The House met at 2:05 p.m.
RECALL OF HOUSE
RESIGNATION OF MEMBER FOR CHATHAM-KENT
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
ACTIONS OF FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL
I understand that this motion will be before the House later and I advise you, Mr. Speaker, that we on this side will be supporting this request.
Some of the evidence may not only be prejudicial to the accused but is also prima facie inadmissible in evidence against him at his trial. It would only become admissible in court under limited circumstances and subject to certain safeguards which may or may not arise during the course of the proceedings, which are now scheduled to commence on November 6.
I indicated to the committee chairman, as I do now to this assembly, that the views expressed in that letter, and which I now repeat, are very strongly shared by the senior law officers in my ministry.
After Mr. Harrison's case has been concluded I will, as I have previously indicated, release the report from Mr. Langdon to the chairman of the justice committee. I should also like to advise that the former Solicitor General has asked me to advise the Legislature that he welcomes the opportunity of appearing before the justice committee.
As I thought it was important for the members of this assembly to have the benefit in some detail of the legal basis for this opinion and these decisions --
I have received that opinion and under the circumstances I consider it important that I inform the members of this assembly directly and place on the record of the assembly the opinion given to me by the Deputy Attorney General. The opinion is attached as an appendix to this statement.
It is one of the most fundamental principles of our legal system, and indeed our way of life, that any person facing a criminal charge should be tried in the courts of law and not in the Legislative Assembly or the press. Any further comment by me or any member of this assembly in relation to the circumstances surrounding the proceedings against Mr. Harrison would constitute a serious breach of this fundamental principle which secures our freedoms under law.
My letter to the chairman of the justice committee and the opinion of the Deputy Attorney General speak for themselves. On the basis --
These issues have province-wide impact and, in fact, one has global significance. They are: The collection and disposal of liquid waste resulting from industrial operations throughout the province; the abatement program governing the International Nickel Company in Sudbury; the pollution control measures imposed on the pulp and paper industry; the global phenomenon known as acidified precipitation which affects inland waters --
-- in northeastern North American and, in fact, many countries all over the world.
During the weeks since my appointment, I have attempted to familiarize myself with the work of my ministry and with the many details of the task which we face.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) and the leader of the third party (Mr. Cassidy) have indicated their intention to debate these major environmental issues. I welcome this opportunity. However, the more familiar I have become with these issues, the more convinced I am that they call for a debate in a manner which is neither possible nor appropriate during the question period.
It is my responsibility to ensure that the environmental policies of this government are fully explained to the members of this House and to the members of the public which we serve. In this regard, I would remind the honourable members of the petition presented by the third party on June 23, 1978, which called for a review before the Legislature's standing committee on resources development of the policies and activities covered in the Ministry of the Environment's annual report.
Accordingly, I propose that the matters I have referred to be fully debated before the standing committee on resources development. Let me say that I would welcome such a debate. I am more than prepared to hear the views of the members of that committee, to enter into dialogue with them, to make myself and the necessary technical experts from my ministry available, and to provide the necessary information related to these issues.
As members will know, the bill provides for the termination of the existing work stoppage and for the resolution of the outstanding disputes by arbitration.
In reaching this conclusion I do not imply criticism of either of the bargaining parties.
This past weekend I became involved personally in the dispute. On the weekend I met with both bargaining committees. When it became apparent to me that it would not be possible to achieve a negotiated settlement before the strike deadline, I urged the parties to consider voluntary binding arbitration as a sensible mechanism for avoiding a work stoppage. However, for a variety of reasons which I can appreciate, such a voluntary arrangement could not be concluded.
I might add that on Monday of this week the Premier and I met again with both sides. During the course of Monday afternoon and throughout the evening we met with the parties and explored every available avenue to bring this dispute to an end, including the resumption of negotiations and further discussions about voluntary arbitration.
I want to say to the Legislature that I appreciate the co-operation of both sides during those meetings and the genuine effort they both made to settle the dispute. However, as members know, early Tuesday morning these talks concluded without a settlement and a decision was made and announced to recall the Legislature to deal with the matter.
As the Premier has said, we have reached the conclusion that this is not an ordinary dispute. The disruption to the public since Monday has been obvious to everyone. It goes beyond mere inconvenience when the essential transportation needs of a vast metropolitan community of over two million citizens cannot be met. With the interdependence and the linkages between Toronto and almost every other part of Ontario, the potential negative impact in commercial and in economic terms becomes all the more serious.
Our decision would have been more difficult if on Monday night there had been some encouraging signs of the possibility of settlement. However, there were not, and we do not see any merit, therefore, in allowing the dispute to drag on for days or weeks.
The principles of the bill will, of course, be fully debated. As members will see, it provides for resumption of service with all outstanding issues to be decided by a single arbitrator within a stipulated time-period. I shall be introducing an amendment to the bill as printed to provide for a general wage adjustment of four per cent, pending the arbitrator's final decision.
I am pleased to inform the Legislature that subject to the passage of the bill I intend to recommend to Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor in Council the appointment of the Honourable Mr. Justice Sydney L. Robins as arbitrator.
I should perhaps comment upon suggestions which have been made from some quarters that the bill should have provided for some final offer selection arbitration. This was an option which I considered very seriously. I acknowledge that it is a dispute resolution technique which seems to be gaining wider acceptance in other jurisdictions and in appropriate circumstances may well be a workable technique. However, I am not persuaded that it is appropriate for this particular dispute.
For one thing, substantial progress has been made in settling a number of contentious issues and I would not wish to propose a settlement technique which would reopen those matters. Alternatively, if the final offer selection procedure were to be applied only to the issues remaining in dispute, one or other of the parties might, with justification, complain that the rules of the game had been changed in mid-stream and that they would have taken much different positions had they known they were working towards final offer selection.
Thirdly, one cannot ignore the warnings of those industrial relations practitioners and commentators about the consequences of the fact that in final offer selection one side or the other wins all and that this margin can become quite exacerbated as the years go on.
It is argued that this carries a substantial risk that the disappointment and dissatisfaction of the losing side may taint the future relationship between the parties for the life of the collective agreement and perhaps beyond.
Moreover, I can tell members in all frankness that during our attempts to arrange for voluntary arbitration final offer selection was discussed and, frankly, grave reservations were expressed by the union.
I have concluded, in the light of those reservations and for the reasons outlined above, therefore, that this is not the occasion for the use of that technique. I am aware, of course, that collective bargaining legislation governing school boards, teachers, as well as community colleges, contains provisions for final offer selection, but only on a voluntary basis; what is proposed in the bill that I introduce today is a compulsory mechanism and therefore is distinguishable in an important respect.
Finally, while it is obviously the right of all members to engage in full debate, I hope that we may proceed as expeditiously as possible so that the transit service can be resumed and the dispute can be resolved quickly.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
ONTARIO ECONOMIC STRATEGY
However, in fairness I do have to answer one aspect of the question of the Leader of the Opposition where he did ask: What does the Treasurer mean by certain policies to encourage business growth and consumer confidence? I think if the Leader of the Opposition were to read some of the recent material he will find that the assessment of consumer confidence is somewhat higher than it was and that is somewhat encouraging. I know, as for those who are negative in their thoughts like the member for London Centre, that disturbs him because when he sees consumer confidence increasing he knows that economic activity will increase as a result. While he in his own heart knows that is a good thing, politically he does not want to see it happen. I understand that.
I just want to refer to the specifics. Actually it was prior to the new Treasurer's assuming responsibility, but with his enthusiastic support, that this government made a very basic decision as it relates to the economy of this province, whereby because of the initiative of this government we have allocated $28 million of the taxpayers' money for a $536 million capital investment in the city of Windsor which will provide directly 2,600 jobs, 2,100 or 2,200 indirectly in the parts industry and probably 2,000 jobs in other services.
I think historically, Mr. Speaker, the grant regulations have not appeared -- and the former Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) can correct me if I'm wrong -- this early in the year in any event. In fact I can recall, Mr. Speaker, grant regulations coming out in February or March.
I would also point out to the leader of the New Democratic Party that the question of real property increase doesn't necessarily relate to the level of support that is provided by the government of this province. There is a certain measure of flexibility which a lot of our municipalities and school boards have demonstrated in their own abilities to maintain the level of expenditure as something that is acceptable to the real property taxpayers of this province. I think it is regrettable that he would suggest that if we pay more money the municipalities or the school boards will of course spend it. Together, the municipalities, the school boards and the province have an obligation to see that the taxpayers are being well served in terms of the amounts of moneys that are being expended, and to necessarily suggest that our level of grants will then provoke them into spending money they needn't necessarily spend I think is very unwise.
PAPER MILL CONTROL ORDERS
I thought the most encouraging fact about that statistic had two parts to it. First, 177,000 more people are at work in Ontario today than were a year ago --
In view of the fact that the budgetary predictions for this year had unemployment as lower than the 7.1 he referred to, and in view of the fact that the budgetary deficit will be higher than predicted, and that revenues will be down and inflation higher, is the Treasurer willing at this point to commit himself to bringing in a six-month budget when the House reconvenes in October?
The overall position is, I think, a reasonably favourable one and I am encouraged that, in fact, we are making progress --
EMPLOYEES' HEALTH AND SAFETY
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE
Especially in the case of Mr. Wardrope, has the Attorney General determined his involvement in these serious allegations and can he comment on them?
Since the minister has been widely I reported as saying that he has quite some degree of influence in the cabinet, I wonder what progress he is making to persuade his colleagues -- this is his comment in the various newspapers, that he has quite some degree of influence -- to keep the sales tax in the area of four per cent?
That matter has been discussed by my colleagues and myself, and I have discussed it with the Treasurer. It's a matter for the Treasurer to determine, not for me.
NIAGARA RIVER POLLUTION
Is the minister aware of a recent investigation conducted by the Niagara County Health Department of New York state which revealed extremely high levels of toxic PCBs in Gill Creek, which is a waterway which flows into the Niagara River, and of the levels being so high that apparently the sediment from under the water will have to be buried in a special landfill site?
If the minister is aware of this, what action has he taken? If he's not aware, will he undertake to gather that information from the New York state authorities?
We will continue to do so until such time as there is absolutely no possibility of any danger to those residents of those communities.
Knowing that PGBs are in the water and knowing exactly where they came from aren't just the easiest of things to do; but within the limitations of our technical ability we'll do so.
I am aware that the Ontario Federation of Students has suggested -- I think that is the right word -- that there be some program for assisting the students who may be in difficulties right at this time and I am meeting with the Ontario Federation of Students within the next few days and I will be pleased to talk with them about this.
I wonder if the minister has any plans to supply these students with emergency loans in special hardship cases; and I also would like to ask the minister if she has any explanation at all as to why the applications for OSAP are down 25 per cent from last year. Would she not agree that it is a result of a crummy program?
QUEBEC POLICY ON CONSTRUCTION HIRING
The Prime Minister of Canada indicated, during the recess I believe, that the Minister of Labour of our government, the Minister of Labour for the government of Quebec and the then Minister of Labour, Mr. Munro, should see if they couldn't work something out. Nothing was able to be worked out. The Premier wrote again to the Prime Minister of Canada three or four weeks ago indicating that there was no accommodation possible and he, therefore, wished that the government of Canada would put the position of the Quebec bill to the Supreme Court to see if it was constitutional. To date, we have received no reply from the Prime Minister of Canada.
There is also a story around that somehow there was a suggestion from the province of Quebec, through the federal Minister of Labour, that the compromise solution would be the establishment of neutral zones in the Ottawa Valley. It's my understanding that that proposition was never officially and formally put forward to this government by the province of Quebec. As far as we know, it is not agreeable to the province of Quebec. It, indeed, was a compromise solution, as I understand it, that was worked out by staff in our government as a way around the Quebec bill to get over the difficulties being caused in the Ottawa area.
Certainly it would have been agreeable to our government but it has not been officially put. My understanding is that it is not agreeable to the Minister of Labour in the province of Quebec. Therefore, where the situation stands is that we have been waiting for the Prime Minister of Canada to respond to our request that the Quebec bill --
I would like the minister to explain why it is that he now indicates that the government is agreeable to the possibility of a neutral zone along the frontier when effectively that was rejected in the mid-August letter from the Minister of Labour to the Minister of Labour in Quebec.
I may say that in the last nine months with the introduction, at my order, of group inspections, we have been able to effect significant improvements in the most troublesome of the homes, a small number of the almost 400 homes in the province. We will continue those efforts to close down where necessary certain homes -- we closed two more this year -- and in the others to effect the necessary improvements.
With respect to the adult vaccines, we have limited the availability of that vaccine to the county in which the outbreak occurred in July and the first three or four days of August, and to the seven surrounding counties which we established as a buffer zone. We intend, once we feel that we have got those eight counties completely covered, to then expand out from that zone in the province, notwithstanding the fact that a national advisory committee on immunization, which met in late August, recommended to the federal government and to all governments that there not be a general program of immunization for adults. We disagree with that and once we have ensured that we've covered the affected county and the buffer zone we will then move away from there to cover the rest of the adult population in the province.
STANDING ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Mr. Philip from the standing administration of justice committee presented the committee's report as follows and moved its adoption.
Your committee recommends that the alleged improprieties of former Solicitor General George Kerr relating to Assistant Crown Attorney David Price be investigated by the administration of justice committee as soon as possible prior to consideration of estimates.
Motion agreed to.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH CARE FINANCING
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that Mr. McCaffrey be chairman of the select committee on health care costs in place of Mr. Elgie.
Motion agreed to.
STANDING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the standing resources development committee include in its consideration of the annual report of the Minister of the Environment the following matters:
The collection and disposal of liquid waste resulting from industrial operations throughout the province; the abatement program governing Inco in Sudbury; the pollution control measures imposed on the pulp and paper industry, and the global phenomenon known as acidified precipitation.
Motion agreed to.
SITTING OF HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the House continue to sit through the normal dinner period.
We have made a lot of agreements today to make this possible. There has been all kinds of flexibility expressed and give and take on all sides of the House to in fact allow the government to bring that particular motion to expedite getting the workers back to work. We went along with that willingly.
We have a position to present with respect to that bill. We want to do it in an orderly fashion following the usual procedures of the House. We have no intention of filibustering, but we find it offensive, after making all of these agreements, that the government would then push ahead right through the supper hour.
We are prepared to accommodate the government and try to get this bill through. We just find that this type of procedure, which totally destroys all the rules of the House, is simply irresponsible. If you are going to push it through, we think it can get done and if it gets done tonight, and there is some hope it will, that is fine.
There is no filibuster. We just think that the manner in which that is being conducted is simply using a sledgehammer to drive home a compulsory arbitration bill and we find it a bit offensive. I would just say to the Premier all it does is create short tempers with that sort of environment that we have to work under.
Mr. Speaker, I ask the House leader and I ask the Premier to do it in a more orderly fashion.
The concern I have, as the head of government, along with all members of this House, is to reconcile that concern with the concern being felt by thousands of people who at this precise moment do not have a service available to them that I feel is the obligation of members of this House to resolve.
I am not going to debate with the House leader of that party the principles of compulsory back-to-work legislation. None of us likes it.
But what I have difficulty in understanding is that all of us have made sacrifices in terms of the 6 to 8 o'clock hour. I can assure the honourable member he has many times. So has the Minister of Labour in the past four or five days on two or three issues. The Premier has also missed -- perhaps, very wisely so -- supper hours and even more hours than that in an attempt to resolve certain issues. I don't think the issue itself is going to be prejudiced by this House continuing to discuss this in an orderly fashion over the supper hour. That's why I suggest we move ahead.
If I honestly thought the House leader of the New Democratic Party didn't have his arguments already well in hand, if I felt he needed time, or the members opposite did to further assess the actual wording of the bill, this I could understand. But the members opposite know what they're going to say. They will be cogent arguments. They will be relevant arguments. I don't think any of us needs two hours at the supper time to further develop what is to be said.
