The House resumed at 8 p.m.
MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 89, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Mr. Swart: We will support this bill on second reading but I think it should go to committee. Much of it is housekeeping but there are two or three issues about which we have some concern. I won’t take the time of the House to go over those matters with which we agree. I do want to raise two or three other issues. Perhaps the parliamentary assistant can comment on them on second reading and he himself may want to bring in some amendments to these items in the bill.
When we are amending the section of the Municipal Act which permits municipalities of over 20,000 population to issue term debentures without the approval of the minister, I am wondering why we do not consider changing that or eliminating the 22,000. There seems to me good sound reason for this. Many municipalities below 20,000 population have the staff and the competence to operate their financial affairs without having to go to the minister for approval of term debentures. The Ontario Municipal Board has to deal with all matters of capital spending in any event. I would hope the parliamentary assistant would take a look at that item.
Also, in one way, I have some concern about eliminating the three-fourths vote on the purchasing of industrial sites. In principle I am not against the majority vote on all council matters, but in this particular item it will mean it will be easier to purchase land for industrial sites -- even to have permission to purchase it and sell it off at a loss. It will make that easier.
I would have hoped that it would do the same sort of thing for residential development, as well as industrial development. It seems more and more we make it easier to give public funds to help out industry, but as far as housing development land is concerned, we allow the developer to push the price of that up and up. And that is my reason for objecting to that.
Along the same line, I would hope that the minister would consider amending clause (c) in section 10 of the bill. It should be broadened, I suggest. We hopefully will move an amendment on that in committee of the whole. If a council no longer wishes to use land originally intended as an industrial site for that purpose, then we propose that they may sell or dispose of all or any part of such land for any purpose.
I would like to see the words added in there that “the council may subdivide, service, sell or dispose of the whole or any part of such land for any purpose.” The council then would have the right to do so, if they so desire.
This has happened once in the Niagara Peninsula, and ultimately council was able to get approval from the minister to actually subdivide the land and sell it off. I think all councils should have this right.
There is land that may well never be developed as industrial areas. The zoning could be changed, for instance. The nature of the land could be changed for use for residential purposes. The municipality, in that case, could subdivide the land and sell it off for residential purposes, rather than having to sell it to a developer who then reaps the benefits and the profits from it.
I would ask the parliamentary assistant to consider those items before we come to clause-by-clause consideration of the bill in this House, whether that’s tonight or at some later time.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have very brief comments about the bill, and I will leave it to my colleague, the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), to talk about certain clauses in the bill. I do want to address my remarks to a proposed amendment that I have discussed with the member for Kingston and the Islands. I want to express to the parliamentary assistant some of our concerns, or at least some of my concerns about this proposed amendment. Now, as I understand it, the proposed amendment really originated back in the regional --
Mr. Norton: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I don’t wish to interfere with what the member is addressing himself to at this point, but I did give both of the opposite parties advance notice of an intention that we have in respect to an amendment we would like to introduce later.
I had also hoped to give them more up-to-date material on the matter, which has been printed since then, between the second reading of this bill and the time when that would be introduced in committee of the whole. I think that any discussion of the proposed amendment might be more appropriate in committee of the whole when that amendment is actually before the committee.
Mr. Speaker: I presume the hon. members wish to discuss the principle of it, and not get into too much detail about whatever the amendment might be.
Mr. Roy: That’s right; I don’t want to get into the details of it, Mr. Speaker. But I know that the amendment will be coming forward, and I wanted to express some of my personal concern and those of my colleagues about this proposed amendment before it goes to committee of the whole. I think I can address the principle involved in this amendment. And if I may continue, Mr. Speaker, I think I am in order, because we will be discussing the amendment under the principle of the bill and the principle of that amendment.
Mr. Speaker: If it has to do with the principle as outlined in this bill it will be in order, yes.
Mr. Roy: The principle, yes.
Mr. Renwick: Sorry, I thought you had finished because you hadn’t said anything yet.
Mr. Nixon: It’s going to be one of those evenings, is it?
Mr. Roy: If you followed that --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Let’s get on with it. The member for Ottawa East will address himself to the bill, thank you.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment, as explained by the member for Kingston and the Islands, is to correct the situation which has been existing throughout many municipalities. That is, basically, that many regional councils or municipalities have not been following the requirements of section 446 of the Municipal Act.
The requirement, Mr. Speaker, was basically that when a change was going to be made in relation to a roadway, or acquisition of property, that notice be given. Of course, the purpose of the notice is to hear any objections. Apparently, many municipalities, and among others, the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, had not been following this requirement. So, they were taken to court and an injunction was given by the judge whereby the project as constructed by the municipality had to come down.
My concern about it is basically this. When we’re involved in a situation, as is proposed in this amendment, what we are doing is acquiescing to some degree to an elected body, be it a municipality or regional council, in not following the dictums of the Municipal Act. I’m concerned as a member of this House, and I think all members should be concerned, about certain requirements in the Municipal Act which are not followed by regional councils or other elected bodies. Usually when this happens to an individual, if he doesn’t follow the law or the requirements of the law, then he can be brought to court. At least we as a government, or a law enforcement agency at whatever level, can see to it that he’s made to follow the law. In this particular case, we’re sort of acquiescing to a state of events where two factors, including a number of councils --
Mr. Swart: Oh, come on.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Do you have a point of order?
Mr. Swart: I just want to again mention the point of order which was mentioned before. We have, before us, a bill for second reading. It has a great number of clauses in it, but the one on which the member is speaking is not in the bill. We have had a notice of intent to submit that amendment when we are dealing with it clause by clause. It’s not in the bill. It’s not in the principle of the bill and I think the discussion should take place at that time.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the hon. member for Ottawa East knows he should discuss this bill in the amendment that’s in here, I’m sure, if I gather the gist of the objections, that there will just be duplications of the discussion if he continues on to discuss the amendment to the amendment which has been proposed.
May I also point out one other item first before the hon. member carries on? There is no such amendment before us at the present time. We are talking about the amendments that are in the Act, not an amendment which may come in later. It is not before us at the present time.
Mr. Renwick: Would that the Sergeant-at-Arms were here as well.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, may I say to you that we’re trying to discuss a section of a bill which the parliamentary assistant has brought to our attention and that he wants to make part of this bill. He says that he will be giving us additional material on the amendment. We’re trying to convey to that member, previous to the bill going into committee, our concerns about it. There may be some --
Mr. Speaker: But it is not before us.
Mr. Roy: Well, could I explain what I was trying to say?
Mr. Speaker: You are wasting the House’s time if you are discussing something that’s not before us. That’s the point I wanted to make. The hon. member will understand that, I’m sure.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order raised by my colleague, the member for Welland-Thorold, we just had the opportunity to notice that my friend, the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr. Taylor) is sitting there in isolated silence. It’s very nice to have him there.
Mr. Nixon: Is that a point of order?
Mr. Speaker: Are you speaking on a point of order?
Mr. Renwick: My point of order is that my colleague, the member for Welland-Thorold, is so secret that I can’t understand why the member for Ottawa East would be challenging the authority of the Speaker on this matter. I can’t understand that.
Mr. Nixon: This is a great point of order.
Mr. Renwick: I can’t understand that --
Mr. Shore: He doesn’t want to.
Mr. Renwick: -- unless it’s a matter that he’s just unruly.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Renwick: It may be that he doesn’t want to stay for the whole evening. He just wants to get in his blows now. If so, we will defer to him.
Mr. Shore: That’s not a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are wasting the time of the House by this bickering.
Mr. Roy: I am discussing what should be in the bill.
Mr. Speaker: We should discuss what is in this bill, not something which may come forward later, if I may just point that out, and I think that should be enough to be said. We are discussing the principle of the bill, not the detail of it, of course. What may come before us later is not under discussion at the present time.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, since it has been referred to by a number of members, my experience, sir, and I know it must be yours as well, is that on second reading it is quite appropriate to discuss in general terms the matters which should be in the bill. On a matter of grave importance, such as the one that my hon. colleague has brought forward, surely the hon. members -- and there are only three or four of them in the NDP present -- should sit back and listen to these important matters which my colleague wants to put before them.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are just wasting the time of the House here now. The hon. member must know that he discusses what’s in the bill, the pros or cons of it, that’s fine. Some of what he may have started out to say may well be included. If you don’t like what’s in the bill, that’s all right. But we should discuss what’s in the bill, please. The hon. member for Ottawa East.
Mr. Roy: If I may complete my remarks, Mr. Speaker, prior to being so rudely interrupted by that party to my right, who were wrong again.
Mr. Renwick: The Speaker made a ruling.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We don’t know what the hon. member is going to say yet.
Mr. Roy: What I find interesting is that when on this side we are trying to make constructive comments, we get the least patience from the member for Riverdale who takes up hours giving us platitudes in this House.
Mr. Nixon: He didn’t think of it first; that’s the problem.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member continue with discussion of this bill?
Mr. Roy: Apart from that gratuitous comment, may I complete my remarks very briefly, Mr. Speaker, by asking the member for Kingston and the Islands to give serious consideration as to what he wants us to do in this bill. We on this side of the House have serious concerns about taking away the rights of certain citizens, rights which were given because the law was not followed by certain elected bodies. I want to put my remarks on the record and ask the member to please give that serious consideration because we on this side of the House are going to have difficulty in supporting that amendment.
Mr. Renwick: A point of order, Mr. Speaker, it is not in the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I haven’t been able to detect whether it’s in the bill yet or not. Will the hon. member continue?
Mr. Roy: That’s right.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Ottawa East will continue.
Mr. Roy: As usual, Mr. Speaker, the interjections from the member for Riverdale were academic, because I have finished my remarks.
Mr. Nixon: Very good remarks they were too.
Mr. Breithaupt: The bill before us has a number of particular housekeeping sections. In addition to the comments that my colleague from Ottawa East has made, I have to say that with respect to these other comments we are content that the bill go to committee and that it be dealt with there. The section to which my colleague has referred is one to which we have been given notice of a proposed amendment. Therefore, the remarks which he has made and the concerns which he has expressed with respect to them are those things which will, one presumes, form in effect part of the principle of this general bill.
It is difficult to find any particular principle in a bill that brings forward a number of amendments. Basically, these amendments bring in many of the items which are contained in the other recent changes to the regional government Acts with which we have already dealt. We are now bringing in these changes to the Municipal Act so that those municipalities who are not otherwise covered by regional government would be brought into line with these other general procedures.
With the growth of regional government in the province, those municipalities which are not already included in regional governments are much fewer in number. These amendments will at least bring to those the changes which follow from the bills that we have already dealt with. I recall Bill 54 dealing with the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and Bill 55 dealing with a variety of amendments in an omnibus fashion to each of the particular regional government bills that we have passed over these last half dozen years or so.
