Mr. Swart: As the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. R. F. Nixon) will know, there were statements in the press in the latter part of last week by certain insurance companies in the Insurance Bureau of Canada that would cause us to believe they are giving massive rebates on the auto insurance premiums charged motorists earlier this year. I want to tell members it ain’t so. It is tokenism and mostly political window-dressing.
Let me put it in perspective. We have the figures for three of the largest companies, and the average rebate for taxi drivers and drivers under age 25 is $51.73. The premiums these drivers were paying would have averaged between $2,000 and $4,000. Of course, these rebates do not apply to 95 per cent of the drivers in this province. That is a big deal.
The last Minister of Financial Institutions told us there were approximately 300,000 young drivers and taxi drivers in Ontario. If each of them receives his 50 pieces of silver, it will have cost the insurance industry in this province $15 million to buy a rate review board rather than a truly fair, driver-owned system of automobile insurance.
Mrs. Marland: I want to bring to the attention of the House the continuing lack of government action with respect to public safety. On the weekend, yet another youth was killed while elevator joyriding. Seventeen-year-old Robert Whibley is the third youth to die while elevator joyriding this year.
Elevator joyriding is not new. In fact, this government has had plenty of time to address this problem in a responsible manner, but to date nothing has been done. In April 1986, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations announced it would study this concern. The report was to be tabled one year ago in the fall of 1986, but what have we seen? Absolutely nothing. Inquests have recommended that safety devices be installed in elevator shaft doors to prevent them from being pried open. What has the ministry done? Absolutely nothing.
This government has ignored its responsibility for public safety. Once again, we have an example of a serious, life-threatening problem that the government has referred to a committee to study. It has been a year and a half since that study began. How long does it take? For that matter, how many deaths does it take for this government to finally take responsibility and take action to resolve this most serious concern?
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce honoured John Stieger as the citizen of the year. Mr. Stieger has dedicated countless hours to this community to improve our quality of life. John Stieger was instrumental in establishing a lifeline system between our hospital and our senior citizens. As well, he has volunteered to assist at Chateau Gardens Nursing Home and Meals on Wheels. We are very proud of the contributions John Stieger has made to our community.
Mr. Dietsch: Last week was Business Appreciation Week in St. Catharines, and 83 companies were recognized for service and commitment to our community. The corporate citizen of the year award was given to Misener holding company. It has established strong community bonds by taking a leading role in the funding and development of Brock University and the Niagara Regional Development Corp. Misener Holdings has worked on campaigns for local hospitals, Ridley College and many other projects.
General Motors of Canada was named company of the year because of its commitment to our region. Its commitment to building a quality competitive product in our area as well as its involvement in virtually every civic charitable, social and educational program in this city have made it a leader in our community.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I have here in my hand the rent review operating guide. Members can get hold of this 250-page document for $50 from the Ministry of Housing. On the other hand, I would advise them not to telephone for it. We phoned from my constituency office 30 times. By the way, the number that does not function is 964-8281. Never phone; it is always busy.
My local legislative assistant tried to phone 40 times to get it and could not do so. He went over to get it in the end, but they refused to give it to him unless he paid cash. There was no way they could charge it to my account. Now we have correspondence between the finance department here at the assembly and the Ministry of Housing working out how they can bill this to my office so I can perhaps assist a few of the tenants in my riding who are waiting to go through rent review and have no idea what the new legislation is going to mean to them.
I suggest that this should be made available free to all members in their constituency offices in the hope that they will help tenants as we do over here, but I am not going to wait for the Ministry of Housing to provide it to my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. I will photocopy it for them so that we do not have to wait interminable months, as I have had to do, for the privilege of getting a document which is essential to helping our constituents.
Mr. McLean: Melissa Duval is a three-year-old former resident of Penetanguishene, Ontario, who suffers from a life-threatening disease that requires immediate medical treatment. Melissa was diagnosed in April as suffering from neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nerves, affecting infants and children. Last month Melissa had a cancerous tumour and her left kidney removed, but she still requires cancer treatments for her bone marrow. Unfortunately, that treatment is only available in a hospital located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The US treatment involves removing Melissa’s bone marrow and treating it while she lies in a special ward isolated from visitors and family. The procedure is expected to cost US$250,000 for five weeks, which is the minimum time she is expected to require it according to medical experts. The minister should be aware that if there is not enough money to finance this unique treatment, it will not be performed.
Melissa’s parents, Moe and Kathy Duval, who now live in Brampton, Ontario, have been told that because she must travel out of Canada to receive the last medical treatment available that could save her life, she will not receive any money from the Canadian Cancer Society or the United Way. It is my understanding that her Ontario health insurance plan is only going to cover a small portion of the procedure.
I firmly believe that the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) should direct Ontario health insurance plan officials to up their ante and increase Melissa’s coverage to ensure that all, or at the very least, a portion is covered.
Mr. Pelissero: Members of the House will be aware that the 59th annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair concluded yesterday in Toronto. This year’s fair, which enjoyed the continued financial support of the province, was a resounding success.
I would like to draw to the attention of the House, the achievement of Kathleen Gracey, a chemist at McMaster University, who took first place in the wheat competition with a sheaf of wheat grown on her parents’ farm near Wellandport in the riding of Lincoln. Lincoln farmers can all share in this accomplishment, which underscores once again the unique quality of Lincoln soil, as well as the skill and innovation of the men and women who farm it. They have helped to make Ontario a world leader in agricultural technique, as Kathleen Gracey’s victory confirms.
It is ironic, however, that the award-winning wheat was grown less than a mile from the proposed site of the Ontario Waste Management Corp.’s toxic waste treatment and disposal facility. I share with the people of Lincoln their deep concern about the possible impact of this toxic waste facility on their community. At the same time they face an uncertain future under the Mulroney government’s proposed tree trade agreement.
It is fitting that I should address both these issues in my first statement to the House because, as a member for Lincoln, I shall continue to express my constituents’ profound concern over the uncertain future and the resolution of these two issues is central to that future.
Miss Martel: In the heated exchange last Thursday over the situation at the McDonnell Douglas plant, the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) pointed out that the workers were not “going off work in order to make the ministry listen.” l suggest the minister take another look at the history of McDonnell Douglas, since this is exactly the situation workers have been forced into.
This is the third time in two years that work stoppages have occurred at the plant. The latest refusal, prompted by respiratory problems and high aluminum levels, has also been compounded by over 200 violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by the company.
The performance at McDonnell Douglas is not an accident. It is open and blatant defiance of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I hope the Ministry of Labour takes the situation seriously and sends a clear message to employers this will not be tolerated.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I have two statements. I want to report to the members about the latest developments relating to the recent unfavourable ruling of a panel of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade on Canada’s alcohol listing and pricing policies.
I first want to underscore the Ontario government’s support for multilateral trade agreements, when the aim is to bring about fairness in the international marketplace. I must also emphasize the government’s ongoing support for the maturing Ontario grape and wine industries.
While the immediate elimination of Ontario’s current pricing, listing and distribution practices might be seen as an admirable goal by wine-making industries in France, Italy and California, the consequences could prove catastrophic for Ontario’s vintners and grape growers. The key issue is time, enough time for Ontario grape growers and wine makers to become more competitive.
Over the weekend, the government reached an agreement with representatives of the Ontario grape and wine industries that will provide for the gradual elimination of most of the practices viewed as discriminatory. I am very proud of the agreement that has been reached and their part in it.
Today Ontario government officials are in Ottawa discussing this agreement with federal trade authorities. The federal government will play a key role under our proposals in providing transitional adjustment assistance. We also expect Ottawa to challenge European wine and grape subsidy practices. In addition, Ontario will insist on taking part in the development of Canada’s trading strategies on this subject. We also want to participate fully in negotiating sessions with the European Community.
As well, we are seeking federal support for our wine industry in helping it to adjust to greater international competition. Our proposal encompasses grape acreage reductions, grape-growing improvement programs and marketing assistance. These government and industry efforts will help us to ensure a stronger, competitive industry.
The Ontario grape and wine industries have made great strides over the last few years. The growing list of international awards attests to the industry’s capacity to achieve quality, but the task of converting vineyards requires time. This transition strategy should provide both the time and opportunity for Ontario’s grape and wine industries to become fully competitive on both price and quality.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I have a second statement. I want to report to the Legislature that earlier today the chairman of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Jack Ackroyd, announced a major reorganization of the management structure and operating procedures of the corporation.
Before I speak to those changes, I first want to note the board’s commitment over the last 10 months in vigorously carrying out the structural and operational review first requested by the government in January. The changes announced today are the latest in a series of improvements implemented this year at the LCBO as a direct result of that review.
Above all, it must be remembered that as the agency empowered by law to distribute alcoholic beverages in this province, the LCBO has a public responsibility to perform its role in an exemplary way. It was with this in mind that the ministry urged the chairman to bring in outside management consultants to review the efficiency and the effectiveness of the operation.
The board of directors met Friday and approved a new streamlined management structure to increase efficiency while improving customer service. The new structure will allow the organization to become more decentralized and more focused on the delivery of retail service.
Part of the plan involves the early retirement of two senior executives, the moving of a third to another posting in the civil service and the departure of a fourth from provincial employment. In addition, the position of executive vice-president of administration will be eliminated.
The process of decentralization will involve greater store and regional autonomy. Individual store managers will be able to order and stock those products which they find to be popular in the local area. These changes will increase accountability and responsibility from bottom to top.
The board of directors itself will be given greater responsibility and a clearer mandate to govern the organization and to carry out government policy. Both the government and the board recognize that the route to improved accountability and efficiency lies in the creation of a responsive consumer-oriented retail organization.
I am sure any member of the Legislature who has been inside an Ontario liquor store over the last year has already seen evidence of this new emphasis on the consumer. These visible changes include improved store layouts, increased accessibility, more convenient store hours, better-trained staff and a substantially expanded choice of specialty products.
But the most telling impact of this change is being felt in areas which the customer may not be able to see quite so directly. The review has resulted in initiatives not only in the board’s customer service and marketing skills, but also in general management, human resources, internal communications and security.
A long-standing difficulty for the board has been the quality of inventory control. The modernization of the LCBO’s record-keeping and a greater emphasis on controlling storeroom inventories will reduce overstocking problems. The installation of modern stock control mechanisms at the point of sale and in warehouses will go a long way towards addressing this problem. A new ordering system already installed in the Ottawa warehouse will be monitored carefully for its possible application in other regions of the province.
In the meantime, overstocking has been curtailed and slow-moving, delisted products have been removed from warehouses. There has also been increased use of product transfers between warehouses to balance stock levels.
In other areas, the Legislature has already enacted amendments to bring the board’s hiring procedures into line with accepted government practices. This has ended the long-standing practice of filling many LCBO vacancies by patronage appointments.
To increase productivity, a new measurement package has been introduced called performance indicators. These indicators will improve the current system for staffing and the monitoring of store performance.
Throughout this process of review and change, the task of ensuring product quality has remained paramount. The board’s laboratory has continued to conduct stringent testing of all new products for quality and safety. This past summer, for example, several brands were removed from the shelves of 617 stores in a matter of hours after glass chips were detected in a small number of samples.
As a result of the steps already carried out and those structural and management changes announced today by the chairman, the new LCBO will be less bureaucratic, more accountable and more service-oriented.
Since then the situation has escalated because of a dispute between the workplace parties over the payment of the workers and allegations by some members of reprisals by the company. As honourable members know, on Friday senior ministry staff met with senior representatives of both the company and the Canadian Auto Workers union in an effort to seek a resolution to that dispute. That meeting ended without agreement.
Again over the weekend, senior ministry staff made themselves available in an effort to assist the parties to reach an agreement whereby the work refusal investigations could resume. Some progress was made at these meetings.
I wish to advise the House that an understanding has now been reached between the workplace parties at a meeting with ministry officials this morning. This understanding is a vital step towards resolving the health and safety issues at the McDonnell Douglas plant, issues of vital concern to the workers and to this ministry.
The understanding will allow the workplace parties to develop a protocol for investigating the work refusals and health and safety concerns of the workers. In addition, the parties will simultaneously be discussing procedures to deal with information and training for chemical hazards, a medical surveillance program and the remedies concerning the ventilation system.
Meanwhile, inspectors from the ministry are continuing ongoing investigations into the alleged reprisals by the company. Until those and other investigations are fully completed, we will not know whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with prosecutions. Those prosecutions, if warranted, will be pursued.
I understand the parties have indicated that as of the Sunday midnight shift the company will be paying those workers standing by during the investigations into the workplace refusals. They have also indicated that they may pursue resolution of the issue of the disputed wages by way of an application before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
It is my expectation that the company and the union will continue to agree on a clear path to resolving the issues. Meanwhile, ministry inspectors and hygienists will be at the plant to continue their ongoing investigations and to ensure that the joint investigations by the CAW and the company adequately resolve the workers’ concerns.
Hon. Mrs. Wilson: It is my honour to table with the House today the 13th annual report of the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens. The newly published report deals with the council’s work for the last fiscal year.
Members will know that the advisory council comprises a group of knowledgeable and dedicated citizens from across Ontario who offer their time and expertise to the government on issues affecting the wellbeing of seniors. Under the chairmanship of Mrs. Ivy St. Lawrence, the council has made and will no doubt continue to make its presence felt in a highly informed and forthright manner.
This past year has been particularly successful for the council and the citizens of Ontario whom it serves. Among its many excellent initiatives, the council has undertaken a survey to help determine the service needs of senior citizens who continue to live in their own homes. Many elderly home owners responded to the survey, and I am grateful to the council for sharing those valuable comments and ideas with me.
I want to draw special attention to the council’s quarterly newspaper, Especially for Seniors, which had an expanded circulation this year of a remarkable 20 per cent and now reaches almost one million Ontarians. I am very proud that Especially for Seniors now boasts one of the largest readerships in Canada.
This past June the government announced the five pilot sites for one-stop access, our new approach to the delivery of community health and social services to the elderly. Let me say how much I appreciate the council’s ongoing interest in and support for this initiative. May I add that one-stop-access implementation is proceeding on schedule.
The advisory council on senior citizens has dedicated itself this past year to the theme of independence for seniors. In so doing, it has again distinguished itself in the promotion of the wellbeing of our elderly citizens.
Mr. Mackenzie: I would like an undertaking from the Minister of Labour (Mr. Sorbara) that will allow the workplace parties to develop a protocol for investigating the work refusals and the health and safety concerns of the workers. The fact that the parties will simultaneously be discussing procedures to deal with the information and training for chemical hazards makes me wonder where we have been for the last several years in this particular area.
How many times have we had this government tell us it has the procedures in place and adequate legislation to take care of the workers? The minister has now clearly told us we do not have them in place, and we should have. These workers should also not have to go to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to be guaranteed their money for a legitimate work refusal.
The minister has to understand that he has not lived up to expectations of the workers in this province. We seem to be getting a worse deal now than we did with the previous minister. To get up here in the House and answer questions on an issue as serious as slaughter in the workplace -- because that is what it is all about in many of the plants in this province -- is just not adequate with the kind of pompous and smug answers we got in this House on Thursday.
I hope that this minister is prepared to start dealing with the serious problems and that we are going to see some legislation in this House, and not the kind of answers we are getting when workers are at risk in the workplace.
Ms. Bryden: I would like to respond to the statement by the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs. Wilson). The minister states in her comment that the five pilot sites for one-stop access are proceeding on schedule with regard to implementation. Just what is the schedule for these pilots and when will they open their doors?
I understand that the only one in Metro Toronto, which is the borough of East York, has been told that the one-stop access cannot be implemented until the integrated homemaker service is in place for that area, and the indication is that this may not be until some time in 1989 or later. Does that mean there will be no one-stop-access facilities in the whole of Metropolitan Toronto until some time two years hence?
Mr. Swart: I would like to comment on the announcement made by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Wrye) with regard to the supposed agreement with the grape and wine producers about starting to reduce the protection they now have in this province.
I want to say to the minister that this is a precipitous collapse that is going to dramatically hurt the grape growers in the Niagara Peninsula. The minister himself says the key issue is time, yet he has not even taken time to discuss this with the Ontario Grape Growers’ Marketing Board as a group. In fact, they are having a meeting in the very near future to deal with this proposal, and the minister announces it in the House today before that meeting takes place with the grape growers in the Niagara Peninsula.
The key issue, yes, is time; it is more time. The key issue is also that there be justice done with regard to the grape growers. Sure, we have a markup here, but the minister knows very well there is a massive subsidy to all of the other grape growers in the other parts of the world that export to Canada. If that is legal, then perhaps that is what he should be doing in this province and in this nation: providing that subsidy in lieu of the markups so they are able to compete favourably with those in the other parts of the world, whether that be the United States or some of the countries in Europe.
The previous government took time to negotiate with people in the US so we could get a markup that was agreeable to them in the US. Why are some of the ministers here, the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell) or somebody else, not going to Europe, to those countries that are complaining, to see if they can work out an agreement there? Instead of that, what the minister is saying is, “We are going to abolish the protection for the grape growers.”
I want to say it is not worthy of the government of this province to damage the grape growers of this province the way he is doing by announcing this agreement at this time without going into all those discussions.
First of all, unlike my friend, I will applaud the minister if he is able to find some common ground upon which to enter a transitional period whereby he can minimize or reduce the risk of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade decision relative to our wine industry. I think this transitional period is absolutely essential if we are to keep that industry intact and bring about a situation that will result in the minimum amount of damage to a vital industry, our province and our country.
The minister indicates in his comment that he feels Ontario should be at the table with the federal government in negotiations with the European Community, and I think that is a very positive step. Those same kinds of appearances with respect to co-operation with our federal colleagues might also be attractive in regard to other circumstances, such as certain elements of the free trade discussions that the government on the other side appears to be somewhat hesitant to talk to our federal colleagues about.
I certainly would not take issue with the minister’s attempting to bring about a compromise, if you will, with the European Community relative to the forms of subsidy it is providing to its industry as opposed to the methodology we use here. If there is, again, a common ground that can reduce the impact on the wine industry, I would applaud that.
Obviously the industry needs time to adjust. I want the minister to be very cautious on one point, however. While we are going through that period of adjustment -- and he has simply asked for some understanding in connection with that -- I would ask him to be very careful in regard to any retaliatory action taken by the Europeans with respect to other areas, other industries or other sectors of our economy. No good whatever is served, in my view, in accomplishing some benefit to one sector of industry, such as the grape and the wine producers, if we simply have an action taken against us in regard to some other products produced by Ontario industries.
