The House met at 2 p.m.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, before statements by the ministry I would like to introduce to the House 65 grade 7 students from the Bath Public School who are in the west gallery. These are students from that wonderful Bath area in the great riding of Prince Edward-Lennox. I wish you would extend them a welcome to the House.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the Legislature this afternoon 26 members of the Inco Pensioners Club who are in the east gallery and I hope you will join me in welcoming them.
Mr. Johnson: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to you and to the hon. members of this house, 50 grade 10 students from the Erin District High School under the supervision of Chris Ledger and three parents. They are seated in the west gallery. Would you please welcome them to the Legislature this afternoon?
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker. I would like at this time to introduce to the members of the Legislature 20 students from St. John’s College in booming Brantford under the supervision of Mr. Ted Charnish. I’m sure the members of the House will be pleased to welcome them.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to you, and through you to the members of the Legislature, 13 senior students from grades 12 and 13 of the Sault Ste. Marie Collegiate under the guidance of Mr. Doug McChesney. They are in the west gallery.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and the House some special guests that we have in your gallery today. We have with us the Hon. C. C. MacKinnon, the Minister of Education, Cultural Affairs and Recreation, from the state of Western Australia, who is accompanied by Mrs. MacKinnon; and Dr. David Mossinson, the latter the assistant director general of education for West Australia.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Speaker is also pleased to introduce a group of some 30 students and their teachers and some parents from the Dale Road Public School in the great county of Northumberland. I hope the assembly will welcome them.
Statements by the ministry.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the hon. Minister of Labour. For the purposes of my question, I hope I can assume the Minister of Labour knows there is a bargaining-in-good faith section within the Labour Relations Act.
Does the minister think, given the length of time negotiations took place and the fact a settlement was reached only a matter of days ago, that it was bargaining in good faith on the part of Falconbridge to have come to the negotiating table knowing full well they intended to lay off between 500 and 1,000 workers, and never to make this known to those employees or their representatives during the course of the negotiations?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would have to tell my hon. colleague that I am not fully acquainted with the details of the negotiating programme at Falconbridge, but I can promise him that I will investigate this and if there is a matter of bargaining in bad faith, I will report it to the member.
Mr. Deans: May I ask a supplementary? Would the minister agree, given that the circumstances are as I outlined them, that it would be cause for action under the bargaining-in-good-faith clause of the Labour Relations Act?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, if in fact the situation is exactly as my hon. colleague has outlined, it might indeed be considered something which should be investigated under that aspect of the legislation.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Has the minister been informed by Falconbridge Nickel Mines of the impending layoff and the number of people to be laid off?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have no knowledge of that information at this time.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr. Martel: In view of the fact that the number that is being bandied around exceeds the minimum cited in the legislation that presently exists, would the minister find out if in fact Falconbridge has made application to the ministry, and if in fact there is going to be an orderly layoff or not in the little game that is going on, with Falconbridge attempting to say they might be laying off 500, 600, 700 or some magical figure? Will the legislation take effect to force a more orderly layoff?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the legislation which is in effect should enforce an orderly layoff. I shall investigate to find out whether in fact we have had any such intimation from Falconbridge.
OIL AND GAS PRICES
Mr. Deans: I would like to ask a question of the Premier. Given it is generally agreed the costs of fuel oil and gasoline vary considerably between northern and southern Ontario, would the Premier consider extending the freeze on gasoline and home oil prices in northern Ontario until such time as there is an opportunity for this Legislature to consider ways and means of implementing an equalization across the province?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think that question should be properly directed to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell), although I do recall some discussion of this last spring, not as it relates to the particular freeze but to the problem as a whole. If memory serves me correctly part of Mr. Isbister’s responsibility, and I think this was conveyed to the member for -- what is the member’s new riding?
Mr. Stokes: Lake Nipigon.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Lake Nipigon.
Mr. Foulds: Same riding.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, same riding but with a new name.
I indicated, or somebody did, to the member for Lake Nipigon, that part of Mr. Isbister’s responsibility was to see if there were some constructive suggestions about the question of equalization of price as between southern and northern Ontario. I believe the Minister of Energy indicated this; and this would be part of Mr. Isbister’s report in February.
Mr. Deans: If I may, by way of supplementary question: Recognizing that it all ends on Sunday, and recognizing that the cost to northern Ontario residents are considerably higher due to the winter period being much longer than in the south, doesn’t the Premier feel that it might be suitable and acceptable at this time to take that step and freeze the prices at the current level in the north until we can have the benefit of Mr. Isbister’s report?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think it sounds like a simplistic solution to what may be a somewhat complex problem.
Mr. Deans: That’s right. Maybe we don’t make things complicated.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The government is not unsympathetic. We asked Mr. Isbister to give specific attention to this and it’s a matter that has given this government concern for the last two or three years as it relates not just to fuel oil, but the price of gasoline. It is not as simple as some would think to find a logical solution to it. As I said, the Minister of Energy -- I think I’m right in this -- indicated to the House that this was a matter for Mr. Isbister and hopefully he may have some recommendations for us.
Mr. Nixon: Since the Premier has mentioned the cost of gasoline as well, would it not be possible for a consideration to be given to reducing the provincial sales tax, or gasoline tax, in the northern part of the province? We’ve discussed this before, but surely under these circumstances further consideration would be warranted?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I know the leader of the Liberal Party -- I won’t refer to them as the third group in the House today.
Mr. Nixon: Suit yourself, we are the third group.
Mr. Reid: What do you think you stand to gain?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, I can refer to them as the third party if they like.
Mr. Ruston: We were only two per cent behind.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please, order.
Mr. Roy: We will be kind with you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, but don’t forget you are behind.
Mr. Nixon: Not much.
Mr. Reid: First time in 32 years that we have had a minority government.
Hon. Mr. Davis: And what’s more, I’ve got news for you. You’re going to stay behind too. You’re going to stay behind --
Mr. Reid: We went up six per cent. What did you do?
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- in spite of all of those of you who are going to be contesting it in January. When is the member for Ottawa (Mr. Roy) going to announce? Any day now?
Mr. Reid: When is the Premier going to announce a Tow leadership convention?
Mr. Nixon: When is he going to announce one?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please, we’ll get on with the question period. Is there a further answer, Mr. Premier?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Before it is construed that I am personally supporting the member for Ottawa East, I will withdraw that question. I would only say to the leader of the Liberal Party that the government is reluctant to get into tax differentials as a solution to the problem. It has been considered. I think that’s been stated in the House before and it is not a suggestion that is without some merit. I’m not going to argue that, but we have been very reluctant, and I think this is true in most jurisdictions, to get into tax differentials based on geographic areas.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that gasoline in northern Ontario is not a luxury, due to the lack of public transportation and because many workers have to commute by car as many as 50 or 60 miles --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This is far removed from the original question asked --
Mr. Foulds: -- each way daily, is the Premier willing to commit his government, as a matter of policy, to the equalization of --
Mr. Bullbrook: Stick to your guns, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This is the same question, in my opinion, right over again. Did the member for Nipissing (Mr. R. S. Smith) have a --
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. What is your point of order?
Mr. Foulds: The original question was about gasoline prices in northern Ontario and I asked a supplementary on that matter.
Mr. Speaker: You’re spreading this thing and asking practically the same question over again, which is wasting the time of the question period.
Mr. Bullbrook: Right.
Mr. Cassidy: The Premier is wasting our time; he wouldn’t give a clear answer.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nipissing, for the final supplementary on this question.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, in spite of the Premier’s indication that Mr. Isbister is considering this as part of his study, would the Premier in the interim between now and the time of his final report, which I understand will be in January or February, name a committee of this Legislature to establish the actual cost differential between northern and southern Ontario once and for all in both the areas of gasoline and oil?
Mr. Speaker: I think the question has been asked. Is there an answer now?
Mr. R. S. Smith: And secondly, will the Premier give to that committee the right to look at the books of the oil and gas companies to see what the actual costs are -- differential costs are -- in transportation of the product between north and south?
Mr. Martel: Good question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Did the hon. member say we would give permission to whom to do what? I mean to do what to whom?
Mr. Sargent: The Premier knows what the hon. member asked him.
Mr. R. S. Smith: It is you who make people --
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, no, I didn’t hear the first part.
Mr. R. S. Smith: You do things to people. We ask you to look into things. Did you hear the first question?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I didn’t hear the first part of the first question.
Mr. R. S. Smith: The first part of the first question is this: While we’re waiting for the Isbister report, which I understand will come in January or February, will the Premier establish a committee of the Legislature to look once and for all into the differential in costs of oil and gas between the northern and the southern parts of the province? Secondly, will he give that committee the legal right to look at the books of the oil companies concerned -- distributors as well as oil companies -- to establish the differential in transportation costs for the two products from the south to the north?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think it would be premature to say yes to the first part of the question, because we haven’t seen Mr. Isbister’s report. It may or may not be necessary to have it go further than that; and, of course, if we haven’t got a yes or no to the first part of the question then the second question becomes academic. However, I would like to redirect this for any further detailed observation to the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell) who is today celebrating his 29th birthday. I certainly wouldn’t want him not to have that occasion noted here in the House and the opportunity to have a more fulsome answer to that very important question.
Mr. Reid: It is the 13th.
Mr. Cassidy: It may be his last birthday in the House.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has redirected it to the Minister of Energy.
Mr. Speaker: At a later opportunity. We are away from the original question. We started talking about the pricing, or inspecting --
Mr. R. S. Smith: That is what I’m talking about.
Mr. Speaker: It has been suggested that the question be redirected on two or three occasions. I think it hasn’t been. I think we should get on with the question period. There may be the opportunity, if we don’t waste too much time, to ask that related question.
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. Does the minister think it appropriate and proper that homes offered for resale under the Home Ownership Made Easy programme should have the land rental costs raised from the initial cost of $65 per month to a projected cost of between $200 and $250 a month -- for the lot the house is located on? Does he feel that in some way meets the needs of the low- or middle-income groups who are supposed to be able to take advantage of the HOME programme?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that that has occurred, as the hon. member suggests it has. I would like to have an opportunity to look into it and find out exactly what the details are, to find out if such increases are taking place.
ASBESTOS EMISSIONS AT JOHNS-MANVILLE OPERATION
Mr. Deans: One final question to the Minister of Labour: Will the Minister of Labour investigate the claims today with regard to the asbestosis sufferers of Johns-Manville who are being forced because of economic reasons to continue to work in the areas from which they derived the asbestosis in the first place; and that the Workmen’s Compensation Board has not yet moved to provide adequate pension levels in order that they can move to jobs where there’s less hazard?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the workers at Johns-Manville who are presently working within the plant are those who are judged to be medically at a level of disability well below 100 per cent.
Mr. Deans: The minister is going to wait until they are dead?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The examinations of the plant which have been carried out within the last two months by my ministry and the Ministry of Health have proven that all of the asbestos levels are well below the strictly enforced level which was set by the Industrial Safety Branch. There is a problem regarding those workers. It probably would be better for them to be out of the plant completely. Unfortunately, the Workmen’s Compensation Board does not have the power to move the workers out bodily. It can only encourage them and help them to find other employment. At the moment this whole problem of asbestosis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis, mesothelioma, and the related chest diseases are under intensive study by both the Ministry of Labour and the Workmen’s Compensation Board. I’m sure that you will be hearing more about this subject.
Mr. Deans: One supplementary question: Recognizing that we cannot afford to wait until the workers are at the level of 100 per cent disability, what does the minister propose to do to ensure that they don’t reach the level of 100 per cent disability? How can she claim that the Workmen’s Compensation Board is helping people to relocate, when everybody in this House knows that the rehabilitation and relocation programmes are just --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re debating the issue now,
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, within the past year the Workmen’s Compensation Board in this province has, in fact, helped more than 1,000 workers to relocate. It does have an active programme of rehabilitation and job investigation and support during that period when the workers are between the illness and the new job. This is a problem, as I have suggested. It is not a problem which is being ignored by either the Ministry of Labour or the Workmen’s Compensation Board. It is a complex problem and will require very complex solutions as well.
Mr. Deans: Don’t delay too long.
Mr. Martel: People will be dead before your ministry gets around to supporting it.
U.N. ZIONISM RESOLUTION
Mr. Nixon: I would like to ask the Premier if he will give consideration to introducing a resolution into this House condemning the stand taken by the United Nations in equating Zionism with racism? In this way we could support the resolution of the Parliament of Canada that was introduced by Hon. John Diefenbaker, and supported on all sides, in a matter of such grave concern. I’m sure if he would undertake to do this it would gain support on all sides, and I think would be a reasonable and useful thing to do.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think my thoughts on this are indirectly well known. I have no reluctance of doing it by way of a resolution although the House has not, on too many occasions that I can recall, became involved in a matter that very directly falls within the jurisdiction of the federal government of Canada.
Mr. Bullbrook: It has precedent.
Mr. Singer: Hate literature.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, I’m not saying there aren’t some precedents -- I am a little reluctant to have this occur on too many occasions. I think at the time I made certain observations on another issue that I don’t want to reopen here on this occasion. My views on a subject that is related to this I hope were rather well established. The possibility of a resolution by this House which we might do tomorrow morning, Mr. Speaker, or a letter -- perhaps from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis), the leader of the Liberal Party and myself -- to the first minister of Canada supporting the position taken by the federal Parliament might also be as effective. But I would be quite prepared to consider this.
Mr. Nixon: A supplementary: I appreciate the Premier’s answer but I might just suggest that a resolution that would involve all the members of the House would be preferable and I think it would be extremely worthwhile.
LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT STUDY
Mr. Nixon: I would like to direct a question, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier in the absence of the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow). This is the birthday of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell). It is also the first birthday of the government’s decision to reject the Krauss-Maffei approach to urban transportation. Remember? It was just a year ago today, I am told.
Since we have made such a commitment to the Urban Transit Development Corp. utilizing the members of the transportation staff in the development of light rail transportation and other urban alternatives designed for specific use in Ontario and similar jurisdictions, doesn’t it concern the Premier that Mr. Godfrey, the chairman of Metropolitan Toronto, has just led a widely representative delegation of urban officials to Europe with the express purpose of looking at the light rail alternatives in those countries so they might buy those vehicles for use here?
Should it not be a statement of policy that if we are going to do this work and research and development specifically for the jurisdiction of Ontario, that we should expect the municipalities here -- if we are going to assist them with 75 per cent grants -- at least to avail themselves of our research and our capability?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted that the leader of the Liberal Party is now in support of research and development in the field of urban transit. That, to me, is a very encouraging and enlightened sign.
Mr. Nixon: Now that the Premier is out of that Krauss-Maffei mess he is even a better politician than I thought he was. The Krauss-Maffei was all his. He can’t even make it go with wheels.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I understand that the leader of the Liberal Party, who attempted to make this into something of an issue during the last campaign, still hasn’t been able to get over the results. I would only say to him I’m prepared to debate the matter now.
Mr. Nixon: I have got over them. Have you?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, I have, and I would think a lot sooner than you did.
Mr. Nixon: I was reading that you were reassessing your position. Some Tories are reassessing your position.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I got over it a lot sooner than you did, like about 10 o’clock that night.
