The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: I am sure that the House will wish to welcome a distinguished member of Parliament of Finland in the person of Mrs. Mirjam Vire-Tuominen, who is seated in the Speaker’s gallery.
Before we start the business of the day, I know that the members will be saddened to hear that Major G. Reginald Soame, who has served this House with distinction for a number of years, has been compelled by ill health to retire. I know that I express the feelings of all the members when I wish for his improved health.
At the same time I am pleased to announce that Mr. Thomas Stelling, who is well known to all of you and who has been a diligent and faithful servant of this House for a great many years, most recently as chief legislative attendant and, during Major Soame’s enforced absence, acting Sergeant-at-Arms, has been appointed Sergeant-at-Arms to succeed Major Soame. Mr. Stelling will continue to exercise the duties that he has performed in the past, joined with the ceremonial duties of Sergeant-at-Arms, so that he will continue to direct the attendants and pages, such duties properly being the responsibility of the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Perhaps this would also be an opportune time to inform the House of the retirement, as legislative counsel, of Mr. W. C. Alcombrack, QC. I know that all the members of this House are very familiar with Mr. Alcombrack’s outstanding ability and his services to the members and the House. He will be missed but, again, I am happy to advise that his position will be filled by Mr. A. N. Stone, QC, who has been Mr. Alcombrack’s right-hand man for many years and whose abilities are also well known to the members.
Statements by the ministry.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the members back from what I hope was a pleasant and productive summer recess.
Mr. Cassidy: It was too long, actually.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, I knew the member for Ottawa Centre would feel any vacation away from here would be too long. I can only say to him that all of us -- even some of his own colleagues -- share that point of view as it relates to the member for Ottawa Centre from time to time, not always.
Before I deal with a matter of constitutional interest, I did want, in this House, to express the government’s appreciation to the former chief government whip, the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy), who has always acted very fairly and decently with all members and I know that you will all want to wish him well in his new responsibilities.
Members will also notice that the very arduous job of chief government whip is now being performed by the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck) and that his responsibilities have been made somewhat more difficult by an additional member to the government side of the House.
Mr. Breithaupt: He will make them difficult.
Mr. Ruston: You will find out how difficult, too.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It causes us complications for space, something you people don’t totally understand.
Mr. Reid: I notice he is not sitting right behind you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I refer of course, Mr. Speaker, to the member for London North (Mr. Shore) and we welcome his presence here as a Progressive Conservative.
Mr. Cassidy: He is the impending former member.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We welcome him here as a great Canadian with a wealth of political and administrative experience to bring to hear.
Mr. Peterson: And good judgement too.
Hon. Mr. Davis: And we welcome him to a cause of a strong and dynamic Ontario and we want to publicly express this welcome to him.
Mr. Peterson: Do you know what he thinks about you?
Mr. Cassidy: His career will be brief.
Mr. Reid: Is he still dizzy from all the turns he is making?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, without becoming provocative I would like to inquire as to the health of the leader of the third party (Mr. S. Smith) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis) before we resume these proceedings. But I know they’re both very fit, and I should alert them that in spite of what I read from time to time I have never felt better myself, and I say that for the members opposite and for some of my own colleagues as well.
Mr. Peterson: You look terrible. You look just terrible.
Hon. Mr. Davis: In fact my back doesn’t bother me today at all.
Mr. Cassidy: Is this the new Bill Davis?
Mr. Roy: I understand your tennis hasn’t improved at all.
Hon. Mr. Davis: My tennis has not improved, you’re quite right. I don’t spend as much time practising as some people I know.
Mr. Roy: That is obvious. You should.
PATRIATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would like to report to members briefly on the intergovernmental discussions which have taken place during the past several months on the patriation of the constitution and on federal-provincial financial arrangements.
I say “briefly” at this time, as later in this session an opportunity will be provided to debate these matters more extensively.
For the members’ information I am tabling the letter of October 15, 1976, from Premier Lougheed to Prime Minister Trudeau reporting on the results of the discussions among the Premiers on patriation and the Prime Minister’s reply of October 19.
Mr. MacDonald: Do you agree with the letter?
Hon. Ms. Davis: I am also tabling the comments that I released at the conclusion of the Premiers’ meeting on October 2. The provincial Premiers discussed the matter of patriation at their annual conference in Alberta in August and again at a meeting in Toronto in October called especially for this purpose. These discussions were undertaken as a result of proposals put forward by his government of Canada in a letter on March 31, 1976, from Prime Minister Trudeau to all Premiers.
The position of Ontario throughout these discussions has been straightforward. Ontario would like to see the constitution brought home and at the same time have incorporated in it the amending formula set out in the Canadian Constitutional Charter of June, 1971, the so-called Victoria formula.
Procedurally we would prefer these steps to be taken on the basis of a unanimous agreement of the federal and provincial governments. Substantively we attach no conditions to achieving this important result. However, a number of other governments have other requirements.
To see whether these could be accommodated in the general intergovernmental agreement on patriation, we have been prepared to consider additional constitutional items raised by other governments to the extent that any changes proposed do not weaken the fundamental interests of the country as a whole. To this end, and with a few modifications, Ontario is willing to endorse the draft proclamation proposed by Prime Minister Trudeau on March 31. Similarly, we accepted a number of proposals for constitutional change raised by some provinces in the recent discussions. Others we could not accept.
With regard to the amending formula, the interprovincial discussions revealed that seven provinces joined with Ontario in favour of the Victoria formula. Two provinces, however, have put forward separate alternatives. There are thus two sets of proposals now on the table: those put forward by the Prime Minister in the spring and those developed by the provinces over the summer. The next logical step is a meeting of first ministers to consider all of these proposals and to determine if the impasse over the amending formula can be overcome.
