The House met at 2 p.m.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I should like to introduce to you and to the members of this Legislature a group of students of grades 7, 8 and 9 at St. Andrew’s Junior High School and a number of students from York Mills Secondary School, in the beautiful riding of York Mills, who are attending the Legislature today under the direction of one of my respected colleagues and constituents, Dr. Geoffrey Isaacs. They are in the west gallery. I would ask members to join me in welcoming them to this House.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
MENTAL HEALTH CENTRE RENOVATION
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: On Monday, Dec. 8, I told the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) that I would give her and other hon. members a more detailed report on costs relating to the Queen St. Mental Health Centre. Because of the length and detail of the report, I thought it more appropriate to make a statement to the House.
As I noted last Monday, on Dec. 17, 1974, the government filed an application for a building permit with the city of Toronto for alterations and building additions at the Queen St. Mental Health Centre. On Jan. 15, 1975, the city refused the permit on the grounds that the 1846 building might be declared a historic site. There were no legal grounds for the refusal of that permit and, as a result of discussions immediately following, the province willingly entered into a gentlemen’s agreement with the Toronto Historical Board, specifically Brig. John McGuinness, not to undertake any immediate action for three months. This undertaking was later extended.
Subsequent meetings were then held with the officials of the Toronto Historical Board, city of Toronto aldermen, architects and others to discuss the building. Of its own initiative, the province prepared an extensive study on the feasibility of preserving the 1846 building -- and I would note that we have gained some experience in this field, since it was the government of Ontario which restored Osgoode Hall at a cost of $9 million (originally estimated at $6 million).
Our investigation showed that restoring the 1846 building properly, and bringing it up to the necessary structural, electrical and mechanical standards, would cost an estimated $34 million. The study also stated that the costly restoration of the 1846 building would not satisfy the requirements of the Ministry of Health.
The Toronto Historical Board disputed the government’s restoration figures, and asked the Ontario Heritage Foundation for an independent study of the 1864 building.
The province agreed at that time with the Toronto Historical Board that both groups would take no further action until the independent study, now known as the Diamond report, was submitted. While the province could have demolished the building at any time since last December, as a courtesy it waited to receive and study the Diamond report.
In view of these events and undertakings, it is interesting to note that the Toronto Historical Board recommended and the city of Toronto confirmed the designation of the 1846 building as a historic site before the Diamond report had been completed and submitted for study.
It was in mid-June that Mr. A. B. R. Lawrence, chairman of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, wrote a letter to A. J. Diamond Associates, asking the firm to prepare a proposal, including costs and time of completion, for the foundation. I quote from the letter of commission:
“The task of the consultants is to examine the feasibility of renovating the 1846 building in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Ministry of Health for improved facilities, predicated upon the removal of the 1956 building.
“It is understood that such examination will include a comparison with proposals outlined in Ministry of Government Services’ feasibility study on the preservation of the 1846 building.
“It is further understood that the material upon which the above-mentioned report is based will be made available to the consultants through the co-operation of the Ministry of Government Services and the Ministry of Health.
“It is a premise of this request of you that the 1846 building is, from an architectural and historical point of view, worth preserving and the question to which we would ask you, and those associated with you, to address your attention relates essentially to the economics of the question.”
On Nov. 7 of this year, my ministry received a copy of the Diamond report concerning the renovation of the 1846 building. We then asked quantity surveyors, engineer specialists and others to examine end report on the findings of the Diamond report. As I stated on Monday to hon. members of this Legislature, there are reports and reports and more reports, costing thousands of dollars, to substantiate our interest in finding alternative means of retaining the old building at 999 Queen St. West.
After an analysis of the Diamond report by these experts, the following conclusions were drawn:
1. The estimated cost of renovation, as suggested by the Diamond report, is inadequate to execute the remodelling it recommends. In other words, it is $3.5 million short of what a minimum execution of the job would cost but, with the unknown factors always present in dealing with such an ancient building, it would actually require many more millions, probably $30 million, to bring it to standard. Thus, total cost of the project would probably escalate from $42.3 million to $60 million.
2. The Diamond report would produce a building more than 30 per cent larger than would be required for completion of the mental health centre project, a fact that would adversely affect both capital and annual operating costs.
3. The Diamond report is a proposal for rebuilding and recycling -- not renovation or restoration. It recommends the demolition and alteration of more than 40 per cent of the building.
4. Recommendations contained in the Diamond report would place the building in conflict with the Ontario Heritage Act. The report recommends the following changes in the appearance of the structure:
(a) It would demolish the east and west apses at either end of the building, replace in their huge classic columns with new glass and steel structures;
(b) It would add new half-wings of glass and steel, flanking the dome at the fifth-floor level;
(c) It would build six separate additions four and five stories tall of glass and steel to the south side of the building. When the hypothetical reconstruction is complete on the south side alone only 44 per cent of the wall would remain as originally built.
I am citing these recommendations from the Diamond report to illustrate the difficulties any architect would be faced with, given this set of circumstances. Mr. Diamond probably did his best, but even he could not surmount the rigidity and antiquity of the original design. In other words, to produce anything near the type of facility required, he had to recommend very substantial alterations.
However, I cannot believe that it was ever the intent of this government, of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, or of other concerned groups and persons that the Ontario Heritage Act should be used to designate for preservation as historic sites buildings such as this 1846 building -- buildings which would be subjected to “restoration” of such substantial proportion that the alteration would obscure the architectural integrity of the original building.
Mr. Cassidy: That is not true.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: If the Diamond report were to be implemented, we would not have the --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Are you challenging the minister?
Mr. Lewis: Just look after your Minister of Education (Mr. Wells). He is getting you into trouble.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: -- 1846 building as designed by John G. Howard. It would be the Howard building remodelled according to Diamond -- a desecration not a restoration. One could even imagine future generations wanting to strip off the Diamond additions in order to restore the building to the original John C. Howard design. In other words, the Howard building would have lost its architectural integrity, and would no longer be worthy of the designation historic site. It would just be a recycled relic.
Mr. Cassidy: That is ridiculous. Your motto was better.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Not only does the Diamond report appear to have failed in its attempt to restore the building to meet the intent of the Act, it also fails to provide a design, as instructed in Mr. Lawrence’s letter of commission, which will meet the needs of the Ministry of Health, as well as the mechanical, electrical, structural and building standards required for such a treatment centre.
Hence, on Dec. 3, I announced at a press conference that the third and final phase of reconstruction of the Queen St. Mental Health Centre would begin, and that this would entail removal of the 1846 building -- the original Provincial Lunatic Asylum.
There were three important factors:
1. The cost of preservation and reconstruction of the building would require the expenditure of an estimated 830 million, instead of the previously estimated cost of $12.6 million for completion of Phase III of the original plan.
2. Preservation and renovation would cause an additional two years’ delay in completion of the final phase. In fact, the current delay of one year has already increased the cost of the final phase by at least $1 million.
3. The preservation of the 1846 building would not provide the completed mental health centre and its patients with a facility adequate for the needs of the centre’s programmes.
At this point, the province has delayed completion of the project by one year in an attempt to find a viable means of retaining the 1846 building, restoring it to its original state while at the same time serving the needs of the Ministry of Health. It appears that this goal cannot be accomplished economically or satisfactorily. Our investigations have resulted in failure, but at least we know that we have examined all the possibilities.
On Thursday, the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller), the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch), and I expect to meet with the mayor and members of the executive committee of the city of Toronto to discuss the 1846 building one last time. I expect that members of city council will acknowledge the effort the government of Ontario has made in extending all courtesy and consideration to the Toronto Historical Board, the Ontario Heritage Foundation, the mayor and members of council in our mutual desire to seek a resolution of this problem.
To conclude, I believe that those officials, as well as hon. members of this House, will share with me the regret that the needs of people are in conflict with the designation of a historic site under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Weighing the emotional issue of the historic site in balance with the simple, and obvious, factor relating to the needs of people, this government has only one choice -- the needs of people must take precedence.
REVIEW OF AUTO PACT
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of this House some recent developments related to one of the most significant industries in Ontario. I refer, of course, to the automotive industry which provides employment for 90,000 Ontario citizens. A total of 85 per cent of the employment in Canada’s automotive assembly industry and 96 per cent of the jobs in Canadian parts manufacture is located in this province.
With the introduction of the auto pact in 1965, which in effect was a rationalization of the North American auto industry, substantial improvements have occurred in the industry in Canada. Benefits have accrued to both Canada and the United States and most of the basic objectives of that agreement have been met.
One of the objectives was to reduce the trade deficit in automobiles and automotive parts with the United States. For a period of time this was achieved, and in 1973 a relative balance of production and consumption was achieved. However, since that time a significant deficit has appeared, particularly in the parts trade. The deficit in 1974 was $1.9 billion and indications are that in the current year, a $2.5 billion deficit will be experienced.
A review of the automotive agreement has been suggested by parties in both the United States and in Canada.
The Canadian federal government has set up a task force to carry out a review of the automotive industry. The Ministry of Industry and Tourism of Ontario expects to play a significant role in this review, since, as I have already previously mentioned, the industry is primarily located in this province.
At the same time, the International Trade Commission in the United States is conducting hearings into the effect of the auto pact and is meeting in Detroit during this current week.
The Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association, which represents the largest segment of the major manufacturers in the automotive parts industry, employing approximately 40,000 workers in Ontario, will present its position at the hearings this Thursday. Considering the significance of this industry to Ontario’s economy, we have encouraged the association to make this presentation. It is our intention to have at this hearing -- and continuing through the hearings -- an observer on behalf of the government of Ontario.
During the past year, the parts industry and its representatives have consulted, on a regular basis, with my ministry and other ministries of the Ontario government.
We were able to supply material and statistics which have been pertinent to the problems of the day. We maintain an up-to-date, two-way relationship, which is of value to both parties. In general, we support the proposals contained in the association’s brief. This government supports the association and the industry in their search to check and reduce the unacceptable trade deficit in automotive parts and to stabilize the employment situation in this industry.
There appears to be a need to review the agreement in all its aspects when the timing is appropriate, and an effort should be made to introduce new safeguards which would ensure that the parts manufacturers in Canada obtain an equitable share of the automotive business.
This will, I am sure, check and reduce the adverse effects of the trade deficit on our economy, and re-establish the objective of the original auto pact related to equal trade.
I make this statement in full support of the automotive industry and parts manufacturers and their presentation this week in Detroit.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
REVIEW OF AUTO PACT
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism: Since the one major aspect of the auto pact -- which was never achieved -- is the question of eliminating the price differentials between Canada and the United States, is the minister prepared now to argue that the price of automobiles in Canada he dropped so that they come down to the American prices and that that be a condition of further negotiation of the auto trade agreement?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, of course the original automotive pact was to try to bring the price of an American automobile sold in Detroit on an equal basis with that sold in the Province of Ontario -- and it shall continue to be the objective of the federal government and the Province of Ontario and the auto industry to try to bring it to a parity position for our customers.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, is the minister aware that the auto workers, whom I didn’t hear mentioned in his statement, on both the Canadian side and the US side, have agreed recently and jointly that the single most glaring omission in the pact is the higher price in Canada? Is this government prepared to insist that a reduction in prices in Canada, particularly fled to the guidelines, now be effected as a result of renegotiation?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That will certainly be part of the negotiations, Mr. Speaker.
May I say to the Leader of the Opposition that while we do not specifically talk about the workers or the industry, we refer to the fact that the industry is strong in the Province of Ontario. Obviously it has to affect the workers and their security in employment.
Mr. Lewis: They should be there.
METRO STUDENTS’ ATTENDANCE AT OUT-OF-TOWN HIGH SCHOOLS
Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, of the Minister of Education: Could the Minister of Education give us an opinion on the emerging controversy over whether or not a high school student, because of the strike in Metro Toronto, should be able to attend at a high school in another board’s jurisdiction, where his or her parents hold cottage property and pay taxes? Is there not a legal obligation in that case? Just what is the minister’s opinion? Can he render one?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, first of all, if the parents of that student are considered to be residents in that property at a particular time -- in this case in the Simcoe county area -- there would be no problem for that student attending the school there.
Section 37(1) of the Education Act says that “a person is qualified to be a resident pupil in respect of a secondary school district if he and his parent or guardian reside in the secondary school district.”
There is another section of that, section (b), which outlines the requirements that have to be met if the parent or guardian is assessed in the secondary school district for various purposes and the requirements that have to be met or make admission of that pupil legal.
I think that those facts are known by the parties concerned and they may require some calculation and some legal determination to decide whether that person is legally entitled to be accepted as a pupil or not.
Mr. Singer: Supplementary: Would the minister not take it upon himself, in view of his reference to that section now, to advise those school boards -- perhaps all the school boards in the province -- as to what their obligation is, so that it won’t be necessary for parents who have legal rights to assert, to have to resort to the courts to have them enforced? Perhaps the minister should help them to assert their rights.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me say this, Mr. Speaker, I’d be very happy to help any parents who would like our assistance to determine where they fall under 37(1) (b) of our regulations.
I’m sure my friend, who’s a lawyer, has probably read it and knows that it’s necessary to determine the average assessment, and where that assessment lies in regard to the average assessment in the district in which the pupil wishes to be admitted. We can make those determinations for those people, and then they can find whether they fall within that category.
The Act also provides, of course, for a student over 18 years. Stripping away all the legal jargon, they really are entitled to be admitted in a school if they say they are resident in that area. If they’ve moved to an area during the withdrawal of services, they could say they’re resident in that area and ask for admission to a school in that area.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: If the minister is so clear on this matter, why has his ministry refused to answer the phone calls of Mr. Mewhiney of the cottage association over the last two days? Isn’t it strange that Simcoe county alone has refused to admit a student when there are at least nine other boards, ranging from Kingston to the Muskokas, that have accepted students in these circumstances?
Hon. Mr. Wells: All I can say in that regard, Mr. Speaker, is that it indicates the differences that local autonomy can produce in this province.
Mr. Foulds: Isn’t there a Ministry of Education Act, and isn’t it administered the same way equally throughout the province?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. A question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The Act, I would hope and believe, is administered equally, but it is left to many people to interpret it in their own jurisdictions locally and some people interpret it differently.
In the case of Simcoe county --
Mr. Deans: Oh, come on. That’s ridiculous.
Mr. Renwick: You sound like the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry).
Hon. Mr. Davis: Wait for the first objections.
Hon. Mr. Wells: In the case of Simcoe county the board made certain determinations.
An hon. member: They run their own show.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Now I am not so sure for what reasons those determinations were made and I wouldn’t want to impute motives or thoughts to that board, but I think perhaps the hon. member should check with that board and find out why they took the action they did.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary: The member for London North.
Mr. Shore: Yes, I consider it a supplementary. If you challenge it I would like to ask it as another question later.
Mr. Roy: Don’t give him that chance!
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member should judge if it’s supplementary before he asks the question.
Mr. Roy: He’s giving you an opportunity to be objective, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: If it is a question arising out of the minister’s answer, then it is probably supplementary.
Mr. Lewis: Ask the Speaker.
Mr. Shore: Thank you very much.
In view of the fact that there are many students of Toronto families who are paying taxes, and in view of the fact that many of these students are not able to get their education, would it not be reasonable -- and I would like to hear the minister’s response -- to expect these students to attend other schools in Ontario where they could get their education?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The answer to that is of course that they are entitled to do that order certain conditions and circumstances laid down in the Education Act, and if they so qualify I believe that they should do that.
I certainly would not want the impression to be left that I don’t believe that students from Metro Toronto whose parents are paying taxes on assessment in other areas should be denied entrance to those systems. I think if they fulfil the requirements of the Education Act, then they have a perfect right to attend in those areas, provided that they fulfil the requirements of the Education Act.
REPORT ON OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Labour if I may: Has the Minister of Labour read the report of the international task force on occupational and environmental health which flowed from the April, 1975, announcement of a special emphasis in this area?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have.
Mr. Lewis: Right. May I ask then by way of supplementary, following up on questions of the Minister of Health in the Workmen’s Compensation Board committee, does the minister realize that there are significant and worrying differences in the way the health and safety of workers is monitored and treated by the Steel Co. of Canada on the one hand, and Dofasco on the other, operating in the same community?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would have to say that I have not been made aware of any glaring differences between the two circumstances.
Mr. Deans: That’s because you have not read the report.
