made perfectly true by my colleague the member for Wellington (Mr. J. M. Johnson) and I appreciate his comments.
The other thing I would say is that I have no disagreement with the perspective of the member for York North (Mr. Beer) on the importance of primary-grade emphasis and talking about having smaller class sizes and that kind of thing. One is a little concerned to learn that the wording of today’s announcement of transfer funding talks about the first instalment of money going to that. One wonders how long this is going to take. When the minister tells me he is thinking about having that as one of the things referred to a select committee, I have concerns there as well.
I would just say that I agree with the member; When you are choosing between evils, a royal commission is much more dangerous than a select committee, but they are used sometimes for similar purposes.
I thank my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere for his comments. I did make a couple of suggestions at the beginning of things I thought should be done, but as my colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) tells me to say, we would suggest that the Liberal Party’s list of suggestions from the past campaign about what is intolerable and what we would stop are all good ones, and we would be happy to follow those up.
The member will be hearing more from us on those proposals, but I would suggest that within the Legislature the responsibility is with the executive council and the government to take action and for us to oppose, but even the suggestion that we should have a major presence in Washington at this stage would be something that would be a major help.
Mr. Sterling: I would like to congratulate you at the outset, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment as Deputy Speaker of this House. I am glad eastern Ontario is represented in this particular area; as well, your colleagues from eastern Ontario who have been appointed to the executive council. As a member for eastern Ontario, I would have preferred a few more executive council members with larger portfolios, dealing with what I would call the moneyed ministries, appointed from our area of the province but that was not to be. I was a little disappointed when the cabinet was appointed as far as the representation from our part of the province went.
I guess my second disappointment as a representative from eastern Ontario came along when the throne speech was read in this Legislature not too long ago. You, Mr. Speaker, know eastern Ontario was mentioned all of one time during that speech, and it related to a regurgitation of the promise to build Highway 416 which happened to be announced during that election period in September. As far as eastern Ontario went, this throne speech was a zilch; it was nothing.
We heard some concern by the government in recognition of problems in northern Ontario and we heard some concern about problems in central Ontario, but we did not hear about any concerns in eastern Ontario. I do not have to remind the Deputy Speaker, because he represents an area in eastern Ontario, that we do have problems in eastern Ontario. In fact, if you take the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton out of eastern Ontario, the level of family income is lower than any other place in Ontario, and I include the north in that comparison. Therefore, when you are looking at regional programs and areas that need assistance, this government has failed to see the significant need in eastern Ontario – I particularly refer to outside of Ottawa-Carleton -- for programs to help that area achieve some economic prosperity.
I said we had mention of Highway 416 in the throne speech. I think that will assist in a large way the area I represented in the previous three parliaments, the county of Grenville, because I believe it will bring it closer to the prosperity that is enjoyed by the Ottawa-Carleton area. I have worked very hard to see the completion of Highway 416 take place during my period of tenure in this Legislature and I was happy to see the government take that one step.
I must admit I was somewhat pleased also in the throne speech to see that the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) is going to undertake some preventive health programs. In the last parliament, the 33rd Parliament of this province, I introduced a private member’s bill, the Non-Smokers’ Protection Act, which went through all of the legislative process: It went through first and second readings; it went out to a committee of this Legislature; we had public hearings; the bill was amended. It came back here and sat on the Orders and Notices paper as the first bill for over six months.
It was unfortunate that this government did not see fit to call that bill, because if it had, we would now have some control over smoking in both public places and the workplace. As members know, we only have one area in the whole province that has that privilege and that is the city of Toronto. They have private legislation and now they have enacted some bylaws that will deal with smoking in the workplace.
Again, in my view, it is a picture of this government, the Liberal government, focusing attention on Toronto and central Ontario and forgetting about the rest. It has basically said, “If you have trouble with a smoker in the workplace, you are OK in the city of Toronto, but if you are in Ottawa, if you live in the city of Kanata, if you live in the city of Nepean, if you live in the city of Gloucester, if you live anywhere else in Ontario, forget it; you do not have any rights when you go to work and someone else is polluting your environment.”
I hope that, given the tragedy that is caused each day by both firsthand and secondhand smoke, this government will improve what I call an abysmal record on that whole issue. I think they were in the pockets of the tobacco industry. There was a significant article, I believe, in one of the Toronto newspapers, pointing to how in fact the ties between the Liberal Party and the cigarette and tobacco industries are very close, and I think that is very unfortunate because this very day, in this province alone, 35 to 40 people will die because of firsthand and secondhand smoke, prematurely by about eight years.