I look forward to these discussions with the hope that we will be able to achieve the patriation of the constitution in a manner that will be acceptable to all Canadians.
As it relates to financial matters, I am also hopeful that in the next few months we shall be able to reach intergovernmental agreement on the federal-provincial fiscal issues that are now before us. These issues include the major shared-cost programmes, the revenue guarantee and the equalization formula. I do not expect that we shall receive all the revenues to which we believe we are legitimately entitled. However, recent meetings of the provincial Ministers of Finance and Treasurers and informal indications from the federal government indicate that the basis for a compromise is slowly being established. I am optimistic that the next round of federal-provincial ministerial discussions will give us some indication of success.
FARM INCOME STABILIZATION PLAN
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, later this afternoon, I shall introduce The Farm Income Stabilization Act, 1976.
Mr. Reid: For a second time.
Hon. W. Newman: It will be recalled that before the summer recess this House turned back Bill 96 for the establishment of a farm income stabilization programme in Ontario.
Mr. Peterson: If it is no better, we will return it.
Hon. W. Newman: It called for the incorporation of new provisions in a bill to be reintroduced by the end of this month. Members will see that the government has complied fully. I am confident that this second version, which was drawn up after close consultation with Ontario’s agricultural community, will please the hon. members as well as the great majority of our agriculture producers in this province.
Hon. W. Newman: This time, however, I’d like to proceed a little more cautiously in explaining the Act’s provisions and the reasoning behind them.
Hon. W. Newman: You all learned your lesson last summer. Now you listen. With all respect, Mr. Speaker --
An hon. member: Caution always, Bill.
An hon. member: You learned yours.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. W. Newman: With all respect, Mr. Speaker, it became obvious in the original debate that some members had failed to grasp a few basic points about the whole concept of stabilization.
Mr. S. Smith: You have got a new speech writer anyway.
Hon. W. Newman: This is not said in any disparaging sense, I assure you. Maybe the fault was partly mine.
Mr. Cassidy: That is really new.
Hon. W. Newman: Agriculture has become a very complex subject and I may have assumed too much prior knowledge of developments that deserved fuller explanations.
Mr. Cassidy: That is the first admission of error in 33 years.
Hon. W. Newman: For the purposes of this legislation, farm income stabilization means putting a floor on farm income -- saying the prices that farmers get for their products can go only so low and no lower. I would like to emphasize, however, that it does not mean putting a ceiling on farm income -- saying that farm prices can only go so high and no higher. There have been some misunderstandings on this particular point.
Our stabilization programme will not interfere with the free operations of the marketplace. When the law of supply and demand provides a good price for a commodity, its producers will get the full benefit of that price; but when prices slump badly, there will be a safety net. The floor price will tide them over hard times and keep them in the business of growing our food until prices improve again.
Mr. S. Smith: What an interesting idea.
Hon. W. Newman: When the floor price is set at the proper level, there will be no interference in production decisions which should be up to the farmers alone.
It should also be noted that since this will be done within the free market system, we’ll retain its built-in incentives for efficient production, for orderly marketing, and for fitting the supply of farm products to the demand for them. This means consumers should continue getting better buys in food compared with their earning power than can be found anywhere outside North America.
Let us deal for a moment with the risks we seek to help farmers insure themselves against.
Mr. Conway: Don’t choke.
Hon. W. Newman: For convenience we can group the risks in two categories. First, there are the physical risks of farm production and storage -- things like had weather, disease, pests. Then there are price risks. These include unpredictable changes, both in the prices the farmer gets for his product and the prices he must pay for necessities such as fertilizer, feed and machinery.
The government of Ontario has done a great deal to reduce farm production risks. To cite one example in one area --
Mr. Cassidy: The government took the land out of production, sure.
Hon. W. Newman: -- listen you -- agricultural research has brought the development of high-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of grain. We haven’t done much about the weather, I confess, but we have done a great deal to control its effects.
Examples of government-producer ventures that come to mind instantly are programmes to improve field drainage and, more recently, crop insurance.
Every year more Ontario farmers take advantage of insurance that protects them from financial losses through crop failures caused by the weather. The federal government pays half the premium, the farmers pay the other half and the government of Ontario pays all costs of administering the programme.
Mr. Nixon: Order. What is this, a speech?
Hon. W. Newman: I just want to make sure you understand it this time and that’s why I’m taking my time.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. You’re aware, surely, that the matter the hon. minister is talking about has been debated in this House long before he was even a member and established here by the law and the action of the Legislature. Why are we spending time, in the ministerial statement period, for him to rehash that old stuff?
Mr. Speaker: I’m sure the hon. member knows that the purpose of ministerial statements is to make a full and complete statement of a policy. I remember many occasions when this has been demanded by all members of the House and this is exactly what is being done. The minister will continue.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, as I said at the opening of my statement, I want everyone to fully understand it this time.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. Sargent: Tell him to start over again.
Hon. W. Newman: Even when production risks are reduced, farmers must face price risks. It is an irony of farming, in fact, that the success of producers can actually cause their income to decline. All of us reap the rewards of our farmers’ production success in the form of abundant, top-quality, reasonably priced food. Consumers have implicitly recognized this by supporting the spending of millions in government money for agricultural research and development programmes. Having reduced the production risks, it’s a natural progression to reduce the worst effects of price risks. There are several ways of doing this.