I'm not minimizing for a moment the importance the New Democratic Party places on this issue -- an importance we do too. It's something I think all of us in this House would rather not be doing. But we're here to accomplish something. I think it would not be credible in terms of those people who perhaps do not have the understanding of this House to feel that the legislators of this province, with a vital issue of this kind, whether we agree on it or not, feel we have to have two hours at supper to conduct the orderly affairs of this House.
I honestly say to the House leader that I can understand it; but I really think that in the interests of those people who watch the proceedings in this House we should on this occasion sit through the supper hour and move ahead as best we can with the orderly passage of this legislation.
I find that if this is going to be the beginning of some obstructionist tactics, divisions on first readings and any other type of time-wasting device, I'm very disappointed in the members of the New Democratic Party.
Let me just say one thing about this supper debate. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Toronto who won't be getting home for supper tonight because of this strike.
If by these remarks I can compel the members of the government, both from Metropolitan Toronto and across the province, and the members of the Liberal Party to be in this House, then we will certainly, through the remarks of the House leader of this party, have accomplished a great deal. By the way, it might be very interesting if all of the ministers of the Crown found themselves in their seats from 6 to 8 o'clock.
It might also be useful if we eliminated from the debate the crocodile tears of sorrow that are streaming down the face of the leader of the government and of the Minister of Labour when they express their concern about the destruction of a right in this province.
The motion is that the House continue to sit through the normal dinner period.
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay".
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
QUEBEC POLICY ON CONSTRUCTION HIRING
"As to the free zone concept I might add that it would not appear to me that Ontario's concurrence would be required for you to extend unrestricted working privileges to Ontario construction workers along our boundary" -- that means Quebec's boundary. "However," she said, "I want to emphasize that I would be extremely reluctant to support any solution which restricted such rights to any limited geographic areas along the boundary, nor could I agree that any such solution be conditional on legislated guarantees by the province of Ontario."
Mr. Speaker, that is clearly in contradiction to what she has since said.
The Minister of Labour of the province of Quebec in his response to me of a few days earlier, as a result of a telephone call which I made to him in order to try to get the discussion back on the road, did mention nothing about any potential zone along the borders of the province. I was concerned that he had not mentioned these because it seemed to me that this was one route that we could pursue. But I wanted to make him aware of our specific concerns about narrow geographic borders.
I felt it was entirely correct to suggest to the Minister of Labour for the province of Quebec that indeed that province could extend the border of Quebec to include workers along the Ontario border without any action on the part of the province of Ontario. This is something he obviously had not considered before. But I certainly did want him to know that this province was not in any position, nor did we feel it was necessary, to guarantee employment in Quebec construction workers when the record shows that over the last 10 years, for every one construction worker from the province of Ontario working in the province of Quebec there have been at least five from Quebec working in the province of Ontario. If that isn't a guarantee, I don't know what it is.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES SETTLEMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved first reading of Bill 141, An Act respecting Labour Disputes between the Toronto Transit Commission and Division 113, Amalgamated Transit Union, Lodge 235, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local No. 2.
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Call in the members.
The House divided on the motion for first reading of the bill, which was approved on the following vote:
Ayes 78; nays 26.
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES SETTLEMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Elgie moved second reading of Bill 141, An Act respecting Labour Disputes between the Toronto Transit Commission and Division 113, Amalgamated Transit Union, Lodge 235, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local No. 2.
My feeling about the situation is that we are taking a very important step by intervening so soon. I believe that the implications of this quick intervention, which intervention I certainly applaud and I am happy to participate in, will be felt some years down the road and will also be felt in the other services in the public sector which will he negotiating contracts in the not too distant future.
1 also believe it is very important that we recognize that a willingness on the part of government to step into a strike early in a sense changes the rules for public sector bargaining in a way which in my view is healthy, and in the view I guess of others is unhealthy. But it does change the rules and we do have to recognize that in intervening early we are creating a certain atmosphere in future negotiations within the public sector.
First of all, let us deal with the strike itself. Why has it been necessary to intervene? I think it is perfectly obvious. The process of collective bargaining did not produce a solution although I may say the two sides appear to have been rather close to each other at the end. In fact, depending on how one looks at the figures and what expectations one might have about inflation, arguments can be made that as much money could have been obtained or paid out, depending on how you look at it, under one side's suggestions or formula as on the other side's, but with different implications for future years.
I don't want to go into those details -- that is not our job -- but the fact is the two sides were rather close together, looking at this matter from an historical perspective. I feel that to let a strike continue, to let it go on day after day when there is really little purpose to be served by so doing, is surely not a very reasonable way for the Legislature to behave.
I point out to the House that it is not just an inconvenience and a waste of energy and so on to be tied up in traffic and all that. That is difficult, but it is also a strain on the economy at a time when our economy can ill afford such strain.
We do have elderly persons who need to obtain help from time to time. We have the sick, the infirm, the handicapped, who depend upon the public transit and who also depend upon other forms of transit being able to move swiftly through the streets of Metropolitan Toronto.
There are a lot of people who find it necessary now to walk long distances in order to get to their commuter train, whereas their previous habit was to take the subway. In many instances, these are people who may not be in shape for that kind of walking. Although we may say they should be, in many instances they are not, and I would not be surprised if a number of serious illnesses and serious incidents occur during the course of any transit strike in a metropolitan centre of this kind.
And that has happened. In fact, the people of Toronto are right now far more dependent on public transit than those in many other centres. Unlike Los Angeles, where you have expressways criss-crossing the entire city and where perhaps a public transit strike might be a little less noticeable, in this city and in this metropolitan area a public transit strike is extremely important.
It's also extremely important for many of my own constituents in Hamilton who come to work in Metropolitan Toronto and use the facilities of Gray Coach to do so. As the members know, GO services from that part of Ontario are operated by Gray Coach and, consequently, are affected by this strike.
It is obvious we are going to have to take very seriously the whole question of strikes in the essential public services. The definition of what is an essential public service is something that will have to occupy this House, either now or in the near future.
It's evident that what may have been an essential service at one time nowadays requires redefinition. There are some services that may not have been essential in the old days which have become essential because of the way we have constructed our complex and difficult-to-manage society.
The record of strikes in this country over the last decade has not been a happy one. It has been one of the reasons, although perhaps only a small reason, but one of the reasons for our rather poor international performance, economically speaking.
Today, I think the objective that most reasonable persons would keep in mind as the prime objective would be to move as expeditiously as possible to end the strike and not to stand here listening to our mellow tones and our brilliant political philosophies, but to make a reasonably brief statement --
I was rather surprised to find in my discussions with the press and in talking to various citizens that there is really not very much understood about that particular method. It is still a little-understood method of settling labour disputes but I think it is a very important method for us to look very seriously at, particularly for public sector bargaining, although it need not be restricted to that.
I realize that there already exists the possibility of using it. In fact, I believe in the community college dispute it is already being used but, generally speaking, as pointed out quite correctly by the minister, it is a voluntary matter. I am suggesting that it become a regular way of proceeding.
Why do I say that? Let me explain. Here I want to come to the point I made earlier --
As long as people begin to believe that their strikes are likely to be done with impunity inasmuch as they will be stopped early and, secondly, they will be ended by conventional arbitration, the natural response will be for the two sides to present their point of view in extreme form. If they figure that arbitrators tend to choose somewhere in the middle, people will naturally be reluctant to yield ground from their position before the arbitrator actually finds his middle ground. Each side will conserve to itself as much ground as possible, figuring that the arbitrator is likely to pick something in between.
That is the problem we have with the conventional form of arbitration. When you signal to the workers that you are going to send them back to work early --
I believe the government should make a strong statement that it intends to use final offer selection in future public sector disputes so as to encourage a much more reasonable and conciliatory attitude on the part of both management and labour from the very start in their bargaining procedure. I think that would be a real step forward in Ontario and would set the pace for Canada which undoubtedly would follow our lead in this regard. I would like to see a strong statement made at this time.
There are a number of amendments which I could put to this act but it is obvious from what the minister has said and from the continual barrage of interjections on the part of the rather embarrassed people in the soon-to-disappear third party that neither the government nor the members of the increasingly irrelevant New Democratic Party will vote for any amendment to bring in final offer selection in this case. Under these circumstances, I think it would be a form of --
There is another problem and it's touched on by the minister. There are very few people in the labour movement today who fully understand final offer selection, as I said earlier.
Nonetheless, I think this would be an appropriate case because the two sides are already so close together, and in fact evidence can be presented that more money, as I say, would change hands in some ways under the TTC formula than under the labour union formula. But given the fact that the two sides are so close together, the fact is that this would be a good case for final offer selection.
Be that as it may, and given the lack of support at this time, all I can say is that we should use this technique in the future and I hope the government will seriously consider that.
I feel, therefore, that I can bring my remarks to a close by promising the support to move this matter through as expeditiously as possible. We are prepared to sit here to whatever hour is required in order to get the matter dealt with as quickly as possible, and the government certainly has our support in this way.
We may, at some future point in the discussion, have some comments as various amendments are brought forward. We may have certain comments, as I say, on possible amendments of our own. But at this point I feel that there would be no point to bringing forward the original amendments that I spoke on earlier regarding final offer selection. Therefore, I will conclude my remarks.
But I am also concerned, Mr. Speaker, at the destruction of a fundamental freedom in our society, the freedom of collective bargaining, in which we are being asked to participate with the bill which has been placed before the Legislature today. When the disruption which exists in Metropolitan Toronto has been created in a labour dispute over a difference of only 12 cents an hour, which was the difference that existed in the negotiations over the weekend, we believe that this strike should not have had to occur. We believe that if the TTC had been made to bargain in good faith through the course of the weekend, this strike would not have occurred, and we would have a settlement today, and the Legislature would not have had to be brought back.
What we can see though is that from February on this dispute has been provoked -- this strike has been provoked deliberately by the TTC management, because of the fact that they set themselves a limit to which they would bargain, and no more, and they did not agree to bargain in good faith and they were not made to bargain in good faith by the new Minister of Labour, by the Premier, with the Minister of Transportation and Communications or anybody else who has an involvement at the provincial level.
There are some very basic issues which are before this Legislature today, Mr. Speaker, and they go beyond the short-term problems which we recognize the people are suffering in Metropolitan Toronto today. The issue is whether you make collective bargaining work in this province, or whether you substitute some other system of settlements that are dictated by management, of settlements that are dictated by arbitrators, or of settlements that are dictated by this Legislature itself.
I cannot believe, after all of the efforts that so many people with so much goodwill have tried to make to find alternatives to the system of collective bargaining, that somehow within, was it 18 hours of the beginning of the dispute on Monday of this week that the Premier and the new Minister of Labour could suddenly have stumbled on a better way than the collective bargaining system.
This dispute is also over the question of what's going to happen to public sector workers after the Anti-Inflation Board controls have been lifted from upon them. This is the first major dispute in the public sector since the AIB controls have been lifted. It is also the first major dispute to come before us with the climate which the government is imposing because of its withdrawal of reasonable provincial support for municipal governments. The government, in other words, is almost at the bargaining table itself only it has refused to see that as a responsibility and it has been trying to pass the buck either to the TTC or, in this case, to the workers themselves.
I want to say that the workers are being made the victims of policies that have been drafted in the office of the Premier of this province which were to have an almost inevitable result; the strike that has actually taken place.
My colleagues will go into the details of the bargaining that has gone on since early spring and which reached an intense pitch over the course of the last month. The essence of the bargaining that has taken place, however, is that it has all been one-sided. Back in February, the TTC announced publicly what it intended to offer in terms of a settlement to the transit workers -- six per cent or $6.9 million. The six per cent that they laid on the table then is exactly the same settlement that they have offered today. They have budgeted by not one iota over a period of six months, over a period of conciliation, of mediation --
I haven't heard any criticisms by those gentlemen of the bad faith bargaining which that represents on behalf of the Toronto Transit Commission. I think we should have heard that if the government genuinely wanted to take a neutral role between management and labour in labour relations in the province of Ontario.
On the other side, though, you have the unions. They entered with a 10 per cent wage demand. It was a reasonable wage demand for openers. Over the period of time of the negotiations over money, they have gradually moved down to the point where their total demand -- not just their demands for wages -- but their total demand amounts to 7.3 per cent.
The fact that the gap had narrowed to only 12 cents an hour was almost entirely the work of the union. You cannot have collective bargaining if management simply decides what to pay and puts it forward on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. If the new Minister of Labour wishes to conduct labour relations on that basis, I want to tell him that the labour climate in this province is bad now and it will get much worse.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of sitting down several times with Charles Johnson, the President of the Amalgamated Transit Union local here in Toronto which is now on strike, Division 113. Charles Johnson has got to be the mildest and most accommodating union leader I have ever met. Charles Johnson is to the labour movement what the member for York East (Mr. Elgie) may be to the Conservative Party.
We know that this is election year. Maybe the TTC is backing away from taking a tough line or from making a settlement because it's election year. After all, Paul Godfrey is going to have to face election some time in December or January from 31 or 32 of his colleagues on Metropolitan Toronto council; and maybe Michael Warren may be facing some retribution from the Conservatives themselves because of the embarrassment into which he has put their party as a result of the intransigent way with which he has approached collective bargaining.
"This is the first real test of whether our civic workers are willing to accept settlements that are within the means of taxpayers and users of municipal services to absorb."
He has taken upon himself the responsibility of the civic politicians of this city.
Back in February, he said what he thought the TTC should offer on the basis of estimates prepared in 1977, which are clearly out of date today, and said at the time that, if need be, he would be prepared to see Toronto take a long strike. That's not the tune we're hearing right now. The TTC is not prepared to do that. They come running up here expecting the province to bail them out at a terrible cost to collective bargaining.
Let me come back to the weekend: On Friday, the TTC had an offer before the union. The union was asked to come up with a counter offer on Saturday. They did. For 37 hours they waited until something would come back from the management. At 2 o'clock on Monday morning, the TTC came back with exactly the same offer they had given on the Friday evening.
The management was informed that the union was prepared to bring the stewards together on Saturday and prepared to have a general management meeting on Sunday in order to consider a settlement, but that was not a factor as far as the TTC was concerned. They kept the unions out of the Royal York Hotel for the entire weekend before the strike deadline and didn't bargain in good faith at all.
That, Mr. Speaker, should have been said by William Davis and by Robert Elgie rather than talking about men of goodwill who could not resolve the situation.
Not only that, but the TTC, which was ostensibly bargaining in good faith on this past weekend, told the non-resident bus drivers from the north to get themselves home, deadheaded buses back to Toronto, laid off casual employees, told clerical employees that they were being laid off, took all of the steps necessary, in other words, as though it intended that there would be a strike to take place.
Well, that isn't good faith bargaining either and now we face a situation of 600,000 people who are out on the streets without transit because of the action of the TTC and because of the failure of this government, in our opinion, to tell Mike Warren and to tell Gordon Hurlburt and to tell Paul Godfrey that it was time they went back to the bargaining table and bargained and that surely in Ontario in 1978 a difference of only 12 cents an hour is not irreconcilable. Surely a difference of only one and a half per cent or so in the bargaining should be reconcilable and resolvable without the duress that is involved in bringing the Legislature back into session.
In 1974 the parties started 21 points apart and when we came back they were still 13 percentage points apart. Today, here, it is only one tenth of that distance and yet somehow the Premier abandons hope for collective bargaining within the space of a few hours.
I want to tell you what I believe is one of the reasons the Premier acted in that way. The Premier was manoeuvred into this by Michael Warren of the TTC and it happened to suit Bill Davis' political needs.
The Kerr affair last week, which was mishandled by the Premier personally --
Consider the contrast with 1974 and you can see what I mean when I say that the Premier lost his cool in deciding to act now. How the Premier can conclude after only 24 hours that the potential of the collective bargaining process has been exhausted is beyond me, because one of the aspects of collective bargaining is that the parties sit there at the table, knowing that if it comes to a labour dispute, whether it is a lockout or whether it is a strike, the public is going to put pressure on them and they are going to hurt personally and their members are going to hurt and their profits are going to hurt. That's a fundamental tenet of collective bargaining, but the Premier decided to step in after less than 24 hours.