Mr. Nixon: The hon. Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) has a lean and hungry look.
Mr. Bullbrook: And he is looking at the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy).
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would only say that on this side of the House we all have lean and hungry looks in that sense of the word. I bet the member wishes he had more people over there who had that same lean and hungry look. That’s right. That’s been one of his problems for years.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, we could use it a little more.
Mr. Reid: There are a lot of heavyweights on those benches.
Hon. Mr. Davis: However, to get back to the question. If the head of Metropolitan Toronto wishes to go elsewhere researching into the areas of urban transit, I’m delighted. I think more people come to recognize the importance of urban transit and mass transit in today’s society. This to me is extremely encouraging. I don’t find it at all contradictory with the policy of the government or the activities of the Urban Transit Development Corp. I think it’s quite complementary and I will not comment on whether or not municipal people should be travelling outside the country. That’s not my purview. But certainly I don’t find it inconsistent with the policy of this government at all.
Mr. Nixon: Or politicians in general.
As a supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to ask the Premier if he would approve a grant of 75 per cent which would be required under our grant structure for the purchase of these vehicles from outside Canada, when we have made commitments of hundreds of thousands of dollars, probably several million, for the development right here. We’ve done this to foster not only the solution to our urban transportation needs, but also to improve our industrial base.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the fact that the TTC is contemplating purchasing from some company outside Canada. That is not my understanding.
Mr. Nixon: They are just over there to look at it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: My impression would be that if there were to be construction of a new form of vehicle, that construction quite obviously would take place somewhere within Canada, hopefully within the Province of Ontario. That is not at all inconsistent with the approach that we’ve been attempting to take.
As I say, I’m delighted that the leader of the Liberal Party now recognizes that there is great potential in the field of urban transit and intermediate capacity systems. I’m delighted that he has now seen the light.
Mr. Nixon: Is your research any good or not?
Mr. Cassidy: On a supplementary, will the Premier acknowledge now, Mr. Speaker, that it was the failure of the government to be aware of light rail technology development in Europe, and its failure to draw on the North American expertise of the TTC which is renowned in the field, that led it into the goose chase of going after Krauss-Maffei when there were viable and much cheaper alternatives?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I recognize that the member for Ottawa Centre is one of the most eminent people in the field of urban transit, particularly in the intermediate capacity systems. But I really don’t want to get into a debate with him, except to make one or two brief observations.
There is no question the TTC is one of the most knowledgeable agencies in North America in terms of transit. It is also true that there were members of the TTC, including one or two of their very senior people, who recognized the potential of some other form of intermediate capacity carriers.
I would also say to the hon. member for Ottawa Centre that at some point in time, somebody somewhere will develop an intermediate capacity system that is not necessarily the traditional light rail vehicle. I just earnestly hope that it is done here, because the potential in terms of market, in terms of development of technology, are tremendous. There are hundreds of millions of dollars -- and he can shake his head. He may not be a member of this House -- even I may not be a member of this House when this is done.
Mr. Cassidy: I will be here, I don’t know about you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But I tell the member at some point in time it will, and the experimentation and research in this field was never confined to the Province of Ontario and KM. It is being done in other jurisdictions and I think the member will find it is being pursued. There is nothing inconsistent in that and what the government attempted to do.
But I have to say this, Mr. Speaker, by way of finalizing it. It is fine for the members opposite to suggest that the government of Ontario should not become involved in a research project of this kind --
Mr. Cassidy: You shouldn’t have ignored the technology that was available.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I just don’t intend to apologize for it at all. I think it was a significant decision in terms of trying to develop something that would serve the transit needs and the potential in terms --
Mr. Nixon: Krauss-Maffei was a fiasco and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That is what you said about Pickering and the whole nuclear programme and you are still eating crow about that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Nixon: Are you talking about the airport?
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, we are talking about Hydro. I know the member has difficulty in distinguishing the difference but I find it rather amusing and something amazing that other members in the opposition would not put aside their partisan political feelings and recognize --
Mr. Nixon: And recognize Krauss-Maffei as a great breakthrough. It was a fiasco, a waste of money.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We must get on with the question period.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can only say that if the leader of the Liberal Party would look at the figures he would find out it was not a waste of money --
Mr. Reid: Just of time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- that the public of this province was protected under a contract, the likes of which even the member for Sarnia (Mr. Bullbrook) would have difficulty in questioning, and that it didn’t cost the public of this province anything. There is the potential of the technology available to us.
Mr. Cassidy: Sure it did. Three lost years is what it cost.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Certainly three years --
Mr. Cassidy: Lost.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If the hon. member for Ottawa Centre is saying it is lost, then he acknowledges that --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The interjections are creating a very long answer and we should get on with further questions.
Mr. Bullbrook: Why do you permit the Premier to abuse me in that way?
Mr. Speaker: Does the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) have an urgent supplementary to this? Are there any more questions by the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk? Then the member for Renfrew South has a question.
Mr. Cassidy: That is twice in two days.
Mr. Singer: That fellow from Oriole (Mr. Williams) isn’t going to get ahead of him, is he?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I can’t hear the question.
ST. JOSEPH’S HOSPITAL STAFF REDUCTION
Mr. Yakabuski: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Is the Minister of Health aware that St. Joseph’s Hospital here in this city is putting some 200 of its staff on a two-day week from now until the end of the year so that it can meet the debts that it foresees for the end of the year? We are also informed --
Mr. Roy: Question!
Mr. Singer: Question!
Mr. Bullbrook: Does the Premier see what he did when be appointed the member for Lambton (Mr. Henderson) to the cabinet?
Mr. Yakabuski: -- that that reduction in staff will not impair services.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I heard a question. Is it finished?
Mr. Yakabuski: I am wondering if this confirms what many people fear, that some of our hospitals are grossly overstaffed?
Mr. Singer: That is certainly urgent.
Mr. Reid: Yes or no?
Mr. Singer: Is the minister aware?
Mr. Nixon: The sisters of St. Joseph will get the member for Renfrew South.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I really thought I had visited all the towns in the member’s riding.
Mr. Reid: That is why he is trying to get even.
Mr. Nixon: He figures if the member for Lambton can get into the cabinet, anybody can.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, there was an error in the report in the Toronto papers on that particular hospital that hopefully will put the member at ease. It read that they were laying everybody off for two days a week between now and the end of the year. In fact, they were laying everybody off for two days in total between now and the end of the year, to recover their budgetary deficits. That was based upon a $200,000-overrun in their budget and they could recover it by the two-day layoff.
The indication of overstaffing isn’t in my opinion gross or necessarily uniform. I can assure the member that one of the things I have been looking at is the relative staffing levels in the hospitals of Ontario so that we can determine if any of them are paid for too many people.
Mr. Godfrey: Can the minister assure us there will be no deterioration of patient care with this loss of staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital?
Mr. Martel: That’s the real question.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I am relatively sure that if one allows for everybody to have only two days off between now and the end of the year, they should be able to phase it in a way that does not affect patient care. I think if the member checks back at St. Joseph’s, they had predicted a summer slump. They didn’t have it. Thus the moneys they expected to save in the summer were not saved. Therefore, they are economizing through these measures now. Incidentally I understand it was discussed with their staff and was acceptable to most of them.
AERIAL SPRAYING CONTRACT
Mr. Burr: A question of the Minister of the Environment regarding the aerial spraying in Windsor on Sept. 27, to kill mosquitoes carrying the encephalitis virus: Why was an out-of-province company brought in. despite an additional cost of at least $10,000 for stand-by time and travel time from British Columbia?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I understand there were about four bids on this particular project and one of the main considerations by the city of Windsor was the time it would take to complete the particular job. There was some urgency, as the hon. member knows. The successful contractor, CON-AIR, was able to complete the work in one day -- I am sorry -- 3.5 hours while the other bidders would have taken about 20 planeloads or 100 planeloads. One wasn’t able to specify how long the company would take.
Based on that and the fact that the other companies wouldn’t indicate or estimate the time required to have the plane available for stand-by and things like that, it was felt by the medical officer of health and the city -- the member must remember they were the parties involved with the contractor -- that the BC company would do the job faster and more efficiently and probably for a more reasonable price.
Mr. Roy: You were really caught by surprise by that question.
Mr. Burr: A supplementary question: Is the minister not aware that the local medical officer of health was told that this was the only company capable of doing the job and that there were other companies on stand-by ready to spray at the very moment the decision to spray was made?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I am not aware of that. I would think the medical officer of health would be aware of the tenders which were made by the four companies involved. I would think he would be aware of that. The medical officer of health asked my ministry for information as to what companies were available, what companies were in the field and which had the aircraft available. We informed both the city and the medical officer of health of that and the decision was made locally.
Mr. Reed: I have a question for the Minister of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs. Considering the minister’s admissions a week ago last Wednesday at the Halton regional meeting that there is duplication evident between municipal and regional governments and that some functions of government can be better performed at the municipal level, does he mean he is now willing to consider redistribution of at least some of the power back to the municipalities?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I am sure these are matters which are being considered by the Halton regional council and by the area municipalities. In due course they may make recommendations to me and to the government for change which we will consider at that time.
Mr. Roy: How come you have got those heavyweights on today?
Mr. Wiseman: A question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food: In light of the federal government’s recent action to cut domestic production of milk and at the same time to allow increased imports of manufactured dairy products, what action does the minister see his ministry taking to protect the dairy industry of eastern Ontario?
Mr. Sargent: Glad you asked that question.
Hon. W. Newman: In answer to the question --
Mr. Sargent: Let me hear you.
Hon. W. Newman: I have been waiting for one of you to ask the question; I thought you might show some concern about it.
Mr. Roy: Why didn’t you make a statement in the House?
Mr. Deans: Why didn’t you make a statement rather than wait for a question?
Hon. W. Newman: I am not going to make a statement; I am going to answer the question.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are wasting valuable time. Order, the hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. Sargent: Read it the way you rehearsed it.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I think the shortest way to answer the question is to read the Telex I sent to the Hon. Eugene Whelan in Ottawa:
“We are in receipt of a news release of Nov. 4 relative to the future dairy policies. It is completely unacceptable to us to effect the cut in domestic production and at the same time allow increased imports of manufactured dairy products into this country as stated in this news release. I would appreciate from you the detailed reasons why the dairy industry in Canada should be cut back while at the same time products from offshore will be allowed to flow more freely into this country.”
Mr. Roy: You couldn’t carry Eugene’s shoes.
LANGSTAFF JAIL FARM
Mr. Philip: A question for the Treasurer and Minister of Economies: Why was the former Langstaff jail farm excluded from the Woodbridge to Richmond Hill sector of the parkway belt west plan and are you prepared to consider re-including it as requested by the 223 residents who are affected in that area?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Including the Langstaff jail farm?
Mr. Philip: Yes.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, we have dealt with that matter before. The Langstaff jail farm is owned by the city of Toronto and to some extent, when we designate something within the parkway belt for public open space, we are indicating that perhaps we should be purchasing. We have no intention at this moment, to my knowledge, of purchasing it. It’s there. I think there is some responsibility, perhaps, with the city of Toronto as to what ultimately happens to it. But, no, it’s not my present intention to include the farm in the parkway belt.
That part west of the railway line, which would be a third or a quarter of the property, is better suited for industrial purposes in the long run, but not that part east of the rail line. My colleague the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell) has been making representations on behalf of people in that particular area and we have had staff meetings with them and may well meet with them although the final parkway plan, draft plan -- the draft plan under me legislation -- has now gone to the printer and has gone to bed. So no further changes will be made in the plan, other than those arising from the hearings.
I might also say that arising out of the staff meetings, the community itself suggested some variations in the alignment and we are studying those. If they prove practical in terms of the city of Toronto, of Ontario Hydro, and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and meet the parkway belt criteria, then some modification to the plan may be possible. That would be introduced by the government at the hearing. In terms of the plan which will be published in the next five or six weeks, no further changes are contemplated.
VIOLENCE IN CITIES
Mr. Cunningham: My question is to the Attorney General: Mr. Speaker, with the tremendous increase in crime, especially in the city of Toronto as it relates to violent crime -- more specifically I am referring to the untimely and unfortunate death of a young girl in the city the other day -- I am wondering if the hon. minister would indicate to this House, and through us of course to the people of Ontario, what plans his ministry has for eliminating some of this? What is the possibility of redirecting the hon. minister’s efforts from violence in Maple Leaf Gardens and the violence that we see on television to the violence that we are seeing in the streets today?
Mr. MacDonald: He is trying to outdo Sid Brown.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to speak or respond to the hon. member’s question for some hours. We really have been giving the problem of violent activity in society, insofar as it represents a breach of the Criminal Code, very serious consideration. I reported to the House the other day our recommendations to the federal government with respect to amendments to the Criminal Code dealing with the violent offender. I believe I reported that, and I believe that we can reasonably expect that the federal government will be bringing in legislation dealing with this problem very shortly.
Certainly with respect to violence in the streets generally, one of the great problems is resources involving police departments, which is of course a mailer for my colleague, the Solicitor General (Mr. MacBeth).
I could say I am most interested in the problem of expediting the trial of criminal charges through our courts, because I view the lengthy delays that often occur between an arrest and the ultimate trial disposition of a matter as having a detrimental influence on the effectiveness of law enforcement. I can assure my friend that this is also one area that we’re looking at very carefully.
There are a number of other matters, but I don’t think it would be appropriate to take up the time of the House at this particular moment. If my friend would like to speak to me privately, I would be very happy to pursue the matter.
Mr. Reid: Make a statement tomorrow.
Mr. Ruston: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We just have a very few moments left. That was a very general question with a very general answer which must have covered the waterfront, I think.
Mr. Ruston: No, it didn’t. He missed one very important point.
Mr. Speaker: Maybe we’ll get to you next if you’ll just sit down.
NORTHERN INDIAN RESERVES EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMME
Mrs. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure to whom to address this question because I’m referring to a statement made by a triumvirate of ministers in Kenora about 10 days ago regarding a proposed programme to help the Indians on the Grassy Narrows and Whitedog reserves, whose livelihood has been threatened by the mercury pollution there. I did ask one of the triumvirate last night in the Health estimates and he said that this particular part, that is --
An hon. member: What’s the question?
Mr. Speaker: If you ask one of them, I think it might be referred.
Mrs. Bryden: -- the programme to create new forms of employment, was not under his jurisdiction. Therefore, I would like to ask the other two members of the triumvirate, namely the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr) and the Minister of Natural Resources --
Mr. Speaker: You may ask one of them one question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Make sure you guess right.
Mrs. Bryden: Perhaps I’ll try the Minister of Natural Resources first.
An hon. member: Take your choice. You will get the same answer regardless of which one you choose.
Mrs. Bryden: How much is being provided for this employment-creating programme for the Indians in this area, and what sort of programmes are being proposed to provide them with an alternative means of employment?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, if I may respond to that question --
Mr. Sargent: The answer is no.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- I think that I should point out that we’ve had two meetings recently with Treaty No. 3 and the chiefs of both reserves; one was down here in Toronto and that was followed up by another one in Kenora, at which time they presented us a long list of ideas and suggestions that we are prepared to look at. We also indicated to them at that time that we would look at the possibility, and in fact we assured them, that we would be placing a coordinator in Kenora with a certain amount of funds that is yet to be determined, to process and to remove some of the bureaucratic red tape in getting some of these employment programmes going on their specific reserves.