Through The Farm Products Marketing Act, for instance, the government of Ontario has provided a mechanism for farmers to establish marketing boards for their products and reduce fluctuations in prices. But they are still extremely vulnerable to international events and decisions. Most commodities marketed in Ontario are actually part of a world market, even though the bulk of the province’s agricultural production is oriented toward domestic consumption rather than foreign trade. Commodities must compete on the world market --
Mr. Conway: Did Bill Stewart write this?
Mr. Nixon: This is a second-reading speech.
Hon. W. Newman: -- at prices determined by the intricate laws of supply and demand. Our farmers, no matter how united, could never guard themselves adequately from unfavourable price changes affecting both their input and their output -- the prices they must pay to produce and the prices they receive for producing.
While we have many ways of improving agriculture’s viability, it is in this area that income stabilization programmes can be most effective. They won’t interfere with these other programmes; indeed, they should be considered in conjunction with the other programmes for a better understanding of the agricultural economy.
Just as there are many forms of risk protection, there are many forms that farm income stabilization plans might take. The federal plan enacted as Bill C-50 last year distinguishes between commodities that are “named” in the Act and thereby guaranteed a support price, and commodities that may be “designated” for temporary inclusion from time to time. The “named” products are cattle, sheep, hogs, industrial milk and cream, corn, soya beans, and oats and barley not included in the provisions of the Canadian Wheat Board. As market prices worked out, federal payments were made only for fed cattle last year, and then only from January to August. There were also industrial milk payments, but they’re administered differently under a different Act.
The federal plan covers all Canadian producers of the commodities to which it applies. The farmers don’t contribute to the plan. The support price is 90 per cent of the average market price for the commodity over the previous five years, plus an adjustment for increases in production costs. This adjustment is calculated on the current “cash cost” -- which is defined as normal out-of-pocket expenses incurred in production minus the average cash cost over the previous five years. Cash costs, incidentally, do not include depreciation on buildings and equipment.
I might digress for a moment to clear up possible confusion about two related phrases commonly used in federal-provincial talks. One is “operating costs.” These costs do include depreciation allowances as well as cash costs. The other phrase is “full cash costs of production.” This is taken to mean cash costs, plus depreciation, plus all other overhead costs associated with the production process.
The government of Ontario has consistently argued that farm income stabilization is primarily a federal responsibility because, to be truly effective, it must be national in scope. We have pressed our arguments from that basis in almost four years of federal-provincial negotiations, and we’ll continue to do so.
Mr. Conway: Like everything else. Pass the buck.
Hon. W. Newman: As it stands, however, the federal plan obviously doesn’t offer nearly enough Ontario farmers the type of protection against price risks that I have been discussing.
That is the only reason we brought in Bill 96 earlier this year. It was an effort to provide coverage for our producers of this year’s farm commodities while we continued pressing Ottawa to play a far greater role in implementing a realistic, comprehensive programme.
Only the federal government has responsibility for international trade regulations. Support prices for any commodity cannot be divorced from international trade, and no provincial government has powers to set quotas or tariffs on foreign food imports.
Ontario controls one-third of Canada’s farm production, but we must rely on --
Mr. Nixon: Is it true you’re going to import grape concentrates?
Hon. W. Newman: -- Ottawa to keep our programmes from being eroded or erased by a flood of cheap imports. The current international controversy over offshore beef imports is a prime example, and a very painful one for all our beef producers in this country and this province.
Mr. Bullbrook: Offshore?
Mr. Nixon: Anybody offshore?
Hon. W. Newman: Our government has been urging a federal meat import law since early August. We face similar problems in exporting food products and we have to be sure our price support levels don’t conflict with international agreements and bring retaliation against our products by countries that buy our products.
We must also avoid the risk, the very genuine risk, of pitting province against province if several or all of them should establish independent varieties of farm income stabilization. The other provinces are aware of the dangers of destructive competition and price wars. They are in general agreement with our stand that the ideal plan would be a nationwide one that covers all commodities and encourages an efficient Canadian agriculture which would be competitive in the world marketplaces.
Mr. Conway: How much more of this?
Hon. W. Newman: Quite a bit.
Bill 96 was, therefore, designed to dovetail with the existing federal plan to avoid these dangers. At the same time, no further obstacles were placed in the way of extending and improving the federal programme.
Mr. Ferris: Is this a credit course?
Hon. W. Newman: To recapitulate very briefly, Bill 96 would have established a Crown commission to set floor prices at the same level as the federal plan. In emergencies the base level of support could be increased above 90 per cent of the five-year average of market prices, but only on a temporary basis.
It would have excluded commodities already named or designated in Ottawa’s Bill C-50; they wouldn’t need double protection. It would also have excluded commodities already regulated by Ontario marketing boards that set prices and allocate production quotas in line with market demand. Dairy products, poultry and eggs fall in this category.
An hon. member: Is this important?
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, I think it’s very important; maybe you don’t. We felt dairy producers already get consistently fair prices that would have made additional protection unnecessary. With these exceptions, Bill 96 would have applied to every single producer of every single farm commodity in Ontario -- farm products with a value of more than $600 million.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s not what the farmers tell us.
Hon. W. Newman: We knew we could afford that plan within the anti-inflationary restraints we have placed on government spending. We knew it would operate without providing incentives that would invite overproduction and in consequence, bureaucratic interference in farmers’ production decisions.
Mr. Cassidy: It’s an exercise in self-justification.
Hon. W. Newman: You know -- no, I won’t say it; you’ll learn someday, you’ll learn; just give you time.
Hon. W. Newman: We felt we were offering the best plan we could offer at the time; but the majority in this House disagreed.
Mr. Nixon: Now you’ve seen the light.
Hon. W. Newman: Permit me to recall the proceedings of June 15.
Mr. Ferris: Permission granted.