Hon. B. Stephenson: There are some incidents reported within that report, and I am aware of those.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, does the minister recall that in the appendices filed by people from the major ministries who went out to these companies that it is revealed in the Steel Co. of Canada that there is no exposure record maintained on individual employees at the Steel Co. of Canada exposed to the coke ovens, but in Dofasco, on the other hand, a very fine recording operation is maintained, one of the best in the province? Why is it that this situation at Stelco is allowed to persist in the face of the ominous warnings of the disease which the workers are now showing?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I believe that that responsibility has to be shared by my ministry with yet another ministry. Having just completed reading that report I would intend to investigate the reason for this omission on the part of Stelco, and I shall report back to the House about the reason for it and what action is being taken.
FARM INCOME PROTECTION PLAN
Mr. Lewis: Thank you. A question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food, if I may. Now that the Minister of Agriculture and Food no longer has the excuse of the federal farm income protection plan as the vehicle to avoid a provincial plan, how does he intend to follow on the federal bill? What exactly does he intend to enact in Ontario?
Hon. W. Newman: I am not sure whether I understand the member’s question. Is he saying that the federal bill is not going to be enacted?
Mr. Lewis: What is happening?
Hon. W. Newman: I will be meeting with the federal minister next week to discuss Bill C-50 in some detail.
Mr. Lewis: In some detail? By way of a supplementary, can the minister tell us what has happened to the $20 million which was budgeted for farm income protection in the last budget and was seen to be an amount of money exclusive of the cow-calf stabilization fund?
Hon. W. Newman: When the member sees what we’re going to be paying out on the cow-calf stabilization programme -- which I said I would make an announcement on this week -- it will be far in excess of what we anticipated.
Mr. Lewis: By way of a supplementary: Does the minister not remember the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) remarks -- how many days ago?
Mr. Dean: During the election.
Mr. Lewis: During the election campaign at Kemptville, I guess; the Premier said categorically that the $20 million for farm income protection was exclusive of any money for cow-calf stabilization.
Mr. MacDonald: Over and above.
Mr. Lewis: Over and above: I ask the minister again what is happening to that money and the undertaking that went with it, in the Throne Speech, to the farmers of Ontario?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I could take an hour to explain the various programmes we have in our ministry and where the money goes.
Mr. Martel: Go ahead.
Mr. Lewis: The minister can take a minute or two.
Hon. W. Newman: With the Speaker’s permission I would be glad to talk about our capital grants programme, our farm tax deduction programme and all the other programmes we have to help the farmers of this province.
Mr. Lewis: Tell us about that $20 million programme you never gave to the farmers of Ontario.
Hon. W. Newman: Let me tell the House.
Mr. Lewis: The minister promised. The government’s budget isn’t worth the paper it is written on and it won’t be next time either.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: The government makes election promises and it makes budget speeches and both are meaningless. That is why it has no credit in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: Or in New York.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I would ask the hon. members to avoid such outbursts. It spoils the question period and it’s not the best example in the world to show to our guests in the galleries. Order, please. We shall get on. There was a question asked.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The Leader of the Opposition is being provocative.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Do we have a brief answer? The hon. minister indicated there was a lengthy answer which would be out of order. If there is a brief answer we’ll allow it; if not, we’ll go on to the next question.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that any commitments made by this government on behalf of the farmers of this province shall be lived up to.
Mr. MacDonald: A supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Just one moment, please. Order, please. Not at this time. We’ve spent so much time on the heckling back and forth. We’ll allow a supplementary from the member for Rainy River first of all.
Mr. MacDonald: I just want to know when -- if the minister is going to be that brief, when?
Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. He indicated in his response that he would be making a statement about the cow-calf stabilization plan later this week, did he not?
Hon. W. Newman: That is my intention, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Reid: Can he indicate to the House what the level of rebates will be to the cow-calf operators at this time?
Hon. W. Newman: What they will be?
Mr. Reid: Yes, the differential.
Hon. W. Newman: I can’t give it to the hon. member, not to the penny.
Mr. Lewis: It will be in his statement.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Such a question will be answered in the hon. minister’s statement. The minister will take his seat, please.
TORONTO TEACHERS’ NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. Nixon: I’d like to put a question to the Minister of Education. Has he responded to the letter dated Dec. 4 from the headmasters’ council drawing his attention and that of members of the Legislature to what they consider the drift in the situation in the teachers’ strike in Metropolitan Toronto and their warning that possible irreparable damage will take place if action is not taken to settle it in the near future? What answers did he give to the headmasters and can he report to the House what the status of the negotiations is presently? All we hear from the negotiators is they are looking for it to gel.
Hon. Mr. Wells: First of all, in answer to my friend’s question, I haven’t replied in writing to that letter In fact, probably it was a press conference. I saw it on television. I talked on the telephone to the gentleman who was the chairman of that group and I listened to his concerns. He wished to have a meeting with me. There just wasn’t any time to arrange a meeting when he wished but I listened to his concerns.
I can’t tell my friend anything more about what’s going on at the Royal York. As he knows the mediators have imposed a blackout and a blackout means a blackout. Even I do not know what is going on and I think that’s the way it should be.
Mr. Shore: If I can get the minister in, would he go over?
Mr. Roy: He has been blacked out for a month; that is the problem.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The mediators have asked that no information should be given out. We’re all hopeful that they’re working. They’re still working down there.
Mr. Good: A kind of mental block.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think that is the only report I can give to this House.
Mr. Nixon: I have a supplementary. I suppose we have been over this ground several times, but wouldn’t he agree that as Minister of Education he has to have something more to say about a strike that is almost a month in duration than, “There is nothing I can do” and “I don’t want any information”? Surely that is not acceptable.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are debating now. Is there an answer?
Hon. Mr. Wells: First of all, that is not what I said, and my friend knows that. We know that there is a mediation process going on on the initiative of this minister and this government.
Mr. Nixon: We have had mediation for weeks.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It isn’t for weeks. If the member had his facts right, he would know it wasn’t for weeks. It started last weekend on the initiative of this government and the Education Relations Commission. A team of three mediators has been appointed. The parties are together. They are talking. They are negotiating, and the worst thing we can do is to start meddling around here in this House.
Mr. Shore: Absolutely.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let’s give them a chance, now that they are at the bargaining table, to come up with a settlement. That’s what I want. That’s what this government wants.
Mr. Lewis: I pray for them nightly.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: To whom?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I just get a little worried that that isn’t what my friend, the leader of the third party, wants. He seems to want some other kind of action around here.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s right, confrontation.
Mr. Roy: Accept your responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Wells: If he is standing in this House and hinting that he wants us to bring in legislation to end this strike or something like that, let him stand up and say that.
Mr. Nixon: If you would permit, I have a supplementary or a new question, if it would be more convenient to you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: A new question please.
Mr. Nixon: Would the minister not think that all of us have a responsibility as elected members in this House to do something more than sit back and take cheap political shots as the Minister of Education is doing?
Mr. Eaton: What are you doing?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It seems to me that the question is not eliciting information; it’s arguing a situation or a condition. Does the hon. member have further questions?
Mr. Yakabuski: It takes one to know one.
Mr. Roy: How about his answer?
Mr. Eaton: What is the member for Ottawa East’s solution?
SPECIAL TEACHERS’ NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. Nixon: I have a question for the Minister of Education. Can he report to the House the status of the government’s negotiations with the teachers in the schools for the deaf and the blind? And are they going to continue with their charges against the ministry of negotiating in bad faith?
Hon. Mr. Wells: At this point in time I understand that they have lodged a charge, a complaint, as is their right, with the Education Relations Commission that the provincial schools authority is negotiating in bad faith, and that will have to be heard in due course.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Would the minister think that it would be unfair or unduly political if I asked him why it is that the government has not discussed with these special teachers the monetary items in their contracts since some time back in September?
Hon. Mr. Wells: In answer to that I can state the government’s position which I think was in a letter which was sent right to the municipalities of this province. It was sent to them, so it is no secret that the government told the municipalities of this province that in our dealings with our own employees, and in this case the teachers who are negotiating with the provincial schools authority, if there was already on the table before the announcement of Oct. 13, salary offers exceeding the price and wage guidelines, those offers would remain but this government in dealing with its employees would not increase those offers.
That is precisely the position that we are in insofar as our negotiations with those teachers are concerned. There is an offer out there of somewhere around 18 per cent, if I recall correctly. The position of the government is not to increase offers because that offer was pot out Oct. 13. It has not been decreased or withdrawn, but the government and the negotiators from the provincial schools authority have no mandate to put any more money out at this point in time.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Does the minister not find it embarrassing that an agency of his ministry has been charged with bad-faith bargaining because that authority, the provincial schools authority, has not only refused to make an offer since Sept. 29 but refused to negotiate in any meaningful way, except for a one-week period before that, and has refused to give that group of teachers union security, something which is guaranteed by law to every other teacher in the province?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I do not feel it is right that I should discuss the merits or the positions vis-à-vis whether we have or have not been negotiating in bad faith because the Education Relations Commission will be hearing those. I think that at this time it would be wrong for me to comment on that.
LAKESHORE MOTEL STRIP
Mr. Nixon: I would like to direct a question to the Premier. Could he tell me whether the cabinet is going to consider an appeal from the municipality of Etobicoke asking that the Ontario Municipal Board order that reversed the stand taken by that municipality, having to do with the Lakeshore motel strip, is going to be heard by cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Being heard is not really quite the proper description.
Mr. Nixon: Considering?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I believe the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) asked me about this some time ago and I indicated at that time that it was an appeal to cabinet and it will be dealt with by cabinet.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Is there any sort of a timetable that could be considered by the people, the member and the others who have asked for some information?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can’t give any timetable. Cabinet has been receiving a number of appeals from the OMB on a multitude of matters. I can’t tell the hon. member exactly when there will be a decision on that; we move as expeditiously as possible.
Mr. Lawlor: As long as you are prepared to negative the McLoughlin application, I will be satisfied.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If that’s a supplementary question from the member for Lakeshore, I can assure him that we give these appeals very careful consideration and take into consideration the points of view on both sides of the issue.
Mr. Deans: What about the OMB?
Mr. Nixon: Just briefly, will the Treasurer tell us what stand the government is taking on the announced changes that were supposed to have taken place for the unorganized communities in north-eastern Ontario? What is going to be the future of that old Bill 102, I guess, that died with the Legislature last spring?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I haven’t reached a conclusion as yet.
WOLF HUNT IN NIAGARA
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) asked for a full report on the success of a wolf hunt in the Niagara region. I have that report for him now.
Approximately 50 sheep have been killed for which claims have been submitted for compensation under the Dog Licensing and Livestock and Poultry Protection Act to the townships concerned in the region of Niagara. These kills have been attributed to domestic dogs by township evaluators.
The ministry’s staff in the Niagara district are aware of the presence of coyotes in the area and are at this time contacting all livestock owners who have recently suffered losses to determine whether there is a possibility that coyotes have been involved. Evidence to this date does not substantiate this and dogs are responsible.
However, in the event that the investigation should prove otherwise, the ministry’s staff are prepared to implement the necessary control programmes to remove the problem animals. A recent press report was in error in that it stated that a control programme was in effect when, in fact, only investigations are under way to determine whether a control programme for coyotes is warranted.
My ministry’s staff throughout Ontario have investigated 158 complaints during 1975; 78 programmes to control problem coyotes and wolves have been undertaken resulting in the removal of 49 coyotes and seven wolves. Several programmes are still under way and will not be concluded until late in the year, at which time I will be pleased to report back to the Legislature.
Mr. Reid: Supplementary to the minister: Will the minister consider extending or amending the Act to cover compensation for sheep and cattle killed by bears? As he knows, often there will be a bear kill, and then the coyotes will come in and destroy the tracks that show it was actually a bear.
Mr. Eaton: Where have you been?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, this particular question should be directed to my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
Mr. Roy: I didn’t think you wanted to bear that.
FARM INCOME STABILIZATION PROGRAMME
Mr. MacDonald: I have a question of the Premier with regard to his repeated assertion, such as during the Kemptville speech in the election campaign, that production controls are an inevitable and undesirable element or ingredient in the farm income stabilization programme. My question is this: since organized agriculture, as indicated in many statements by the OFA, has accepted the obligation of production controls, why do the Premier and other government spokesmen constantly raise the bogey of production controls as an insurmountable obstacle to implementing the government’s promise of a stabilization programme?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have this question from the agricultural expert on the other side of the House, whose knowledge in this field is really well known.
Mr. MacDonald: Ask your agricultural expert from Forest Hill over there.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t recall saying that it was insurmountable. I don’t think that was my terminology.
I remember the Kemptville speech very well. I pointed out that I happened to believe this rather personally. It is a point of view expressed to me by a number of farmers who actually live in my riding, in spite of it becoming highly urbanized, who have some real ability in the agricultural community and who do express concern about the philosophy or the concept of production controls.
I think it is quite obvious that in terms of consideration of a farm stabilization income programme we do get into the concept of production controls, which is something, if there were some other solution, I think a lot of farmers would like to avoid. However, I want to make it clear there are a very few things which I have ever considered insurmountable and I have not considered this as being insurmountable.
Mr. MacDonald: A supplementary: Since production controls are implicit in the government’s farm marketing legislation which has been on the books for 30 years, and since they are implicit in the farm income stabilization programme and accepted as such by OF of A, why is the Premier voicing the views of the free enterprise minority rather than accepting the views of the majority of farmers who are willing to live with it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have never been reluctant -- nor am I today -- to express the views of the free enterprisers in the Province of Ontario, because they are the ones who made this province what it is today. I have never been reluctant and I tell you --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- that’s why even with some slight reduction, we are still here and you are still there and you are going to stay there.
Mr. Lewis: That’s why you are losing seats, my friend.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Grey riding, please.
Mr. Lewis: But your seats are more slippery than before.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I would like to ask for fewer interjections. The member for Sudbury East, please; the member for Grey riding is trying to pose a question. Thank you.
ASSISTANCE FOR APPLE GROWERS
Mr. McKessock: I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food: In view of the recent information he has received from the Georgian Bay apple growers explaining their losses this year, is he planning some form of assistance for the apple growers in Ontario this year similar to the assistance given to the cow-calf farmers?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: More welfare.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the very simple answer is no. I am aware of their plight and I know of their problems with over-production of the apple crop this year. I am well aware of their concerns but I am planning no programme this year.
CLASSIFICATION OF JUDGES
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer a question posed by the hon. member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) on Dec. 1. It was directed to my colleague, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), and he indicated that I would reply. It has to do with the classification of provincial court judges.
In the first place, provincial court judges are Crown employees, not civil servants. They are not in the classified service and therefore have no classification. For salary purposes, there are three levels of provincial court judges -- the chief judges, who are paid $39,500 a year; the senior judges, who are paid $37,500; and the judges, who are paid $30,000. There are approximately 165 provincial court judges in the province.
Secondly, in a review of provincial court judges’ salaries for Oct. 1, 1974, the government decided they should be compensated in a manner consistent with the provincial salary profile in general and the Crown law officers in particular. Their compensation is comparable to senior levels of the Crown law officer series.
To illustrate this point, there are four individuals classified in this series, including the Crown attorneys for the judicial districts of Toronto and York, who earn between $39,733 and $40,300 per annum. There are 34 individuals classified in this series, including 19 Crown attorneys, who earn between $34,307 and $38,733. These 38 individuals are all classified as Crown law officer 3. In our classification system there is now no Crown attorney 2.
Finally, my officials and I have been involved with the salary committee of the association of provincial court judges in discussions relating to a possible revision of their salaries, effective Oct. 1, 1975. To date these discussions have centered on two issues; parity with county court judges, and the guidelines on income policy and whether it applies to this situation. We have not yet clarified the latter issue; and the former, that of parity, really goes beyond salaries and benefits into matters of principle and policy.
It’s my understanding that the judge’s association will be presenting a brief to the government on the equality of the provincial and county benches sometime in mid-January.
Mr. Singer: Guess what it’s going to say?
Hon. Mr. Auld: In accordance with the wishes of the association, we are taking no action at this time on their salaries until the equality issue is resolved.
Mr. Bain: I have a question I’d like to address to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Will the minister be willing to negotiate with the appropriate farm organization or organizations to establish a realistic support price for the upcoming year for the cow-calf stabilization programme?
