Monday 9 June 1997
STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Chair / Présidente: Mrs Brenda Elliott (Guelph PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa PC)
Mr DominicAgostino (Hamilton East / -Est L)
Mr DavidChristopherson (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND)
Mr TedChudleigh (Halton North / -Nord PC)
Ms MarilynChurley (Riverdale ND)
Mr Sean G. Conway (Renfrew North / -Nord L)
Mrs BrendaElliott (Guelph PC)
Mr DougGalt (Northumberland PC)
Mr JohnHastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
Mr PatHoy (Essex-Kent L)
Mr W. LeoJordan (Lanark-Renfrew PC)
Mr BartMaves (Niagara Falls PC)
Mr John R. O'Toole (Durham East / -Est PC)
Mr Jerry J. Ouellette (Oshawa PC)
Mr JosephSpina (Brampton North -Nord PC)
Substitutions present /Membres remplaçants présents:
Mr PeterKormos (Welland-Thorold ND)
Ms ShelleyMartel (Sudbury East ND)
Clerk / Greffière: Ms Donna Bryce
Staff / Personnel: Ms Lorraine Luski, Mr Ray McLellan, research officers, legislative counsel
The committee met at 1550 in committee room 1.
The Chair (Mrs Brenda Elliott): Good afternoon, everyone. We're here to review the subcommittee report for resources development, which is before you. We met on June 5. At that meeting we had representatives from the government side and from the Liberal Party. Mr Christopherson arrived late and indicated that he would like to come before the entire committee. Do I have a motion to adopt the subcommittee report, please?
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Chair, if I may, I trust you're requesting a motion to adopt subcommittee report number one. That was the recommendation that the full committee have a discussion regarding the organization for Bill 99, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1996, on Monday, June 9, 1997. I so move acceptance of that report.
The Chair: Discussion?
Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): At the time of the subcommittee meeting I was the government member on the subcommittee. We discussed the possibility of having a discussion about the time allocation motion. This debate was to have taken place today at 5:30 to 6 o'clock following consideration of the Minister of Transportation's recent bill because that half-hour was to be left over and that's what the subcommittee had agreed to.
Subsequently Mr Christopherson and myself and the Chair discussed the fact that today we wouldn't be having a meeting in relation to the Minister of Transportation's bill, so we said we would have a meeting today from 3:30 to 4:30 for these two notices. Subject to that arrangement, I'm ready to support this motion.
The Chair: Further discussion? No. All those in favour?
Mr Maves: Do we have to have a submotion to that effect?
The Chair: Oh, that's right. I'm sorry. I've got to practise.
Mr Kormos: If I may, Chair, I move acceptance of this such that the discussion terminate at 4:30 pm.
The Chair: Amendment then to that effect.
Mr Maves: That would be more accurate of what was discussed, so that's fine with me.
The Chair: Further discussion? No. We are going to have a vote on the motion referring to subcommittee report number one. All those in favour?
Mr Doug Galt (Northumberland): Sorry. Did we have an amendment?
The Chair: No. Apparently if Mr Kormos is in agreement, then we don't have to have the amendment.
Mr Galt: Okay, a friendly amendment.
The Chair: I'm sorry. I was confused as well. All those in favour? Hang on.
Mr Maves: Just for clarity, it doesn't preclude us from discussing the second motion.
The Chair: Okay, for clarity, the clerk is going to read it.
Clerk of the Committee (Ms Donna Bryce): "That the full committee have a discussion regarding organization for Bill 99 Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1996, on Monday, June 9, 1997, and that the discussion terminate at 4:30 pm."
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton North): That's the motion?
The Chair: That will be the motion. Further discussion? Okay then, all those in favour of the motion as read? Opposed? The motion passes.
The Chair: We'll refer now to report number two before you of the subcommittee of the standing committee on resources development. Could I have a motion, please, for this report to be accepted?
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Madam Chair: A motion has been moved and approved that this committee discuss the matter of time allocation until 4:30 pm. That leaves us 32 minutes to do it. This surely becomes active here and now, which means that we embark upon the discussion authorized by approval of that report from the subcommittee, with respect.
The Chair: I think we're all here to discuss the organization, but we have a subcommittee report that we need to deal with as well, which is number two.
Mr Maves: We have the discussion on the first motion and then at 4:30 we put the subcommittee report.
The Chair: Would you like to do it that way? All right. Debate or discussion please, Mr Kormos, on motion number one.
Mr Kormos: I'll make a motion now.
Whereas Bill 99 completely rewrites the Workers' Compensation Act, substantially reducing benefits to injured workers and limiting the independence of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal; and
Whereas many hundreds of groups and individuals have been seeking public hearings on the government's plans for nearly two years; and
Whereas nearly 1,300 groups and individuals have already sought to make presentations before the standing committee, even before any advertisement of the committee's plans for public hearings; and
Whereas it has been the standing committee's previous practice when considering substantial WCB reforms to include a nontraditional hearing allowing large numbers of injured workers to describe their experiences and make submissions as a group; and
Whereas the time allocation motion allows only 10 hours of committee hearings in Toronto along with only six days of hearings during the summer recess;
I move that this committee recommends to the government House leader that the time allocation order with respect to Bill 99 be amended to allow sufficient committee time to hear the majority of people who wish to make presentations and to give serious consideration to the many important changes being proposed to the Workers' Compensation Act.
Having moved that, please let me comment briefly on that motion. So far I'm advised that 1,297 individuals and groups have requested an opportunity to make presentations on Bill 99, and that includes 573 from Toronto and the Toronto region alone. These individuals and groups made this request before there was any announcement of when and where the hearings might be. As you know, Bill 99 only passed second reading last Thursday.
Notwithstanding those 1,297 who, unsolicited and proactively anticipating hearings, sought the right to appear before the committee, there's going to be even more flowing as a result of second reading and its passage and the advertising that's required across the province.
The time allocation motion, and everybody knows this, calls for 10 hours in Toronto during the session. That's from 3:30 till 6 pm, and that's the maximum amount of time because there will be some days when it will be beyond 3:30 in the afternoon that the committee commences its hearings because of what happens in the House by way of ministers' statements and responses.
Mr Kormos: Today is an illustration, as Mr Hoy points out quite rightly. So we're talking about a maximum of 10 hours, probably a little bit less, in Toronto over a period of four days, plus six days during the recess.
You and I and the committee know this is nowhere near sufficient to provide anything close to a representative cross-section of the various individuals and groups who have a strong interest in what this bill does. I regard this very much as an insult to the hundreds and hundreds of individuals and groups who over the course of the last two years have been trying to have some sort of opportunity during the course of public hearings to provide input, inquire about and respond to the government's plans.
First you shut down -- not you, your government -- the royal commission which had been making considerable progress in hearing from people across the province until they were summarily shut down.