Hon. W. Newman: First, I moved for second reading of the bill. The hon. member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) moved a reasoned amendment:
“That Bill 96, An Act respecting Farm Income Stabilization, be not now read a second time but be referred back to the government to have incorporated therein principles of a farm income insurance plan which would be open to the producers of all farm products on a voluntary basis with assurance that the government provide a public forum for full discussion with the farm community before reintroduction of the bill.”
Mr. Conway: Now about the telephone.
Hon. W. Newman: Later in the debate, the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) moved a subamendment as follows:
“That Bill 96, An Act respecting Farm Income Stabilization, be not now read a second time but be referred back to the government to have incorporated therein principles of a farm income protection plan which will be open to all producers of all farm products on a voluntary and contributory basis, with the government negotiating with legally constituted farm spokesmen; and with assurance that the government provide a public forum for full discussion with the farm community before reintroduction of the bill; and that the bill be reintroduced no later than October 31, 1976.”
Mr. Nixon: Good amendment.
Mr. Breithaupt: Worked, too.
Hon. W. Newman: The subamendment was carried on division and the amendment as amended was carried on division, thus the bill did not move to second reading.
Mr. S. Smith: We wrote your education policy and your farm policy; what next?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, we’re still smarting on that one.
Mr. S. Smith: Do you want a few more?
Mr. Nixon: When are you going to get the smarts?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Let’s get on with the business of the House.
Hon. W. Newman: A committee of cabinet was subsequently formed to deal with the problems of reintroducing legislation by the specified date.
I invited Ontario’s farm products marketing boards and commodity groups to present their views to this committee of ministers. Twenty-four groups were represented at the meeting on August 3. More of them supported Bill 96 than opposed it. Several were noncommittal, usually because their producers would not be affected. The views expressed by the remainder could not be fairly summed up in terms of pro and con or black and white; rather they ranged through various shades of grey. At any rate, no consensus emerged from these discussions and subsequent written submissions.
Mr. Cunningham: Bill Stewart he is not.
Hon. W. Newman: On August 12 the same committee of ministers met with the three general farm organizations: the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers’ Federation and the Ontario District of the National Farmers’ Union. it.
An hon. member: They’re not supporting it.
Hon. W. Newman: The Ontario Federation of Agriculture favoured a plan covering all commodities and based on insurance principles with provisions for contributions from farmers and the federal and provincial governments. The OFA also called for a clearly defined role for farmer representatives in the development process. The Christian Farmers’ Federation found Bill 96 sufficient and adequate. It suggested a few modifications, but supported the plan.
Mr. Conway: Just a few?
Hon. W. Newman: The National Farmers’ Union filed a national policy statement that had been adopted in December, 1975. It dismissed Ottawa’s Bill C-50 as irrelevant. It asked for a stabilization plan based on current production costs and a formula indexing all major cost components. The NFU also called for federal-provincial-producer contributions to a fund that would operate in conjunction with quotas, import controls and other facets of supply management.
Mr. Conway: This sounds pretty irrelevant.
Hon. W. Newman: While we had thus consulted in depth with the legally constituted farm spokesmen, I wanted to give individual farmers additional opportunities to express their views at public forums. Public meetings were arranged and well-advertised in 10 centres across the province.
Mr. Conway: By telephone.
Hon. W. Newman: I was able to answer some of the questions that arose at these meetings on the evening of October 4 --
Mr. Conway: Not too many.
Hon. W. Newman: -- by means of a telephone conference-call hooked up to loud --
Mr. Nixon: The taxpayers pay --
Mr. Cassidy: Must have been a long hook-up too.
Hon. W. Newman: In addition my ministry-- I’ll tell you they were well-attended meetings by and large, and I’m sorry two meetings couldn’t hear me very well.
Mr. Roy: Bill, I’ll tell you something else, you were better on the phone.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Would the hon. minister continue with his statement.
Hon. W. Newman: Certain key points became evident at these public meetings. The majority of farmers wanted greater producer participation and heavy farm representation on the stabilization commission. They wanted a voluntary, contributory form of stabilization to which farmers wishing protection would pay premiums to enrol their commodities; and they wanted the level of support prices to reflect realistically what was happening in the marketplace so that they couldn’t have a detrimental effect on the competitive position of Ontario’s agricultural products.
Mr. Bullbrook: I thought you said we weren’t having a Throne Speech this time?
Mr. Singer: It is another statement of government policy.
Hon. W. Newman: With the aid of all this input from farmers and farm groups, the government was able to evaluate several alternative types of farm income stabilization plans which would comply with the stated wishes of this House. Each was weighed with painstaking care before we chose the plan embodied in the bill that will be tabled in a few minutes.
Mr. Singer: The speech writers were on strike -- you had to put them to work sometime.
Hon. W. Newman: These are what I consider the highlights of the bill:
“It will be a voluntary, contributory plan run by a Crown commission of at least five members, predominantly representatives of Ontario’s producers.”
Mr. Conway: Resign.
Mr. Peterson: Did you just think of this?
Mr. Singer: It was in the paper last week.
Hon. W. Newman: All marketed agricultural products in this province will be eligible for coverage.
The commission will establish regulations for enrolling any serious producer as it sets up separate stabilization funds for various commodities. The government of Ontario will contribute $2 for every $1 the producer pays in enrolment premiums.
Prices and costs used in the Ontario formula will be the same as those used in the federal plan, and federal officials have assured us of their full co-operation in supplying any necessary technical data. I have explained why our plan must dovetail with theirs but let me stress once again that the government will continue to press for the type of meaningful, national stabilization programme which all parties in this House want to see.
Mr. Peterson: You could have spared us all this.
Mr. Conway: Where is Don Morrow?