Hon. W. Newman: I have met with several farm organizations to discuss this. I have met with the OBIA, I’ve talked to the OFA, I’ve talked with the CFF, and I will be having a meeting with the National Farmers Union people in the near future. I’m quite prepared to listen to anyone’s comments and would like to hear their input on what the price should be. We worked it out this year on a model farm basis.
Mr. Lewis: You listened and you made a decision.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Timiskaming with a supplementary.
Mr. Bain: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I take it the minister is not willing to negotiate? I have then another supplementary: If he will not negotiate the price support level, will he, at least, negotiate the premium that the farmers will be required to pay to participate in the stabilization programme? Or if he is not willing to do that, is he going to tell us there will be no increase in premiums in the upcoming year?
Hon. W. Newman: As I said before, I’m quite prepared to meet with any of the farm organizations to discuss any of these items.
Mr. Lewis: That’s not going to help.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. W. Newman: I’m willing to talk to them. I’m not going to have the member or anybody else tell me that we’re going to have one negotiating team telling us what to do in this province.
Mr. Moffatt: Testy, isn’t he?
Hon. W. Newman: There are a lot of organizations in this province and we’ll talk to them all. We’ll talk to all the organizations. They’re very able organizations and we’ll talk to them all.
Mr. Bain: But you didn’t listen to them.
Mr. Cassidy: They are able; we are questioning your ability!
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We will allow a supplementary. The member for Huron-Middlesex.
Mr. Riddell: In connection with the cow-calf stabilization programme, which the former member was alluding to, is the minister prepared to admit to the House, and consequently, through the House to the general public, particularly the farm people, that he made a grave error in his calculations of the benefits to the farmers of the cow-calf programme in Ontario, when comparing that programme to the one in British Columbia? Is the minister prepared to admit that he’s led the farmers down the garden path?
An. hon. member: Just say yes.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. W. Newman: That’s a very good question; but let me say this: --
Mr. Riddell: I thought it was, too.
Hon. W. Newman: -- the example I used in my speech to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which the members opposite have all researched to great lengths, and the figures I used in that speech --
Mr. Lewis: Were wrong.
Hon. W. Newman: -- were taking an average 50-cow herd and comparing the two programmes. We were talking to BC yesterday --
Mr. Foulds: Who? Bill Bennett?
Hon. W. Newman: -- and they’re still working on their 1974 figures.
Mr. Lewis: Wait till Friday.
Hon. W. Newman: At least we’re going to make sure that our farmers get paid the --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. minister ignore the interjections?
Hon. W. Newman: I would just like to say this, that the final pay-out to the farmers in this province --
Mr. Lewis: Pay-off! And they didn’t even vote for you.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. minister take his seat, thank you. Order.
Thank you. This is the sort of thing we get into with interjections. We’ll go on to the next question. I believe the Chairman of the Management Board has an answer to another question which was asked previously.
Mr. Roy: How about a question here and there?
Mr. Singer: Haven’t worked this hard for 10 years.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
POLITICAL ACTIVITY BY CIVIL SERVANTS
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Peterborough (Ms. Sandeman) asked me yesterday if the president of St. Clair College had already begun a leave of absence in connection with his announced intention to seek the leadership of the federal Progressive Conservative Party -- along with some others.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Just a few.
Mr. Cassidy: Why don’t you go after it?
Hon. Mr. Auld: The answer, Mr. Speaker, is that the Public Service Act does not require that the president seek a leave of absence under these circumstances. He is, it seems to me, in much the same position as a Crown employee campaigning in his own time for a nomination; but I’m sure if the president intends to engage in activities that would interfere with his position as president of St. Clair College, he would then seek leave of absence from his board of governors. I would also say that any Crown employee who finds himself or herself in this situation would have to ensure that his or her activities are not in conflict with any of the provisions of the Public Service Act respecting political activities of Crown employees.
Mr. Ruston: It doesn’t matter; he doesn’t do any work anyway.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I noticed, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Waterloo North (Mr. Good) commented yesterday that there was nothing political about the federal Progressive Conservative Party.
Mr. Nixon: The member for Ottawa East is on his feet already.
Mr. Speaker: Did the member for Peterborough have a supplementary on that answer?
Ms. Sandeman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: if it is possible, then, for the president of the college to indulge in open political activities of that kind, would the minister ensure that as soon as possible, it will be possible for all other employees of community colleges to take part in political activities?
Hon. Mr. Auld: The hon. member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) isn’t here but I was going to ask him; I assume that he must have done something to get the nomination some years ago when he was employed by Cambrian.
Mr. Lewis: They threw him out. He had to win.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I haven’t had an opportunity to ask my legal people, but I’ve gone through the Public Service Act, and particularly sections 12 to 16, and I see nothing there about leadership nominations or that kind of thing; providing, as in section 14, that civil servants shall not at any time speak in public or express views in writing for distribution to the public on any matter that forms part of the platform of a provincial or federal political party.
Mr. Cassidy: Are we going to follow them around and see whether they’re talking about the platform or not?
Mr. Singer: What do you expect from a Tory leader?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Auld: As far as I can find out, the only comments the president has made so far have been love and peace.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Etobicoke.
Mr. Roy: A question for the --
Mr. Speaker: No. Did the hon. member for Ottawa East have a supplementary?
Mr. Roy: No.
Mr. Speaker: No? All right then, it is the member for Etobicoke’s turn. Order, please. The member for Etobicoke is trying to ask a question.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, we haven’t alternated.
Mr. Speaker: We have. I assure you, the question is in order -- the order is in order.
Mr. Roy: It is not in order. We haven’t had a question.
Mr. Cassidy: It was yesterday’s question.
Mr. Philip: A question of the Minister of Agriculture --
Mr. Speaker: I am sorry. Order, please. Perhaps I’m wrong. I was thinking the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) had asked the last question.
Mr. Roy: No, that was a supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: That was a supplementary. I am sorry, I stand corrected. The member for Ottawa East may have his turn now.
Mr. Roy: A question of the Treasurer; Would the Treasurer advise whether boards, commissions, universities and such institutions which regulate groups, professionals and so on, are subject to the anti-inflation guidelines of the federal government? Would the fees they charge -- their licensing fees and so on -- be subject to the guidelines of the federal government?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The fees that universities and colleges charge?
Mr. Roy: I will repeat it for the minister. Are commissions, for instance, or boards regulating professionals, or colleges and universities that are charging fees to students, subject to the federal anti-inflation guidelines?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We haven’t seen the final guidelines. The member is asking about four questions rolled into one. We obviously haven’t seen the final guidelines so I can only tell him what my impression is at the moment. If he is talking about the benchers of the Law Society in terms of legal fees, then the answer at the moment is that they have been asked not to change their billing practices. What will flow from that, I don’t know. If the member is asking specifically about fees charged by the real estate licensing board to their members --
Mr. Roy: Yes.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- I don’t know that I can give an answer to that. If he is asking about university fees or community college fees, that would be somewhat academic in any case, because the Premier (Mr. Davis) has said they’re not going to be raised.
Mr. Speaker: I’ll allow a supplementary.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary to the minister’s answer. What does he intend to do, for instance, when he gets a provincial board like the Ophthalmic Dispensers Board, which regulates opticians of the province, increasing its licensing fee by 300 per cent, starting Jan. 1, 1976? Does he think the guidelines should not apply in that case?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would want to take that under consideration.
AGRICULTURAL EQUIPMENT SHORTAGE
Mr. Philip: A question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food: In as much as Ontario farmers have experienced considerable inconvenience and loss of production time due to difficulty in quickly obtaining machinery parts, particularly at peak periods of seeding and harvest time --
Mr. Riddell: Question.
Mr. Philip: -- is the minister prepared to meet at this time with representatives of the appropriate farm bodies and the machinery manufacturers to establish regional pools which would be open six days a week during peak periods?
Hon. Mr. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I’d do anything to help the farmers.
Mr. Reid: You are going to resign, are you?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re wasting time here.
Mr. Reid: The farmers are sure not convinced of that.
Hon. W. Newman: I’d be glad to meet with any interested groups because I know --
Mr. Sargent: How about tomorrow night?
Hon. W. Newman: -- exactly the type of problem the member is talking about.
Mr. Lewis: Sure, never do anything.
Hon. W. Newman: If he has some groups who want to see me, I’ll be glad to.
Mr. MacDonald: Why is the government neglecting those who are most interested in the cow-calf plan?
Mr. Speaker: The member for Essex-Kent, I believe it is. Essex-Kent or Essex North; which is it?
Mr. Ruston: Essex North will do.
Mr. Speaker: Essex North.
TENDERS FOR HEATING OIL
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Would the minister explain why his ministry restricted its tenders for heating oil at the Edgar Adult Occupational Centre and Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia to the major oil companies and would not accept tenders from local distributors?
Mr. Roy: That is part of political and Tory strategy, isn’t it?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I don’t understand that to be the case. As a matter of fact, it’s my understanding that my ministry made contact directly with the producers so as to ensure that it got the cheapest price possible for the supply of fuel oil.
Mr. Ruston: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the company which supplied it for the two previous years was a small distributor and was not allowed to tender this year, how does the minister explain that.
Mr. Nixon: You’d better look into it.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I can’t explain that but if the members would give me the particulars of anyone who wished to submit a tender and whose tender was not accepted, I’d be happy to take it up with him.
Mrs. Campbell: Cut off the heat.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Since the cow-calf producers in northern Ontario must pay high transportation costs and compete with producers in the Province of Quebec, which subsidizes transportation costs, is the minister prepared to initiate a freight subsidy comparable to the one in Quebec?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I believe we increased our grants for northern Ontario last year from about -- I’ll give the member a round figure -- $200,000 to over $400,000 to help them with particular problems. They decide in those areas how to spend that money best.
Mr. Wildman: I will give you round figures.
Mr. Lewis: Come on. The freight subsidies are what we are talking about.
Mr. Wildman: A supplementary. If the minister is unwilling to bring in a freight subsidy, is he willing to make regional adjustments in the payments he is about to make in the stabilization plan?
Hon. W. Newman: I’m not prepared to make any adjustments to the figure we’ve settled on for this year.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. W. Newman: We’ve settled on the price we would pay. We’ve taken an average of the sale price --
Mr. Foulds: You are against the farmer and against the north.
Hon. W. Newman: -- around this province -- the cattle sales in northern Ontario, eastern Ontario, western Ontario and Toronto -- and we’ve come up with an average figure which I will be talking about to members later this week in the House.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The farmer’s friend.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: In view of the fact that for years now the trucking companies have had a blank cheque to set their own freight rates, what is he going to do -- the last five ministers have been going to do something drastic about it -- what is he going to do about getting the trucking companies into line, having standardization and making them show cause for the rates they charge?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t planned on making any changes in the existing policy.
Mr. Sargent: I can’t hear you.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I couldn’t hear you very well either but I think I did get meet of what you were saying. My answer is I haven’t any plans at this immediate moment to make any change in the present policy.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Mr. Deans: Point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Point of order.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker my point of order relates directly to sections 83, 84 and 85 of the standing orders. Yesterday, the member for Timiskaming --
Mr. Speaker: May I notify the hon. member that I am going to deal with that in a moment.
Mr. Deans: You are going to deal with it?
Mr. Speaker: Yes.
Mr. Deans: Is it possible to deal with it now?
Mr. Speaker: When we get through the other items I’ll do it right then.
Mr. Deans: Please do.
Mr. Speaker: Presenting reports.
Mrs. Campbell from the select committee appointed to consider Bill 5, presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:
Your committee begs to report the following bill with certain amendments:
Bill 5, an Act to Regulate Holiday Closings for Retail Establishments.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Committee of the whole House, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: Have you got any changes you want to bring in?
Mr. Speaker: Bill 5 is to be directed to the committee of the whole House.
Introduction of bills.
PUBLIC HOSPITALS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Roy moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Public Hospitals Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, the purpose of this legislation is to correct some of the inadequacies of the present appeal process under the Public Hospitals Amendment Act, whereby the appeal decision, or the decision of the hospital appeal board, should remain in force pending any other further appeals. We have seen in the past that the decision of the board remained in force, and of course these doctors were not allowed to practise in the hospitals pending their appeal.
PUBLIC HOSPITALS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Roy moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Public Hospitals Act.
Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this legislation is to amend the same Act to restrict the right of appeal only to the Supreme Court of Ontario and to restrict that right of appeal directly to a question of law. The purpose of this legislation again, Mr. Speaker, is to stop the incessant appeals by the hospital boards, which have unlimited funds, and of course it costs the doctors huge amounts of money to be able to object to and oppose these appeals.
SPEAKER’S RULING RE PETITIONS
Mr. Speaker: Before the orders of the day I would like to clarify for the House, if I can, the basis of my ruling with respect to the presentation of petitions.
A public petition is a petition presented under the provisions of standing order 83 to the assembly asking the House to redress some grievances of the petitioner. What has very often occurred in the past is that a member will present a petition which is not, in fact, a petition to the assembly at all, but rather a request or petition addressed to a minister or to a ministry.
Moreover, many of these did not comply with the provisions of standing order 83 in other respects, and in fact contravened specific requirements of that order. It was one of these occurrences that led Mr. Speaker Reuter to make his ruling of June 1, 1973, in an effort to assist the members in the presentation of such petitions. This ruling may be found in the Journals of that year on page 94.
In that ruling he set out, at some length, the history and procedure with respect to such petitions. I refer any members to that ruling, but it might be useful to quote a brief extract from the last paragraph thereof. I quote:
“I feel I should avail myself of this opportunity to point out to the House that the correct procedure, as established in this and other jurisdictions, is that when a public petition is to be presented to the House it is filed with the Clerk’s office in advance, so that it may be scanned to ensure that it does not offend any of the standing orders or precedents.
“When the petition is in proper form and within the rules of the House, the Speaker is then advised in advance by the Clerk’s office that the petition will be presented on that day.”
That was the procedure which has been followed, and which I was following, and I think that answers the question of yesterday.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, if I may.
Mr. Speaker: You have a question of clarification?
Mr. Deans: I have a question of clarification. The rules, as they’re set out on page 18, sections 83, 84 and 85, are very clear. There can be no two interpretations of those rules. Rule 83(b) says:
“A member may present a petition from his place in the House during the routine proceedings under the heading ‘Petitions.’ He shall endorse his name thereon and confine himself to a statement of the petitioners, the number of signatures and the material allegations. [It then goes on to say, in section (c):] Petitions may be either written or printed and only the original, properly signed and addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly need be presented. [Subsection (e) of section 83 says:] Members presenting petitions are answerable that they do not contain any improper material.”
I want to make it clear to you, sir, by way of a question, that we on this side of the House do not accept that a petition should be cleared by the Clerk of the House. There is no provision in the rules for a petition to be cleared by a clerk of the House. The Clerk of the House is a servant of the assembly. He doesn’t decide on whether a petition is proper or otherwise. A petition can only be judged on its merit and can’t be judged until it has been presented. The member presenting the petition stands answerable for the content of the petition, and if a member is prepared to assume that responsibility then he is entitled to present the petition on behalf of the petitioners.
I want to put to you, notwithstanding what may have been a ruling of Mr. Speaker Reuter in 1973, that we consider that ruling to have been inappropriate. We consider that ruling not to be applicable and we would ask, in the spirit of the clarity of these standing orders, that you simply interpret the orders as they are written and apply them to the Legislature unbiasedly, as you always do, and that you not accept any other statements of anyone else with regard to petitions other than those statements which are approved here in the Legislature.
I would ask you, sir, that you rule today, now, that we will henceforth deal with petitions in the way they are set out in sections 83, 84 and 85, and that we will not abide, or we will not condone, or we will not accept, any deviation from the section dealing with petitions as it is set out.
Mr. Speaker: Not to be getting into a debate on this question but lust to point out one thing, the meaning of the word “petition” as I understand it in that, is a public petition. There used to be a different kind of petition, as I understand it. At the moment my memory fails me as to what it was called. It’s a public petition presented to the House, to the assembly here, to request the redress of some wrong that some petitioner feels has been exercised by this House.
As has been mentioned, I think if the hon. members will just study what I have written today, and the one I refereed to, they will find that ofttimes these, in fact, were not directed to the right place. They were indeed a request for further action or redress by a minister or ministry and not by this House, if I can distinguish between the two. This is why it is just a matter of scanning them to see if they are in order so that when they come before the House, they are in order. We are not accepting something different.
Mr. Deans: May I ask an appropriate question?