Had the Premier really wanted to be decisive, he would have told Gordon Hurlburt and Michael Warren that the government was not prepared to act and that it wanted this dispute settled with some good faith bargaining for a change.
A number of questions present themselves as a result of this dispute. First, the question of essential services. It's worth noting that transit strikes in Ontario have gone on for as much as 10 weeks without intervention by the government. They have not seen fit to impose this kind of legislation in other transit disputes, such as the recent one in London or the one we had here 19 days ago.
The fact is that enormous inconvenience has occurred in Metropolitan Toronto but, if the service was essential, Metropolitan Toronto would not be alive today. Nobody would be at work. People wouldn't be downtown. They would be cowering in their homes, watching television, hoping that the Premier would be able to come to their rescue. That is obviously not the situation. In fact, while I can't say people are enjoying it, at least it's a change. They will remember this. And as time goes on, they will remember the lighter moments of this particular dispute much more than they will remember the difficulties.
The federal Liberals bring in an Anti-Inflation Board and both those parties jump in order to support it.
Workers try to get a first strike at Fleck Manufacturing. The member for the area undercuts them. The government sits by idly, while they go for almost 100 days without getting a settlement.
A Leader of the Opposition who is normally sceptical of the Premier jumps to attention and accepts uncritically every word the Premier has to say about there being no further prospects for the collective bargaining process.
A Leader of the Opposition who comes in with an idea, final offer selection, which is anathema to many people in the labour movement, as he should know, which he wants to make compulsory in the public sector and which is a completely irrelevant answer when what we should be doing is making collective bargaining work.
The Leader of the Opposition said on the radio a day ago that there is nothing wrong with the union, but one way or another this strike has to be broken. Those are the words of the anti-labour Leader of the Opposition.
My colleagues will talk in more detail about some of the amendments that we want to put forward with regard to the specific bill. It is an objectionable bill. It was even more objectionable before the amendment that the minister referred today about putting in at least some kind of a wage guarantee, but we think that the minister should at least have been prepared to go with the TTC's final offer effective July 1 of five per cent. We will make that as a motion because it is inconceivable to us that the arbitrator will make any settlement that does not lie between the final offer of the company on the one hand and the final offer for a settlement of the union on the other.
But it goes beyond that. It is not just the transit workers who are affected, and the transit riders here in Metro. The climate of labour relations in this province is being very dangerously affected by the action being taken today. We have to ask ourselves whether the member for York East, who had some promise as the new Minister of Labour -- at least some promise where the Conservatives are concerned -- is going to be put in the position where every time public sector workers exceed in their demands what government or what management thinks they ought to give he is going to haul them back in here to have the bargaining rights taken away. Is collective bargaining going to be just progressively undermined bit by bit and piece by piece by this government? I am afraid that that is the kind of path on which we are treading with the legislation that we have here today.
There is a clear sign to every public sector management, be it municipalities, transit entities, the provincial government, or crown corporations, that all they need to do is dig in their heels and the Premier and the Minister of Labour and their cohorts will be along very quickly in order to bail them out. That is the best way I know of encouraging bad faith bargaining in the public sector and embittering the finest of labour relations.
I want to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that the Labour Relations Act of Ontario says specifically that it is in the public interest of the province of Ontario to further harmonious relations between employers and employees by encouraging the practice and procedures of collective bargaining between employers and trade unions as freely designated representatives of employees. That is pretty important. People have not been able to find a better way. All of the evidence that people have looked at is that compulsory arbitration spreads, has an abrasive impact on collective bargaining relationships and that if both sides expect arbitration then they will in fact hold back rather than bargaining in good faith.
It also serves as a crutch for weak leadership, whether it's management trying to pass the buck to government or union leadership not being prepared to make the difficult decisions that have to be made at the bargaining table in order to reach a solution. All of those kinds of corrosive consequences are going to flow from what the government is doing to collective bargaining in the province of Ontario today.
I want to suggest that ultimately the nature of this province as a free society is affected if workers in the provincial government don't have the right to strike; if workers now in transit are being effectively told that they don't have the right to strike and the right to bargain collectively and freely; if this area where those rights are taken continues to expand, one sector after another after another. You know, when they ban the right to strike in Soviet countries or in other parts of the world where they have dictatorships we're very critical, because this is a democratic society. That's the way it should be and it should continue that way. We should not for expedient reasons be doing what we criticize in other countries where they have taken away that essential freedom and that's the reason that we are so opposed to the step that the government has taken today.
When there is only a one or a one and a half per cent gap between the parties, we believe that had the province become involved and pushed on the TTC to bargain in good faith that this dispute could and would have been settled without there having been a strike and without the need of the legislation that we have here today. All of the evidence in fact is that time and again the union, which was anxious to get a settlement, was within just a tiny iota of reaching a settlement, only the TTC refused to co-operate.
In Mississauga they have settled for 16 or 17 per cent. The settlements in Hamilton and London are also of that order over a period of two years, or something of the order of about eight to eight and one half per cent in one year. Yet this government is saying that it believes that the TTC's offer of even five per cent is too good for the workers and that arbitration should give them something which exceeds four per cent, but goodness knows by how much.
I want to say that those consequences and the difficulties for collective bargaining are going to be felt for a very long time. If the actions today come back one day to haunt the government, it has been warned that there were other courses available which could even now settle the dispute -- with a minimum of delay, if it would put its faith in the free collective bargaining system and make it work, rather than pulling the rug out from under collective bargaining by imposing compulsory arbitration.
I must say to the Leader of the Opposition that I've had that same proposition or point of view expressed to me with some enthusiasm over the past three or four days and I understand the suggestion. But I do point out to him and to all members of the House that perhaps it isn't quite as simplistic as has been expressed. I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that during the several hours that these matters were discussed with both management and the unions that two or three creative proposals were suggested that just did not turn out to be acceptable. But what is very complicated about the final offer selection process is the state of negotiations; the fact that no one anticipated this as being a possible vehicle for final resolution, and the fact that one would have to determine what had been resolved prior to the final offer selection process working. One then has to go back through the whole history of the negotiations, perhaps prejudicing some areas where agreements have been made. If you go to final offer selection, how do you do this on monetary items alone without going into what has been already accomplished in so many areas of the discussion? I think in fairness this situation doesn't really provide a good opportunity to see whether it might or might not work.
I am no expert in labour relations. I have spent a little more time than usual at it the past four or five days. The problem with final offer selection is that it is a little bit like Russian roulette. You put forth your positions and you gamble a little bit, and perhaps that has a certain discipline to it, I don't know. But the part that the Minister of Labour and I were discussing, and I think can't be ignored in this process, is that when this is all over, in spite of the dire predictions of the leader of the New Democratic Party, one hopes that out of the process you don't create situations where there is a total win or total lose feeling at the conclusion of whatever transpires. While I think all of us have an obligation to see what creative ways we can suggest in terms of some of our collective bargaining processes, I am really quite pleased that the Leader of the Opposition didn't introduce his amendment. I say in all sincerity, from my knowledge of it in this particular situation, it would not have been a practical way of going about it. I think in fairness it is rather unalterably opposed by the one side in this dispute.
The leader of the New Democratic Party -- and I say this very constructively -- obviously was trying to impress somebody today -- I don't know who it was -- certainly not his own colleagues. I always find it very sad when I see a member of this House who I think can make a contribution, who is dealing with a matter of importance to his party in a philosophical sense in terms of principle, endeavour to rationalize the expressions that he made in this House today in a rather personal, somewhat derogatory, and I think perhaps superficial sort of way.
I have been here, I have lived through personal criticisms and suggestions from a number of sources, and I have to say what the honourable member said today did not surprise me. Neither did it affect the view I have on this issue and the judgement that I, along with the Minister of Labour, came to with great difficulty -- Monday night was it, or early Tuesday morning -- 12:30 a.m. or so. I could, I guess, reply in kind. I guess I could become rather personally critical of his approach and his activities.
As head of this government, one who has a responsibility for the concerns of many people in this society, including the representatives of the union with whom I met, and representatives of management -- two very important parties to our present debate -- I think, along with all members of the House, and I hope I speak for the members of the New Democratic Party, that the government too has a responsibility when very large numbers of people are being affected because of the lack of agreement, in this case between the TTC and the employees of that organization.
I guess we could have, as a government, said to ourselves, after ascertaining -- and I want to say to the members opposite that this was done with great conscience, and one only makes his best judgement -- that the union felt that there was no further room, from their standpoint; they made this quite clear, that there was no way they could see fit -- and I respected this point of view -- to alter the requests they had made. One can argue and deal in personalities with respect to one person at the TTC. The member could have named all the other commissioners, I guess, if he had wanted to add them to his litany of personal observations.
I met with them -- I'm not going to get into personalities here today at all -- and I satisfied myself that whether the leader of the New Democratic Party agrees with what they did or whether I agree with the numbers that were being used, the Minister of Labour and I ascertained that the TTC management in its judgement felt that in its area of responsibility it could make no further moves. I was satisfied that we had reached a point where the union felt in conscience it couldn't move where the TTC felt that it could make no move, and I was relatively satisfied that the strike would go on, that people would not only be inconvenienced but that the economic life of this community would be substantially affected.
Quite frankly, I asked myself, knowing or feeling that the situation had to be resolved, if it really made sense from the union's standpoint, from the public standpoint, and from the membership's standpoint -- and I assure you I considered the membership's standpoint -- if it made any sense to have this go on for a week, 10 days or two weeks because of the examples the member has given to me, and finding ourselves here two weeks hence dealing with this particular issue.
I know the history of collective bargaining. This government is committed to it. I know the difficulty that this has caused the Minister of Labour in terms of his new responsibilities. I also know of the activities of the Minister of Labour. I just wish the member to the right of the leader of the New Democratic Party had some sense of what the Minister of Labour was attempting to do, along with others, to resolve an issue that is pretty close to him when he says that this government is not interested in resolving matters. Yes, him. Because he does have understanding, he knows what went on on the weekend and I think he, as one member of this House, should be prepared to give some measure of credit to the Minister of Labour, and maybe even indirectly one of his colleagues, in terms of trying to bring about a settlement that is much closer to the member's home than Metropolitan Toronto. And I think for the member's leader to indicate that the new Minister of Labour is anything but objective, is anything but one who is attempting to resolve issues, that surely the information the member gained over the weekend should have been able to tell his leader if he doesn't know already -- and I'd be surprised -- that he is being very unfair in his suggestion that the Minister of Labour is doing anything but discharging his responsibilities in a proper way.
I'll tell you something else, Mr. Speaker. I'll make just a small guess that a lot of people who are in the union may disagree with us philosophically but they understand the issue and they understand what it is we're attempting to do in this Legislature today. You see, Mr. Speaker, I got the sense they didn't want to strike either. I don't think anyone wanted to strike.
So, Mr. Speaker, I know that the members in the New Democratic Party aren't going to change their mind, that's obvious, but I would hope that the members in that party at least will recognize that while we're not trying to rush it through, in that sense of the word --
I don't intend to engage in any kind of judgement about what has been going on in the course of bargaining, because I haven't been there. I did sit in this building on the night in question waiting to see whether there would be some conclusion, because I was concerned. Unfortunately, I guess I got the wrong word -- that it probably wouldn't be resolved that evening -- because I left somewhere between 10 and 10:30 that night.
I am of the opinion, from what I have read, that the Minister of Labour has brought to this problem his best judgement at this time, and I am not prepared either to be critical of him or of the government in this approach.
I suppose it is corny to talk about individual instances of hardship. I suppose that is something no one wants to hear about. Perhaps I speak for the blind employee of the CNIB who lives in the east end of the city and has been unable to get to the CNIB because there haven't been possible arrangements for her.
I recall the stories that came out after the last strike, and some of the difficulties and real horrors, I suppose, that resulted from hardships to older people and to those who could not manage to walk and could not find other kinds of locomotion in this city.
I am of the opinion that at this point in time I have to accept that those who sat in those sessions on that night in question were actively trying to resolve the problem and that, as the Premier has said, it became clear that neither side felt able to move in this particular situation.
That being the case, what is the final obligation of a member of this Legislature? Frankly, I have been critical in the past and, indeed, so have members on all sides of the House when we have seen some of the disputes going on for long periods of time to the detriment of members of the public. It would be hypocritical of me, it seems to me, when the government has taken action in this circumstance, to try now to avoid the very issue which is before us.
The member for Ottawa-Centre referred to, among others, the firefighters and the kinds of results of bargaining that they achieved. It has always been a question in my mind, having come from the municipal field, as to what is the best procedure in these circumstances. From personal knowledge, I know it is true that the firefighters in the city of Toronto had a reasonably useful bargaining process. Notwithstanding the pressures upon them from their colleagues in the United States, they themselves have always disallowed the principle of the right to strike.
In their case, therefore, obviously having so limited themselves, it would behoove the government and the municipality in bargaining with them to take that into consideration as one reviewed their requests. I state this because I know it is a fact. I point out that perhaps not just this Legislature but others might look at this whole procedure with a view to coming closer to some accord in the whole process.
I have not been speaking to leaders of the union, nor have I been speaking to management. I have, however, taken the opportunity to speak to drivers. It seems to me that they, too, have some concerns about the way in which this matter has gone. So it is for me a very serious step to vote with the government on this bill. It does offend me as a principle. On this occasion, so far as I am concerned, and representing the constituents which I do, I have no alternative. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Four years ago, in this Legislature, the then Minister of Labour, the member for Humber (Mr. MacBeth), used words about the sincerity of both sides. In reading the reports of the debate four years ago, I found a number of things interesting, but I suggest that those words were as untrue then as they are today.
He talked about his anxiety in bringing in legislation to send the workers of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 and the two allied unions back to work. He pointed out in the course of the debate that only twice before in the previous 14 years had this Legislature resorted to such actions.
My colleague the member for Sudbury interjected at that point that "it gets easier every time" and, unfortunately, how prophetic his words are turning out to be.
The Premier talks about our dire predictions. I ask him, does this government treat so lightly a basic right of workers -- and I suggest that is exactly what it is doing -- the right of withdrawing their labour as a final resort? The rights of workers are undermined by such actions and, when the rights of workers are undermined, I might suggest that the rights of others, including employers, have a tendency to follow suit.
In countries where the rights of workers have gone -- and they are usually the first rights that are under attack -- democracy as we know it has invariably suffered. It is not a trifling matter when we are dealing with the rights and obligations of free collective bargaining.
To the Premier and the government, I say -- and I am sorry if I have to be pretty blunt -- I would like to know if they are proud to be made the patsies by the commission, by Michael Warren and by the TTC.
The Premier and the Minister of Labour, as we have heard today and as we knew, spent long hours on the weekend in attempting to use their good offices -- and their position, I suppose -- to assist in negotiating a decent contract. I will accept without reservation that the Premier and the minister did it in good faith.
The union obviously wanted a settlement; there was not any question about that. Also in good faith, they reduced their demands, which already had been substantially pared over the course of negotiations, at least twice during that final weekend in an effort to reach an agreement.
But what was the position of the TTC? They started with six per cent; they ended with six per cent. Fair enough, you say; maybe that is just tough bargaining. But they continued to push at every step of the way and up until the final hour with the possible suggestion of trade-offs or, the impression was left with the union bargaining team at one stage, if there was one more concession maybe we will get some movement. They took it right down to the wire and then threw their original offer on the table, saying "You take it or leave it" and clearly indicated they were not willing even to accept voluntary arbitration.
Only the Premier -- and the Minister of Labour, I suppose -- knows if they also refused to budge if he anted up the extra cash. I wonder about that.
Now comes the crunch. I want this very clearly underlined. I know my leader dealt with it. But I want people to understand. I want those who might still say, "Okay, that is just tough bargaining" to understand.