As early as 1975 the World Health Organization recognized the addiction to nicotine and the encouragement of people kicking that particular addiction as the first and best preventive health step that any state could take in the industrialized world. When we talk about 10,000 to 12,000 people dying per year in this province and this government doing nothing about it, I think it is indeed a tremendous lack of concern on its part for the health of our people in Ontario.
I might add that this province in the past two years, since the Liberals have been in power, has gone from the second-highest taxer of tobacco products to the second-lowest in Canada. That has resulted, in Ontario, in a tremendous increase in the consumption of tobacco by our young people. In each and every other province tobacco use is falling among young people. In Ontario it is increasing, and you can thank the taxation policies in part -- not totally -- for creating that consumption among our young people, because it has been proven by a number of research papers that consumption among our young people is directly proportional to the price the young people are paying, and much more so than with the adult users of this very harmful substance.
I will continue as a strong advocate of control of the use of tobacco both in our workplaces and in public places. I do not believe that another person should have the right to assault me through the use of secondhand smoke, particularly in the workplace.
I hope, before leaving that subject, that the Minister of Health will follow through, along with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara), in doing something about this problem, and I would be glad to help them. I have indicated an open mind in terms of dealing with any legislation in this regard, but let us get on with it.
Again before leaving that subject, I also would like to indicate that our party very much stands behind the Honourable Jake Epp, who has introduced legislation in the federal House dealing with the advertising of tobacco products. We think he has taken a courageous step with regard to that particular legislation, in the face of a significant tobacco lobby. We urge him to pass that legislation, as both the federal Liberal Party and the federal New Democratic Party have said they would do.
I would like to say a few words about education, particularly education in the Carleton Board of Education area, as this is the area in which the Carleton riding is located. My colleague the member for Carleton East (Mr. Morin) also represents an area -- and I believe another member has an interest as well -- that deals with the Carleton Board of Education and the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board.
We were very pleased, and I think all the politicians were pleased, to see the government put some funding towards lowering the pupil-teacher ratio in grades 1 and 2, but the biggest problem we face in the Carleton area is that it makes a bad situation worse. For instance, in the Carleton Board of Education we have a pupil-teacher ratio of about 23 to one at the present time. With the creation of this requirement of a pupil-teacher ratio of 20 to one in the Carleton board area, we are going to have to hire 40 more teachers. While that in itself might be seen as a very progressive step, and I think it is a progressive step, that means 40 more classrooms.
Quite frankly, we have not in the past been treated fairly in eastern Ontario with regard to the provision of classrooms not only in the Carleton Board of Education but in the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board as well. I would just like to point out what happened in terms of capital expenditures last year.
Not only did the Carleton Board of Education and the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board do extremely poorly at the hands of this government in 1987 with regard to capital expenditures but so also did the rest of eastern Ontario. Out of $293 million in capital that our Minister of Education put forward last year, eastern Ontario in total got about $25 million, a very small percentage, about 20 per cent of the total.
What makes the matter even worse in areas I represent and the member for Carleton East represents is that we are in an area which is expanding rapidly. We have communities like the city of Kanata, the township of Goulbourn, the township of Cumberland, the city of Gloucester and the city of Nepean that are expanding rapidly.
One Wednesday last May the then Minister of Education, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), who was also from eastern Ontario, came into this Legislature and even said he recognized that there were four growing boards in Ontario that were very needy of capital funds: the Durham region, the Dufferin-Peel area, the York area and the Carleton area. The very next day he announced his capital expenditures for 1988. I just want to tell members what some of the other areas got first, and then we will talk about what we got in eastern Ontario.
The Peel Board of Education asked for $36 million and got $24 million, about two thirds or 66 per cent of its request. The Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board asked for $90 million and got $43 million, about 48 per cent of what it requested. The Durham Board of Education asked for $21 million and got $13 million, about 65 per cent of what it requested. The Durham Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board requested $18.7 million and got $18.4 million, 98.4 per cent of what it requested.
Now we will go to good old, or poor old, Carleton. The Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board requested $65 million and got $9.6 million, 14.7 per cent of what it asked for. What was the other one I just read? Durham Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board, 98.4 per cent. What is the matter with us in eastern Ontario? The Carleton Board of Education asked for $35 million and got $4.6 million, 13.1 per cent of what it requested. So, averaged between the two Carleton boards, we got about 14 per cent of what we needed.