In regard to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario internal reorganization, again we take no issue with what the minister is proposing. Most of it appears to be administrative changes. Some of the new controls he is suggesting to impose in an attempt to make the LCBO more responsive to consumers, as well as the decentralization, are steps that I do not take great issue with, but we will be monitoring them very closely to make certain that what the minister is proposing by way of administrative changes actually works.
We will see what happens in the days that unfold related to the LCBO, its practices and the results he is able to get as a result of some shuffling of personnel and some change in direction that he is proposing to take.
This government has prided itself on occupational health and safety and its so-called improvements to the system. We find out, after some workers have been out of work here for four or five days, that it took the ministry over the weekend to develop a protocol for investigating work refusals over the health and safety concerns of the workers under the act. The parties are only now going to start discussing procedures about information and training for chemical hazards, a medical surveillance program and remedies concerning the ventilation system.
This statement is entirely reactive, as opposed to proactive. It only points out the inadequacies of this ministry in dealing with these problems. I hope the ministry has now at least got the message out of this incident: that it is not prepared to deal with matters of occupational health and safety in this province. Maybe it should start doing something about them.
Mr. McCague: I would like to join the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs. Wilson) in congratulating the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens for its annual report. The member for London North (Mr. Van Horne), who is responsible for much of the guidance through this is not here. I would have liked for him to have been present. However, I hope the minister will take the opportunity in the early days of her position to talk to people such as the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek) and the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) to urge upon them the importance of providing the facilities to help everyone in the parts of Ontario that the member and I know very well.
The minister will no doubt be aware that section 24 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states very clearly that no employer shall “impose any penalty upon a worker...because the worker...has sought the enforcement of this act or the regulations.” The minister will also know that there are very specific sections in the act which require the government to prosecute employers who breach the act.
The minister has confirmed in his statement that workers have not been paid at McDonnell Douglas for the work period between Wednesday and Sunday. I cannot imagine a clearer example of a penalty being imposed by an employer upon its workers.
Is it the view of this government that workers who refuse to work because it is their belief that work is unsafe should be paid by their employer or is it the view of the minister that they should not be paid? Which is it?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: It is clear that where a worker refuses to work because of a concern with occupational health and safety, he has the right to continue to be paid while the first stage of the investigation is under way. That is clearly the case, certainly in many of the instances at McDonnell Douglas.
I tell my friend the Leader of the Opposition that the regime for determining the extent to which there is an obligation to pay during that initial period was something worked out by the company and the union. They have agreed to it.
Mr. B. Rae: The minister will also be aware that the union has not agreed for one moment -- and I am sure the minister would not want to be accused of misleading anyone -- the minister would understand and would surely agree that the union has not agreed for one moment, under any circumstances, that the workers not working between Wednesday and Sunday should not be paid. I am sure the minister would not want to make that statement or that allegation in the House.
Again, to go back to what the law is in this province, just so that we are clear on what the obligations of the minister are, the act states quite categorically in subsection 37(1), “Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with, (a) a provision of this act or the regulations...is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000.” On Thursday I showed the minister examples of more than 200 instances where the act had clearly not been complied with.
I want to go back to a very simple and basic question to the minister. Why has the ministry not laid any prosecutions under this act that would lead either to a fine or to a jail sentence? The minister knows that both of those are possibilities. I would like to ask him why he has not laid any prosecutions under the act.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: I think I tried to answer that question last Thursday and I can only tell my friend what I said last Thursday. The reason prosecutions have not been laid yet is that the investigations which may well lead to prosecutions have not been completed.
I cannot tell him more. I cannot tell him, although he wants to make this into a highly charged political issue, that because he is asking questions in the House about prosecutions the investigations will be short-circuited and then we will lay prosecutions and then continue with the investigations. That is not the procedure we are going to take.
Mr. B. Rae: If the minister would read the file he would find that there are instances piled very high indeed where inspectors have found contraventions, where they have indicated specifically what those contraventions are and where they have urged the employer to take steps to stop those contraventions.
Would the minister not agree that if an investigation has taken place so that the employer is being told to clean up the operation -- for example, he is being told to bring in an entirely new ventilation system in the plant because the workers have in fact been breathing contaminated fumes -- would he not agree that if the inspectors can say quite clearly that has to be cleaned up, the inspectors can also say, “You are in breach of the law and you will be fined and prosecuted under the law”?
Is one investigation not good enough for the minister to make it clear to the employers of this province that they are going to have to do more than just clean up their act, that they also have to face the fact they are going to get fined when they do not clean up?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: My friend knows perfectly well that fines and prosecutions are in many instances the result of investigations of this nature. I cannot tell my friend anything more than that a thorough investigation was begun; I think the beginning of the investigation was around August 7. The actual inspection and investigation within the plant took some 45 days. Some 212 orders were issued, and the process of compliance with those orders has been ongoing for quite some time.
Investigations with respect to work refusals, additional orders to be implemented against the employer and the question of prosecutions are ongoing matters right now. I will undertake to advise my friend when that process is complete and to advise him at that time if and when prosecutions are going to be launched against McDonnell Douglas.
Mr. B. Rae: The question l have, to the same minister, is this. Let me just give him one example from the report of the inspector: “This order shall apply to the following areas where contraventions were observed: ...spraying of isocyanate paint with no local exhaust.... Mixing and use of isocyanates with no local exhaust.”
The reports are piled high as to what the health effects of isocyanates are. The minister knows the material is there; it is available. Workers have been sent home because they have been sensitized, workers who are very ill indeed because of isocyanates.
Does the minister not understand the consequences of a failure to prosecute where a breach of this kind takes place in a company of this size? Does he not realize that what he is doing is giving a licence to pollute and to poison to every single employer in this country if he is not prepared to prosecute a company like McDonnell Douglas?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: What my friend says about failure to act is as ridiculous as what he says about who is going to be minister and when. He knows what the extent of the order is as a result of our investigation. He knows the burden the company is now under to install a ventilation system to remove those odours. He also knows interim steps and interim orders have been put into place to protect the workers during the interim period while that ventilation system is being installed.
Mr. B. Rae: This is a very basic question. What the minister seems to be saying is that as long as the company complies with these orders, there will be no prosecutions. What we are saying on this side is that when you find over 200 instances where the law has been broken, you fine and you prosecute and you do not wait until compliance takes place; you go in there and move.
Does the minister not understand that the implication of that approach is for every employer to be able to say to the government, “There is no cost to refusing to comply because all that will happen is that on one of your inspections we may have to improve the technology, but we will never ever be fined and prosecuted for breaking the law”?
Does the minister not understand that the implication of failing to prosecute where there are breaches as serious as this for the health and safety of every worker in that plant is to send a message to every employer that there is going to be no penalty imposed other than simply having to ultimately, perhaps, obey the law, but that there will be no fine structure separate from that? Does he not understand that?
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: The Leader of the Opposition continues to suggest to every member of this House that a decision has been made, in respect of McDonnell Douglas, not to prosecute. He knows that is not the truth, and I wish he would quit doing that. The fact is that an investigation is going on; he knows that. Negotiations were ongoing for the implementation of a training system that would be of great assistance to the workers in dealing with highly volatile chemicals, and when that process is complete a determination will be made as to whether prosecutions are going to be launched against the company and the extent of those prosecutions. He knows that, but he continues to suggest the contrary.
Mr. B. Rae: It is irreversible. The minister will also know that workers have been asked to work with a number of other carcinogens without their knowledge. The minister will know, for example, it says: “Pursuant to section 28(1)(2) of the act, the employer shall produce a list of all chemicals, solvents, paints, etc., in use in all departments of the plant. This order shall be complied with on or before November 23, 1987.”
I could go through this and show the minister, in case after case, where respiratory equipment has not been provided, where workers have not been informed of the substances with which they are working, where it has been proved that the ventilation system is so crappy that workers are sucking in the air which is part of the pollution problem in the plant, where four workers have been found to have aluminum levels in their blood far in excess of whatever the permissible levels are and none of the doctors in the plant was aware of it but were continuing to tell the workers that everything was OK.
There is not a clearer case of where a government ought to have gone in on August 7 and, after 45 days, compiled this information and then come out and said to the people and the employers in the province, “We have found a plant that is clearly not in compliance and we are going to pursue this company to the very full limit of the law.”
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: The Leader of the Opposition really has not asked any question other than one. He uses his questions and his supplementaries simply to give speeches. I tell you once again, Mr. Speaker, and I tell all the members of this House, that investigations in --
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: We are in agreement as to the fact that there were 212 violations and 212 orders. That was not the end of the process, because that was not all that had to be done at McDonnell Douglas. That is why our ministry is still there.
Mr. Brandt: I have a question for the Premier. In an interview that was given to a Windsor newspaper on September 18, I believe, the Premier indicated that he would personally review the disclosure statements with respect to a conflict of all his ministers. Further, the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) made a statement that the disclosure statements would be made public by the end of this month.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I met today with the interim commissioner, as a matter of fact. I had an hour’s meeting with him today. As the member knows, he is interviewing all the cabinet ministers, operating on the basis that the new conflict-of-interest bill that has been presented to this House before will be the operating principle.
He is looking at all aspects of this issue, and I am looking for a report from him. We are putting as much pressure on as we can to get that filed as quickly as possible. We were originally hoping by the end of November, but I suspect that could reach a week or two into December.
Mr. Brandt: Further to that question, I believe the Premier may be aware that in a recent article that was written in the Toronto Globe and Mail by Dr. Bryden, who is professor emeritus of the department of political science at the University of Toronto, he indicated that he believes the bill that is being proposed by the government fails to protect against the appearance of conflict of interest and, in his opinion, will lead to the erosion of the democratic process.
Dr. Bryden states that by allowing ministers to be fully informed of the nature of their holdings and by allowing cohabiting spouses of ministers to enter into business arrangements with the government, the government is actually promoting the perception of government leaders using their influence for personal gain.
In June of this year, in response to a similar question from the former leader of our party, the Premier agreed to public hearings on the proposed bill so that the concerns of Dr. Bryden and others in this House can be heard as part of a full committee hearing.
Will the Premier, recognizing some of the real concerns that we all have relative to this question of conflict, agree today to see that this whole matter is submitted to an all-party committee of the House for full review and discussion?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I have no problem with that at all. I had not read the article of the esteemed socialist intellectual Dr. Bryden, although I know that his influence is still all-pervasive in this House as an ex-member and as one who gives counsel regularly. I am not familiar with his particular views, and as the member knows, there are lots of different views on this subject.
It is our intention to have a full discussion in this House, and I gather the Attorney General is very comfortable with the fact that this would go to a committee of this House for a full discussion of Dr. Bryden’s views or anyone else’s views. But I should tell my honourable friend that the operating principles of this bill are: first, that all members would be included; second, that it would operate on the disclosure principle; and third, that there would be an independent commission.
What we are trying to do, I say to my friend, is to develop a system so that no one in this House would ever be in a position where he or she would put private interest ahead of public interest. We have rejected the view of some of our NDP friends opposite with respect to some of their views, but in our view, this bill will be a leader in our democratic system of making it fair for everyone concerned to protect that basic operating principle of keeping the supremacy of the public interest in everybody’s mind.
Mr. Brandt: I would say to the Premier that there are others in this House who do not share his confidence in that particular bill. There are many who have stated that the bill being proposed by his government will do nothing other than to water down the requirements for a minister in his cabinet and allow it to do -- or in fact to legalize -- things that were illegal under previous guidelines.
I appreciate the Premier agreeing to send this matter to an all-party committee for the scrutiny I think it truly deserves and requires, but that being the case, would the Premier agree as well to subject his cabinet to the provisions of the guidelines that are now in place until such time as the bill has been reviewed by committee and is the law of this province as it relates to cabinet ministers; until such time as those changes are in fact a matter of requirement for the government of Ontario?
My honourable friend is right; he operated for a number of years under a set of guidelines -- Mr. Davis’s, mine and others. It becomes a subjective call of the first minister under those guidelines. As my honourable friend will know, there is no enforcement of that. That is not in a bill, and the enforcement is only the subjective whim of the first minister. I am sure every first minister the member has ever talked to -- and he has known intimately a number of them -- will tell him some of the difficulties with respect to the subjective interpretations of those things.
I said to the member some time ago, and I said during the campaign, that the operating principle for conflict of interest would be that bill. Those are the guidelines I am employing. I am using independent and outside advice, in terms of legal counsel as well as the interim commissioner, to assist me in that regard.
Those are the guidelines on which I am operating; we did this after a thorough review, an independent review and study, after looking at a lot of other jurisdictions in the free world dealing with this question; and we believe, I say to my honourable friend -- and I appreciate his points of view, he will have an opportunity to debate them in the House, in committee and every other place -- that our bill will be fair, that it will be in a sense a milestone in dealing with this problem that has been troublesome to lots of us in the past and that it will provide the public with the protection it needs and deserves, and that is again that no one in this House ever puts private interests ahead of public interest.
Mr. Brandt: I appreciate the rhetoric, and I appreciate the assurances, but what we would like to see, I believe, on this side of the House is somewhat more assurance in terms of the detail of the bill he proposes to bring forward that will deliver the kinds of guarantees he has indicated on a number of occasions.
My next question is in regard to other assurances the Premier has given this House. He will recall that some time ago we had a matter of some conflict of interest relative to IDEA Corp. and one of his ministers. We had asked on a number of occasions for the release of the Biddell report that related to some of the matters pertaining to IDEA Corp. Since $12.9 million has in fact been written off by IDEA Corp. in its transfer to the Ontario Development Corp., will the Premier give us some indication of when that report will be made public?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not have a precise date, but I am happy to tell my honourable friend that the Biddell report into all aspects of IDEA Corp. will be made public as soon as it is completed and as soon as it is done. I share my honourable friend’s view that IDEA Corp. was one of the sad chapters in the history of this province. I have said to him before that our mistake as a government was not killing it on the day we came in because we have seen these problems lingering.
My honourable friend, as a former minister in charge of the IDEA Corp. -- I assume that was during his tenure -- will know and share some of the shame and embarrassment that corporation has brought to this House. So I want to say that we will share all that with my honourable friend and we will just have to look back on it as a write-off of an ill-conceived idea. I am sure my honourable friend will have lots of views on this subject when that report is presented in the House.
Mr. Brandt: Once again we have only the assurance the report will be released as soon as it is completed. I am sure the Premier is aware that the report is well over a year overdue at this point in time. Surely he could use the influence of his office to encourage whoever is finalizing that report to place it before the Legislature so we can have an opportunity to review it and see where the $12.9 million has gone, along with other write-offs and losses that were experienced by the IDEA Corp.
It might be interesting for the Premier to note as well that he has other reports that have not been forthcoming and that we have been looking for for some long time on this side of the House. Can the Premier give us some assurance that the report relating to the Vaughan land sales -- l know he is getting advice from some of his senior advisers on either side of him.
The reality is that the Premier should know these are very sensitive issues that the people of Ontario have a right to know about. It is all well and good for the Premier to stand up and say these reports will be released as soon as they are ready, but these reports potentially could affect members of his cabinet, potentially could affect members of the inner circle he has appointed to the executive council --
I am sure my honourable friend would not want to sort of accidentally cast any innuendo on any member of this House. I am sure my honourable friend will want to take an objective look at these reports, but I can tell my honourable friend that we have absolutely nothing to hide and it will all be there for him to see and to scrutinize. He can look through there for the names. He might know some of them quite well himself.
Mr. Brandt: I know the Premier will know some of the names because it is interesting to note that in regard to the conflict matters we discussed in this House earlier, an all-party committee of this Legislature, in its report with respect to the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine), indicated that notwithstanding the Premier’s repeated assurances that he had enforced the guidelines, it was evident there was little or no effort to monitor compliance.
Now he has again today given us assurances in regard to the compliance of his respective ministers as they relate to the new bill he is bringing forward and to the existing guidelines. He has also given us assurances relative to the Biddell report and to the Vaughan land sales report. I ask the Premier only to indicate to this House one more time, if he would, that his ministers are in compliance and that those reports relative to this entire matter will be released at the earliest possible opportunity. That is the least the people of Ontario can expect from him.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think I gave my honourable friend those assurances. As I said, there has been very thorough legal scrutiny, and by all members of the executive council, both by counsel as well as by the interim commissioner. He is doing his final report. That will be available for all to see and scrutinize. I tell my honourable friend that when these reports are available they will be tabled in this House for all to see.
Mr. Philip: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The minister will be aware that in the last 14 years eight youths have died tragically by joyriding on the roofs of elevators in Metropolitan Toronto. The minister will also be aware of the latest tragic death, that of Robert Whibley in the riding I represent. Despite numerous recommendations by various coroners’ juries, we still have a litany of deaths of youths in this province as a result of the joyriding syndrome. What does the minister intend to do to put an end to this litany of tragedy?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: The member is right that there have been far too many deaths. As a result, it was back in February 1986 that a joint industry-government task force was established. Over the next three or four months, that task force reviewed the situation in a number of other jurisdictions, both in North America and in Europe, to see whether safety measures that had been brought into those jurisdictions could be adapted in Ontario. It was found that they were not able to do so.
We began to look at new measures and over the last year and a half, on a pilot basis, we have been trying out a number of new measures to ensure that these youths and others cannot get on top of the elevators either through hallway entrances or through the elevator itself.
The task force now is about ready to report to me, and will within the next month, on the solutions it has found that have tested out positively in a number of buildings -- l believe in nine -- and a major retrofit in a number of buildings across the province will begin a short time thereafter.
Mr. Philip: The answer by this government to practically every question is a task force or another study. The coroner’s jury on June 10, 1986, convened by Dr. Bunt, stated, “Given the ability of known security devices to restrict entry in part or whole to the top of elevators or elevator cables, said devices” -- should – “be installed immediately on all elevators in problem buildings.”
Given that recommendation that was made in 1986 and given the fact that the technology is available now, albeit it is somewhat expensive, will the minister give assurance that the cost of these protective devices that will save lives will not be a factor in militating against their being installed as soon as possible’?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am aware of the honourable member’s comments regarding these devices. Certainly, the solution we have found is relatively costly. In reviewing with my staff this morning the situation as we find it today, following the tragic death on the weekend and on the likely recommendations that will come forward from the industry-government task force, I noted the cost, noted its expense; but most of all I want to assure the member I noted the need in a number of these buildings the member has spoken about of getting on with the job of retrofit just as quickly as possible.