We are prepared to support the bill generally in principle, and I can assure the member for Kingston and the Islands that when it comes to the point of his actually introducing the peculiar amendment to which my colleague has referred, we shall amplify our remarks on that amendment at that time.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. member wish to speak on this bill? Does the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands wish to sum up?
Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I’ll be very brief. I will wait until committee of the whole to amplify my response to the hon. member as well on that particular point.
In response, very briefly, to the concern raised by the hon. member for Welland-Thorold, as I understand it at the present time, the only circumstances under which the figure of 20,000 in terms of population is significant, and the only circumstances under which the approval he refers to would be required, is if they were to make application to the Ontario Municipal Improvement Corp. for funds.
Now, at the present time, that application would have to be processed by the municipal finance branch, since they administer those funds. Since OMIC has an annual appropriation of some $8 million, it would be necessary for that branch to continue to process those applications as they came in.
But those, as I understand it, are the only circumstances under which the approval to which the hon. member for Welland-Thorold referred would be required for those municipalities of under 20,000 population.
Mr. Swart: Why is it for 20,000 population?
Mr. Norton: As I understand it, the difference is that municipalities over 20,000 at the present time can borrow funds from OMIC only for purposes of municipal sewage programmes. Municipalities of under 20,000 are allowed to borrow from OMIC for any approved purpose. In that sense, municipalities of under 20,000 do get some preferential treatment in terms of the purposes for which they can borrow, and by virtue of the way that it is administered. Of necessity, funds must be processed by the municipal finance branch of the ministry, because that is how they’re administered.
Beyond that, Mr. Speaker, I think I will reserve comments on the other matters raised until the committee of the whole.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: This bill is to be ordered for committee of the whole House? Agreed.
CITY OF THUNDER BAY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 106, An Act to amend the City of Thunder Bay Act.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the changes incorporated in this bill were requested by the city of Thunder Bay, and its representatives are in total agreement with the bill. It is, at least to some extent, a technical matter resulting from the amalgamation of the two former cities of Port Arthur and Fort William. Therefore, we have no objection to the bill as it presently stands.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, we would agree with that approach. The members for Fort William (Mr. Angus) and Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds), I presume, have no objections or comments to the bill.
Mr. Roy: We’ll never know. They’re not here.
Mr. Breithaupt: Therefore, I would expect that the matter is otherwise in order and we are prepared to support the bill.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, as indicated by my colleague, the member for Welland-Thorold, we’re not going to oppose the bill. I have discussed this matter with my colleagues, the member for Port Arthur and the member for Fort William, and each of them has been in communication with the appropriate officials in the city of Thunder Bay --
Mr. Nixon: We should hear from them.
Mr. Breithaupt: Didn’t doubt it for a moment.
Mr. Renwick: -- about the provisions of the bill --
Mr. Roy: That isn’t what they told me.
Mr. Renwick: -- and have authorized me on their behalf to indicate to the House that there’s obviously no objection to the bill in the city of Thunder Bay.
My concern is a somewhat different one in that I am always anxious to know, at the point in time when we are asked to pass a bill which is going to have effect as of Jan. 1, 1970, what were the specific problems that arose which led to the introduction by the government of a bill which is going to be retroactive -- not just retrospective but retroactive -- as to the date upon which the city of Thunder Bay came into existence. I think it is most important that the record of the House should show the specific problems which arose which led to the need to provide for this kind of legislation.
The substance of the legislation is perfectly clear, both from reading the bill itself and from reading the explanatory notes which accompany the bill. It’s the initiative and motivation behind the bill which I am very interested in simply because I do not think any bill with this retroactive feature to it should be allowed to pass unless we have an adequate explanation. It may well be that the parliamentary assistant may be prepared to give his explanation now, in which case it will not be necessary in our opinion that the bill go to committee, or he may choose to deal with it in committee, in which case we would request that it go. But it is entirely in his hands as to how he deals with the bill.
Mr. Norton: In response, particularly to the hon. member for Riverdale, I will attempt very briefly to outline the developments over the last six years that have led to the introduction of this bill. I might also add that I will still request that it go to committee of the whole because there is a minor amendment, which in fact was requested by his colleagues, which we have agreed to introduce and which I will introduce in committee of the whole.
At the time of the amalgamation of the cities which now form part of Thunder Bay, the situation that prevailed was that the respective utilities commissions in the two cities held land in different manners. In some cases it was held in the name of the municipality and in others in the name of the commission. At the time that the commission was amalgamated to cover the new city of Thunder Bay, there was still some misunderstanding with respect to where the land was vested.
At one point in time, shortly following the amalgamation, there arose a dispute that I think crystallizes the kind of problem that has existed for six years. The commission was vacating certain premises in Thunder Bay and the city was in need of additional space for its administrative offices. Interpreting the way in which the land had been held in such a way that the city viewed the land as being vested in the municipality, they proposed that they occupy it. The commission had different views on the matter and a dispute arose over the question of the holding of the assets of the commission.
Some time following that an agreement was reached, or at least it was thought an agreement was reached, between the city and the commission that would iron out those difficulties. In fact, it involved basically what is incorporated in the legislation before us. There was to be a consideration exchange hands in the form of cash payment to the commission for certain properties. But then subsequently it was discovered that what appeared to be an understanding at that time was still subject to two different interpretations. The city felt that the consideration that was being offered was going to result in all of the assets vesting in the city; the commission was of the opinion that it only applies to the particular asset that the city wants to occupy at that time.
So there has been a long-standing debate. There have been long-term efforts on the part of members of the staff of the ministry to assist in ironing out these difficulties. I think that, with the co-operation of the members for Port Arthur and Fort William we have now been able to iron out, in conjunction with the municipality and the commission, an agreement which I think this time both clearly understand and which forms the basis of the legislation to which they have both agreed. The solicitors for both parties have had an opportunity to review the legislation and all indications are that this is clearly understood now and acceptable to both parties.
Mr. Speaker: The motion is for second reading of Bill 106. Shall the motion carry?
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: This bill, I understand, is to be ordered to committee of the whole House.
CHILD WELFARE MUNICIPAL PAYMENTS CONTINUANCE ACT
Hon. Mr. Taylor moved second reading of Bill 108, An Act to provide for the Continuance of Certain Payments between Municipalities under the Child Welfare Act, 1965.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I have discussed this bill with my colleague, the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan), who is our critic for your ministry and he --
Mr. Nixon: He is not here tonight.
Mr. Roy: You are really short of bodies here, tonight, Jim.
Mr. Foulds: But not of minds.
Mr. Renwick: One has to make value judgements about these matters, and my time is less valuable than that of the member for Bellwoods, so I am here tonight to debate this bill with the minister.
Mr. Nixon: They are all subjective.
Mr. Breithaupt: That was his decision.
Mr. Nixon: You are here every night. Where is the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan)?
Mr. Renwick: He is doing something terribly important in connection with the next election.
Mr. Speaker: Let’s get on with the bill, thank you.
Mr. Renwick: I am always a little bit concerned when I am told in the explanatory note that there has been a mistake made in the revision of the statutes or the repeal of a section which was not to be included in the revised statutes but was to he unconsolidated and remain unrepealed. This is what the bill talks about.
I would ask the minister to speak directly to the question as to whether or not this is, in fact, simply an error in the consolidation or revision of the statute. I would like him also then to explain to me what section 6 of regulation 86 of the revised regulations of Ontario, 1970, which is quoted in full, means when translated into dollars and cents. Otherwise, we don’t have any objection to the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. member wish to speak to this bill? The hon. member for Renfrew North.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, there are just two or three points that I would like to get some clarification on from the minister. I think that this bill has a certain relationship to the county of Renfrew. I presume it is related to a legal action undertaken by the county of Renfrew against the Province of Ontario some two or three months ago. If that is the case, I would like that also to be part of the answer to the previous question put by the member for Riverdale.
I certainly can support the bill in principle, because my people in the county of Renfrew tell me that this is the kind of corrective measure which their legal activity had sought to gain. If that is the case, the other two or three points I have, Mr. Speaker, are dependent upon an answer from the minister on that particular point, and will await his response to that
Mr. Speaker: Any other hon. members wish to speak to this bill? The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the member for Riverdale, yes, it is in my estimation an honest error. I did examine the provisions of the Act which provided for consolidation and revision of the statutes -- that was in 1970 RSO. When I looked at the schedules of rolls that are attached or appended as provided for in section 6, there are two schedules, schedule A and schedule B. In schedule A it is indicated what Acts are repealed in whole or in part. If you look at that, it had the whole of the Act repealed. Schedule B indicates what portions of a statute are to remain unconsolidated and not repealed. In schedule B it showed section 88 as to remain unrepealed and unconsolidated, therefore there was an inherent contradiction between schedule A and schedule B.
The intention was to preserve section 88 of the Child Welfare Act in an effort to protect the orders that were made prior to that time, whereby one municipality would be responsible for the payment towards the care of a child from another municipality. It is my understanding that there were something like 44 orders outstanding whereby municipalities were paying and other municipalities receiving moneys for the care of children who were being cared for in a municipality other than the municipality from which the child came.
We had a situation where for a period of years from 1971 to 1975 we had thought that the section 88 was preserved because the intention was not to repeal or consolidate it in the revision and there was a contradiction in the two schedules, as I mentioned earlier. One schedule indicates the repeal of it and the other the non-repeal of that section.
We had these agreements from that period of time, 1971 to 1975, under which payments were being made from one municipality to another in good faith. That section then was questioned as to whether or not it was repealed because of the contradiction if one looks at the two schedules. We did question this and a notice was served in terms of an action involving some payments, but it is my understanding that there are something like 44 orders outstanding which involves, in answer to the member for Riverdale, something like $312,000 or $313,000.
In 1975, section 88 was repealed, so it was just for that period where the error was in the roll to the consolidation that we are concerned about.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, I have one or two other questions.
Mr. Speaker: This is not a question-and-answer period. Second reading of the bill is debate in principle and each speaker has an opportunity to speak once. If there is any detail, of course, it can go elsewhere. If there is a question of clarification, we would allow that under the circumstances.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Committee of the whole House?
Mr. Renwick: Because of the nature of Bill 108, even though it is out of order to do so, we would be quite content, rather than delay the minister, to deal with Bill 108 in committee immediately if that’s acceptable.
Mr. Breithaupt: It would be quite acceptable to us to accommodate the minister.
Mr. Deans: I think he wants rid of you.
Mr. Renwick: It is an extremely technical bill.
Hon. Mr. Meen: In the circumstances, to accommodate the members, I think we could go to Bill 108. I understand the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) is quite satisfied with that.
Mr. Roy: It is not to accommodate us.
Clerk of the House: The second order, House in committee of the whole.
CHILD WELFARE MUNICIPAL PAYMENTS CONTINUANCE ACT
House in committee on Bill 108, An Act to provide for the Continuance of Certain Payments between Municipalities under the Child Welfare Act, 1965.
Mr. Chairman: Are there any comments, questions or amendments to any section of Bill 108, and if so, to which section?