I attended at the offices of the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) with the Roman Catholic separate school board not long ago. There was an argument: “Well, listen. All of these boards are suffering from the same problem; they have portable schools.” I am very proud of the Roman Catholic separate school board because it came well prepared and told the minister, “Look, Minister, we do not agree that portables are good anywhere, but we do not know why our kids should be worse off than any other kids in this province.”
If one looks at the Peel Board of Education, about 13 per cent of its kids are in portable classrooms. In the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board, 21 per cent of its kids are in portables. Look at the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board; nearly one third of its kids are in portable classrooms. In the last two years, under this Liberal government, the portable classrooms have increased by 100 in both the Carleton Board of Education and Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board. That is not taking out any of the other ones. Portable classrooms were not introduced for the first time, but the growth in the area of the portable classrooms has been phenomenal in the last two years.
I might remind the Speaker that this is at a time when government revenues have increased dramatically. They have gone from about $26 billion to $35 billion over two years, almost a 30 per cent to 33 per cent increase in income. Yet this government cannot build the schools we need in the Carleton board area. This government will not even give us a fair shake when compared to the rest of the province. They are being unfair. That is all we are asking for: give us a fair shake.
During the campaign, the question came up often. The Premier came down to our particular area and said we would be taken care of in the next capital forecast. I am going to be watching exactly what happens in the next capital forecast. I hope new members from the other area, particularly those who joined me when the Carleton board did come there -- the member for Nepean (Mr. Daigeler) was there; I hope he is going to pressure the Minister of Education to give us a fair shake in eastern Ontario and particularly in the Carleton board area.
I would like to mention briefly another issue which is of prime concern in the Ottawa-Carleton area, and that is getting hydro to eastern Ontario. As members know, we have a large power corridor going from the Lennox generating station, which is located approximately around Kingston, up to the Ottawa area. I see the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), the former Minister of Energy, here as well. I am glad he is here, because he has been involved in this issue before.
In November 1984, Ontario Hydro came into the community of Bridlewood in the city of Kanata. Ontario Hydro said to the people in Bridlewood: “Listen. You are one of eight different routes to bring this hydro corridor into Ottawa. You are the farthest north. Our preferred route goes south of the community, south of where all the houses are built. You do not need to worry. We just have to go through this process.”
In fact, the corridor there already is too narrow, anyway. They said it was too narrow: 270 feet. That is what they told the people. That is what they told the alderman of the area at that time. Time went on and they had a joint board hearing. The joint board, in its wisdom, picked up a suggestion of a number of parties and decided to divert the hydro line from the preferred route to go smack through the community of Bridlewood.
What did Hydro say? “Hey, there’s no problem now. There was a technical problem before, you’ve got a corridor that is only 270 feet wide, but you know how we’re going to solve this? We’re not going to build towers that are eight storeys high, we’re going to build towers that are 16 storeys high. We’re going to put two of them through.”
That is how they beat their technical problem. That is how Hydro takes care of the problem and takes care of the people. It does not matter what they told the people in that November 1984 meeting, that they did not really need to worry.
Then there was an appeal to cabinet. An appeal to cabinet took place in 1985, and the cabinet decided to turn that appeal down. There was another hearing in December 1986; it is getting so long ago now. It was appealed again by the residents of Bridlewood, by a group that was led by Mrs. Judith Hunter. It is kind of interesting to note that Judith Hunter considered running for the Liberal nomination to run against me, but she got so fed up with this government she decided not to run for that particular nomination.
Mr. Sterling: I am lucky, because I think she was a very, very credible candidate, as she is a very credible lady and is handling herself in a very honourable fashion in dealing with this whole issue.
Mr. Sterling: I was interrupted by the member from the tobacco belt who does not agree with controlling smoking in the workplace and in public places. I can understand that. I can understand why, and he has convinced his other colleagues that this is not a significant health problem that 35 people will die today because of the damn thing. Go ahead. We will see who is right in the long run.
Mr. Sterling: I do not know what that has to do with that. I am sorry, I get a little emotional because it is a pretty touchy subject when you are talking about the devastation that nicotine does to our people. Anyway, let us get back to Hydro, because it is a health care issue too. We are talking about two kinds of environmental issues here.
This group in the Bridlewood area is very much concerned about the effects of the electromagnetic fields that are associated with these high-tension lines. They do not want their children exposed to these electromagnetic fields. They feel, because of numerous research studies that have gone on -- not at the request of this particular government but at the request of other governments like the state of New York, which has invested $6 million into this kind of research -- that there is a significant health hazard from this kind of environmental danger.