On Friday, clerical staff at Gray Coach were told not to report on Monday. This was on Friday, and all these negotiations -- this good faith bargaining -- was going on over the weekend. Drivers going out on long runs were told to get back to Toronto on the next bus or return the empty bus. Part-time employees were laid off and had their passes collected. On Sunday, 50 buses were moved from the Lansdowne garage to the western garage to make room for the trains.
In short, I am suggesting that Michael Warren and the commission -- and it's interesting that we have the same backup man, Godfrey, that we had four years ago -- had decided on Friday that they either got it all or there was a strike; there was nothing there. I am saying that was a dishonest and deceitful charade that was carried on over the weekend.
Only a blind Tory government could fail to have its faith shaken in the corporate management that seems to delight in sticking it to them. It's clear that words themselves aren't enough. I said to the Minister of Labour: "Okay, so you went after Columbus McKinnon" -- and I believe he did. "What is the final line?" That's really what we're talking about when they talk about whether anybody is posturing or not. At what point in time do we say: "Hey, the workers count and the jobs count. We can't afford that drain on our dollars"? At what point in time do we say: "Look, if you are totally irresponsible and that's a financially viable operation, it's time that we took it over or we saw that there was another purchaser there"? Maybe the kind of pressure we use without going that route --
The leader of the Liberal Party at that time, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), said: "It is unfortunate to have this bill" -- I am talking now about 1974 -- "before the House, because once again the collective bargaining processes are being circumvented." That, I understand, was at least an acknowledgement of the seriousness of the situation. But he was prepared to support the bill, mind you.
On two occasions in his speech he clearly states that the commission -- we are talking now about the TTC -- "had no intention of settling from the very beginning because they knew they could dump the responsibility on to the Legislature through compulsory arbitration." That is the leader of the Liberal Party at that time speaking, and he is right on once again there. That is exactly what we have done again four years later. But he and his colleagues were prepared to support the bill.
He also calls the commission's acts a charade, and says that they were not bargaining in good faith. I am rather surprised that the member for Hamilton West didn't read some of the debates from 1974. But they were willing to support the bill. What colossal hypocrisy. The member should know why he never became Premier of the province of Ontario. His party just demonstrated, as it has done again today, the ability to talk on both sides of an issue, to appear concerned for all, but always reaffirms its faith in the corporate sector.
In both hope and aspiration, I might say, some of us waited for the first Liberal words on this particular bill. It was not with great surprise, but it was, very frankly, with some concern that I heard the leader of the Liberal Party, I think it was on Tuesday morning, say that the strike is dangerous; this strike must be broken. I wonder whether it was a Freudian slip or did he really want to hamstring the workers that way? It is a sad commentary on the Liberal Party when its anti-labour bias -- or is it frustration, I sometimes wonder -- blinds it so totally.
I think the entire trade union movement is going to have to organize pretty effectively if we're not going to see the basic right of free collective bargaining in the public sector effectively hamstrung. It's obvious also that the Liberal policies and priorities haven't changed since the days of Hepburn when they would rather ride with General Motors and to hell with the workers.
I want to deal with one other thing. The only proposal I heard from the leader of the Liberal Party, and the Premier commented on it, was about final offer selection -- another item that hadn't been very well researched. The last real attack on the trade union movement, and one of the most serious ones, took place in 1972, 1973 and 1974 in the States when there were massive efforts to bring in final offer selection legislation and other forms of compulsory arbitration. The Nixon administration led most of this attack, it's interesting to note. I suppose his administration was most closely allied in terms of labour policies with the members to my right. I'm not sure. There had to be a major defence launched --
"Once this nation starts down the path of compulsion as a way of life, it will not stop with workers. The history of every dictatorship proves that once a government is allowed to compel workers to labour against their will, it invariably uses the weapon of compulsion against employers and, ultimately, against all citizens." A pretty strong statement, but part of the campaign.
More directly, in testimony before a US House committee: "The assumption of those who push compulsory arbitration under its own name or a mediation to finality or final offer selection is that the compulsory award will solve the underlying problem. This is demonstrably untrue. The history of discord, protracted and expensive litigation, and eventual strife which followed in the wake of what was billed as the final settlement, for example, of the railroad firemen dispute proves this beyond any doubt, for there is a natural resistance to purported solutions handed down from on high, as opposed to solutions which emerge from a process in which those affected play an active role and which are therefore regarded as legitimate."
I want to make it very clear to this House that final offer selection is really government or labour gimmickry. Maybe "quackery" would be a word better understood by some. They tried this in a major way. I would suggest a little bit of reading, once again, for members on all sides of the House. Where did it come from? It's not some new plaything that you can ride into a position of popularity, as appears to be the wish of the member for Hamilton West. The Weimar Republic saw the first major attempt to use final offer selection, and it was found wanting and it was very quickly abandoned. Is there any reason to think that 55 years later and some 3,000 miles removed it's going to be any more effective? I think we should stop playing games with that one.
I really wonder when this government is going to stop using the back-door method of breaking the workers' right to strike in the public sector. It's not an honest way of dealing with an issue. If that's going to be the approach it's going to take, and it has obviously got the support of the leader of the Liberal Party, then let it bring in legislation and let's have the fight so that we know exactly where we stand over what rights workers do have in the public sector. You can't afford to say you support it. Try to hang your hats on the principles of free collective bargaining. We're all in favour. We don't want to take this right away. It just worries us sometimes. Then, every time there's a crunch or a major strike, the government yanks the rug out and destroys it.
I can't help but compare the less than $2 million that separated the transit workers from agreement in that last frantic weekend -- less than $2 million would have resolved it. A whole panoply of things goes through my mind.
It goes through my mind that the transit commission, and I agree with it totally as I think it was a good move, was willing to lose $15 million in favour of the single fare zone here in Metro. I recall that the figure of $2 million -- it may or may not be right -- has been put on the cost of providing 24-hour student passes. I agree with it. I think it's a good move. Very clearly, they were quite willing to put in $15 million and $2 million in two progressive moves there. Are the workers of that organization any less important?
By the same token, I can't help but think, when we understand that $1.5 million might have settled this dispute, that we have just come through a major strike in Fleck where there was certainly an attempt to bust the union. Whether their intent was to do the busting or not, it was backed up by the expenditure of more than $2 million on the Ontario Provincial Police to interfere on behalf of 40 women against 70 women, or whatever the figures were, in that particular strike. But we couldn't find $1.5 million, if that was what was necessary to sweeten the pot, to see that the workers here got a fair shake.
The city of Toronto and Metro Toronto should not have to be able to hang on to the money at the expense of one group of workers in this particular situation. The province of Ontario should not be allowed to cut back and save and not make the grants that may be necessary at the expense of one group of workers. It's long past time that we reordered our priorities.
I think it is time we got our priorities in order, it is time we looked at the things that mean things to people, and it is time we stopped bashing the worker. We bashed the workers with the AIB, and that affected the TTC negotiations considerably. They won one contract of 10.4 per cent or 10.8 per cent -- I forget just which -- and it was rolled back to eight per cent two years ago. We thought that was the answer, although the only people really paying the price were workers across this country.
That didn't work. But it did lower the wage settlements below what has been happening in the last year or two in the cost-of-living area; and that means, effectively, the government over the last three-year period has put the workers in this province down.
We can argue whether they were or weren't getting too big settlements previously. What the government has done, though, is not only has it put them down with the mechanism that was going to solve inflation, but it also didn't solve inflation. If anything, it is getting worse again.
I am simply asking, what are we doing? That has given the whip hand both to the corporations and to the government, and the government has reinforced it with its treatment of public sector workers and cutbacks. Everybody now figures the worker in Ontario is fair game; hammer him.
Unfortunately, the government uses the uncertain economic climate and apprehension on the part of citizens and appeals for and gets some general public support.
What the government is doing is dangerous. What it is doing, I suggest, may even be deadly. It is not a route that a free country, a country that believes in free collective bargaining, should be going down. It is time we turned that around and acknowledged that they are making a contribution. They are not just the fall guys in every situation that we face.
That just isn't good enough. That's why this bill should not be before this House and that's why the members in this House, if they had any understanding of the potential consequences, would not be voting for it.
I am pleased, however, that the government has chosen to move a little faster in this particular disruption of service than it has been inclined to move in the past. Unfortunately, it is becoming an all-too-common occurrence.
I am not so certain whether there is any member in the Legislature here who would be inclined to say we are selling out to one particular group or other, or that we are attempting to see the strike broken, in essence.
My leader earlier today made a suggestion that we might consider final offer selection. I don't think there are any of us here who are aware of the process of final offer selection who would say it is a panacea for all our labour problems as they exist.
I would be inclined then to suggest that some time in the near future -- five or six years maybe -- the use of final offer selection will be, especially in the public sector, a fair, equitable, intelligent, pragmatic method of bringing about conclusions to labour disputes, especially in the public sector.
My leader was accused of being somewhat simplistic, maybe, in proposing final offer selection. I can only say that when two parties can be so far apart sometimes in various disputes the method of final offer selection brings parties together. It brings some finality to it. It brings some common sense and often removes some sense of combativeness, if I might use that word, that sometimes pervades the labour relations field.
At this time I would commend the new Minister of Labour, who I think has made a tremendous effort in the last several days, as new as he is to his portfolio. I think he is a sincere individual. I might say that if he had been Minister of Labour some time before his appointment we might not be here at all. I have a great deal of faith in that particular individual and I would think the fact that we are here today is an indication that both sides have, possibly, sincerely come to some conclusion as to what their positions will be. There is, I suppose, maybe some sincere intransigence on their part and to that end the only way we are going to see a conclusion is to provide some legislation to effect it. In many ways it may be a face-saving mechanism for both parties.
I would say again I do believe that both parties have made a sincere effort. I think it would be unfair for any member of this House to suggest that any blame be directed to one party or another. Not only do I not think it would be fair; I don't think there would be any purpose to it.
The legislation in itself is quite clear. Without being too lengthy in my comments, I would commend the government in its selection of the arbitrator, Mr. Syd Robins. Mr. Robins has a distinguished career in the bar in Ontario and is an individual who will bring a great deal of fairness to these considerations. No side need fear his lack of judgement or a predisposition on his part.
Section 3(2), which provides for a replacement for Mr. Robins, I think, with that in mind, is almost redundant. I don't think Mr. Robins will require a replacement, nor do I think he will require 45 days to come to some conclusion as to what would be a fair conclusion in this particular dispute.
You must realize, I think, that these kinds of disputes, unless some better mechanism for solving labour problems is developed, are going to become more common, not only in the province of Ontario, not only in the public sector but in the private sector as well.
I think at the same time we have to realize -- and I would be one to continue to put this philosophy forth -- you just can't merely continue to get a cheque book out and write a cheque for demands as they are. We just can't continue to spend money to effect solutions to difficult problems. It would be nice if we could. Those who would suggest that I think should be brought to task and indicate where those moneys will come from. We can't spend money like it's from a bottomless pit.
I must say I am disappointed by the third party, with what appears to be their obstructionist tactics today. I tend to see it as a messianic direction. There seems to be some preoccupation with some rather narrow dialectics.
I would hope too that during the course of this debate some accurate reporting, as usual, will occur in the Toronto media and maybe they will print the record as it has transpired today and print the voting record of the individuals here who would be inclined to --
I want to say again there's no individual in this Legislature who could be accused of bashing the workers or undermining collective bargaining in some sort of pervasive tactic. That's not the objective of the exercise whatsoever. This is an unfortunate occurrence; it's one, I think, that has occurred all too often in the past. I would hope, with the leadership I expect from the temporary Minister of Labour -- temporary because he may be on the other side here some time in the near future -- that some plan for the future will see that we do not get into strikes as the precursor to some legislative conclusion.
In conclusion, I want to offer a message to my friends in the third party. That is, I would hope that through the course of the events this evening they will possibly reconsider their position. Not so far as maybe changing their vote as it is right now, but I would ask them possibly that they consider not obstructing this legislation because it seems to be inevitable -- don't impede it; don't delay it. Most important, don't continue to inflict on this great city of ours, and the area that surrounds it, a considerable inconvenience, an inconvenience I would be inclined to think that the voters will remember in the next election.
At the same time, maybe we just might be a little more objective about life. We might be a little more positive, and less negative and cynical about the motivations of some people --
To recap the unfortunate and indeed tragic situation that the transit workers have found themselves in, they were legislated back to work in 1974 by this same government; they were deprived of the gains of their bargaining by the federal Anti-Inflation Board in 1976 and 1977; and here we are again in 1978. In each of the years from 1974 until 1978, the transit workers have been victimized by assaults on free collective bargaining.
The leader of our party talked about the corrosive consequences of what we are doing today. The Premier said not to worry, not to make these expressions about dire consequences. The strike we have in Toronto right now is one of those consequences. It is one of the corrosive consequences of what the transit workers have been put through since 1974. There are only two possible consequences, as far as I and my colleagues can see, which result from the stripping of the right to free collective bargaining from public sector workers. You could have the kind of gross exploitation of public sector workers that took place in the hospital sector until hospital workers were granted the right to strike; until they were granted the right to strike, their exploitation was a crime and a disgrace.
I can predict, I think with certainty, that we will be back here again next year. We are operating on one-year contracts for the transit workers. The TTC knows that it doesn't have to worry about the collective bargaining process. It knows that you will bail them out. Is this process going to extend on indefinitely or are we going to have strikes every single year because of your refusal to allow the collective bargaining process to follow its natural course, a natural course of a mutually agreeable settlement? I very much fear that we are and that we will be back here next year debating an identical bill.
I speak not just out of concern for the principle of the right of workers to free collective bargaining; there are practical consequences that you have to recognize. You cannot strip workers of the rights to free collective bargaining without facing very serious and disruptive consequences. Until the government is prepared to recognize that and allow the collective bargaining process to work itself out, without giving management the assured certainty that you will bail them out and that all they have to do is to be intransigent until you do bail them out, then we are never to have labour peace in the transit sector in this city. I think that is an axiom. I think that is a simple, almost a natural, law. It's going to happen again and again until you allow the process to work itself out. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am not saying the leader of the third party would agree, but I suspect that he is telling us to do nothing and leave 400,000 commuters, some of whom come into this city from my riding, to be held out as ransom, and leave them ignored.
One talks about the fundamental right to collective bargaining. Of course, and we all accept that. One also talks about interference with the basic freedom of collective bargaining. That is not what we are interfering with. We are interfering with the fact of walking out and leaving hundreds of people stranded; that is what we are talking about. That is the pure fact of life in this strike, not the collective bargaining. As a matter of fact, the principle, the spirit of collective bargaining exists in the very program, the very philosophy of final offer selection. That is where responsibility exists.
I'm not going to argue the merits of final offer selection but it exists there -- collective bargaining, accepting responsibility, communicating your wishes -- it exists under that program, under that approach to resolving our difficulties in the labour scene as well.
When two parties believe that they are acting responsibly but cannot be ad idem, cannot arrive at a common ground or become of the same mind, then in so far as and inasmuch as there are people who are not parties to that bargaining, not parties to that communication, inasmuch as they suffer we must accept our responsibility as legislators to minimize that hardship. That is exactly what we are doing here.
I commend the Minister of Labour and I commend the Premier for acting so quickly in this problem. In that regard, I would back and I have absolutely no problem in endorsing what my leader has said and the position of our party in minimizing the difficulty out there in our city that depends so much on public transportation. The responsibilities of the bargaining parties in collective bargaining and in final offer selection are exactly the same. It's our city collectively.
It is the responsibility of parties to accept their role, not to polarize their positions, but to try to come to a meeting of the minds. That has not been done. One party, under the final offer selection, when it cannot stand the hurt, gives in. That's the way the situation exists right now. Hold out until the hurt can be stood no more and then we say we've come to a meeting of the minds; we've come to a resolution of the problem. That is not responsibility, in my respectful submission, in the public sector.
Why, then, am I and my party opposing this bill, even though we know that many citizens will be very upset by our opposition to it and may not understand why we do so?