Mr. Speaker: Yes, I will allow a question.
Mr. Deans: May I ask if the Speaker would interpret Section 85(a) for me, which says:
“Every petition which is in order is brought to the table and read by the Clerk if required.”
Mr. Speaker: I am not prepared to go into legal interpretations right at this moment. I just ask the hon. members to reflect on that, and I will also, to see if we should continue this procedure. It seems to me, though, unwise to allow a member to present a petition, which in effect is not a true petition to the House, if I can point out the difference between a petition to the House and to a minister or to a ministry. I would like to leave it at that at this time. We will give it further reflection to take into account what the hon. member has said.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, further to the point of order, it is our intention then to ask our colleague -- this is fair warning -- the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Bain) to present his petition again tomorrow in the full spirit of these roles and to have it accepted as the rules would clearly underline. If it is not accepted, then we shall have reluctantly to challenge the ruling, because we must get it cleared up.
If I may, there was an occasional tradition in this House, back in the bad old days if I could put it that way, that everything had to be vetted by certain officers of the House on occasion. The assumption that the members of the assembly could not act in good faith and had to have their petitions approved in advance by the Clerk is an assumption which all of us now repudiate.
Subsection (e) of section 83 makes it clear that a member is answerable. If a member has acted out of place, the Speaker can call him or her to order after the tendering of the petition or refuse to accept it, but it is wrong to alter the spirit of these rules as they are now being altered, Mr. Speaker.
If the Legislature is to work, then the rules have to be interpreted fairly and they are not, I submit to you, being interpreted fairly. We ask you please to consider it overnight, and to allow our colleague to make a further tendering of the submission on the morrow and make a final ruling at that time, with all the precedents and information you have at your command.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, if I may.
Mr. Speaker: Yes. This will be the final discussion on this point of order, because we are, in fact, debating the ruling.
Mr. Nixon: I would submit to you, sir, that on a matter which is perhaps approaching an appeal to your ruling, I would like to put our position before you and it might be of some assistance, with your permission.
I recall the matter that lead to Mr. Speaker Reuter’s ruling. It had become possible in the House for a member to present a petition perhaps with only one or two signatures, and perhaps taken not that far from this House itself, to bring to public attention and the attention of the House a matter which the petitioner felt should be redressed.
I don’t know whether you recall it or not, but under those circumstances, Mr. Renter felt constrained, in order to correct what he thought might be an incipient abuse, to make the ruling as he did. It was not challenged then and it was accepted. But I would agree with the contention put forward by the petitioner and the spokesman for the New Democratic Party that it is really more than should be asked of us to have the petition and its form vetted by anyone. If it is out of order when it is presented, it can be so designated by the Speaker or later at his convenience and sent back or perhaps redirected to a minister or someone else.
I would hope this would not be settled simply by an appeal. Surely that is not the approach to be taken. It has been suggested you might give it further consideration, or I do believe we have a committee that might give you the views of the House in general in this regard. I would suggest, sir, that might be an alternative that would be much more convenient for us all.
I would say for my colleagues and myself that we believe the rules as they are printed are fair and we are prepared to follow them. We feel the precedent established by Mr. Speaker Reuter ought to be reconsidered.
Mr. Speaker: I appreciate the comments given, but I point out the difficulty when a member stands in his place and presents his petition. I don’t know how the Speaker can really rule whether it’s a proper petition to the House or not. But we will consider it further.
Mr. Deans: You don’t have to; the member has assumed all the responsibilities.
Mr. Speaker: It is easier said than done. We will consider the points raised and I appreciate the assistance.
Mr. Roy: You do it in the question period all the time.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Clerk of the House: The second order, committee of the whole House.
RESIDENTIAL PREMISES RENT REVIEW ACT
House in committee on Bill 20, An Act to provide for the Review of Rents in respect of Residential Premises.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Chairman, as a matter of procedure in dealing with the bill I want to suggest that since there may well be some divisions it would be our desire that they be stacked daily and that perhaps at the end of that sitting day we could deal with them.
Mr. Chairman: Is this agreed to by all members of the committee, that if there are any divisions they be stacked on a daily basis? Agreed?
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, the other three members who were on the select committee considering Bill 20 are all sitting at that end of our benches; could I have the consent of the House to exchange seats for the purpose of this committee stage with the member for Durham West (Mr. Godfrey) in order that the four of us can be closer together in case we need to consult on any matters?
Mr. Chairman: Is that agreed to unanimously by the committee?
Mr. Haggerty: Rules are rules.
Mr. Chairman: I hear dissenting voices; it is not agreed to.
Mr. Cassidy: The dissenting voice came from a member who is not in his appropriate seat.
Mr. Singer: Do you want another dissenting voice? I dissent.
Mr. Chairman: I hear more than one dissenting voice.
Mr. Cassidy: I just wanted it to be pointed out.
Mr. Chairman: Before we get into the consideration of Bill 20, I must mention that it has been made apparent in the committee that a number of amendments will be proposed in committee of the whole and it would be of considerable assistance to the Chair if these amendments were made available as soon as possible so that the Chair may give consideration to their propriety and to an orderly method for dealing with the amendments. This is not to prejudice a member’s right to propose an amendment without notice; however, it may save needless delay.
It goes without saying that it might also save the committee’s time if these amendments were made available to the critics of other parties. However, let me repeat that I am in no way imposing a requirement on members to divulge their proposed amendments, but it would be of assistance to the Chair if you could make them available as soon as possible.
Are there any comments, remarks or amendments to any section of Bill 20 and, if so, what section?
On section 1:
Mr. Cassidy: Section 1(b), Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Section 1(b); does the minister have anything prior to that?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I would like to propose an amendment to section 1(b) of the Act. It will require some change in the lettering.
Mr. Good: Do you have any more copies of your amendments, Mr. Minister? We have only one copy here in our party.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I have one copy.
Mr. Singer: The parliament’s copy.
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Rhodes moves that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following new clauses:
“(b) ‘building’ includes any number of residential premises that are structurally joined together whether or not any such individual residential premises is capable of standing alone should the residential premises that it adjoins be demolished;
“(d) ‘project’ means any number of adjacent residential premises that are situate on a common site of land whether contained in one building or more than one building; and that the remaining clauses of section 1 be relettered accordingly.”
Mr. Cassidy: I thought we had lost the minister there for a minute, Mr. Chairman.
We will have some comments on the question of whether rent determination should be based on a project later on in the bill. We just got the minister’s amendments, unfortunately, 15 or 20 minutes ago, which has meant that to consider the implications of 20 amendments in 10 minutes is rather difficult, given the fact we submitted our amendments to the other parties about a week and a half ago.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, but you are a good boy. You wanted to submit your amendments before you had the hearing.
Mr. Cassidy: We have made some changes as a consequence of the hearings as well. At any rate, Mr. Chairman, we have no particular objection to the new subsections (b) and (d) that are proposed, although the amendments that we will propose would basically make the definition of “project” not a useful one, because we propose to take the word project out of the remainder of the Act in I believe, every instance in which it appears.
Mr. Chairman: Any further comment on the minister’s amendment? Shall the amendment to section 1, clauses (b) and (d) carry?
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Rhodes moves that clause (d) of section 1 of the bill be struck out and the following inserted in lieu thereof:
“(d) ‘mobile home’ means any dwelling that is designed to be made mobile and constructed or manufactured to provide a permanent residence for one or more persons, but does not include a travel trailer or tent trailer or trailer otherwise designed.”
Mr. Cassidy moves that clause (d) of section 1 of the bill be further amended by striking out “but does not include a travel trailer or a tent trailer or trailer otherwise designed.”
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) has some comments on the reasons for this particular proposed subamendment. We would accept the words the minister has put forward as an alternative to what appeared in the first draft of the bill, but we objected in the first draft and we object in the second draft to the inclusion of the reference to travel trailer and tent trailer because of ambiguities which may ensue.
Mr. Wildman: We feel there is ambiguity because we haven’t really defined what is meant by tent trailer or travel trailer. In mobile home parks, sometimes it is very difficult to determine what homes are designed as permanent residences.
Perhaps it might be more useful to deal with it simply on the basis of whether or not it is designed as a permanent residence -- that is if it has been blocked or it has been skirted to remain in one place and to act as a permanent residence. In that sense then it would be a permanent residence and the fact that it is designed to be mobile would not be the only determination as to whether or not it’s a mobile home That is, you’re not dealing with just size or something like that but whether or not It is determined or designed to be permanent in its situation.
Mr. Good: Could I ask the minister what the implication of his amendment is so that we know? I think it would be helpful if each time he tells us exactly what he’s trying to accomplish with his amendments.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The purpose of the amendment as I introduced it was to -- we had originally said “intended to be equipped with wheels; or whether or not is so equipped” as the definition of a mobile home. We deleted that because we felt we should take out any reference to wheels as such.
Basically, the unit which had been designed to be made mobile did not have to be on wheels or have wheels there. It could be permanently on site in a particular mobile home park or on a lot, but it was designed originally to be mobile. You could move it, if you wanted to, as a mobile unit. There are some mobile homes which are really not designed to have wheels and they’re moved by other means, cranes, slings, what have you. For all intents and purposes, they are considered as mobile homes as we understand it.
Mr. Good: Speaking to both the amendment to the amendment and the amendment, I would like to say I think the recent practice under the Assessment Act and the Municipal Act has now clearly defined the difference between a mobile home in a mobile home park and a tent trailer type of installation. We could not support an amendment which would include tent trailers and temporary camping equipment as part of this bill.
The thing has already been decided in the courts; whether or not it has wheels, it can be classified as a mobile home and therefore is subject to assessment under the Assessment Act. That has been established in the courts. I don’t think there’s any problem there and if the minister’s amendment clarifies that situation as to whether it has wheels or might have had wheels, I don’t think that is important because it’s already been established that a mobile home is one thing and dealt with in a certain manner under the Assessment Act and tent trailers are another breed. Under the Municipal Act, the municipality treats them in a different manner as far as the licensing of those for municipal purposes is concerned.
We cannot support the NDP amendment to the amendment because, in my view, that would make tent trailers and other trailers questionable as to whether they’d come under this legislation and we don’t think they should.
Mr. Chairman: I think the legitimacy of the subamendment is questionable in as much as it doesn’t refer to any part of the new clause as it’s proposed by the minister.
Mr. Good: It deletes part of it.
Mr. Chairman: The subamendment?
Mr. Good: Yes. It deletes part of the minister’s amendment.
Mr. Chairman: I think it would be more appropriately put if it deleted a portion of the new clause as proposed by the minister.
Mr. Cassidy: In that case, Mr. Chairman, I think the intention is clear and there’s no question in your mind, obviously, that what we intended to do was legitimate. Perhaps I could make it verbal and say that I move that clause (d) of section 1 of the bill be further amended by striking out the words “but doth not include a travel trailer or tent trailer or trailer otherwise designed.” I ask the indulgence of the House that the amendment be considered in that form.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, we would certainly not be prepared to support that sort of an amendment. I feel we want to have what we define as mobile homes included in the legislation but I certainly would not want, in any way, to have included in this legislation tent trailers or travel trailers or those sort of things that people will be using for vacation purposes. Surely we don’t want to go into that? I feel that we must eliminate it and make it clear in the Act that they are not covered. The amendment to the amendment as proposed by the New Democratic Party would mean some questions as to whether or not they were to be covered by this bill.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, the amendment as proposed by the minister leaves some questions as well. To be very specific, an 18-foot-long travel trailer, if you take the wheels off it and put it down on a mobile home park, can become a permanent residence for one or two people. A 23-foot-long Airstream trailer is eminently suitable as a permanent residence as well, and it’s used that way in this climate as well as down south.
The question there is whether or not the people involved are using it as a permanent residence, and it seems to me that can be adjudicated by the courts.
The minister wanted us to leave in the reference to tent trailer, so that the amendment would remove the references to travel trailers or trailers otherwise designed, but would make it clear that tent trailers were not covered. I would be happy to do that if he is open to that kind of a suggestion. We don’t want people to get pushed around under the Act because their trailer doesn’t happen to be a 60-foot-long, $12,500 residential trailer in the model which is commonly considered to be such, but it happens to be somewhat exceptional.
Mr. Wildman: I would agree with the previous speaker. There is no intention on our part at all, and as the minister has stated, to have people moving into tent trailers as permanent residences. But the concern is that there is not an accurate definition of what a trailer is. It’s certainly true that the courts have rules, as far as assessment is concerned, of what type of mobile home is subject to assessment. We certainly wouldn’t want people moving into tent trailers as permanent residences. But there is a question on the basis of what is a travel trailer and when might it become a permanent residence.
I would certainly agree that a travel trailer is probably not adequate for a family, but it is perhaps adequate in some cases for retired couples who may have perhaps even removed the wheels, locked it and put it in a mobile home park.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Cassidy’s subamendment will please say aye.
All those opposed, will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “nays” have it.
Shall we stack this?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, I’m going to section 1(h) for a minor amendment, unless you have one before that.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Good moves that subclause (i) of clause (f) of section 1 of the bill be struck out and the following inserted in lieu thereof:
“Any premises used or intended to be used for residential purposes.”
Mr. Good: The purpose of this amendment is to change the definition of residential premises to coincide with the definition used in the Landlord and Tenant Act. In the Landlord and Tenant Act, it is our opinion that the definition of residential premises would apply to rooming houses, and not necessarily self-contained single family units. We feel, especially after hearing the presentations before the committee last week, that there is a great need for a rent review system to apply to rooming houses as well as separate and single family. Separate apartments we’ll get to in another section of the bill, where we hope our amendment to include single family apartments and living units will be accepted by the minister too.
The situation of roomers in the Metro area is such that we feel that without this protection there could be a great possibility for exploitation of the rooming house business, especially after reviews and a limitation on rent increases have been applied to other residential structures. This is the case with the Landlord and Tenant Act, and we would like this to apply in the rent review legislation the same as in the Landlord and Tenant Act, using the same definition. We are of the opinion that rooming houses would be included under this protection if the definition is changed, as submitted in the amendment.
Mr. Chairman: Any further comments? The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Chairman, the wording in the Landlord and Tenant Act, Bill 26, is very slightly different. It says “any premises used or intended for use for residential purposes.” However, I understand from the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) that the two are so identical as to be inconsequential in difference.
The Landlord and Tenant Act, according to what the minister has said, will clearly take in roomers and it will mean that roomers will be granted security of tenure and the other protections of that particular Act which they have not enjoyed in the pest. In the past, the courts have ruled, as we have heard during testimony last week, that roomers are not covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act, and the courts apparently have held that they are a form of licensee. In a rather curious and quixotic kind of way, the minister though has indicated very clearly that they will be covered from here on in.
If roomers are given security of tenure under Bill 26, it seems perverse at any rate to deny them the rent protection which is granted under Bill 20, particularly since roomers include many people who are either voluntarily poor, like students; or who are helplessly poor, like older people and families which cannot afford self-contained accommodation. The present definitions in the Act exclude not only people who occupy one furnished or unfurnished room, they also exclude a large and significant group who have two or three rooms but who do not enjoy both the use of a kitchen and of a bath which is exclusively theirs. As a consequence, you have excluded not just a group of students and young people but a much larger group, which includes many families which are the moist in need of the protection provided under this Act.
If the minister considers there have been numerous conversions to rooming houses in areas of downtown Ottawa, downtown Toronto, downtown Hamilton and other major cities in the province, if he considers that the rents charged two or three years ago were equal to maybe double what could be gained in those houses if they were rented as apartments, and if he considers that in the last two years there has been heavy speculation on those properties, with rents on single rooms rising to a level of $95, $100, even $120 a month, for a room on its own without paint or without facilities, and that that kind of rip-off is continuing, then he will surely agree that roomers should be brought under Bill 20 in the same way as his colleague -- a member for a Toronto riding -- has agreed that roomers should be included under Bill 26.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, the very fact that we must bring forward this amendment indicates clearly the problems which I believe we have all faced, in that the government has chosen to divide landlords and tenants into two parts with two separate schemes, two types of machinery to process their problems. Surely, as has been said, it would be totally impossible to have one bill which grants security of tenure and another bill which does not grant any opportunity for review? Therefore, it seems to me that in an appeal even to the logic of the minister, if nothing else he must surely be touched by the fact that we must have premises defined in both of these Acts in the same way, unless it is important that somehow or other we are going to continue security of tenure after this bill is over in a completely meaningless fashion.