I might say that Management Board has recently approved a specific grant for two skidders for the Grassy Narrows area. My own ministry has allocated certain timber limits adjacent to both reserves. However, I have to point out that the logging opportunities are not being taken up to the fullest extent.
As an example, over the last five years the Indians in that area have had the opportunity of cutting about 15,000 cords but they’ve only cut about 3,000. We see this happening with their trapping opportunities; they’re not trapping their full quota of beaver, as an example.
These are problems that we’re working on at the present time with the chiefs and with Treaty No. 3. I’m confident we’ll have something that will be very acceptable to the bands themselves, and I’m sure the hon. member is aware that we’ve placed two community freezers on those reserves --
Mr. Nixon: Community freezers was the final answer just a year ago.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, it wasn’t a year ago -- at a cost of about $140,000. This year we’ve budgeted about $100,000 in next year’s programme to keep those freezers supplied with fish from uncontaminated lakes so that a source of protein would be supplied to replace the source that was lost to them because of the mercury-contaminated waters.
Mr. Germa: Question, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There is just time for one more question, and I think we should allow that to the Liberal Party. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot has a question?
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Government Services: Would the minister explain why her ministry approved a leaseback contract for a courthouse in the city of Kitchener to a Montreal firm at a cost of $750,000 per year, or a total cost of $15 million, when local contractors have indicated it could be built in full and paid for over that 20 years at considerably less?
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: I will take the question under advisement, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The question period has expired.
Mrs. Campbell presented the report of the select committee to consider Bills 4 and 5, which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:
Bill 4, An Act to amend the Ontario Energy Board Act.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
No? Then it will go to the committee of the whole House.
Hon. Mr. McKeough presented the report of the Ontario Municipal Improvement Corp. for the year ending March 31, 1975; the report of the Ontario Universities Capital Aid Corp. for the year ended March 31, 1975; the report of the Ontario Educational Capital Aid Corp. for the year ended March 31, 1975, and the report of the Public Service Superannuation Fund for the year ended March 31, 1975.
Hon. Mr. Auld presented the Civil Service Commission report for the fiscal year 1974-1975.
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Introduction of bills.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Roy moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have introduced this bill now on two different occasions. It is the legislation dealing with the mandatory use of seatbelts. It seems to me that with the latest report from the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which indicates that 476 people, or 61.2 per cent of automobile drivers who were killed in 1974, were not wearing seatbelts and 5.9 per cent of the drivers --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Just the principle of the bill is involved.
Mr. Roy: I am sorry; I can’t hear the Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: We just must explain the principle of the bill, which I think the member has done. Are there further bills?
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, because of the importance of this legislation, I should be allowed to make a short statement.
Mr. Speaker: No, not at the introduction of first reading. Any further bills?
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have not finished my statement.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Your statement should only include the principle of the bill, not the facts and figures or debating it.
Mr. Roy: That’s right; that is why the principle is so important, and that is why I am bringing it in.
Mr. Speaker: We would just like the principle of the bill.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this legislation is to make seatbelts mandatory and to make the enforcement on a gradual basis. I would hope the government would show leadership in this field.
Mr. Speaker: That is the principle of the bill.
Mr. Yakabuski: What is that about leadership?
Mr. Speaker: Yes, the hon. member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick. Order, please, for the introduction of a bill.
ELECTION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Grossman moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Election Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Grossman: This bill, in effect, would shorten the period of election from 37 days to 30 days and would also amend the advance polling days to provide that the advance polls be three days in number, and be Thursday, Friday and Saturday prior to the election day; and it does, in fact all fit in with a resolution I have on the order paper.
POST-RETIREMENT INTEGRATION OF INSURANCE MONEYS AND PENSION BENEFITS PREVENTION ACT
Mr. Laughren moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to prevent the Post-Retirement Integration of Insurance Moneys and Pension Benefits with Increases in Government Social Security Plans.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to prevent the reduction of moneys paid out under an insurance or pension plan because of a general increase or cost of living increase in a government social security plan with which it may be integrated.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: The sixth order, resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 8, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.
ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT ACT (CONTINUED)
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I was just beginning to speak when we adjourned the debate last Thursday, and I have managed to be back here in time for this particular debate. There were two ancillary issues I would like to raise with the minister before coming to the question of condominiums which is central to the bill. The first of those questions is a particular question which is affected by the move the ministry is making in this bill and elsewhere -- the gradual move toward market value assessment.
West Carleton is the particular area. I have discussed this with the minister and it happens they are in advance of the rest of the province. They have moved to market value assessment because of a chaotic situation that had been created through the appeal process with the old assessment system. The new rolls are out and there is enormous concern, I would say to this House and to the minister, about the results, because there has been no weighting of the results and because there has been what can only be described as a perverse kind of unfair assessment given to one particular class of property, which is essentially not open to challenge by the general ratepayers of that municipality.
Let me give the results very briefly. The report which has been issued on the west Carleton reassessment indicates that residential land assessments are up by 276 per cent, residential dwellings are down a fraction, by 6.9 per cent, recreational land is up by 93 per cent and recreational dwellings are down by 4.6 per cent. But then when you come to farm land the situation is quite different. The overall effect on residential land and dwellings and so on is a doubling to a trebling of their overall assessment. The overall effect on vacant or unoccupied or speculative land that is not used for farm purposes is in certain cases a quintupling or even a tenfold increase in assessment. But farm land assessment is down by 66.5 per cent and the assessment on farm dwellings in the area is down by 50 per cent.
The results, if I can give some examples to the minister: A house increased in valuation for assessment purposes from $20,000 to $60,000 according to the market value programme in west Carleton. People in the area accepted the $60,000 as probably about right; the appeal process will establish any mistakes which may have been made.
Land valued at $2,500 for 25 acres was increased in value for assessment purposes to $25,000. That assessment is probably excessive, but if it’s an excessive assessment the owners can appeal it through the appeal process, measure it against recent sales and come up with a figure which is fair.
But after a $60,000 home and 25 acres valued at $25,000, we have a reduction on 92 acres plus a house and a barn, classified as farm land, from $30,000 or $40,000 to $18,000 in assessment. That means the house, which is occupied, the barn, the farm and 92 acres are assessed at a sum which is considerably less than the assessment on 25 vacant acres of scrub recreational land in the same vicinity. Not only that but the tax on that farm, which is running at about one per cent of assessment, will be $180 or so, of which 50 per cent will be rebated to the owner through the farm tax abatement programme of TEIGA, the Treasury.
Another example: A farmer who, people assure me, is not bona fide -- he hasn’t turned sod or ploughed a furrow for 30 years and hasn’t raised an animal for that period of time -- has 85 acres and a house which were valued at around $75,000. The assessment has come down to only $25,000, the same assessment put on 25 acres of vacant land held for the long term.
The minister said yesterday that he would look into this when I talked with him privately. He also said that people in west Carleton have the right to challenge the assessment on the farm land. However, that is an exceptionally difficult thing to do and they should not have to do it. It’s perverse, it’s difficult, it’s expensive.
The results are inequitable unless they manage to challenge every last farm assessment, because it is not one or two individual farm properties which have been wrongfully assessed. It appears to be all farm properties both because of the questionable definition of farms on some hobby and recreational properties and because of the very sharp cuts which were given.
The principle that appeared to have been used by the ministry was that in assessing farm land, they took some artificial figure, designed to measure what one fanner would pay to another for farm land if they didn’t happen to be 25 miles from downtown Ottawa. Farm land for farming purposes is obviously changing hands at values far in excess of the $200 or $300 which is indicated by these farm assessments. I would hope that the minister, having had some advance warning, could give us an answer on that.
In the same general area I am sorry the Act does not really touch the problem, which is emerging, about commercial assessment according to the new guidelines being used by the ministry. In west Carleton there are 400 or 500 people who have appeared twice at meetings to protest the unfairness of the situation to which they are being exposed. The small businessmen of the province haven’t yet got to that point with commercial assessment.
In shopping plazas which are held by one owner and let out, the ministry is apparently moving to a new basis of apportionment of assessment and of taxes, based on the proportion of the total rent which each individual merchant pays. In these cases, the tax is paid by the tenant and not by the landlord. The effect is --
Hon. Mr. Meen: What’s that?
Mr. Cassidy: This is normal on these leases. It’s a net lease and the consequence, as I understand it, is that the tenant has to pay the tax on his property.
Mr. Speaker: I must remind the hon. member that he cannot debate something which is not in the bill. The bill has been passed in principle and I wish you would confine your remarks to the principle of the bill.
Mr. Cassidy: The bill has not been passed in principle, Mr. Speaker, but I accept what you have to say. I will conclude that point which I hope the minister will look into by saying the effect is that as the leases on small stores rise rapidly with increasing turnover, they are being forced out of business by increasing taxes, while people like Eatons and Simpsons, do not pay those increases and pay a much lower rate per square foot both in rent and in taxes.
Mr. Good: Now we can start on the bill.
Mr. Cassidy: I admit there was a digression, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Good: It’s all out of order.
Mr. Ruston: Why do you permit that Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Cassidy: That was for a period for about 1½ minutes as Mr. Speaker will acknowledge. Mr. Speaker is aware, as well, that I’m capable of extended digressions and that this, in view of his new eminence, is a very limited one.
On the question of condominiums, it’s obvious we welcome the conversion of the government on this question. We approve of the principle that condominiums will henceforth be valued at the same percentage of market value as single family residences in the same neighbourhood. It seems to us that a perverse situation had been created by the ministry in respect to a form of housing which was initially launched six or seven years ago in this province in order to give people a more economical alternative to single-family ownership. It was rather bizarre that people buying condominiums, at half or two-thirds the cost of single family accommodation were having to pay taxes that were equal or greater than that on single family accommodation in the same area.
The hon. minister said that this ministry has been studying this for the last four or five years. I have two comments on that. In the first place, if they’ve been studying it that long they should have acted sooner because there was such an evident injustice. In the second place, I question to some extent, what the hon. minister has to say, or I question the profundity of the study being taken, because when I talked with ministry officials three or four weeks ago, including those at the very top of the ministry, they were totally unaware of the fact there was a problem. The hon. minister, I think, may regret now the fact that his party was also virtually unaware of the problem.
I can to say to you, Mr. Speaker, being sympathetic to people on this side of the House in your non-oratorical capacity, that there was really quite an astounding meeting held at the Chateau Vanier -- a condominium in Ottawa -- by the condominium owners of the Fair Assessment for Taxpayers Committee during the course of the election. When representatives from the three parties were asked for their position, the Liberals said that they would set up a committee of the House to look into it because they didn’t understand it. We said that not only should condominiums be taxed on the same proportion of market value as single families, but it should be made retroactive, at least for 1975. The Conservative candidate wandered in 1¾ hour late, in high spirits, and totally ignorant about the entire question.
All of the elaborate machinery which Hugh Segal and the other people in the Conservative campaign bad created in order to inform the candidates about the issue and the positions of the Bill Davis-Arthur Meen government was for naught, because the Conservative representative had nothing meaningful to say. That may be one of the reasons why the member for Carleton East (Mrs. Gigantes) now graces this Legislature rather than the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) former assistant to the former member for Carleton East because of the very strong reaction of condominium owners who knew that they had a just cause and who despaired of ever getting just treatment from the government.
The support that was given the NDP in other ridings like Ottawa West and Ottawa South and Etobicoke is clearly also linked to the fact that it was only the NDP that had been publicly pressing for action to give condominium owners a reasonable kind of deal.
I would appreciate from the hon. minister during the course of this debate a commitment which I think he’s prepared to make about the treatment of appeals that are now before the Assessment Appeal Board, or the divisional courts, or even the Supreme Court of Ontario. This government has fought like crazy to avoid giving condominium owners a fair deal.
The most notable case is the Grange case referring to a condominium in Etobicoke. If I can go through the various levels that this has gone through: The assessment was originally unfair. The condominium owners in the Grange condominium appealed to the assessment review court and the assessment review court said they were right that they should be assessed on the same percentage of market value as the nearby single family properties.
The ministry didn’t like that at all and decided to send it to the Assessment Appeal Board which is, I think, the local county court judge. The county court judge -- that was Judge Phelan -- upheld the review court’s decision in favour of the condominium owners.
The government then decided to refer to the Ontario Municipal Board. The Municipal Board said they found no evidence to overturn the county court judge. Then the government went along to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which tossed it back to the Ontario Municipal Board because it said the Ontario Municipal Board had not established what the assessment rate should have been. If I understand correctly it was either before the OMB or it was on its way to the Supreme Court of Ontario at this point. Enormous amounts of tax money had been spent by the government in order to frustrate the efforts of condominium owners to get a square deal, and many cases were backed up because of this. They were awaiting the results of the Grange decision. It was just perverse the way the ministry was working.
I understand, from what the minister has said privately, that he is prepared to settle the appeals that are now at various stages on the basis of the principles that are in this bill. In relation to the Ottawa condominiums, that would mean that the majority of condominium owners in Ottawa will get retroactivity at least to 1975, and in certain cases before.
On consideration -- and having said that I would work for retroactivity at least for a year -- I guess my own personal feeling is that the disruption of rewriting every condominium assessment -- effectively every major municipal tax role in the entire province resulting from an amendment to make this entire process retroactive by a year -- is pretty substantial. Therefore, if the minister will settle these appeals on that principle, the people hurt most, and who therefore appealed, will get justice and all condominium owners will get fair treatment in the future.
The final point that I want to raise, Mr. Speaker, is on the question of the mill rates paid by condominium owners and the services they provide for themselves. If one thinks in particular of garbage, snow removal, roads and recreation facilities, condominium corporations have become municipalities in themselves. They provide many services provided in other cases to individual ratepayers, single family dwellers, other people who live in a municipality by the municipal government.
In typical cases in Ottawa where this is now being researched, the cost paid by the condominium on those items of garbage, snow removal, road maintenance, reserves for road reconstruction, recreation facilities, pools, that sort of thing, amount to 15 or 20 per cent of the tax bill that they are paying to the municipality.
It is very substantial. We are not just talking about peanuts. Even if you discounted a certain amount of spending which the condominium owners do for themselves -- which is higher on a per capita basis than a municipality might pay for those facilities you are still into an area of maybe 10 to 15 per cent of the average condominium owners’ tax bill. This he pays out to the municipality and then pays again in his condominium charge for services which the municipality doesn’t provide to him. This needs to be sorted out.
Condominium owners feel it acutely. They are beginning to hone in on exactly what techniques ought to be used. It seems to me that the minister might contribute to this debate at this time, get his people to work out what kind of an assessment arrangement can be made in order to give them justice in the mill rate question. This would compensate them for services they provide themselves.