Since transit workers do have by law the same collective bargaining rights as workers in the private sector and in most parts of the public sector, it is, in my opinion, very unjust to take away that right by this kind of ad hoc emergency legislation. It, in effect, makes them second-class citizens. It does not give them in return the same sort of protection which policemen and firemen receive in compensation for being deprived of the right to strike -- namely a public commitment to see they do not fall behind other workers in like jobs.
I oppose this kind of compulsory arbitration because it is unfair to public service employees and means the death of collective bargaining for such employees.
Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I oppose this bill because it is asking the public transit employees of this city to subsidize the riders. The floor which the government wrote into the bill as a last-minute amendment will not ensure that Metro transit employees do not suffer a reduction in their standard of living, if the cost of living continues to rise at anything like the present rate. It also means that transit workers for the top system in North America will be getting less than those in Montreal and in certain other Ontario cities. This does not seem just or fair.
I could have looked on the bill with more favour if it had included as a floor at least the union's last offer, which was considerably moderated from their first request at the beginning of bargaining, down from 10 per cent to 7.3 per cent.
The third reason why I oppose this bill, Mr. Speaker, was because it was brought in hurriedly before the government, the Minister of Labour, the Premier had made adequate effort to get the TTC management to consider the very significant concessions which the union made during the last weekend. One wonders if the hurry was partly to permit the Premier to get away on his trip next week to Israel. Or was the government in league with the TTC management to force the legislative settlement and to support management's refusal to consider the way in which its employees are falling behind other workers in Ontario?
I would like to see this strike ended as soon as possible, as I am sure all members would. I believe it could be ended quickly without this kind of legislation if the government would indicate that it is ready to honour its earlier commitment to promote public transit. It can do this by making enough additional money available to the TTC to keep Metro Toronto transit employees in line with other workers in like jobs.
The final request of the transit union is not unreasonable and I am sure it is much less than lawyers and corporation executives are handing to themselves without telling the public except by price increases.
I am opposed to a fare-box increase as a means of settling this strike. It is counterproductive and discourages the use of public transit. It also hits low-income groups, particularly senior citizens and students.
I am also opposed to an increase in property taxes to cover TTC deficits. The province has already squeezed the municipalities too much by cutting back school grants and social grants and tearing up the Edmonton commitment. We also know that property taxes are regressive.
But there are strong arguments for a greater commitment by the province to public transit. It means a saving in road costs. It means savings in our diminishing fossil fuels. It means less pollution and it means fairer taxation, since the province can tap the more progressive tax sources.
If this strike has demonstrated anything, it has demonstrated that this city cannot do without public transit. The streets simply cannot handle all the cars now pouring into the area. It has also shown that any significant increase in cars raises the carbon monoxide readings to dangerous levels.
It has shown, in short, that we need more, not less public transit and good public transit.
For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I hold the province largely responsible for this strike. It is their failure to see that sufficient revenue is available to provide decent wages and working conditions that has caused the strike. They have forced Metro and TTC authorities to face possible property tax increases or fare box increases as part of the equation and have contributed to their stiff-necked approach, but I cannot exonerate the TTC management of all blame for they have not bargained in good faith, as their actions on the last weekend have proved when they came up, after midnight on Sunday, with the same offer as they had given on the previous Friday, and when it later came out that they had arranged for the shutdown of the system on the Friday.
I suggest that it is still not too late for this government to sit down with the union and management tonight and reconsider its fiscal responsibilities to transit workers, to riders and to the citizens of Metro Toronto, and to see if a fair and just settlement cannot be reached outside this Legislature tonight. Then the government can simply withdraw the bill and we can all go back to looking after the other important business of this province, such as the unemployment situation and the pollution problem. Thank you.
I want to say what I find out in talking to people. They say, "What the hell is happening to our country?"
If my friends on the left can find one supporter in those thousands and thousands of cars, it would be hard to find one. Their lot is not a popular one. I admire their guts for fighting in the way they do for the working man. We all feel the same way. We're not any different than they are. They have no corner on collective bargaining, not a bit. The record will show that all of us are concerned. I know the Premier is. Oar leader is. So is the minister.
My good friend from Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie) talks about the cost being a million and a half dollars' difference between the two parties. My information is now that the bottom line is the commission was offering more than they are asking for. That's the bottom line. If it was a million and a half dollars between the two parties, that breaks down to $250 a year per worker, or $5 a week, across the board. That's what they're talking about, $5 a week. Isn't that a hell of a thing to do, to put a whole city in paralysis for?
If they had their way, they would never let them go back to work. The transit system would be dead forever if they had their way. So someone has to start running the show here.
I want to say to the Premier, if he would listen to me just for a moment, I hadn't realized --
I can appreciate that the people in Metropolitan Toronto are aggravated by the strike and are put to some considerable inconvenience by the strike and that they may be angry, not only at us but angry at the bus drivers, angry at the people ahead of them whose car radiators boil over and angry at the people beside them whose fumes come in the window while they're sitting. I understand all of that, but I can't help feeling that the Premier moved with indecent haste. If he were to take a look at the criteria that he set out for his intervention, what he said was that he satisfied himself that both parties had bargained in good faith, that they have made every effort over that period leading up to last weekend and over last weekend to find a solution which would be acceptable to those --
The question I was going to ask the Premier when I tried to interject was: Am I right in assuming that that set of circumstances inevitably is arrived at immediately prior to every public-sector strike, that those circumstances are almost identical in most cases? One always arrives at a point where one is reasonably well satisfied that the parties are not going to move any further unless there is a strike. In fact, we arrived at that point in 1974, when there was a strike in transit here; and I am sure we will arrive at it many times in the future and in any number of different public sector areas. If that is to be the measurement against which the minister determines whether or not he is going to bring in back-to-work legislation immediately, then obviously he is going to be bringing it in every single instance in transit negotiations where it is easily seen that a strike will take place.
I don't understand it. What the minister is doing, in fact, is saying "Never again in Metropolitan Toronto will there be a transit strike." That is what he is saying.
I find it difficult because I can see this situation coming up again and again, not only in the transit situation but in many other situations. I don't like crisis intervention, and that is what it is. The government waits until things are at crisis proportion; it waits until the strike is imminent; it waits until there is, without question, going to he some discontinuance of one service or another and some aggravation created in the community, and then the government moves in. It doesn't take a look at what is really wrong: How did they get to this position in the first place? How is it that in two sets of negotiations within the last five years -- the last four years, I guess -- we end up with the union and the management unable to arrive at a settlement? How is it that those things happen in Metropolitan Toronto between the transit commission and their employees?
What the government really has to do is take a serious look at the entire process. I listened to my friend from Owen Sound talking about the need to break some new ground. He probably is right; I think there is a need to break some new ground. I think it is time that we made a commitment that, if we believe collective bargaining is to work, then the first thing we are going to have to do is to strengthen the sections of the act which require that people bargain in good faith.
If the minister were to listen to my colleague from Hamilton East and the way in which he described the events over the last weekend, he would have to come to the conclusion that, no matter what, the transit commission certainly did not make any serious effort to extend to the union an offer that they felt was acceptable. Therefore, they did not bargain in good faith. Whether or not they felt they could give any more is neither here nor there, because they now are prepared to allow someone else sitting outside to determine whether they should have given more. So they are going to have to live with the outcome. One would have thought, given they knew they were so close, and since the union did reduce its demands twice over the same weekend, that management would have given at least some indication of the willingness to make some counter-offer, which they never would do.
I want to suggest that if the government hopes to have an impact on collective bargaining, it is going to have to begin to try to understand it. I am not suggesting I have any corner on the knowledge of collective bargaining; I don't. But the government is going to have to try to understand first of all that it isn't going to serve any useful purpose if we are repeatedly asked to deal with the crisis situations that we are asked to deal with here in the Legislature. That is not a resolution; that is just a Band Aid, and by the time it comes to us it is beyond hope. It shouldn't be our responsibility to try to provide in Metro Toronto a transit system that is operating every single day. If the government thinks the transit is so damned important, and it obviously does, and is of such essential nature, why is that not reflected in the dollars made available for the provision of transit all across the province?
It is quite evident, at least in recent years, that transit hasn't been a priority with the government since the day the Premier got the "transit man of the year" award. After that was over it seemed to deteriorate in importance in relationship to many other things, and we haven't seen any great effort on the part of the government to promote the development of transit.
In any event, let me say this to the government: I think it is going to have to start all over again. We may have a useful debate some time in this Legislature about the collective bargaining process; not in an atmosphere like this where we are talking about a particular crisis, but a useful debate in the Legislature about the way the process doesn't work and why it doesn't work, and what the psychology of the strike really is as opposed to what some people imagine it to be. The psychology of the strike has little, if anything, to do with dollars and cents offered on the collective bargaining table. The psychology of the strike has to do with aggravation and frustration built up over a long period of time as a result of workers and management not being able to get together and to see clearly what the role of each should be and the degree to which each should participate in creating a safe and worthwhile place to work.
We are going to have to stop the situation we are seeing ourselves in. We are going to have to stop getting into this mess. We are going to have to start at the beginning and take a look at the collective bargaining procedures we have established. We are going to have to take a look at the mediation and conciliation services we have made available. We are going to have to take a look at what bargaining in good faith really means, and what it ought to mean, and where if ever it is applied. We are going to have to take a look at the kind of neanderthal thinking that still exists with people like the Fleck Manufacturing Company's management, who couldn't see the way to the solution, the path to follow to arrive at a solution, even though it was perfectly obvious to a great number of other people on the outside.
And we are also going to have to look at whether or not we can develop some model in Ontario that is unique perhaps to this part of North America to allow for some form -- I am not sure what form it will take -- but some form of worker involvement, some form of co-determination, if you will, some form of worker participation. The terms can be any terms you want to apply; but that is how we are going to avoid these situations occurring, and that is how we are going to avoid having to face these kinds of crises year after year, that is how we are going to avoid having people go on strike. That is the way we are going to do it.
We're not going to do it by choosing between final-offer selection on the one hand and arbitration on the other. It doesn't matter which of the two we choose; we're still dealing with the crisis when we get to that point instead of having dealt with the problem that created the crisis and got us to the point of crisis. That's really where I think we're missing the boat in this Legislature, where I think perhaps the Ministry of Labour could redirect its thinking and where I think the government ought to redirect its thinking too.
I want to finish by saying that if, as I suspect, the Premier's logic has led him in this instance to say that we must have legislation to send them back to work, then that should mean that these people are performing an essential service; that the very words "essential service" mean that we can't get along without it; that if we can't get along without it, then we're going to have to find ways to provide the money necessary to pay them what is reasonable and fair, given what is being paid other people in similar professions all across the country and all across the province.
We can't say on the one hand that they're not entitled to similar wages and benefits arid to maintain their position in the economic ladder vis-à-vis other people in similar walks of life, and on the other hand demand that they work and send them back to work because they are so essential to the well-being of the community in which we are all living. We can't have it both ways. That worries me.
Frankly, I think that the Premier and the government did not give sufficient time to the consideration of this dispute. We won't get rid of hard feelings by sending someone to a judge for a solution. That doesn't solve the general personal behavioural difficulties that people have one with the other. Therefore, while we will send this to arbitration, the basic problems will still be maintained. The antagonism, the animosity, the lack of understanding that currently is in place won't be done away with simply because an arbitrator sits down and hands down an award. That isn't going to solve it.
Arbitration can do many things; there is no doubt about that. Arbitration can solve a number of things, but they must be economical, tangible, easily seen. It can't solve human emotion, which is what brings about a strike. Unless we get to the point of understanding that, coming to grips with that and dealing with it in the way we form our legislation, speaking about it here as if it really mattered and making some effort through the various committees of this Legislature to try to pull together the best possible thoughts and brains, not only here but around the world, to put together a model system for labour relations, we are just going to limp along year by year until we have finally deprived everyone, whether in the public or private sector, of the right to strike. The moment the public goes, the private will follow. Organizations there can make arguments quite consistent with the arguments in the public sector about the necessity to maintain their operations. Of course, the reprivatization that the government is now going through is moving -- or thinking of moving -- so much of what was once considered public sector involvement back to the private sector that many of the people who will be involved will become private sector employees in any event. Then we are going to have the argument there about the necessity and the essential nature of the service they perform. The government is going to have to think it all through again.
This is not the solution. It's short-term and it's destructive. It's even more destructive now than it was in 1974. It's catering to a political mood, and the government can't allow itself to do that. It's easy here. I can understand some of it. I can understand why the Premier wouldn't want the Leader of the Opposition beating him around the ears all the time he was in Israel because the strike is on in Metropolitan Toronto and the cars are backed up all the way down University Avenue. I can appreciate that. I'm not ashamed to say that I might have shared that if I'd been sitting exactly where he is. I'd have worried a little bit, as I walked around Israel, about the Leader of the Opposition making hay in Metropolitan Toronto, screaming in his normal screaming way about the need to do something. I think what the Premier has done in answer to that is far more destructive than anything else he could have thought of.
All you have to do is walk outside of this building. You can just walk on the side of the street behind where I am standing and you can look at people trying to go home. You can see them virtually stranded downtown.
These aren't even people in Metropolitan Toronto. This isn't a Metropolitan Toronto issue any more because most of the GO service buses are down; Gray Coach is down. This is a paralysis, an inconvenience, a dislocation that extends 50 to 100 miles in virtually every direction from Toronto; unless you happen to be fortunate enough to live along a rail line, and not everybody is that fortunate.
I live in a suburb. I have people who can't go shopping. They are old; they live in senior citizen apartments or in Ontario Housing or in private apartments. They have to take the bus to get their food. The suburbs aren't like the city of Toronto where there is a grocery store on every street corner. If there were enough cabs, and cabs are not that prevalent in the suburbs, if there were enough, they are not very cheap. Those people can't afford that type of thing.
We have people who have to go through the essentials of life. They have to get their children to school. A considerable portion of the population in my riding has been very substantially dislocated by the fact that the bus service is down. They have to drive their children to the high school in the morning.
The suburban streets are just as clogged because people are having to drive in from Oshawa, from Whitby. They have to start off two or three hours early to get their children to school. They have to make arrangements in the afternoon to get their children home -- those people going to work.
Okay, it has now been two days; and that is why I say enough is enough.
There will be a great many rationalizations tonight about the position other people will take. There are people who are philosophically opposed to compulsory arbitration at all costs. But, in the end, no matter how philosophically you are opposed, there has to come an end. There is no one, no matter how dedicated to the non-intervention of any third party in any dispute, who is going to say that at some point if the stalemate continues, be it 43 days, or 43 months, or 43 years, at some point you have to end it.
The public is out there and what the public is basically saying is, enough is enough. The union has proved its point. It has the ability, and rightfully so, to exercise its total resources at the most opportune time to get the best possible settlement it can out of the Toronto Transit Commission. If the union were less adept, it could have staged a relatively convenient strike. They could have done it some time in July. There wouldn't have been the type of chaos there is today.
But that is the function of the union. The function of the union and its mandate from its members is to utilize its bargaining strength in the best possible manner to get the best possible settlement.
The reason for it is very simple. The public sector is fundamentally different from the private sector. There is no competition. In the ordinary course of collective bargaining in the private sector there are various resources that can be used by either side. There is always the alternative that a new company can be set up or a competition can become big if an existing company decides it is going to be belligerent and stay out too long.
In the public service there is no alternative. No one is going to set up another bus line of the dimensions of the TTC. That is known before we start. No one is going to set up another --
The very pressures that are in the private sector and contribute so much to the fact that labour disputes can be settled without the particular type of very formal state intervention as we have here simply aren't present in the public sector.
The former House leader of the third party is absolutely right. It's not just a model for collective bargaining. We have to start in this country -- it's not just in this province or in this city; it's in the dimension of the federal government as well -- there has to be a new type of approach in the public sector. It has to be as fundamental a change in approach as was conciliation and mediation in the thirties and forties in the private sector.
I think it is far too simplistic to say --
I know if final offer selection was applied in my ministry it simply wouldn't work, because the number of items that are there in terms of working conditions and grievance procedures and so forth simply do not lend themselves to final offer selection. Final offer selection really only lends itself at the very top of the mountain after we have solved the basic issues. It has to be far beyond that.