This group has disputed not only the process that has taken place and the fact that it has not been given a fair hearing with regard to the location of these lines but also the health effects of this particular matter.
This whole matter was appealed to the cabinet of Ontario in January 1987. It is almost 10 months later now, and we have had pronouncements from the government and from Hydro that it has been decided and it has not been decided, it has been decided. We had the former Minister of Municipal Affairs, now the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Grandmaître), say on one fine Friday that he had a gut feeling it was going to go through, and then the next Monday -- he somehow, I guess, lost his feeling in his guts over the weekend -- he said that the decision had not been made by cabinet.
Hydro appeared one day on the hydro line with its construction equipment. Evidently, somebody told them that the decision had been made to go ahead and start construction. Then they were told to get off the right of way.
This has been a tragic comedy of errors in dealing with this community The community is extremely upset about the whole matter. They have stated to the government that should they lose the appeal, they intend to take this to a court proceeding. They have now raised over $14,000 to take it to the next step, if the cabinet should decide in its wisdom to bash ahead without giving them a fair hearing. During and before the election, I supported the Bridlewood community in getting a fair hearing. Our leader went to that community and listened to the people of Bridlewood. The Premier did not listen to the people of that community.
I think that the plan of this government is to wait long enough. The former Minister of Energy will be happy to hear that Hydro was on the radio and television on Friday, talking about brownouts and blackouts, saying the Bridlewood corridor is going to stop Ottawa-Carleton from getting hydro, that people are going to freeze this winter because the Bridlewood community has slowed down the progress of construction of those towers.
Mr. Sterling: The former Minister of Energy may have thought I made poor case. I made an adequate case to the people of Bridlewood because they voted overwhelmingly for Norm Sterling. They thought I was on their side. I guess one of the most disappointing parts of this whole process was the loss of faith by not only the Bridlewood community but also the community at large in the ability of this government to control Ontario Hydro.
“As indicated at the meeting, we are in full agreement over the need to bring Ontario Hydro back under the control of the Legislature and have called on the government to re-establish a select committee of the Legislature to examine Ontario Hydro’s expansion proposals
“We are not convinced of Hydro’s claim for the necessity of this project and believe that there are many alternatives that must be thoroughly investigated before a new transmission line is justified, such as the falling demand for electricity,” etc., etc.
“We are concerned that Hydro’s hidden agenda for this transmission line may very well be to export power to the United States, as this may be the only way for Ontario Hydro to justify the Darlington project they are talking about.”
Guess who that is signed by? Do members know who that is signed by? Dated June 20, 1983, it is signed by the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), the then Leader of the Opposition. What have we seen this government do with regard to control in Ontario? Zilch. Nothing. They have done nothing. No select committee --
Mr. Harris: You need the committee because you won’t take action. We did not need the committee because we are prepared to act. Obviously, you need the committee the way you operate. You would not take on your responsibility.
Mr. Sterling: I hope this government will make a decision very soon to give the people of the Bridlewood community in the city of Kanata a fair hearing once and for all. The people of Bridlewood deserve that. They have not had a fair hearing to date They are concerned about the health effects of a twin 500-kilovolt line, 16 Tories -- I mean storeys --
We want a fair hearing for these people, and I hope the government will listen once and for all and get on with a new hearing so that we can get on with building that line and ensure power to the people of Ottawa-Carleton. The government should not use that as an excuse for making the wrong decision, because by the time it gets through the courts with this group, the government is going to be a long time without power.
I would like to turn now to another subject, if that is satisfactory. I would like to talk about freer trade. I think it is the most important issue we are facing in Ontario, probably the most important issue we have dealt with in terms of the economic viability of Ontario for some period of time. Representing the city of Kanata, which is very much an area that is reliant on the high-tech industries, I want to say that many industries in our area are concerned with the attitude of the government on this issue.
“As the elected representative for our constituency, I would like to bring to your attention the position that my company takes on the Canada-US free trade agreement. I would like to make it clear at the outset that we strongly support the agreement
“While there may be some immediate benefit to Lumonics in reduced duty and better service to our Canadian and US customers because our parts and people can cross the border more easily, the real benefit is in the potential for the long-term economic growth in both countries. Thus, we expect to increase exports in the long run as a result of this agreement.