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make one or two general comments since the minister indicated there had been a relationship, at least in part, between this corrective measure and an action initiated by the county of Renfrew.
I want to take this opportunity to register, on behalf of the county of Renfrew, their very strong sense of unhappiness about the fact that they had a dialogue with the ministry on this particular item for almost a year. From what they told me as late as this afternoon, in the last number of months they have incurred legal costs in the amount of roughly $3,000 in this particular action to which we have made reference -- a legal action which they would not have contemplated had they been told in the course of this dialogue with the ministry that this kind of corrective measure was contemplated.
I want to say that I find this unfortunate, as I know that the particular officials at the county level do, and that I hope the participatory qualities, about which we heard so very much from the esteemed government House leader this afternoon can be brought down to this kind of a level so as to prevent the needless expense to which the county of Renfrew has been placed under these conditions. I want to register that very strongly because the administration of the county of Renfrew feels particularly upset that they have gone to the expense of initiating this activity legally, which they would not have done had they been told in the course of a very regular dialogue over the past year, as I said earlier, that this sort of acceptable -- to them at any rate -- correction was going to take place. I hope the minister will take that into consideration.
I would simply like to ask one final question about something that concerns the county officials: Since the minister comes before us tonight, admitting the fact that this is a correction which flows out of an error -- the explanatory notes point that out -- is he prepared to consider some sort of compensation for municipalities like the county of Renfrew that have incurred expenses -- in their case about $15,000 -- as a result of this particular instance?
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I only have one comment, which is to say that we in this caucus accept the explanation of the minister that it’s an honest mistake and an honest error at the time when this consolidation of the statutes was being undertaken. It was inadvertently repealed at that time and then formally repealed in 1975, as I understand it; so we are only talking about an interregnum period and what we’re trying to do is to correct for that period of time the error which was made in the consolidation.
I don’t know how one goes about it, and I don’t presume to know, but with respect to what my colleague, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), had to say about the uncertainty as to what the ministry was going to do about an obviously extremely technical matter, if that municipality or any other municipality incurred expenses, I’m inclined to think there may be some way in which they could be relieved of the expenses which they legitimately incurred because of the error which was made by the government -- I’m not being invidious about it: it’s just an error, which does happen from time to time in these circumstances.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, the problem, of course, was whether we should leave the interpretation to the courts or whether we should clarify it by legislation, and the municipalities affected did proceed in good faith. As I mentioned, payments were made by the municipalities and payments were received by others, pursuant to others. Rather than leave that interpretation -- on reviewing the legislation it was apparent that it was an honest error -- for the court, which really wouldn’t solve anything, I thought the practice that had been followed by the municipalities should be respected and, of course, the rectification made in this House. In other words, the legislation was intended and is intended to obviate payments or at least the dispute over payments.
I think what my friend from Renfrew North probably refers to is the fact that the county there did seek legal advice to take certain action in terms of the interpretation of the law. I cannot undertake to reimburse that municipality for an intended action, an action which I believe was commenced; or at least a writ issued, on June 15. But, I think the legislation will eliminate a redress to the courts in terms of determining the interpretation of what was intended.
Mr. Conway: Just one or two clarifications on that particular point. I want to make it clear that my direction to you in terms of compensatory consideration relates not to the legal expenses of this particular municipality, but to the amount of money involved in terms of their payment over that time period with which we are now dealing. As I understand it, there were about $15,000 worth of payments. I am not exactly sure of that figure but there were X dollars expended by that municipality during this particular time. The administration of that municipality has asked me to ask you whether or not you would consider, under the present conditions of this corrective measure, some compensation for their financial consideration.
Second, I think, is the point that they did enter into this legal activity having been in daily contact with your ministry. You have a municipality which has acted in very good faith and which is very supportive of this. They simply are quite a distance from Toronto and they wonder why, if the government was contemplating this kind of very technical correction, didn’t somebody tell them back in April and they wouldn’t have bothered. I guess it is a small point; it is a point that relates to the doing of business. I would hope that having consideration for the fact that the activity has already been entered into, that you will pay specific attention so that this sort of thing does not recur. I think it would have been a very simple administrative manoeuver on your ministry’s part simply to indicate, at the time of the action back in April, 1976, to the municipality involved that you planned to move in this particular way and therefore their activity legally in this regard was really going to be redundant. The expression used by one of the administration officials in the county of Renfrew is: “They have pulled the rug from underneath our feet. Not that we are unhappy about the fact that they are doing it. It is just that had they only advised us, they could have saved us a considerable number of dollars.”
So, Mr. Minister, my points are, again, that I would like you to pay specific attention to the administrative difficulty which has cost this municipality $3,000 in legal fees. I would also ask you to direct your comments, insofar as compensation and the consideration of that compensation is concerned, not to the legal fees involved but the dollars involved from this municipality’s treasury in the time period of which we are now speaking. That’s the compensatory activity of which I am concerned.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, just to follow my colleague from Renfrew North. He seems to be making an excellent point. First of all, on the question of legal fees, the exercise of getting involved in an action became academic, of course, with your legislation. But, just as you acted in good faith and made an honest error, they were acting in good faith as well. But, I think their problems flow basically from the error originally. First of all, you should be giving consideration to this, especially since my colleague has added another element to this which has concerned me. It is the fact that apparently they were in constant communication with your ministry, and your ministry was aware of the difficulty. And obviously from what he says, your ministry seemed to be aware that they were contemplating some form of legal redress and they were not advised of the forthcoming legislation.
You acted in good faith and so did they, but their problem certainly flowed from the original error. I think that some consideration should certainly be given to that.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, may I repeat that it has been our interpretation that the section in question, section 88 of the Child Welfare Act, was not in fact repealed during this five-year period. That was our honest intention. And if you look again, objectively, at the schedule, you can see it was not the intention to repeal that section. Or when you compare schedules A and B, they are contradictory.
Our instructions were to all of the municipalities that section 88 was in fact in force, and this was the posture that my ministry took for those five years. That then preserved the payments that were being made by municipalities and, on the other hand, also the moneys being received by the municipalities pursuant to these orders for support of children outside of their jurisdiction.
When I got word of it, and rather than have the matter interpreted by the courts, I thought the obvious answer was to bring it into this House. The county of Renfrew was advised the moment the bill was introduced. It was introduced on June 10, and I sent them a copy of the bill on June 11. The action was commenced on June 15, which was yesterday. So there was notice of intention regarding this matter.
I’m just saying I didn’t wish to see any unnecessary expenditure in terms of court costs in regard to a technicality or an obvious error. Sure, I’m happy if the member is asking me to look at a particular situation. Frankly, I haven’t personally reviewed the situation in Renfrew in terms of the facts. But from what the member has said, they are obviously happy with the legislation that has come in and which clarifies the matter. I think that in other cases in other municipalities, they will be equally happy not to feel insecure in terms of the payments that were based on the understanding that the section was not repealed until 1975.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, I may say that the explanation of the minister is completely satisfactory to us. If my understanding is correct, it is that the ministry proceeded on the basis that the error had not occurred. All this does is to make valid what they did on the assumption that the error hadn’t occurred, and you want to just correct that technicality. I think that, in a very real sense, perhaps destroys a substantial part of the validity of the argument by my colleague, the member for Renfrew North.
I think that when we first considered the bill, at least not understanding all of the technical circumstances, it appeared to be the reverse situation; and in that case we would have had some concern. But if the ministry proceeded on the basis that the error had not occurred, then if the error is drawn to the attention of the ministry and they move immediately to correct it, I cannot see from our point of view anything wrong with that procedure. I think on the contrary the minister is to be complimented for proceeding so promptly to clear this particular matter.
Mr. Conway: Just one concluding remark: I can’t substantially dispute the learned contribution from the member for Riverdale. However, having listened to the points he has made, I simply reiterate that the county of Renfrew feels as I feel that the correction is certainly in order. Had one consultation been made in the early part of the spring -- the county now is certainly not going to get any consideration from the ministry in question -- but had the consultation been offered, as I think it could and should have been, that would then certainly have saved that particular municipality a considerable number of dollars.
Not being a legal person, however, I want to ask if you felt the strength of your earlier case -- it’s interesting to hear you say that you did not want the situation to be settled in the courts. It is unfortunate that you are not willing to take this particular municipality of which I speak into your confidence so that they would not have been put to an undue expense. I want to tell you, Mr. Minister, they are not very pleased about the level of communication which has brought them to this particular point.
Bill 108 reported.
EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT (CONTINUED)
House in committee on Bill 87, An Act to amend The Education Act, 1974.
On section 9:
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, last week when we were last debating this bill in committee, I indicated that I would take back and reconsider a part of section 9. That was the part having to do with making it mandatory for school boards to charge students who are in this country under the Immigration Act of Canada the gross fee.
During the debate them were many questions raised about the problems at border areas in this province -- for example, the Windsor-Detroit area, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.-Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. area and so forth. Since that time we have conducted some studies about this particular problem. I must say that in the weeks that I have been looking at some of these cases, it has become obvious to me there is a chance there are people who could be overlooked here and who could unjustly be charged a fee to attend school in this province who should not be charged.
I am going to propose that this section be taken out of the Act at this time until we can have an opportunity to completely review the situation that was brought to our attention in this House -- particularly of American and Canadian students living in border areas of this province. That we will do. So I would like to suggest that the newly numbered section 9 -- the part that shows as subsection 6 at the bottom; it isn’t subsection 6 of 9 but is indicated so, beginning “notwithstanding any other provision of this Act”. I’m recommending that that section be taken out and that section 5 of the Act also be taken out, since it pertains to the same matter.
Mr. Foulds: I just want to say we are very pleased by the minister’s action. We accept it with the grace and skill with which he put it forward. I would like to pay particular tribute to the arguments put forward by my colleague the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall), and my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), on this matter. I think they were instrumental in having the minister look at this whole situation.
Mr. Ferris: Mr. Chairman, I would certainly concur with the NDP member who suggested that we should congratulate the minister on this. I think I also made some communications with him about the areas close to the border. Other than being able to recite individual incidents there was no clear distinction on it as to how they would formulate any kind of policy that could be meaningful and so that it can be clearly left with the municipalities and the local groups to deal with the situation as they see fit in individual cases. If I might make another remark, because I guess it’s just a general discussion about the two points that are outstanding, I believe also the only vote now would be section 1, subsection 1, which is the daily enrolment. I would like to make my couple of remarks directed to the opposition of the NDP to this particular area going --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please. I think the hon. member is straying from this section. We are dealing with subsection 6. Perhaps we could deal with --
Mr. Ferris: All right, if you wish to call --
Mr. Deans: Will the minister please move the section to be deleted?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I don’t think the minister has to do that but the Chair will ask the question.
Shall subsection 6 of section 9 stand as part of the bill?