Mr. McLean: I have a question for the Minister of Health. It has been brought to my attention that the health and living conditions at a boarding home in Uptergrove, Ontario, are extremely unsatisfactory. Cedar Glen home houses 25 residents, two of whom are under the age of 40, who suffer from schizophrenia and are former patients of Queen Street Mental Health Centre here in Toronto. The boarders are both male and female and the majority are senior citizens.
It is my understanding they have access to only one washroom and are forced to live and eat in what would be considered squalid conditions. It is my understanding that the Cedar Glen home is considered to be a group home but is not licensed as such. When will the minister investigate the overcrowded, unsanitary conditions the 25 residents are forced to live in?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I appreciate the member raising this question. I am not familiar with this particular home or the details. I am not sure that it falls with the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. If he would be so kind as to send the details over, I would be happy to look into it.
Mr. McLean: I have some copies of pictures of pails that are used at night and fields where they are dumped the next morning. Would the minister introduce legislation immediately so that group homes such as Cedar Glen will be brought up to a standard where those people can live in dignity?
I know the minister may think it is not the full responsibility of her ministry; it could be the Ministry of Community and Social Services. However, I do believe she should report her findings in a statement here tomorrow so these people can live in dignity.
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: As I said, I would be pleased to receive the information from the member. I hear his concerns and I would be willing to take a look at the situation he has brought to the attention of the House today.
Mr. Breaugh: I have a question of the Minister of Housing concerning rent review, or the lack thereof. How does she explain it to a tenant such as Michael Abromeit at unit 61 on 275 Manse Road in Scarborough? How does she explain that rent review process to him?
In the first instance the fault was the ministry. In May, when the first hearing was to have been held, it did not have its forms ready. Subsequently the cost-revenue statement was not ready. There was a further delay in the fall, on September 18 to be precise, when the forms were not ready by the landlord. Now they think they might get a hearing and a decision some time by the end of November.
How does the minister explain that nonprocess to tenants in Ontario? Where a decision can be delayed -- of course, that means they continue to pay large amounts of rent -- how is there any fairness in that, where, by simply not filing a form, a landlord delays the decision on rent review?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: The format of the process that tenants and landlords have to go through in the rent review process has time limits for various stages along the way which allow both the landlords and the tenants to put forward the information that will help them make their case.
It is extremely important that tenants have a chance to look at the information being presented by the landlord and have enough time to respond adequately to make their case as strongly as possible. It seems to me that is a very important part of the legislation, and it was part of what was fought for by the tenants’ representatives who helped to think through the process that gave us the legislation.
Mr. Breaugh: It is an interesting theory but in practice that is not what is happening. Surely the minister must understand that each time there is a delay of this kind the tenant is penalized: the tenant pays additional amounts of rent until such time as the decision is reached. How can the minister possibly justify a loophole this wide in her rent review process?
I grant the minister that the first major fault was in the ministry, which could not get forms printed, but it is obvious now that landlords across Ontario are taking advantage of tenants simply by not filing forms. How can she let a system like that proceed?
Hon. Ms. Hošek: I would like the details of the particular case the member has in mind. I would like to see what exactly happened in that case. However, it seems to me very clear that the tenants need to be able to look at all the data that are presented by the landlord in order to be able to respond to all the details. That is the reason the time frames are in the legislation.
Mr. Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Skills Development. Last week in this House we established several pieces of information. One of those was that the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) needs about $80 million above last year’s government estimates to pay for his expanded welfare program. We also established that he expressed some concern about the lack of skills training programs in this province.
We also established that the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) took $64 million away from the minister’s portfolio, away from Skills Development programs that were targeted for the older workers and women who today find themselves on those welfare rolls.
Last week the minister was not forthcoming with a clear statement and commitment to the Transitions program. Is the minister going to stand up to the Treasurer and get the funds the Premier (Mr. Peterson) already promised during the election so that we can get on with the badly needed Transitions program?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The honourable member stated I was not forthcoming with my response on Thursday. He is quite familiar with our Transitions program, which is quite a progressive program. It gives a $5,000 voucher to older workers over 45 to seek retraining. I think that is a very progressive move on behalf of this government.
I have no problem at all in dealing with the Treasurer’s coming forth with funds. At the moment, he should be quite familiar with the Ministry of Skills Development and he knows that the ministry itself is right on target with the type of programs it has, especially with Ontario’s Training Strategy. He also knows, if I dare direct this to the member, that our training culture is moving along, and he will see a tremendous amount of progress in that direction.
Mr. Jackson: How can he announce forward progress when the Treasurer took $64 million away from his ministry? The government managed the optics well on this severe problem. It went in and had a throne speech and a budget in the last year which were plastered with the commitment to older workers, but it took away $64 million.
The media were on to it. They asked the Premier, ‘Where did you pull this one out of the hat eight or nine months after the statements?” The Premier stated, “The program just happens to be ready now.” That was back on August 5. Not only do we not have the program but also the minister refuses to make a public statement about his commitment to those older workers.
Now we have the same scenario coming up again with what the Premier promised to get elected and what the Treasurer gave the minister in order to implement the programs. He cannot do it with $64 million less. When is the minister going to announce his commitment to the Transitions program so that the Minister of Community and Social Services will not have a serious problem with growing welfare rolls in this province?
Hon. Mr. Curling: The Transitions program is in operation. I do not understand the honourable member’s question. He asked when I am going to bring it in. It is in operation. That has been announced. It is on its way and it is working.
Mr. Hampton: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. He will remember that I asked him last week about the appointment of a 12th member to the Ontario Fisheries Advisory Council, to come from an area west of Thunder Bay. I want to tell the minister I agree with him that this is a serious issue that should be thought about, but would the minister agree that this issue of resident fishing licences and the use to which we put the funds from them is so important to the people of northern Ontario, particularly northwestern Ontario, that the minister will look to appoint to the advisory council someone who is knowledgeable about fishing matters, experienced in fish conservation and dedicated to the cause? Would the minister give that commitment?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: The minister happens to feel the issue is so important to northern Ontario that we are putting more funds, percentage-wise, from selling licences into those areas than we are in any other part of Ontario. I tell the member straight out that has been taken into account already, and certainly the advisory council is going to go into the kind of depth to return that whole process and that resource back to the people of Ontario as it existed some 15 or 20 years ago. I have no other purpose except to do that. We now have people all across the province who are functioning on that committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Crossman, who is a well-recognized biologist worldwide, and I cannot imagine that there could be any criticism of how this is being handled across this province.
I have told the member that I was going to have a new member on that advisory committee because we agreed that we would get it in place and that if we needed a couple more, so be it. For all the pressures the member is putting on me, our member from the area is very much involved and brought that to my attention a good long time ago.
Mr. Hampton: I am glad to hear that the minister has confirmed his concern, and I am glad to hear that he feels the people who have been appointed to the committee already are good people and that he will ensure that people in the future are dedicated to the cause, are knowledgeable about it and have some experience with it.
I want to ask the minister how he explains the situation that has occurred in the past week. A fellow who was nominated by zone 1 of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, who has 16 years’ experience in the federation, who is the past president of a sportsmen’s club, who has been very active in fish conservation and generally in fisheries issues and who was nominated, as I say, by zone I of the anglers and hunters, was told by a person who was acting for the defeated Liberal candidate in my riding that it would be very unlikely for this gentleman who has this experience and this knowledge to be appointed to the Ontario Fisheries Advisory Council, not because he lacks knowledge, not because he lacks dedication, not because he lacks experience but because he does not come from a Liberal riding. Is that how it is going to be done?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: If we look at the members who are on the advisory council right now, we will find that they come from every particular party in this province and that, in fact, they were not chosen because of the party they represent but rather for the input they can give this particular advisory committee.
When the member describes an individual with the background he mentions and says he should have a right to sit on the advisory council, I want to tell him that the people who are on the advisory council come with the kind of attributes he has just described; but to suggest that we are keeping someone off for political reasons certainly is not the case. For the ones who are on there who happen to be good Liberals, I make no excuse for that, because I will tell the member, there are a lot of good Liberals out there with extremely good talent in every area of expertise that he has described, so l do not take that into account. It should not keep them off the board either; I might tell the member that.
Our member for Kenora (Mr. Miclash), who is very much involved in the area, has spoken of this with me two or three times. It may be that he may tell the member whom I choose to put on that committee.
Mr. Eves: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Can the minister indicate to this House whether or not there are any nurse practitioners on the committee investigating the shortage of nurses in Ontario?
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: Yes. The question, I believe, is whether there are nurse practitioners looking at the question of nursing manpower. I would be happy to provide the member with a list of the membership on that committee and I will have it for him tomorrow, if he would like.
Mr. Eves: Perhaps to refresh the minister’s memory I might advise her that there are indeed no nurse practitioners on that committee or any other of the four health care policy committees that her ministry has set up. I would like to know why the largest group of health care workers in Ontario does not have one single representative on any of these five committees that her ministry has set up. Does the minister not think that is a little bit odd? There is not one nurse practitioner on any of those committees.
Hon. Mrs. Caplan: I would be interested in the definition from the member of “nurse practitioner.” I am very concerned that all of our policy committees reflect the health care professionals from across this province. As a matter of fact, I spoke to the Ontario Nurses’ Association recently at its convention and made a commitment to it, which I will repeat today in this House, to ensure that the perspective of the nursing profession as well as that of other health care professionals will be reflected on the committees which are advisory to the minister and advisory to this government in the area of health care and health care delivery.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question to the Minister of the Environment. I would like to ask the minister if he is aware of a proposal by Ontario Hydro. They are looking at two possible options: new transmission lines to the Windsor area or the reopening of the J. Clark Keith generating plant.
I would like to ask the minister whether he can assure the House this afternoon that if the J. Clark Keith generating plant reopens, there will be an environmental assessment if it is opened up with coal. Can he also assure the House that he will not allow energy from waste being started at the J. Clark Keith generating plant if in fact that plant is to be reopened?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Hydro is reviewing a number of different options at the present time. It depends, I guess, on the genuine demands there would be for electrical power in Ontario. I know there are many people who do not want Ontario Hydro to utilize coal-fired plants because of the emissions that take place from that. I know there are a number of people in the province who do not want Ontario Hydro to build new nuclear generating stations because of the problems they see with nuclear generating stations. I know there are people in the province who do not want new water plants that might have an effect on the aquatic life and on the fishing and so on. The options are there.
Now, specifically to the question the member asked, I will be happy to review any proposal that would come to me to determine whether they have had approval in the past. Certainly any new initiative on the part of Ontario Hydro which would have an impact on the environment should receive a review from the provincial government and will do so. l will certainly undertake to look specifically at the anticipated proposal the member has brought to my attention.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Does the minister not understand that it is a little difficult for Ontario to be saying to Michigan, and to Detroit in particular, that we are against their incinerator when at the same time one of the possible options Ontario Hydro puts out is energy from waste or incineration at this particular plant and that by that announcement a couple of weeks ago we significantly weakened our position in negotiations and in fighting the incinerator in the city of Detroit?
What we have said with the Detroit incinerator -- and he knows this, the people in Windsor know this and all members of the House know this -- is that we are talking about a brand-new incinerator where they have an opportunity to put the scrubber baghouse technology on it. In Ontario, if we built a similar plant, or if any municipality built a similar plant, we would require scrubber baghouse technology.
We have not, as was stated a week ago, gone right across the state of Michigan and said, “You must retrofit all of your incinerators in the state.” It may be an enviable goal. We have not said that in our particular fight over the Detroit incinerator.
Similarly, I think you would have to compare, if the state of Michigan were proposing a similar situation where there would not be state-of-the-art technology placed on it, of course we would be insisting upon that because we insist on it in Canada. But the member is comparing two entirely different things.
That does not mean the question is not important. It is. My friend asks a good question, and I have undertaken to review this completely, but I think it is very unfair and gives ammunition -- and I am not saying the member would deliberately do so; he would not, I know that -- but it does give arguments to the city of Detroit to use against us, and I think they would be very unfair arguments and unfair comparisons.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: My question is to the Minister of Government Services. Will the minister tell this House how long it will take the government to provide compensation to the home owners of McClure Crescent?
Hon. Mr. Patten: I thank the honourable member opposite. It is my understanding that if he is referring to those home owners who have experienced some difficulty with the soil conditions around their homes, the government has already offered a buyout situation to 40 home owners in that particular area, and 29 home owners to this stage have accepted that particular offer.
Mr. J. M. Johnson: These people live with the anxiety and fear of having lived over radioactive soil for the past several years. The government promised to deal with this problem as soon as taking office in 1985. In fact, as far back as 1983 the Premier (Mr. Peterson) himself was demanding action.
I think the Premier said nobody in his right mind should live in that situation. The minister says he has been offering compensation, but I understand there are a lot of delays and frustration with the way he is acting. What I would simply say to the minister and to the Premier is, what are they doing now?
Hon. Mr. Patten: What are we doing now? At the moment we have offered the compensation. The honourable member will know that the tests have been done, that there is the option for removal of this particular soil. The member will also know that radioactive soil is a responsibility of the federal government and at this particular point we are awaiting action by the federal government for that kind of disposal.
Mr. Offer: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. As the minister is aware, there is currently a proposal for the construction of an incinerator at Pearson International Airport. It is clear that the project falls exclusively within federal jurisdiction. However, I have been informed that, notwithstanding the exclusivity of jurisdiction, there are currently discussions going on between the federal and provincial ministries as to the possibility of this project proceeding in accordance with the more stringent provincial guidelines.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member may be aware that, being a proposal on federal property and initiated by the federal government, it comes under the jurisdiction of the federal government. That is why I have had my office communicate with the office of the Honourable Tom McMillan to express the viewpoint of Ontario that such a proposal should go through a very stringent process.
The federal government does have a process called EARP, the environmental assessment review process. There are some people who would contend that this process is not as stringent as that of Ontario, and I would certainly agree with that. Therefore, I have indicated to the minister that they could use the conditions we would apply in terms of an assessment in Ontario and that this would be very beneficial in this particular project.
Second, if any new incinerator were to be constructed in Ontario, even though it is on federal land, members of the House would know that we would insist upon the best available technology if we had jurisdiction over it. We expect the federal government would, too.
Mr. Offer: With respect to that, and in the event that provincial guidelines were utilized, are those particular guidelines enforceable in the event? Because, in this particular case, we are dealing with strict federal jurisdiction.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The provincial government, of course, has very strict guidelines and very strict rules that have to be enforced. In the federal government, the Minister of Finance particularly has a specific interest in this. He has expressed an interest in this, as have members of the federal House as well. They would want to ensure that the guidelines would be adhered to.
I cannot see or understand why the federal government would want to vary at all from the very strictest of guidelines to protect the people who reside in that particular area, because I know those people have a genuine concern.
The member has mentioned at other times, for instance, that there are other incinerators proposed for that area, this would be an additional one; this one is under federal jurisdiction, the others under municipal jurisdiction but under the regulatory process of Ontario. The member would want to ensure that the federal government applied the strictest possible controls, and I certainly agree with that.
My question to the minister is regarding the recent announcement by the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Eakins) about the reform of the election of Metro council. Given that coterminous wards are obviously a part of the reality of election here, what discussions has the minister had with Minister of Municipal Affairs regarding the election of trustees in Metropolitan Toronto?
Hon. Mr. Ward: In responding to my friend, I would like to indicate that the recommendations that were forthcoming from the Minister of Municipal Affairs as they relate to Metropolitan Toronto are indeed consistent with the recommendations that were contained in the joint report of the trustees and that conversations and discussions were ongoing between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Through those discussions it was made clear that we would have the flexibility to effect changes with regard to trustee representation in Metropolitan Toronto under the proposed legislation.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Not only would it take mathematical magic to make the formula established for electing Metro councillors fit the recommendations of that joint committee report to the Ministry of Education, it would also, I think the minister might agree -- or would he agree -- run against these final two recommendations.
The last one: “That the Metropolitan Toronto School Board and the area boards of education within Metropolitan Toronto be asked to recommend how the principles or recommendations contained in this report may be applied to their unique circumstances,” because they are the only ones who could recommend how it should be dealt with.
It very clearly says it should not be done hastily, that it will take several years after l 988 to make this work. It seems to me that what we have had here, and would the minister not agree, is something imposed by the Municipal Affairs minister which does not assist at all in the way the joint committee reported to him in terms of what is required for the boards.
Hon. Mr. Ward: The report of the joint committee was forwarded directly to the Metropolitan Toronto School Board and its member boards immediately as it became available. Again, the Toronto board has responded to that correspondence and that request for a response; it has asked for an extension of time to respond directly. At the same time, in consultation with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, we have made it clear that any legislation have a proviso so that we can take the response of the Metro board and superimpose whatever representative structure is necessary to accommodate the needs of the board, consistent with the legislation that is proposed for Metropolitan Toronto.
Mr. Pollock: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. The minister is well aware of the abandoned railroad line, known as the Marmora subdivision, that runs from his riding right through to Lake St. Peter. Hastings county council, along with a lot of other municipalities, has recommended that abandoned railroad line be taken over by the Ontario government, either by the Ministry of Tourism or by the Ministry of Natural Resources. The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) has said he is not going to take it over. Will the minister provide funding for the takeover of that abandoned railroad line as a recreation trail?
Hon. Mr. O’Neil: I appreciate the question from the member. I know it is a matter of concern in our area and likely in other areas also. I have had letters that support the government taking it over and other letters that are not in support. I can tell the honourable member that we are looking at this very carefully, and I would hope to report back to him very shortly.
Mr. Pollock: Would the minister not agree that this taking over of this particular railroad line would provide funding and business for tourism and recreation in that area of eastern Ontario where it is badly needed?
Hon. Mr. O’Neil: I believe anything that can contribute to tourism in any part of the province and in eastern Ontario is very important; that is why we are having a very careful look at this particular request.
Mr. Cousens: A brief question dealing with 100 houses or so on McClure Crescent. Of those houses, approximately 40 of the residents have been looked after through the courts and through other areas, but the remaining 60 or so families in those houses on McClure Crescent would like to know what the minister and her ministry are going to do to protect them, inasmuch as the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and former Minister of Housing made a commitment that they would look after all the people on that street and in that area.
Hon. Mr. Patten: I believe I answered that question as part of my first response in the House when I said that people still have an option. Forty home owners in that area have been offered the opportunity to sell their homes, and 29 have exercised that particular option. The government has provided the support, the testing facilities, working with the Ministry of the Environment and with the federal government, to see that the situation is under control.
Hon. Mr. Eakins: This bill provides for a directly elected Metropolitan council composed of 28 directly elected Metropolitan councillors and the six mayors. The chairman will be chosen by the Metropolitan council from among the directly elected councillors and will continue to represent a Metropolitan ward. Statutory executive committees and boards of control will be abolished.