By the same token, notwithstanding the fact that we can stand here tonight and say "Enough is enough, people have suffered;" there appears to he no real alternative. Surely just the record since the weekend -- the Minister of Labour meeting with both parties; then the Premier and the Minister of Labour meeting with both parties; both parties being responsible and still there's a stalemate. It's all very well to say it's 12 cents or it's only $1.5 million. The fact of the matter is many thousands of people cannot go about their ordinary lives; a city is being strangled. It's not just the bus riders. It's the fact that they can't make deliveries; things are starting to run short. The small business man and the older person suffer once again. They don't have control. They cannot end it. Only the government can end it.
There has to be a new approach towards collective bargaining in the public service. It has to reflect the fact that the strike in the public service is not the economic weapon nor is it as influential in the bargaining process in the public service as it is in the private sector; that the very modifying factors there are in the private sector simply do not play any role whatsoever in the public sector. That, I think, is the thing we have to address ourselves to.
To sit back and say we are destroying free collective bargaining -- as a matter of fact, we are showing, quite frankly, that free collective bargaining can work because it doesn't have to be a total adversary system where one side or the other has to be destroyed before a stalemate can be ended. We are saying that when there is an economic struggle there is a point where the common good has to prevail, and there's no question that it is for the common good. That is today, Mr. Speaker, and that is precisely why we are here.
I would like only to address myself to one. That is, as I sit here and listen, as I have read the papers recently, as I have tried, quite frankly in my very inexperienced way, to understand both the side of management and the side of the union, it comes very strongly to me that one of the basic issues that we're dealing with in this, and one of the reasons I and my party are taking the position that we are, is the issue of conflicting values.
I've heard several times this afternoon and this evening of the issue of the collective bargaining process, and people making very strong cases for the collective bargaining process as if, in my judgement anyway and that's all I can speak for, there is anyone in this chamber who disputes collective bargaining as a value and a good value. Anyone who has any sense of the history of the labour movement in this country, on this continent, and knowing what it's done not just for the men and women who have been directly involved but for all of the rest of us who have benefited from the side effects of it, knows it is a value that we're dealing with in this strike, in this issue. But it is not the only value; it is one of the values.
Secondly, we're dealing with the value of our responsibility to the transit riders. We have said to people in this community -- all three of the parties in this House, in this chamber, have said time and time again -- that the concept of public transit is something that we support, something that we work for, something that we encourage; something, yes, that we finance with millions and millions of dollars of public money -- federal dollars, provincial dollars, municipal dollars, ironically all from the same pocket, public money.
The third value that we have to keep in mind is the entire concept of providing public service. It's easy for people to say, "We're not going to raise the fare-box fares. We're not going to raise property tax. Somehow or other the money is going to appear out of somewhere." And yet look at all the other public services that we are now struggling with: education costs, medical costs, other transportation costs, social welfare costs. The list is unlimited; we're all aware of it. We know there is not an infinite pot of money. It is a value, the conflicting services that we have to offer to our people, a value that impinges upon this issue.
I would like to end on this one point. There are public services in this country whose credibility has been seriously undermined, whose credibility has seriously deteriorated. Let me mention only one: the postal service. I would suggest -- I think anyway -- that there is probably not a member here who does not have serious concerns about what has happened to what was once the finest postal service anywhere. We were the envy of European countries. We were the envy of the United States. We had a fine service. I am not going to render a litany of what has happened there or who was at fault. That does not really affect what we are doing here. The issue is that a fine public service has been seriously undermined and the credibility of the people who use that service has been seriously challenged.
What I am obviously trying to suggest is that it is so easy to come down hard and firm on any one of these values and simply to ignore, or to distort out of proportion, the others. I guess what I am trying to say is that, given this collection of conflicting values, and despite some of the disadvantages in some areas, what we are doing tonight, in a totality is the better thing to do. That is why I support it.
That's exactly what is happening and it is going to happen again.
The other thing is that the government is very good at selective intervention when it comes to labour disputes. They sat on their collective hands almost gleefully while a union involved with the Fleck strike was having great difficulties. I want to tell you something: there is an enormous difference in the reaction of the government on this dispute than some of the others. There is an enormous difference, and the trade union movement doesn't fail to note that, as do we.
I think that is a strange measure of commitment to the collective bargaining process in any given jurisdiction, to move so selectively. It is almost like the way the government moves on problems in the economy. I think it was the Minister of Correctional Services who mentioned that there are several hundred thousand people being inconvenienced. There are almost 300,000 being inconvenienced by unemployment, and I don't see the government intervening in that problem in a significant way at all.
I think it was either the Treasurer or the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) who talked today about how the federal government is cutting back grants to the provinces and that that's causing problems in Ontario. That's absolutely true. As the government cuts down on UIC benefits, those people are transferred to welfare rolls and that becomes a burden on the municipality. The chairman of Metropolitan Toronto understands that. That's one reason he's so concerned about the Metro Toronto budget. He understands that. He doesn't like it either, but that's what is happening.
This province has done the same thing by reneging on its grants to the municipality. So what you have is a transferring of burdens from the more progressive kinds of taxation to the more regressive -- the property taxes in a municipality such as Metropolitan Toronto. That's no coincidence. That's an increasingly regressive way of raising taxes. There is no doubt that the municipalities are going to feel an increasing crunch.
I find that the government has put us through a shabby exercise today by bringing in this legislation when it has. I personally resent it very much. I think it's one of those days that I will remember as being one of my more unpleasant ones in this chamber. I can assure you that it is with a great deal of concern that we debate this bill but I can assure you we also have no hesitation whatsoever in opposing it.
I must say that in the short time that I have been a member of this House, I haven't experienced such a sad situation as has been experienced here today in the approach and attitude that has been taken to this matter by the third party. I believe that perhaps the greatest personal knowledge and understanding of this particular situation as it affects the people of Metro Toronto, as known to the member in question, is his observation of the people walking to work while he was coming from the airport in the airline limousine to his residence here in Toronto to come to the special debate on this bill.
I can assure the House that indeed a great deal of hardship is being experienced by the citizens throughout the width and breadth of Metropolitan Toronto. It has been most unfortunate that the third party has seen fit to keep its blinkers on today and look at only one of the parties in the issue. It's the innocent third party that I think the majority of the members of this House are concerned with. It is perhaps gratifying in one respect that at least, as I understand it from the debate so far, all of the parties agree that both management and labour have negotiated in good faith, albeit futilely to this point in time.
However, I would like to point out the fact that not only has this strike had an effect on Metro Toronto, but it's had an effect right across Ontario, because many of the small towns and rural areas are dependent on Gray Coach for transportation between areas and for transportation from a small town into a large urban centre. Many of our senior citizens rely on Gray Coach in order to get in to visit their sick husbands or sick wives in the hospitals in the large urban centres.
I simply can't believe that the workers of the TTC would deny or want to deny these people the opportunity to get from our smaller towns to the large cities for such a purpose or to deny the transportation of workers from one town to another. I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, that there are many people who rely on Gray Coach to get from one place to another in order to carry out their working duties.
Most of my colleagues who have spoken have put the arguments quite succinctly. I have one particular request for the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie) who, although he is now sitting under the gallery, I know is listening intently. I have one request.
We shouldn't be here today. We shouldn't have to have this bill in front of us, but that is what is happening now. We are going to deal with it. Obviously the coalition government will pass the bill. Likely that will be done in the not too distant future. But if the minister really wants to get at the root of the problem so that we are not back here again -- first on the matter of transit in Metro Toronto and secondly on the matter of public transit in other centres across Ontario, because now it appears that every city in Ontario can now count on the government to bail them out when negotiations don't go the way they want them to -- to the new Minister of Labour I think the most useful thing that could be done whenever we find we have finished with this bill and it is passed, is to get Michael Warren to answer for his actions, either in front of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, or in the minister's office or in a committee of this Legislature, because all of the facts as they have been presented to us indicate that there is one person who is primarily responsible for this strike.
Michael Warren wanted a strike. Michael Warren did everything he could in his own power play politics to precipitate a strike.
The Minister of Labour is certainly well aware of the events which took place between Friday last and Monday, and knows that captured within those 48 hours or slightly more is the essence of the problem.
I sincerely hope when the matter is resolved then Michael Warren is going to answer. Surely the Metro council will want to know why he did not come back to them when he couldn't solve the problem. Michael Warren didn't know how to get through the impasse that had resulted. He should obviously have gone back to Metro council and asked for some directions. He didn't do that. He knew he should have, and he didn't. I can only ascertain from that that there was one reason: he knew what he wanted, a strike, and he got it.
Perhaps when we're finished, one of the things the government will do is to take this matter in its broader context and send it to a committee to be dealt with when the House is in session and perhaps get Metro council to come in here, or the executive committee, and let's thrash it out and find out if there is some way to make sure this kind of situation isn't going to occur again.
I, for one, am extremely upset and frustrated over the course of events which has led to this unfortunate bill before us. I hope that if the minister is going to wrap up the debate at some point he can lay out pretty clearly what the government's policy is with respect to the public sector. If the man who's sitting on the outside of the revolving door, the man from Oriole, is having some influence over there, obviously they're about to go into more public sector bashing and to outlaw public sector strikes totally in Ontario. If that's the situation, perhaps they'll be honest enough to put that forward. Perhaps the Minister of Labour would be kind enough to give us some sense about the policy.
Obviously, I'm opposing this bill. It's the wrong way to solve the problem. This government doesn't know how to solve labour disputes. That's been evident before. It can't do it here. But it seems to delight somehow -- or at least some of the members delight -- in legislating people back to work. That disturbs me too.
When all is said and done -- and I have voted against this bill but it's carried -- perhaps the Minister of Labour can bring about a better way of resolving differences; and perhaps we have some way of handling Michael Warren, and perhaps that will be done swiftly too. There's no question about the frustration that's felt by people in Metro Toronto, people in my area, over the lack of transit in the last few days. They're also frustrated and some of the calls I've got --
While the previous speaker and others have called passionately for some sort of solution, greater minds perhaps than his and mine have sought the solution and have not come up with it as yet, other than to use the judgement of people who are, I would say, committed to the best for the community, who have the power to end the strike and decide to do so when circumstances assume a certain form.
One of the things that has concerned me in the past is not going to endear me to the past speaker, but I have found that a submission to compulsory arbitration is like asking for a visit from Santa Claus.
I can remember the debates in this House when the garbage strike in Toronto had gone on for many weeks and it wasn't really until the health authorities brought to our attention that there was a real health hazard that the government of the day, supported by the Liberal Party and opposed by the NDP, that old configuration and one which I suppose we can all live with, decided to go forward and appoint an arbitrator to settle the dispute. The arbitrator, a well-known judge -- actually he had been on the bench in Brant county -- undertook to arbitrate and gave the garbage workers more than their own demand.
It's difficult, and in fact you can't question the wisdom of the arbitrator, because by law you say you must abide by what he does. We are quite prepared to do so under these circumstances. But to submit the arbitration to one judgement in this connection has in the past been probably unduly expensive for the taxpayers. If we had left it to the normal negotiations and let it go on perhaps for weeks, perhaps even for months, the settlement that the workers get finally would be somewhere between the final offer of the employer and the final demand of the union.
Our experience has been other than that. Instead of relegating the unions to a situation where they are going to be very hard done by, I'm sure the minister would know if he examined the records that in most cases the settlement is an extremely generous one indeed.
I feel that the arbitrator, and perhaps this is proper for him or her, attempts to put into balance the fact that the right to strike has been removed, either after a lengthy strike or in this instance just after a few hours. For that reason, perhaps he is somewhat more generous in that connection. Our experience is that arbitration in police settlements, which are required by law, in certain hospital settlements which are also required by law, and in others where arbitration is imposed by special act, has almost uniformly been, in my judgement, more generous than the settlement would have been if we had let the strike go on for a lengthy period of time.
In this instance, I believe that the judgement taken by the government, which is supported by my leader and this party, is proper. We are not prepared to allow the Metropolitan area to be tied up with the problems that have been recounted by my colleague the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) and by other members who have spoken here today. I think it is proper to go forward in this connection.
It is too bad that there isn't some alternative but there simply isn't. We as members of this Legislature must realize that by virtue of our presence here, we have the power collectively to end the strike and we are deciding to do so. I do have some concern, as I said a moment ago, with the judgement residing in the mind of one individual. I hope that there will be some possibility that this judgement can perhaps be broadened to some extent. I would hope that the Minister of Labour would give this some consideration.
The announcement of the arbitrator has already been made. From my point of view, there is no question about the individual's ability. I would think that by broadening the arbitration procedure somewhat that we might get a better result for the benefit of all concerned. I know that there will be an opportunity to talk about that more specifically perhaps later this evening or tomorrow but I did want to simply mention it in the principle of the bill.
As I say, members of this Legislature for many years now have tried to wrestle with a better alternative. It's interesting that in the interjections of a few moments ago from some members in the House, there was an indication that the government is going to proceed to end strikes, for example, in the education system. Oddly enough, the judgement in this House, and I suppose it's a strange judgement indeed, is that education is no longer considered an essential service and the schools could probably stay closed for a year, and while there would be some concern in the House, I doubt very much if the government would be moved to take action in that regard. We have instances of very long strikes in the school system. I think perhaps one of the last ones was in Renfrew and there was some indication that perhaps the House should have taken action, until a statement was made that the strike could go on until Renfrew froze over -- if members want to substitute anything in there, they may do so --
I want, in the presence of the Minister of Labour if I could, and not at length, to take us back, tying to what my leader began with, to the collective bargaining situation as it existed in the final hours of the dispute and, indeed, to the very considerable efforts which were made to resolve the strike without forcing everyone to compulsory arbitration on Monday night, if I recall, in which efforts, I am happy to concede, the Minister of Labour himself and his staff and a number of other senior people in government were intimately and feelingly involved. My sense of it, from what I know, is that if it could have been avoided that was possibly the time at which it would have happened.
I must say, from the very modest and perhaps superficial grasp I have of that last 72 hours or so, I sense something profoundly sick in the public sector collective bargaining process which ensued in the transit sector. I don't know quite how to identify it, but what I would like to do briefly is to set up the items which still seem to be in contention between commission and union and try to give a sense of how modest was the difference and how it baffles me that everything was allowed to be driven to extremity when everyone had a sense that the sides were clearly within sight of settlement.
I know we have put a very stark interpretation on the dichotomy. We have said they had dug their heels in, but those who have dealt with labour disputes before, those who have any knowledge of the collective bargaining situation, know that seldom has a strike been forced when the positions were, in fact, so close. I want to try to understand what happened in the process of those last few days, because I am genuinely baffled.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, and I say it through you to the Minister of Labour, that the commission or those who represent and dominate the commission in the weeks of negotiation were terribly intransigent. I won't say of Michael Warren what others have said, except to note perhaps that he is not a man lacking in self-confidence. One might almost say that he does not drown in humility and that those kinds of somewhat truculent personality styles do not favour reconciliation.
I will not paint Charlie Johnson as a saint, but he is a quiet, deferential fellow, coming as close to saintliness as you will find in contemporary labour history. Undoubtedly, if you knew trade unionists, my God, you would hug Charlie Johnson with the sheer relief of the basic conciliatory view he has of the world. Therefore, what you had juxtaposed was a trade union leader on one side who very much wanted -- and obviously so did his people; you saw that in every interview that was held publicly with transit workers wanting to reach some kind of a settlement. On the other side you had a commission through its voice hard-lining it in a most extraordinary fashion.
What were the areas of difference? One of the areas of difference obviously was the wage question. The company was offering five per cent in July, one per cent in January -- a total of six per cent -- the union was asking 7.3 per cent. Apart from the 12 cents which that represented -- and just ask yourselves in this Legislature, how many strikes do you know have been precipitated by 12 cents on the wage front? The disparity is usually much greater than that. But apart from that crazy business of setting out $6.9 million in February, and refusing to budge by even one penny -- and now let me utter a heresy -- refusing to budge even when I suspect there was an intimation from government in the eleventh hour that the province might assist -- partially if need be, by no means wholly but partially; a refusal to budge even in the face of that kind of overture, that has to tell you something about the commission's attitude.