Mr. Deans: No.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Chairman, no. Could I inquire whether section 6, to which you refer, is in the bill as reprinted? Presumably that has already been attended to and the section 6 that we now see before us is the one that the hon. minister wishes to have included.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: We are dealing with the original bill.
Mr. Breithaupt: But there has been a reprint of the bill available for committee of the whole House. Therefore the numbering may become somewhat confusing unless we are all dealing with the same version of the bill.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Well, the Chair is dealing with the original bill and with the numbers as printed there.
Mr. B. Newman: I am pleased that the hon. minister has withdrawn the section as he has mentioned earlier because every one of the Windsor members has been confronted with the situation that was brought up by the hon. member for Windsor West. I shouldn’t say Windsor West; it is Windsor-Sandwich, in fact. I would say all of the Essex county members have had problems brought to their attention by constituents. This, I assume, will resolve the situation for the time being at least.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me just say that what this does is to return us to the status quo in the Education Act. Boards now have the option to charge fees if they wish. It doesn’t remove fees for anyone. It just puts it back to where it was before this amendment.
Mr. Ferris: On a point of clarification, Mr. Chairman. We are talking about paragraph 6 of section 9?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Subsection 6 of section 9, page 4 in the original bill.
Mr. Ferris: Yes.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Shall that section stand as part of the bill?
Mr. Renwick: No.
Mr. Deans: No.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: All those in favour will please say “aye.”
Mr. Deans: It is agreed.
Mr. Chairman: All those opposed will please say “nay.”
This shall be struck from the bill.
Mr. Foulds: The technical difficulty that I now --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: There is a consequent amendment on page 2 of the original bill, section 5. Shall that section stand as part of the bill?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We already had a vote on that, a stacked vote, which we asked to be stacked and the motion was defeated. The motion to leave that as part of the bill was defeated the other night. Let’s leave it that way. That will take this section out of the bill.
Mr. Renwick: We are happy with any consequential amendment.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The committee agrees that section 5 shall not stand as part of the bill?
Mr. Renwick: We hope you never bring that back in even after you have studied it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: We have one other stacked vote to deal with in section 1 of Bill 87. Shall it be stood down for another division in the committee?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Yes, agreed.
Mr. Renwick: Yes, we have to have a debate.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Chairman, with the agreement of the other House leaders, rather than following sequentially as we would normally do, I think the next bill that should be called is Bill 98.
TRAVEL INDUSTRY AMENDMENT ACT
House in committee on Bill 98, An Act to amend the Travel Industry Act, 1974.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Are there any comments, questions or amendments to any section of the bill and, if so, to which section?
The hon. member for Port Arthur -- or is it Fort William?
Mr. Angus: Fort William. You have the right geography, just the wrong side of town.
Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Angus: I just wanted to ask the minister in regard to section 3, the regulations, whether he has inquired of his staff to see whether or not they can amend the regulations to allow for an appeal procedure to the appropriate body within his ministry.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: There is some question as to whether we can do it by regulation or whether it would require an amendment to the Act. I advised the hon. member when he inquired about this just shortly after the second reading of the bill that I would be prepared to accept, in principle, the concept of an appeal from the compensation board’s decisions. However, since the money in the compensation fund really is the property of those who have contributed and is not Treasury money -- it is not consolidated revenue money -- we would want to consult with the industry before taking that action. I would like to say if it can be done by regulation, with the advice of our counsel, and if the industry agrees to the concept, we would probably propose the appeals be made to the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal which would give it some objectivity.
Mr. Angus: Has the minister checked yet with his legal staff to find out whether he can make that change if he gets agreement from the industry?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Yes, we have checked and, as I say, there is a division among the lawyers. Some say it can be done. However, in view of the difficulty that we have had with the regulations under this Act, I prefer that it be double-checked. There are others who say it may be more difficult than it appears at first glance to those who gave me the affirmative opinion.
Mr. Angus: Just one final question: Between now and the point in time when decision is made about whether or not you can make amendments to the regulations and if you have agreement from the industry to allow for an appeal process, could you get an internal commitment from the board or express to the board your feeling with regard to an appeal so that between now and whenever the decision is made, if something does come up, any decision can be made at such a point in time when an appeal process is established?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I understand what the hon. member is getting at. I have no objection to passing my thoughts on to the board. I think it should be pointed out the difficulty of asking the board to do something which they have no legal authority to do. Under these circumstances, even I would admit they have no legal authority to allow an appeal, nor would there be any authority for an appeal body to hear it. However, I am certainly prepared to talk to the board. There is a feeling that it can be done by regulation which means that it can be done quite quickly.
Mr. Angus: I keep saying one final point. If by chance it can’t be done by regulation and you do have an agreement from the industry, at the earliest possible moment, assuming the House comes back to session in the fall, could we be assured that you will introduce an amendment to provide for that appeal process?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: It may not be necessary and I will be in touch with the hon. member to inform him. If we can do it by regulation, I will notify him immediately. I think we owe the industry an opportunity to consult with them on this point.
Mr. Angus: If you do have an agreement from the industry but find you can’t amend the regulations, will you bring in an amendment at the appropriate time?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I think I can say that without question. As I say, I am committed to the concept of an appeal. I think in retrospect it should always have been there.
Mr. Shore: In view of this section 1 amendment, broadening the availability of the compensating fund which, if I understand correctly is to be a minimum of $1 million at one time, and in view of the allowance for the travel agents to be able to call on that fund, which I think is valid, are you satisfied there is no chance or minimal chance of the fund not being available when needed in case of a severe bankruptcy or a compounding of several bankruptcies or insolvencies? Is there any chance, other than the most extreme type of possibility, of that fund not being available when needed?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Chairman, I think there’s always a possibility of catastrophe. I would be the last person in the world to deny that it might happen some day. I think it’s beyond the realm of probability that any tour operator in this country would be of sufficient size to bankrupt the fund if it went under. I think we’ve looked at, without naming any names, some of the larger tour operators and most of them have fairly reliable financial resources behind them because they’re not simply independent companies. They’re associated companies who, to save their reputations, would stand behind a tour operator who went bankrupt.
There is provision, of course, that if the fund should drop below a certain level, additional assessments can be made. The industry has also asked us to consider the possibility of asking the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) to guarantee any deficiencies in the fund. I think, under the present circumstances, the Treasurer wisely has said, “We’ll meet that when we come to it.” At the present time the fund will have to take care of any bankruptcies or failures that might occur.
Mr. Shore: Mr. Chairman, just on that point. As I said, I qualified my statement by “a catastrophe.” But a catastrophe becomes quite subjective and it depends who’s involved and what they define catastrophe as. Speaking from personal experience, the minister knows there was a travel agency in London, not of major size, to which hundreds of thousands of dollars of potential costs and deposits were made by people who could have lost their deposits and not had their trips. In this instance, to a great extent because of the co-operation through some people in your ministry and some of the industry, that loss was kept to a minimum in relation to the consumer at least.
But it seems to me it doesn’t take too many small- to medium-size travel agencies finding themselves in an insolvent position to have a draw on the $1 million fund if no one else wants to join in a co-operative basis. On that subject, we did contact the government and the ministry, and asked them for co-operation or help on a bail-out and were politely rejected for whatever reasons they had at the time.
I’m not quite as optimistic as you may be, but you may have more information that you have the right to call on this fund for more than the minimum. The only thing I’m suggesting is to satisfy yourself that you don’t have to be a large operator to bankrupt a fund. Two or three smaller ones who have gone on a binge of high merchandising or bad management or whatever, could draw on a $1 million fund fairly quickly, particularly if some of the wholesaler operators or the industry generally weren’t prepared to be either charitable or to try to salvage an industry at the time.
I just want to stress to you the Treasurer’s remark that he would cross that bridge when he came to it. My experience, having gone through it, was that when the bridge was there we found the government was not prepared to cross it at that time. I think the time to anticipate it is before we arrive at the bridge, not at the time we’re at the bridge.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Chairman, it is a very hypothetical thing. We’ve had, I think, six failures since the Act went into effect. The fund has never reached anything close to $1 million but it has been ample. At least two of the failures could be designated as medium-large. The Blue Vista and the Sand Pebbles were both relatively important failures, yet the total amount of claims on the fund is still under $300,000 and it has a balance of well over $300,000. The amendment that we have in section 2 of the Act is to bring it up to $1 million and then if it comes below that, to be able to provide another assessment.
The way the Act was read it was an oversight, that if it never got up to $1 million then you couldn’t get another assessment even if it went broke. So at the present time we feel there is ample protection there. We’ve looked at the largest tour operator in Canada, the one that would really provide the biggest drain on the fund at Christmas time, and there’s no question that $1 million would be pretty close to the line.
On the other hand, we would expect that if a large tour operator like that were to go under, we would get the co-operation of the industry in ensuring consumers did not suffer, and I think we would probably have to go after their principals, who happen to be one of the major banks in the country.
Mr. Shore: Just one more question. I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m a purveyor of gloom and doom because I do have confidence generally, until proved otherwise, in the enterprise of the industry. But are you satisfied -- I assume you are -- that the fact you’re bringing in travel agencies and broadening this, which I think is right, is not going to have any undue influence on the dollar involvement here?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: No. As a matter of fact, we think that this will be very helpful because a travel agent, in claiming on the fund, can only claim the net amount of his account, which is the gross amount paid by the consumer less his commission. So the travel agent’s claim would be less than that of the traveller, and we think it could help keep the fund liquid.
Mr. Cunningham: I can only concur with what my colleague from London North has said on the possibility of insolvency with regard to the travel agencies. It would appear that the ministry has taken the appropriate measures to ensure the people of Ontario be protected. Nevertheless, I think that given the scope and the largesse of some of the larger agencies that we have in the province, we shouldn’t allow it to go past us without recognizing the possibility, at least, that even one of the larger ones may in fact go bankrupt at some time.
The member for Fort William I think very appropriately raises a good point on the possibility of an appeal process. All I can say to you at this time during this reading of the bill is that I would hope that you would use your influence on the board, that they, in the spirit of co-operation, on a very objective basis, regulate themselves so that we in the Legislature will not be required to come back at some later date to set up, on a legal basis, some form of appeal process.
I’m sure all members of the Legislature, in all parties, would agree that that would be the kind of spirit of co-operation and the kind of approach that we think would serve the people of Ontario very well. To that end all I can say is that I hope that those sentiments are conveyed very clearly and succinctly to the industry. I know that the industry generally will accept that in the spirit intended and that hopefully the Act will continue to serve the people of Ontario fairly and appropriately.
Mr. B. Newman: I wanted to ask the minister, how is the consumer protected who, living as I do in a border town, may purchase a flight through a travel agent in the Windsor area yet the flight originates in Detroit? How is he protected under this legislation if the flight is cancelled, or is he not?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: He’s protected through the compensation fund. If anything should happen, he has dealt, presumably, with a registered travel agent in Ontario. Anybody in the Windsor area who deals with a travel agent in Detroit unfortunately would have no protection under the Act.