Mr. Roy: I hope we get a copy of that speech.
Hon. W. Newman: The provincial plan will provide two forms of protection. When a commodity is named in the federal Act for support at the 90 per cent level, as I discussed earlier, our payments will boost returns to Ontario producers to the 95 per cent level.
Mr. Cunningham: Now if you only knew something about farming.
Hon. W. Newman: The Ontario stabilization price will be 95 per cent of the average market price over the previous five years adjusted for cash cost increases. The federal Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Whelan, has said that any other commodities which need support on a yearly basis will be designated under the federal Act for the same 90 per cent level of support. In these cases, Ontario payments will also be at 95 per cent. However, if a commodity is not covered either way by the federal Act in a year of low market prices, the Ontario plan will provide a payment equal to the difference between the 95 per cent level and the 90 per cent level.
What agriculture really needs, of course, is uniform support of every Canadian farm product at the 90 per cent level plus a three-way partnership to provide additional protection to the 95 per cent level for any farmer who wants to help fund it. The federal government should be sharing the costs of the voluntary portion on a dollar-for-dollar basis with the province and participating producers. We’ve been telling Ottawa that for years but we can’t wait any longer so we’ll put in Ottawa’s dollar to get the programme moving.
Mr. Cassidy: You weren’t going to do that this spring.
Hon. W. Newman: As you will see, Mr. Speaker, it is impossible to predict what our plan will cost in any given year. The maximum cost to the government might range from $60 to $70 million annually. On the basis of the two-for-one cost-sharing formula, the maximum cost to contributing farmers would be half as much.
Mr. Bullbrook: Give them a Wintario grant.
Hon. W. Newman: The provincial government introduced a voluntary contributory price support programme for our beef calf producers last year. It will continue to operate separately from the other stabilization funds until all cow-calf contracts expire in 1980. I certainly trust that a proper federal stabilization programme will be fully operational by then.
Mr. Conway: Did you talk to Joe Clark?
Hon. W. Newman: In the event it is not, the Ontario stabilization commission will decide what arrangements should be made for beef calf operators desiring continuing protection.
We intend to leave other operational decisions of a similar nature in the hands of the producer-oriented commission. As I have said, the minority of Ontario producers have indicated they want a greater voice in the decision-making. The new Act is designed to meet their wishes.
We have complied with the stated wishes of the majority of members. We have produced a voluntary participatory plan that operates through the market price mechanism but takes account of significant changes in the farmer’s cash costs.
Mr. Breaugh: Anything more than two syllables.
Mr. Cassidy: It is a hard word to get out, isn’t it?
Hon. W. Newman: We have left the farmer free to make his own production decisions and we have avoided the risk of balkanizing Canada’s agricultural economy by retaining provisions that are compatible with the existing national stabilization programme while we continue working for a better one.
I am confident that members will agree that we have taken a major step forward in providing the greater degree of income security that Ontario farmers want within our free market, free enterprise system.
Mr. Lewis: It is a shocking intrusion into the marketplace -- a terrible violation of the free market system.
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I believe the government has gone more than half-way and that the bill being introduced today is a tremendous protection for the farming citizens of Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Before we proceed with a lengthy list of statements, is it your intention, sir, to interpret the rules of the House in the way you have apparently already begun to do so by permitting major addresses by the ministers under the heading of ministerial statements? Obviously they are making second reading debate speeches in this connection; instead of indicating policy they are giving us the whole load.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is an important matter.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the hon. member has a point there.
Hon. W. Newman: The members opposite didn’t understand it before so we thought we had better clear it up for them.
Mr. Speaker: I do recall on many occasions there has been a demand for further and complete explanation of whatever the ministerial statement might contain, whether it’s an explanation of an up-coming bill or a change in policy or whatever. I would caution the ministry to avoid debate, where possible, and stick to the principle of the bill or the announcement --
Mr. Breithaupt: He told us more than we wanted to know.
Mr. Speaker: -- which the ministry is attempting to make. I would request that in future the statements do not contain argumentative material or a justification for this and that and so on.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s the point; that’s the problem.
Mr. Bullbrook: It is supposed to be a concise statement; that’s what it is supposed to be.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think there was great merit to what the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk interjected.
Now, the hon. Minister of Labour.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a further point of order -- you have encouraged me to proceed on a second point of order. Since we are now resuming the session and it is expected we will be here for seven weeks or perhaps longer, is there something you could do with the --
Mr. Nixon: -- quality or the fidelity of the public address system? I’m not so sure that it is the same on all sides of the House but we found part of that lengthy statement to be almost incomprehensible.
Mr. Reid: And the other half was --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: You never did understand.
Mr. Speaker: I did detect a little bit of background noise occasionally, I must admit.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. To respond to that, however, the necessary corrections to our PA system were not completed during the summer because of the lack of certain parts and material, but I am assured that everything will be 100 per cent before we return here after the Christmas break. In the meantime, I think if we have fewer interjections while someone is talking we could all hear quite well. Thank you very much.
Would the hon. Minister of Labour continue with her statement, please?
ROYAL COMMISSION ON MINING SAFETY
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, members will recall that by order in council dated September 10, 1974, the government established a royal commission to investigate all matters related to the health and safety of workers in the mines of Ontario.
The commissioner appointed was Dr. James Ham, former dean of the faculty of engineering at the University of Toronto and now dean of that university’s school of graduate studies. I am pleased to report that he is in the Speaker’s gallery today.