This bill is 106 pages long. It doesn't constitute amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act; it's a total rewrite of the Workers' Compensation Act. It directly challenges some of the very basic key principles that have been in place ever since the Meredith royal commission led to the original legislation in 1914; even goes so far as to strip the notion of fair compensation from the purpose clause.
It is imperative that the public have an opportunity to participate in meaningful hearings about and around Bill 99. As well, you know that the huge number of persons affected and who risk being affected -- I mean every worker -- are prepared to participate and have expressed an interest and have in the past participated in what we've referred to in our motion and will refer to as a non-traditional session, as has been done in the past for major WCB reform. That would be an opportunity for a large number of injured workers who could, far more rapidly than if each sought a slot before the committee, share their experiences and perspectives on the bill.
I'm advised that June 25 has been proposed by injured workers and their major organizations as an appropriate day on which to conduct that type of process. Convocation Hall has been used in the past. I would very much ask the government members to support that. This sparse period of time that's been provided by way of time allocation does an injustice to the members of the committee because it simply doesn't given them adequate time.
I appreciate that there was some discussion in subcommittee about the length of time and that there were some concessions made regarding -- I trust our Liberal colleagues may want to speak to this -- the length of time for a submission. I have great concerns about contracting the periods of time to such a point where they become virtually irrelevant, especially where there's no opportunity for committee members to engage in some sort of exchange with participants. The people on this committee have been doing this long enough now to understand how important and vital that is for the committee to conduct itself in an integrous way.
I want to indicate this by virtue of reading to you some comments made on behalf of the Canadian Auto Workers. It's a letter dated June 9, 1997, to Mr Decker as clerk:
"I strongly protest the lack of meaningful public hearings on Bill 99.
"I understand that the government has scheduled only 10 hours of hearings in Toronto and six days of travel around the province.
"Bill 99 involves a complete rewrite of the Workers' Compensation Act. Consultation on such a complex bill with such serious implications for the workers of this province must allow adequate time for presentation and discussion.
"Bill 99 is a bill affecting the entire future of safety, labour relations and the treatment of workers injured on the job. It is precisely those injured workers and the unions and injured workers' organizations that represent them who will be excluded by such minute time frames.
"I understand there are approximately 600 requests in the Toronto area and 1,300 requests for all Ontario to make presentations to your committee regarding this bill. This is among the largest number of requests ever for consultation on any bill. Yet the response of the government is to effectively shut out these presenters.
"For example, 10 hours of hearings for 600 presentations allows one minute per presentation. This is an insult to those who have requested standing and a sham in terms of consultation. Ontario-wide, nine days of travel will allow, at most, hearings in six cities around the province. By definition, that will exclude a good part of the Ontario public who will not be able to travel to the locations to meet the committee.
"I urge your committee to reconsider the time allocation for public hearings."
That's signed by Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union.
I can tell you that the views expressed by Buzz Hargrove in this letter on behalf of the Canadian Auto Workers are echoed by every other labour leader in this province. There is simply no doubt about that. This government has from time to time insisted that it has engaged in consultation, when those whom the government purports to have consulted simply can't find anywhere in their memories or records any period of time during which they had been consulted. So be it.
We know that at the end of the day the government has a majority of members. They've demonstrated that clearly over the course of two years now and have no hesitation in acknowledging that. At the end of the day, that majority of members in the Legislature, the government caucus, is going to rule the day, but it will rue the day if it persists in utilizing its power without even a modest semblance of true consultation.
The government controls the legislative agenda. There is a considerable period of time after the end of June for hearings while the House isn't sitting. This government talks -- as it did on the matter of the House adjourning for June 2, which was the federal election, and replacing it with the Friday -- about the government being ready to get down to work. Here's an illustration of how imperative it is that the government mean what it says.
There's a whole lot of people and organizations to be heard from. This legislation is not comparable to any other legislation in the last 10 years that deals with the Workers' Compensation Act. This isn't a mere amendment or set of amendments to the legislation. This is it. This is the final kick at the can for a whole lot of working people and injured workers in Ontario.
If there's an argument proposed that lengthier hearings can't be possible because it will delay the legislative agenda of the government, I say that's simply not the case. There are approximately six weeks, I am advised, after the end of June during which the government can have this committee sit and hear presentations, both in Toronto, on the basis of eight or nine or 10 hours a day, you name it, and across the province.
Injured workers are not the only source of input into the committee. You know that, Chair. The trade union movement is not the only source of input. There is a broad range of individuals and organizations. Obviously, employers want an opportunity to provide input into the bill, both large corporate bosses as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs, and they have that right. Quite frankly, our call here today for a lengthier period of time for public hearings, we understand and we're pleased to acknowledge, is going to provide for an opportunity on the part of, let's say, employers to participate fully in the hearings.
We have no quarrel with that. We make this plea as much on their behalf as we do on behalf of workers and injured workers and injured workers' advocates and people from the field of advocacy, people from legal clinics, people from the office of the worker adviser, people from the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal and people who work for the Workers' Compensation Board currently. There is clearly a large number of people and organizations in the province that have something important and very relevant to say about the legislation.
I will underline that by repeating that this isn't merely to accommodate those people. It's to give effect to what the committee process is supposed to be all about. I can neither control nor do I make any apologies for the fact that there's already been some 1,300 requests made to provide input. All that illustrates is that this is a bill that yes, is going to require more time during the committee process than some other bills have, and that shouldn't come as any surprise to you, Chair, or to the government members.
It's a bill that, as I say, is a complete overhaul, unlike any bill dealing with workers' comp over the course of the last 10 years. It's a bill that's going to affect the lives and livelihoods and futures of enormous numbers of people and their families. It's a bill that one way or another is going to have an impact on the class of businesses and individuals who are employers. It's going to have far-reaching impact. This caucus insists that the only way even the most modest standard of fairness can be met is for this committee to recommend, as indicated in the motion, an amendment to the time allocation motion so that at least a representative group of people who have already and who will continue -- and there's going to be more; I already said that. There are 1,297; there's clearly going to more, once advertising goes out there.
One of the ways to start to address it is with the non-traditional meeting. If I said "mega-meeting," would that offend you? The mega-meeting proposal, like the one that was held at Convocation Hall, is one way to address the concerns of a large number of people in a fairly concise time frame and in a fairly efficient way. This is a sad, sad day for the committee process, to see such a paucity of time permitted for such an important and widespread bit of legislation.
I may have other comments, but I certainly want to give others an opportunity to engage in the debate.
Mr Dominic Agostino (Hamilton East): I certainly speak in support of the resolution that has been put forward by the member for Welland-Thorold. I think he has covered many of the points I could touch upon.