As I noted in my statement to the House on November 4, this legislation is a result of a long process of study and consultation. The process began in February 1986 when my predecessor set up a task force on representation and accountability of Metropolitan Toronto. It is my pleasure to oversee the successful conclusion of this process by introducing this bill today.
Mr. Speaker: As I recall, last Thursday evening the member for Etobicoke-Humber (Mr. Henderson) finished his comments, but our standing orders allow for any other members to ask any questions or make any comments on those comments. Are there any?
Mr. Cousens: To the member for Etobicoke-Humber, whose presentation on Thursday last had a number of points that I find extremely interesting, I was wondering if he was in a position to support the free trade agreement, as the Premier (Mr. Peterson) is in a position to represent Ontario on that subject. The member says, “It is true that we have in this freer trade deal an imperfect, even flawed agreement, but the principle of free trade, and freer trade, between nations is a good one and in the best traditions of liberalism.”
The member goes on to give a number of reasons why the agreement does touch an important need for Ontario. Would his recommendation be one of support of even this flawed agreement, as he has described it, to the Premier of this province? I would be very interested in the views of the member on that subject.
I would also be interested to know if the member has any further concerns about the Meech Lake agreement. I got the Instant Hansard and read it over the weekend and I feel that he has made a number of very strong and good points. In what way can we in this Legislature bring this to a better discussion so that there is truly going to be some reconsideration of the Meech Lake agreement, and possibly the inclusion in that of something about property rights? Has the member any thoughts on that?
Mr. Henderson: As I understand it, the member for Markham (Mr. Cousens) asks whether I, on balance, support this current agreement. My answer is, as I think I said on Thursday, that I am supportive of the principle of freer trade among the trading nations of the world; I am, in that sense, a free trader.
I believe that objective can be best reached on a multilateral international basis, although we have to remember in Canada that when we talk about things that are international, at least in matters of trade, the fact that 70 per cent of our trade is with the United States makes it a trading partner that is just a little bit different from any of our other trading partners.
But I favour the notion of freer trade. I favour it especially when it is on a multilateral basis. I believe that proceeding through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, despite its potential drawbacks -- GATT is cumbersome, time-consuming and subject to delays -- would be the best way to do it. I think the Premier’s call for a six-month moratorium on the finalization of the arrangement has a lot to be said for it, because the debate on this subject has generated so much more heat than light, in my view.
To come back to the member’s question, I do not feel that at the moment I can say I support this deal in its current form, notwithstanding that we do not really know its current form. We do not have the final text, so I am not saying that I support the deal, the exact nature of which we are not sure, but I am a free trader. I do not have much more to say about Meech Lake.
Mr. Farnan: First of all, I would like to thank the people of Cambridge for the honour they bestowed upon me on September 10, 1987, the honour of representing them as a New Democrat in the official opposition in the 34th Parliament of Ontario. It is particularly gratifying to me to have been elected as a New Democrat at a time when Liberal fortunes were experiencing such a dramatic rise.
Never mind that I was elected with the smallest majority of any member in this House; I am sure there must have been some errors in the vote tally. I am assured by 90 per cent of the Cambridge residents I meet that indeed they voted for me, and my informal analysis of these encounters would lead me to believe that I won the election with a whopping plurality of over 10,000 votes rather than the 101 votes recorded in the official results.
But I do wish to say thank you and assure my community that I view my role as representing all members of the community and all groups within the community. I intend to bring the same dedication and commitment to my position of member of the provincial parliament that I demonstrated during my years as alderman with the city of Cambridge.
I believe in a maiden speech it is customary to expound on the virtues of one’s home community and I am sure members will be interested to learn something about my community, the city of Cambridge, which is located midway between Toronto and London on Main Street, Ontario, the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, Highway 401.
Cambridge, within the regional municipality of Waterloo, has a market in excess of one million people within a 30-mile radius, six million within 65 miles and nearly 200 million within one day’s trucking. The city of Cambridge has continued to experience a strong rate of growth since the amalgamation of the former towns of Preston and Hespeler and the city of Galt in 1973.
Cambridge is conveniently located within one hour of two international airports and two seaports. It is also positioned to take advantage of its proximity to major US markets. I suppose it could be said we are in an ideal location, far from the problems we do not need and still close to everything we do.
One of the most important benefits Cambridge offers is an enjoyable lifestyle. We are blessed with beautiful rivers, parks and year-round recreational facilities. Residents for the most part live close to their place of work and to convenient shopping areas.
The present population of Cambridge is approximately 81,000 and can boast a rich diversity of ethnic backgrounds among its residents. Cambridge has an excellent supply of skilled and semi-skilled labour and the labour force is continually improving its skill levels by utilizing those educational facilities available in our area.
The high calibre of elementary and secondary schooling available in our region is a credit to the Waterloo County Board of Education and to the Waterloo County Roman Catholic Separate School Board. Our community is also well served by Conestoga College of Applied Arts and Technology and the universities of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier and Guelph.
Research, development and technology training are all aspects of a forward-looking community. A key part of Ontario’s technology effort is the development of industrial technology centres, and the city of Cambridge is the site of the Ontario Centre for Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing.
We are also fortunate to be hooked into the Canadian Industrial Innovation Centre, a non-profit, federally sponsored corporation associated with the University of Waterloo. This centre offers a full range of assistance to entrepreneurs and inventors.
While Cambridge is experiencing industrial and commercial growth, it is also, thanks to the efforts of our city council, business improvement areas and Heritage Cambridge, undergoing a process of revitalization. The city of Cambridge was selected by the Heritage Canada Foundation for its Main Street program. Extensive work has been undertaken on our Living Levee, a riverbank flood protection project with the added significant dimension of beautification.
Cambridge is a wonderful community to visit at any time of year. Factory outlets and local tourist attractions in close proximity to our community are drawing more and more visitors to our area. Special annual events such as the Kinsmen Carnival, the Cambridge International Festival, the Cambridge Highland Games, the CanAmerica Games, the Cambridge Fall Fair, the Cambridge Riverbank Festival and, for the first time this year, the Cambridge Grand Christmas, are adding to our reputation as an area of growing significance to tourism. Add to these the many restaurants, hotels, motels and meeting rooms available and it is little wonder that Cambridge is also attracting more and more conventions of the small-to-medium size.
First of all, a throne speech is a major document. It is an opportunity for the government to outline the direction it intends to take the province. I am reluctant to give a knee-jerk negative reaction. A throne speech deserves to be studied in depth and to have a critical analysis made of it. Having said that, I am frankly somewhat disappointed over what appears to be a lost opportunity. This speech does not constitute a reform agenda.
In the previous parliamentary session, the New Democrats provided an impetus for reform by writing the historic accord agenda with definite time lines for implementation. As the government, the Liberals got most of the credit for the reforms and their electoral success on September 10 was based to a great extent, I believe, on the expectation that they would maintain a reform agenda. Yet the speech is surprisingly lacking in initiative. It is very much a status quo approach, reminiscent of the latter years of Conservative rule.
Of the 67 initiatives listed in the throne speech and the press release from the Office of the Premier, only 17 could be said to be new, and several of these new initiatives are merely the setting up of select committees. Committees are a good make-work project to keep the horde of Liberal back-benchers occupied and are a strategy to stretch the resources of the relatively small opposition ranks. However, it must be apparent that despite a huge majority government’s ability to enact legislation pretty much as it wishes, the government’s main agenda items seem to be studies and more studies. This, I fear, is a prescription for inaction. Only time will tell.
Despite the lofty language and restatement of broad principles, we find throughout the list of initiatives the recurrence of procrastinating phrases. Here is a selection: “We will continue to implement,” “encourage the development of,” “appoint a committee,” “refer the issue,” “reintroduce,” “appoint a committee,” “reaffirm our commitment to,” “increase public awareness of,” “review,” “appoint a committee,” “continue to press for,” “examine ways,” “appoint a committee.” In the absence of creative policy directions and leadership on the part of the government, it would appear that the single most clearly defined direction of this government is to committee the opposition to death.
In addressing the throne speech, I have chosen to concentrate on two areas, namely, education and housing; and in limiting my focus, I hope to be able to make substantive statements in these areas rather than touch on the wide variety of issues referred to in the speech from the throne. I have also selected these two areas because I believe them to be major issues affecting my community of Cambridge, also the province, and issues that the government must come to terms with in the years ahead.
I believe the housing and accommodation crisis to be the greatest single challenge facing the government of Ontario. The details of the housing needs that exist have been expounded at considerable length in the recent emergency debate on housing and in the responses of many members to the throne speech. I was hoping that this government was serious in its stated intent to tackle the housing problems in a dramatic and serious manner. Unfortunately, there appears to be a significant difference between what the government promised and what it will attempt to deliver.
During the 1987 election, with great fanfare, the government promised to produce 102,000 rental units by 1989. Sounds good, but read the small print. The Liberal government now includes all units built since 1985 and is extending the building period to 1990. It also intends to include in the 102,000 figure the 36,000 units kept on the market through renovation and rejuvenation.
I do not doubt the sincerity of the honourable Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek), that she is concerned or that she genuinely wants to solve this serious problem, but I have witnessed nothing to date that would lead me to believe that a new and imaginative mind is addressing this issue. On the contrary, the continued application of worn and tired policies that have proved ineffective in the past appears to be the solution proffered. The policy appears to be: if it does not work, let us throw more bureaucrats at it. Little wonder that the paperwork mounts and the confusion increases.
To provide evidence of how the government has added confusion to the housing situation, let me detail for members how the government has failed to address issues related to the co-ordination of similar programs from various ministries in the human resources field.
In the Waterloo region, for example, four ministries have implemented independent and uncoordinated housing registries. The Ministry of Health is funding a housing registry to serve former psychiatric patients; the Ministry of Community and Social Services is funding a housing registry to serve youths 16 to 24 years of age; the Ministry of Housing is funding a housing registry to serve single parents and the elderly; the ministry responsible for the physically disabled is funding a housing registry to serve the physically disabled.
This profile of unco-ordinated initiatives represents a very wasteful use of resources and, in addition, provides considerable confusion to potential users. For example, where does a 22-year-old single parent who is physically disabled, with a medical history of depression, go for help in finding affordable housing? And we wonder why persons in such circumstances, falling as they do into all four categories of housing registries, might be discouraged and confused. The Minister of Housing wants more bureaucrats? I sincerely hope they will be put to more effective use than what I have just described.
I would suggest to the Minister of Housing that the real concern in the area of housing is not just one of social housing availability and lack of rental units but also one of affordability in the housing market. In the Waterloo region the cost of housing has increased much more rapidly than the rate of inflation, and rental accommodation is at a premium. This is true, for the most part, throughout the province. Not only for those on pensions, fixed incomes and low wages but also for many moderate- and medium-income families, the pressure has become so great that far too many are experiencing difficulties in finding affordable housing. I personally believe that the government should declare war on the housing crisis. It is not a problem to be solved with Band-Aid solutions.
Developers are building at the upper end of the housing market, and the housing needs of upper-middle- and upper-income groups are for the most part being met while the housing needs of low- and medium-income families are neglected. Upper-middle- and upper-income housing is the area of greatest profitability. Little wonder it is the area catered to by the development industry.
It is abundantly clear to me that a major new initiative must be undertaken by the government. There must be a well-researched plan to meet our present and future housing needs, and there must be a strong political will on the part of the government to implement this plan.
I would suggest the following strategy to the minister in formulating a plan to meet the present and future housing needs of Ontario. The Ontario housing strategy plan should address our housing needs up to the year 2000 and beyond and should include: the range and cost of housing options, single-family, multiple-family, apartment, con-dominium, etc.; the range of income groups, the number within each group and their ability to afford the various housing options; the ability of strategies currently employed by the province to address identified needs; innovative strategies currently employed by other jurisdictions to meet similar needs effectively; and the application of strategies that will best address the needs identified by the plan. This is a straightforward approach, but it is one that must be undertaken if we are to come to terms with the housing crisis in a meaningful manner.
It would be absolutely senseless and irresponsible for the government to allow the present pattern in the housing market to continue. I presented a similar model to the council of the city of Cambridge. It was unanimously approved and is presently being implemented. However, individual councils cannot resolve the housing crisis in isolation. Leadership, direction and support must be forthcoming from the provincial government. The goal of any housing strategy must be to provide housing and accommodation that is affordable for the people who need it.
One of my concerns is in the nonprofit sector. It is often presumed that these projects are nonprofit, but this is far from the truth or the reality. All involved in design and construction make a profit. From the architectural drawings to the building to the landscaping work, all is undertaken on the basis of profit. I have no problems at all with the profit factor. My concern is that after everyone has had a piece of the action, the units involved are often more costly than can be afforded by those in most need of the accommodation and for whom the units were built in the first place.
To some extent, I believe the policies of the government in funding myriads of small and independent projects add to the costs of the units. Small boards are sometimes formed simply in response to the availability of a government program. Lack of experience with the development industry and inability to take advantage of economies of scale often add unnecessarily to the cost of units. I have often wondered why the government does not take advantage of the housing authorities to a much greater extent. These authorities certainly have the expertise and could provide the economies of scale necessary to provide housing at a more affordable level. Certainly one requires local co-ordination of nonprofit housing efforts and projects within communities. I would suggest to the minister that a valuable and important resource is being wasted by the failure to harness the experience of the housing authorities effectively.
I would further suggest to the minister that immediate steps could be taken to control the widespread speculation that exists in the housing market. I recall a friend of mine involved in the real estate business who informed me that he received a call from a Toronto speculator who purchased 12 homes, sight unseen, in a new subdivision in Cambridge. No doubt these homes were subsequently sold at well above the original cost. Again, one is reluctant to criticize initiative, but in cases such as this I believe the action of the speculator to be morally and ethically wrong.
Housing is a basic necessity of life, and young couples saving for their first home either are being forced to pay unreasonable prices or, because of the scarcity of affordable housing, are having to do without a home of their own.
This problem is not only caused by the professional barracudas of the marketplace but also by many home owners. Themselves secure in a home they were fortunate enough to purchase at a reasonable market price, they now see in the present crisis an opportunity for financial gain. House flipping has added thousands of dollars to the price of a home, extracted from young home buyers. A government that fails to take swift, tough action to eliminate these abuses must itself be held morally responsible.
Another area to which I would direct the attention of the minister is the whole matter of contracts. It would appear to me that it is not unreasonable to demand from a contractor who is earning a handsome profit for his work a contract that is written in clear and simple language and that is not designed to add confusion and uncertainty. Further, it is not unreasonable to demand that penalties be imposed upon contractors who do not live up to their commitments. I have heard of far too many incidents where contractors have failed to live up to their obligations.
Again I would call on the minister for decisive action that would provide home buyers with greater protection for warranty work and ensure that completion and delivery dates are met by the contractors. The purchase of a home should be a happy and joyous occasion but, unfortunately, for far too many it has become a nightmare.
I turn now to the field of education. One of the areas that received considerable attention in the throne speech was education. The stated initiatives in this area included, among others: renewing the emphasis on quality education during the early school years from kindergarten to grade 6; reducing class size in grades 1 and 2; increasing the availability and use of computers and related software; providing additional moneys for textbooks and learning materials; enhancing the role of TVOntario in terms of elementary and secondary school programming; establishing child care spaces for school-aged children; developing new standards for measuring student achievement, and promoting literacy programs and services for all citizens.
In my riding of Cambridge, for educational purposes it is served by the Waterloo County Board of Education and the Waterloo County Roman Catholic Separate School Board. As an individual who has spent some 23 years of my life as an educator, I have a particular interest in the field of education and I took the liberty to consult with educational leaders within my community with regard to the initiatives outlined in the throne speech. They had little argument with the general thrust of the text as it pertained to education. Strong feelings were expressed, however, with regard to local needs, realities and priorities. I suspect their concerns would be consistent with those of the rest of the educators and boards across the province. I have listed some of these concerns:
1. The provincial rate of grant to school boards should not be less than 60 per cent. Indeed, it is the government’s stated intention to assume 60 per cent of approved education costs in this province. However, at the present time the percentage of approved education costs assumed by the government has slipped to well below 50 per cent. As evidence that this circumstance is creating serious hardship for school boards, 85 per cent of both elementary and secondary panels in this province are forced to spend over their ceilings. The promised 60 per cent provincial rate of grant to school boards has not been addressed in the throne speech.
2. The recognized provincial grant ceiling should be raised to realistic levels. If the government is serious in its attempts to ensure that every child in this province has access to an appropriate educational program which will lead to the achievement of his or her educational goals, the 1988 recognized ordinary expenditure ceilings for elementary and secondary schools must be raised significantly closer to the 60 per cent level. Again, this concern is not addressed in the throne speech, nor can we be sure if the recent economic statement of the Treasurer (Mr. R. F. Nixon) moves in any significant manner towards the 60 per cent ceiling.
3. Capital requirements are critical. Moneys are needed for new schools as well as for maintaining, upgrading and renovating existing ageing facilities. The government must continue to address the issue of capital funding for new pupil places in high-growth areas.
The Waterloo county public school system, for example, already has over 180 portables, and this number is growing each year. The Waterloo region separate school board, with a kindergarten to grade 12 Ontario academic course enrolment of 17,200 students, has nearly 100 portables, or about 15 per cent of its student population in portable accommodation, and each year the situation worsens. The financial strain on these boards is compounded because a number of existing schools, especially in the older sections of our three cities, where many younger families are now relocating, require significant upgrading in order to ensure equality of educational opportunity throughout the region. For example, the Waterloo county board recently spent $6 million to renovate Galt Collegiate and Vocational Institute. The province provided no moneys to this project even though the need was evident.
It is also important that the government pay special attention and provide appropriate financial support to those areas of the province that are undergoing a period of expansion and growth. This is true of the Waterloo region in general and of Cambridge in particular. I need hardly remind the Minister of Education (Mr. Ward) and the government that special attention must be given to the Hespeler area and to the eastern sections of the city of Cambridge, where we have experienced significant residential expansion, with ensuing demands being made on our school systems, which are already stretching their resources to the limit.
It is in this context that we must view and evaluate what might be considered important and welcome initiatives on the part of the government. If the government, as it spelled it out in the throne speech, is going to lower class size in grades 1 and 2, where is it going to find space for the students and the teachers? Again, this very important question is not addressed in the throne speech.