Dr. Ham’s report was released on Aug. 23, 1976, and I am sure that all members of the House will agree that it deals with a difficult and complex subject with unparalleled thoroughness. In its analysis of the problems as well as in the recommendations for change, the report exhibits a sensitive and humane approach to the safety and well-being of persons engaged in an industry which is of vital importance to this province’s economy. The commissioner has touched on every major health and safety aspect of the mining industry, including silicosis and dust hazards; lung cancer and ionizing radiation in uranium mines; toxic chemical agents; industrial noise and its effect upon hearing; the matter of health records; and, of course, important proposals concerning the structure of government programmes and the reordering of reporting responsibilities.
One hundred and seventeen specific recommendations were made to improve the capacity of employers, employees and government to achieve maximum protection for workers in this industry. We are indebted to Dr. Ham for the conscientious way in which he has approached this challenging task and for the wisdom which he has exhibited in fashioning his proposals.
Immediately following the publication of the report, a special committee of cabinet instructed senior officials of the affected ministries to undertake a detailed analysis of the Ham report, recommending implementation of those recommendations which were supported by the extensive and sometimes complex evidence relied upon by the commissioner. As I have mentioned, and as members know, the recommendations fall into two broad categories: first, those proposing administrative or organizational changes; and secondly, those of a substantive, operational character. The latter group involved complex technical and scientific considerations and I will return to those in a moment.
As to the administrative proposals, I am pleased to announce that the government accepts, without reservation, the commissioner’s recommendations that there be established immediately a single centralized occupational health and safety division within the Ministry of Labour.
At the appropriate time today, I shall introduce for first reading legislation which, among other things, transfers responsibility for part IX and portions of part XI of The Mining Act, as well as The Silicosis Act, to the Ministry of Labour. Administrative arrangements have already been made to transfer the occupational health protection branch of the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Labour.
As members know, the Ministry of Labour is now responsible for The Industrial Safety Act and The Construction Safety Act. With the transfer proposed in the new legislation, responsibility for all occupational health and safety legislation will reside within the Ministry of Labour. The division will be headed by a person having the status of an assistant deputy minister, with whom my deputy minister and I will have close and continuing contact. That person appointed will have administrative responsibility for all of the statutes to which I have referred. I shall be announcing the name of the appointee at the earliest possible date.
The substantive proposals of the commissioner’s report are now under intensive review by a joint labour-management committee known as the Committee to Revise The Mining Act. Members will recall that this committee was appointed by order in council on March 24, 1976, and that its mandate was to conduct a complete review of part IX and part X of The Mining Act. The committee has been specifically requested to give priority consideration to the recommendations of the Ham report and to provide us with comprehensive proposals for amendment to those portions of The Mining Act dealing with health and safety, at the earliest possible date. I have been assured by the committee’s chairman that the review will be expedited and I hope to have its report before the conclusion of this session in order to be able to bring forward appropriate amendments early in the next session of the Legislature.
Depending upon the findings of the committee and upon the advice of the legal officers of the Crown, it is my hope to be able to combine the relevant sections of The Mining Act with The Industrial Safety Act and The Construction Safety Act, to create a comprehensive omnibus Act governing occupational health and safety in mines, in industrial establishments and in construction projects throughout the province. With the centralization of authority in a single ministry and with the enactment of a comprehensive statute, I am confident that we shall have a much greater capacity to deal with matters of health and safety in the work place than has been possible under the existing system.
I should add that the bill which I am introducing today will also deal with several substantive matters which were under active consideration well before the Ham commission reported. This bill permits the formation of labour-management safety committees or the appointment of employee safety representatives where appropriate. It deals with the employee’s right to refuse to perform unsafe work where reasonable grounds for refusal exist, and provides for relief against discharge or discrimination for the proper exercise of that right. The bill provides for the posting in the work place of the reports and official directions of safety and health inspectors. It accords to an employee representative the right to accompany inspectors during the physical inspection of the work place, with the right of full consultation during the tour of inspection. Finally, the bill provides for employee access to annual summaries of work injury statistics.
Because of my responsibility for The Industrial Safety Act and The Construction Safety Act, it was my intention to introduce the aforementioned amendments to those two Acts. However, in the light of the Ham recommendations, I believe that similar benefits should be afforded to Ontario’s miners at this time.
All of the substantive proposals to which I have just referred are discussed in the Ham recommendations. Indeed, in some instances, the provisions of the bill are even more specific in providing protection and remedial rights to the employees than the recommendations contained in the report of the commissioner.
I hope members of the House will appreciate that I would have preferred to be in a position to have the entire task completed by the resumption of this session so that a fully developed omnibus bill could have been introduced immediately. That objective, however, has proven to be a practical impossibility. We have had the report for a relatively short period of time and in addition, part IX of The Mining Act is an extremely complex and technical piece of legislation containing 452 sections, most of which deal with detailed matters of a scientific and technical nature. As the omnibus bill is developed, there are other provisions of the Industrial Safety Act and the Construction Safety Act which will require analysis as well.
It was simply not possible to complete this major undertaking for the resumption of this session. However, as I have said, the omnibus legislation will be brought forward as soon as it is humanly possible to do so, and I can say categorically that there is no other legislative initiative to which this government assigns higher priority.
During the debate on the bill I anticipate that members will have questions concerning other aspects of the consolidation of occupational health and safety programmes within the Ministry of Labour. I shall, of course, be happy to deal with any such matters, but I think it must be appreciated that some important administrative decisions will require careful assessment by the new head of the division of occupational health and safety. For example, there are important questions concerning the relationship of that division to the Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety to be established. In addition, the respective roles of the Labour Safety Council and the Advisory Council on Occupational Health have yet to be determined. Everyone will acknowledge, I believe, that it is essential that the operating division have the benefit of continued advice through advisory mechanisms of some sort from both labour and management, and our task will be to provide the most efficient mechanism for receiving this advice without unnecessary duplication of either effort or resources.