Very clearly this bill fundamentally changes the way workers' compensation operates in this province. It fundamentally affects people's lives. It really is a significant move from the way we have traditionally dealt with injured workers in this province, the process and the ability of injured workers to have fair representation and fair hearings and an opportunity to express very clearly what is happening in their lives.
I think it's important that this is not a technical change. This is not getting rid of some red tape commission somewhere or tinkering with some regulation that's 50 years out of date. The changes that have been proposed in this bill impact people's lives; real people, their families, their kids, their ability to survive. We are talking about some pretty substantial changes here and we're talking about changes that will have a dramatic impact on people.
Difficult as it is for committee members sometimes to sit through that, I think it's important we hear from those people, because an injury in the workplace doesn't simply end and life carries on as normal. The worker may or may not get assistance. There's a real impact to an injured worker when an injury occurs. There's an impact on that person's family, there's an impact on the relationships in the family, there's emotional stress, there's physical stress, there's financial stress. I think it's important for injured workers to come to the end of the table and tell the committee what it's all about, how it feels and what they are going through.
You cannot simply exclude a whole bunch of people by saying, "We only have a few limited days and it's too bad if you don't get lucky enough to get put on the roster and get an opportunity to speak." I think we should take as long as it's going to take. I think we should give the time that is necessary to this. I believe it is very important to allow every single group or individual who wants to come forward to this committee to talk about this bill, because, folks, it's not our lives we're impacting, it's their lives. It's potentially the life of every single working man and woman in this province who may be fortunate enough today to be working and healthy and not injured. It's not only the people who are injured on the job today and who are receiving assistance of some type from workers' compensation.
This bill cannot be rushed through. At the end of the day, as Mr Kormos mentioned, you have a majority. You're going to be able to do what you want. You're going to be able to put through whatever bill you want in whatever form you want, regardless of what the opposition says, regardless of what people at the other end of the table say. You have that power and that ability in our political system.
But with that there also comes a responsibility to ensure that we give people an opportunity to express their views and their position before you make that decision. Once you listen to that, then you can make up your own mind, and you will deal with the fallout and the consequences of whatever decisions you make as a government. But to deny people that opportunity to sit at the end of the table or to be in a meeting hall and tell you their feelings on the bill -- again, not only the technical part but I think the real life experiences, because that's what makes a difference, folks. We're dealing with people's lives here; we're not dealing with some absurd piece of legislation somewhere. I think it's extremely important to give that opportunity and to give people that chance to come and tell us how their lives have been affected by an injury and how their lives will be affected by changes that we propose in this legislation here today.
I think the government members will be moved and will understand if they listen to the stories. If you listen to the stories and if you listen to the injured workers at the end of the table, I think you'll see a whole different side of this issue. I just think it would be fundamentally wrong, unfair and immoral to deny people that opportunity, in view of the time allocation, in view of the fact that you have to somehow rush this bill through. Certainly our caucus is willing to ensure that we sit wherever is necessary, whenever is necessary, however long is necessary to listen to and hear the input of everybody at the end of the table.
The reality is that different people have different access. The business community and the lobbyists on behalf of the business community, who want changes, are going to have a lot more access to this committee, particularly to the government members, than the average injured worker in this province or the unions that represent those injured workers. We've got to make up for that imbalance, and I think you make up for that imbalance to some degree by ensuring that as a committee we have a mechanism to allow us to listen to every single person who wants to make a presentation.
I cannot stress enough that it is people's lives. There are real people, their families, their kids, that this legislation is going to impact. The worst thing we can do is to try to ram something through without listening to these people, without listening to their stories, the way they've been devastated by injuries and how they're going to be devastated by some of the changes proposed in here. Unless you're afraid to face them, there's no other excuse for your not giving them an opportunity to come to the end of the table to speak.
Mr Maves: Thank you to members opposite for their comments. This indeed is an important bill, and that's why it's important in this discussion to talk about consultation that has come before this point in time. I know our government, in opposition, for several years consulted many people about the workers' compensation system. Bill 165, which the NDP brought in, first introduced the Friedland formula into workers' compensation, and there was quite a bit of discussion at that time about the WCB system. Also, in 1995 we campaigned on a very clear agenda about renewing the Workers' Compensation Board system and restoring the financial integrity of the system so that benefits could be secured into the future for injured workers.
I'd note that the Liberal opposition during the campaign and also in their red book endorsed a lot of the policies and changes we've already brought to the workers' compensation system or that are in this bill; in fact, on November 27, 1996, Mr McGuinty endorsed the proposed legislative changes to workers' compensation. That reflects the many years of listening and consultations that the Liberal Party had also done up to that point.
I'd also note that since we became the government, Mr Jackson, the former minister responsible for workers' compensation reform, consulted with over 150 individual injured workers in a lot of different towns, mine among them. Nepean, Guelph, Woodstock, Burlington, Kitchener and Thunder Bay were also included. He also received 200 written submissions. This provided him with considerable advice which contributed to Bill 99. Since that time and the release of his document after those consultations, the Ministry of Labour has continued to meet with stakeholders and listen to what they had to say, and some things like a direct pay model of insurance and the redefining of "accident" were undertaken because of those discussions with stakeholders.
I have already stated that Bill 165, the NDP government's bill which brought in the Friedland formula, had a comparable amount of time at committee to what this bill is being given. I'd also note that at that time Bill 165 received just one day at second reading. We've already had 10 hours and four times the number of days at second reading as the previous legislation. I think that should be noted.
I have a couple of other points. These time allocation motions -- the previous government had 23 of them -- have become something that occurs quite often now in government, and it's somewhat unfortunate. It's very difficult to ask members of a committee to overturn something that a House leader has sent down, because there's a lot of to and fro between House leaders about which bills are going to get what time. It would be difficult for a committee to then undermine the decisions of the House leader, who has to go back and negotiate other bills for the next couple of years with the other House leaders.
There are a lot of presenters for the bills. The members all know there are always too many presenters for time slots on bills. That's a common occurrence for every government. All governments and all bills are subject to some sort of time limits; otherwise the business of the day wouldn't get done. It's unfortunate that all those who have sent in their name to appear at the hearings won't be able to be heard. They do have the opportunity to present written submissions; many people have sent in. Because this legislation was introduced November 26, 1996, they've had plenty of opportunity already to meet with their members and discuss the legislation and to send letters to talk to government members about the legislation. I've had several meetings already with people about this legislation. We didn't always agree on everything, but I've heard their concerns and comments.
Also, as with all those lists, while there were quite a few people -- I'll agree with that -- there were duplicates, often many people from the same organization. It's not necessarily always valuable to hear from the same organization time and time again in hearings, but to limit that.