4. Planning time has a priority with the elementary school federations; witness the recent Toronto elementary school teachers’ strike. Boards of education across the province will need to address this issue with their local bargaining units, and this will require additional financial resources. Again, this was not addressed in the speech from the throne.
5. The delivery of quality French-language programs and services is an issue of critical importance to students, parents and teachers. The whole area of French-language instruction is very complex and controversial. Again, this was not addressed in the speech from the throne.
The questions I would ask are these. Have these stated initiatives on the part of the government been achieved through a process of real consultation? Realizing that our financial resources are not unlimited and that we must allocate our dollars wisely, do the government’s stated initiatives reflect the top priorities of the boards of education and our teachers’ professional associations, which are ultimately responsible for the implementation of quality education in Ontario?
I would suggest to the government that off-the-cuff policy directives, arrived at in the course of an election campaign, cannot substitute for real consultation and for identifying, in concert with the school boards, teachers’ professional associations and parent groups, what the real priorities are that must be addressed if we are to get on with the job of fostering a first-rate public system of education in Ontario.
Unless the government comes through with real dollars commensurate with the scope of the stated initiatives, it is my belief that it will merely have compounded the burden and concerns that presently confront the education system in this province.
As I mentioned earlier, I have limited myself to addressing these two major areas because they are the areas of great concern to me and to my community and, I am sure, are of real concern across the province. It is my intention to monitor the government’s response in these areas, and I promise I will continue to provide constructive criticism of the government to ensure that affordable housing is made available to all the residents of Ontario and that our education system is properly funded to guarantee quality education for all our children.
In conclusion, I would simply like to add that, together with my staff at Queen’s Park and in my constituency office, I consider the residents of Cambridge to be my employers. We are determined to serve the residents of Cambridge efficiently and effectively, both with individual problems and concerns and with matters that affect groups or the community as a whole.
I look forward to the years ahead, years in which I can serve the people of Cambridge faithfully. I intend to be an effective member of the official opposition and to work diligently to hold the government accountable and responsible for its actions. I am determined to provide constructive criticism of the government and to ensure that the interests and concerns of the residents of Cambridge and of the people of Ontario are adequately addressed.
To begin, I would like to compliment the gentleman who read that speech from the throne, who indeed is doing such a magnificent job in representing Her Majesty the Queen in this great province. His Honour Lincoln Alexander and his wife are indeed doing a magnificent job in conveying that sense of concern and compassion, that involvement with the community, to the highest echelons and right through the communities at every level. How fortunate we are that there is someone as dedicated to the wellbeing and good of the province as our Lieutenant Governor and his wife. I think that is the spirit of democracy at its best, where there are dedicated people who are doing so much to make it succeed.
The deputy ministers, the senior staff, the grass-roots supporters who are out there working in each ministry and who are trying to serve the people of this province are the backbone so that, whoever is elected to run it, there is still a quality group of conscientious people who are doing something good for this province. We should recognize their support of government policies, their implementation of them, and realize that behind these front benches is the strength that makes Ontario as strong as it is.
To them and their staffs, especially in the portfolios where I am trying to bring to the attention of this House different problems, I would like to make it very clear that it is not the ministry itself, the staff and the people behind it, that I am criticizing. I am trying to direct my concerns and those of our party, as a critic, to the policymaking area that the ministers are failing to address. I will get to that in a moment.
I would also like to pass on my compliments to the new Clerk of the Legislature who, since he has come, has been able to show that he is the right person. Though I miss the previous Clerk, who was a personal friend and still is, I think the Clerk and his staff continue to do an important job for this Legislature. We could not begin to have our Orders and Notices and the whole proceedings of the Legislature flow without their continued hard work.
Also, I would like to give credit to someone else. Our party has gone through difficult times in the last short time. I am sorry that the electoral process has meant that the former leader of our party, who still is leader because he has not written the letter that says he is giving up the responsibility, will not be sitting in this House. I feel indebted to Larry Grossman for the many years of hard work that he gave not only to the people of his own riding but also to the people of Ontario.
In fact, it is a different House now. There are a number of cabinet ministers who had served in previous governments who are no longer here. A level of experience had been built up over time in such people as the Honourable Bette Stephenson, the Honourable Claude Bennett and the Honourable Nick Leluk. So many of these people are no longer with us in this House that it puts a special onus on all of us to make sure we continue to draw upon the experience of those who may know better than we and to use them as advisers and supporters in the process of fulfilling our own responsibilities as members of the Legislature.
I would like also to recognize that the people of Markham had quite a decision to make on September 10, and I am indeed honoured to be their representative again. It is the seventh election I have won -- I was thinking of what was going to happen in this seventh one -- the third time to the Ontario House and four terms as a school trustee on the York Region Board of Education.
I do want at least to say at the very beginning, as we review the future in this new 34th Parliament, that indeed the electoral process did work and that the candidates for the Liberals, the New Democratic Party and the Family Coalition Party were creditable candidates. I have to compliment the people of Markham for having respected all of us as we participated in the democratic process.
Mr. Cousens: It worked this time. It did indeed, and the honourable member certainly understands how it works. I just happen to believe that it continues to work and people are looking for responsible leadership.
We begin this speech from the throne in a sense in which, as we come into this House, we have a great responsibility. Sensitive to that, we realize we are only here because on September 10 the people of Ontario made a decision as to whom they thought could best support them. The Liberals, with 95 seats, certainly won an overwhelming mandate to do something. That is a credit --
It means that the Liberals have sold the people of Ontario on a vision of what they will do. As members of the Legislature, they attracted a certain support level that is unprecedented in this province. The people of Ontario are now saying, “We hope for good things to come out of the government.”
On this side of the House, I can share in that expectation, an expectation that says, “There will be change and it will be for the better, and there will be a sense of importance given to the small person and the big person, a sense of vision for business people to succeed.” That election campaign was one that said: “Trust me. I’ll be there doing something for you.”
I say, “Trust everybody, but cut the cards.” Now that we have started to cut the deck, I think the level of trust and the expectation people had from this government are somewhat less than what they had hoped for.
I am critic for three general areas. One is housing, another is senior citizens’ affairs and another is Metro and urban affairs. Certainly on the housing side, there was a promise made during the election campaign that must have won at least 50 seats, or most of the seats in Metro Toronto, when in an advertisement in the Globe and Mail this government made a commitment to provide 102,000 affordable rental units by 1989 in Ontario. I assume it was Ontario, because that is where they were running.
It was not 100,000, it was not 50,000, but by 1989 there would be 102,000 more affordable rental units in this province. That is a good number. I do not know how they got it. I do not know where they drew it out from, but it is a good number and let us hold this government to it -- 102,000 rental units, affordable units.
Mr. Cousens: They have not. Where is their 102,000? I tell them that they will stand judged by the people of Ontario, because they hope to see that number fulfilled. If they do not start coming out with the plan now, how will they begin to have those houses ready for occupancy for people by December 1989? There is a problem. It is a problem in making a commitment and not following it through.
I see this as a very important challenge for this government. There probably are not enough craftsmen and lay workers and probably not enough mortar and other things to make it happen. But come along; come out with the vision They gave the vision. It was part of the promise. Is this going to be one of those promises that go unfulfilled? It is going to give politicians a bad name if they do not come through with these houses. The people are not going to trust anybody if they do not come out with them.
Mr. Cousens: I am putting the words back. The government is going to hear this and the people of Ontario are going to have one measuring stick: that is how many houses, how many affordable units were constructed or created in that time frame? The number that is coming through from the present Minister of Housing is about 66,000, far short of the promise in the election campaign.
I have that copy from the Globe and Mail. I know it off by heart. It is 102,000 affordable rental units by 1989. Where are they? We have a crisis in Ontario; the crisis is housing. It is the major social issue in this province. Unless they are going to do something about it, unless they are going to come up with a plan, then they are going to have failed the people of this province. The other problems are all there as well, but let us deal with housing.
Mr. Cousens: I am driving them away. Maybe we will have to call for a quorum. If they were from my riding, they would be sitting there proud of the fact that I am here bringing these guys to task and facing up to the truth. I think they would very pleased to have someone at least putting it on the record that they have failed or are failing so badly.
The students in Ontario have a crisis in student accommodation. It was recognized by the Premier when he spoke on the campus of the University of Toronto. Those were lovely promises the Premier made that day. He was going to do something about student accommodation and there would be 5,000 units for students. It would be a total of $5 million now. Over a period of 25 years, with mortgages and other things, it would cost $65 million, but that was going to be something this government would do.
It was not even mentioned in the speech from the throne. The students who go back to school or start school next September have a massive problem trying to find a place at McMaster, at the U of T. at Waterloo and at Queen’s. Every university suffers the plight of not having enough accommodation for its students; yet what is this government doing about the student accommodation problem? It was not even mentioned in the speech from the throne. They make a promise. The promise means something. Let us do something about it.
There was another promise that came out during the election campaign that affected the home ownership plan, a very interesting way of trying to help the first-time home buyer make the down payment for his first home. That is an important dollar that is spent. Probably the most important dollar any of us will ever spend is when we buy our own home. What has happened to that great proposal? Where is it?
The Minister of Housing said out of the House one day -- alluded, anyway -- to some interviewers, “We will have it in place by the end of this year so that it is available for the 1987 tax year.” That was good. I would really love to see her do something about it. I would love even better to see the Treasurer make an announcement, but instead I think we are going to be waiting for a budget speech some time next year.
Meanwhile, what is happening to that first-time new home buyer? They announced during the election campaign that they were going to do something to help people buy a home, and then they have a strategy of a $10,000 plan where a person can put in $1,000 a year for up to 10 years. Then what is going to happen? The restriction, as it was described, is that a person has to be making under $40,000 a year.
It might be OK in other parts of Ontario, in Penetanguishene or Stirling or some other places. May I suggest to the members that one cannot find a house in Metropolitan Toronto for under $200,000. By the time you take a person’s salary of around $40,000, which is the maximum level they will allow this plan to apply to, and then you come along and try to buy a house, you will not be able to qualify for a mortgage.
We have to come up with a solution for the new home buyer, the person who is buying his first-time home so that he can have that chance to save up some money and invest it. They should not just have a little plan where they make a promise; they should come out with a few other things that make it into a package.
The package could well be that they will lift the whole problem of lot levies for the new home buyer. Maybe they will come out with a grant to a person who is buying his first home. Maybe there will be a combination of things because, by the time we reach 10 years from now, that $10,000 in that new home ownership plan will probably be worth about $5,000 and by then property might be double what it is today. Especially with the deficit this government is coming out with, inflation is going to come back to us. We are not going to be in a position where people will be able to afford to buy their own homes.
This is going to be the one time the generations that follow us will be doing less and living in less space than we did, and that is wrong. Come on, where is the dream? Where is the vision? What we want to do is see some follow-through on the election promises, and that is one election promise we will not let them forget.
There was an election promise about education. The people of Ontario believe in education because we believe in our youth, in our young people. We know the value of providing a good base of knowledge so that our most important and most valuable resource, which is our young people, will at least have the opportunity to learn, to grow, to prosper and to develop to the best of its ability.
In the election campaign, the Premier said, “We are going to reduce the number of students in the primary grades from 30 to 20.” Where is that happening? Where are the new classes being built? What is being done to implement that promise? What the government is doing is throwing out promises but not following through on them. The people of Ontario said: “Education is important to us, and since you are going to come out with some good solid programs to help education, then we are going to vote for you, Mr. Peterson. We are going to vote for your people.”
The people of Ontario will be extremely disappointed because already there has been no action on it. The people of Metropolitan Toronto have just gone through one of the worst strikes Toronto has experienced, where the schoolteachers were out for several weeks. During that strike, there could have been an opportunity for the new Minister of Education or the former Minister of Education to come out and say: “There is going to be some more money in the pot next year because of this election promise, and we know that you can do some planning around that. This strike could end tomorrow because we are going to be giving extra support to education in the next year or so.” Because a contract was being negotiated for more than just a year, there would have been an opportunity for something to happen.
That was a mistake. It is a mistake on the part of this government not to have followed through on it. I like what Shakespeare said: “Grant I may never prove so fond,/ To trust man on his oath or bond.” The problem is that the people of Ontario have placed that trust in this government. On housing, on education and on a host of other areas, they are finding they are extremely disappointed.
What the government really needs to have is a vision of the future. There are so many people from Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s days in Ottawa who have moved into Queen’s Park. Some 25 or 27 different executive assistants and policy advisers to this government come out of the Trudeau years in Ottawa. The people of Ontario do not realize that what we are getting here is a new version of Trudeaumania in the form of the Premier and his group.
I would like to share with the members Pierre Trudeau’s vision of the future, which he gave in June 1968. He said: “There is nobody to tell me how the country should be run. I tell them.” Maybe that is what the Premier of this province is saying by his lack of action. He is saying: “I am not listening to what the people of Ontario want. I am not following through. I will tell them.”
He has not told them anything in this speech from the throne. He has not given people any sense of confidence that this government has a dream and has a vision. The expectation level is so high; yet the follow-through and the commitment to true purpose are not part and parcel of this speech.
Mr. Cousens: Well, the province did like it. May I suggest that the province understands that there are several things that are part of a Progressive Conservative view of history, a view of society and the role of government. The first and most important is that when you look at what progressive stands for, it means a progressive social policy that understands the needs of all people in this province.
Then it also has a conservative economic thesis that understands the importance of business being able to prosper, make money, hire people and build an environment for business. That is part of the conservative economic thinking. Finally, there is an underlying whole sense of what society is all about that is based on the importance of the family, that the family is the basis of a strong society.
When we came back, what I was hoping for from this speech from the throne was something which would have really had a sense of inspiring the people of the province and inspiring even the members of our party. In fact, I was pleased when I was listening to the member for Cambridge (Mr. Faman) -- he is coming from much the same perspective as I am -- saying: “Where are you coming from? What are you doing? Where is your vision?” It is lacking.
Let us look at what could be part of the government’s progressive social policy. How about some innovative housing plans and strategies? Inasmuch as it has failed to come up with any strategy to provide the 102,000 promised affordable units by 1989 -- and that is the number I will continue to look for -- we have not seen any innovative housing strategies coming out of this government.
Why not look at some of the government lands? I do not mean the Rouge Valley. The Minister of Housing might end up saying: “Hey, I have an innovative plan. I am going to destroy one of the natural environmental areas which Scarborough council has said by a vote of 16 to 1 it wants to protect and preserve.”
That is the opportunity this government has, to come up with a way of taking some of the government-owned lands, leasing them for $1 a year or a small amount and allowing developers and people who are going to build on those places to do so. They can let the 99-year lease stand on the property; they will have removed one of the major ingredients of the cost of building a home for people today. Then they can begin to erect more of the kinds of quality, affordable housing that people can go into. Tie the funding into that.
There are indeed problems with the thousands of people who are homeless in this province now. June Callwood, in one of the best series of articles in the Globe and Mail, has been describing the plight of the homeless across this country. The problems of the homeless in New Brunswick are no different from the ones in Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor or any other of our large cities. What we have to realize is that people are poor because they are spending so much on housing. They spend 65 per cent of their total income on housing. What is left for clothes, food or some of the other necessities of life?
If it has a dream and if it does believe that housing is a right, then the government will begin to put an emphasis on that and understand that the social crisis in our society today stems from the failure of government to deal with the housing crisis. It should come up with a progressive housing plan.
I would love it if this government could come out with some unique and fresh thinking on seniors, realizing that not only the seniors are worried about their long term, but so are young people and people who are worried about their parents and about themselves in the future. Our society knows that as we look after our seniors, we are then in a position to show respect for those pioneers and people who helped make this such a great place to live.
Why not come out with some plans to bring more home care and home support into places where seniors already live? In my riding there are a number of large condominiums and apartment buildings largely inhabited by seniors. Why not bring into those buildings a service, resident within the building? There might be nursing, food preparation or other things that can be done so that the people can continue to live in their own community, their own place.
Why do we not begin to develop programs to help seniors stay at home more? We have started it. The Conservative government started it. It did not do enough. This government can do more. It can do more to build the ramps and the services so that those people can come in.
There was a recent program that came out in the last year. It was not for seniors; it had to do with people with multiple sclerosis and other problems. I talked with a person over the weekend about the Ontario home renewal program for the disabled, whereby they can have a sense of participating in their own homes. The plan has run out of money, as far as I can see. What can we do to help those disabled people be part of their own environment and not just be relegated to some inferior status?
What can we do to provide more meals and services to seniors? How can we encourage more home sharing so that seniors can be assisted in finding companions to live with them? How can we do it in a way so that they are not having to go out and solicit them, but that someone helps monitor the program and helps them set it up? Although only a small percentage of homes would be provided, the province would at least begin to meet some of the need.
The Planning Act itself needs to be reviewed to permit and encourage municipalities to set aside land banks for seniors. One has to understand there is a value to land. The government should not just sell it but find some way of taking a certain percentage of the land for new development.
Take my community, which is growing at such a phenomenal rate. I will get to that later on as I talk about the problems of the south York region. Land is an irreplaceable commodity. It needs to be valued. It needs to be somehow used so that all of society will benefit from it.
When I talk to the seniors in our community they are proud of the fact that we have such a beautiful province, so let us not do it at the expense of getting rid of more park land. Let us not do it at the expense of getting rid of the greenbelts. Let us do it in such a way that we can build and maintain our natural environment and, at the same time, create an environment for people to live in and to be a part of the whole community.
I am worried that this government has no vision for child care. If one looks at New Directions for Child Care, a document prepared by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, it has come out with a number of ad hoc moves that place the private providers of child care in jeopardy. It has not come up with any thrust that will encourage, maintain or support privately run, privately offered child care in this province. When we know that over 50 per cent of child care in this province is already provided by the for-profit types, why is it that this government, when it is not developing programs fast enough to replace it, is not doing something to help maintain those who have been giving quality child care?
I am concerned that at a forum that I conducted in our riding last week on child care, a number of questions came out of it that are really fundamental to the future of what child care is in this province.
What is the impact going to be on the primary program in schools by now having schools with child care being provided in them? With the future of child care, are we eventually going to have a megaministry on child care in this province? We have a Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs, and I am honestly sorry that the member for London North (Mr. Van Home) is not here. He was really beginning to make an impact in that ministry. Now, what we are doing is talking words around seniors.
But let us have some real action around young people too, such as a megaministry on child care, because it affects the Ministry of Health, it affects the Ministry of Education, it affects the Ministry of Community and Social Services, it affects the Ministry of Correctional Services. So many ministries are overlapping and they are all just putting their finger in but they are not really leaving it there to feel the heat.