There are various solutions: a percentage cut across the board on condominium assessments to take into account the average amount of effort they put in for themselves and which offsets what the municipalities do; a split mill rate for condominiums, although I’m not too cheerful about that one; or a requirement for municipalities to negotiate and either provide services that the condominium owners now provide for themselves or to pay the condominium owners for providing them.
It is done in the case of Chateau Vanier; precedents like that have been set. But the problem condominium people have is that they have no leverage to get the municipality to sit down and negotiate if the municipality is saving money because of services the condominium owners provide for themselves.
We don’t propose to bring in an amendment at this time. It’s something that the condominium people themselves are still working out in terms of how to do it. But I think they would welcome a commitment from the ministry to agree that something should be done and done soon and that the ministry will cooperate in doing that. I would like to see it come during the course of passage of the amendments, which are in principle very welcome.
Mrs. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I would like to support the propositions put forward by my fellow member from the Ottawa area. As he pointed out, condominiums and the problems associated with the purchase and use of condominium housing has over the last few years been a major problem in the Ottawa area.
We made an estimate during the campaign that in Carleton East we probably had 4,000 condominium units, and five years ago I would doubt that there were any in that riding. These people have had a difficult time right from the start because of the lack of condominium legislation in general. Over the last few years they have moved up from one level of sophistication and got over some of the legal problems they had becoming incorporated and dealing with developers in their condominium association. They have had to become something of tax experts in order to try and work out some kind of arrangement whereby they are not going to suffer a kind of double taxation -- an unfair duplication of taxation.
Here again I am attempting to underline the points the hon. member for Ottawa Centre has raised already. The charges associated with condominium living are covering a great many of the services that are ordinarily provided for municipalities.
There is one condominium in Carleton East which serves as a very excellent example of the nature of this problem. It’s the Highland condominium on St. Laurent Blvd. within the Ottawa city limits. It consists of two large towers with many units.
It was estimated by the people in that association that these units, detached and made into single family dwellings, would extend over three and a half miles of St. Laurent Blvd., on both sides of the street. At the same time condominium units with $50,000-$60,000 in market value were being assessed at a higher level than single detached homes of the same market value in the same neighbourhood.
Probably the bill, when it is worked through, won’t be effective in all cases until 1976, but it will provide some measure of equality of assessment. It will not provide any kind of relief for condominium owners who are paying twice for services -- as the hon. member from Ottawa mentioned street maintenance, lighting, snow removal, even sewers, water, fire hydrants, garbage removal, recreation; and security, because many condominium associations provide their own members with some measure of internal security within their development.
So I would add my voice to his in asking the ministry to take up these questions, to consider them very seriously. I would also underline the point he made about our voters’ understanding of a lack of concern on the part of the government before this election. My Conservative opponent during the elections had the gall to suggest to these condominium owners at the Highland that they should refuse to pay their municipal taxes. I think the provincial government is to be commended for recognizing that it has responsibility for guiding municipalities in this matter. I should think it should seek to extend that responsibility and try to work out with condominium associations exactly how a fair mill rate assessment can now he established.
Mrs. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I think elections are wonderful things because they seem to get action on problems that have been with us for quite a long time.
Condominiums were established in this province less than a decade ago and there were a lot of problems in connection with their operation. Very gradually the legislation concerning them has been improved, but there is still a lot of room for further improvement, and this is one of them. Therefore I welcome this piece of legislation, but it did take a long time to bring this measure of justice to condominium owners.
I also welcome the fact that it applies to co-operative apartment buildings, although most of the debate seems to have centred on condominiums. Co-operative apartment buildings have been suffering from the same sort of discrimination in assessment, and I welcome bringing them under this particular piece of legislation.
I think the fact that the government appears to have been operating on the principle that you can put off until tomorrow anything that should be done today justifies the request which my colleague made for some system of compensation for the over-taxation of cooperative and condominium dwellers over the past four or five years due to the lack of this legislation. I would suggest that the minister seriously consider working out a system of compensating these owners in some degree, either on application, or as my colleague suggested, if they have appealed considering it as part of their appeal.
There is only one other point I would like to make. Even though we are giving some tax relief to condominium and co-operative apartment dwellers, we are not really giving them very much relief from the overall burden of the property tax which is hitting all homeowners of this province. There is a time bomb ticking away on that property tax which this government doesn’t seem to be recognizing and which is going to affect condominium and co-ops as much as anybody else. I think it is time the government did bring in some proposals for defusing that time bomb. I am referring to the market value assessment which has been postponed until the government hoped elections would be over for a good long time and could bring in the change.
It is going to have to face up to the fact that the moratorium on the bringing in of the market value assessment will soon expire. It appears there is going to be a very substantial shift in the burden of taxation from commercial and industrial to residential home owners as a result of that reassessment because of the fact that market values have gone up much faster in the residential field. Homeowners are going to have to be protected against that kind of very radical shift in the burden of taxation. The government has yet to bring in any proposals on how it intends to protect them or to cushion that change so that there is not a very substantial increase in homeowner taxes.
There is another thing these condominium and co-operative owners face. The provincial Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) announced the other day that his pass-through of additional aid to the municipalities is going to be reduced to five per cent or six per cent next year even though provincial revenues will go up 12 per cent or 13 per cent. The reason seems to be that during the election year there were a lot of tax cuts to titillate the voters, shall we say, and these tax cuts reduced revenues in this year, which meant that the municipalities were overpaid on what they call the “Edmonton formula” where the provincial grants to the municipalities go up at the same rate as their provincial revenues.
If there is an overpayment on that formula, if the municipalities got more than the percentage increase in the provincial grant, then the province takes it back the next year. This is what the provincial Treasurer indicated to the provincial municipal liaison committee last week is going to happen. That is going to mean a very substantial increase in the property tax rate next year, because I am sure no municipality can operate on a five per cent to six per cent increase with the way the cost of living is going.
That is something I think this bill just doesn’t deal with and it is something the government should be looking at.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this debate, as indeed I welcomed the opportunity to introduce the bill at virtually the earliest opportunity when this House reconvened this fall.
The first speaker in the opposition ranks suggested that the amendment stems from a reaction by the voters on Sept. 18. The member for Ottawa West (Mr. Morrow), I think, put that to rest, but let me underscore some of the history of that.
The matter came to my attention quite graphically in about June this year -- I think it may even have been May of this year -- but in any event it was quite early in the summer. I set the staff to work to find out if these problems were as widespread as I was led to believe and as significant as I was told. By roughly, July, I suppose, it was abundantly clear to me that the problem: was real, widespread and certainly unjust.
In the summer, well before Sept. 18 -- yes, it was the hon. member for Yorkview (Mr. Young) who made this allegation I undertook to do something about it and I proposed two things actually. I proposed the amendment which the House now has before it to include condominiums and co-operatives. I don’t know whether I actually thought in terms of co-operatives because they are a small sector of this problem, but certainly I made reference to condominiums and undertook to include them in the section dealing with the definition of a residential owner-occupied dwelling.
I also had the thought that there might just conceivably be a pretty heavy tax loss in some municipalities by this reduction in assessment on condominiums, so I set the staff to work on that score as well to see what kind of dollars we were talking about. I was concerned later on to learn that really there wasn’t any -- and it’s a result of the Edmonton commitment my people advise me -- whereby in this year, or indeed next year, the province could assist the municipalities with some form of additional grant to make up for that loss of revenue. That would not be within the four corners of what I was told was implicit in the Edmonton commitment.
However, fortunately, it turned out that the degree of shift of that burden from condominiums to all other taxpayers in the municipalities concerned -- which are Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa mainly; a little bit, I am told, out in Mississauga and Peel, but that’s essentially it -- is minimal. There is so much other industrial, commercial and residential assessment in these municipalities that the shift is so fractional in terms of percentage and mill rate as to be of no real consequence. I took heart at that and at least we were able to do what I felt was the fair thing to do, namely to treat condominiums as owner-occupied dwellings have traditionally been treated.
The member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) -- 4 don’t see her in her seat at the moment -- asked me about our approach to mixed use when a part of a condominium unit may be owner-occupied and another part may be tenanted, so to speak. We would still assess all those units as though they were owner-occupied in the same fashion as we assess every single family or detached residential dwelling -- as though it were owner-occupied and not an income producing property.
That same member, the member for St. George, asked me about the shift from commercial to residential and wanted to know what factors would be used to avoid the shift. A number of members have raised this question and I do want to touch on this point.
If I don’t refer to other members in the course of this reply I hope they’ll understand that I’m not exactly about to reply to each one of them individually. But the fact is that we all know, and we have known for years, since the Smith committee of 1967 drew that to our attention, as did the select committee of 1968 chaired by John White, which a number of us in this House had the pleasure and privilege of sitting on as members that summer. It was drawn to our attention graphically at that time that were we to go to market value assessment -- which is the mechanism which the Smith committee had recommended -- without some kind of factoring of the assessments in the residential end, there would be a pretty substantial shift of the tax burden from the industrial and commercial sector on the one hand to the residential sector on the other.
And so it is necessary for us to study the assessments in all of the areas of Ontario to determine what factors should be applied.
I might say, Mr. Speaker, that the entire picture of market value assessment, which we undertook in 1970, was completed about July this year. At present there is a committee in the Ministry of Treasury studying this wealth of material my staff has collected. To analyse it they will be putting together computer models of typical municipalities to determine, when they feed in the assessment figures, what kind of shift would occur, and therefore to determine what kind of factoring should be applied to the assessments so the shift will not occur.
Also developing out of our studies and our complete revaluation at market value, has come the further realization -- I would expect that those knowledgeable in the field were aware of it long before -- that without appropriate policy decision -- yet to be made there could well be shifts of tax burden within a class. This applies to all three -- there could be a shift within the industrial class; there could be a shift within the commercial class; and we know that there can be a shift within the residential classes.
There are properties in this city of Toronto still assessed on the basis of an old act passed in 1919, and repealed in 1920, that gave war veterans a preferential assessment which has stayed on those properties ever since. Those properties presumably have an enhanced market value today, reflecting the fact that they pay a pittance in real estate tax. Obviously those taxes will have to come up.
We also found, sir, in the course of doing the assessments across this province, that over a quarter of million pieces of real estate had no assessment on them at all; or were assessed as vacant land when they carried substantial dwellings and other buildings on them. Whether this was due to oversight or whether it was due to other motivation -- which I need not dwell on -- created in the days when the assessors were municipally-employed rather than provincial employees under our guidelines and the practices which my ministry follows, I cannot say. All I can say is that those properties, when they come on at market value assessment in 1976 for the 1977 year will experience a pretty dramatic increase too.
I don’t think we would want to do too much about those because they’ve been getting a free ride for years. But there are many others that have been paying a relatively high tax who might experience an upward swing, and there are others who might very well experience a downward swing, in the amount of tax that they pay. Now we must assess all of these. The committee in the Ministry of Treasury is studying this at present and will have some recommendations for us, presumably in the next six months. We will have to study this and determine what kind of approach to make to bring properties like this into equity so that everyone is paying a fair and proper tax based on the value of his property.
Mr. Good: That’s not going to leave you much time, from next spring to next fall, to do it.
Hon. Mr. Meen: It is thought that with the studies hopefully completed by the summer, it will be possible to reach the determinations of the policies to follow in time for any necessary amendments to the Assessment Act this time next year, or earlier probably, perhaps in October next year, for the assessment rolls in 1976 for 1977 if, indeed, we factor the assessments, or for mill rates if one goes the other way. Those are two basic ways in which you can cushion the tax flow; because the figures for tax is the product of the two, you can adjust the end product by either adjusting the mill rate or the assessment.
The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) spoke about Judge Vannini’s judgement concerning mobile homes and mobile home parks, but he did indicate that he realized that was not really germane to this debate. I do have some observations to make to him, because I think he could not have read the judge’s judgement or he would have understood that what the judge was saying was that if a home had the wheels removed from it he was going to consider that it was sufficiently affixed to the realty, that it would be treated as realty and would be subject to assessment. But if it still had the wheels underneath it, he would consider it sufficiently of a mobile nature that it would not become affixed to the realty, regardless of whether there were drains into septic systems and the like attached to it. He would then say: “All right, you can’t assess it for real estate purposes, but as everyone knows we amended the Municipal Act so that those properties are subject to licence fees.”
He might want to take a look at Judge Vannini’s judgement in its entirety, and perhaps he and I could have some discussions later if he wishes to go into it further.
The member for Waterloo North (Mr. Good) gave a summary, I might say with respect slightly inaccurately, of the history of the assessment rolls and their values here in Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: I’ve never known him to be wrong before.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I might just correct a couple of items in his observations. He observed that apartment assessments had run in the 40 to 50 per cent region, and that two or three years after assessments were frozen we arbitrarily and unilaterally and without authority under the Act reduced it from the frozen figure -- that is, after assessments were allegedly frozen -- to 25 per cent.
Mr. Good: It was 25 per cent.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I would just like to correct him on his understanding. It is my understanding, and I have been so advised, that there were a host of apartment-owner appeals before the courts in 1969. When we took over assessments, but before it was frozen, we negotiated with those owners and determined that they were, indeed, highly over-assessed. We set their figures at 25 per cent by agreement with them, and then the assessment rolls were frozen. That was in 1970.
To get a little background picture on this matter, one has to look at what has transpired since 1970. Apartment values have not increased substantially.
Mr. Good: Would you then get your staff to tell you the same things they tell me?
Hon. Mr. Meen: They have increased a little bit, but today apartment values still run in this frozen state at around, I’m told, 24 to 25 per cent of the fair market value of the properties, of the apartment houses. Whereas in 1970 owner-occupied residential dwellings -- when I say residential properties I’m thinking of that type -- ran at the order of 15, 17 or 20 per cent; somewhere in that region if my memory serves me. Obviously, real estate values have continued to go up, and since those assessments are frozen they have represented a continually reducing percentage of the market value of owner-occupied residential dwellings, to the point where today they are in the order of 10 per cent of fair market value.
Condominiums, under the Act, as they have come into popularity in the last couple or three years only, condominiums have -- and we have been required to do this -- have been assessed on the same basis as their look-alikes, high-rise apartment buildings. So they have wound up with an assessment that pressed upward toward 24 and 25 per cent. I am told that this happened with condominiums that are conversions from apartment houses because their assessments were frozen. So when you converted an apartment house to a condominium, you were nailed with an assessment that was of the range of 24 or 25 per cent.
New condominiums, however, were given somewhat of a beneficial treatment. I am told their assessments were in the order of 15 to 17 per cent. All the same, this is substantially larger than the 10 per cent figure that was attributable to owner-occupied residential dwellings of the low-rise style. Hence this inconsistency of about 50 per cent, or something of that sort.
One of the members opposite suggested I should explain the press report of the $200 saving per condominium. That arose through an illustration which I gave to the press at the time I introduced this legislation. I pointed out that the kind of situation that gave rise to the problem was like this: A gentleman would sell a home in a municipality for, shall we say $60,000. Let’s say, for instance, that he was paying real estate taxes on that property of $600. That was the illustration I gave. Then, with the $60,000, he purchased a condominium unit in the same municipality and wound up getting a tax bill for about $800. Therein is the spread of $200 which I indicated as being patently unjust for two properties of the same, or roughly the same, market value equivalent. It was that sort of thing that made it very clear that something ought to be done.