There are a lot of opportunities for people to continue to make submissions to their members and make submissions to the government. As I said before, quite a bit of consultation has already gone on, going back to about 1992, I believe it was, and then through 1995 and 1996 with Mr Jackson's consultation tour. Even though we are limited in the number of people we're going to be able to hear and the amount of time we'll be able to spend, I wouldn't want to underestimate what goes on between House leaders, and I would re-emphasize that there has been quite a bit of consultation to date.
The Chair: I have Ms Martel down for discussion, but I would just mention that we are at the 4:30 point, so we might want to consider that.
Mr Kormos: Not me.
The Chair: Ms Martel, do you wish to add to the discussion?
Ms Shelley Martel (Sudbury East): Yes, I do, Madam Chair. First I want to respond to some of the things Mr Maves said, and then I want to add some comments of my own, as a member who has been in this place for 10 years and has sat on some of those very substantial changes to WCB legislation, so I can probably give the government members some idea of the tradition around this place, particularly with respect to WCB.
Let me first deal with some of the comments from Mr Maves. I can't believe you would come to this committee and for one second suggest that this schedule before this committee was negotiated by the House leaders. Please. This was a time allocation motion. The government House leader decided the debate was going to end. Two weeks ago the government House leader decided what the schedule was going to be. It's unbelievable that you would come in here today and try to suggest that there was somehow lots of to-ing and fro-ing about this schedule and it was subject to some kind of negotiation. Give me a break. There was no negotiation whatsoever. Your government House leader in the time allocation motion said to the House: "Here it is, folks. Take it or leave it."
I can tell you that our House leader, who has also had a long tradition in this place, almost 20 years now, would never have agreed to 10 hours in committee, some half-days in committee while the committee sits in Toronto, and six days on the road. That's not the tradition we've established around here under different governments over the last number of years when it has come to dealing with WCB reform. Please don't insult the intelligence of committee members and the people who are here from the public today by somehow suggesting that our House leader was party to this schedule. That is just not on.
Second, Mr Maves talked about consultation, that we've somehow had all kinds of consultation around WCB reform since 1992 or 1993. Some of that needs to be clarified.
First of all, if you take a look at Bill 165, the changes we made when we were in government, no doubt we certainly did bring forward changes to the Friedland formula, and those were hotly debated by a number of folks who are in this room today. But I can also tell you that we helped about 45,000 of the most vulnerable workers by giving them increases on the small pensions they were already receiving. Our government created the bipartite board of directors, giving people a voice, not just partisan hacks on the board any more, but actually giving people who knew something about workers' compensation a significant role to play on the board of directors. We were the ones, through that bill, who established the royal commission to go out and deal with some of the broader issues around workers' compensation that did not find themselves in Bill 165.
Those were the changes we made when we brought in Bill 165. They are a far cry from the gutting of the bill that you folks want to do now, a bill which, I need to remind you, takes away money from injured workers, reduces their take-home pay, for example; gets rid of the Occupational Disease Panel, which for many years has put forward studies and made recommendations to the board on how to compensate those people who suffer from industrial disease; attacks the independence of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal, a group your government brought in in reform to the WCB in 1984-85; implements or looks to implementing changes that will completely privatize vocational rehabilitation at the Workers' Compensation Board; along with any number of really disastrous changes.
You were the folks who killed the consultation that was supposed to go on through the royal commission. It was your government that cancelled that as one of your first acts on getting into government -- one of the forums that would have looked at, that indeed was looking at, any number of very long-standing and serious issues that require change. You cancelled that. The public had input. The public was meeting with the people who were dealing with the commission, making suggestions for change, and one of the first things you folks did was cancel. Then you put in Cam Jackson.
Let me tell you about Cam Jackson's exercise in Sudbury. We got a letter from Cam Jackson saying he was coming to meet with groups in Sudbury and we would be advised of the time and the date and where we could have input, and that was the last thing we ever got from Cam Jackson. We were not notified about Cam Jackson coming to talk to us about what was going on with respect to reform.
Mr Galt: On a point of order, Madam Chair: Not to interrupt -- my apologies for that -- we did have an agreement, and I believe it was even a friendly amendment that formulated that agreement, to wind up debate at 4:30. We're well past that time at this point. I think that agreement should be respected.
The Chair: Thank you. Can you draw to a close?
Ms Martel: I'm getting there, Madam Chair.
You didn't say anything in your Common Sense Revolution with respect to cutting injured workers' benefits, so how can you at all argue that somehow the people bought into your agenda and bought into your change because they voted for you and voted somehow for these terrible changes you're bringing in?
The fact of the matter is that there has been a long-standing tradition in this House that when we deal with workers' compensation changes we allow the public to have some input, to have some say. What you are offering here is an insult, is a sham, is a slap in the face. For goodness' sake, take a look at Bill 165, which Mr Maves wanted to talk about. He neglected to mention that Bill 165 had three full weeks of public hearings on the road. The debate on second reading was a midnight sitting. Everyone who got that up and spoke had a chance to speak. The Tories didn't put up any more speakers on Bill 165 and that debate ended in a single sitting, but a midnight sitting.
We are here today looking at a schedule that is less than what we had when we had the last major change around workers' compensation, when I was the critic for the NDP in 1989-90. We had at that time, under Bill 162, 37 days in committee, 11 hearing days in Toronto, 15 days on clause-by-clause, 11 days on the road. We had one full session for injured workers at Convocation Hall. What you are offering today is a slap in the face to those thousands and thousands and thousands of injured workers whose very lives, whose very pension, whose very pay, whose very livelihood and whose families are going to be dependent upon what they can receive when they get hurt or what they receive as a pension. Surely that must have some impact on all of you.
You cannot say we've had lots of consultation. What is reflected in Bill 99 is a complete departure from what was represented in Bill 165. It's a significant change in terms of the traditional agreements that were made in 1914 when this bill was put into place. It certainly has nothing to do with what you talked about in the Common Sense Revolution, because you didn't talk about cutting people's benefits and cutting their pensions, and that's what you're doing with this bill.
The tradition in this place has been to allow significant numbers of people to come and have their say on a bill which impacts on their livelihood. This is not just a minor change in their quality of life or a minor change in their day-to-day activity; what we do here with respect to workers' compensation, benefits and entitlement has a serious and dramatic impact on thousands of people who have already been hurt and thousands more who will.
I have to say to the committee that you have got to reverse your position with respect to the decision and to the schedule that's before us. It is not a schedule which is agreed upon by the House leaders; it was a schedule that has been put to us by the government House leader. It in no way, shape or form allows for the hundreds and hundreds of people who should have their say to have their say, and we have got to change that, if for nothing else than to reflect the fine tradition that has been established in this place with respect to how all parties and all governments have dealt with WCB reform in Ontario.
The Chair: Mr Kormos has a motion on the floor. Is there any further discussion? We agreed to about 4:30. We're passed that now. Can we take a vote on that?