How long will it be before school boards will be changed and will be responsible for providing the management and delivery of child care programs? In the initial stage, the school boards are being forced to provide space for child care in new schools. This is a scarce dollar that is being taken away, which was raised from taxpayers for education and is now being applied to a different area than education. So it says: “What are dollars paid for by taxpayers in education? Are they now going to be applied in other areas when we are already not putting enough dollars in education?”
As the member for Cambridge said so eloquently, out of that whole 60-40 ratio the school boards are taxing the ratepayers and yet they are now taking that money and not applying it to education. They are going to be applying it to child care.
It is a worthy assignment, but it is not from the right source. The province has said, “Here, go and do it.” I think what we need to do is see from this government not only a vision but a sense of balance of working together, not by itself but with the private sector. It should be working with everybody to deliver the quality programs that we want to have.
I am sorry and very disappointed that this government has still allowed the delay in the presentation of the report from Judge Thomson, the report commissioned by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. It is not unlike other promises. It is unfortunate that there is no immediate plan to implement some of the recommendations that are coming forward. To bring forward the series of recommendations I am confident will be coming from Judge Thomson is something that will begin to address the needs of the people who are on welfare and the people in receipt of moneys through the Ministry of Community and Social Services. They are waiting for something to happen. We need to begin to build the bridge, so those people who are now so dependent on the province for funding can find ways of moving out from under that dependency into the workforce. We must allow them to have a cushion and some kind of interim financing so they are not as partially penalized as they are now by the plans of the ministry.
Much needs to be done. An opportunity to present that vision, a refreshing, new, hopeful sign for the people who are on welfare, the people who are dependent on the government for social services, is missing in this report -- in this, the speech from the throne. That is in itself a shame. It is probably part of that overall concern I have that this is a failure to deliver, a failure to deliver on the promise, the expectation the people of Ontario had of this government.
I see a social policy evolving that is punitive on places that do not exactly fit certain guidelines and rules. We continue to have the pressures of the ministries of Health and Community and Social Services not coming together in trying to solve some of the problems.
I would love to be able to spend more time, but I will not spend a lot of time, on the facility in Newmarket, owned by Metropolitan Toronto, called Greenacres Homes for the Aged. It is in the process of being shut down. It would normally handle 650 beds. It now has 400 people in the facility and no more people are being allowed to enter Greenacres. Therefore, it will continue to go down in size. What is this province going to do? We have people in York region looking for a place to stay. Greenacres looks after patients with Alzheimer’s disease; it looks after nursing beds; it is a high care, high-quality centre for seniors. Meanwhile, what is happening is that the government having placed a restriction on any more people being allowed into Greenacres, we are seeing the population of the facility going down. Meanwhile we have empty rooms, empty beds, empty places -- before we come up with a long-term solution for the people of York region.
I find it absolutely reprehensible that this government has not come up with a solution to deal with the whole of the seniors’ problem in York region in a real, honest and good way. It makes no sense at all to have a facility that can serve 250 more people being unused right now, being closed down gradually. It does not make any sense not to make use of those 250 beds, when the promise for more beds is not yet delivered. I appreciate the fact that the Minister of Health (Mrs. Caplan) came into the riding and announced 150 beds for York County Hospital and another 150 for York Central Hospital, but the government has imposed a lid on any more people going into Greenacres. Until the new facilities are built, we are seeing a dearth of spaces for those people who need them.
If this government is going to have a progressive social policy, if it is going to have a sincere, honest and true commitment to seniors, then it must be consistent in its actions and its words. Words and actions go together but they are not going together in my area, and I am concerned about it.
I hear the Ministry of Health is not even involved in the discussions to resolve the problems around Greenacres. The Ministry of Community and Social Services is continuing to try to find solutions but, because of the overlap that exists between the two ministries, unfortunately, the Minister of Health is somehow removing herself from the problem. It goes to show that we as a province have still not worked out how we are going to handle seniors. As long as that happens, it is again a broken promise. People have great hopes and expectations but they are not being fulfilled by the actions of the government.
I am worried as well about our young people. I have two young children of my own who are, fortunately, doing well, in spite of having me as their father and the home life that I as a politician give them. I think the mother does so much in making it a good home, and I give her the credit for any successes I have in our home, but I worry about those who do go astray.
The other day, when the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Ramsay) made an announcement of the number of dollars, $400,000 or so, to be spent on an educational program for workers around young people, it failed to articulate a vision of the future for these young people. It seemed like more of the same, more of just, “We’re going to teach the people to do the same job.”
Why not lift it up? Let us find a way of making the best investment possible so that those young people who have gotten into trouble with the law are going to find a way out to be creative, constructive, involved people in our society.
I guess I like the old Yiddish proverb that says, “If you want your dreams to come true, don’t sleep.” I am wondering who is asleep. The people of Ontario have a vision and this government has failed in meeting even a minimal standard of what that vision could be.
If we were to begin to see some honest assessment of how the government is going to deal with the budget, how it is going to deal with the deficit, how this government can clean up this outrageous spending that is going on in just making things bigger and bigger -- it does not necessarily become better. Therefore, we need a government that is taking leadership in the economy. After the stock market crash on Black Monday, what did we see from this government? No sense of confidence --
Mr. Cousens: Change the subject? The government has a responsibility to give a sense of confidence to the business world and is not doing so, either by the level of the size of the government it is trying to run or by the deficit it is growing and building.
I would like to see a vision of this government that says something about transportation services which would begin to help the machinery of business to be more successful. Look at long-term planning. Where is there any long-term planning? Where are there some large projects that can tell people in Ontario, “We know where we’re going with our transportation”?
Last week the Honourable Charlie MacNaughton passed away. He was Minister of Highways for this province back in the 1960s. It was his vision that helped bring about Highway 401 and he had great projects under way to help make it happen. We have benefited so much from his vision.
Where is the vision for transportation now for this province? What is going to happen to the subway? When can the Toronto Transit Commission go straight up Yonge Street to Highway 7? When can there be a fast-transit route around Metropolitan Toronto in the hydro corridor? When can there be some kind of high-speed commuter services that help people get around? When can we see Highway 407 accelerated, rather than just a mere $25 million in 1987? It is a $650-million project and where is it going? It just has a few peanuts thrown against the wall on it. When will something be done about the Sheppard Avenue subway?
It starts with a vision. What is the vision of this province when it comes to transportation? Where is the relief for the people who are on the parkway every day? Where is the relief for the people who -- woe betide, they are buying their seats in the domed stadium. I am amazed at the amount of dollars people have to put up to buy those seats. I think someone could make as much money selling them a parking place, because there is not going to be any parking thought about so far in downtown Toronto around the dome and Toronto is soon going to be so glutted with cars there will not be a place to park your car.
If I had a choice on the location for the domed stadium, the first choice would be the Langstaff jail farm at Highway 7 and Yonge Street in Richmond Hill in the former riding of York Centre, presently in the riding of York Centre and presently held this week by the member for York Centre (Mr. Sorbara). The other spot that was good was near Highway 401 and Wilson Heights in Downsview. At least you had transportation corridors that could get people in and out.
There is no vision on transportation in this great metropolitan area. When I talk to people in other cities and other municipalities, they too complain about the failure to provide long-term planning, long-term solutions. It is ad hockery at its worst, because the people who are suffering are the people of Ontario. I am sure it is cutting into our tourist dollars because when people come into our cities now, such as Toronto or Ottawa, it is an entanglement. They can hardly get around. They do not like it. It is going to have a negative impact not only on business but also on tourist dollars. It is threatening a psychological breakdown for the people who have to go to work in Toronto from the outlying areas. It just takes so long to get to work. Where is that vision of transportation? I am saying it has to come.
Where is their vision when it comes to business planning? We in this province of Ontario have had 19 new taxes, or close to that, in the last two years: further taxing of business, taxing business people who are trying to generate wealth. Is there something wrong with that? There is if they are going to take every cent they make and try to make it part of a government bureaucracy. As a government, we need to be investing in the machinery of business so that they will survive into the future.
When we talk about socioeconomic planning and economic policy, what we really need to look at as well is an honest statement on free trade. It is not coming forth. Here is an opportunity for this province to be truly Canadian, to be part of this country, but now we are taking a position almost in contradiction to that of the rest of Canada.
Mr. Cousens: I wish the member would go and talk to the member for Etobicoke-Humber (Mr. Henderson). There are many others within the Liberal Party who are beginning to ask questions: “Are you not going too far in trying to fight the free trade initiatives that are put forward by the federal government?”
Mr. Cousens: Not by himself. I think there are more silent people who may be coming forward, who are getting the confidence and the courage to stand up for something rather than just to be little rubber stamps or big rubber stamps.
I would also like to point out that the Premier’s technology fund had an opportunity to say, “We are going to do something about the high-tech industry.” What has it done? Where has it gone? What is it trying to do? What is its vision? A lot of questions need to be answered. It is high time this government had some economic policy, some economic plan, some sense of commitment to the economy of the province and the economy of Canada.
I believe I am a Canadian first and an Ontario citizen second. For a responsible government, what I am seeing is the Premier, and especially the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. Kwinter) with some of the remarks he has had to apologize for, as ones who are saying: “The rest of Canada is not all that important. It is Ontario that counts.” I happen to be a Canadian first. I am a Canadian and proud of it, but I would be more proud if I saw the province saying: “We have a responsibility to the rest of this country. We have a responsibility to make things work, not just undermine them, not just attack them and fail in not coming forward with some responsible alternative plans.” It is one thing just to come along and criticize, it is another thing to come forward with suggestions. I have done that today in my speech in the throne speech debate.
I would also like to point out that if there is anything that is going to keep our country strong, it is going to be the family. I would like to give a lot of credit to the Family Coalition Party and its presentation of family values during the election campaign and the reinforcement of that basic unit within society. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to build, maintain, strengthen and support our family units.
As I touch upon these flaws in the vision of this government, I suppose it becomes a matter then to touch upon some of the areas that are part of my critic responsibility and to be very specific in my concerns.
I have a quote that can begin some of my comments on housing. Joyce Kilmer said: “I suppose I passed it 100 times, but I always stop for a minute and look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.”
That is not something she could say in Metropolitan Toronto or in the cities of today, because the houses are filled to overflowing. There is no housing. The tragedy is in looking at the people who do not have a place to live and do not have a place to go.
Look at the 10,000 to 15,000 homeless people in this province, in city streets, in cities from Toronto right through to both sides of the border. We are seeing many, many people who have no place to live. We are seeing a flawed government policy on affordable housing that has nothing to do to with providing affordable rental accommodation. People who have a two-bedroom apartment in Toronto spend up to $900 a month just for a two-bedroom apartment. How many people can afford that?
Look at the waiting list for nonprofit housing, averaging around 17,000 in Toronto. What is the average cost of buying a home in Toronto? We all know that it is above and beyond the means of most people. Look at the collapse of this government in the new home ownership program I talked about earlier. Look at the inability of this government to forecast housing starts on a yearly basis.
There is no way that the past record shows that there is a commitment to the 102,000 that are promised by 1989. In fact, the most the government has ever come up with is about 10,000 or 15,000 a year. The people of Ontario are beginning to challenge the credibility of this government, which is failing in myriad ways to provide programs to address the needs of those without houses.
When I look at the environment problems in Metropolitan Toronto, I continue to be worried about what is going to happen in this city when there is no co-ordinated attempt to deal with the industrial recycling, the recycling of garbage itself and the handling of garbage. We all know that recycling is only one of three major components of waste management, the other two being landfill and incineration.
What is happening now is that there is no concerted effort by this government to deal with this whole problem of the environment. I think there is going to be a serious threat to the future of Metropolitan Toronto in the years ahead unless we come up with a solution on how we are going to handle our garbage. I have been informed by a number of people in Metropolitan Toronto that this is going to be a major issue in the years to come. What is the government doing about it? What is the plan? What is the action plan?
There is no doubt that we need landfill sites. There is no doubt that maybe 15 per cent of the garbage can be handled by recycling. But let us look at some new ways and some new methods, such as incineration. A number of proposals have been presented to the Ministry of the Environment, about which nothing has been done and nothing is being considered. Why not come up with some plans? We in this province deserve more than we are getting.
What about doing something in regard to education? What we need to do is face up to the fact that this province has made a clear statement about doing something in regard to education, but it has failed to do anything about the illiteracy that is a major concern to all our children and all our schools. Where is that pledge to help the high school dropouts?
I had a young person in my riding office this morning who is 21 years of age. What about the program to try to give him a job -- he has just gone from job to job to job. There truly is not a system or a solution to help that young person. We need to help young people and to realize that there is a long-term commitment. Some who may not be able to learn as quickly as others need to be helped. Education should be there to give them a basis for the future.
The young boy I saw this morning does not have that foundation; and so what can we do to help him? We should be looking not only at the present for those young people in our school system but also to the future and to the past, looking at all those who have been part and parcel of it.
I also come back and challenge this government to do something about the commitment it made before it took over to do something about the level of funding for schools and to increase the government’s share to 60 per cent, to do something about seniors having to pay so much for school costs when, in fact, they have no one to go to the school.
Is it not time to review the taxation system in this province and help protect the people who have given so much already? Are they going to continue to be taxed? Why do we continue to do that to them? It is not fair. I believe that we, as politicians in this province, owe a great deal to our seniors and that there should be a considerable amount done to make sure that they are appreciated and they are not being taxed unfairly.
I could speak on many issues, but there are flaws. There are flaws to this government’s plan on housing, environment, education and seniors. It is, as I see it, a series of broken trusts. It is a situation in which the people of Ontario had great expectations for great things from this government, and what they are getting is falling far short of those expectations.
I would like, finally, to take a moment to read a resolution that comes from the towns of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan, which comes out of the regional municipality of York. In what I have dealt with so far, I have tried to point out that there is no vision in this province. I think there are a number of flaws in the programs that are being brought through, but I would also like to point out that a number of municipalities in my area are increasingly concerned about the failure of this government to deal fairly and equitably with the towns of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.
My riding is that of Markham; the Minister of Labour, the member for York Centre, serves Richmond Hill and Vaughan. I have good reason to believe the minister would not want to have this read in the Legislature. None the less, what has happened is that the towns have reached a point where they have no other recourse except to escalate their concern, raise it to the province and hope there will be some action:
“Whereas the towns of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan in the regional municipality of York are recognized individually and collectively to be the fastest-growing urban municipalities in the province of Ontario; and
“Whereas the towns of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan, combined, represent some 65 per cent of the total population of the regional municipality of York and bear 74 per cent of the total 1987 general regional levy for expenditures; and
“Whereas, notwithstanding the above, the regional municipality of York is unable to positively respond in the delivery of those necessary regional services required by the three municipalities that constitute south York region,
“Therefore, the town of Markham, the town of Richmond Hill and the town of Vaughan hereby formally petition the newly elected government of Ontario to amend the Regional Municipality of York Act or to provide whatever other legislative assistance is required to recognize the need for equity in the planning and distribution of regional urban services to high-growth areas by either:
“(a) allowing for a change in the basis of apportionment of the regional levies on the local municipalities in order that necessary funds may be legally redirected from various sources normally allocated or submitted to the region of York towards the satisfaction of the urban service needs of its contributing local municipalities; or
“(b) by providing to the local municipalities of York region, that are experiencing inordinate urban growth, access to extraordinary provincial funding to immediately meet the local and regional servicing requirements generated by the rapid urbanization of the Metropolitan Toronto fringe area.
“In the event that neither of the above actions are undertaken by the province of Ontario, the south York region towns of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan respectfully petition the government of Ontario to undertake a formal review and restructuring of the political, administrative and financial framework of the regional municipality of York to ensure that there is fair and equitable distribution of local government services to all municipalities within the region;
“And further, that the Honourable John Eakins, Minister of Municipal Affairs, be requested to immediately convene a meeting with the three petitioning municipalities of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan in order to provide a forum for the purpose of freely expressing directly to the minister the servicing and financial concerns of the high-growth municipalities of York region.”
We have to realize that that is not just words. These words are based on just the whole financial crisis developing in south York region. We are talking about a municipality that is beginning to lose out, compared to the rest of the province. The regional municipality of York being one of the fastest-growing areas, I just want to bring out a point. The total provincial grants to municipalities in 1981-1985 had an increase of 13 per cent, while general and provincial grants to York region declined by three per cent. In effect, over this period York region received 16 per cent less in real terms than the rest of the province’s municipalities. That is the point.
Mr. Cousens: The problem we are getting is that the assessment growth -- I am glad the member asked about that; I am very pleased that the member for Durham-York (Mr. Ballinger) is interested in that. I can go on for about half an hour covering the assessment growth because he asked for it.
Mr. Cousens: I think I will. I am so pleased that the member is interested in this, because he has part of York region in his riding and I am honoured to be able to help him out. When he goes back and studies this this evening, he will begin to appreciate that --
What the honourable member is asking for is the total assessment in 1986 in York region. The assessment in the southern municipalities was 74 per cent of the total region. Yet what are we getting in that assessment? If one starts looking at --
Mr. Cousens: He wants to know the regional levy. OK. The total regional levy for 1987 is $35,581,949. The northern municipalities generate 26 per cent of that, or $9,312,508, but Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan generate 74 per cent, or $26,269,441. So it is disproportionate, because we are talking about the population in the south being 65 per cent of the total population and we are not getting back anything close to that.
In York region, with the number of housing starts and the number of investments that are coming in, the southern part of the region is not getting its fair share. The province is giving less money to the region of York, a fast-growing area, than it is to other areas, as I gave in my first statistic. What we have to face up to is that we need the services to build a strong community. We need Highway 407 and we need it quickly. We need Highway 404 and we need it finished. It is going to happen, but it is delayed a year because the money that was going to go on to Highway 404 was put on to Highway 407. That upset Mr. Twinney, the mayor of Newmarket, when he knew that was happening.
Mr. Cousens: We, as concerned representatives, have to make sure there is equity for all the people of Ontario. I tabled a motion that has been passed unanimously by three municipalities which are increasingly concerned that the province is not treating the high-growth areas in the southern part of the region in a fair and equitable way. We need help, and that help can come in the form of money, a commitment to money to finish Highway 407, a commitment to finish 16th Avenue, a commitment to put some of the money back into this area.
Mr. Cousens: I am just getting warmed up, and maybe if I keep going, the members opposite will all go to the Premier and to the ministers responsible and tell them: “We do not want to have D. Cousens from Markham do this again. We will follow through on his vision. We will come up with a plan and a strategy to help the people of York region.”