Mr. B. Newman: Okay, that answers my second question. The one that I was going to ask you is, where the flights originate in Windsor and go to all parts of the southern states and the Caribbean, if the ticket were purchased in the Windsor area then the individual would be protected, but if it were bought in Detroit there would be no protection at all.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I just want to put one little caveat on that: If it was purchased in the Windsor area from a person registered under the Act. It’s very important, as the member for Fort William pointed out during second reading, that travellers ask their agent to display his registration certificate.
Section 3 agreed to.
Sections 4 and 5 agreed to.
Bill 98 reported.
PURCHASERS OF NEW HOMES ACT
House in committee on Bill 94, An Act to provide Certain Protections for Purchasers of New Homes.
On section 1:
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, we have eight amendments, and we furnished them -- from the point of view of expediting the business of the House in anticipation that we can complete the bill in accordance with the business as laid down -- to the appropriate member of the Liberal Party and the hon. minister.
Our first amendment is to section 2. But I don’t want that section 1 to go by without making a comment that if section 2 is carried, there will be consequential amendments to section 1 to introduce the definition of the term “director.” There will be an amendment necessary for the term “corporation,” and it may well be that there may be another consequential amendment. Otherwise we are satisfied with section 1 of the bill and I would, unless somebody else has a comment on section 1, like to move on section 2.
Mr. Breithaupt: The difficulty is surely that if we pass section 1 at this point, and there are amendments to section 2, which the member for Riverdale is proposing, presumably we will revert to section 1. Is that the intention of the House?
Mr. Renwick: That’s right.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The Chair was going to suggest that we should stand that section 1 down until section 2 is dealt with.
Mr. Breithaupt: Yes, I think that would be a convenient way of doing it if that’s the wish of the House.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Is that the wish of the committee? We stand section 1 down until section 2 is dealt with?
On section 2:
Mr. Renwick: On section 2 of the bill, so that the committee will understand, I want to make an extensive amendment.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Renwick moves that section 2 of Bill 94 be amended to read as follows:
“1. The Lieutenant Governor in Council shall cause a non-profit corporation to be incorporated without share capital under the Corporations Act, with the name Ontario New Homes Warranty Corp., to be the corporation for the purposes of this Act.
“2. The board of directors of the corporation shall be composed of not less than five and not more than nine directors to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of whom no more than one-third shall be persons engaged directly or indirectly in the home development or construction industries.
“3. The objects of the corporation shall be (a) to administer the Ontario New Homes Warranty Plan; (b) to establish and administer the guarantee fund providing for the payment of compensation under section 14, whether by the establishment of a fund for the purpose or by contract with licensed insurers; (c) to assist in the conciliation disputes between vendors and owners; and (d) to engage in undertakings for the purpose of improving communications between vendors and owners.
“4. The corporation may exercise the powers and shall discharge the duties conferred and imposed upon the corporation by this Act and the regulations under the supervision of the director and shall be responsible to the minister.
“5. The Insurance Act does not apply to the corporation and its undertakings in respect to any matter within its objects or authorized by this Act.”
Mr. Renwick: Our purpose in moving this amendment is to express concern about a trade association, HUDAC, being the designated corporation for the purposes of this bill.
Apart altogether from our concern about a trade association being designated as the corporation for the purposes of this bill, we consider that whatever the corporation may be it should be under the supervision of the director, that is the appropriate director in the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. It should be unmistakably clear in the bill that the corporation as such is responsible to the minister so that he has the traditional cabinet responsibility as a minister of the Crown for the operations of the corporation. At the present time that is not so.
We recognize the validity of the proposition that it should be a corporation because of the extensive nature of the operations which are involved in it. But we cannot, in this party, agree that it should be a trade association and that it should only have this particular nebulous connection through the minister to the assembly for the responsibility for carrying out the provisions of the Act. We specifically have obtained, of course, a copy of the letters patent of incorporation of HUDAC, and we are very much concerned that we should not be involved in that particular operation with a trade association.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: You have got the wrong company.
Mr. Renwick: No, I haven’t got the wrong company. I’ve got the New Home Warranty Programme incorporation, which was incorporated on March 31, 1976, obviously in anticipation of this particular bill coming before the assembly. It may well be that that corporation, with the appropriate corporate steps made to make it conform to the provisions which are set out in our proposed amendment, could very well be the vehicle; but we do not feel in any sense that we can accept a corporation for the purpose of the administration, carrying out and enforcement of this Act that is not created for that single purpose, that is not clearly responsible by the legislation to the minister and that is not directly under the supervision of a director.
If one wants to be philosophical about it, we have no ideological problem about industries -- which in the traditional method that the Conservative government has followed are now subject to regulation through a registrar directly responsible to a director -- being granted a larger area of self-government at some point. We are not necessarily opposed to that. However, we think that if you are going to do that, you should do it with one of the industries already under the control of a registrar and then grant them further powers of self-government once you’ve been satisfied that the tighter, more controlled supervision has had the effect of raising the standards of behaviour which were required by the initial legislation.
But without going into that particular philosophical distinction, I would ask that the minister seriously consider the amendment which we have put forward, particularly our provisions that the directors for that corporation should be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and that only up to one-third of them should be persons who are connected directly or indirectly with the home construction or development industry. Also, we consider that direct responsibility to the minister is an essential ingredient of the concerns which we expressed on second reading about the nature of the way in which this Act is to be administered
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Chairman, we in the Liberal Party also feel it is appropriate that this entire programme should be administered by a corporation as outlined here in the legislation. Notwithstanding that we are in some agreement with at least the government -- and pardon me, Mr. Minister, for being so presumptuous -- by virtue of the fact that this does come under an Act of the Legislature for the Province of Ontario, I would find that the organization the member for Riverdale referred to would be responsible to us. Should they on any occasion not be responsible to us, then of course, it is our option, as a government, to come back with legislation that would rectify any problem in that regard. To that end, I find that we will be unable to support these amendments as outlined.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Chairman, first of all, I should point out that there is a trade association called the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada, Ontario section. That is not the corporation we intend to designate; it hasn’t been done yet, but that is not the corporation we intend to designate. We intend to designate a special arm’s-length organization called the HUDAC New Home Warranty Programme; if you have examined the letters patent -- and we have copies of its bylaws -- you will see it -- is not HUDAC. I think that has to be made quite clear.
The member for Riverdale asked whether I would seriously consider these amendments, and I want him to know that one of the reasons why it has taken so long in coming to this House is the very fact that these things have been considered. They have been discussed at great length and have been rejected by the government in developing this bill, primarily for the reasons that we feel there is ample accountability built into the bill. I think if you will take a look in section 2, subsection (1), it says “the Lieutenant Governor in Council shall designate a non-profit corporation.” It doesn’t name the corporation in the Act.
Mr. Renwick: Do you know what it is?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Sure, the responsibility rests with the Lieutenant Governor in Council to designate -- and the Lieutenant Governor in Council can, as I have said, “de-designate,” if I am not coining a word. So that if problems are brought up in this Legislature in the administration of the plan, problems which it appears cannot be resolved by this kind of structure, then the Lieutenant Governor in Council still has that power. We will not have to come back to the Legislature, as suggested by --
Mr. Renwick: Oh yes, you couldn’t designate --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: And de-designate and --
Mr. Renwick: -- and then de-designate.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Yes, we certainly can. We could even designate a corporation consistent with the amendment that you have put forward.
Mr. Renwick: Once you have designated you are finished.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I don’t accept that at all, Mr. Chairman. It is our view, of course, that the whole principle of this bill is complete self-regulation in order to give the industry a chance. We know the HUDAC homes that have been built in this province have performed well. We have very few complaints about HUDAC homes, and those complaints that we do have are easily resolved. Our problem is with those who are not members of HUDAC, or do not meet the standards required by HUDAC.
The standards are set out in the Act, and therefore it is our view it should be administered in the way we have put it forward -- by a completely separate corporation. It is one, of course, which will operate on the basis of the funds received. It will not be responsible to a director, but rather the minister of this ministry will always have the responsibility and its operation will be accountable to this House.
Mr. Renwick: So, there will be no misunderstanding on the record, the letters patent to which I refer are the letters patent related to the HUDAC New Home Warranty Programme. They were issued on March 31 of this year, obviously in anticipation that this would be, by arrangement with the ministry, the corporation which would be designated under this Act for the purpose of this programme.
The minister says to me that, yes, the minister is responsible. There is nothing in the bill which makes such a statement. There is, in our amendment, but it is not in the bill. It is just that simple.
We have gone a long way in the course of this assembly to understand the distinction between a minister who reports for a body and a minister who is responsible as a member of the government for the performance of that body. That’s a distinction well known to the minister because of the arrangements which were made for the Liquor Licence Board and the Liquor Control Board. He knows the distinction, so we don’t have to play around with the distinction.
But in the sense of cabinet responsibility, ministerial responsibility for the performance of a new programme under this Act, it requires an expressed statement in the bill of responsibility, or we go to the tradition which is followed in the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act and in many other Acts which come under the purview of the ministry. That’s ministerial responsibility. I don’t need to play around with the minister about subtle distinctions between it -- he understands it.
If you are going to use this corporation and obviously you are -- then I would like to know who these people are: Donald James Ward of the city of St. Catharines, executive; Russell William Howald of the city of Waterloo, executive; and Heinz Seebeck of the city of Hamilton. And who are the other members, at the present time, of the corporation for the HUDAC New Home Warranty Programme, and what is their connection with the home building, construction or development industry? I would like to know, as well, who the other five directors are. It was increased from five to eight, and insofar as I can tell the eight members may very well be Marcel Lalonde, Harold Keith Morley, Ernest William Asterley, Russell William Howald, Thomas Rob Gibb, Donald James Ward, Heinz Seebeck, and R. T. Ryan -- three of whom, of course, were the original incorporators. I’m not talking about the legitimacy of those persons involved in the business in which they are involved, but I want the record of the House to show who the eight directors of that corporation presently are and what is their specific connection with the home construction and development industry directly or indirectly.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I don’t believe I can identify all eight of the gentlemen. I don’t have a list of the names, I recognize some of the names and I am going to make an assumption, if the hon. member will permit me, those whose names I recognize are members of the HUDAC Ontario Council, which is the executive body of the trade association you referred to in your opening remarks. These are people who have taken a step to incorporate this corporation and obtain the letters patent. HUDAC is a trade association made up of people who are in the building industry. The people whose names you mentioned that I recognize are all associated with builders in this province in various parts of the province.
Mr. Renwick: I would assume that that would be so. In the absence of specific information, we in this party are going to take it that each and every one of them is a person who is involved in the very trade association and industry which we are in the process of trying to regulate in the interests of the consumer, and not in the interests of the industry. Therefore it seems to us here that, if anything, that adds significant weight to the importance and value of the amendment which we have proposed, which indicates ministerial responsibility for a corporation, the directors of which are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and not more than one-third of whom are persons directly or indirectly involved in the industry as such.