Mr Kormos: A recorded vote, please.
Agostino, Hoy, Kormos, Martel.
Chudleigh, Galt, Jordan, Maves, O'Toole, Ouellette.
The Chair: The motion is lost.
We move now to the report of the subcommittee of the standing committee on resources development number two. Any discussion on this subcommittee report, please?
Mr Kormos: Has it been moved?
The Chair: Oh, sorry, you're right. Could I ask for a motion, please, for this to be moved?
Mr Maves: I move that we accept it.
The Chair: Any discussion?
Mr Kormos: It indicates that a technical briefing by the ministry is not required. I suspect that's not so much because the bill isn't highly technical but because the subcommittee is acknowledging there's not sufficient time allotted for the committee hearings to entail, and Ms Martel quite rightly spoke of tradition and practice, what is usually -- I suppose a technical briefing by the ministry isn't required if the government members really don't want to know what's in the bill and have no intention of understanding what's in the bill and are going to vote on it like the little trained seals they are simply on the instructions from their whip and/or leader.
I also have great concern about number 7: "Notice of the public hearings will be placed on the Ont.Parl network. It will invite groups or individuals to submit written briefs to the committee." My problem is that this is the only reference to notice in the whole report of the subcommittee. This is an élitist and quite frankly stupid suggestion. It implies that people have universal access to the Ontario parliamentary network. You know or ought to know that you've got access to the Ontario parliamentary network if you have cable television, if you're one of Ted Rogers's hostages. There are vast portions of this province where cable television isn't a reality and there are larger numbers of people throughout the province for whom cable television is a luxury beyond their ability to pay.
This smacks, and it's starting to get clearer and clearer here, that for this government gaggle on this committee there's no interest in public hearings. Indeed it appears they don't really want public hearings at all. When I recall what Mr Maves had to say about the earlier motion, during the discussion of the report of the subcommittee number one, it's clear that he really doesn't think public hearings are essential at all and that the only reason he's holding any is to create an impression of consultation.
The fact that government members would not want a technical briefing, that it's not required -- horsefeathers. The fact that notice is only going to go out on the Ontario parliamentary network to a segment of the Ontario community that has cable television confirms that hearings aren't really desired. I understand the 20-minute time slots. That was a concession made by opposition in an effort to accommodate as many people as possible, and I reluctantly would agree to 20-minute time slots.
I'm going to tell the government committee members something in just a minute, but before I tell them that, it's clear that not a single member of the government caucus on this committee has the guts or the gonads to speak up for their constituents in terms of acknowledging that the government bosses here have shortchanged the public. I understand people being bought; what amazes me is that they can be bought for so little.
I suppose the treatment of Toni Skarica, Gary Carr and Bill Murdoch was supposed to be some sort of lesson for government backbenchers. It was Bill Murdoch who said, "You've got to kiss ass if you're going to get anywhere here." I suppose it's --
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): What did they do to you? How did the picture go, Peter?
Mr Chudleigh: I think the language is out of order.
The Chair: Order, please. Mr Kormos, kindly keep your language as a fine parliamentarian should.
Mr Kormos: As I pointed out, neither the guts nor the gonads nor the brains, as Mr O'Toole is now demonstrating, to effectively want to stand up and speak out.
I understand what happened to Mr Skarica and Mr Murdoch --
The Chair: Mr Kormos, could you limit your remarks to the subcommittee, please, briefly?
Mr Kormos: Yes. I'm calling upon one, maybe two, maybe three government members to honour the responsibility they have to their constituents, to place their constituents' interests above and beyond theirs, to put their constituents' interests first rather than their own. Such a dramatic display of self-interest has never been witnessed in this Legislature when government backbenchers, given an opportunity, as they are today -- I understand they got marching orders not to support the motion we moved pursuant to subcommittee report one. Now they've got an opportunity to be recognized as a member who places their constituents' interests before their own.
If "kissing ass" offended anybody, don't shoot the messenger. It was Bill Murdoch, their colleague, who suggested that's what was important if you were going to make it around here. So don't shoot the messenger, please, Chair. I'm only quoting the honourable member for Grey-Owen Sound, who I quite frankly have some regard for because Billy Murdoch is prepared to speak out for his constituents and has demonstrated that. Gary Carr is prepared to speak out for his constituents and to hold, with regard, the trust that's been placed in him. Toni Skarica is prepared to speak out. They may not have parliamentary assistants' jobs, they may not get on any junkets to New York City like Mr Wood and Mr Flaherty and -- who is the other member of that unholy trio?
Interjection: Mr Brown.
Mr Kormos: Mr Brown.
The Chair: Mr Kormos, if I may, please --
Mr Kormos: No, I didn't go to New York, Chair.
The Chair: Could you please confine your remarks to comments on the subcommittee report? I do request it.
Mr Kormos: I'm exhorting government members to vote against this report and I'm doing so in as broad a way as I can. As I say, I understand the fear of the government members, I really do. I understand that fear. Mr O'Toole makes reference to the consequences I received for sticking up for my constituents rather than puckering up and following marching orders. Well, I'm proud of having done that.
Mr O'Toole: They've been laughing at you ever since.
Mr Kormos: I don't regret having done it. My constituents are proud of my having done it. I believe they expressed that in 1995. That's why I have such empathy for Toni Skarica and Gary Carr and Bill Murdoch, because they can't be bought for a crummy Vice-Chair or a Chair or a PA position. They're prepared to fulfil their commitment to their constituents.
I'm asking three of these government backbenchers to do the same. I'm asking them to recognize that they have a responsibility here, in the first instance to the almost 1,300 individuals and organizations that have requested standing before this committee, and secondly to what I'm sure will be hundreds more to come. By rejecting this recommendation of the subcommittee, they can demonstrate respect for those persons wanting to participate.
I'll tell you this: This government's going to have a rocky, rough ride like it ain't seen if it proposes to embark on these hearings without some accommodation for the hundreds, well in excess now of 1,300 individuals and groups that seek status. This government ain't seen nothing the likes of what it's going to witness. Most of them weren't here, no, none of those people sitting in that little gaggle were here last time injured workers felt frustrated and were persuaded to leave the second floor of the assembly by the leader of the New Democrats.
I'm not sure the leader of the New Democratic Party this time is going to be as accommodating and generous to the government as the leader then was. This government is inviting, creating a confrontation between some of the most damaged, injured people in our province, people who have borne on their backs and with their shattered and broken limbs the consequences of unsafe workplaces and workplace injuries, the families of those who have died.
It's picking a fight. So be it. If it insists on picking this fight like the proverbial school yard bully, like the Goliath it wants to be, it will find itself struck down as the school yard bully, inevitably a coward, always is, and like Goliath, ever confident, always is by the young Davids.