Finally, I hope it is clear from this statement that the government is firmly committed to the two central themes of the commissioner’s report. First, the need for greater openness and greater employee participation in matters of health and safety, and, second, the development of a “responsibility system,” to use Dr. Ham’s phrase, to provide for a maximum of co-operation between labour and management in identifying, controlling and, where possible, eliminating occupational hazards.
In addition, the government is determined to provide the most effective external monitoring and evaluation system possible. From the conversations which I have had since the publication of the report, I am confident that both industry and labour share a commitment to these goals. This legislation, Mr. Speaker, is the first important step toward the achievement of these shared objectives.
FAMILY LAW REFORM
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, this government has for some time, as you know, been committed to a comprehensive reform of family law. We have recognized that the existing common and statute law has failed to keep pace with the challenge of modern family life.
One of my predecessors requested the Ontario Law Reform Commission to undertake a full review of family law and the commission has produced reports on marriage, lawsuits between family members, matrimonial property, children, family courts and, most recently, support obligations.
My ministry circulated a film and distributed a pamphlet on the commission’s recommendations across the province. In addition, we initiated public meetings in order to have as wide a discussion as possible of the issues in family law reform.
As an initial step, pending preparation of more comprehensive legislation, we introduced The Family Law Reform Act, 1975, which has been in force for over a year now. That Act declared the principle of equal status and capacity in law for spouses of both sexes and abolished many of the legal disabilities of married women. This year we introduced The Succession Law Reform Act as part of our continuing reform of family law. That bill, which has only received first reading, deals with the rights of family members in estate matters.
Now I take great pleasure in announcing to this House that the government will today be introducing a new, wide-ranging family law bill, which will be of fundamental importance to every man, woman and child in the province. This bill, to be entitled The Family Law Reform Act, 1976, sweeps away the ramshackle structures of the law governing matrimonial property and support obligations in a marriage breakdown situation. It creates, in their place, a completely new system of law dealing with the economic relations between husband and wife when their marital ties are about to be dissolved.
The bill contains new rights available to both spouses protecting the security of the family home and abolishes the ancient right of dower. It introduces the concept of marriage contracts to Ontario for the first time.
In short, the bill comprises a code of the economic relations between spouses and between parents and their children, a body of law which may be resorted to for protection if a family dispute develops but which also leaves the family free from interference by the law when its members are living in harmony, as the great majority of families do.
The bill comprises five parts, each dealing with distinct though related subject areas.
Part I deals with the division of family assets between the spouses where a marriage breakdown occurs. Part II concerns the obligation of spouses to support each other and their children and of children to support their parents in accordance with the needs and the capacity of each party.
Part III provides rules for ensuring that the matrimonial home is not dealt with by one spouse so as to deprive the other or the children of a home. Part IV introduces the concept of marriage contracts; and part V effects consequential changes in the common and statute law.
There are several basic themes running through the whole bill. First, the bill recognizes the equality of the sexes. It confers no privileges and imposes no disability on either men or women as a group but rather takes account of the individual situation in each matrimonial dispute.
Second, it emphasizes the duty of individuals to take responsibility for themselves to the best of their capabilities and to aid the other members of their family who cannot fend for themselves.
Third, the legislation gives effect to the principle that family law should be flexible enough to respond to the particular needs of individual families and so permits spouses wide latitude in arranging their own rules for property, support and the raising of children.
Finally, the new provisions attempt to encourage the settlement of all the issues in a family controversy at once, so that multiple court proceedings will be unnecessary and so that any court hearing a property or support dispute will have a true and complete picture of the family situation.
I would like to outline briefly the main features of each part of the bill to illustrate to the members of this House the tremendous importance of its provisions.
Part I, family property, contains a new set of rules for the sharing of property between the spouses if a marriage breakdown occurs. The basic rule is that family assets will be divided equally between the spouses. Family assets comprise property owned by either or both spouses which they or their children ordinarily use for shelter or transportation, or for household, educational, recreational, social or aesthetic purposes. This kind of property, the things that a family use together as a family, would ordinarily be shared equally by the spouses on a marriage breakdown, regardless of who had bought the property and irrespective of which spouse held legal title.
Where the husband or wife could establish in an individual case that an equal division of the family assets was inequitable in all the circumstances, the court would have power to vary the shares of the spouses or even award a share of property that does not fall within the definition of family assets. This would allow recognition of the contributions of one spouse to a business owned by the other.
Again I emphasize that couples will be free to determine whether they wanted these new provisions to apply to them. If they did not, they would be permitted to draw up a marriage contract setting out their own rules for ownership of property.
Part II deals with support obligations and begins with the declaration that every spouse, husband or wife, has an obligation to provide support for himself or herself and for the other spouse, in accordance with need, to the extent that he or she is capable of so doing. This represents a substantial departure from the existing law, which imposes the obligation of support during marriage solely on husbands.
Part II also reiterates the obligation of parents to support their children, whether born within or outside marriage, and the obligation of children over 18 to support their parents; once again in accordance with the needs of each and their respective capabilities. It is perhaps little known that the existing law imposes an obligation on adult persons to support their needy parents. In this respect, the bill merely codifies the present law.
Mr. Cunningham: Is this the first reading?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This part also creates a limited obligation of one common law spouse to support the other. Where two persons have lived together as if married, their relationship often takes on the same financial characteristics as a marriage. One person frequently becomes dependent on the other, especially if there is a child of the union. If one of these two people is no longer self-sufficient, it seems reasonable to look to the other to assist in restoring him or her to financial independence. Certainly it is more desirable to place a support obligation on common law spouses than to have a large number of persons who are living common law looking to public welfare for support instead.