As we said on second reading, in this area and in certain other areas of the bill, these are matters of extreme importance to us. We want to support the ministry in the bill but we cannot bring ourselves to support it on third reading unless the minister can accept the validity of the arguments which we put, simply because -- just the same as became the case in many other areas of industry which have come under the direct supervision of your ministry -- this is the particular industry which more than any other at this particular time requires, at least in the interim period with the commencement of this programme, the direct intervention of the government and the direct supervision of the government and the direct responsibility of the minister of the Crown for the operation of that programme.
Mr. Shore: As I understand it, when we debated this bill in principle, one of the points that apparently became clear, and it is clear to me, certainly, was that the concept of the bill was to try to develop a programme that would help protect the buyer of homes more than they have right now. The other concept was that there would be a purportedly and a desirable self-regulatory type of concept developed. As far as I am concerned, I support this. I am making an assumption and I accept the assumption, subject to the minister’s correction if I am wrong, that the minister, through whatever process, and I haven’t got the legal mind that the hon. member for Riverdale may have, and maybe I am fortunate in that to a certain extent --
Mr. Roy: Yes, you are.
Mr. Shore: -- but I am prepared to accept the concept that it is self-regulatory. I believe in the principle of the self-regulatory concept until proved that it doesn’t work. I am prepared to give it a try to make it work that way. I assume if it doesn’t work that the minister has the power and this Legislature has the power to have it changed. Therefore, I support the people who have spoken in favour of this. I strongly believe that if the industry wants to make it work, it can make it work and we are here to see that it can work. I am sure if that attitude is taken we will get better results than I see in some other approaches to regulation.
I’m looking at the rent review and the rent control thing. I looked at the makeup of that body of rent review people. I don’t want to get into a subject of discussion on that but that is a tragedy, what that body is made up of.
Mr. Renwick: Are you opposed to rent review?
Mr. Shore: I know the House leader for the NDP is shaking his ears and hair and so on and he’s probably in hipboots and everything else. Regardless of that, I suggest we give it an opportunity to work and you will see that it can work.
Mr. Renwick: Do you have the bill in front of you?
Mr. Shore: I am not here to answer questions. I’m here to discuss the bill.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Roy: You know you are out of order. You have been here a long time. You are out of order.
Mr. Shore: I would encourage that we take a positive approach to this bill. I am confident it can and will work. I haven’t got the suspicious attitude and the negative attitude that some of the hon. members have on the right all the time.
Mr. Deans: I would like to ask a question with regard to a comment made by the minister. I think I heard him correctly, but before I make it I want to tell you, shaking ears and hair and wearing hipboots notwithstanding, that the reason we are here tonight talking about this is because the industry, to a greater or lesser extent, has been unable to perform adequately. That’s why we need the bill. That’s why the bill is here.
A great number of the builders that are now going to be required to respond to self-regulation were already part of trade associations in the Hamilton area. Some were part of the Metropolitan Hamilton Home Builders Association, for example, and in other areas they were part of similar associations set up for the purpose of, if not regulating, at least establishing reasonable standards for the self-same builders in other areas of the province.
I want to say to the minister and to the member for London North that my personal findings with regard to the industry are these. There isn’t any doubt that the industry, like all industries, has some very excellent people within it. But the majority of homes that I have come into contact with over the last five years in my capacity here -- the last nine years I suppose, but particularly over the last five years -- have been built by much the same people. The same individual companies have come before me in a variety of different ways over the period of time.
This minister who is now professing such faith in that industry was the same minister who when he was the Minister of Housing approved many of the builders who built substandard homes. Let me be honest with you. When you were the Minister of Housing, and you had brought to your attention that certain of the builders were building far less than were acceptable standards, there was no effort made that I could see by the Ministry of Housing or its minister or anyone within it to stop those people from building under the HOME programme. You continued to build, notwithstanding the inadequacy of the job they were doing. And so now you say to me, have faith.
Mr. Martel: Have faith, yes.
Mr. Deans: These very same people have had pressure put on them by the minister and the ministry and have had brought to their attention on numerous occasions by the ministry and the minister that the accommodations and homes they were building for people in the Province of Ontario were at a level that was quite unacceptable. This minister, when he was in the previous ministry as Minister of Housing, had the authority and the power to stop them from building and had the authority and the power to make sure that they could not force substandard housing onto a public that was incapable basically of being able to judge the standard of the home. But he wouldn’t do it.
You had the opportunity to establish reasonable standards. And you had the opportunity to impose some form of regulation on many of the people that are going to be part of this very programme. So it is very difficult for me to accept having faith, unlike the member for London North who perhaps hasn’t had quite the same degree of dealing in the same way. I’m not suggesting he hasn’t had as much dealing in the field, but not at the same level as I have had dealing with the same people. It’s very difficult for me to accept his comment that you simply trust them now and give them a chance, because they have had a chance. They have had chance after chance after chance. I can’t trust the minister’s judgement in the matter because when he was in charge of the Ministry of Housing, he was incapable of exercising the necessary jurisdiction to protect the very people over whom he had the control.
I recall hearing you say earlier tonight that this HUDAC New Home Warranty Programme was an arm’s-length corporation, separate and apart from HUDAC, the trade association. Did I understand you to say that? You shake your head indicating yes.
Would you then explain to me how can it be an arm’s-length corporation, separate and apart from the existing HUDAC operation, if the very people who are the directors and the same people who are the incorporators are part of the council of HUDAC? How can you rationalize that? How can they be arm’s-length, on the one hand, and part of it, on the other? They can’t. If these people are, as you say, part of the council of HUDAC and they are also the incorporators of this so-called arm’s-length incorporation, then it just isn’t possible.
Therefore, I ask you to reconsider that, because that can’t be. You can’t have it both ways. They can’t be, on the one hand, sitting on the council of the one while, on the other hand, being the incorporators and directors of what you choose to call an arm’s-length operation. As I said before, without going back over it, I find it neglectful of the public interest to take this approach to what has been a major problem confronting a great number of young people in the Province of Ontario who are about to invest far more than they’ll ever know in the major purchase of their life, to treat it so cavalierly and to take the approach that my colleagues in the Liberal Party take, that they’ll give them a chance and see how it works. After all the experiences we have had with many of the builders who are going to become part of this very programme, in my opinion, this approach is neglectful of the public interest.
Mr. Roy: I’d just like to make a few brief comments about the legislation and about the amendment as proposed by the member for Riverdale. I want to say to the member for Wentworth, first of all --
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you talk to the bill?
Mr. Roy: I am talking to the bill but I’m not optimistic of being able to convince that member because he’s not given evidence of having that open a mind.
Mr. Deans: You have never given evidence that shows you know anything about anything.
Mr. Roy: In any event, I tell you what he has convinced me of -- changing his position in a short period of time.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Perhaps the hon. member would direct his comments to section 2 of the bill and the amendment by Mr. Renwick.
Mr. Roy: No matter how strong or how tight a piece of legislation it is, somewhere along the way there’ll have to be an exchange of good faith on the part of the builders.
Mr. Shore: Not as far as they’re concerned.
Mr. Roy: If the builders and the people involved in the home construction industry want to frustrate this legislation, there’s no legislation that is tight enough, unless we get the good faith of certain individuals working within it.
The other point is if we were giving HUDAC, as this corporation which has been formed for the purposes of this programme is called, if we were giving them an open hand, if there were no regulations, and we just said: “Go out and have your warranty programme and administer it the way you want to,” and if there were no guidelines, I’d express some concern. But it’s not as though they’re going to have a free hand here. There’s a certain amount of legislation here which will be controlling their activity. This whole programme has certain guidelines and certain criteria. The warranty applies to certain matters. There’s a whole series of sections that deal with their conduct. It’s not as though they’re going to be operating on their own.
The concerns expressed by the members to my right are in some ways premature.
Mr. Shore: It’s part of their paranoia.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Roy: That party is posturing. If they think that having only one-third of the members from HUDAC is going to make the whole difference, I say to them they’re being foolish and they don’t understand the industry.
What we’re trying to do in this case, basically, is to have some faith in the industry and to say to them: “These are the guidelines under which you will operate.” We will require their good faith in any event. It’s not the one-third that makes the difference. The party to my right should quit posturing and try to be more positive sometimes.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Roy: It’s not as though they have a free hand; there is legislation governing what they can do and what they cannot do. If we, as a party, feel over a period of time that this warranty programme is not working under the present system, then it is open to us to make certain amendments.
Mr. Renwick: For heaven’s sake, how long can you wait?
Mr. Roy: For the member for Riverdale to suggest that only one-third of the members of HUDAC is going to make all the difference in the world, I think is being unrealistic --
Mr. Renwick: I didn’t say that at all.
Mr. Shore: That’s what you thought.
Mr. Roy: It means they’re not reading the legislation and not understanding how the whole programme works. They don’t know what they are talking about. We are prepared to have faith in the system and to see them operate under this present legislation --
Mr. Renwick: Read the amendment.
Mr. Roy: We’re not prepared to stand here and posture with the people to our right.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: Thank you for recognizing me, Mr. Chairman. You grace that chair well.
My friend from Ottawa keeps telling me about “keeping the faith, baby”; that’s what he’s really saying: “Keep the faith.”
Mr. Roy: Have you read the legislation?
Mr. Acting Chairman: Will the member please speak to the question at hand?
Mr. Martel: Mr. Chairman, the minister wants me to have faith in the developers --
Mr. Roy: Give me a legal opinion there.
Mr. Martel: As the minister is aware, I am presently involved in a situation in Sudbury where we are trying to bring a developer to court -- and all of the other developers will not even go in to estimate the cost of repairing the homes, which are presently in a state of decay.
Mr. Shore: Well, bring him in.
Mr. Martel: You want me to keep the faith, but how can I when I know that some 40 or 50 families whose homes, which cost in the neighbourhood of $50,000, are in a state of collapse? This is confirmed by the Kettle report, which indicates that these five-year-old homes are in a state of decay --
Mr. Roy: You are out of order.
Mr. Shore: Have you read the Act?
Mr. Martel: You just be quiet.
Mr. Shore: Have you read the Act?
Mr. Martel: The solicitor who is acting on behalf of those people has attempted to get some of the other developers or builders to indicate what it would cost to repair those homes, and all of the developers refused even to quote what those costs would be.
Mr. Shore: I’ll get you one.
Mr. Martel: Well, you might.
Mr. Roy: What has that got to do with this bill?
Mr. Martel: It has everything to do with this bill. You want us to have blind faith that developers --
Mr. Roy: You’re blind?
Mr. Martel: Well, not blind. I’m not sure what you call it when no developer or contracting firm will come in and give the solicitor for the whole group -- the minister himself told me we should get together; we have done that --
Mr. Shore: Don’t bring in the red herrings. Leave the red herrings in Sudbury.