We have had some problems with reference to it because we have been very much aware of the very greatly increased costs of the landlord and the rooming house situation. These costs have been immediate and immediately effective. Certainly in Toronto when one looks at fire insurance premiums and this sort of thing, when one looks at a water rate increase which I’ve seen in one case of from 78.3 to 211.6 per cent, there are problems for the rooming house owner. We will have to accommodate this in later amendments which we propose to cover this situation. But we cannot possibly see any way in which we can carry on with these two distinct mechanisms and two separate definitions.
Mr. Lawlor: I want to echo that sentiment. It is well agreed by the minister, that the two bills are companion legislation. While my personal responsibility has to do with the latter bill, Bill 26, there must be total correspondence as between the two definitions of residential premises, or what a quagmire you will get yourself into. I would very much appreciate hearing from the minister, if he sticks on this particular point, as to his rationale and justifications, having taken into cognizance in such a reply the discrimination and the chaos he will cause in the legal profession among the judgements and in every other way touching legislation which is conjoined. That being the case, we over here are going to insist, as far as we are concerned, that the two definitions be brought into line. Whatever the definitions may be, they ought to be in line. The particular definition in question does bring into the ambience the rooming houses, and they surely should be counted.
If you are going to launch into this form of legislation, which is altogether admirable as far as I am concerned, then let it apply across the board. Let everyone be protected, but particularly those who are most afflicted with regard to the rental increases that have taken place. I would adjure the minister to accede to the request in this regard, and to extend that definition, not only from the point of view of logic and bringing companion legislation into correspondence, but from the merits of the recommendation as it stands.
Mr. B. Newman: I must strongly recommend to the minister that he accept the argument that was presented by the previous speaker. Being one who represents a downtown riding and knows the problems associated with the rooming house field, I think by making the definition exactly the same in both Bills 20 and 26 would alleviate a lot of future legalistic problems. I hope the minister takes this into consideration and accepts the amendment as presented by the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Good).
Mr. McClellan: I just want to add briefly, final urgings on the minister to accept the amendment. Aside from the question of the legal quagmire that maintaining the distinction would entail, there is also the very compelling argument that roomers are among the most vulnerable people in the community. They are the isolated, the aged and the disabled. They are the people at the bottom of the income scale. They are the very people who most need the kind of protection that Bill 20 hopefully will offer. If you can make a case for excluding them I would be intrigued to hear it because I don’t think there is one, on either rational grounds or on compassionate grounds.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: First of all, to the member for Lakeshore, I will take absolutely no responsibility for the chaos that exists in the legal profession. The lawyers themselves have created that and they will have to live with it. I don’t think anything in this bill will add to that.
Mr. Lawlor: You don’t have to compound it. We can do it on our own.
Mr. Belanger: You’ve done an excellent job of it.
Mrs. Campbell: Yes.
Mr. Singer: You have something about passing confusing statutes. And you know it.
Mr. Nixon: The Sunday closing statute is going to raise their income by 60 grand.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, I’m amazed at how the lawyers all leap to their own defence immediately. It’s marvellous; I’m pleased. I often wondered if they would.
Mr. Kennedy: They have a complex.
Mr. Singer: The situation is obvious. It doesn’t need to be defended. I just wanted to remind you.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The question of the definition of the residential premises is for the purpose of trying to keep some reasonable order in what is going to be -- if I can use the word of the hon. member for Lakeshore -- in what is probably going to create some chaos. If you go to the individual room for review purposes, I think the hon. members would be prepared to recognize that the rentals are usually very short-term -- in not all cases I grant you, there are long-term cases too, but in a great many cases they are very short-term. There are no leases. They usually are rented by the week. In many cases there are not even receipts; they just pay for the room. You can end up having a review officer, quite frankly, dealing with the same room on about five, six or seven occasions over a short period of time because of the turnover that can take place in the rooming house situation.
Mr. Nixon: Why should there be a review just because it turns over?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We felt, and I still feel, that the residential definition that we were talking about is the very smallest accommodation provided it does have the self-contained facilities. So I would not accept the proposed amendment and I would suggest to the hon. members that to open it up to that full extent is going to create a lot more problem, certainly from an administrative point of view and I think a cost problem as well.
Mr. Singer: I listened very carefully to what the minister had to say on this and the only reason that he has put forward is that it might be difficult to administer. That doesn’t make very much sense to me.
It would seem that if the idea is good and if the principle is one that is valid, the minister has the responsibility of figuring out how it should be administered. Certainly those speakers who have spoken in support of this amendment have indicated quite clearly that probably the people who are least able to defend themselves could be taken very substantial advantage of in rooming houses and by rooming house operators. I’m not saying that would happen but it could easily happen.
I had hoped that the minister would have had a better reason for saying he can’t accept it. If he can’t accept it then my colleagues and I are going to vote for it and I suspect the party on our right here will probably vote for it too.
Mr. Mackenzie: Because I too have a fair number of rooming houses in the east end of Hamilton, I would just ask the minister to consider that rather than causing the problems he’s talking about, bringing them under this Act might very well stop some of the problems. I think you’d have much more uniformity in rates and progression when somebody else moves in at the same previous rate other than when certain costs were going up. It’s my feeling that you wouldn’t compound the problem and make it difficult; it would be easier if they were covered. I would hope you would consider that.
Mr. Cassidy: We’re ready for a vote, Mr. Chairman.
I would just point out to the minister though that if, in fact the minister were to be successful -- I don’t think he will be -- in excluding roomers under the Act, he would also be excluding all non-self-contained accommodation. That would mean, among other things, that in that class of landlords where a lot of the problems that we’re talking about in these two bills are taking place, there would be a very strong incentive, if they could see a way of breaking through the rent barrier created by the bill, of actually closing off a bathroom in an apartment --
Mr. Cassidy: It’s true -- and making the occupant of that bathroom use a bathroom down the hall or in the neighbouring apartment in order to charge a higher amount of rent. These are the kinds of things which will occur if you don’t have a bill which covers all classes. That is one of the reasons we will oppose the exemption for luxury accommodation as well; it’s the same kind of thing. I would hope that the minister would cooperate with members from this side of the House in trying to make the best bill possible rather than preserving a few vestiges of buccaneer capitalism.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, there is one matter which, frankly, I didn’t understand too clearly when the minister was putting forward his objections. It is true that if rooms for rent are included there will probably be that many more appeals, but the idea that the rooms change tenants more regularly surely doesn’t have much bearing since this bill applies to a control on the room rather than the individual who is in it? For example, during the period retroactive to July 31 and Jan. 1, there is, so far under the bill, an eight per cent increase permitted and no appeal -- we are going to be discussing that later. I can’t see, just because there may be three or four tenants -- it would be inconvenient for the landowner or the renter -- that it would have anything to do with multiplying the numbers of appeals. I can’t see that that is a valid objection.
Mrs. Campbell: I want to get some clarification because I am sure the minister realizes that under the Landlord and Tenant Act it is these weekly tenants who are covered, among others, for security of tenure. Secondly, is the minister aware of the fact that in Toronto we have developed what I think is a most unseemly arrangement and I hope the city is really going to stop it effectively. There are many places that have single rooms which, with the addition of some of these facilities have now become what are known as bachelorettes. I cannot see that they would be covered here. Again I would implore the minister to recognize the lack of logic because they usually or very often have no leases either. The space involved is usually about the same, with these facilities added, as it was before. It surely doesn’t make any sense to differentiate.
Mr. Grossman: Mr. Chairman, as one of those members who has a great number of rooming houses in his riding I can attest at firsthand to the numbers of persons who, at the lower end of the scale, will be left unaffected and unaided by the bill if it passes as it stands.
In my own mind I can’t in any way justify this to those people who live in rooming houses on the same street or in the same area as those in apartment houses who are better off and yet protected so I will be obliged in this case to support the amendment. I am convinced that in no way can we allow rooming houses to go uncovered by this legislation.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Chairman, I think the universal application which the opposition members are endeavouring to apply to the Act is being done in a way which is losing sight of the real intent and purpose of the legislation. I think it is this point which is really the salient one which should be considered at this point in time. The legislation is of a temporary nature --
Mrs. Campbell: The point was to protect the tenants.
Mr. Williams: -- and was designed primarily to provide some stability in the rental accommodation market. The legislation has been directed to that type of rental accommodation which we consider to be more of a permanent nature. Were it to be deemed that this legislation is going to be total, universal and forever rent control -- without any termination date built in to the legislation -- there may be some justification at this point in time for making it universal in its application. But because of the short-term purpose of the legislation and because of the relatively transient nature of the rooming house rental situation as related to the more permanent fixed apartment type of accommodation. I think there has been justification to delete that type of coverage from this particular bill, as was done with regard to the tent trailers.
There again, you have a very transient form of living accommodation that really wasn’t intended to be brought under the umbrella of this particular legislation; that is, designed for a term specific. So it is within this framework and those terms of reference that I think you can justify leaving the bill in its present form, to apply in principle solely toward more permanent type of rental accommodation rather than that which is basically deemed to be transient in nature.
Mr. Lawlor: May I just take a moment to reply to the hon. member? This legislation, I suspect, is going to be slightly more permanent than you think. Its temporary structure is not all that endemic. If you guys don’t pull up your socks and build a few houses, this thing will be around for 10 years.
Secondly, it’s a long experience in this House that if you don’t get something in now, if you don’t get the legislation set up properly ab initio, then trying to do it at a subsequent date is not the easiest thing in the world. It is extremely difficult to get, particularly if the unheard of should happen and this government should be restored -- you could never move anything through. So this is the opportunity, this is the time that we have and this is the occasion and we should avail ourselves of it.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Is that a landlord -- ab initio?
Mr. Good: Just one comment, Mr. Chairman. I am glad the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) is in the House. Surely he would agree that it is impossible to give tenure to people in rooming houses without having some kind of review or control of their rents? According to the Attorney General’s bill, because they are included in the Landlord and Tenant Act, they can only be put out if they do certain things; that is, damage the place, non-payment of rent, the building is going to be cut down, and a few other things.
Surely the Minister of Housing must see that the Attorney General’s bill, which gives security of tenure to those roomers, is of no use whatsoever if all you have to do to get a roomer out is keep doubling his rent every two weeks or every month? He will have to leave because of the economic pressures. You can’t have his bill with your bill the way it stands now. Get together. Either you are going to act like responsible citizens and give everybody the same protection or go ahead with your old Tory attitudes which have prevailed here for so long.
Mr. B. Newman: In my own riding there is a request for 971 senior citizens’ accommodations, and among the senior citizens there are many who are single individuals who have to live in rooming houses. Surely it would be incumbent upon the minister to see that the amendment, as suggested by my colleague, be accepted. I would strongly suggest to him that he change his mind and see the hardship that he will be causing many individuals who are living in rooming houses. Let’s think of those people before we think of the rent review officers.
Mrs. Campbell: And they don’t move around.
Mr. Good: He’ll change his mind.
Mr. Kennedy: I just wanted to speak on this, Mr. Chairman, as I appreciate what might occur, and this is the turnover, as has been mentioned, and the mobility of roomers. It has been I some time since I occupied a room in a rooming house but it was almost like musical -- well, not chairs -- beds, I guess, without the music. You never knew the turnover created.
Mr. Nixon: I don’t know whether we want to hear all this story or not -- people who sleep around.
Mr. Kennedy: It is interesting; I have some good stories. So many are not on any lease whatever, they pay cash and there are no receipts. As was indicated by a previous speaker, I don’t know how we would keep track of these cases.
Mr. Nixon: That was 1920.
Mr. Kennedy: I will just point out though that I appreciate what has been said in support of this. I do not think that it’s a thing that would easily be administered, if in fact it’s possible at all. Before a case was finished, there would be three or four more awaiting adjudication for the same room. I go along with the rejection of this, particularly in the light of the short-term nature of the legislation that is proposed.
Mr. Drea: With all due respect to the previous speaker and to the minister and understanding full wall the difficulties that are inherent in putting in rooming houses, particularly because of the transient nature of the people, I would appeal to the minister on the following grounds.
First of all, this entire legislation is in the very clear area of social legislation. It is designed to protect people who otherwise would have no protection and who otherwise would have no input into very substantial economic difficulties that are being placed in front of them. Having gone this far, it would seem to me that there is an obligation upon the House, notwithstanding the difficulties, to go even further to those who are the least able to protect themselves, that is, the people who for a lot of reasons are in rooming houses and perhaps again for a lot of reasons, are consigned to that segment of the shelter industry.
On the one hand, I can tell you there are people who live in rooming houses who are extremely affluent. The reason they live in a rooming house is by virtue of their job in one locality, particularly if they are in the construction industry. They are working five days a week in one locality. They own a residence in another locality. It is part and parcel of the particular terms of theft employment. I don’t think I have to remind you that in the transportation field there are people who are in exactly the same position.
Then at the other end of the scale, there are those who, by virtue of the fact they are old or sick or just happen to be people who haven’t got a family, live in rooming houses. If we are going to bring in controls and the controls are to protect the people who are tenants, then I suggest to you, rather than as an after-thought or some after-consideration about whether the people in rooming houses are to be included, the people in rooming houses should have been included from the start.
I realize that it will be difficult, I realize that there may have to be a lot of bureaucracy and I realize that perhaps it will not be as efficient as one might assume. But I suggest to you the business of government is service. Because something is difficult and because something is considered not efficient on paper, should surely be the last reason why anybody would consider that we don’t move into this field.
I would suggest to you that only government can move into this field. I suggest to you that in the case of a piece of social legislation that is designed to protect people, the obligation is upon the Legislature to make sure that the people who absolutely in the final analysis cannot protect themselves at any time and through conditions beyond their control are protected.
I would hope on the basis of that appeal we might forget the business end of the thing. It is going to be just as difficult for Cadillac and all the rest of them to administer rent control as it is to the fellow or to the woman who has five or six roomers or boarders. It’s all a matter of relativity. I suggest to you when we are into the field of social legislation, the ultimate test is who does it really protect. On that basis I would appeal to the minister.
Mr. Eaton: It seems that we are talking right now about protecting everyone in this instance, and perhaps the minister would consider just taking it one step further. We’re talking about rents on homes that people are going to go into -- whether it’s one family or more -- and you say that all these people are unprotected. Well, the property owner is also unprotected from his property tax. So I would suggest that the minister carry it a step further and take it to the point where the person who has to pay property tax would have his increases limited to eight per cent, too, and thus protect everyone.
Mr. Shore: Speak to Darcy.
Mr. Eaton: It makes as much sense.
Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, I certainly don’t wish to speak against the very good sauce that I’m sore lies behind the proposed amendment -- some very sound justifications have been put forward. But I would like to bring to the attention of the hon. members who are in support of the amendment that in effect -- I think throughout this province -- when we talk in terms of rooming houses, we are dealing with a rather different kind of accommodation than the kind of accommodation we contemplate when we think in terms of rental apartments.
I think this is the one type of accommodation in which the committee received the least assistance last week in terms of being provided with statistical information or any reliable information in terms of rates of increase, either in the city of Toronto or anywhere else in the province. Nevertheless, I think we ought to bear in mind that in many cases rooming houses, and the rates that are charged for rooms in rooming houses, include more than just the bare accommodation. In fact, they include in most instances more than the accommodation, or the room plus furnishings. Very often they include personal services that are provided by way of cleaning services or laundry services, often provided by elderly citizens -- for whom concern has been expressed on the other side of the House -- in an attempt to supplement a very limited income.
The effect, I suggest, of a blanket application of rent control or rent review to that kind of situation, given the grounds upon which appeals can be made under this legislation, would have the effect of imposing a lower rate of increase, or lower guidelines, upon the elderly citizen who is operating a rooming house with a few rooms and providing personal services in an attempt to supplement income, than would be true if the federal guidelines were applied. I think that is something that ought not to be overlooked in a headlong rush to make this a general application without the necessary foresight.
One further thing that I think ought not to be underestimated is the cost of the administration. I think it is easy for us, in expressing genuine concern about people in our society, to say the cost must be secondary. In many cases I would agree, but I think we cannot overlook the fact that the possibility exists in this amendment, because of the rate of turnover in this kind of accommodation, of possibly doubling the administrative cost across this province. That is something that I think we should look carefully at and consider before we jump into it.