“We sell products in a number of key industrial sectors and we are quite capable of getting our fair share of any market we compete in. The agreement is good for Canada and, I believe, good for my company.”
I think that is the essence of where the Conservative Party stands on this particular issue. We believe that a free trade agreement, an agreement which knocks down barriers and tariffs between Ontario and our largest trading partner can be nothing but beneficial to our province.
I was somewhat taken aback by a poll on the free trade issue which I heard this morning. I was taken aback because of the understanding of our general public on the issue. Only 19 per cent of the people who were asked about free trade said they had an adequate understanding of the issue to form an opinion.
I thought, because there seems to be a lack of concern on the part of the Peterson government to try to explain the issue, that all is rhetoric, it is emotion: “I am wrapping myself in the Ontario and Canadian flag. Everybody be afraid of this thing. I won’t tell you what I want, but be frightened of this.” The Premier did it during the election campaign very successfully.
While he won 95 seats, and no one can argue with that, it is interesting to note whether that decides anything on free trade. I understand the polls at that time were such that there were more people in favour of free trade in Ontario than were against it. I do not know how one relates or matches the two results.
Trade is generally controlled by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Canada is one of 90-odd countries that are associated with the general agreement. Simply put, if you want to trade in the free world, you have to be one of the club, you have to be a member of GATT, you have to agree to what is set down in those agreements. It meets from time to time to discuss reducing tariffs in the general sense. I believe the overall philosophy behind that is to allow one country to do what it does best and to allow another country to do what it does best, so that everybody in the world will have in general a better life and a higher standard of living. One of the things people do not mention very often about this bilateral agreement, for instance, is that our consumers will be buying things cheaper than they are now. That is the whole idea of GATT.
Under GATT, two countries can enter into a bilateral agreement. GATT is a multilateral agreement; it means a lot of different trading partners. Under GATT, you can also enter into a bilateral trading agreement, but only to lower tariffs between those two countries and providing that that agreement does not prejudice other countries which want to trade with either of those two countries. The bilateral agreement is okay, as far as GATT is concerned, as long as it lowers tariffs. It could not agree to put a shell around the two countries and act against others in a different manner.
During the past few years, as we know, the United States has complained and its politicians have complained that countries are not playing fair with them. What I hear American politicians saying, as I did in Indianapolis in July, when I was there hearing several of the United States presidential hopefuls speak, is that what they want, not only from Canada but from other countries, is the right to build and do what they can do best and to be able to do that and trade with other countries. They want the right to do what they do best and to compete, not only at home but in other countries. They are saying to us, “We will allow you to come into our country and compete and have access to the world’s largest market in the free world if you allow us that same right.” That is what freer trade is all about.
The Americans have said to us over the past two years: “We won’t take it any more. We won’t take this any more. Either you allow us to compete on a fair basis or we are going to take some retaliatory action.” They have done that a number of times. They did it with softwood lumber. They did it with pork. They did it with shakes and shingles. We do not know what they are going to do next or what they can do next.
Now, let us get to the agreement that we have talked about here. I guess the most disturbing part that I find in terms of the Peterson government, the Liberal government, in dealing with the agreement and the free trade issue is that the Premier keeps telling us, “I gotta have this condition, I gotta have this condition, I gotta have this condition; this is no good, this is no good, that is no good.’’
Mr. Sterling: The throne speech refers to the free trade agreement and it says, “The agreement contains concessions that will seriously compromise Canada’s sovereign ability to shape its own political and economic agenda.” Then it says that it, the government, will undertake impact studies on the agreement’s impact on selected Ontario industries.
Quite an enlightened approach. They do not tell you what they would like. They do not tell you what kind of process they would like, what kind of freer trade agreement they would like. And the Liberals have said they were in favour of free trade. The member for Ottawa West (Mr. Chiarelli), who is here with us this afternoon -- I was in a debate during the election; he said he was in favour of free trade.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I am sorry to interrupt the member, but I wonder if I could remind all members that the standing orders call for a short period of comments and questions after the member finishes speaking.
Mr. Sterling: The thing this government has done is complain and bitch. They have not been constructive in any sense about the process. We have not heard how they are going to retrain the workers. They have not talked about what is going to happen when free trade actually is achieved. They have not done anything in terms of being constructive on the issue.
The first was under the guise of the law firm of Blake, Cassels and Graydon. That report was about the dispute settlement mechanism. As all members would know, I am sure, having read the free trade agreement -- I am sure all of you have -- the majority of the free trade agreement actually is related to the dispute mechanism.