I find it amazing that this government and its backbenchers, although they've only been here two years, haven't in those two years acquired any sense of understanding about what committee work is. We know that what happens in the House is rarely overly democratic, because we've got people really following marching orders, government members not participating in debate because they don't want people to know where they stand on particular bits of legislation, government members voting as told and following orders, rather than listening to their constituents or responding to their own understanding of a bit of legislation.
The public doesn't have access to the floor of the chamber; the public only has access through the course of committees. Committees are integral to the most basic or modest sense of democracy. This government has no regard for even that. I find it deplorable that these committee members from the government side are willing to simply do the bidding of their backroom gang. I find it not just cynical but a total betrayal of the responsibilities that an elected member has imposed on them when they accept the support of their community sending them here to Queen's Park.
This is an unfortunate and sad day for this committee and for the government. It wants to beat up on injured workers. Let me tell you something: Injured workers may be using canes and crutches and may be in wheelchairs and from time to time even on gurneys, but I have known injured workers and their representatives, Phil Biggin and Karl Crevar and so many others across this province who have for decades, with great perseverance and with great personal sacrifice, led the cause and advocated on behalf of injured workers to try to overcome the injustices that injured workers have had imposed on them.
Let me tell you, there's going to be a lot of government members just quite frankly wetting their pants at the confrontation they're going to invite. The attitude here is one which is so undemocratic. I've got to tell you, I was over at the Croatian National Home in Welland on Friday night. One of the old Croats came to me and explained to me that he had lived under Fascist regimes, he had lived under totalitarian Communist regimes and he ain't seen nothing like this government. I wouldn't dare to make that comparison, because I've had to live under neither. But here's an old gentleman who has and he, in Croatia, as I say, endured Fascism, Nazism and Communist totalitarianism. He shakes his head as he observes this government with their disdain for democracy and public input. He says he ain't ever seen nothing like it.
The Chair: Mr Kormos, do you have any particular points that you want to refer to, to the subcommittee report?
Mr Kormos: Oh, yes, ma'am. But I understand that other people may want to participate in the debate, and in the interests of time and to accommodate those people, I'll -- what the heck is this? That's nuts. "People sought constituent meetings with their Tory MPP." It appears that some information I've received is that government backbenchers haven't been as generous with injured workers as they claim to have been, that there is any number of injured workers and their groups who haven't been granted audiences with their Tory backbenchers.
This is like a dance in the fog. If we can't get straight lines, if we're confronted with distortions, it makes the debate all the more difficult. I say, "Shame." I know Ms Martel wanted to speak to the subcommittee report, and one of my friends from the Liberal caucus.
Mr Agostino: I am concerned with some of the process that's been used as well, particularly the provision for notices. I think it's important, as was mentioned previously by my colleague, the fact that you are only advertising through the parliamentary network is in many ways excluding a lot of people. I would like to see this committee agree to an amendment that would allow advertising to occur in the daily newspapers as well as the community papers across this province. It would make some sense to give people greater access to the committee hearings by notifying them of committee hearings.
My own riding of Hamilton East probably has the largest or one of the three largest percentages of injured workers across Ontario. My office deals with many, many injured workers on a daily basis and I know they are concerned about what is happening. Certainly through some offices, such as mine and other members' here, we can notify individuals we deal with of that, but there are many other folks who don't come into an MPPs office, who don't watch the Ontario parliamentary network, who might want to have access to this, so I think simply at least extending some goodwill in the process by advertising in community newspapers --
The Chair: If I may interrupt, excuse me, Mr Agostino, number 7, which I think is what you're referring to -- at the subcommittee meeting, this was discussed only in relation to the committee hearings that would be held in Toronto. None of these was in consideration of the hearings that would be held throughout the province.
Mr Agostino: Okay, the same thing. I think the same principle can apply and if we can extend the advertisement to the dailies and the community newspapers that exist in this town and in other cities or towns that the committee travels to, I think that would certainly help many injured workers have access to this committee. As I said earlier, we can't stress enough the importance of this issue and we can't stress enough the access of the public to this committee. Whether members agree or disagree with what has been said at the end of the table, I think we have a responsibility to inform people that it's happening, to inform people that they have an opportunity to come forward, and to give them that opportunity.
I would like to see us do that and certainly to ensure that we place advertisements beyond the parliamentary network in order to give people that fair opportunity to appear before this committee. I think it's important also to look at some of the community papers, the ethnic papers that exist across various parts of this province, to use them as a tool to reach people who are going to be impacted by this legislation.
Ms Martel: I'm looking at the proposal that's before us and I ask members who have already voted down allowing having more hearings to take a serious look at what they have just voted on. Point number 5 says that witnesses will be scheduled for 20-minute time slots. I notice that nowhere else in the note does it talk about how long the committee is going to sit.
The four days in Toronto: We can assume the committee is going to sit from 3:30 till 6, which will allow us a grand total of 28 presentations being made in the four days the committee sits in Toronto -- a grand total of 28 presentations.
I'm going to assume, rightly or wrongly, that the next six days will actually be full hearing days because they will be out on the road, out of this place, so we're looking at a potential schedule of sitting from 10 in the morning till 12 noon and again from 2 until 5. That allows us to have another grand total of 90 presenters over those six days out on the road. In total, if we're being generous, this committee is going to hear from 118 people, organizations, businesses, legal clinics, etc -- a grand total of 118.
Right now, before this committee has even advertised its public hearings, we have 1,297 folks who have requested to have standing before this committee to express their concerns with respect to this bill. We're going to hear from 118 of them if the committee is generous, less than 10% of the people who wanted to have input, wanted to have some say on a bill that for many of them is going to dramatically affect their lives, their livelihood, their ability to support their families, their ability to live with some kind of decent standard of living on their pension after they are hurt and cannot return to work.
That's what this committee -- I shouldn't say "this committee," because the opposition didn't vote -- that's what the government members, the majority on this committee voted for. Perhaps we'll hear from 118 people in the 10-day time frame. It's not even 10 days, because four of those are two-and-a-half-hour sittings in the late afternoon.
That's what we're giving to the public of Ontario. Doesn't that make any of you want to think again? Doesn't that jig your conscience just a little bit, that that's what you've agreed to, that that's the position we find ourselves in, that that's the offering we're going to give to the thousands and thousands of people out there whose lives are going to be so dramatically affected by the gutting of the Workers' Compensation Act and by the gutting of benefits that they are now entitled to? Shame on the government members.
For goodness sake, not only have you just sloughed off all of the many years of tradition in this House, tradition where we have allowed for extensive public hearing for WCB reform, but you've just slapped in the face well over 1,000 people who have already asked to be heard. You have just slammed the door in their faces, never mind the hundreds of others who would have responded to an appeal in the paper or on TV or anything else in order to have their say. I don't know how this committee is going to deal with who gets chosen. It's going to be a joke.