Mr. Martel: Following the minister’s advice, they have hired a lawyer, who has attempted to get from the developers what the cost would be to repair the homes, but not one developer will say “This is what it’s going to cost.” Which means the solicitor doesn’t have a thing on what the cost would be if we bring it to court in order to try --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Why don’t you ask HUDAC?
Mr. Martel: Why don’t I ask HUDAC? Are they going to come to Sudbury?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Yes. That’s what the inspector is there to do.
Mr. Martel: I’m saying that at the present time, under the existing circumstances, those people who I represent can’t get a developer to tell them what the cost will be to make their homes livable.
Mr. Shore: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Acting Chairman: What is the point of order?
Mr. Shore: I am prepared to challenge the gentleman who says he cannot find a builder to give him a price.
Mr. Acting Chairman: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Chairman, what’s his point of order? He doesn’t have a point of order, so would he just sit quietly instead of trying to tell us we should have blind faith --
Mr. Roy: You are out of order.
Mr. Shore: We didn’t say “blind faith.”
Mr. Martel: Mr. Chairman, these Johnny-come-latelys want me to have faith --
Mr. Acting Chairman: I wonder if you would speak to the amendment.
Mr. Martel: These one-trippers want me to have blind faith, Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Acting Chairman: I don’t think that has anything to do with this amendment. I wish you would speak to the amendment.
Mr. Martel: We can’t even get them to estimate what the cost will be in order to make the necessary repairs so that those people will be protected. If that occurs, what is the sense of this legislation?
An hon. member: Have you read it?
Mr. Martel: Yes, I’ve read it. I suggest that we can’t accept this as it now prevails on blind faith, without the amendment proposed by my friend from Riverdale. The Liberals might accept it. They are willing to accept anything.
Mr. Shore: We didn’t say “blind faith.”
Mr. Bounsall: They will.
Mr. Martel: That was never so obvious as this afternoon.
Mr. Shore: No one in this party said anything about the words “blind faith.” I want that corrected. Now is that a point of order?
Mr. Martel: Will you tell me what the point of order is?
Mr. Acting Chairman: I don’t think you have a point of order.
Mr. Martel: That is twice the hon. member for London North has struck out. Will you sit down; you have struck out twice.
Mr. Acting Chairman: I wonder if the member for Sudbury East would return to the amendment.
Mr. Martel: I am trying to, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Acting Chairman: Disregard the interjections from the other members.
Mr. Martel: I asked the minister, under the circumstances -- the minister knows the case which I have written to him about -- what do we do? Your Act doesn’t have the strength --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Yes, it does.
Mr. Martel: It doesn’t. If the minister can convince me then I will be willing to accept that. But as I now see the situation in the area I represent, there is nothing. The contractors have said, “No, we won’t offer the figure,” and we can’t get it to court despite the minister’s suggestion that we do it. You tell me, Mr. Minister, how we can help those people to redraft this bill to what they are now --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: It says in the bill.
Mr. Martel: Yes, I read the bill. But there is nothing that says to me when the contractors refuse to tell me what the costs are going to be to make necessary repairs --
Hon. B. Stephenson: That has nothing to do with the bill.
Mr. Martel: So how can you get it to court? Because one of the things that you have got to say in court is what the costs will be to make the necessary improvements. Tell me how.
Mr. Roy: That has nothing to do with the bill.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Chairman, I think I have to respond to that challenge.
Mr. Martel: I hope so.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: First of all, let’s forget about what happened yesterday and talk about what will happen when we pass this bill -- if you pass this bill. The first thing that would happen, before the owner moves in, they will be given a certificate of warranty. It will tell them that that house is warranted. He has one year to claim all the minor things, such as nails popping out, paint on the window, the cosmetic things that the member for Durham East talked about. These will all be cleared at the builder’s expense in the first year. If there are major structural defects either in the first year or in the next four years, under the Act, those will be repaired by the council, not by the builder. You don’t have to go to the builder. The council will do it.
There will be conciliation in the first year. These things will be insured by an insurance policy. The company that provides the policy will look after the structural defects. There is no problem whatsoever if you pass this bill. Help your people by passing this bill.
Mr. Shore: You have got to read the bill, Elie.
Mr. Martel: You have got to look at what is happening, not who runs the show. As it now prevails in Sudbury, the very gang you are talking about will not give an estimate of what the cost will be to make those repairs and how do you bring it to the court if you don’t know what the cost is going to be in order to make the necessary repairs? What happens when that occurs?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Chairman, there is no question here about having to go to court to get the necessary repairs. The repairs will be done by the council -- not by the builder who has caused the problem. The council. The council may also deregister the builder. You are talking about a situation where first of all there are no ground rules -- there are no standards written down -- and there are no penalties. You now have an Act before you, which, if you support it, will provide all those things to make sure the consumer gets what he paid for -- a house clear of defects.
Mr. Roy: You haven’t read the bill.
Mr. Martel: The hon. member for Ottawa East is the only one who can read in this Legislature, in français, too.
Mr. Moffatt: Mr. Chairman, I spoke on the second reading of the bill on some of the things that are being raised now in specific terms, but it is incredible to me that the members who have been involved with this government, and particularly the ministry, over the years -- having seen what happens when such agencies that are designated by the particular ministry in this government, they know from experience what will happen. I went into this in blind faith, but not quite as blind as the member for London North. Because there is such a drastic problem in the home construction industry today, I was prepared to accept almost anything because currently, nothing can get done. Nothing happens.
I was prepared to accept this bill but it seems to me, after listening to the discussions and all of the points which have been made, that there is no assurance at all on the basis of the past history of this ministry that anything secure will be enabled through this legislation. What is going to happen, in fact, is a repetition of all of those other agencies and commissions which run around the province in the name of the government and live like parasites off the public instead of protecting them.
Mr. Martel: That’s like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.
Mr. Moffatt: To me, this seems to be one of those times when we can look at what has happened in the past and take appropriate action to prevent having to come back here six months or a year or two years from now and amend the whole thing to try to make it work.
Mr. Roy: And you will never know.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The member for Wentworth asked me to respond to his specific questions. First of all, I have never asked anybody in this assembly to take matters on blind faith and I don’t do that tonight.
Mr. Deans: I didn’t use that term.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I know, but some of you did. What you did say was that this is an industry which has been unable to perform. Those are the words, as I took them down, and they will appear in Hansard.
Mr. Deans: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I suggest to you that that is not the case. What you have not had is performance up to the standards which are laid down in this Act on a universal basis.
Mr. Renwick: That is what we meant by performance.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: They can perform and they will perform.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I think the whole idea of incentives and penalties seems to be something that is very difficult for members of the party opposite to come to grips with.
Mr. Renwick: No, it isn’t.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: If you take a look at it, we are setting down standards. An organization has been set up to which we will give authority to police the industry. There has never been anything of that nature before. You were talking about OHC? OHC under this Act is not a builder.
Mr. Deans: I didn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Okay, but there would be a builder. A builder who is building home units or any other units, whether they are AHOP federally or HOME provincially, is a builder who has to register, who has to meet the standards, who has to provide the warranty and who can be deregistered. There is no authority in the Minister of Housing to deregister a builder. When I was Minister of Housing --
Mr. Deans: But you didn’t have to hire them again!
Hon. Mr. Handleman: In most cases, they were not. If they had bad performance, their bids were not accepted.
Mr. Deans: What about Hamilton?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I don’t know about the Hamilton situation. I can tell you this that in many cases across this province the ministry was under great pressure to appoint builders who had not performed and they were turned down in many cases.
Mr. Deans: And in many they weren’t.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I can’t comment on that particular case. I do know that that occurred. in this situation we will have a council which will not hesitate because it will be to its own advantage and to the advantage of the industry to take out the expensive builders. It is the builders who cause problems who will be expensive for the council to underwrite. The council has to make the repairs; they can get rid of the bad ones, which I think they want to do. They will deregister them, though they will have the right of appeal, as I think they should have. The rules of the game change the day that this bill becomes law.
Going back over the ancient history of some of the failures in the industry, they simply are not constructive.
Mr. Renwick: The people who establish the rules are going to control it.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I just want to say one word to the member for Riverdale.
Mr. Renwick: I am not talking about legal responsibilities, I am talking about cabinet responsibilities.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: He knows and I know that there are certain areas where ministers should not be held accountable but he also knows the political reality. I have been in this ministry now for almost a year and a half. Not once in this House has anybody stood up and said: “Would you get me a report from the LCBO?”
This minister and this ministry and my successors will take the responsibility for those agencies which come under our legislation. I was responsible for guiding the legislation through. I am responsible for what they do and I have accepted that. I have never tried to evade it nor has any member here ever recognized that there is no legal responsibility or accountability.
I suggest that when the member for Sudbury East has problems up in his area, when this bill becomes law, he is going to stand in this House, if he is still here --
Mr. Martel: I will be here a lot longer than you.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- and demand satisfaction from me or my successor, and whoever sits in this portfolio will try to give it to him through the council.
Mr. Deans: You say if you were asked about problems that arise after the bill is brought into being, that all we need do is rise in our place and tell you and you will make sure that the qualities that are set out in this bill are adhered to. Listen, my friend, when you were the Minister of Housing, I stood in my place and I raised time after time after time incidents and examples of workmanship which was not only shoddy but which was close to being, if not already, at the point where the construction itself was in jeopardy. I rarely, if ever, got satisfaction: rarely, if ever. Now, I’m telling you I went back there --
Mr. Deans: I took and showed your inspectors and the ministry officials where they had torched out the main I-beam in order to get head room in the basement and without putting in any support and without understanding what they had done. These builders, who were accepted by you through the Ontario Housing Corp. to build under the HOME programme, were then given additional houses to build in spite of the fact that they placed those people and that home and that investment in jeopardy. And you stand in your place and tell me all I’ve got to do is raise it with you and it will be solved. That’s a lot of nonsense, and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I didn’t say that.
Mr. Shore: Mr. Chairman, if I ever have an opportunity of retaining an historian, I think I would appoint the hon. member for Wentworth as my senior historian. But we are talking about today and tomorrow.
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you sit down?
Mr. Acting Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Roy: Why don’t you do that; you’ve been on the bill for the last two hours.
Mr. Acting Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Shore: I gather that the hon. member for Wentworth doesn’t care to hear what I have to say. If he would spend a little more time listening to what somebody else has to say, and a little less to what he has to say, we might be able to advance this argument a little further.
Mr. Acting Chairman: Order, please.
Mr. Shore: I have enough faith in the industry and the trades people who make up the industry to believe they can make this thing work. For some reason or other, the hon. member for Sudbury East has not read this bill to the hon. member for Wentworth, and neither one of them seems to know what’s in it.
Mr. Shore: And I would suggest, therefore, that after having looked at it, they might understand what it really means.
Mr. Acting Chairman: Mr. Renwick has moved an amendment --
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, if I may comment on that just very briefly. We knew when we introduced the amendment that the members of the Liberal Party would not support it. So they don’t need to repeat their arguments; we knew them right from the very beginning.