It is amazing what lawyers can do. The member for Ottawa West will know what lawyers can do. They can say, “On the one hand, this; and on the other hand, that,” and they do not come to any decision. That is exactly what Blake, Cassels has done with its analysis of the dispute settlement mechanism.
They say, “In respect of disputes involving adverse legislative changes to anti-dumping and countervail laws, the mechanism cannot be regarded as binding.” Then they go on to argue that the only way it would be binding would be for either Canada or the United States to opt out of what this joint board would decide and cancel the agreement. I argue with the minister. He talks about maintaining our sovereignty. Does he want the binational panel to have the authority to make trade law in Canada? Is that what the Premier wants?
Mr. Sterling: I can understand. Now I understand that the Premier wants to give away sovereignty. He had better take off the flag. He wants to give it away. If that is what the Premier wants, if he wants the right to give a binational panel the right to make trade law in Canada, so be it. We are not with that That is what the member opposite has said.
The other thing that is interesting in this particular Blake, Cassels report with regard to the binding power of the binational decisions is that it says the only sanction offered is the termination of the agreement, and it says something about the antidumping and countervail actions. There are two kinds of things the binational panel would be concerned with. One would be future trade law and the other thing would be any countervailing or antidumping going on in either country.
I do not know how the fellow who wrote this particular report says there is no binding mechanism in this dispute with regard to antidumping or countervailing when I look at the actual agreement. I do not know how many members have read the actual agreement, but under “binational panel dispute settlement,” section C, it says: “The decision of a panel shall be binding on the parties and their investigating authorities.”
Mr. Sterling: Those guys are amazing. I am glad they are clarifying their position because I am going back to my riding and I am going to tell the people that what they want to do is give away the right of Canada to make its own trade policy. That is what those guys want. We do not want that.
So what I see is a dispute resolution mechanism that is as good as one can possibly get to maintain our sovereignty, yet have some action with regard to countervail -- actually, very good action with regard to countervail and antidumping -- but also with some say as to future trade laws.
I would like to talk briefly about some of the other reports that have been produced by this government. I do not know, with regard to some of the other reports, what they are actually trying to accomplish in these particular reports, because, first, you are never told who is crafting the report or who is doing it. This most recent one by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter), the Sectoral and Regional Sensitivity of Ontario Manufacturing Industries to Tariff Reductions, appears to be a telephone consultation process that went on with people who wanted to bitch about free trade. That is really what it appears to be.
As I said in my statement yesterday with regard to this thing, it is a joke. It is a piece of propaganda. If you do not ask the questions that are even and objective, if you do not say, “What are the good sides and what are the negative sides of this deal?” what you have is a piece of propaganda, a piece of junk that is not good to anybody. That is a problem. I will tell members this. I do not like all the information coming out of our federal government because I think it should do the same thing. It should have an even hand in saying what is good and what is bad, so the people can become educated as to what this all means.
The other government report on women in the manufacturing sector and the possibility of 100,000 job losses was a very selective analysis indeed. One of the disturbing things about that particular report was that it conveyed that the same percentage of men would be affected as women. You inject in a side issue women’s rights in order to win the debate on free trade.
The sectorial and regional sensitivity report says there could be 400,000 jobs lost to this demon free trade. This is what this thing says, that the minister goes outside of this house and says to the press. These 400,000 jobs are in jeopardy regardless of free trade because most of the sensitive industries we are talking about are not going to be subject to problems in a bilateral agreement. They will be subject to problems if the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations knock the tariffs down around those particular industries because that is where the imports are coming from in the sensitive trades. That is where the competition is coming from, not from the United States. The 400,000 jobs this thing talks about: it is a joke, it is ridiculous. How are we expected to believe this propaganda?
Members may remember the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology’s quotes in a report called An Assessment of Direct Employment Effects of Freer Trade for Ontario’s Manufacturing Industries. This very significant report that was done for this government -- by the government, the government’s own hands -- said that “of 894,000 manufacturing jobs in 1983, 281,000 were in sectors that would be particularly sensitive to a free trade agreement with the United States because they were protected and inefficient.”
But what happens when you read the back of the report? The back of the report shows that those very sensitive industries between 1978 and 1984 became healthier when tariff barriers were falling under the GATT negotiations. We can become efficient if we are challenged. Even the weaker industries have historically shown that they can rise to the challenge. That is what we in the Conservative Party believe to be the case. We believe all industries can be competitive. We believe they can compete.