In fact, my staff advised me that on average the reduction in tax among the condominium and co-operative owners in 1976 will be about -- well maybe it is for the year 1975 for that matter -- will be about $230. So my little illustration was not very far off. There will be somewhere that reduction will be more dramatic than that.
The condominium that is a conversion from an apartment house, for instance, I would expect might see their tax bill cut in half, Whereas the new condominium, assessed at say 15 or 17 per cent and being dropped to 10, is going to come roughly down to two-thirds. That is going to depend again on the value of the property, just what the dollar saving is, but it is going to be, certainly, something significant.
Mr. Roy: What about the appeals?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Yes, I will come to the appeals, Mr. Speaker, in a moment.
There were a number of other questions asked. I don’t want to duplicate, so I am just skimming down these to see whether there are any in here. I don’t want to miss anything.
Oh yes, there was one point here the member for Waterloo North had also mentioned, but I think I have covered it. The market value assessment out in Peel is one that was started some years ago. We have done that again, as I understand it, on the 1970 values, rather than the 1960 values for which the region of Peel is presently assessed. It isn’t possible. Somebody suggested that we have had two or three years to come up with these factors. Well we haven’t; we only got the assessment finished last July. Indeed if we had gotten it finished as soon as the hon. member had suggested, we wouldn’t have had to extend the freeze from 1975 to 1977.
Had all been well, we would have been able to get onto market value assessment across all of Ontario in the year 1974 for this taxation year 1975 and we wouldn’t be sitting here in this House this afternoon debating this bill because it would be superfluous.
I would point out, of course, that it is a one shot affair covering the year 1976 since market value assessment in the fall of 1976 for the year 1977 should take care of the problem on a permanent basis. There was no way in which I or anybody else in this House wanted to see the owners of condominium units prejudiced any longer. Once it was apparent what had happened and that something should be done, we set about doing it.
We certainly have welcomed the support from all sides for this bill. I regret, too, that we can’t make it retroactive for 1975. It would be nice to be able to fix it up for this year, but I am sure everyone here recognizes the problem the municipalities would face in having to rework not only the tax bills for condominium owners but also all the other tax bills throughout all the municipalities. There would be mayhem to say the least.
What we propose to do, with respect to 1975, though, and for the reasons actually suggested by the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), is to withdraw or discontinue any and all of the appeals, including the Grange case, which are presently before the courts. They will be settled on the basis of the principle enunciated in this bill.
Mr. Roy: Now you are talking.
Hon. Mr. Meen: This, at least, will look after all of those who were so unjustly treated in 1975 that they had the initiative to appeal.
Mr. Good: They are going to get benefits -- with them. I don’t know how many there are but I would expect several thousand; quite a number in any event.
Mr. Roy: What about for the previous years?
Hon. Mr. Meen: We will be able to settle the basis of the principle of this bill.
Mr. Good: For what years?
Hon. Mr. Meen: For the year 1975. I would presume, if there are any which are hold-overs from earlier years, those as well.
Mr. Roy: Right, you have some for 1972 and 1973.
Hon. Mr. Meen: That could be. They are small in number; I understand there are a few. It is my intention to discontinue or to settle as the case may be, however it may be necessary, with each of these multitude of actions or cases.
Mr. Roy: Now you are talking.
Hon. Mr. Meen: In 1976 they are taken care of by the Act, and of course in 1977 we go to market value assessment. That brings me to one of the last points raised by members opposite, and by all members for that matter who have participated in this debate from this side of the House as well.
The mill rates for condominiums are felt by some condominium owners to be higher than they should be, having regard for the services which they don’t get. That may be so, but the fact is when one goes to market value assessment, in theory at any rate and hopefully in practice, the market value of a condominium unit which one buys reflects the fact that the owner and partner in the condominium building is having to pay a portion of the cost of garbage collection and whatever.
In other words, in the same way as when one buys a residential dwelling, its value may be somewhat different as reflected by the services provided to that residential dwelling. That is off the top of my head, so to speak. That’s my estimation of how that kind of problem should resolve itself, at least in 1977 --
Mr. Lawlor: Will they be at assessment value?
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- when all properties in this province hopefully will be at market value assessment. As I say, in theory it should be taken care of and the problem should disappear.
Mr. Nixon: You are still confident that is going to happen?
Mr. Lawlor: Will it be in the manual?
Mr. Good: Unless there is an election.
Mr. Young: Mr. Speaker, could I ask the minister one question? In respect to the establishment of values for the condominium units, will the provincial assessors now be sent into the condominiums or will the value be worked out through the computers in some other way?
Hon. Mr. Meen: It’s a complex procedure. I would imagine the assessors would be inside the condominium unit in just the same way as they are inside residential dwellings when they are assessing them for their market value and determining how they compare. With their figures into the computer, they can say this condominium unit is identical to or sufficiently similar to this one, that a sale of this one then can attribute a value to this one. In other words, on an ongoing basis market sales will be one of the guiding, if not the major guiding factor, in determining the market value of the property for assessment purposes.
Mr. Young: Does this mean, Mr. Speaker, that the settlement of the present cases before the courts will be delayed until such time as that new assessment is made for 1977?
Hon. Mr. Meen: I don’t think so. No, that’s not my expectation at all, Mr. Speaker, inasmuch as we already have our views as to their value and their counterpart values in the single-family, detached-dwelling area. I don’t think there should be anything like that delay. I would expect that these matters would be settled within the next few months, if not quicker than that.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence and with the permission of the minister, can I ask the minister a question in relation to his comment about abandoning all appeals and, in fact, the appeal in the Grange case, I was not aware of this case at the time we discussed the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Briefly.
Mr. Roy: Yes, that’s taken for granted, Mr. Speaker, I’ll be brief. I wonder if the minister would advise, Mr. Speaker, about when you’re going to abandon these. The Grange case, of course, was the precedent which all apartment or condominium owners were looking at when they were involved in the appeal process. In fact, some of these appeals date back to 1972. I had some in my riding that started, I think, in 1972. When you tell your people to sell on the basis of section 2 of this bill, will there be any concessions made, or will there be any direction given to your counsel so that maybe costs can be paid over to the people who were under appeal? Because, in view of your legislation now, they were entitled to appeal. As you know, in a court of law or before the assessment review court, the winning litigant is entitled to some measure of cost. And I want to tell you, in some of these cases their costs were relatively high.
Mr. Speaker: Your brief comments are developing into a speech.
Mr. Roy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I got carried away there. But I just want to say to the minister --
Mr. Roy: -- you know what I’m talking about on the question of costs.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, on the OMB awards costs, I would suppose that if costs were awarded on the basis of this approach, then that would be part of it. If, otherwise, they are being settled, then it’s a matter of compromise --
Mr. Roy: Negotiation?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Yes, negotiation between the parties concerned. But I couldn’t give any statement at this point as to just how each and every one of these is to be resolved. I might point out -- my staff advises me -- that there are some 30,000 appeals, so I underestimated the number.
Mr. Roy: Thirty thousand?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Some 30,000 of appeals. Certainly I’ll be anxious to see those out of the way just as quickly as we can, as sure all hon. members will be.
Mr. Good: I am sure you would.
Motion agreed to; second rending of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading? Committee?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Why waste time with a committee? Anybody got an amendment?
Mr. Roy: I wanted to speak further on section 2 of the bill, Mr. Speaker. Can we have a committee now?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Committee of the whole House, yes.
Mr. Cassidy: The member for Ottawa East wants to get into this debate, Mr. Speaker.
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Bennett moved second reading of Bill 6, An Act to Amend the Development Corporations Act, 1973.
Mr. Angus: Mr. Speaker, we in the New Democratic Party have very serious concerns with this bill. We find that we cannot agree with it in its present state. I would like to point out very emphatically that we are not against the concept of industrial parks, but we are against the approach this bill uses. The reasons will become apparent during the course of my remarks.
We are concerned that while the minister in this House and in standing committee of estimates has referred to this bill as one to provide moneys for municipalities and to develop industrial parks, the terminology of the bill relates to an industrial undertaking which to our way of thinking is much too broad and can lead to a return of forgivable loans to industry under the guise of a subsidy.
If you look closely at the way these funds are directed, they become, in effect, a subsidy to industry at the expense of the provincial and municipal taxpayers. It seems to us that the bill does not provide the necessary assistance to the municipalities to economically establish and expand industrial parks. The cost to municipalities to bring the trunk services -- the sewers, water lines, roads, etc. -- to the industrial park, may force the municipality to delay other more necessary projects in order to take advantage of these funds; or it may seriously undermine the already shaky financial situation of many of our municipalities.
There is also mention of those services at the other end of the sewer systems, the facilities necessary to treat the effluent of any new industry established. Given the reality that industrial assessment does not adequately compensate municipalities for these necessary trunk services that must be provided, then one questions the whole intent of this bill.
Another assumption of this bill is that increase in industry is good for every community. Take the situation of the riding that I represent and the riding of my colleague the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds). While the idea of increasing the industrial base at Thunder Bay is good, other things that are tied to industrial development are not there.
The particular one that comes to mind is accommodation. We cannot accommodate any more people in Thunder Bay without an increase in our housing stock. We already have the lowest vacancy rate in Ontario, and any influx of new workers and their families will only make that problem much more severe.
This bill should speak to those problems to ensure that those municipalities applying must either have the workers available or the accommodation already there to absorb the influx due to the establishment of new industry.
The other approach would be for the government of Ontario to coordinate the supply of money to ensure that additional accommodation is available as new industries are completed. There is more of a need for greater assistance to develop residential accommodation than there is for an increase in industry.
This bill represents an obvious bias, consistent, I might add, with the big business ideas of the Conservative Party of Ontario; an obvious bias in favor of industry over people. The development of any industrial park in Ontario suggests yet an additional loss of class I, II and III agricultural land in this province. This bill must speak to that problem and ensure that no industrial park is built on any of these classes of agricultural land.
When the development corporations were initiated -- and announced in Thunder Bay by the former Premier, Hon. John Robarts -- it was stated that the intent of the programme was to direct industry into the slow growth areas of the province, northern and eastern Ontario. That was an excellent concept. However, in our estimation, that concept has not been followed through in practice. Too much money has been pumped into industry in selected areas of the “golden horseshoe” of southern Ontario. This only increases the tendency of industry not to locate in northern and eastern Ontario and those southern Ontario communities requiring it. This bill in its present form does not change this reality.
This bill also does not specifically restrict the provision of funds to Canadian firms only. Another area the bill does not speak to, at least within our minds, is a specific provision for funding or providing services for non-profit organizations, for example, a co-operative venture for a particular industry.
We in the NDP caucus would like to see the ownership of any industrial parks or undertakings, depending on what you want to call them, remain under the province or the municipality, and be leased to various industries. This would ensure a continuous return as well as an effective means of control over whatever type of industry is established.
There is, I might add, a precedent within the ministry for this approach. The government of Ontario owns certain former armed forces bases and leases those facilities to private enterprise.
Finally, within this particular aspect of the bill, we suggest that the development of any of these industrial parks must be within the framework of an overall provincial, regional and municipal strategy, something which has been recommended, and yet to our knowledge has not been acted upon.
There are other areas in this bill that we question as well. I refer to section 8, subsection (1), where it provides for the appointment of a chief executive officer of each of the three corporations. The way the bill is written it gives the Lieutenant Governor in Council the right to appoint whoever it pleases to this position at whatever salary it wishes and to do whatever they decide.
We are concerned about who is to be appointed and at what salary and for what duties. We don’t wish to see these positions become part of the “senate” of Ontario; a “senate,” I might add, that consists of Tory supporters and defeated or retired members. Any position like that of an executive-director of a development corporation must be advertised so that the people that head these corporations may be the best qualified available. These positions are too valuable to be doled out to the party hacks.
The whole question of autonomy for the northern and eastern corporations most be brought forward once again. I realize this matter has been discussed many times in the House and in committee, but we in the NDP caucus feel this bill should clearly outline the decision-making autonomy for the two corporations and should not rely on ministry regulations alone.
I understand that just this month the directors of NODC reacted very strongly to some of the approaches used by Toronto bureaucrats. The decisions for provisions of money or guarantees must rely solely on each individual corporation with the hon. minister’s role as one of inspector, not one of authority and final say.
In summation I would just like to reiterate our concern with this bill. We feel strongly that this bill should go to committee for a very thorough evaluation and redirection.
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the principle of this bill. I appreciate the opportunity it gives to municipalities to show the initiative to develop industrial parkland, awl especially those areas outside of the metropolitan area of Toronto.
There is only one caution I would make. I hope that any development would not take away from the initiative of many municipalities which have previously shown initiative in developing their industrial areas. I refer in particular to the concept of new cities which might be established in areas where municipalities are just getting off the ground industrially. The creation of new cities might take away from what they have already created.
Other than that we support the principle and concept of this bill.
Mrs. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend part of this bill but criticize other parts. I think the idea of extending the grants to municipalities, regional governments and local government bodies generally is a good one, provided it is surrounded by requirements and criteria which will make sure that the money is being spent for a proper industrial development of this province and not just going back to the old system where every municipality or regional government is being encouraged to appoint an industrial commission. I understand that some of them have had to drop their industrial commissioners as an economy measure. If this is just to get back to having industrial commissioners who are going to go in for sort of an auction sale of their community to try and get industry on a scatter basis throughout this province, I don’t think it is a good idea. But if this money and this proposal is to get development in growth centres, which the government will select -- and this is what we are still waiting to see, and they have been talking about selecting growth centres for quite a long time -- if this money is to be used for seeing that there is money for the acquisition of industrial land in growth centres, then I think it is a good idea. But it must be tied in with an overall regional development plan and we are still waiting to see that plan. In the estimates of the Ministry of Tourism and Industry, the hon. minister indicated there was a rigid list of criteria already developed and that there were 59 applications in already for assistance under this bill. I would like to ask him to provide us with that rigid list of criteria so that we have some idea of what sort of rules this money will be handed out under.
He also mentioned in the estimates that there was an inter-ministerial committee which was vetting applications already, but he didn’t indicate which ministers were involved. I would like to know that as well.
There is a second point I think should be considered very important in the handing out of this money: If it is to be used for buying land for industrial parks, and that seems to be the main purpose that has been discussed by the government, that land must remain in public ownership; because if it is bought by the province and then given out to private industry, we lose control of that land. If there is any capital gain on that land, it goes to the private developer. We feel, certainly, that once land comes into the public domain in this province it should stay in the public domain and be leased out for purposes which the owner of the land, namely the province or the municipality or the regional government, considers are the best for the industrial development of that area. That is a very important criterion and I hope that is in the list of the criteria that is being developed for the handing out of these grants.
The other part of the bill, which is to provide subsidies for industrial undertakings, is a great broadening of the Ontario Development Corp. Act. The present Act we have provides mainly for loans and guarantees and for forgivable loans only in areas which are designated as areas of equalization of industrial development. This bill provides that the government can give outright grants or subsidies to any industrial undertaking in any part of the province for any amount.