I just say shame on the government members. You couldn't care less about injured workers. You couldn't care less about what's going to happen to them. That is clearly displayed in the destructive and cavalier manner in which you have dealt with public hearings on this very important piece of legislation and the ability of these people to have their say.
The Chair: Further discussion? Seeing none, Mr Maves has moved the subcommittee report from June 5.
Mr Kormos: Recorded vote, please.
The Chair: It's been brought to my attention, committee members, that Mr Agostino is in the process of writing an amendment. I see that he's left the room. Shall we wait a moment for him to return, or shall we move forward with the vote? What is the wish of the committee?
Mr Maves: I don't mind waiting.
Mr Galt: Did he indicate how long he would be?
The Chair: No.
Mr O'Toole: He's on the phone outside.
The Chair: He's on the phone. Mr Hoy, do you have any advice for us in this regard?
Mr Pat Hoy (Essex-Kent): I can't speak for Mr Agostino, but in his last conversation about this subcommittee report he had a concern about having a public hearing notice placed only on the Ontario parliamentary network. So that may be exactly what he has in mind.
The Chair: Mr Agostino, it was brought to my attention that you were working on an amendment. Is that correct?
Mr Agostino: Yes, that is right. I'll read that, if that's acceptable.
The Chair: All right. Members, there is an amendment being read.
Mr Agostino: That the notice of public hearings be placed in major daily newspapers and community papers across Ontario where the public hearings will take place, in addition to what is here.
The Chair: Okay. May I ask, this would be specifically for the Toronto hearings to begin next week?
Mr Agostino: Toronto, and then obviously the committee would have to deal -- we could do an amendment at that point if it's appropriate. My understanding is that all this in front of us refers to the Toronto hearings. Is that correct?
The Chair: That's correct. It's my understanding.
Mr Agostino: The notice of public hearings then would be placed in major daily newspapers and community papers in Toronto where the hearings are to take place and, if we can recommend, in the other communities where the hearings will take place in the future outside of Toronto.
The Chair: Any discussion?
Mr Maves: If I can speak to that, tomorrow the three parties are to submit lists of witnesses, so if we try to place an ad in the Toronto papers about hearings, saying, "If you want to come before us and appear in the hearings," the ad would come in after the deadline. So for Toronto it doesn't really make sense. For the other cities it's fine, but I think that would go better in the subcommittee's report when we come back with the full subcommittee report on those other cities.
The Chair: Further discussion?
Mr Maves: Part 4, Dominic. It would be impossible to get the ad in to appear before hearings in Toronto. For written submissions, it's fine.
Mr Agostino: Part of the problem is that we were hoping to get an extension on the number of people we can listen to, which obviously was not agreed to. Very clearly, we're still hoping that the committee will somewhere along the line look at the list of people who have submitted a request. Frankly, if the deadline was so tight, with June 10 being the time, and this committee sitting here today, on June 9 and agreeing to a process that has a deadline of tomorrow, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense that we're even doing this at this time to any great degree, which I think is somewhat of a ridiculous process we're using. Very clearly, it is not in line with the Toronto hearings as a result of the fact that the deadline is tomorrow -- that's what I've been told -- at 4 o'clock for anybody to come forward through the clerk.
The Chair: That's what you have before you.
Mr Agostino: That's our witnesses to the clerk. That's the ones from each caucus. For the general public, though, through the clerk, is tomorrow the deadline as well?
The Chair: My understanding is that there's no deadline set.
Mr Agostino: Okay. Therefore there would still be the opportunity, if I can just ask a point of process, not the merits of it, for people from the public to continue beyond tomorrow at 4 o'clock to make requests to appear before the committee.
Mr Maves: But, Dominic, they're not going to get on, because all three caucuses are submitting their lists for Toronto tomorrow. The likelihood that any of them are going to get on is slim to none; there would have to be a cancellation, and one caucus would have to put that person on there. It's fine for written submissions, an ad for a Toronto paper for written submissions, but not really for hearings. As far as the other cities go, Richard and I and David left that discussion for later.
Mr Agostino: As an amendment to that, if we can add then "put an ad in the paper to give people an opportunity to submit written submissions for the Toronto hearings and recommend to the subcommittee that they place ads in the daily and community newspapers across Ontario where the hearings will take place."
Mr Maves: I have no problem with that except for the fact that I just think that would fit better in the subcommittee report subsequent to this that's going to deal with those other cities.
Mr Agostino: But if the committee as a whole expressed that will, my belief is that the subcommittee will agree to it. Frankly, if this committee says to the subcommittee, "Here's what we'd like you to do," I would think you will take that direction very heavily into consideration.
Mr Maves: I can give you my undertaking --
Mr Agostino: I'm not trying to be difficult; I just think it's important to try to open up the floor.
Mr Maves: I realize that. As a member of the subcommittee from the government side, I undertake that I would agree to those ads and I know that Mr Patten would. We've already discussed that. That's at least two of the three members of the subcommittee who have already said, "We're going to agree to that." I'll tell you now that I'll agree to advertise for those hearings in those communities.
Mr Agostino: Would it be okay, then, Madam Chair, if we can allow for ads to be placed to receive written submissions on the bill in the city of Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto in daily newspapers and community papers and then to suggest to the subcommittee -- if not direct, because I've had the undertaking from Mr Maves -- that they would also consider that the ads be placed in communities across Ontario where we are going to be holding public hearings?
The Chair: Okay. If I may make a comment, my suggestion might be, if the committee is willing to submit the ads, that perhaps we stick to the two large dailies then, because the expense would be quite, I would think, extensive in getting into the community newspapers. Ms Martel, did you have a comment?
Ms Martel: Yes, I do. I have some real problem that we will do one thing in some parts of the province and we'll do something else in Toronto. I don't usually defend Toronto, because I'm from northern Ontario, but I'm going to defend Toronto today. Why are we trying to cater to the government agenda? This is ridiculous. We have boxed ourselves into a position where we can't even advertise for public hearings on this bill now because the government has got to get this thing under way ASAP? That's ridiculous. How can you even go out and tell people you're going to have public hearings when we don't even have enough time now to allow an ad to be placed in the dailies in Toronto so that people can write in and ask to get on? That's crazy.
What kind of process is this? You can't believe this is a fair process at all. What's wrong with the government members? For goodness' sake, you can't have one set of rules for people who live in Toronto, who can get an ad saying, "Send in your written submission and we'll look at it later," and then tell the folks in the other six areas -- God knows where they're going to be yet -- that they can come and make submissions. That's ridiculous. We can't have the committee start to act like that or deal with the public in that way. It's wrong and it's unfair.