I don't pretend for a moment that the ATU would agree to this, I'll just say it: the irony is that if those fellows at the commission had taken that five per cent in July and one per cent in January, and amalgamated it to six per cent in July, not an horrendous compromise, you probably would have had a settlement to the strike. The union would probably have been put in the position where the 6.1 per cent that they wanted in July had been met by a six per cent offer from the transit commission, and that they should probably, in the light of other things in the contract, come to some kind of compromise on that. As a matter of fact, a number of weeks ago it was there, and it wasn't acted on. I am a little baffled about why there wasn't the compromise to effect this.
Then there was the question of COLA which was raised as the second point. The reality is again, of course, that the Amalgamated Transit Union's request for COLA was extraordinarily modest. What they said, if I remember the figures, is roughly that "we will accept that the cost of living beyond July 1978 should rise a full 0.7 to 7.5 per cent before any COLA kicks in at all, before we would be entitled to anything more."
Again that is just a remarkably restrained bargaining position. I put it to the members of this House, the government as well, that in your knowledge of collective bargaining you have to admit that if a union lets 7.5 per cent inflation take its toll first, before they even ask for anything, and then only one per cent on top of 1.7 per cent over that, that is not backing the commission into a corner. Again, the intractability on the commission's part was mysterious.
The third point that was in dispute had to do with a benefits package. Interestingly enough the four major considerations in the benefits package which had to do with a dental plan, and had to do with certain extended health care, all of that was resolved. The union said yes and the company said yes. Two things were outstanding. One was that the company wanted to take away from the union their health plan called CUMBA, which all of us in the Legislature know is the co-operative health insurance plan. The company wanted to put that out to open tender, and the union, which felt that it was a good plan, and they liked it, wanted to preserve it. Now one had a sense that that was negotiable. I think the Minister of Labour would agree that when the chips are down the company could certainly have surrendered that position to the union, and probably would have.
Similarly, the union wanted something called an additional denture plan effective July 1978 -- sorry; effective January 1979. When the company said no, that that couldn't happen, the union said: "All right, we won't bug you about that. Wait until the next contract and we'll put it in there." So, again, there was this very fragile difference that was terribly modest.
Finally, and what I judge has not been discussed excessively here today, there were two non-monetary items which were of immense importance to the union. One was a tiny, symbolic, but highly emotional question relating to parking, involving just a few cars, ironically, and the other was a question of job protection. It was a wish on the union's part that there be enshrined in the contract some kind of clause on technological change. This was especially true in the maintenance department, where people were losing jobs in considerable numbers.
Ironically, the TTC embodied in its practice the principles which the union wished to have enshrined contractually. They weren't asking that much more of the TTC than the TTC was already doing. They were asking some things in addition -- I must admit, to be fair. They wanted three months' notice and they didn't want a serious drop in pay. They wanted things which, in other words, many of us have accepted as reasonable parts of contracts in an era of automation where working people are anxious. Again, one sensed that there might be a meeting ground.
But how is it, Mr. Speaker, when you have a difference in wage positions which is fractional, a difference in COLA which is fractional, a difference in benefits package which is marginal, and non-monetary items for which a trade-off might have occurred, that we went right to the wire and then over the brink? I don't really understand that.
I believe, for what it's worth, I say to the minister, that we could have resolved this dispute with good faith bargaining. In 1974, I did not like the imposition of compulsory arbitration on the ATU and we fought it bitterly in this House, as you will recall, but I must say the prospects for a negotiated settlement then were far, far less than the prospects for a negotiated settlement in this case.
I also believe, as I look over at the Cheshire cat smiles of Tim Armstrong, the Deputy Minister of Labour, who is sitting there saying to himself, "If only Lewis knew how much of a difference there really was. What a naive innocent he is," as I look over at Tim Armstrong and that excellent group of conciliators and arbiters that the Ministry of Labour has, headed with people like Vic Pathe, I say to myself that something is wrong, Mr. Minister. Something is wrong even with the exquisite excellence of some of your subalterns. Something is wrong with the way in which we handle public sector bargaining that the government was not able to effect a settlement. Something is wrong.
I don't know whether it is that we have too easily transferred the adversary industrial sector techniques holus bolus to the public sector without understanding the implications. I remember watching a night news television broadcast last week as the strike was coming to a head and the CBC reporter -- I think it was CBC -- was saying; "Up here on such and such a floor is the union, and down below on such and such a floor is management, and in between, is the Ministry of Labour running up and down passing messages between them." I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that's all right for the auto workers at General Motors, and it may be all right for the steelworkers and Stelco, but it doesn't work in the public sector. What still hasn't been grasped, even with all of the sophistication in the world, is that the industrial sector collective bargaining stratagems do not transfer uncritically to the public sector.
Part of what was said by the minister from Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea) is valid. It's a crazy kind of analogy which we continue to employ and somewhere along the way even the Ministry of Labour here has missed the boat. Now is there any way one can deal with it in the future, because I understand the fait accompli, the realities? I don't know.
I would have thought that the Minister of Labour -- and I have acknowledged it would do so repeatedly -- from his own involvement, I would have thought that, knowing of the position of the Toronto Transit Commission, it might have been possible in the statement he gave to do something which I think would be enormously liberating for the public sector -- to identify intransigence where intransigence exists. It is not so outrageous to say of a transit commission: "You people could have shown a little more flexibility and the people of Toronto would not have been denied public transit. The fact that you won't is something that we, as a government, have determined to deal with by going to compulsory arbitration."
But there is no great villainy to identifying the culprit. As a matter of fact, I never had any use for anything the previous Minister of Labour did, save once -- once, in her entire tenure. And I am concerned I will be expunged from my caucus for admitting that even once I applauded the member for York Mills (B. Stephenson). I will tell you when that was, Mr. Speaker. It was when the member for York Mills said that the women at Fleck deserved the Rand formula as a matter of right.
Curiously enough, having taken a position which was real and was honest and was partial -- and, God knows, the government takes positions which are partial towards management every day of the week, one can find a spasm of generosity and take it in favour of a union where cause be just. Having taken it, it really got Fleck up tight. In the long run it probably helped to resolve that conflict because they suddenly realized they couldn't expect the normal Pavlovian applause from some of the ministry's officials and the minister herself.
I think the present minister might consider in the future, if not now, bringing himself to identifying one of the parties who have really bargained in other than good faith. It may be that Michael Warren hangs his hex on the minister, as on all the other members of the front bench. I don't know what extraordinary Damocles sword he has over there.
The other point I wanted to make to the minister is that it is not beyond our capacity to resolve some of this. Some members of the Legislature, certainly in the Liberal caucus, would be very skeptical when I mentioned the Education Relations Commission, but when one thinks of the nature of strikes in the education school board sector four or five years ago, compared to now, one has to credit the Education Relations Commission with having done a pretty consistent job.
Maybe there is something to be said, therefore, Mr. Speaker -- and I reiterate something we have said before -- maybe there is something to be said for developing a special skilled cadre to deal exclusively with public sector disputes; people who understand the public sector in a special way, whose material pertains to the public sector, whose credibility is high with the public sector, who are sophisticated and sensitive when they are dealing with the public sector. Maybe there is something to be said for that and the Education Relations Commission, I must say, in the school board sector, has done it and done it, all things considered, fairly well.
Other than that, I simply put to the minister that what we are doing as a resolution of it is dreadful. It is especially dreadful because it shouldn't have happened. We should not have had this strike. We should not have had the workers effectively forced out. We did not need the intransigence.
Isn't it interesting that literally at the eleventh hour we were faced with the possibility of final offer selection, a concept which I can say with authority Michael Warren embraces with passion? Now, where was final offer selection six months ago? Why was it hauled into the fray at the last minute? Why hazard the corruption of a concept which at times is operable -- it is not as perfect as it has been made out but at times it can work. Why hazard its corruption by throwing it in at the last minute and mucking it up with compulsory arbitration? If you bargain in good faith, then the question of final offer selection might have been suggested several months before you come to the apocalypse.
It's not fair. It's not fair in any romantic notion of justice. It's not fair because it ultimately introduces injustice in large measure to very great numbers of people. What happens today is repeated time and time again. It will get worse and worse.
I know that all the government is possessed of, leaving the politics out of it, is the need to get the workers back to work. So be it. It's going to happen. It may well happen by a little later this evening and they will be back on the job tomorrow or Friday or whenever, but in the process we say to the Minister of Labour there are some alternatives. There just have to be more sophisticated bargaining techniques in difficult public sector areas. They were not so far apart on this occasion that we couldn't have somehow brought the sides together. There has to be some initiative within the ministry now to make sure that it doesn't happen again in the public sector.
We cannot allow people, simply because they choose to be civil servants in the public domain, to be held to ridicule and abuse every time there is a dispute. That is unacceptable in human terms and it is unacceptable in terms of labour relations. It is very much part of the reason why we know it is not a solution and why we must, therefore, oppose this bill in principle.
I feel that I can honestly say that there are very few members, if any, in this House who take pride in ending what is a legal strike. I know myself that when you give a responsibility to someone or to a group of people you expect them to carry out this responsibility in the best and most honest manner they know how. Having said that, it is very difficult for me as an individual and as a member of this assembly -- and I'm sure for the rest of us -- to stand here and to say that for some reason -- maybe we think we know them and maybe we don't -- they possibly have failed in that responsibility. That's why for the past three days there has been no transit service here in the largest urban centre in Canada and there have been people who have not only been inconvenienced, but people who have been genuinely hurt by the effects of this work stoppage.
We already know that the employees have suffered three days' loss of pay and have suffered greatly under attacks from different areas. We also know that people such as senior citizens who depend on the transit service, blind people and other people who need the transit service, and people who have no other way of getting around, have also been severely hurt.
As we sit here and listen to different speakers and, it's hoped, we feel we're getting a better grip on this thing we call collective bargaining, many thoughts go through my mind. But the main thought I have is that, even though we are ordering these transit workers back to work and it's to be hoped the service will be restored soon, there is really no solution to the problem. We could be back here next year doing this same thing all over again, and we could be doing it for some other sector of the public service that we deem to be essential at the time.
I say to the Minister of Labour that Bill 141 is not the answer to our problems. It might put the transit workers back to work -- that's fine -- and tomorrow we'll have service. But Bill 141 is not the answer to our problems. It is time now in this province to lay ground rules for new ways of bargaining so that what we've had in these past three days does not continue to happen.
I don't say this will be an easy task. I don't say it can be accomplished overnight. But I say we must get on with it; we don't have a day to lose. I say it is the responsibility of the Minister of Labour and the government of Ontario to announce to the public and to the public employees that they are embarking on this new initiative, that they will have something to report and that they will be trying new alternatives.
Frankly, I don't want ever to see another one of these Bill 141s. Let's get on with the job of collective bargaining. Let's get on with the new ideas that this province is going to need for 1980.
We pay special people well enough that they can get their heads together. There are enough experts in this province who have experience in the system of collective bargaining, both on the union and management sides. Certainly both sides must know by now that to oppose one another is just the destruction of one another.
I am sure the transit employees believe and know they have one of the best transit systems in the world. I am sure they want to keep the respectability of the transit system. I am sure the commissioners and the citizens of this province feel the same way. It is time we put our heads together and co-operate, if not for any other reason but for our own survival.
I want to say in this debate that I am extremely uneasy about what has happened in the House today and in the days leading up to the convening of the assembly ever since I heard of the announcement by the Premier late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
The uneasiness is because of -- even for a Conservative party -- the strangeness of the decision which was made; that so precipitately after an event which was part of the ordinary collective bargaining process of the province, the government should have decided at that late hour on the first day of the strike -- in less than 24 hours -- to call the assembly and to have the assembly participate in the decision to end the strike and send the men back to work.
Let me emphasize that it is extremely unusual, when we only have two statutes in the province which happen to have preambles to them -- one the Human Rights Code and one the Labour Relations Act -- and when this government, the Conservative Party, deliberately inserted a preamble to indicate the tremendous public interest involved in the collective bargaining process, to have that truncated so quickly.
I haven't understood it all, and I don't pretend that I will understand it all. But I want to come back to it in a few minutes, because I want to speak with the Minister of Labour about some aspects of this. I want to speak, perhaps through him to the Premier, about the role which he has played in it. I learned a long time ago that you don't win any marks in this assembly by talking about principles. This isn't a place in which principles guide the decisions of the House. Indeed, part of my concern today is that when you talk about principles, you're really avoiding the kind of problem that is inherent in what we're doing. We'll use a little bit, not of principle but of trite political theory, that freedom is not a principle but a condition of civilization. You don't talk about the principle of slavery or the principle of freedom. A condition of freedom of our civilization is freedom --
As a further part of that condition -- and let's not distinguish this strange world of private and public -- one of the basic and fundamental conditions of our democracy, it seems to me, is that those who work for the public institutions of the province must be given and must have those freedoms, even beyond the freedoms which are necessary for those who labour in the private sector.
In many ways, I happen to think that the condition of the fulfilment of our kind of democracy talks about the relationship of people who work for public institutions and who are subject to the combined pressures of what the citizens of the entity of the province and the politicians in the province bring to bear upon those who are in that employ.
It may seem like a rather strange way to put it but, somehow or other, I happen to feel very proud of the progress which we had made collectively in this assembly about the status and the place of the public servant in Ontario, regardless of what institution of public merit he is employed by. We made that progress in some very real, very strong, outspoken debates in this assembly -- sometimes, and more often than not, under legislation introduced by this government.
I thought that in some way the progress we had made, the beachheads we had established, had tended to support the proposition that the public servant, whatever the level of government or whatever the kind of institution in which he was involved, had achieved a status which was at least equal to his counterpart in the so-called industrial complexes of the private sector.
Part of my uneasiness today is that I felt very much beleaguered, very much under pressure, that we were about to regress from some of those positions.
Again, it comes back to the precipitate and, to me, strange decision of the Premier on Monday morning. In this province, if anything, just observing the Premier as Premier, the kind of man he is and the way he has done things, one of the hallmarks of his Premiership in these matters -- and one of the things that has been very good about him -- is that he has always dragged his feet and, by and large, let the collective bargaining process in a strange way work itself out, sometimes under immense pressure from the media and others as to why he didn't intervene in many of the areas in it.
Certainly his colleague the Minister of Education, the now Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), was a past master at allowing disputes in the educational field of the public sector to go on and on, to let the process work, if it was at all possible. We in many ways admired the machinery that was finally set up -- the work of the education committee, the work of the chairman of that committee, Owen Shime, and all of that.
I find now that this debate in the assembly has been less than good today, and I want to express, if I can, those kinds of concerns to the minister. Perhaps in his remarks as he closes this debate on second reading, let alone whatever points we may be able to elucidate in committee, I want him very much to say to us now -- and I'm surprised that it has to be left to my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis); I would have hoped the minister would have taken advantage either in his ministerial statement at the opening today or by speaking in the debate at the opening as well as at the close -- to delineate very clearly to the House, the areas that were remaining in dispute; and the margins which were involved and the dollars which were involved in the monetary considerations; and the psychic and other job security provisions, concerns which were involved in the non-monetary provisions.
I happen to think it is very simple. People who work want job income and psychic security in their work, and I am surprised that, rather than treat this as a matter where there was a bargaining process which had come to an end and allowed the atmosphere of crisis and excitement and consternation to take over, that the government would have tried to say to us in this assembly when we were debating this bill: "These are the matters which are in dispute. This is how far they got to reaching a settlement and these one, two, three, four non-monetary items are the areas in dispute. These are the matters that the mediator, Mr. Justice Robins, will be asked to deal with in order to settle them. This is how close in dollars they were."