Mr. Cousens: I challenge that man, Mr. Speaker. If there are any facts I have given today that are not true and honest, then the honourable member has not understood the intent or the value of the data that I am working from.
Mr. Cousens: I think that out of respect for all members of the House, and with the need for others to participate in this important debate on the speech from the throne, I would like to make just a few final points.
The government had a chance to create a statement in the speech from the throne that could give people in the province a sense of hope and expectation that the province was going to do something to follow through on the high expectations that people had prior to September 10.
I will not be supporting the motion that endorses this statement. I will be voting against this speech because I believe it fails in presenting a vision and a dream for the people of Ontario. I feel it has failed because it does not have a clear idea where it is going to help people in housing, help people in social needs, help every person in this province. It has failed because it does not have an economic view of the province. It sort of has the same view that we will spend and we will solve problems by spending money.
This province has a high level of expectation, and what the government is trying to do is maybe put a wet blanket over those expectations by doing nothing here. I would be very happy to support positive, good, constructive, creative programs that are going to continue to make this the best province and the best place to live.
There are things that are happening that are positive. In fact, I have been pleased to see the kind of money that came from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to help the home support programs in York region. I have seen a sense of movement towards seniors and there has been a consensus from all members in this House towards doing more. My feeling is it is not enough; it is not enough to really build the society and to create that environment so that all of our citizens can share in the prosperity that is ours.
I believe that as Canadians and Ontarians we have a responsibility to the rest of Canada. I am so disappointed that the Premier and his travelling circus are going around the province and trying to enlist support against a program called freer trade that can, over the long term, be very instrumental in continuing growth and strengthening this province.
I believe there is much to be done and we have that opportunity. It would be a shame not to follow through. It would be a shame for this government to continue as it has, with this very boring, very droning, very incomplete statement of its plans. It has a chance. There is still a chance. There are still a few years left in its mandate. Let us hope that, before it is finished, it will come off with something that we can all work together on to continue the job of making this the greatest place to live.
Mr. Callahan: I have listened very attentively to the member’s comments. I want to address particularly the issue of the indictment he makes of our government for not recognizing high-growth areas, because the former government certainly did not. When I look at the amount of money that is required by the separate and public school boards in my riding, $100 million, it certainly tells the tale that the former Conservative government -- of which the member for Markham not only was a member but, I believe, was a minister for a brief period of time -- did not address the question of high-growth areas.
Within the short period of time that this government was in session in the earlier session, it injected $42 million in capital funds into my riding. That to me is putting your money where your mouth is. In addition to the inadequacies of the former government, of which the honourable member was a part, it failed to look after courthouses and it failed to look after roads, so much so that this government had to address the issue of high-growth areas and had to address the issue of looking after the inadequacies of the former government.
I find it somewhat laughable that the member in his address to the throne speech is prepared to say this government did not treat these high-growth areas with a sensitive approach. It is probably the first time in the modern history of man that this has taken place. Perhaps had the people been wise enough to have decided that this was not taking place in high-growth areas, they might have been able to address the issue before 42 years had gone by in allowing these things to take place. I suggest to my honourable friend that he should reflect on the inadequacies of the past.
Mr. Wildman: Just as an aside, I would like to point out to the members opposite that members of the government are members of the Treasury bench. The other members of the Liberal Party are supporters of the government, not members of the government.
I would like to comment on the member’s presentation, which I followed carefully. First, I would like to compliment him on its scope. He seemed to attempt to cover the waterfront and in doing so covered everything in great depth. In fact, I would say that it was almost Churchillian in scope.
I am particularly concerned, however, about his comments on free trade. His analysis was quite lengthy, I will admit, and it looked at all the various impacts of free trade, but I am most concerned about his suggestion that in order to be “truly Canadian” -- I think that is a quote -- one must support the free trade Mulroney-Reagan sellout of this country. It is most unfortunate that someone would suggest that anyone who raises concerns about the possible impact of this free trade agreement with the United States would not be in his words, putting Canada first and not showing pride in his own country.
I object vehemently to the suggestion that those who are opposed to free trade and opposed to this deal somehow are lacking in courage and do not support their own country. It is my view that this deal was negotiated out of fear and that it is the very people who support this deal who do not have pride in their country and confidence in our ability to compete on the world market. It is most unfortunate that we would have the suggestion that to be against this deal is somehow not to be standing up for one’s country.
It would have been much better if the member for Markham had been asking this government why it is not living up to the commitments it made during the election campaign rather than criticizing those who have genuine concerns about the Mulroney-Reagan deal.
First, I would state very clearly that no funds were altered or redirected from the Highway 407 project to Highway 404. That is a project with which I was intimately involved over the summer months, and I can say categorically that the funds earmarked for 404 were indeed the funds that were spent on that highway.
There have been problems in getting that highway finished as quickly as we would like. Those are problems that have gone on over a period of years, in effect, not only during our own government but also during the predecessor government. But it simply is not correct to state that any funds were redirected from 404 to 407.
The second point I would like to make is that I do not believe the motion which the honourable member read out from Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham has been particularly helpful within the region. Certainly, the other municipalities, the so-called northern municipalities, were concerned in that it was a motion which they had not seen before it was made.
Clearly, there are a number of problems in York region. The whole area is coping with growth, and we are going to have to cope together with that problem. With respect, I believe the member has misinterpreted the population and assessment statistics and I do not believe the situation is quite the way that he sets it out.
Certainly, I will look into that in more detail, but I do believe that if York region is to resolve its problems, the municipalities must do so together. I hope that in future Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham will consult closely with the northern municipalities so that we can make a united position to the provincial government.
Mr. Adams: The member for Markham is the official Housing critic for his party and, as such, he has the enormous research resources of his caucus at his disposal. With regard to housing, I can only speak for my own riding and I would say that this government’s programs are very healthy there. To mention one, the convert-to-rent program in Peterborough, I have had requests about it, from the scale of large apartment buildings to individual people creating apartments in their houses.
He mentions two interest groups: seniors and students. I recognize their particular housing needs, but in addressing those needs, I think we do, as he knows, address the needs of all people who require affordable housing.
In Peterborough, it is difficult to imagine senior citizen housing being constructed more quickly. In the student area, we are taking advantage, I hope, of this government’s initiative to develop more student housing. I personally, and I hope he will join me, am pressing for the southern Ontario colleges to be allowed to build student residences.
He mentioned vision a great deal and challenges to this government’s credibility and so on. I would put out a personal challenge to him. It has been estimated that there are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of living spaces in this province available if people would convert their houses. Last week I had my house converted to an owner-occupied duplex. I challenge him to do the same.
Mr. Cousens: I thank the members for their comments. I appreciate those of the member for Brampton South. There has been money, but the ratio of the dollars from the province to the region of York in the last two years has not changed the situation. The region of York continues to do worse than other areas of the province. Compared on a per capita basis, the region of York does not do as well as other municipalities. That is because there is no recognition for the high growth that is going on in that community.
I give an apology to the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman). The last thing I would want to do is to draw any conclusions about his intention for support or nonsupport of anything. My particular concern had to do with the Premier and to statements that had been made by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, which would tell me that their emphasis has been more of an anti-Canadian one. I know the feelings that are coming from Premiers in other provinces. There is one that questions their intentions, and it is to that I was raising the question. To have drawn that on anyone who disagrees with the course of action that this government is taking and to say it is true of the opposition party is not my intention.
I believe the people in York region have some problem with some of the comments made by the member for York North (Mr. Beer). I certainly have the statistical background that can back up everything I said and any numbers that I gave. There is absolutely no problem on that score. Also, the general feeling was, and because he could not get an answer from anyone, that the money from Highway 407 was such a piddling amount it was really the money that was going to be put on Highway 404, if it had been finished on time.
I like the intention of the member for Peterborough (Mr. Adams) and I like his spirit, but may I tell members that the problems that we have in urban municipalities across Ontario on housing are far greater and far more intense than maybe he would experience in his own area. I do not know the problems of housing in his area, but may I assure him, if the Minister of Housing (Ms. Hošek) will not do anything about it, I will be glad to raise it with her in question period.
I understand that it is a tradition in this House to speak of one’s home riding and describe some of the concerns that riding has. I will be brief today as I want other members to have time to speak. Also, I will be spending a number of years in this House, I hope, explaining to this House and to the people of Ontario the concerns of Elgin.
I would also like to thank the members of this House for their confidence in electing me to be the first woman to hold the position of Deputy Chair of the committees of the whole House. I would also like to thank the members for their kind thoughts and congratulations from time to time. I am sure that will change as the months go by.
I am extremely proud of this role, as I will be continuing what appears to be somewhat of a tradition for the sitting member for Elgin to hold a distinct role in the Legislature. I am sure all members would like to join me in expressing my gratitude to my predecessor, Mr. Ron McNeil, for his almost 30 years of service to this House and, in particular, to the residents of Elgin. For all of my adult life, Mr. McNeil has most ably served the constituents of Elgin with dedication and distinction.
His predecessor was Fletcher Thomas, also known as Tommy Thomas, who during his 12 years in the Legislature at one time held the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture. The most accomplished and celebrated member from the riding of Elgin was the Honourable Mitchell Hepburn, 11th premier of this great province and the last Liberal Premier before September 10, 1987, to have a majority government.
Redistribution brought into the riding of Elgin two western townships of Dunwich and Aldborough. The member for Essex-Kent (Mr. McGuigan) and his predecessors have most ably represented that area in the past. I am proud to have the opportunity to carry on that tradition as well. The riding of Elgin now is contiguous with Elgin’s county boundary.
I would also like at this time to thank the people of Elgin for supporting me during the campaign. I promise to bring to this position all my dedication and energy. I look forward to serving all the residents of Elgin over the next years.
As we discuss and debate the throne speech, the word “challenge” is, in my view, a good term to describe the agenda of this government. The items highlighted in the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor show the determination of the government to meet the challenges it set for itself during the recent election campaign.
First, in the field of education, Ontario’s and indeed Canada’s richest and most valuable resource, mind power, will be greatly enhanced. The students of Elgin’s 31 elementary schools, some 10,000 strong, will benefit from the reduction in class sizes at the primary level. I also believe there will be a substantial benefit for all students from the enhancement and increased use of modern technology, as well as the fundamental and most crucial requirement for learning, more textbooks.
I should also like to point out that although there is an important impetus aimed at the elementary level, this government has not diminished its commitment to the educational needs at the secondary levels as well -- in particular, the initiative to expand and modernize Ontario’s apprenticeship system. This will help Elgin’s six secondary-level schools, which serve some 5,000 students. In Elgin, we have had for a number of years a good co-operative program, and we look forward to the new initiatives on the apprenticeship program.
The government’s continued emphasis on existing agricultural programs is also of great interest to me and the riding of Elgin as a whole. Agriculture is a major field of activity and endeavour in my riding. Various farms are functioning in Elgin, such as tobacco, dairy and hog operations, but predominantly we have cash crops. The problems of the tobacco farmers that have been put before this House on many occasions are well documented. This government is committed to developing innovative approaches to assist them and all other farmers in Ontario. All the farmers in Elgin county are interested in this government’s agenda. The increase over the last two years in the government’s spending in agriculture is welcomed in my community.
The speech we are debating today also provides new incentives to enable women farmers to have more latitude, with the possibility of using local schools for day care activity. There are already four rural day care centres set up. I hope we will be able to expand one into my community as well.
Agriculture in itself is not the only area of concern to the residents of Elgin. My riding has a very high percentage of elderly and retired citizens. Currently, we have an excellent hospital in Elgin, the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital. The community has just raised, from the community itself, $4 million to add a wing to that hospital.
But hospitals, as we all know, are not the only mainstay of an effective health care system. The establishment of the Premier’s council on health strategy coupled with the emphasis on development of innovative health care proposals by various groups, especially those that are community-based, can only improve our current methods of providing a health-conscious community with the requirements it needs to stay healthy. This, along with providing community supports enabling seniors to live at home, recognizes the way in which our citizens want to live.
I come from a county that is approximately 70 miles long and 20 miles wide. As members may be aware, it is often said that Elgin county stops Middlesex and London from slipping into Lake Erie. Many of those people in Elgin county wish to stay in their small rural villages or in their homes in the country, and the supports and the health strategy being set before this House at this time will help them stay there. In the area of health care, this government gives an excellent indication of how we see not only our role but also the role of all people in Ontario to actively participate in improving one of the best health care systems in North America.
Yet another important area covered by the throne speech on which I will touch lightly is our environment. As a farmer’s daughter and as someone who has been involved in farming for a considerable period of time, I know the farmers in my community are looking forward to the initiatives to curb the rise in the use of pesticides.
Not only is it important to maintain our natural environment but also our historical and cultural heritage is just as significant. It is refreshing that this government sees responsible development of our waterfront areas to meet various needs as an integral part of our economic and social development. My riding borders on Lake Erie to the south and contains a number of small beaches and ports. There are Port Stanley, Port Bruce and Port Burwell. These ports are growing and prospering. As residents of a growing and prospering riding, residents in Elgin are excited about future developments along the waterfront to enhance our tourism industry. The riding of Elgin also has a great many historical structures, including the Elgin county courthouse and the Aylmer town hall. It is my hope we can and will preserve these important structures.
Finally, the area of concern on most people’s minds today in Elgin, in Ontario and indeed in Canada is that of the recently signed deal of so-called free trade with our neighbour to the south. The direction outlined in the throne speech of how this issue will be handled, if we ever get the final text, is a reassuring one. Along with the cabinet subcommittee touring the province, the referral of the discussion of the final agreement to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs will ensure input and close scrutiny from all sectors of Ontario.
I should point out that along with those areas already mentioned such as agriculture, my riding also includes the Ford Talbotville plant and many other small- to medium-sized manufacturing plants and businesses that all have a great deal riding on the outcome of the current negotiations and how this government responds.
I know from all early indications that this government will enhance Ontario’s position in providing leadership, along with other areas, for a better Ontario and Canada. The throne speech, as I indicated earlier, provides a commitment to the citizens of Elgin and Ontario for positive and progressive means to accept those challenges we all must face and to change those challenges into achievements.
Mr. Callahan: I would like to congratulate the new member on taking her seat. She follows a tradition, as she indicated, of a gentleman who was really a young newlywed and a very good gentleman of long service in this House and, I think, a man who, over the short period of time I knew him, always delivered his representations in a nonpartisan fashion. I think that says a great deal about the man.
The introduction of the member as the first lady in the tradition of this House in the capacity to which she has been appointed, augurs well for the tradition that has always made me proud to be a Liberal. We tend to recognize that the people in this world, in this province and in this country are to be judged on the basis of their merit as opposed to the question of whether they happen to be a lady, a man or of a particular ethnic background. That has made me very proud to be a Liberal. I think it is a hallmark that will identify the history of this great change, far greater then in any other way, when someone records this entire epic event in the annals of history.
Mr. Wildman: I rise to congratulate the member on her maiden speech and to echo the comments made about her predecessor, who was liked by all members on all sides of the House, who worked very hard on behalf of his constituents for many years and who was the dean of the Legislature when he retired as a young newly-wed.
I hope, though, that the current member will emulate Ronnie McNeil’s brevity in presentation and his willingness to forgo superfluous comments similar to the ones we have just heard from the member for Brampton.
Mr. McGuigan: As the member who formerly represented west Elgin, I take this opportunity to welcome the new member and congratulate her on her maiden speech; at the same time to voice my concerns and my appreciation of the good relations I had with the member who formerly represented east Elgin, Mr. McNeil. On many occasions we co-operated to the benefit of the people of all the tidings and the county of Elgin.
I would like to say to the new member for Elgin that she will find the east a very receptive group of people, a very wonderful group of people to work with. I wish her the very best of relations with them in the future.
Mr. Pollock: I would just like to join in paying tribute to the former member for Elgin. I was recently talking to Ronnie McNeil and he told me he is running a feedlot now, with well over 200 head. So he is producing a lot of that stuff that was originally produced in this House. He was certainly a fine gentleman and made a real contribution to this assembly.
Miss Roberts: I am very pleased and proud to be the person to follow Mr. McNeil. I can assure the member for Algoma that I will follow his practice and be as brief as I possibly can and always to the point. I hope he himself can emulate that as well.
Mr. Philip: I would like to compliment the previous speaker on her maiden speech in the House and also to congratulate her on being appointed as the first female occupant of the chair in this House. I would also compliment you on your appointment, Mr. Speaker.
Some comment was made about Ronnie McNeil. I served with Ronnie on the standing committee on the Ombudsman, and he was the chairman of that committee for some time. One of the great attributes of Ronnie McNeil was his ability, in the chair and out of the chair, to use a sense of humour. When tempers got a little hot, he was always able to use that sense of humour to make the members realize that perhaps they were all taking themselves too seriously. I know I will be missing Ronnie and I am sure all of us will.
It is a pleasure to rise in this House and participate in this debate, the first throne speech after my re-election to my fifth term as the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. I want to thank the hundreds of campaign workers who pounded the pavement. I want to thank my wife Suzanne, who acted as a canvass organizer, thanks to the fortunate circumstance that the election was called during the summer when she was not occupied as a teacher at Humber College.
I want to thank our two excellent councillors for ward 5, David Robertson and Karen Herrell, who managed to run, I think, a very effective campaign. I also want to thank my two opponents, because I think that, by and large, compared to some other campaigns, they ran basically a decent, honest and fairly open campaign.
Lastly, I think some mention should be made of the returning officer. There has been a lot of noise about returning officers in the city of Etobicoke. At my end of Etobicoke, we had absolutely no problems. I know Frankie Nielson is a loyal Conservative. She did an admirable job in a very nonpartisan way, and considering the fact that she was faced with some difficulties of having a summer election when people were hard to reach, she did a very professional job. I have written to her and expressed my hope that she will continue to serve in that capacity for whatever number of elections I may be involved in in the future.
The speech from the throne receives high marks for rhetoric and very low marks for substance. At a time when we are faced with the serious challenge of the Mulroney free trade agreement, the speech from the throne states it wants to encourage export industries but it has no plan by which those industries can be encouraged or indeed about how it can be done. Instead, the government states that it plans to appoint an industrial restructuring commissioner who will try to find ways to prevent the closing of industries.
What we have, in fact, is a statement that somehow the failure is already recognized and somehow we are going to have to cope with it. One has to ask, where was the David Peterson who said that if it came to dealing with the problem of the auto parts industry there would be no deal? Where is the David Peterson who said that he had the authority to scuttle the deal and he could do it in a constitutional way?