I think the most important thing is to consider the fact that not all rooming house operators are like the rooming house operators who exist in some areas of the city of Toronto, and not all of the rooming house operators in the city of Toronto are like those who are responsible for the most blatant abuses, according to the information that has been offered by the members on the other side.
Mr. Good: Just one short question, Mr. Chairman. I would invite the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to explain how he can grant security of tenure to people in rooming houses under Bill 26, without giving them some security as to rent increases?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: There is no connection at all. They still have their security of tenure.
Mr. Shore: What if they can’t afford to pay?
Mr. Good: Does he wish to respond?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Rooming house rates have never been unreasonable.
Mr. Shore: What is the definition of unreasonable?
Mr. Chairman: Is there any further discussion? The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will just comment briefly on some of the comments that have been made during the course of this discussion; because some of the points relate not just to the question of rooms, but also to the bill in general.
If the government was really serious about saying that this bill was coming in for only the next 20 months, then I would have thought that all it needed to do would be to simply freeze rents and allow an eight per cent increase in the 12 months up until July of next year, and then a six or eight per cent increase for the succeeding 12 months and leave it at that. Nothing more would have been needed and the entire elaborate process which is provided for in this bill would not have been necessary.
In fact, though, as the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton) is certainly aware, having sat through the hearings, nobody really approaches this bill as a temporary 20-month piece of legislation apart from members of the government when they are trying to defend weaknesses in the bill.
The bill was approached by virtually every witness who came forward before us as a bill which is going to be around until the rental housing crisis is resolved, which means until the province, until the government of Ontario, gets its housing priorities straight and ensures that there is an adequate supply of affordable rental housing.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On a point of order. It seems to me that this committee is dealing with this Act clause by clause. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre is insisting on wanting to stand up and discuss the principle of the bill; he’s going off on this wild and woolly speech-making again. He is wasting this committee’s time and wasting the time of the whole House. Can we get back to dealing with the sections of the Act which are here tis be amended?
Mr. Ruston: Let’s have a vote and get it over with.
Mr. Good: We have wasted two days when this bill could have been dealt with in committee because of the coalition between you two.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s either impatience or petulance.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member for Waterloo North had better know what he is talking about. He is all mouth.
Mr. Good: You are in bed with them.
Mr. Cassidy: My general comments had just come to an end and the point I. was making to the minister was simply that if it is a temporary bill, fine. But we don’t approach this as a temporary bill. It’s in the spirit of a bill which is going to be here for some certain period of time, longer than 20 months, that we are making a number of proposals in order to improve the bill. We don’t think that the people who are poor and weak and happen to live in rooms --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On a point of order again, we will be here 20 months dealing with this if we don’t get on with dealing with the amendments before the House.
Mr. Chairman: I think it is up to the Chairman to decide if it is relevant.
Mr. Cassidy: The petulance of the minister is not matched by attendance at the committee last week. If he had really wanted to --
Mr. Norton: Come on. Cut it out.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I will interrupt again on a point of privilege this time. I was not a member of that committee. I attended when it was convenient for me to listen to a submission; I received copies of all the briefs. I didn’t attempt to have someone sit in for me because I couldn’t make it, as certain members of the committee did.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right. On roomers, the approach that has been taken by the government is to hide behind a certain situation and say this is going to affect people who provide elaborate services in connection with the room. In every rental situation there are services provided even if it’s only a door key and a corridor leading to the particular accommodation.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Very basic.
Mr. Cassidy: In certain cases there are saunas, squash courts, tennis courts, swimming pools and other kinds of services.
Mr. Kennedy: In rooming houses? Boy, they sure have changed.
Mr. Cassidy: Not in rooming houses. Most of the rooming houses we have in my riding are operated by people who are doing it for profit, who operate as many as 200 or 300 rooms apiece and who have been in the situation for many years of ripping off their tenants. They should come under control. They should not be given an incentive to divide apartments into rooms in order to avoid the provisions of this Act.
Mr. Ruston: Don’t you rent your house in Toronto for profit?
Mr. Chairman: I’m going to put the question now. All those in favour of Mr. Good’s amendment will please say “aye.”
Those opposed, please say “nay.” In my opinion, the “ayes” have it.
Shall we stack it?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes moved that clause (h) of section 1 of the bill be amended by inserting after ty” in the third line, “or on behalf of.”
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It is simply an adjustment of the wording of section 1, and does not alter the bill to any great extent. It closes a loophole.
Mr. Cassidy: We accept the amendment.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Rhodes’ amendment say “aye.”
Those opposed say “nay.”
Motion agreed to.
On section 2:
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Cassidy moves that section 2 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following:
“(4) A municipality may on the approval of the minister appoint such number of rent review officers as are considered necessary for the purposes of this Act within that municipality.
“(5) Where a municipality has appointed rent review officers under subsection 4, it may exercise such of the powers of the minister under section 17 as are applicable to the rent review officer and to hearings before him.”
Mr. Cassidy: The amendment as it was submitted to the Chair originally included a proposed subsection 6 which said that where a municipality had appointed rent review officers under subsection 4 the municipality should be reimbursed for 75 per cent of its costs. However, anticipating a ruling from the Chair that it was not possible to move an amendment that involved a payment by the province, I would simply ask that this amendment allowing a municipality to get involved be read in the spirit that we would have a municipality pay one-quarter of the costs, if it decided to take up the option of running the rent review office itself rather than relying on provincial operation.
We heard a large number of submissions during the course of last week calling for municipal operation of the rent review officer level of the rent control legislation. They came mainly from people representing tenants or speaking on behalf of tenants. As is clear from this amendment, we were sympathetic to that desire that a municipality should run the rent review offices, but not completely. We felt it was important, and I think the tenants agreed, that the second level, the rent review board, which would oversee and hear appeals from decisions of the rent review officers, should be a provincial body. We accept that proposal of the government.
We also felt it would be wrong to condemn tenants who are already being victimized by landlords to the difficulties of having to try to lobby a local council to establish rent review officers in areas where for various reasons the local council was opposed. Situations could easily arise, and certainly we’ve known them in the past, where councils have tended to represent property owners far more than tenants, where there is a majority, as there is in many Ontario cities, of property owners within the municipality and minority of tenants who would not command the support of all of the council.
Therefore, it did not seem right to us that the tenants should be defenceless if they could not get a local council to take on the responsibility of the rent review officers. On the other hand, the city of Toronto has indicated great interest in running the rent review officer level of rent review. Other municipalities, such as the city of Ottawa, I think, might also be open to that, and over time a number of other larger progressive municipalities might well want to do the same thing.
If they did it, we suspect that they would do so in an effort to step up the process of public information and education which we believe is an essential part of rent review, and they would possibly want to provide better service on behalf of the landlords and tenants of their area by possibly hiring more rent review officers than the province would feel it could afford. That’s why we suggest if they take it up, then they should be responsible for a portion of its costs, That would deter a municipality which simply wished to resist the Act from taking on the power to appoint rent review officers and then acting in an obstructive fashion, because they would be forced to pay part of the costs in order to take that particular action.
I hope the minister reacts favourably to this amendment and I hope the members of the Liberal Party react favourably as well. We think it is a useful elaboration of the bill which puts back the possibility of some local action in a field where under Bill 20, as it stands, it’s an exclusively provincial Act.
Mr. Nixon: We believe that this is a good amendment and we intend to support it. I am sure you recall that our position on rent review, put forward by the hon. member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) almost two years ago now, indicated that municipalities with populations of over 50,000 could, on application, establish rent review officers with powers somewhat similar to those encompassed in the bill now before us. The emphasis on review, we feel, dictates to us an acceptance and quite enthusiastic support of the amendment as it has been put forward.
I don’t believe that the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) should be so concerned about leaving a share of the cost with the municipality. I do not believe that would be useful in controlling some indication that perhaps some municipality might like to subvert the intention of this bill by appointing rent review officers and then either obstructing their function or telling them not to function properly under the Act because I believe the clause in the first subsection as opposed in the amendment says that it must be with the approval of the minister, and surely the package having to do with the numbers and their duties would be a part of this approval.
I don’t think it’s important that the fact that the rules of the House do not permit an opposition amendment envisaging the expenditure of money has left out that last sub-amendment, because the provision of moneys to finance the rent review officers is already in this bill. I would hope that that would remain unchanged, and if the city of Toronto -- and I would expect they would -- would apply to the minister under this amendment for the operation of the rent review machinery themselves with their own appointments, I think he would be wise to accept that after reviewing their proposals, and under the bill it would be up to the provincial Treasury to pay 100 per cent of the costs and I see nothing unfair about that. As a matter of fact, it is a provincial initiative and it would clearly indicate that there would be uniformity in the application right across the province.
The advantages of having rent review officers responsible in their appointment to a local council are obvious, particularly in a large urban centre where the application of rent review is going to be perhaps more difficult or require many more decisions, and perhaps more sensitivity in those decisions, than they would elsewhere. We think this is a good amendment and we hope that the minister will give it very careful consideration, because we intend to support it.
Mr. McClellan: I would urge the minister to accept the amendment. If you want this legislation to work -- and I am beginning to doubt that on the basis of the amendment you have put forward in this package today -- but if you want the legislation to work, I think a very good way of doing it is to enable and allow municipalities to assume some of the burden of administration, and it’s very simple. We know for a certainty that the city of Toronto will undertake to assist in the administration of the Act by doing it themselves. Again I can see no rational arguments for your failing to accept this amendment and I hope sincerely that you will.
Mr. McEwen: I support this amendment in principle, with the exception of the 25 per cent that would be assessed to the municipalities. This is provincial legislation, it is provincial responsibility, and I see no reason to continue to saddle municipalities with extra burdens. I believe the municipalities that wish to participate will do this in cooperation with the province, but as far as accepting the financial responsibility is concerned, I certainly could not support an amendment such as that.
I have received a good many letters and phone calls and comments from the people in my riding in particular, and they will be very much opposed to being saddled with any further financial responsibility for government programmes, and especially socialistic programmes.
Mr. Norton: It’s supported by your own party.
Mr. Chairman: Any further comment on the amendment? The hon. member for Hamilton East.
Mr. Mackenzie: Just a brief comment, Mr. Chairman, and I am supporting the amendment. While I might not have strong personal feelings on it, I think one thing we have to recognize is that when we were hearing the delegations before our committee, something that has bothered me for a long time is the general mistrust that you get from people as to whether or not they can expect a fair shake.
Whether it makes it any different if it is a municipal-appointed review officer or not, I am not sure, but the fact is they want to think that they have some local sensitivity. They want it a little closer to home. It carried a lot of weight with me.
I don’t think we had a delegation before us, certainly from the tenants’ group, that didn’t believe they should have that review officer and arrangements in their own local area or municipality. I think that should carry some weight with us. I think we’ve got to get back, as political figures, some of the trust of the people, which isn’t too high right now.
Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Chairman: The hon. minister has indicated that he wants --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No, it is fine. I will wait.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, unless I misunderstand this amendment, I can see it as nothing but a sham. If the people who are proposing it really believe in local autonomy and really believe in the things they are mouthing, then they would be going for local option in this whole bill, not just saying that, compounding what is already here, they will add, in addition to that, local option. What sense does that possibly make?
Think for a moment, about a situation where you may have, at the insistence of the province, local rent review officers set up. Are you suggesting that under those circumstances you compound costs, because any number of municipalities that may be within that area of jurisdiction decide that they want to set up their own? Is that what you are suggesting?
If you really believe in local option, then stand up and move an amendment that reflects that. Let’s have none of this rhetoric that has a hangover from the election campaign. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.
Mr. Nixon: You are priceless. What are you talking about?
Mr. Singer: You are funny.
Mr. Norton: Let’s put our money where our mouth is and let the municipalities only make the decision --
Mr. Ruston: You are the only one who has a hangover from the election.
Mr. Norton: All right. Come on, Bob, I will challenge you to do this --
Mr. Nixon: If it comes to a vote you are going to lose.
Mr. Norton: -- put forth an amendment that really reflects what you believe in. If you believe in local option, then make this legislation enabling legislation.
Mr. Shore: I agree. Why didn’t you come forward with it?
Mr. Norton: Let the province pay for it if you like, but let the local municipality make the decision in the first instance.
Mr. Nixon: Why don’t you tell the minister that?
Mr. Singer: Tell your friend.
Mr. Norton: Let’s hear your amendment.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don’t --
Mr. Nixon: You tell ‘em, Margaret.
Mrs. Campbell: I don’t really understand what the last speaker was trying to get at.
Mr. Ruston: He doesn’t either.
Mrs. Campbell: Surely we have heard from the minister himself about the chaos which he thinks is going to come about by reason of the mechanism which he has set up. That wasn’t set up by us; it was set up by the government. Surely where you have problems which are as intense as they are in the Metropolitan Toronto area, and specifically from my point of view in Toronto, it is of benefit to set up your rent review officers and to get on with the fob quickly. This has been our philosophy right from the start, because in no other way can we see that the mechanics will be in place across this province in time to really be effective for all of the purposes of this bill.
As far as I was concerned, I was prepared to say, and did say, it should be mandatory, but I recognize that there are municipalities where perhaps this shouldn’t apply. Now we are saying “a municipality may”. Having learned a great deal in the last little while about some municipalities which have not had the same pressures as we have faced here, I am of the opinion that the permissive section here is the one which should govern. It should allow those who are as concerned as Toronto is, for example to be able to get on with the job and get on with it fast. If others do not opt in, the minister. I am sure, will have a delightful time trying to cover the rest of the province and will not likely get on with that job fast enough to cause the kind of chaos in that respect that the member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton) suggests.
Surely we have got to get some working mechanism and this is preferable to that which is in the bill. I too am of the opinion that it is unfortunate that it is suggested that the last amendment should not be properly put. I recognize the technicality but certainly support the principle, and we would say 100 per cent, because it is not the fault of the municipalities that we’re in this mess by and large.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Where have you been?
Mrs. Campbell: I have been here.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You helped create it in Toronto. You sat on council.
Mr. Nixon: You have been blaming the federal government and the municipalities and you never accepted any responsibility.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, I am going to rise on a matter of privilege and ask that the minister either prove his point or withdraw it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I would not withdraw it. I say that the hon. member was a member of the Toronto city council and obviously part of the problem was created at the time when decisions were made by that council, including for example, the St. James Town project.
Mr. Nixon: Is that a withdrawal?
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, I am glad he mentioned the St. James Town project because it indicates how little he knows about the situation.
Mrs. Campbell: The St. James Town project was opposed by the city of Toronto and was the result of an OMB decision.
Mr. Williams: She is out of order.
Mr. Chairman: Let us get back to section 2 of the bill.
Mr. Nixon: Withdraw, apologize.
Mr. Singer: What happened when the Minister of Housing was mayor of Sault Ste. Marie? The shortage of housing in the Soo was all his fault. No? Whose fault was that? The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations?
Mrs. Campbell: Perhaps that’s the municipality he meant.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please. The hon. member for Oriole has the floor.
Mr. Williams: I had thought that the members of the third party were themselves specifically in support of the true intent and purpose of the bill which, as stated at the outset, was for a term specific and for the sole and expressed purpose of dealing with the inflationary factors affecting people in rental accommodation situations.
It is becoming quite apparent from the comments made by the last speaker that where they talk about urgency and short-term effects they are saying one thing and in effect going to bring about just the opposite. I was surprised to hear the comments made by the last speaker when she suggested we should get on with the job and do it expeditiously, when the member for St. George is an elected member of a municipal council and knows how slowly the wheels turn in municipal government --
Mrs. Campbell: Not in Toronto, maybe in North York.
Mr. Williams: -- even perhaps more slowly than in the provincial jurisdiction. I would point out to the hon. member that should this bill be enacted in the next day or two there won’t be a municipal council sitting within the province for the next four-week period because of the holiday situation.
Any municipal council given this responsibility will undoubtedly want to consider the mechanism by which they would have to carry out this responsibility, which undoubtedly would entail advertising for people in the community to come forward and offer themselves in this capacity. Surely the councils wouldn’t have the audacity to go out and appoint people without encouraging public participation and involvement of people who feel they are best qualified for the positions.
The member for St. George is saying speed it up by giving it to the municipalities so that perhaps they can have the machinery in place by the end of April or March, if they are going to move quickly. Most certainly the member for St. George is saying one thing when just the contrary is going to prevail if the responsibility is handed over to the municipalities, not only because of the time considerations over the holiday period but because the municipalities are not equipped to deal with this situation judiciously.