I think that is much too great a freedom to give to any government, without very definite rules and criteria. That can be the basis of what people in the old days used to call a pork barrel. This Legislature must write into such a bill definite rules, definite criteria before large sums of government money are handed out.
Some of the rules, my colleague has mentioned. There must be a ban on giving it to foreign corporations. It must be given only in connection with an overall industrial and regional development plan, and so on. But I find that part of the bill most objectionable. I think that we have one good thing in it and one bad thing in it which makes it very difficult to support it. So I would urge the government to take another look at that very wide-open clause providing unlimited subsidies, and bring in some proposals that would limit and restrict those grants to very definite criteria for industrial development.
Mr. Good: You would like them all in Metro Toronto, would you?
Mr. Samis: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I would like to point out the need for this particular bill, in some form, in view of the economic situation. As the hon. minister knows, for example, eastern Ontario has deteriorated. The case of the north, I think, has been well documented by previous members.
The hon. minister is quite familiar that the problem in eastern Ontario is one of boom or bust cycles, perennial unemployment and things of this sort. We have always looked to the government for some sort of assistance to somehow balance the scales in terms of attracting industry.
We have always looked to the development corporations as a basic vehicle for achieving that objective. However, when we saw what happened in terms of industrial parks within the last 12 months, and here I refer specifically to the creation of the Spencerville Industrial Park, it left many people in eastern Ontario wondering what was really happening.
The minister made a variety of speeches in many municipalities and small communities in eastern Ontario assuring the people that this wouldn’t be so, there just wasn’t going to be a Spencerville. I then quote from the Globe and Mail on Jan. 29 where the minister did say: “We would be completely off our nut to build a new industrial park there.” I again quote from the Globe and Mail: “Whoever was assembling the land, certainly won’t get any encouragement from me.” And I again quote from the Globe and Mail: “He said it would be extremely difficult to believe that the government can justify such a large purchase.”
I am not saying that the minister is necessarily fully to blame in this context. We have discussed this in committee and the final decision wasn’t his. But there is a certain jaundiced opinion in eastern Ontario as to who we believe in the government when it comes to the whole question of industrial parks. Is there really an industrial strategy in this government? Do they really know where they are going in the less developed areas of the province, namely the east and the north? Who really speaks for the government in the question of industrial development and economic development? Is it the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett)? Is it the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough)? Is it the Premier (Mr. Davis)? Who are we to believe and where are we going in this whole question?
In the question of the bill itself, Mr. Speaker, my gravest reservation has already been outlined by my colleagues from Algoma East and Beaches-Woodbine (Mrs. Bryden) -- the whole concept of the open-ended subsidy. It is extremely vague and seemingly is open to abuse. I am sure the minister will stay and defend the wording of the bill, and I hope he can give us some precise information as to how he envisages these subsidies being used.
In my particular area, we are rather familiar with the concept of forgivable loans to various corporations. I think Stanley Randall was the minister then, I am not sure, but we have very vivid memories of what a forgivable loan can do when it is given, for example, to an American corporation. We recall quite vividly a struggling little company called Kraft was given a half-million-dollar forgivable loan --
An hon. member: They need help.
Mr. Samis: -- to set up a cheese plant in Ingleside, Ontario.
It was explained to the people this would create jobs in Ingleside. This was a stimulant for the cheese industry in eastern Ontario. This was a welcome development for the people of the area. But the fact is, Mr. Speaker, the price we paid in that particular instance was that three small independent locally owned cheese factories had to close down as the result of that. People in eastern Ontario were subsidizing an American company to close down small Canadian companies. This was not a loan, it was a forgivable loan.
So to the people of our area, this whole concept is intolerable and we just don’t want to see the concept of the subsidy to be disguised or made into a new version of the forgivable loan. I would hope the minister would explain what percentage of the funds he would see allotted for these subsidies -- how much of the overall budget. I would hope he could explain or give us some indication of how much is going to be allotted for industrial development next year. Will American companies be eligible for these subsidies? Will there be preference for Canadian companies or will they be treated on the same basis?
I am always amused to see the government can always find money for the big corporations. Yet when the small farmer in eastern Ontario -- whether he is a cow-calf operator or a milk producer or just a general farmer -- goes for any form of assistance for income stabilization, they say: “Go to Ottawa. We haven’t got the money. We can’t provide you with a guaranteed income protection plan.” But when the big boys want it, they can find it.
So I would like to ask the minister how he intends to treat American corporations if this bill were ever to be passed. The whole question of equity obviously would come into it. If there are to be subsidies, surely the time has come to have equity for the people of Ontario in any enterprises, because we need that. We want some involvement in the industrial development. If most of these people in the big corporations are to be Americans, then surely as Canadians we should have some equity. If our money is going to be subsidizing American corporations, the time has come for the people of Ontario to have some equity. Not a sellout, but a share.
In the question of the parks themselves, I think my colleague from Algoma East has outlined some of the problems facing the municipality as to the costs of operating, maintaining and connecting the industrial parks with other services within municipal boundaries. I assume the minister will reply to that.
I think the concept outlined -- that the properties within those parks should be leased so the people of the community have some degree of equity, some share in their industrial development -- makes a lot of sense. If it’s totally sold out then, obviously, they lose real control over their industrial development in that contest. And the concept of leasing seems to me to make a lot of sense.
The most important thing is that this bill should be considered in the context of an overall strategy. Is there one for industrial development in eastern Ontario? Or in northern Ontario for the small communities? Or is it just part of another ongoing series of ad hoc arrangements? With another election coming up within the next -- who knows how many months or years -- will we be seeing another series of announcements geared for ad hoc electoral politics, or will we see some overall development plan once and for all?
Obviously, in eastern Ontario the top priority is decentralization, and I am assured that the same priority applies in the north. The question of disincentives has been discussed in committee. Is it really wrong to suggest and to force companies who want to locate in the “golden triangle,” to say to them in plain simple language: “Maybe you’re right to do so, but we as a government will say you’ll pay a price for exercising that right by locating in the Toronto, Hamilton, Oshawa golden horseshoe.”
It’s obvious the smaller municipalities in eastern Ontario and northern Ontario can’t compete effectively and equitably with the services offered in southern Ontario, especially when you’re next to the Quebec border.
I’d like to point, as has been pointed out in the context of the Olympic Games, and the hon. minister brought this up as well on Quebec Hydro, to the political question. If industries are interested in the Quebec market, it’s far more profitable for them to locate inside of Quebec than to locate in eastern Ontario. The Province of Quebec, for a variety of reasons, offers more grants and more subsidies to small municipalities. The Ottawa Valley and the St. Lawrence Valley can’t offer the same tax deferrals, tax holidays, tax arrangements that municipalities in Quebec can.
That puts them at a disadvantage when they’re competing for industry with, say, a municipality in southern Ontario. That should be taken into consideration. They’re not competing on an equitable basis. There is the political consideration, the economics.
The member for Algoma East also brought up the question of who would be the chairman and how they would be appointed; the directors as well.
Mr. Angus: Fort William.
Mr. Samis: Fort William, I’m sorry. The question has to be clearly established that this doesn’t become a dumping group or a refuge or a burial place, in some cases, for any defeated Tory candidates, bagmen, party presidents or anything of this sort. What we want for the development corporations is people who have demonstrated their ability, their interest and their skill in the field of business and industry. I would hope that the hon. minister would be able to assure us that the appointments would be totally non-partisan. While I respect my predecessor from the riding of Stormont, I would hope that the hon. minister would not succumb to the temptation of appointing a former cabinet minister on narrow partisan considerations. What we need are people who have proven their ability and their experience.
In summation, I would like to say I’m extremely sceptical of the whole concept of subsidies, and I remain quite unconvinced of the need and value of subsidies as outlined in this bill.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, you’ve heard some of the arguments put forward by my colleagues with regard to the legislation before us. I think the government has to understand that as a party, we think it would be quite appropriate if the government were to offer subsidies to municipalities in order that they could provide services that would assist them in encouraging industrial development.
We think it would be appropriate for the government to spend money to develop roads; to spend money to ensure hydro power; to spend money to make sure that appropriate docking facilities were available; to spend money to make sure that there was an adequate transportation system.
We think that it is appropriate for the government, through whatever agency it deems to be appropriate, to spend money to encourage the development in areas that are under-developed. But we don’t think it appropriate for the government to use taxpayers’ money indiscriminately, and to give it to private corporations. I don’t think that anyone should have any doubt about that.
We don’t think that it is right that we should continue to tax the workers-earners of the Province of Ontario for the purpose of giving that money to corporations. Let me put it to you this way: If a corporation is on such shaky ground that it can’t go to the financial institutions of this province, this country, or this continent, and raise the necessary capital to carry on its enterprise, and if it is, in the judgement of the government, a necessary corporation -- one which provides employment and one which given some kind of incentive might be able to achieve a fairly solid financial foundation -- then it might be appropriate for the government to give this corporation a loan. That loan could bear interest or no interest; that loan could be over an extended period of time but it should be a loan.
If it is decided by the government at some point to encumber the corporation by putting it in a further indebted position by insisting that it be by loan, then it is also appropriate for the government to take equity in that corporation or company in order to ensure that its affairs are managed in a proper and satisfactory way. But we don’t agree with handouts.
If you want to spend money to provide services -- if you want to give municipalities money in order that they can purchase land for industrial purposes -- if you want to develop transportation or energy sources in order that there can be those things available for industrial development in the Province of Ontario -- so be it. But we will not, notwithstanding the minority government situation, stand by and allow the government to tax the public of Ontario for the purpose of giving the money to the corporations in this province.
In essence what we are saying to you is, we will oppose the bill because we see that as being the principle of the bill.
It may be that we worry a little bit about who will be appointed as the director -- and we do, given the government’s record. It may be that we would be concerned that municipalities might somehow be deprived of the opportunity to gain access to additional funding for industrial development purposes, but we think that can be overcome -- if the government wants that to happen, it can be done very easily. But, we are not going to go back to the system we had a few years ago, and I want to make it clear. We are not going back to the system which we discarded -- which allows this government to raise money and to hand it out indiscriminately.
I am going to ask the minister if he would give serious consideration to withdrawing the bill, because the bill, if you want it to go through this House with some degree of unanimity, has to be much broader and more explicit. We have to know in the legislation what the conditions are going to be that will be precedent upon any decision with regard to the giving of money in the province. We have to see it right in the legislation.
Let me take you to the bill itself -- the Development Corporation Act, 1973, Chapter 84. I think, quite frankly, that the way this amendment has been drafted is wrong. I think the amendment does not speak to the bill itself -- so let me give you that as a possible way of redrafting it. To begin with, it clearly sets out in section 11 of the bill: “The objects of the corporation are to encourage and assist in the development and diversification of industry in Ontario, including -- without limiting the generality of the foregoing -- the provision of financial assistance by loan, guarantee or purchase of shares or other securities.” I put to the government that if they now intend to grant the corporation additional powers, powers to give money, powers to provide subsidies directly to private corporations, then that section of the bill has to be amended first. You can’t achieve that by amending section 12, which is in effect the operative section of the bill, the explanatory section, the section that qualifies what is contained in section 11.
Section 11 clearly says “financial assistance by loan, guarantee, purchase of shares or other securities.” It does not give the corporation the power to grant subsidies to private individuals or private companies. You, therefore, cannot in section 12 -- by adding a rider to the section which deals with the way in which the corporation may carry out its business -- change substantially the intent of the corporation. That’s what you are doing.
So, I suggest to you, that if you were going to do this, you would have to have amended section 11, to add the words subsidize, in order to make it technically correct. But even if you made it technically correct, Mr. Speaker, we would still oppose it, because the bill is wrong. If a corporation is in such a condition that it cannot raise money on the money markets, cannot afford a loan, cannot provide sufficient equity in order that the government may enter into an equity situation with the corporation, then it is in question whether or not its worth, in the Province of Ontario, justifies the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars. So, I want to tell you, so that you don’t misunderstand me: we oppose the bill. We oppose that principle of the bill, and we will divide the House.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, this legislation is, I think, a further blank cheque to an already powerful terms of reference which you have now. In other words, it’s a complete expansion of your terms of reference in the whole business.
It’s always been my submission that this, Mr. Speaker, is the biggest pork barrel in all Ontario -- this department here. It was set up by Mr. Macaulay to use public funds for political purposes. Throughout 13 years, I’ve watched this government and this department use these moneys -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- strictly for political reasons. Now we’re going to compound the folly of this department by giving them further powers. A case in point: I’ve been sitting in this place for almost 13 years now --
Hon. Mr. Meen: Except for a few days.
Mr. Sargent: -- and never once, Mr. Speaker, never once have I personally had a loan approved for my people. Never once. I found in the estimates last week that there were 12 or 13 loans given to my people in the last two years. But I didn’t know about one of them. It was handled by Mr. Winkler. The fact is that this man could walk into our election area with the Premier (Mr. Davis) and get up and say, with the Premier on the platform with him, “I have here a cheque for $500,000 to keep RCA Victor open. I will guarantee the people of Ontario that RCA will not close. No one will lose his job. In fact, we’ll expand the operation. I’ve got $500,000 in my pocket to prove it.” This is the way they use this department -- public funds to buy votes.
We have a case in point of Minaki, an area that went broke. A book value of $1.25 million. This department, this hon. minister, gave them $5 million. No term on the note; no terms of interest and no repayment programme. Involved in the directorship of this is the head of the Conservative Party in the north. It’s a completely political deal.
Over the years they have used this department, giving forgiveness loans to American corporations, most of them in excess profits brackets. They have given them millions of dollars to take over our economy.
A case in point: A man in Cayuga had a small plant and he couldn’t pay his payroll one week. He went to the community and the doctors and lawyers went to the bank and for a few months they got him credit at the bank. When the bank closed in, and the man came to Queen’s Park to get a loan from the ODC, they wouldn’t give him any money. So the man sold the plant to a firm in Buffalo, which came across and borrowed money from the ODC, and everybody was happy.
They would loan to an American corporation but a Canadian citizen couldn’t get it. Now if you think those things are not important, I say this is a great area for fraud and corruption. It’s been going on for years. Now the hon. minister comes to us and says, in effect, “I want to appoint more fat. I want 16 members on section 1. I want 14 on 2 and 14 on 3.” More fat. What the hell do you need 16 directors for on a company?
Mr. Ferrier: More jobs for defeated Tories.
Mr. Sargent: That’s right. And what is he being paid? No, they want a chief executive officer empowered -- appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.
Mr. Ferrier: That is a job for Eric.
Mr. Riddell: A job for Winkler.
Mr. Sargent: I don’t know, I haven’t talked this over with my whip or my party leader. But I, as one, will vote with the official opposition to block this --
Hon. Mr. Welch: That is obvious,
Mr. Sargent: -- type of thievery, where they have the head of the public Treasury, at all times, to buy votes for this sloppy administration over there. I think it is time the public of Ontario should know what the hell is going on in things like this.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, a question of the hon. minister please. It occurs to me that the whole tenor of this Act, not just the amendments, but the Act as well, reflects a use of land, among other things. I would ask the hon. minister if he could indicate whether or not his ministry, or in conjunction with other ministries of the government, there is any long-range province-wide land use policy of his government to which this ties in? Or is it, just as someone suggested earlier, more ad hoc-ery?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, first of all, may I deal with the basis of the bill? Because there would appear to be some misunderstanding as to the purpose of the bill, which very clearly is to try and assist municipalities in northern and eastern Ontario to have funds either to purchase and service industrial parks or to service industrial parks that they presently own under the municipality.