Mr. Renwick: What we are saying is that the reason this legislation is before the assembly is the inadequacy of the industry.
Mr. Shore: I hope the member for Wentworth didn’t go home mad.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: He did.
Mr. Renwick: The natural consequences of the inadequacy of an industry is in the way in which the Conservative government for the last 20 years has dealt with those situations. It has provided a registrar, under the supervision of the director within the ministry, who carries out the function of the licensing of the particular persons who are going to carry on trade in the industry and who makes certain that compliance takes place. It is very tightly controlled and it is within the ministry. That is the purpose of it. That’s fine. We think that that was the right road to follow. We tried in this bill to indicate to the minister that he could go the corporate route; we don’t mind that at all.
All we are saying is that if you are bringing in a bill, which by the very introduction of the bill recognizes the deficiencies of the industry with respect to their standard of behaviour, you don’t then appoint the industry to supervise the enforcement and the supervision of the Act. And that’s what you have done.
The interposition of this particular corporation is not an arm’s-length arrangement; it is controlled by the industry. And we do not think that your ministry has the capacity to understand or to be anything other than the apologists for the industry if you accept that corporation as the body that is going to be charged with the supervision and enforcement of it.
We are talking about a corporation directly responsible to the minister; directly under the supervision of the director of his ministry responsible for consumer protection. We are talking about a ministry which will have the benefit of the experience of the members of the board of directors of the corporation. There should be directors of that corporation who have knowledge in the area, but also other persons will not be members of the industry.
It is a multi-pronged attack to make certain that the corporation has an independent status, with respect to the responsibilities which it is to discharge. The motivation for all of our amendments, for anybody who is interested in understanding what our motivation is, is very simple. For the great majority of the citizens of the province, the investment in a home is the largest investment which most people will ever make in the course of their lifetime and it is not a once-and-for-all investment for most people. It’s a continuing investment over many, many, many years and it is the protection of that investment, by the great bulk of the majority of the citizens of the Province of Ontario, that leads us to introduce each of the eight amendments of which this is the first one.
They are matters of principle with us. We wanted, in good faith, to give the ministry the benefit of the doubt and say, all right, we’ll support it on second reading but, as I say, this is one of the areas which, if the ministry will not accept it, after the debate which takes place and it is quite obvious it’s not going to be accepted, then it will lead us, of course, to oppose the bill on third reading when it comes before the House.
Mr. Cunningham: Very briefly, Mr. Chairman, I must respond, I think, to what I consider to be some unfair and unnecessary aspersions that are being cast upon the industry as a whole.
An hon. member: What is the bill here for?
Mr. Cunningham: If you’re going to comment, would you take your seat, please? That’s all I can ask you.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please.
An hon. member: They brought this bill in for nothing.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please. If the hon. member for Sudbury East wishes to comment, he should return to his seat and do it in the normal way.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Chairman, I don’t think any of us here, at least from my point of view, could cast an unnecessary aspersion upon HUDAC. We, I think, believe and would look forward to the premise that this is an industry that could self-regulate itself, given the fundamental legislative framework, that we’re attempting to provide here today. I’ve listened to, and I’m sure that we would all agree, that there have been some bad apples in the housing industry just as there would be bad apples in the legal profession and the medical profession or another area of business within this province.
To attack, unnecessarily and unfairly, the members of HUDAC without example, I might add, I think is to say the least, unfair and I think it is creating a rather pervasive start for this entire legislation. I want to tell you I reject it. I have some fundamental faith, I think, in this industry and I would hope that the members of that association, most of whom I believe are sincerely dedicated to the concept of providing good and adequate housing for the people not only of Ontario but Canada, are willing to self-regulate themselves. As an optimist, I would prefer to think that the glass is half full rather than half empty and to that end all I can say is that I support this legislation. I support the concept of self-regulation and I hope that it carries.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Renwick’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “nays” have it.
Shall this vote be stacked?
Sections 3 to 12, inclusive, agreed to.
On section 13:
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Chairman, may I have your guidance on section 13 of the bill, in the way in which we should proceed in connection with it? Four of our amendments deal with this section. Would it be acceptable to the committee to deal with them subsection by subsection?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Is that agreeable to the committee?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Renwick moves that section 13 of Bill 94 be amended by inserting after clause (b) of subsection 1, the following clauses:
“(c) that the site of the home drains properly;
“(d) that there will be no subsidence of the land beneath the footings of the home or around the building, or along utility lines;”
and that item (h) of subsection 2 be deleted.
Mr. Renwick: Let me say that the deletion of item (h) of subsection 2 is simply because we moved the substance of that up into subsection 1, and it therefore could be considered a consequential amendment.
Mr. Chairman, if I may speak to the problem, I think -- and certainly other colleagues of mine can speak to it -- there is no question whatsoever that one of the major problems with respect to homes is the question of the drainage of the lot or the site on which the home is erected. I would think if one made an assessment, that could be categorized as the major complaint that purchasers of homes have with respect to the enjoyment and satisfaction of the home they have purchased.
We have therefore provided that rather than leave that warranty in the bill, simply as a warranty which may or may not be prescribed by the regulations, we think it is a significant and fundamental warranty which should be provided and which every owner should be responsible for. We have moved that.
The second part of our amendment is simply in substance for practical purposes to make it a warranty that the subsidence question becomes a warranty and not be excluded as it presently is under subsection 2.
May I say that we do not for one single moment think the amendments dealing with those two matters will of necessity clear up all the problems which are involved in the nature of the warranties provided in subsection 1, or of the exclusions provided in subsection 2. I think, however, that we would have to take the position that experience would have to dictate whether or not there should be changes in those areas.
The ones which we do feel very strongly about and about which we think the evidence is available and my colleagues -- particularly the member for Wentworth -- can speak to if they choose to do so, are the problem of drainage and the problem of subsidence. In most cases these are related to the water table, the flow in the drainage of the land surrounding the site on which the home is to be bought.
I would hope that the minister would consider that he could accept those amendments.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Chairman, with regard to the first part of the amendment, where you say “the site of the home drains properly,” it is my understanding that site plan approvals at the municipal level, the original subdivision plans, all of these factors are taken into account in the approval process. I recognize fully that there are drainage problems. I would suggest to you that any incidental drainage problem which occurs in the construction of the house or because of not proper siting would be covered by the good workmanship clause. It is our view that the experience of other jurisdictions where they have had home warranty plans does not indicate this to be a major problem.
The problem of definition is obviously enormous, to determine whether or not the site of the home drains properly. What we are concerned about is that the home be constructed with drying -- that’s the major thing.
Mr. Deans: With what?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: It should be dry. The basement should be dry. There should be no seepage into the basement. Those are the things I think that are covered by the good workmanship clause and in other jurisdictions there has been no problem with that. The second part of the amendment, of course, adds something that we had exempted in the Act -- again in accordance with the experience of other jurisdictions. That is the substance of the land around the building or along utility lines. First of all, this is certainly not a serious structural problem. It is the kind of cosmetic thing as the member for Durham East says. There is going to be, inevitably, without question, subsidence around the foundation of a house. The back building is going to fill in. It is going to settle because it was loose when it was put in. It has to settle. To hold the builder responsible for that kind of inevitability, would seem to me to be making protection a farce. The other part of it, subsidence under the footings, there is no question about it. It has to be covered, and it is. It is covered in our Act because we say, other than subsidence beneath the footings of the building.
Mr. Renwick: I agree. As a matter of fact it is not covered but presumably you will make it a warranty under the regulations.
Mr. Deans: There has been a great deal of difficulty. I want particularly to deal with my colleague’s subsection 3, because there has been a great deal of difficulty over the drainage and the site plan approval and the responsibility for enforcement of that site plan approval. I want to suggest to you that many of the difficulties that confront most of the owners, at this point in time, with regard to dampness and wet basements is simply because of the lack of concern on the part of the developer and builder for the proper drainage of the properties. It would seem to me that if, as part of the final inspection, and therefore, in part of the certificate of warranty, that was given to the owner, that there was then the guarantee that not only had the house been inspected for structural and cosmetic deficiencies, but that the land upon which the house was situated had also been inspected, with regard to whether or not it had been properly located on site and whether or not the drainage patterns which had been filed with the municipality and the site plan which had been filed with the municipality, had been properly discovered it, to file two site plans for two of the warranty.
The reason I raise it with you is because it must extend beyond that single lot itself. It is not nearly enough for the builder to say well I am supposed to have a one foot, three-inch drop in the property, back to front, and I have provided that and I am supposed to have it running east to west in order that the water will drain from some point to the east to some point in the west. If, in fact, when the adjacent properties are also completed they don’t conform and, by that I am saying that it is possible we have discovered it, to file two site plans for two separately owned properties, both of which are ultimately approved but neither of -- boy, this is hard --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please. Order, please.
Mr. Martel: Sorry.
Mr. Deans: Oh, it is not you. I don’t care about you talking. I can’t see. I like to see who I am talking to.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Unfortunately, the Chair cannot hear the hon. member’s comments because of the noise on my right. Would the hon. member continue, uninterrupted?
Mr. Deans: So that I would like to -- knowing that I have the Treasurer’s (Mr. McKeough) support -- I would like to think that the minister would be prepared to include that because it gives an added protection. It is an added protection, not only to the purchaser, but it is an added protection to the builder himself. It adds further to the overall protection of the builder that these things be conformed to and that the builder be told, in the first instance, that you will not only have to conform but you are going to be held responsible for any deficiency in conforming.
I think you can put it in there without any fear of creating a problem, and if the faith that my colleague for Wentworth North speaks of is there, then I would be happy, if it turns out to be there -- delighted! But at least we will have guaranteed that we won’t then continue to be faced with the difficulties.
Let me give you one final example in the next 30 seconds. I want particularly to draw your attention to some situations that I have seen that have arisen. When a person purchases they don’t have an overall site plan for the entire block of the area but rather all they get is their property and the properties immediately adjacent thereto. If the properties immediately adjacent thereto are not being developed at the time, there is no way to tell exactly what the drainage is likely to be from those properties. You can’t assume that the property, the lay of the land and the drainage patterns that are there prior to development will be maintained. That is point one.
The second is that on numerous occasions there has been as much as 10 or 12 feet of distance between one property and the property immediately adjacent thereto. The runoff and damage that is caused as a result of that is monumental to the people who move in. I frankly think that you would be failing in your responsibility if you didn’t ensure that that was part of the overall warranty.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the committee rise and report and ask for leave to sit again.
Motion agreed to.
The House resumed, Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of the whole House begs to report two bills without amendment and asks for leave to sit again.
Report agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House I would like to indicate the order of business for tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon there is a government notice of motion dealing with the estimates of the Ombudsman which we will deal with first. We will then do second reading of Bill 81 standing in the name of the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr), following which we will then continue with legislation in committee.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved the adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.