Frankly, if that's the bind we find ourselves in, then the government members should be going back to the government House leader and saying, "We can't organize this in time to allow people to have proper notification and to allow them to have some say." That's what you should be saying back to the government House leader. You shouldn't be in here today trying to say, "We'll do one thing in Toronto and one thing somewhere else because our time lines are now so restricted."
Mr O'Toole: As a member of this committee, I would ask the question perhaps of the clerk of the committee, what is the normal procedure for notice period and what are the policies with respect to advertising? I'm not sure that members of this committee would suggest, Mr Agostino, that we take it upon ourselves to do something unique. I'm certain this is all laid down in policy long before it gets here. Could I have the clerk respond or at least tell me if there is a policy on this?
Clerk of the Committee: There are no normal procedures or policies with respect to advertising. Each subcommittee and committee decides what they would like to do based on the issue that's before them. Perhaps some of the subcommittee members can refer to some of the issues that were discussed with respect to the numbers that the committee already had before them.
Mr O'Toole: I guess that's the second part of the point I'm trying to make. If you take the number of days, and they sit eight hours a day, I think that comes out to 144 members on the road that we will be able to see, and from having sat on this committee before, I'll bet you that the NDP caucus has a list numbering in excess of 144 already, each one of whom will be probably representative of the Steelworkers, the United Auto Workers, the various associations. Their leadership will have a position, and we'll hear that position in every single town, the same position, in fact word for word, with the exception of the beginning of the preamble to say, "The members of Local XYZ make this petition," and it will be word for word right from Buzz Hargrove or whoever the leader is, Gord Wilson or whoever.
Mr O'Toole: The injured workers should be represented. I'm sure --
The Chair: Order, please. With all respect, I remind those who are here viewing the committee today that we must follow the same rules as in the House. This is a committee meeting.
Mr O'Toole: I'm not a member of the subcommittee, so to conclude without using a lot more time here, it appears from what the clerk has said that members of the subcommittee did discuss this issue, and I leave it to them. There were representations from all three parties there at the subcommittee level, so I guess they decided not to.
Mr Agostino: I think this thing is receiving more debate than it should be. We're talking about giving the public notice. I take exception to the comments of Mr O'Toole somehow questioning the motives of representatives of injured workers or of injured workers and suggesting that they are all going to come forward with the same pitch. That's part of the attitude problem he has. Injured workers are not all the same.
Yes, there are positions represented by locals that represent those workers. That's what they're there to do. Unions and representatives of injured workers have a responsibility and a job to represent those men and women who work there and who are injured on the job and have some problems and difficulties to deal with, and that is exactly what they do. You don't listen to one and then tune out on the rest because you assume it's all the same, and that was one of the points we made earlier as to why these hearings should be extended, for God's sake: to give people an opportunity. Because each case, each story, each circumstance of each injured worker and the impact this is having on them is different.
I ask members to understand the severity and the impact of what we're dealing with here, because if you try to short-circuit the process, you're going to invite anger, reaction and violence. Allow people that opportunity. You cannot short-circuit this process, because you're really fundamentally impacting people's lives in a very severe way here. To try to somehow short-circuit this or ignore them as all being the same and all with one view represented is a grave injustice to injured workers across this province. I really take great exception to that approach and that attitude that these things are somehow all preplanned and stacked and every single person who comes forward has the same speech in front of him except one line that is different.
I would ask these members to go out and talk to a few injured workers, and maybe you'll get a different perspective, a different picture than the one that has been presented today. I agree, I think this thing has got to be consistent. I would really like to see us have an opportunity to give every single injured worker an opportunity to come forward and let them know about it through the advertising in the newspapers, both the large and community papers, and not just assume they are all a bunch of trained seals who are going to say the same damned thing.
The Chair: Mr Agostino has an amendment on the floor. Any further discussion?
Mr Maves: I'm sorry, Chair, but I'm no longer clear if he has withdrawn parts of the amendment, amended the amendment --
Mr Agostino: In view of what's been said, I believe we should be consistent. The motion will be that the notice of public hearings be placed in major newspapers and community papers across Ontario where the hearings are being held, including Toronto.
The Chair: Would you like that read once more?
Mr Maves: Yes. I don't think I could support it worded that way, but would you read it one more time so the committee can be clear on it?
The Chair: Okay. You've changed it.
Mr Agostino: I wrote it out here. If you'll give me the original one, I scrambled here and rewrote it. Give me what you have there. The motion is that the notice of public hearings be placed in major daily newspapers and community papers in the community where the hearings will take place.
Interjection: Including Toronto?
The Chair: It's open-ended.
Mr Agostino: Toronto is one of the communities.
The Chair: Further discussion?
Mr Maves: I can't support that motion but will give my undertaking to Mr Agostino that during subcommittee deliberations about the cities that we're going to go to in the future, I will agree to advertise in major dailies in those cities we're going to. That's my only comment.
Ms Martel: Can I just ask why the government can't support this notice for advertisements in the daily papers in Toronto on a bill of this magnitude?
Mr Maves: I can't speak for all the government members. I can speak for myself in that tomorrow is the deadline, at 4 o'clock, for names of witnesses to be put on the list to testify in Toronto. You're not even going to get an ad in the paper until Thursday for hearings, so it would be a frivolous ad to put in the paper.
One of the reasons Mr Patten and I agreed on this was that there were already 500 people. Because the bill has been out there since November 1996, most of them were people who have been waiting for the hearings to be announced. They immediately sent in their names. A lot of the people who already deal with workers' compensation -- injured workers associations and many of the major unions -- had already submitted their names. As Mr Kormos said, there were over 500. We were confident that we could call the witnesses for the Toronto area from that list. That's why I can't support that, because it wouldn't be worthwhile to now do it for Toronto, but it would be for the major dailies in the other communities. I'll vote against the motion but I'll let Mr Agostino know that I will undertake to do that in subcommittee.
Ms Martel: This will come back to haunt you. You're making a huge mistake by proceeding down this path. I have seen workers' compensation amendments before and I've seen the demos. You do this at your peril by not advertising adequately and by not allowing enough public hearings. I warn you now. It's a crazy way to proceed.
The Chair: Shall we take a vote on Mr Agostino's amendment then?
Ms Martel: Recorded vote.
Agostino, Hoy, Martel.
Chudleigh, Galt, Hastings, Maves, O'Toole, Ouellette.
The Chair: The motion is lost.
We move then to the report of the subcommittee. This is subcommittee report number two.
Ms Martel: Recorded vote.
Chudleigh, Galt, Hastings, Maves, O'Toole, Ouellette.
Agostino, Hoy, Martel.
The Chair: The subcommittee report carries.
Seeing no further business, we'll adjourn for today. Thank you, everyone.
The committee adjourned at 1719.