This means that in practice no person who feels aggrieved as a tenant will have an opportunity to go before any municipality or any review officer appointed by a municipality until, perhaps, the end of February at the very latest. No grievance will be settled until surely the first quarter of 1976 has expired. I think they are talking haste but they are moving backwards very quickly.
Mrs. Campbell: Are yours already appointed?
Mr. Shore: Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Bellwoods.
Mr. Shore: How many times do I have to stand up, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. McClellan: I want to respond --
Mr. Chairman: We are doing it in rotation. The last person to have the floor was the hon. member for St. George. The hon. member for Bellwoods.
Mr. McClellan: I want to respond to the member for Oriole’s persistent fantasy --
Mr. Singer: You don’t count the member for Oriole. That’s good reasoning.
Mr. McClellan: -- that somehow the supply crisis is going to be eased to coincide with the termination date of this legislation. If you continue to base your argument on that nonsensical notion, don’t expect to convince anybody, I suspect, on either side here.
I want to urge the minister again to consider the simple fact that the city of Toronto wants to move into this area, the member for Oriole’s circumlocutions about the difficulties of doing that notwithstanding. It is my humble opinion that the city of Toronto is probably in a lot better shape administratively to proceed with the administration of a rent control bill than your ministry.
The argument is overwhelming. You have a task of monumental proportions ahead of you. You should take, if I can put it this way, the help you can get. I think that by allowing the municipalities to administer the programme in conjunction with the province the job will be done much more effectively and much more efficiently.
I would simply ask you the question: Are you afraid of something? What are you afraid of in allowing the municipalities to move into this? I would really like you to respond yourself because most of the argumentation so far from your side of the House has been totally spurious.
Mr. Shore: I would suggest that the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands speak to his leader. As far as I am concerned -- and I think our people generally would support it although there seems to be some differences here -- if we truly believe it should be optional and had the minister brought in the recommendation that the municipalities have the right to have that option all the way -- to the extent that you are talking about -- we would be dealing with it. But the minister didn’t bring that in in his amendments; or in his bill, for that matter.
I would suggest there is nothing wrong with that. This is a municipality situation. I am sorry my colleague has left or saw fit to leave. I sat while she was talking; she saw fit to leave. I suggest to you that this province is made up of more than just Metropolitan Toronto and the universality of this thing, the degree, should be considered. We do have the opportunity for other municipalities which truly believe in the marketplace concept. If you truly believe in the marketplace concept, let municipalities make decisions toward that direction.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member for Ottawa Centre -- or does the minister wish to reply?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I thought we were alternating, but I will be pleased to listen to him again.
Mr. Good: One short comment -- unless the minister wants to speak?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No, I will wait for you.
Mr. Chairman: All right, the hon. member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: I will comment very briefly. The point made by the member for Kingston and the Islands would be well taken if it was assumed that it was an either/or kind of situation.
I am going to ask the minister what are the plans for the appointment of rent review officers. I think everybody in this House is concerned about the initial stages of the bill once it gets going in January and the inevitable difficulties there are going to be in the first month or so, because of the administrative problems. It isn’t just municipalities that have problems hiring people just before Christmas. The province, I presume, is going to have to hire some people on a contract basis while this is getting established.
It would be my hope that municipalities which would take a month or two to think about this might come to the province, starting in January or February or March and say, “Look, we would like to take over.” The arrangements are on the approval of the minister and therefore could take place right away, in this case of Toronto. It might take six months in the case of a smaller municipality like Belleville or Desoronto.
Mr. Minister, could you tell the House in replying to this debate, what are the plans for the appointment of rent review officers, how far your people have got and how adequate the provision of rent review officers across the province will be when the Act comes into force in a few days’ time?
Mr. Chairman: Does the hon. minister wish to reply? The hon. member for Waterloo North.
Mr. Good: Just one point, Mr. Chairman, I am sore the minister would consider. The wording of the amendment, as I interpret it, simply says “with approval of the minister, the municipality may.” It may well be you will say, “We are not giving any approval; we are going to appoint them all;” but it may well be that about a week from now you would be glad to say, “By God, if Windsor would like to appoint their own rent review officers and get the thing going, that would be a big help to me.” You could then give approval if they wanted to. That whole section is pretty benign. It is entirely at the approval and discretion of the minister whether he wants help in this situation from the municipalities or if he wants to run his own show. That is the way I interpret the amendment.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, as I have listened to the discussion by those who seem to be in great support of this particular amendment, the proposal suggests, as I understand it, that the municipality would run the programme and the province would be responsible for it, both financially and otherwise. I don’t think that makes any sense.
I think we are much better to have this, because as the member for -- I’ll find out where your riding is yet -- London North.
Mr. Singer: Next to Sault Ste. Marie.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Is that right? Your basso profundo is in good shape today.
Mr. Nixon: Wait until he gets going.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I hope you are going to speak later -- much, much later.
Mr. Singer: I know. Hold your breath until I am ready.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I agree the bill is universal in that it is covering all of the province, and as a result of that I believe that there has to be complete uniformity in the application of the bill. I don’t think you are going to get that sort of uniformity if you allow each municipality to decide whether or not it wants to have its own rent review officers. The application of the bill will vary then, I think, from community to community.
On the appointment of rent review officers, I believe that because of the sort of work that they are going to be doing we should attempt to have people from the community. I think the member for Hamilton and the member for Bellwoods -- I may be mistaken -- made the point of having somebody in the community that they knew.
That is entirely our intention, to see that the rent review officers are not moved halfway across the province to carry out their function in someone else’s area. It is intended that they will, in fact, be people from the area, from the community.
I believe we could establish the rent review officer process as quickly and as efficiently as a municipality can. Certainly we know where the major areas are. Metropolitan Toronto has to be one that is going to have to be attended to with a number of rout review officers. We have recognized in the development of the programme that around the province there will be areas where one part-time individual will be able to handle the number of complaints that can be expected to be generated, whereas in Toronto, in Ottawa, in London, in Hamilton and these places you are going to need full-time people, and in some cases certainly more than one.
We are already in the process of developing this and setting it up, and I am convinced that we can do it on a provincial basis, and operating it as an arm of the ministry to carry out this function, so that we can have, again I repeat, the uniform application of this bill in all communities across this province, by people who I believe are going to have to be not just hired off the street; they are going to have to have some knowledge, they are going to have to have some credibility in the community as well. They are going to have to be acting in a pseudo-judicial position, to make decisions based on information that they will have presented to them and information that they will have to require he brought to them, as well. I don’t think that we should have this left in their hands -- almost as an option. I don’t understand, and I say this sincerely. I get the impression you’re saying to me, “Let a municipality do it if they want to. If they want to operate this programme, let them pick their own rent review officers,” and then if they don’t want it, you go in and impose it on them.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Now, I may misunderstand you. If they don’t want their own officers, we go in and put ours in -- is that it?
Mr. Nixon: There is no question they have got to have the programme.
Mrs. Campbell: Centralizing as all get out.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I don’t think that is an acceptable way of doing it. I would much rather see this as a complete provincial programme --
Mrs. Campbell: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- and operated by the province. Because all of the intelligence in the world doesn’t reside necessarily in Queen’s Park, but sure as blue blazes it doesn’t all sit down at city hall in Toronto either.
Mrs. Campbell: They are more aware than you are, and this bill proves it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We had an exhibition of that here the other night, too. And I don’t think you disagree with me.
Mr. Nixon: Just before the question is put, I really want to reply just for a moment to the comments made by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands (Mr. Norton). Our legislation, that has been before this House for two years, is really just exactly the way he would like it to be -- that is, local option legislation. It is the power for rent control upon petition from the municipalities concerned.
I would simply suggest to him, if that’s what he would like it to be, he should be over as a Liberal or, if not, he should suggest to his minister this legislation could be better than it is now. There are many communities which really don’t need this particular legislation.
I would simply like to say to you, Mr. Chairman, that the minister ought to be looking to involve the municipalities which want to establish the rent control mechanism under this legislation, he should be looking for their assistance.
In many respects, it’s very much like the federal wage and price control legislation, which has a section, as you know, allowing those provinces which wish to have their own implementation under the direction of the federal regulations to involve themselves. Some provinces do and some don’t.
We’re simply saying that this is the sort of flexibility we should have in this province. It would certainly be valuable to the implementation of a very difficult statute. The minister might very well be wishing for that sort of assistance before many weeks are over.
Mr. Good: There is the point.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, I just want to make one comment to that. If you really believe what you’re saying, and you are obviously joining forces in support of this concept, then why don’t you say it in its entirety? Instead of “the municipality may,” why don’t you make it “they shall”?
Mr. Nixon: No.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Why don’t you force them to it?
Mr. Nixon: Why? That is the way a Tory would do it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It’s the way you want it to be. It’s the way you would like to do it.
Mr. Good: You know the Municipal Act better than that,
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I know the Municipal Act better, but I’m not so sure that you really mean what you’re saying here. I really don’t think you are.
Mr. Mancini: Keith, come on over.
Mr. Nixon: Put it to the test. Let’s have a vote on it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Sure, we’re going to have a vote.
Mr. Chairman: Are there any more hon. members wishing to speak to this amendment?
Those in favour of Mr. Cassidy’s amendment will please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “ayes” have it.
Mr. Shore: Keith, what are you doing?
Mr. Chairman: Order, please. Shall we stack the vote?
Mr. Nixon: You want to have the vote right now? All right.
Mr. Chairman: Are there further amendments to the bill?
Mr. Good: Yes, Mr. Chairman; on the minister’s next amendment to section 3, where does that come in? You don’t say what subsection it is.
Mr. McClellan: Do you wish to have further amendments before I speak?
Mr. Chairman: No, one amendment at a time.
Mr. McClellan moved that section 3, subsection 1, be amended by striking out “eight” in the eighth line and inserting in lieu thereof “six.”
Mr. McClellan: What we are proposing is very simply that the eight per cent guideline be changed to a six per cent guideline. We make this in the sense that we consider it to be both a reasonable and a moderate solution to the discussion, the debate, around what the flat rate percentage ought to be. I want to speak without unduly taking the time of the committee but this is seen by us as a major amendment. I want to speak, I hope, briefly but I think fully on it.
During the hearings last week, we heard a great deal of testimony on this point and I want to review, again briefly, a little bit of that. There were a number of very responsible organizations which argued very strongly and, I think, very persuasively that a case can be made for running a rent control programme with no flat percentage increase at all. That option was preferred by a number of the witnesses who appeared before the select committee; very respectable witnesses.
The Parkdale Community Legal Services recommended that there be no flat percentage increase. The reform caucus of the city of Toronto recommended that there be no flat percentage increase. The Student Legal Aid Society recommended as well that there be no flat percentage increase.
Virtually all of those who testified on behalf of tenants -- as tenants or as tenant advocates -- unanimously, as far as I can tell from a re-reading of the submissions, concurred that the eight per cent guideline was exorbitant; that it was too high.
As a caucus we have rejected the position that there should be no fiat percentage guideline for a variety of reasons. It’s mainly because in the first year of the programme we felt it would be much more efficient to operate with a guideline. We want to make sure that guideline is based on justified operating costs and not based on totally whimsical guesses around what a reasonable guideline ought to be; nor should it be something that will ensure windfall profits or unjustified rates of return for landlords.
Let me just look a little bit at some of the submissions we received. The Student Legal Aid Society, while rejecting a fiat percentage guideline, said if the no flat percentage increase option was rejected, they recommended that rent increases should be tied to actual increases in operating costs at a level of something in the order of five per cent. If a flat percentage rate increase is adopted, it should be no more than five per cent.
They go on to demonstrate -- and I thought very compellingly -- that an eight per cent percentage guideline would be inflationary. On page 3 of their submission they cite the case of an apartment which, under an eight per cent guideline and a continued rent control programme, would rise in rent from $250 in 1975 to $530 in 1984. That’s not particularly helpful.
Secondly, the eight per cent guideline does not represent true increases in operating costs. Again, they make a very compelling argument that five per cent represents an adequate guideline to cover the kinds of increase in operating costs which have taken place over the last year.
The Federation of Metro Tenants Associations again urged that the rent increase guideline be something in the order of three per cent. What I’m trying to point out is that we do not consider the six per cent figure to be unreasonable or arbitrary. There was a considerable body of testimony that suggested that, indeed, it was generous. The Canadian Council on Social Development, and I want to quote them, testified as follows:
“It would seem that the eight per cent rent increases to be allowed between July 29, 1975, and August, 1976, are excessive by the standards of the price controls currently in effect to the extent that this amount exceeds actual cost increases. Although no comprehensive studies of costs and cost increases have been conducted in Ontario, the study carried out on behalf of the British Columbia interdepartmental study team on housing and rents revealed actual cost increases on the part of landlords in that province sufficient to justify 6.4 per cent increase.”
They go on to say that they recommend the six per cent guidelines. The Ontario Welfare Council -- not a notoriously radical organization -- testified to our committee that the eight per cent ceiling is too high. They cite again the Strong-Hall study in BC, and add:
“Utilizing a general inflation indicator to estimate how much operating expenses may need to rise, the allowable increase would include three per cent for operating expenses and 1.5 per cent for property taxes. Considering that the legislation only provides for operating and capital cost increases, an eight per cent ceiling may be allowing for other charges on tenants. The Ontario Welfare Council thus recommends that the ceiling be lowered below eight per cent per annum.”
The Social Planning Council for Metropolitan Toronto testified as well that eight per cent was too high. They went on to cite a number of illustrations of the kinds of windfall profits that would accrue to landlords if the guideline was established at eight per cent. I refer you to page eight of the Social Planning Council brief, where they estimate that the percentage guideline required to cover operating costs is somewhere in the order of 4.77 per cent. They point out, again on the basis of the Vancouver data, that a shift from a five per cent appealable ceiling to an eight per cent appealable ceiling, based again on Vancouver data, allows 63 per cent of landlords to obtain increases that are higher than their costs allow. Therefore the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto recommended amendments to the legislation allowing for a ceiling no higher than five or six per cent.
We are in an unfortunate situation, due to the almost total failure of this province in its social planning responsibility. We are in the position of going into this discussion without adequate data and that is, indeed, both a sad situation and a somewhat idiotic one. We have to rely on the kind of material that we were able to amass last week. We are forced to rely on the testimony of witnesses. We are forced to rely on data from other jurisdictions, simply because Ontario has not produced the kind of planning studies that would give us a totally accurate picture of what operating cost increases have averaged out at over the past year.
The failure of the ministry in this respect is complete, so we have to look to the experience of other jurisdictions. We look at the Jaffary study in BC which is the only comprehensive study of cost increases, and we are really forced to go with the recommendations that he made, taken together with the testimony of the witnesses that I’ve cited. He recommended, in rounded figures, two per cent for operating costs, four per cent for taxes, and he allowed an additional two per cent for capital cost increases. We are, as a caucus, rejecting the two per cent for capital cost increases.
Mr. Shore: That is irresponsible.
Mr. McClellan: It is not because we don’t think that landlords are entitled to them. It is not irresponsible; it is irresponsible to pass on capital cost increases without a review process. You know as well as I do the kind of rip-off that has been taking place in this city in particular. And you know as well about refinancing. The issue is refinancing and you know it and they know it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You people are talking about everybody ripping off everybody.
Mr. Reid: Your paranoia is showing.
Mr. Bounsall: That’s what we are just making allowance for, if you would listen.
Mr. Norton: No one could give us a concrete example of that last week.
Mr. Bounsall: You don’t listen either.
Mr. McClellan: Absolute nonsense. We are simply saying that if a landlord wants to claim capital cost increases, let them go into the review process.
Mr. Shore: Forget capital costs.
Mr. McClellan: That is not an unjust, irrational or immoderate position. We have confidence in the review process to meet reasonable, unavoidable capital cost increases. We are not going to permit the landlords of this province to take a bath through your legislation, to take a bath at the expense of tenants, with an additional two per cent.
I assume that the two of you will oppose us. Let the windfall profits be on your head.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Oh, sure. What a phoney the whole group of you are on this issue.
Mr. Foulds: You should know something about phoniness.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please. Will the hon. minister try to restrain himself?
Mr. Good: The whole of section 3 is perhaps the most important section in the bill. By and large we in this party disagree with the concept.