I would have expected that we would have gotten some such delineation. I would have expected the government would have made some announcement rather than call this assembly back to strike out the legitimate action of that union. I would have expected that they would have taken some care and time in order to do that.
I will perhaps come back to that part of it in just a moment, but I do want to speak a little bit about the unions involved, one larger than the other two, but there are three unions which are involved in this. I want to speak to you about them, Mr. Speaker, (a) because they are probably excellent examples of the kind of unionism which has developed in the public institutions of the province and certainly in the city of Toronto. I want those in the House who have been around for four, five or six years to recognize that the short history as we know it on the floor of this assembly must give them real pause as to what is happening to 7,000 people who work in those unions if they have to be involved, in order to achieve what they consider their legitimate objections, first of all in a strike which illustrated so clearly the deplorable relations of management in labour relations in 1974, then to be faced with two rounds -- I believe two rounds -- in front of the AIB, and now to be back here in front of this assembly.
How is it that a union -- and not one single member of this assembly has had anything but praise and support for that union in the way in which they conducted their negotiations -- I say to the House, where are we in Metropolitan Toronto, where are we in the province of Ontario, that the kind of ridiculous statements of rhetoric about what we must do in the public sector in the future, the kind of emotional concern which is addressed to all of us, and for which in particular the members of the Liberal Party fell into that trap, how is it that those particular arguments of an emotional nature, which contributed nothing to the debate today, could have diverted attention away from the fundamental problem that is involved here?
The fundamental problem is still with us and is a matter of immense concern to me because of the circumstances in which the Premier intervened. You see, it is almost as if those unions, in the history of the time when they become cohesive unions well aware of trying to advance their legitimate interests, have been faced with a series of political situations which were almost no-win for them.
I'm not going to talk about the public sector in the future or what should be done in some grandiose way to structure some new processes, be they called final offer selection, compulsory arbitration, voluntary submission to arbitration, all of that kind of nonsense which we have listened about today and which obviously has strong support in the caucus of the Conservative Party and obviously is almost a part of the platform of the Liberal Party to abolish the collective bargaining system and the strike in the public sector. I'm not even going to talk about that. That's talking around the problem that we're involved in. I'm involved in it myself particularly as a member sitting from Metro, a person who knows very little about politics except something about municipal politics in the city of Toronto and most of that is confined to the area east of the Don River running through to Coxwell.
I want to say to him that I think he got suckered in his early days, because people like him and people are glad he is a minister. He had a resounding round of applause when he stood in the House today, but he was had. He was had by a man who is the Premier of the province, who is so obsessed at the moment with political considerations about his own political career, about the career of the Conservative Party federally and about the longevity of his own government here that the minister was faced with politics at three levels.
Then, of course, it's the general manager of the commission who's doing it. So we have a political situation here where the politicians are going to fight an election. Does the minister think for one moment that they are going out to advocate a fare increase or an increase of this so-called 15 per cent from Metropolitan Toronto taxes for this commission as part of its sources of funds? Does he really think that the unions have any position at a metropolitan level? Remember I said that it was politics at three levels. But just at that one level does the minister think they had any chance whatsoever of achieving their legitimate objectives through the collective bargaining process?
Let me go to politics at the second level. The Conservative Party knows very well that it wants to hang on until 1981, and it has introduced this policy of retrenchment in Ontario. They believe -- at least until the new Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) changes it; it is part of their 10 commandments at the moment -- that you hold the purse strings tight. So there is no money going to come from the provincial government, and there is no politician in Metropolitan Toronto who is going to say more money should come to the TTC from the metropolitan government or who is going to advocate a fare increase at the box. There is no money coming from this government because that is its principle and its policy. That is politics at the second level.
Politics at the third level: Some time in the middle of October there are going to be seven by-elections in Toronto for the federal House of Commons. Do you think that this Conservative Party, wanting to advance the interests of theirs, are going to allow the strike to continue for 23, 24 or 30 days or let the collective bargaining system work? Of course not.
As I say, and without belabouring it, at the three levels of politics there was no way in which the unions involved would be able to break through, particularly with a general manager who received all of his training as a civil servant and a deputy minister in the government here before taking on the job as general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission.
I say to the minister, my uneasiness was that in fact he and the members of his ministry were doing a pretty good job of gradually edging each of the parties closer together until suddenly the circumstances began to develop that there wasn't anything he or the members of his ministry could do, skilled and able as they are, to effect a settlement in this case.
That is perfectly clear, because all one has to do is read, and reread and reread it, if one needs to do it, the statements made by Michael Warren on August 23, when the strike vote had been taken.
He said very clearly, no matter how you read his remarks, "There is going to be a strike. We have no room. We get our money under the new formula: 70 per cent from the fare box -- there is going to be no increase in fares; 15 per cent from Metro -- there are going to be no increases in taxes to provide any additional funds to us in the transit commission; and 15 per cent from the provincial government -- and they have said no to us."
He categorically stated, "There is no money coming." So my fears really get compounded when I see the original bill. I see no floor provision in it. I see no floor at all in the original bill. I say to myself, there was a floor in 1974.
In this debate, I want the minister very clearly to understand the question I am asking him. There is no point in appointing the Honourable Mr. Justice Sydney Robins as the arbitrator in this dispute. I recognize the validity of the choice; after all, we were classmates. He sat beside me. Most of what he knows he learned from me. I let him use my notes. He's a very good man.
He responded as a member of the judiciary to a call from the government to perform a public service. That's what we expect of our judges.
What are his ambits of discussion? He is instructed in this bill to settle the matters which are in dispute and to settle any other matters, as I understand it, that may be referred to him by both sides in order that a collective agreement can be entered into.
The minister comes in with a floor less than the commission offered. The general manager of the commission has categorically said that the provincial government will not provide any more funds. The Metropolitan Chairman apparently has said to the general manager that there will be no funds from Metro.
Where is the money going to come from? Is it going to come out of the fare box? Or is Mr. Justice Robins already so circumscribed within the narrow limits that my colleague the member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis) delineated as being the marginal questions with respect to financial matters, that this time he'll be coming down low? Not because he thinks it's the fair and just thing but because the margins are so small.
I want a categorical answer from the government. It may be that the Minister of Labour is not able to give it, but I would expect that, with the Premier's intervention in this dispute, maybe we can get it from the Premier. I know we can get the unanimous consent of the House to allow him to speak again, if he wants to do so.
I want to know very clearly if there are any dollars available to the Toronto Transit Commission from the province of Ontario to implement the decision made by the arbitrator so that he doesn't operate under blindfolds when he goes in to do the arbitration. Is he going to be able to look at the fairness and equity of it?
This government has to do it because the government had a choice and made a political decision that, rather than spend another cent on transit, it was going to call this House into session so we could participate with the government in an atmosphere of crisis and relative hysteria in the city of Toronto and be swept into voting for the back-to-work bill.
Listening to these people, one would have thought we were about to become some kind of Reichstag. My colleagues and I, in speaking about matters we felt strongly about in relation to our friends in the trade union movement -- and we subscribe to the same kind of principle the Tories do, that you reward your friends by supporting them in politics -- we were going to support them, and the Tories were trying to turn us into some kind of pariahs. One would have thought that we had no right to come in here, except to say: "Ah, yes. Heil, heil." First reading, second reading, third reading; swish, out.
I just want to get it straight, that there are some fundamental questions -- sure, there are a lot of questions of rhetoric, principle, freedom and all the rest of it; we'll deal with those on some other occasion. I want to know from this government, are we carrying out the policy of the government, in supporting them, that no money will be available to the transit commission? Or will there be any money available from the provincial government to the government of Metropolitan Toronto in order that their share of the funds which may be required to provide a just and equitable settlement to the unions will be made available to them? Or are you saying: "We know the mood and atmosphere of people now. Let's make certain that everybody feels the whip. Let's make certain everybody feels the whip, so that those who use the much-vaunted transit system in the city of Toronto will share the burden by putting the tokens in the box."
One of the disastrous statements that was made in the media on a couple of occasions was to try to turn the people who use the transit system against the people who operate it. In other words, you try to turn an old trick. You try to turn part of the working people against another part of the working people so that one part of the working people fights with another part, and everybody can say, "Isn't that too bad?" They did it at Fleck. They brought some in from the countryside into the Fleck plant. We did it at Proctor-Silex. We do it everywhere. Get the working people fighting against each other and you've accomplished quite a bit.
I come back to my fundamental point: What is the role of this government? I wish I were also a member of Metropolitan council so I could ask the chairman what is the role of their government. If this government is saying there is no money coming from the provincial government, either to Metropolitan Toronto or to the transit commission, that all of the moneys to effect this settlement come out of the fare box, then in all honesty and integrity the government owes it to this House to tell us; it owes it to the commission to reaffirm it if it has already told them privately, as I understood Michael Warren to say on August 23; it owes it to the workers in the system and it owes it to the people of Toronto. The government had better get it clear because regardless of the esteem with which I hold Mr. Justice Robins, it can't put him into that kind of a mousetrap. There isn't enough room. He wouldn't be able to get out of it.
What is the minister saying? What are the dollars involved? What are the monetary items? What is the dollar spread? Put it down in accounting terms in Hansard for us to see. What are the non-monetary items that are involved that relate to job and psychic security in employment, and what are going to be in substance the matters that go to the arbitrator?
Just as an addendum, perhaps, let me reinforce what doesn't need to be reinforced -- what my colleague from Scarborough West said, that underlying it all is there an automation problem? Is there in fact a reluctance or a refusal by the commission to put into language a technological change clause that will provide some protection in a service which may well be, as other industries are, wide open to automation and job loss and insecurity? Level with us. The government intervened; that's why we're here. It should level with us. Then I wish we could have the debate over again.
My uneasiness is profound and real, as a member sitting in this Legislature for the riding of Riverdale. I want the answers and I want them clearly and I want them in a way that we can understand them and discuss them rationally and intelligently, because that's what we're about here.
To go on at any great length to review the subject would be, in a sense, redundant since we have heard, I think, every possible point of view that could be expressed. I'm an admitted novice in this ministry. I must say I'm no expert in collective bargaining but I will say I have learned a lot in the past three weeks -- not enough; I still have much to learn.
I met again with cabinet and my colleagues, and we all felt that this was a situation that should be resolved without government action, if that was humanly possible. That led again to prolonged meetings, moments when we thought there was a possibility of a compromise and, finally, as the midnight hour of Monday approached, it was clear that there still remained some positions which could not be settled and could not be resolved.
The government's action, therefore, it seemed to us, was pretty clear and the path obvious. There was no possibility of compromise. I could list three pages of items for the member from Riverdale. I don't intend to, quite frankly, because those are the issues.
I hope I didn't misunderstand the member for Riverdale when he suggested there would be some doubt about the equity of the decision from Mr. Justice Robins. I know he didn't mean that. I have a great regard for that man, as the member does. I didn't sit next to him, but he taught me.
I have a great regard for him and I know that he will look at the matter as it should be looked at.
We have tried to leave enough of a difference there between four --
It is nothing other than that: just our interest in giving them something during this interim period.
The House divided on the motion by Hon. Mr. Elgie for second reading of Bill 141, which was approved on the following vote:
Ayes 72; nays 27.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole.
House in committee of the whole.
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES SETTLEMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 141, An Act respecting Labour Disputes between the Toronto Transit Commission and Division 113, Amalgamated Transit Union, Lodge 235, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local No. 2.
On section 1:
Motion agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 2 and 3 agreed to.
On section 4:
Prior to the breakdown of negotiations on September 11 the following items proposed by the commission remain unresolved:
Number one, CUMBA: The employer wishes to delete reference to the specific benefit carrier from the agreement and thereby effect a significant saving which they are prepared to pass on to the union.
Number two, predetailing: Do you want me to outline them in greater detail?
In essence, those were the major items, although there is quite a list of other minor items. Nineteen of 50 items had been resolved by July 27.
It is my understanding that the final offer of the commission and the offers the commission talked about during the course of the conciliation or mediation or last-ditch attempts to intervene that were made by this minister and by the Premier at no time exceeded the six per cent and that the six per cent is exactly the same figure which they said back in February they were prepared to offer.
Is that correct? If so, I'd like the Minister of Labour to say whether he feels that failure to budge one iota from six per cent constituted good faith bargaining on the behalf of the TTC.
Sections 4 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 7:
Is there agreement on the amendment?
It might help, as well, to remove some of the fears or suspicions that I'm afraid the previous debate has aroused over what money is there or isn't there. We would want to think and hope that they are starting from what had been agreed upon and that what is in dispute is the difference between the five and 7.5 per cent that the union's total demand was. I would certainly hope that the House would agree to at least what has already been agreed upon in the negotiations between the parties.
The negotiations, as the minister knows, have gone on for a period of about five and a half months. Over that time, that four per cent was all that the company had on the table. That was all they were prepared to offer effective July 1. Five months of work by the bargaining committee, by the paid staff of local 113, by all of the other people who have been involved in this particular dispute on behalf of the union; finally, last Friday, got the company to budge to the point where they were prepared to say that they would give five per cent on July 1, 1978 rather than four per cent.
It may not seem like much, but when you've fought for it for four or five months it looks like something that's worth trying to keep. For the government to come along with a piece of legislation which is completely objectionable and outrageous by itself, and then to add insult to injury by saying that the workers may finally get even less than what they bargained in good faith for, for a period of five months; when the workers, step by step through their union, took steps downward from their original demand and were genuinely bargaining in good faith all the way along while the company was simply standing firm; that is not to take a balanced view at all. This, it seems to us, is to simply take a pro-management view. It leaves it open to the arbitrator to finally come up with a solution, which was what Michael Warren was wanting in the first place and which is something no more than six per cent. We should not give that kind of mandate, or leave that kind of door open to the arbitrator, good as he may be.
Regarding the four per cent versus five per cent, we're talking about eight cents or nine cents an hour over a period of 45 days until the arbitrator eventually is meant to come down with his actual award. So, somebody who has recently been elevated to the cabinet -- I'm sorry -- somebody in this House might say: "That isn't very much. Surely there's not a real problem there." But this is a psychological thing.
All those in favour will say "aye."
All those opposed will say "nay."
In my opinion, the "nays" have it.
The amendment to the amendment is lost.
Hon. Mr. Elgie has moved that the bill be amended by adding thereto the new section 7.
Motion agreed to.
Section 7 agreed to.
On section 5:
"(c) The employer shall commence startup operations immediately and as soon as practicable shall operate and continue to operate its undertakings to their normal extent, scope and capacity."
Motion agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 9 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill 141, as amended, reported.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the committee reported one bill with amendments.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 141, The Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Settlement Act, 1978.
The Honourable Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took her seat upon the throne.
Bill 141, An Act respecting Labour Disputes between the Toronto Transit Commission and Division 113, Amalgamated Transit Union, Lodge 235, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local No. 2.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
RESUMPTION OF SESSION
Honourable Mr. Welch moved that when the House adjourns, it stands adjourned until Monday, October 23, 1978, provided that if it appears to Mr. Speaker, after consultation with the government, the public interest requires the House to meet at an earlier time, Mr. Speaker may give notice and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice, and that should Mr. Speaker be unable to act, owing to illness or other cause, the Deputy Speaker or the Deputy Chairman of the committee of the whole House shall act in his stead for the purposes of this order.
I just wanted to say that I can't conceive of a more absurd way to operate business of this House than by what we have just done. Let me remind you what has happened.
Everybody has been operating on the assumption that the Legislature was going to come back on October 17. All of the select committees have prepared their work on the basis of October 17. I know the Premier now wants to talk to the House leader and nobody knew for certain. That is part of the absurdity -- nobody knows for certain. Yet we have time and a lot of work to do between sessions.
Not only did the select committees prepare their work, but the House leaders or their executive assistants did a lot of work on scheduling estimates and everything; and interestingly enough, they found that with the greatest pressure possible we will finish the estimates on the third week of December, almost on the eve of Christmas -- if we began on October 17.
Motion agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 10:06 p.m.
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