One has to ask the Premier, “Why is it that you have such a strong force going into an election and through an election and suddenly you have this kind of wimpish, let’s-have-another-study approach after the election?” Either the Premier had the ability he claimed he had or he was misleading the public.
If we look at the throne speech, there are really very few surprises. There is surprisingly little in the speech to indicate how the government intends to fight the Mulroney free trade deal. Instead, we are faced again with more studies and a committee to discuss a broader strategy but no concrete action that the government intends to take.
We see the same rhetoric as in the past, despite years of bland assurances of the government’s commitment to better skills training, improved literacy, apprenticeship programs, initiatives to seniors who wish to retain their independence and fairer treatment of the disabled. All of these come out of previous speeches from the throne, but there is no specific action on how the government intends to deal with them.
Despite ever-increasing evidence of a crisis in the protection, maintenance and construction of decent affordable housing, again we have no concrete programs of actions. There is no mention of pension reform, no mention of reform to the Workers’ Compensation Board and the problems of injured workers. Instead, what we have is the same old rhetoric that we have heard, not only in Liberal throne speeches but also in previous throne speeches before them.
As a member of the standing committee on public accounts and as our party’s critic on government spending I am very interested in the comment in the throne speech about the need to tighten the leash on Ontario Hydro. But neither the Premier nor the Minister of Energy (Mr. Wong) will say when changes will occur or what they mean.
In regard to the question of Hydro, which the Liberals in this House used to call “that runaway monster” and which has been so critically dealt with by the Liberals in opposition, suddenly in government there is again simply rhetoric with no substance. The crown corporation is $24 billion in debt and no action is planned to deal with that debt. The new Minister of Energy would not even state whether he was willing to have Hydro rates set by an outside body which one would take to be a reasonable thing to do.
My riding is very close to Pearson International Airport. Before and during the election campaign I met with limousine and taxi drivers. They are hurting as a result of the private-enterprise auto insurance in this province. I spoke to one driver, a man who is 55 years old and who has been driving a limousine for years and years. That is his business and that is the only occupation he knows. He emigrated many years ago from India and managed to work in a factory and then gradually he saved up enough money to buy a limousine and has been driving it ever since.
He is 55 years old and he said he had to give it up because he could not afford the insurance of $1,200 a month. He had to give it up because, in order to pay that kind of insurance, he had to work some 14 hours a day in driving. He said, “Quite frankly, at age 55, my back is going and I can no longer be in that seat for 14 hours a day in order to make ends meet.”
I talked to other limousine drivers, one who said that he simply had to keep the car on the road with only himself driving because when he had the extra driver, the extra cost of insurance made it prohibitive and, therefore, it was better for the extra driver who is working part-time not to be registered on the insurance.
I talked to a small businessman who had two trucks and employed two drivers. He has put up one of the trucks and now, having laid off the second driver, when his one driver comes in, he and his wife make the deliveries in the evening hours to try to make up.
It is a crisis and yet this government’s answer is still going to see rates go up by something like 20 per cent this year. This is a government that, with all the studies it does, with all the countless studies it is commissioning -- the most studied government in the 12 years that I have been in this Legislature -- still refuses to do a direct comparison with the western provinces, to have an independent study done to see why it is that people who come from western Canada are so much in favour of the kind of auto insurance programs that NDP governments have set up there.
In the weeks following the election, I spent a great deal of time down at the Etobicoke rent review office. Since I was not on the committee on Bill 51, I was trying to understand it, first of all, and it is very difficult to understand the process and regulations -- indeed regulations are still coming in -- and to best represent my constituents, many of whom have been asked for rent increases of 15 per cent, 20 per cent, 25 per cent.
What the government has created is a bureaucratic monstrosity that tenants cannot understand, that many landlords cannot understand, and indeed when one asks specific questions of the staff in the Ministry of Housing even the staff cannot answer many of those questions.
What we have is a system where the process that worked reasonably well has been eliminated from the past rent review system. Under the old system, tenants and their representatives -- in my case -- would go to rent review. The landlord would be on the other side of the desk. He would make certain estimates and projections based on his previous expenditures and we would discuss those. There was a certain dynamic that allowed the landlord to show the tenants exactly where the money was going and the tenants to give some feedback to the landlord of where perhaps he may not be getting the best bang for his buck in terms of spending and so forth.
It allowed tenants to understand exactly why a rent review officer might give a certain increase; it allowed a landlord at least to understand where the tenants were coming from, and often -- in some, many instances that I could think of over the years that I have represented tenants -- come up with ways in which he could run the building more efficiently.
That process is gone. Instead, what we have is a bureaucratic process in which tenants or their representatives have to go in and make a written presentation based on what the landlord has filed. In the cases of new buildings, the landlord does not have an obligation to even file the invoices. The ruling I have received from the head of the Etobicoke rent review office is that it is sufficient to simply present an auditor’s or accountant’s report.
The problem is that the kind of expenditures which one may have for tax purposes may not be the same kind of expenditures that one requires for the rent review process. In other words, some items that for tax purposes might be able to be written off in one year, under a normal rent review process would be considered a capital expenditure and therefore amortized over a period of years for rent review purposes.
There is no way of our knowing exactly what is in there. There is no way of even questioning, as we have had in the past, where expenditures put into one building in fact belong to another building that the landlord may own, and for the purposes of accounting he may simply have found it easier to lump everything together. There is a basic unfairness built into the process of this kind of paper bureaucracy.
We have the system where tenants are still waiting for the first decision to come down. We have a system that is so bureaucratic that the average tenant will walk into a rent review office, and despite the fact that he or she may be very intelligent, will look at the files and walk out again. I can assure members that as someone who sat there. They were very courteous, they said, “Since you are going to be here a long time, there is a spare office.” I watched tenants come in, not just from my own riding but from all over the city of Etobicoke and the city of York. They would take the file, look at it for 15 minutes and walk out because they did not know what to do with it.
Under our present legal aid system, if you happen to be a single parent with one child and earn more than $18,000 a year, you do not qualify for any kind of legal aid, so you cannot go to an organization such as Metro Tenants’ Legal Services that can provide you with assistance. Even if you fall under the catchment of the legal aid system, if you happen to live in a building where 51 per cent of the tenants are over that, you do not qualify for representation either.
What you have is a bureaucratic nightmare in which tenants are faced with something that is very difficult to understand and very time-consuming and where most of them, unless they have an MPP who will represent them or some other community group or an accountant on the tenants’ association, or someone like that, go without any kind of representation.
Let me give members an example of the kind of problems that face even someone who has some experience in dealing with these matters -- at least under the old act, where I represented thousands of tenants -- when he goes and tries to represent tenants.
In the case of one building, 40 Panorama Court, the landlord withdrew his original application and instead submitted four crates of materials. He said that because the building was a multiple-unit residential building, because it was also registered with the city of Etobicoke as a condominium, he would introduce one for every unit in the building. When I asked the rent review staff when I could have access to those files, they said: “We just do not know. It is taking us weeks to organize those files.”
We have a system in which I have to write a series of questions. The landlord then writes back a series of comments. The rent review officer makes a decision. If I am not happy with it, then I have to go through an appeal in which the tenants and myself can sit and face the landlord and go through the process all over again.
We now have over 20,000 applications that have not been dealt with. In the case of many of the buildings in my riding that are new buildings, the tenants received notice before January 1, 1987, and therefore must pay whatever amount the landlord has asked for. It is virtually a loan to the landlord. If he has asked for 25 per cent, they have to pay the 25 per cent. If the rent review eventually comes down in terms of 15 per cent, they have in fact given him that 10 per cent over a period of a year or -- only the good Lord probably knows when the decision will come down.
Even when you have something fairly simple, such as a case where a landlord has applied for a rent review decision and then not filed the materials, you cannot get a decision as to whether the application is going to be dismissed.
I wrote on behalf of tenants in a couple of buildings in my riding, saying: “The landlord had until two months ago to supply the documentation. He has not done that. Since there are no files for me to examine, I ask that it therefore be dismissed, because I cannot represent the tenants by the deadline provided.”
When I asked the head of the rent review office in Etobicoke when I would have a decision on my letter for a dismissal, he said, “Well, your letter for dismissal goes into the file, and we deal with the files in order.” So he may not get around to dealing with my request for a dismissal, even though it may be a 20-minute decision that he might have to make, until six months or so from now.
What we are going to have in a few months’ time is some tenants who are not in the new buildings who are going to face major rent increases, and unless they have taken into account that this might happen, we will find large numbers of them falling behind in their rent as a result of what they owe the landlord, and indeed a number of evictions.
In the case of landlords who have collected money in the buildings occupied after January 1, 1976, we are going to have the problem of how the landlord refunds to the tenant if the tenant has moved. I had one landlord call me up and say, “When eventually the decision comes down, to what extent do I have to go and try to repay the money?” He said: “Is a registered letter to their last known address sufficient? What is the procedure? What is the obligation?” Of course, there is no obligation under the act. There is no protection there.
The tenant who has moved out will have to take some initiative, if he knows the procedure, to find out whether or not the landlord received what he asked for, find out how much money is owed to him and then ask for it. If the landlord does not pay it, he will have to take him to small claims court, assuming the amount owed by that time is within the amount that will qualify under small claims court.
We also have the situation that in the city of Etobicoke, throughout Metropolitan Toronto and probably in a number of other areas, most of the buildings built after 1979 have been registered with the planning department as condominiums, so we have the situation where there is no requirement to disclose to a tenant that he has in fact moved into a condominium rather than into a rental building -- all the units are rented -- and that at any time the landlord can say, “I have decided to sell off the units.”
Looking at these buildings, many of them were built with provincial tax subsidies as, quote, “rental” buildings. We have seen that. Many of them in the past received multiple-unit residential buildings and other tax incentives from the federal government. Some have received Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. assistance to build, quote, “affordable housing,” and yet there is no guarantee that when the next hot real estate market comes along they will not be taken off the rental market and sold off to whoever has the money.
Let me give the members an example of how that is happening even now that the market has cooled off a little bit. The tenants at 2645 Kipling Avenue received on November 11, or it may have been November 12, a letter dated November 11. These are people, of course, who thought they were in a rental building. Nobody ever told them anything different. It is a building that was built seven or eight years ago and now the tenants are told, “We are prepared to sell your home, your apartment, and we are going to give you the first option.” A day later they saw that this option was being advertised in the Toronto Star in a big ad.
If somebody in a two-bedroom unit in that apartment does not qualify for the financing of $115,000 -- I believe that was the cost they were asking for a two-bedroom -- then he is in real trouble. A lot of the tenants do not understand that of course it is the purchaser who is the only one who has the ability to evict them and so many of them have started to move out. What we are going to see is a series of events in which poor people, working people, will be buying condominium units only to find that they cannot get possession, without going to court, from other equally working class people who are the tenants who happen to occupy the very units they have purchased.
We saw that a few years ago with these phoney condominiums called share-equity condominiums. We saw the tragedy in my riding where we would have many people who would be recent immigrants trying to evict other people who were recent immigrants, who did not know the law, did not know their rights and were in just desperate situations.
We do know, even though we do not have a decision, exactly how much the new act will be awarding. The first of the orders became public through disclosure in this House -- a leak in this House, if I might use that word. The orders that were issued in the third week of October range from 4.9 per cent to 25 per cent. One landlord received even more than he had requested from rent review.
If we look at the way in which the act was set up, Bill 51 establishes Ontario’s new rent review system but it was only given royal assent in December 1986 after countless committee hearings; and because of the two-stage process, we are wondering when the decisions are likely to come down now.
If we look at the statements of the previous minister, which sound an awful lot like the statements of the current, new minister, we see such things as the comment over and over again that somehow the tenants approved of this new bill. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
The previous minister said it, and then this line was reiterated by the present minister on November 5. She said, “We have put in place a rent review process based upon the unique agreement reached by a committee of landlords and tenants.” What she failed to mention was that in August 1987, seven of the nine tenant members of that committee wrote a letter to the Premier criticizing the implementation of the economic loss provisions in Bill 51 and criticizing the bill. So what we have then is no agreement by the tenants; and indeed the two largest tenant associations, as I pointed out during the debate on housing, the association of Ottawa and the association of Metro, in fact have condemned the bill overwhelmingly.
The publication of the Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants’ Associations in the winter of 1987 stated, “While tenant income is falling, Bill 51 may allow rent increases to rise an average of 10.5 per cent a year.” It says in the action of Bill 51 and Bill 11 that not only did the government fail to deliver on its promises made by the Premier to tenants, but they were giant steps in the wrong direction. Both pieces of legislation put landlords’ profits ahead of people’s needs.
Likewise, the present minister then gives the impression that somehow this government is trying to come to grips with the problem of those people who cannot even afford the private enterprise housing.
On November 4 in the Ontario Legislature, when asked a question about Liberal housing election promises, the minister said, “I thank the member for Markham for giving me the opportunity to make it clear to everyone here that the government of Ontario is committed to building 102,000 units of affordable housing by the year 1990.”
In fact, she is not committed to building 102,000 affordable housing units. The government is committed to building only 56,186 new units by 1990, and this works out to an average of 13,220 units over the four and one third fiscal years, much less than the housing needs of the present people who are waiting in line. What she was doing then was using doubletalk in terms of the figures.
You may want to ask, Mr. Speaker, where were those extra units then? She promised 102,000, and I am saying she is committed to building only some 56,000. The remaining units, of course, are not new units at all. They are not new units that are being built: 36,000 are existing units receiving some kind of rehabilitation funds; 4,750 are existing rental units seeing new rent supplements; 300 units are being vacated through various types of incentives; and 4,950 units are being stimulated through incentives that encourage municipalities to limit the zoning and planning bureaucracy and so forth. So she is not building 102,000 new units by 1990. That is simply not the case.
When you sit in my riding, as I did on Wednesday night until 10 minutes to midnight, listening to people’s problems, you would be surprised how many of them are people who are literally out in the street in this city or are living in just abominable conditions of two and three families to a two-bedroom apartment because they have no place to live.
I would like to deal with another item which is very close to my heart and that is the matter of a reference that both I and Mr. Shymko, the former member for High Park-Swansea, have been trying to get dealt with for a number of years. One of the great passions of Mr. Renwick, the former member for Riverdale, was his commitment to civil liberties. I think that is a passion that all of us share; at least all of us feel we live in a democracy and we are committed to that. Mr. Renwick introduced a motion asking that the standing committee on the Ombudsman look at ways in which we could deal with civil liberties abuses of the relatives of people in our riding.
I represent a riding that has a number of Spanish-speaking constituents. The kinds of stories they used to tell me about Argentina, the kinds of stories they still tell me about Chile and some of the stories still coming out of the Iron Curtain countries, are still of concern to many of our people.
One of the things the Ombudsman committee did was to hold hearings. We established that it would be constitutional for the Ombudsman committee in this province to deal with matters of human rights anywhere in the world. Indeed, our federal colleagues stated that would be so. We know from people, such as the spokesperson for the civil liberties movement and also other organizations such as the Scarborough Foreign Mission Society, that often the most important thing that can happen when a person is arrested and put in jail in some of these totalitarian countries is that there be some kind of public outcry or focus in the more democratic countries.
Our committee, in its 13th report, recommended a way in which we, as a Legislature, as a democratic parliament, could deal with human rights abuses in various countries. Yet we have still failed to deal with the resolution of that committee and give that committee and the Ombudsman of Ontario those powers.
Niels Holm, the Danish Ombudsman, in his paper entitled The Ombudsman and Human Rights, raised a very interesting issue. He framed it as follows, “To what extent should the results achieved at the international level in the field of human rights be taken into consideration by the Ombudsman?” He gave a very affirmative answer that it should be.
If you go to Sweden, the centre of the Ombudsman movement, where the concept of the Ombudsman started, you find that the chief Ombudsman for the country reserves as his priority dealing with human rights issues.
I think we have an excellent Ombudsman in Ontario, Dr. Daniel Hill. He shares that concern for human rights and he has demonstrated it in ways which have often been difficult for him. But at the same time, we are faced with the fact that this House does not deal with a very important report. I hope that the new member for High Park-Swansea (Mr. Fleet) will have the same passion for this report that his predecessor Mr. Shymko had in his concern that this report be dealt with. I think it is a nonpartisan issue that should be taken up by all of us.
I spoke just a minute ago about the problems of the great number of people waiting to get into any kind of rent-geared-to-income housing. One of the most tragic groups are those people who do not qualify under the present guidelines for geared-to-income housing because they are simply poor. They do not qualify, because they are not families. In other words, it is not a man and woman with a child or more. They do not qualify, because they are not disabled in some way or because they are not seniors. That does not make them any less poor it does not make their housing needs any less significant.
Over the years, I urged the former Progressive Conservative Minister of Housing Claude Bennett, and he said: “It is the feds’ fault. It is those terrible Liberals in Ottawa; they do not want to subsidize it.”
Mr. Philip: He cannot have that excuse any more. But the present Liberal government can deal with this issue now and immediately. To have the kind of situation where people who are simply poor but who do not qualify as a family, as seniors or as disabled in some way, are left out on the street is a tragedy in this society.
Over the years, I have been critical of the transfer policy of Ontario Housing. I understand the transfer policy is being reviewed by the ministry, and there is a need to expand the allowable transfer criteria in the nonprofit sector. There is a need to allow transfers by people in the Metro Toronto Housing Authority, for example, to co-op housing if they so wish. They cannot do that now unless they are involved in the original board that sets up the co-op. There is a need for greater flexibility in transferring for reasons that might be called psychological rather than necessarily physical requirements.
One of the problems we are also facing is the need for long-term reserve funds in each of the projects. If we look at what we have done in the condominium area, the Condominium Act specifies that each condominium has to pay a certain percentage of its total maintenance costs -- l believe the figure is five per cent -- into a reserve fund. The purpose of that is that when there is a major capital expenditure needed -- namely, a roof goes or the furnace goes -- then you have a way of paying for that without taking it out of ongoing operating budgets.
I suggest the same thing holds true for government housing. You have to plan for the fact that buildings, as they grow older, have to be retrofitted. You cannot simply take it out of ongoing budgets or, eventually, the crunch comes when you have major expenditures to deal with.
One also needs more control of subcontracts by local housing managers. I understand there is a move on now, at least on an experimental basis, to have an annual meeting at which tenants will be asked what they feel are the needs of a particular project.
The select committee on housing, in 1977, made a very specific recommendation. I was pleased to chair that particular inquiry. It was not a select committee; it was done by the standing committee on administration of justice, as a matter of fact. One of the recommendations was that each project should be annually costed and that the budget for each project should be presented to the tenants, to the community, and there could be an open discussion of it.