Because of the important principles in this particular section, I think section 3 is perhaps one of the most important sections in the bill. The amendment put forth by the NDP would limit the amount in the freeze section to a six per cent increase from the present eight. To understand this, we must remember that from the way the bill is written now the freeze period from last July 29 to the end of this year does not allow for any review process by either landlord or by tenant.
We in this party happen to think that principle is wrung. We have for many years been behind the idea there must be review, both by landlord and by tenant, as to rent increases. For that reason we find continuing the freeze, regardless of what percentage the increase is, to be not just; it is unfair. Perhaps to some tenants even a six per cent increase would be too large. To some landlords an eight per cent increase may be too small. We will have amendments which will affect this particular amendment later in this section, which would unfreeze the time between the end of July and the end of the year and give the privilege of review to both landlords and tenants.
Let me cite as an example what could happen if even six per cent were allowed to some tenants who have been on monthly occupancy without agreements and have had, as we saw demonstrated in committee, increases every four or five or six months for the last two years. They already are paying too much rent even with a six per cent increase being allowed to go through without review. Other landlords have come off long-term leases or have had to refinance their mortgages. We have had it amply demonstrated to us that refinancing a mortgage up one per cent -- and most mortgages have been refinanced up two, three and four per cent -- adds $10 a month to every unit. Three per cent could add $30.
We don’t think there is any justice in the whole of section 3 of this bill which freezes everything as of last July and allows a six per cent or an eight per cent or anything. We are hoping we can convince the minister to our way of thinking, that the whole period must be opened up to review, starting at the time the bill comes into effect, back to last July 29. We have the necessary amendments to affect it in a proper manner, we think. If they can be improved on by the ministry, that is quite all right with us, too. We will oppose the six per cent amendment, reducing it from eight per cent, mostly on the grounds that, even under that condition, it could create injustice to certain tenants.
On the other hand, the review procedure now must be done in the light of the federal guideline of eight per cent increases, which is not on former rents but on things which will be allowed in this bill when the financial status of the landlord is made available to the rent review officer. We will have to oppose the reduction of the eight per cent to six per cent.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Chairman, we have a further amendment to this section 3(1) of the bill.
An hon. member: Just one at a time.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, I am wondering if we should not deal with the one amendment we now have before us.
Mr. Chairman: I think it would be advisable to do that.
Mr. Good: On a point of order; as long as we have agreement all through this bill that if one amendment is lost that section does not necessarily carry. This is an unusual situation in this Legislature where we have a minority government. Perhaps in some instances we will have three particular points of view on the same section, and how it is going to be resolved I don’t know.
Mr. Reid: That is only one party.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That is only in your own caucus.
Mr. Good: I certainly think -- no, don’t worry about us.
Mr. Ruston: You have more separations than we have.
Mr. Good: You already have two members of your caucus going to vote against you on the first amendment.
Mr. Ruston: That’s right.
Mr. Mancini: That is an old story; it doesn’t wash anymore.
Mr. Good: I think a very important point must be established here: Should we vote on this amendment the section will not necessarily carry because another amendment might be put forth. Could we have a comment on that?
Mr. Chairman: Yes. It makes sense that in order to get as many points of view as possible, we will agree that the carrying or the loss of one amendment doesn’t preclude other members from introducing further amendments.
Mr. Good: We’re glad to have that.
Mr. Shore: I’d like to speak on the general section 3(1), relating to the amendment specifically because that is the only way I can deal with it. In relation to the observation by the hon. member from the second party -- is that the right word?
Mr. Good: Party on your right.
Mrs. Campbell: The party on our right.
An hon. member: On the left sometimes, naturally.
Mr. Shore: I want to make it clear: In my opinion and I sat in on some of those sessions and I have read the briefs also --
Mr. Singer: They wouldn’t let you talk, though, would they?
Mr. Shore: No; they won’t let you talk either.
Mr. Singer: No.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That’s got to be a miracle, stopping them from talking.
Mr. Shore: I have read these briefs and I have read these documents and I think it is an error to hear people state, in broad statements, that landlords are automatically gougers and everything else I have been hearing throughout the last 10 days on this matter.
I am not here representing any landlord, but it is spiteful to see this type of thing happen and be stated, especially if the hon. members have been reading what they have been getting. I have been reading it, too, and it is just very simple.
Mr. Foulds: You are in trouble now; the Conservatives are supporting you.
Mr. Cassidy: Are you running for the leadership?
Mr. Shore: I am not running for anything. I am telling you if the purpose of this bill and the purpose of what you are sincerely interested in is housing, recognize some of the things which have been stated to you in the last 10 days. Read all the material, not just the parts you want to read.
This is a basic part of this whole bill as far as I am concerned.
Mr. Lawlor: You are imputing motives. I find it quite irresponsible.
Mr. Chairman: Order, please. The hon. member for London North has the floor.
Mr. Sargent: You get all the lawyers first.
Mr. Shore: What I am stating, in recognition of some of the documents which have been put forward here, concerns two major items. Obviously and clearly there have been areas of serious concern in the rental market --
Mr. Chairman: Are you speaking to the amendment?
Mr. Shore: Yes, I am. I am glad you asked.
Mr. Sargent: He’s dead on.
Mr. Shore: The point I am getting at is related to the business in the amendment of going down to six per cent. That’s the area I am talking about, but it’s all related to the whole section and the amendment. I just don’t believe the hon. member has thought this thing through in suggesting for a moment that six per cent is a reasonable, definitive type of recommendation to put here. Has he been listening to the statements made that there are people coming off leases of two, three, four and five years? Does he know that these are the things we have to address ourselves to in this whole matter? I read these documents, and I have read some of the documentation by his own people. In the election campaign I even heard that 10 and 12 per cent made a lot of sense.
Let’s not lose sight of what the purpose of this whole thing is. I believe one of the purposes is to tie it in with the anti-inflation document and to try to come to grips with a serious problem. I also believe that the purpose of it is not to do what we are trying to avoid. We still want housing in this province.
I have heard, I believe, both sides of it. But I am satisfied, having assessed this whole area, that if you want to play games and cry wolf, and say let’s test them, if we go too far in this thing, if we really don’t appreciate what the private sector and the individual sector are doing, we are not going to have any housing. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
I believe very sincerely that the recommendation of this thing goes even further. What we potentially are going to do if we don’t establish a market price for these units is that we won’t have any new units. It’s that simple. I think we should recognize that in addressing this position. I don’t think we have to be ashamed of the profit motive. Let’s address ourselves to the areas that have taken advantage of certain things.
I sat there and I heard tenants talk; and I tell you that if there was so major a gouging process taking place in this province, we would have had that room filled 15 times. I remember sitting at a board of education in London, Ontario, where we had 10 times as many people when we were trying to close a school.
I believe there have been things that have to be redressed too, but don’t lose sight of what the purpose of this whole section is. The purpose of it is to control the situation and come to grips with it, but also to make sure that the same people, that the humanists on my right are trying to protect an’] I am trying to protect too, have accommodation and we don’t lose the market for accommodation.
Mr. Foulds: How do you get tenants’ groups from Thunder Bay down to the Legislature?
Mr. Williams: I certainly have to concur in the basic position taken by the member for London North (Mr. Shore) and in the philosophy built into this section. This is really the outs and bolts of the whole bill as far as it relates to the real intent and purpose of the legislation. Is the legislation a form of direct rent control which will, if it is, drive the private sector out of the building sector; or is it for the specific and sole purpose of ensuring some form of stability in the rental accommodation market, as far as rental rates are concerned?
I am satisfied, from what the member for London North has stated, that his party’s approach is the same as ours on this side of the House, that it is to deal with latter situation the bill was designed, to make the bill an adjunct to the federal anti-inflation programme and stabilize rental rates.
It is not for the purpose of destroying confidence in the building market. It is not for the purpose of destroying the free enterprise system. The points of view that have been put forward by the members of the New Democratic Party are designed specifically to do that. There’s no question in my mind that they are looking for longevity in this particular legislation, because if their points of view prevail there will be no one building housing in this province.
Mr. Foulds: Who is building it now?
Mr. Lawlor: The free enterprise system has failed us in this regard, you know it.
Mr. Williams: The free enterprise system will go to other areas where there is opportunity to continue to build the society we have come to enjoy as far as high standards of living are concerned.
Mr. Foulds: Maybe you have.
Mr. McClellan: Your schizophrenia shows.
Mr. Williams: I have been impressed with the briefs that were submitted to the committee from the areas referred to by my colleague from across the House, but I note with interest the fact that all of his references were related to the one sector.
Mr. McClellan: Social planning council?
Mr. Williams: And I think that in fairness if members of the committee were really going to look at the universal impact of the legislation, they had to consider also the briefs from those people who were so heavily involved in providing the housing and the rental accommodation in this province -- the people in the private sector. Because the government of Ontario has not yet been put in the position of having to provide all housing. We are not in the total public housing sector at this point of time, but if the --
Mr. Foulds: That is quite obvious.
Mr. Williams: -- New Democratic Party point of view prevails, we will soon be at that point. Because the builders, the investors and the small and the large rental accommodation owners will be looking elsewhere for a reasonable return on their risk involvement.
I agree with the Liberal position that more flexibility has to be built into this particular section -- which will be talked about, I presume, after this particular proposed amendment has been dealt with. But most certainly if you look at the presentations put forward with great candour, and with a considerable degree of detail from those who are actually in the business of providing rental accommodation, the builders, I was most certainly impressed with the extent to which some of the briefs submitted went in justifying the positions that were being taken in their requests for a minimum 10 per cent factor to ensure they would not be operating their businesses at a loss.
Mr. Wildman: Are you going to vote against the eight per cent?
Mr. Williams: I think the Hamilton apartment owners’ brief was one in particular that pointed out very strenuously that 10 per cent was a minimum figure with which they felt they could live and survive.
A number of the builders and the organizations representing the builders in the Metropolitan Toronto area, also expressed the same concerns, that the eight per cent factor was too rigid, was too little to let them operate in a way in which they would at least be able to operate without a loss. In reading all of those briefs and relating them to the ones that have been presented from the social service area and the briefs submitted by the tenants’ associations, I think there is a balancing off there that must represent the middle position.
Mr. McClellan: Six per cent is the middle position.
Mr. Williams: It appears that the middle position would, in fact, rest on the eight per cent that was proposed in the first instance. The builders, the investors, feel that below 10 per cent is very risky, and that some of the operators will likely be put out of business, particularly the smaller operators. If our NDP colleagues on the committee had listened to some of the smaller owners and their plights and the way in which they detailed their problems to the committee, I think perhaps they would not have been as insensitive to the fact that there are people who would suffer, other than tenants, were the legislation not to be brought in as it has been.
The fact of the matter is that this section must be made more flexible and more fluid, so that equity and fair play is applied to all parties affected by this legislation. Protecting tenants from excessive rent increases must be the basic thrust of the bill, but not to the point of destroying the whole individual initiative and free enterprise concept, which surely will come about if the screws are turned so tightly as to in effect destroy any initiative toward the building of new accommodation in the private sector.
Mr. Foulds: Move an amendment.
Mr. Williams: Consequently, Mr. Chairman, it would be disastrous, I would suggest, to support the amendment that has been put forward. I would urge that the section as written in the bill be maintained with some flexibility to follow in further amending provisions that will recognize the plight of those who are trying to provide accommodation at reasonable cost to tenants; and to yield, at the same time, a reasonable profit for the investment risk involved.
Mr. Chairman: I must remind all members of the committee that we had agreed to stack all of these votes; and in order to dispense with those we have received to this point we’ll have to call in the members at 5:30 p.m. If the minister wants to reply I could then put the question and call in the members on the basis of his response.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I believe we’ve been working to the time of 5:45 p.m. to call in the members. There will only be four or five votes.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It’s 5:30.
Mr. Chairman: It was my understanding that it was agreed that 5:30 would be the time.
Mr. Cassidy: I beg your pardon, 5:30 had been agreed.
Mr. Chairman: A brief comment from the member for Brantford.
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Chairman, this is an issue on which a lot has to be said, perhaps this particular amendment can be left and not voted on today, so that we can deal with this amendment the following day or the next day?
Mr. Singer: We are ready to vote.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Ready to vote.
Mr. Makarchuk: There may be other people who wish to speak on it.
Mr. Singer: The member for Oriole is moving an amendment.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, I’ll be very brief. Of course, I just cannot support the amendment, obviously. I want, in particular, to relate to something that the member from Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) said. He quoted from the various documents and papers that he had, but I want to draw to his attention again an item I referred to at the time we discussed this on second reading. Again, I go to that report on housing and rent control in British Columbia, with such capitalists on it as John Brewin and Karl Jaffary. In part of that report they say that one of the things that must be calculated in arriving at a basic rent is an allowance for rate of return.
Then they say whatever figure you arrive at it is not without a lot of mathematical uncertainty. They take a basic figure of 3.5 per cent and they add on to that 2.9 per cent which is the amount on taxes on the average. The 3.5 per cent and the 2.9 per cent get you 6.4 per cent. Then they say, take the anticipated rate of inflation, move it across and pick a figure. They pick 1.6 per cent; add that to the 6.4 per cent and you get your eight. That’s what they did in BC and they’ve arrived at eight per cent as the figure they’re looking at for next year; it is 10.6 per cent now --
Mr. Cassidy: That’s after two years of rent control.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: So 10.6 per cent was the rate, 10.6 per cent. It started at eight per cent, went to 10.6 per cent and they’re now looking to come back to eight per cent.
Mr. Good: There’s an election there, too.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: And remember, too, there’s an election going on, so it may all change.
Mr. Cassidy: Look at the profiteering that’s been going on here for three years.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I don’t want to debate the issues of whether it’s right or wrong or whether it’s two years of rent control or none. The fact is that they, in developing their formula, take those three components and add them together, using the rate of inflation as a factor, If you’re going to do that then I think it is fair to say that even at the anticipated rate of inflation at eight per cent -- Lord, I hope they’re right. I sincerely hope they’re right -- but if your rate of inflation goes up even more, if you get a 10 per cent anticipated rate of inflation, you’d have 3.6 per cent to add on to your 6.4 per cent to arrive at a reasonable increase in the rents, according to the formula produced by British Columbia; which everybody’s been telling me next to Sweden has the most knowledgeable people in the world on rent control.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: That’s a fable, too.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I think eight per cent is a reasonable rate at this time. I don’t disagree with the point made by my friends from London North and Waterloo North when they say that perhaps there will be cases when eight per cent maybe is too much, maybe even six per cent is too much. That’s the idea of the whole review process, that we do have that freeze period that we’re talking about, which I understand we’re going to discuss in some detail later.
I really believe we should stick at that eight per cent as a figure that fits into the anti-inflation programme, I think, very well. I don’t understand how you can come up with six per cent. I’ve not seen any documentation that you’ve been able to produce how you arrived at it. I’ve been challenged on my eight; I challenge you on your six. I got my eight from the BC report; at least it supports my position. But what’s yours?
Mr. Chairman: It’s been agreed we would call in the members at 5:30. Before doing so, I would like to put the question on Mr. McClellan’s amendment.
All those in favour of the amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.
In my opinion, the “nays” have it.
Call in the members.
The committee divided on Mr. Cassidy’s motion to further amend clause (d) of section 1 of the bill, which was negatived on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Chairman, the “ayes” are 32 and the “nays” are 56.
Mr. Chairman: I declare the sub-amendment lost and the hon. minister’s amendment carried.
Motion agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr. Good’s motion to amend clause (f) of section 1 of the bill, which was approved on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Chairman, the “ayes” are 37 and the “nays” are 31.
Mr. Chairman: I declare the amendment carried.
Motion agreed to.
Section 1, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr. Cassidy’s motion to amend section 2 of the bill, which was approved on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Chairman, the “ayes” are 57 and the “nays” are 31.
Mr. Chairman: I declare the amendment carried.
Motion agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
The committee divided on Mr. McClellan’s motion to amend subsection 1 of section 3 of the bill, which was negatived on the following vote:
Clerk of the House: Mr. Chairman, the “ayes” are 32 and the “nays” are 56.
Mr. Chairman: I declare the amendment lost.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the committee rise and report.
Motion agreed to.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of the whole House begs to report progress and asks for leave to sit again.
Report agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, may I indicate that tomorrow we will continue in committee of the whole with Bill 20, followed by Bill 26, followed by Bill 5.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the adjournment of the House.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.