As far as loans go to other than municipalities, they are directly related to those who might own industrial lands within a given area and who are prepared to enter into an agreement with the municipality to make those lands available for industrial development at a set price under contract arrangement with the municipality where they do not own any land of their own A municipality would indicate that by the agreement and encourage the government of Ontario through the Development Corp. to extend the same type of financing to that park as they would to one completely and singularly owned by the municipality.
Mr. Martel: What about subsidies?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes, I will talk about subsidies because I think we come to that relationship in some of the remarks of various speakers.
It is not our intention nor has it been our intention to get involved directly, if possible, with private companies except where they happen to own land. The municipality does not own land at this point and the municipality believes it is in the best general interest for industrial development that it tries to encourage the private owner into opening his or her land for that purpose.
Mr. Deans: That doesn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Coming to the subsidy as we call it, I want to say to the member for Wentworth that I fully supported his position in his remarks this afternoon, about going back to the old plan.
I am sure members will recall that shortly after I had the opportunity of becoming Minister of Industry and Tourism and reporting for ODC, it was one of my announcements that we would get rid of the forgivable loan programme because I was not convinced it was in the best general interests of the people of this province. It is not our intention to go back to that at all.
I very carefully want to get on to the point of what we have been able to do for municipalities. Many members have joined me in my summer tours when I have been around the province speaking to municipal leaders and industrial commissions and so on. In the process we clearly --
Mr. Martel: Tory members.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am not speaking of Tory members. I think if you check with your own party you will find there were a number who travelled with me during the course of activities.
Very clearly, the one thing municipalities told not only me but those who were with me was they did lack the funds to open up municipally-owned industrial land; or to acquire municipally-owned land for industrial purposes. They went along with the point that it was very difficult to convince members of council that they should try to buy land and maybe hold it for a period of four or five years before attempting to sell it off to industry. They suggested to us that some encouragement was required and we believe there is. We believe encouragement is required to make municipalities get along with opening lip industrial property so they have serviced land available and ready for sale to industries which wish to come into their communities.
What we are proposing, in the way of subsidy is very clearly this: If the municipality does not own land and wishes to acquire it, we are prepared to lend sufficient funds to purchase the land up to 50 per cent of its value. That should include servicing within the industrial park. If the municipality already owns the land and is at the point of trying to find sufficient funds to service it to make it ready and available, we are prepared to support the requirement of funds up to 75 per cent of the cost.
Where does the subsidy come in? The next step is that there is an interest factor and we have indicated that it would be 10 per cent. We are prepared in the first year of the loan to forgive the entire interest factor. In the second year we are prepared to forgive 75 per cent and the third year 50 per cent; in the fourth year 25 per cent and in the fifth year there will be on further forgiveness of interest. Principal payments and interest payments will commence in the sixth year for a 10-year period.
If lands are sold in the interval the credits will start to come back to the government for whatever lands the municipality has sold. I make it very clear that the land is owned by the municipality and we are supporting it financially to make the land either available or serviced on the market.
Mr. Deans: That is not what the bill says.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That is the whole point of it.
Mr. Deans: If you want that in the bill put it in there.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think it is very clearly in the bill --
Mr. Deans: It is not very clearly in the bill; it is nowhere in the bill. Section 5, subsection 6, does not deal with municipalities at all; it deals with persons.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The minister will continue.
Mr. Deans: It says any person and a person is not a municipality. The bill doesn’t say what the minister says, and if he wants that he should amend the bill now.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I was asked, Mr. Speaker, by one of the members as to some of the criteria and I would be pleased to submit that to the members for their review and input. Very carefully and very clearly it covers some of the concerns that have been expressed.
The member for Fort William (Mr. Angus) indicated the concern regarding prime agricultural lands going out of use. In the criteria, we indicated first of all it must have the clearance of the municipality that they wish an industrial park. We do know there are some municipalities in this province that are not looking for industrial expansion or development at all and others are dying to have it.
Mr. Deans: You are so wrong.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: So we demand that there be a resolution of the council indicating clearly to the government that they wish to have an industrial park.
Mr. Deans: That is not what the bill says.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Secondly, there are other areas which will require information as to what the servicing is; the availability of the labour force or the possibility of the labour force; the other amenities of the life that exists in that community that would be compatible with industrial development and expansion --
Mr. Deans: It is not in the bill.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- indeed, whether the zoning on the land that they’re intending to use is approved in an official plan or under a zoning by-law. If it is in agricultural use at this time, it would then have to have the full approval of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Province of Ontario. We believe those are some of the criteria that we require to make sure that we’re on the right road.
The member for Fort William spoke about the Northern and Eastern Ontario Development Corps., needing to have their autonomy. I think that in the estimates committee I spoke at some length on that particular issue as the result of a member of the committee inquiring about it. Each board has its own directors from their respective parts of our province. What we’re asking for in the expansion is became the Ontario Land Corp., which will be the financing agent for the funds required in this programme, require under their Act that they have one member from their board on each one of our development boards.
May I just digress for a minute? The member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) spoke about the chief executive officer of the corporation. I recall very clearly in estimates a year ago the member raising the issue about certain people who were on the staff of the development corporation and suggesting that it should take a different position. I accepted his views on that daft and I say to the House today that the chief executive officer should be the chairman of the corporation. We have at the moment Mr. Jim Joyce, who is the chairman of our corporation. It is my intention and feeling that he should become the chief executive officer of the corporation, where he has the rights to be chairman and also can oversee the administration of its operation. That’s the reason for the amendment as it is proposed in the bill at this point.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, will the minister answer a question?
Mr. Speaker: I think, at this time, questions are out of order.
Mr. Sargent: It’s on a point of clarification regarding the bill.
Mr. Speaker: It is a point of clarification?
Mr. Sargent: Yes, sir.
Mr. Speaker: Will the minister accept the question for a point of clarification?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes.
Mr. Sargent: My concern is this: clause 5, section 6, says “...grant a subsidy to a person carrying on an industrial undertaking in Ontario.” If the hon. minister can guarantee to me that no developer will be subsidized by his department for putting in services, then he has something worth talking about here.
Mr. Speaker: I think that is more than a question.
Mr. Sargent: But not when you give a blank cheque, sir, to developers --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Sargent: Just a minute. I’m talking about the clause --
Mr. Speaker: Will the hon. member place the question to the minister for clarification?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I think that I’ve already covered it but I’m pleased to go over it again. Very clearly what he is referring to is that if a developer in a particular community happens to hold what they believe to be the prime industrial land for development purposes, and the municipality cannot acquire if for one reason or another -- and I’m not prepared to say --
Mr. Deans: They can get it by expropriation.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I’m not sure, Mr. Speaker, that the Expropriation Act is going to allow them to take it over for an industrial park. The limits of expropriation are very confined.
Mr. Deans: That’s the tax --
Mr. Makarchuk: What price are you going to get for it?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I’m prepared to answer the question if the hon. members would, for a moment, allow me. Very clearly, if the municipality is not in a position to acquire the land on an open purchase position because of its limitation of funds, or because they believe it’s not in their best interests at this point, but they would like to see the land developed --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We are saying very carefully and very clearly that if Lindsay, for example, wishes to enter into an agreement with a private owner, a long-term agreement where the price is pegged for the industrial lands, and the municipality is pre pared to come to the ministry and request that we supply the financing for the infrastructure on that project, we believe it is in the best interests of that municipality. It might be; could very well be --
Mr. Deans: I’m sorry. It doesn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- it will only be if the municipality in itself enters into the agreement, and not because we believe --
Mr. Deans: That is not contained in the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Welch: You can amend it in committee then.
Mr. Deans: No, we can’t. It’s the principle of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Welch: No, it is not. The minister is speaking to the bill. Listen to him.
Mrs. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, will you permit another question of clarification?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think I dealt with the request of the member for Beaches-Woodbine for criteria and I am prepared to submit to the members the full list of criteria because we believe it is essential that municipalities know exactly where they stand when making an application for possibilities of entering into the programme.
The ownership of the land, I again emphasize, will rest in the name of the municipality, and not in the name of the Crown. They will be out with their industrial commissioners or with groups they have retimed to try to sell the land and to promote industries to come to their particular communities. It will not be -- I want to emphasize once again -- it will not be forgivable loans we are dealing with.
Mr. Sargent: That is not the way it reads.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: There is an incentive in the programme in the reduction of interest to municipalities.
Mr. Martel: A rose by any other name.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I agree with the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) about the situation regarding the border between Ontario and Quebec. I have mentioned the situation on more than one occasion. We have again opened up the opportunity of discussing with the Province of Quebec some of the situations that are inherent in some of the contracts that they call for. I am not giving the House any assurance at this time that we are going to get a reversal of position but we will continue to press for it.
The board of directors has been, in my opinion, a group of people -- and we have had names submitted from various people in communities -- who are competent and qualified businessmen. We believe the loans we have made have been made without friend or favour and in the interests of the communities to which they have applied.
It would be wrong to say that with every loan that is submitted to me that I could completely concur in all of the comments, but in the long run I think the members of the board of directors of each of the corporations have a deeper insight into the requirements of their communities.
Mr. Deans: You may believe what you are saying is what will happen, but the bill does not restrict it to that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Martel: That is the issue.
Mr. Deans: If that is what you want, put it in the legislation and I will believe you. And I will tell you further that the bill that follows, which qualifies it --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, there was a question raised by the member for Cornwall, I believe, about the ownership of the land and what happens after the land has been developed and is ready for marketing. As to what will happen, that of course is the decision of the municipalities since they will be the owners of the land. It might be their opinion that they would like to lease it rather than sell it, but I warn the House that municipalities will find themselves with a great deal of money tied up in industrial land and maybe the rollover will not be fast enough for them to continue to have funds to expand into further industrial parks.
Once again I listened to the comment that perhaps we should very clearly force companies -- I believe that was the expression used -- to locate in certain areas of our province or that we should establish a penalty situation so they will not move. Let me just warn the House that in this day and age we are not in the best bargaining position, nor is any government, in trying to tell companies they are going to go to A, B or C. As I explained in estimates committee, a great number of them --
Mr. Martel: No, we just pay the bills.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is fine for us to say we are going to force somebody, but if we force them out of our province altogether, very little has been accomplished for any of us. If one wishes to try that situation and lose an industry, be my guest. But I, along with people in the ministry, have been trying to encourage industry to come to the Province of Ontario, along with the assistance and help of the municipalities that are interested in it as well. We are going to offer the greatest assistance we possibly can.
An hon. member: You might have gone to Europe with us. It would have done you some good. You might talk to --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, the basis of the bill, again, is to assist municipalities in opening up industrial land. I make no apologies to this House that it’s principally looking at northern and eastern Ontario. We believe those are the areas that must have the assistance.
Mr. Deans: It doesn’t say so.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The terms of reference and basic criterion will clearly indicate to the members as to what we are intending to do. Someone asked the question as to these municipalities which have requested assistance or to be reviewed under the programme. While they have not had all of the criteria at this point, they’ve had the assistance of our field staff in assisting them in going ever some of the criteria and looking at some of the requirements that they will have to meet.
First of all, in eastern Ontario we have 18 communities that have made general inquiries of the plan. We have six that have supported their request by a resolution. These were Carleton Place, Renfrew, Smiths Falls, Trenton, the township of Gloucester and the township of Coulbourne. In northeastern Ontario we have 10 that have made requests.
I can say to the members from the other parts of the Province of Ontario that there have been applications for consideration from central Ontario, eastern and west-central Ontario and southwestern Ontario.
I should say to the member for Beaches-Woodbine the inter-ministerial committee is made up of this ministry, of TEIGA, and the ministries of the Environment, Housing, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and Food. The interministerial committee, along with the people from ODC, will do a preliminary review of the plan. At that point it will be submitted to the ministry people for a complete review, that’s the Ministry of Industry and Tourism. If we believe that the criteria is met and that all other things are in order, we will then forward it on to the Ontario Development Corp. It will do the financing and review the requirements for financing -- whether the municipality can carry the responsibility of financing it over a period of time.
Mr. Deans: But you can change that at any time. It doesn’t say that anywhere. That is what you intend to happen.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please; the hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. Deans: I know, but he’s misled.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The one question I should speak to just briefly is the one that the member from Wentworth raised, and that was on the US companies and what are we going to do about them. First of all we are not looking at the American companies or foreign companies -- and I prefer to use that expression, because I do not think we should zero in at any one country of the world.
Frankly, if American companies or foreign companies are to come here, take over assets of Canadian companies or do some development, they will have to do it with the concurrence of the organization at the federal level, who we consult with when applications are made.
Mr. Deans: I didn’t raise that, by the way.
An hon. member: No, it was the member for Cornwall.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member for Cornwall; I’m sorry.
An hon. member: They look alike.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I believe we have covered most of the inquiries made to us this afternoon. I submit to the House second reading of this bill, which I believe is a step in the right direction to assist municipalities in putting industrial land available for use immediately.
Hon. Mr. Ken: With control.
Mrs. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, will the minister permit one further question of clarification?
Mr. Riddell: Come on, you have got yourself into a hole and now you are trying to get out of it.
Mr. Deans: You people don’t even understand the bill. You’d have given them a blank cheque.
Mrs. Bryden: If the minister is convinced that subsection 6 of section 5 means nothing more than giving interest subsidies to local governments, is he prepared to redraft that section to state exactly that? Because it does not state that at the present time.
Mr. Good: That’s not on the principle of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: To try to answer the question as simply as possible, one of the things that we must be able to do for some municipalities is see that they can put land on the market at a realistic dollar value. Whether the land happens to be held by municipalities solely or whether they are entering into a long-term agreement with a private developer, is why it refers to persons, but the “person” is only applicable where the municipality enters into the agreement and not the government of Ontario.
Mr. Deans: That is not contained in the bill.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think we will deal with the bill clause by clause, but overall we are prepared, yes, to look at the elimination of it, but have to make some provision that it relates singular to municipalities and their special agreements.
Mr. Deans: The bill, then is flawed. Take it back and bring it back in the form it should Morrow be in.
The House divided on the motion for second reading of Bill 6, which was approved on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, the “ayes” are 79, the “nays” are 37.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr. Deans: No. On a point of order, I would like to ask -- I may not be able to add -- who is the other one?
An hon. member: The member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) voted “nay.”
Mr. Deans: Oh, thank you. I apologize.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Committee.
Mr. Speaker: I would ask the hon. minister to which committee should the bill go.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Committee of the whole House.
Mr. Speaker: Committee of the whole House. So ordered.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before calling the next order perhaps all members of the House would like to join in congratulating Mr. Holtby, the first clerk assistant for his first round of the session and being so successful in recording the vote. That’s quite a remarkable feat.
MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved second reading of Bill 7, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Mr. Good: The purpose of this bill, Mr. Speaker, is for the first time in history to allow municipalities to secure a loan by way of mortgage.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There’s so much noise in the chamber we can’t hear the speaker.
Mr. Good: I have spoken to various municipalities and conventionally the way that industrial land has been purchased previously is by the issuance of debentures by that municipality or by paying from current revenues. This bill is closely associated with the previous bill. I am rather mystified as to why the development corporations, when they lend money to the municipalities, would want to take back a mortgage.
Similarly, I am mystified by the wording of the bill which says:
“... security therefor to the corporatism [may be] by way of a mortgage or may furnish such other security as the corporation considers appropriate.”
I would like to address a few questions to the provincial Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), if he could disengage himself from his conversation.
Mr. Speaker: There is too much noise in the chamber for the hon. member to be heard. Order, please. Would the private conversations please cease or be removed?
Mrs. Campbell: We will wait for the NDP as usual.
Mr. Good: With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I don’t think I should have to compete with a private conversation being held by the minister with another member of the chamber who has crossed the floor to engage with the Treasurer, when it’s the Treasurer’s bill that’s going through this Legislature. John, will you get out of here, please?
Mr. Nixon: Take that!
Mr. Ruston: Turn the mikes off.
Mr. Good: Are you new around here?
Mr. Ruston: Kick him out, Eddie.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Dust him right off.
Mr. Roy: Anybody else you want to get rid of?
Mr. Good: The wording in the bill, Mr. Speaker, would appear to indicate that the conveyance or the mortgage given need not even be on the land for which the money was borrowed. So, conceivably, I suppose, a municipality could mortgage its city hall to borrow money from the development corporation to buy industrial land. It seems a rather ridiculous situation to me.
Traditionally and historically, municipalities have been able to borrow money on the strength of their ability to raise money through taxation. Now we have introduced an additional method whereby municipalities can give a mortgage back to the development corporation in return for the money. What I am concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is if a mortgage is given back on the industrial land purchased by the municipality to the development corporation for the money received, how will this affect the title of that land when the municipality goes to divide it up into smaller parcels and sell it to various industries? In my view there would be a cloud on that title until such time as that mortgage has been discharged. Maybe the mortgage isn’t intended on the land purchased by that loan. Maybe it is going to be on the works buildings down at some other municipality or the city hall; maybe on the mayor’s limousine. I don’t know. But I think that some clarification should take place.
Personally, I don’t see any need whatsoever for the development corporations to require a mortgage back from the municipality. Surely, that is not going to affect the interest rate from the municipality. The municipality’s ability to pay depends on its ability to raise money by means of taxation. If, on the other hand, their ability to repay the loan is contingent on the sale of that land, something’s going to have be done about that mortgage, so that there isn’t a cloud on title when that land gets to be developed. In the private sector, I believe there is a procedure whereby a blanket mortgage given as security for debentures or bonds or something is relieved bit by bit if certain parcels of that land are sold.
So, I think we certainly support the idea of the municipality borrowing money from the corporations, as we did in the last bill. Certainly, I hope that each municipality represented by a member of the NDP realizes that that party has voted against the companion bill, denying municipalities the right to borrow money from the corporations. I would ask for explanation. Mr. Speaker, as to why it seems necessary that the municipalities should now, after never having been allowed to do this, be required to give mortgages back to the ODC or the Northern Ontario Development or Eastern Ontario Development Corp. Basically, what effect is this going to have on title to that land when the municipality wants to dispose of it?
Mr. Swart: Our party was going to pass on discussion of this because we believed that this was basically a housekeeping matter and, in fact, was probably beneficial to the municipalities. I would first deny what my friend to the left has said about the NDP denying the right in the previous bill to borrow money. That was not the purpose of the previous bill, and our House leader made it very clear why we voted against that bill, but I point out that this bill provides an option for the municipality. It must no longer just have an agreement with the development corporation, but it can, in fact, provide a mortgage.
I suggest there might be some cases in which the municipality, if there was a mortgage on the property and it had not sold, might prefer to let the Ontario Development Corp. foreclose if it saw fit. The land would still be there. It would still be there for development purposes. I suggest this gives an option to the municipality which it didn’t have before, and therefore we in our party can see no disadvantage to the municipalities by having this option.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I think there are just two or three points. First of all, the municipality -- I am putting this in lay language -- as I understand it, has to have some authority to give a piece of paper to the Crown indicating that it has entered into an agreement whereby it owes some money. I don’t suppose it matters whether it is called a mortgage or a promissory note or whatever, but they have to have that authority and this bill gives them that authority.
Second, the lawyers tell me that it would only be on the piece of property in question; it wouldn’t be on the courthouse or the mayor’s car. The third question is that of the normal provisions for partial discharge, which I am told is the correct term; as a piece of the property is sold, the mortgage will be discharged on that portion and there will be a clear title.
Mr. Roy: With your permission, Mr. Speaker, may I ask a question of the minister? He said the mortgage of the security would be only on the piece of property involved, but the bill doesn’t say that. The bill goes on to say, “or may furnish such other security as the corporation considers appropriate.” So the possibility is --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. If you have a question, ask it. Any discussion should go to committee.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the reason I make this comment --
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member may ask a question for clarification.
Mr. Roy: The question is simply this, that it is open, according to the bill, to mortgage the mayor’s car or any other security that the corporation may deem fit. Doesn’t the bill say that?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the lawyers tell me not.
Mr. Roy: Read the last two sentences.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr. Roy: I would like to discuss this point in committee.
Mr. Speaker: Shall the bill be ordered for third reading? I don’t hear a dissenting voice, so it is carried.
Mr. Roy: Committee.
Mr. Speaker: Was there something I didn’t hear? All right then. The committee of the whole House, Mr. Minister? Agreed.
BILLS OF SALE AND CHATTEL MORTGAGES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 9, An Act to amend the Bills of Sale and Chattel Mortgages Act.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.
ASSIGNMENT OF BOOK DEBTS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Assignment of Book Debts Act.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.
CONDITIONAL SALES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 11, An Act to amend the Conditional Sales Act.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading? Agreed.
RESIDENTIAL PREMISES RENT REVIEW ACT
Hon. Mr. Rhodes moved second reading of Bill 20, An Act to provide for the Review of Rents in respect of Residential Premises.
Mr. Davison: Mr. Speaker, I must say that it’s an absolute delight to have the opportunity to debate a bill such as this in the Legislature. I’m sure that my party colleagues who have served in previous Parliaments have dreamt about such bills.
It’s truly amazing what a close call in an election can do to a political party. Before Sept. 18 a Tory politician could have been described as one who stood for what he thought others would fall for --
Hon. Mr. Meen: Are you reading a speech from your father?
Mr. Davison: I beg your pardon?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Carry on if you’re reading a speech.
Mr. Davison: But now that they are viewing things from the brink of disaster, staring down into the abyss of eternal opposition, it seems that a Tory politician stands for what others think, or else he falls.
I for one don’t really mind the government introducing NDP policy -- mind you, they’ve been able to botch it up in a few places. They put me in mind of the student who manages to fail his exam even though he has a cheat sheet.
Of course, all this means that the Tories will have to change the colour of their election signs from Chargex blue and gold to shocking pink.
Mr. Speaker: We’re going to get to the principle of the bill I presume, right away?
Mr. Davison: We certainly are.
Mr. Speaker: Because that’s what this action is all about.
Mr. Davison: We’re talking about the principle.
Mr. Sweeney: This is par for the course.
Mr. Davison: Actually, in the next campaign I think they could even switch right to red, because I understand the Liberals are abandoning that, having found a more suitable colour called chameleon.
Mr. Singer: You should know.
Mr. Roy: Stevie wouldn’t go for that.
Mr. Davison: Mr. Speaker, if for a moment I could address myself to the reasoned heads, opposite, who came up with the bill. I would remind them of what George Elliott once said: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” And to this end I have with me several NDP membership cards, and would be happy to sponsor their application for membership.
I would refer you to Hansard of Oct. 30, 1975. I asked the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) the following question during the oral question period:
“Does the proposed rent review legislation apply to all rental premises, specifically small business, commercial and industrial premises? And if not, why not.”
Hansard clearly showed the minister’s reply as:
“The hon. member should wait until the legislation is introduced in the House next week, at which time we can have a full and proper debate on the legislation and on the bill.”
Unless the minister wishes to claim he was misquoted, I would like at this point to avail myself of his kind offer.
I’m sure that when most members read the title of Bill 20 -- An Act to provide for the Review of Rents in respect of Residential Premises -- they would assume that the Act didn’t apply to small business, commercial and industrial premises. But not me. To prove that I’m not a doubting Thomas or one to unfairly make accusations, I went over the bill with a fine-tooth comb. I examined the fine print with my reading glass, and you know what I found? Nothing.
The bill does not apply to small business, commercial and industrial premises. So I asked myself, as I asked the minister, if not why not? Indeed, why not?
Perhaps the minister and the government feel hesitant about using somebody else’s ideas. I realize that whether an idea is old or new, it’s value depends on how intelligently someone uses it. And I further realize that intelligent use of ideas isn’t the government’s forte. However, this bill stands as evidence of the government’s willingness to expropriate the concepts of others, and, therefore, I can’t imagine that this is a reason for them to commit the sin of exclusion.
Perhaps the minister and the government are afraid of shopping-mall owners, and developers, and the other scurrilous creatures that inhabit that dark world of high finance.
Mr. Roy: What do you call it?
Mr. Davison: Perhaps the minister and the government feel they have already offered their best supporters enough offence as it is. Perhaps the minister and the government are trying to protect their unholy alliance.
That really can’t be the reason, because haven’t these same Conservatives shown their fine courage in their brave stand against the apartment developers. Of course they have. How could we doubt it for a moment?
Perhaps there’s a very simple explanation for the exclusion.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That’s a fine speech dad wrote.
Mr. Nixon: The minister is above that kind of thing.
Mr. Davison: He is not in the gallery pulling the strings, though.
Perhaps there is a simple explanation. Perhaps the hon. minister and the government really meant to protect small businessmen from rent-gouging, but the typist bungled it, as was claimed during the election campaign on the matter of the GAINS supplement. I wonder, in a different vein for a moment, because it is not my nature to be uncharitable. I wonder if the government in the case of rent-gouging in commercial-industrial premises, doesn’t consider that the case against the gougers has been properly documented. I suppose that is a possibility.
During the election campaign we all watched horror story after horror story unfold concerning rent gouging. After that, I thought, as I suspect most members of the House thought, that nothing about rent gouging would surprise us. But it is not so. Late in October, I received a telephone call from a man in Oakville, Ontario. What he told me later led me to accuse the council of the corporation of the town of Oakville of being rent gougers of the first order. I would ask the members to keep this case in mind because I think it indicates that we have to seriously consider the advisability of section 12, subsection (a) of this Bill 20. However, I merely mention that en passant.
I would like to share some of the details and background of this case with the members of the House. Mr. George Fenton operates a second-hand furniture store at the premises at 181 Church Street in Oakville. It is an old firehall that is owned by the town. I might add that he is held in very high regard by the business community of this town. I would like to read excerpts of a letter that he received, dated July 15, 1975, over the signature of C. R. Demerais, solicitor. It says:
“Council, on July 8, in considering the matter of your tenancy, decided to offer the property to you for one further year at a monthly rental of $400 commencing with rent due Sept. 1. One full month’s notice of increase is required, and therefore your Aug. 1 rent will remain at the previous figure of $250.”
That is a rent increase of 60 per cent. I might add that on top of the usual clause about paying his own heat, hydro and so on, his lease carries the stipulation that he pay for any increase in the taxes on the property. During Mr. Fenton’s tenancy, little or no maintenance was carried out by the town on those premises. Mr. Fenton is being driven out of business by rent gouging. Let me read you the opinion of his accountant:
“Mr. Fenton, you are not making any money now, despite all the hours you put in all the hard work you do. What do you expect to be the result with the rent increase along with all your other overheads, which are increasing so rapidly?”
Unfortunately, Mr. Fenton’s case is not an outstanding exception to the rule.
Mr. Shore: Maybe his accountant gave him good advice. He wasn’t making any money anyway.
Mr. Davison: In Oakville, in Hamilton, as in many other areas of the province, small businessmen are being driven out of business or their operations are becoming more and more marginal as a result of rent gouging.
On Friday, November 7, 1975, the day after this bill was introduced in the House, the Hamilton Spectator chose the story as its headline article. The headline was, “Rent Hikes Pegged at Eight Per Cent.” It was a very long article, and near the end of it they had a couple of sentences on how I was attacking the government over the exclusion of small businessmen and that I had claimed that rents on commercial properties had been subject to worse rent gouging than those on residential premises. Those two short sentences they had in that long article had a very remarkable effect. On the weekend -- last weekend -- I received several phone calls about rent gouging in this sector. What I am about to tell you is incredible. I am sure that my fellow members will be as shocked as I was.
The lowest rental increase that I was informed of was 100 per cent. Surely increases of this type are gouging in anybody’s book.
Mr. Shore: How large a sample have you got there? Three? Four?
Mr. Foulds: You will get a chance to make your speech later.
Mr. Davison: There was something else the callers had in common that I found to be more disturbing than the increases themselves. Every one of them, to a man, refused to allow me to make their names or the circumstances of their cases public. They were all afraid that their landlords would retaliate with even greater demands. I think, as a matter of fact I’m sure, that some small businessman are afraid of more than just the financial threat involved.
It’s a dirty business and I guess as long as some of these shady characters are not affected by the law, we will never know just how bad the rent gouging is in this area. I’m not going to call it a reign of terror, but it’s certainly a reign of intimidation and it’s high time the government stepped in, broke up the clouds and let some sunshine in on these seedy operators.
Most people would cite the government’s inaction on the issue as evidence it really doesn’t care about small businessmen. I don’t wish to be unkind but the lack of legislation does add credence to these charges. This and other assaults on small businessmen throughout the province, whether by private concerns or the government, should end immediately. We can’t allow them to be forced out of business and they must remain competitive.
Small business must remain the backbone of our economy because without it the people of our province, the consumers, are at the mercy of big business and huge multinational corporations -- and they don’t have any mercy. Although I don’t expect the government to believe it, bigger is not better. If the government thinks that by ignoring the problem and doing absolutely nothing about it, it will go away, it won’t.
Further let me remind the government of what Moliere said about the results of such a course: “It is not only what we do but also what we do not do for which we are accountable.” If the government persists on its course, it will find this out at the next election and will have four years in which to contemplate it as the third party.
If the hon. Minister of Housing would state that small business, commercial and industrial premises were not included in the legislation simply because such premises did not fall under the jurisdiction of his ministry and some other minister had such legislation ready and was about to bring it forward to the House, I would accept that. Actually, that might be preferable because legislation to protect small businessmen should be much tougher than this watered-down Bill 20. I’m sure my colleagues will have a great deal to say about the condition of this bill.
In conclusion, with all sincerity, I plead with the government not to throw small businessmen to the wolves and not to turn its back on the plight of small businessmen.
The House recessed at 6 o’clock p.m.