Mr. Bullbrook: Jack Spence doesn’t like it at all.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: We believe it is in the community’s interest that some legal responsibilities flow from a common law relationship. By imposing a support obligation on common law spouses in the same terms as the obligation on married persons, we will be removing at least some financial advantages of a common law union over a legal marriage. Further, we do not propose to allow common law spouses to enter into contracts to limit their obligations, whereas legally married persons will be able to do so in a marriage contract. These measures should act as an encouragement for common law spouses to regularize their situation by entering in a formal marriage where possible.
Mr. Conway: Have you even thought about the clergy?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: We propose to allow a common law spouse to claim support only after at least two years’ cohabitation, or if the couple live together in a relationship of some permanence and they have a child. We do not propose to give common law spouses rights to share in family property or have any control over dealings with the family home.
The third part of the bill deals with the matrimonial home, This part provides security for the members of the family by requiring that both spouses join in any sale or mortgage of the matrimonial home. The family’s right to shelter is therefore protected against the unilateral act of either husband or wife. Provision is also made for either spouse to obtain an order for exclusive possession of the home and its contents, where financial support alone would be inadequate.
Part IV permits spouses to enter into comprehensive marriage contracts covering their respective rights to property, support, custody and education of children and any other matters arising during their marriage or on an eventual marriage breakdown. A marriage contract could prevail over any of the provisions of the Act except where it limited a spouse’s rights in the matrimonial home, reduced a spouse to dependence on welfare or included provisions contrary to the best interests of the children of the marriage.
The last part of the bill contains many amendments to statute law and abrogations of the common law consequential upon the previous four parts. The Family Law Reform Act of 1975 is incorporated as part of this Act. Part V abolishes the last vestiges of the inferior status in law of the married woman and completes the work begun in this area in The Family Reform Act, 1975.
This bill is obviously a major piece of legislation of fundamental concern to everyone. As a result, my ministry has prepared a pamphlet and an information booklet explaining the bill, and these documents will be distributed free, and as widely as possible across Ontario.
Mr. Roy: Have you got your name on it?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Members of the public will be invited to write my ministry for copies and to submit their comments on the bill.
Mr. Nixon: Just write to Roy.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I want to make it clear that --
An hon. member: Darcy is sending one out too.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I want to make it clear that this bill does represent government policy --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I could be unkind and ask who over there is smarting?
Mr. Nixon: Is it regional government for Chatham-Kent?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This bill does represent government policy, although in a bill which sweeps away centuries of legal tradition and provides entirely new measures in their place there may, of course, be a need for some adjustments. I am confident, however, that the basic principles of The Family Law Reform Act, 1976, represent a positive response to the needs of the people of Ontario.
While the family law reform bill is in itself very significant legislation, Mr. Speaker, it is only one of two important bills I will be introducing today, and only one of four major family law measures which the government plans to bring forward this session.
The second bill which I will be introducing for first reading today is a new Marriage Act. This bill does not contain the same kind of sweeping changes as The Family Law Reform Act --
Mr. Conway: Was that written by John Smith?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- but it does give effect to many of the recommendations of the Ontario Law Reform Commission report on marriage.
Mr. Breithaupt: You found a new way?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: One of the main features of the marriage bill is the authorization of justices of the peace and other prescribed classes of persons to solemnize marriages, so that it will now be easier for couples to have a non-religious marriage ceremony if they so desire.
Mr. Bullbrook: Keep this up you will be doing away with the opening prayer.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The third major piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, on the government’s family law programme is Bill 85, The Succession Law Reform Act, which has now received first reading. That bill substantially reforms the rules of inheritance of property and the right of dependants to claim support from an estate. It incorporates many of the recommendations of the Ontario Law Reform Commission reports on children, support obligations and family property.
The Succession Law Reform Act contains provisions equalizing the treatment in estates matters of all children, whether born within or outside marriage, and equalizing the position of men and women in their inheritance rights and rights to support from the estate of a deceased spouse. The bill effects a general modernization of the law of estates to bring it more in tune with the values and expectations of today’s society.
We have received a number of comments and suggestions from lawyers and other members of the public in relation to Bill 85, and it is the government’s intention to incorporate some of the suggestions in the bill and to proceed to enactment.
The government has also been considering reforms in the procedures by which family law disputes are resolved in the courts. It is well recognized that existing court structures do not serve as well as they might in family law cases. Often spouses must start proceedings in different courts and go through two or more trials before all the issues in their dispute are finally laid to rest.
Mr. Roy: You are starting to listen a little bit.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The courts are geared to an adversary process and this approach tends to add bitterness to a difficult situation.
The family division of the provincial court, commonly known as the family court, has access to support services which can help families settle their difficulties without resorting to a trial. However, that court has no jurisdiction over many kinds of family law cases, such as divorce and property disputes. On the other hand, the Supreme and county courts, which have the necessary jurisdiction, simply do not have the support services.
We believe we have found a means to provide a family court that has the jurisdiction needed to deal with any kind of family law case and the necessary range of support services to assist spouses to come to a negotiated settlement of their problems wherever possible. I have reached an understanding with the federal Minister of Justice on the creation of a unified family court for a three-year developmental project in Hamilton. The court is called the unified family court because it unifies the exercise of family law jurisdiction in one court, instead of the four different courts that have jurisdiction now.
The court at Hamilton would make extensive use of conciliation and pre-trial procedures within the court and social service resources in the community to assist the parties in resolving their problems short of taking the case before a judge.
We are currently resolving the details of an agreement with the federal government, which is necessary under our constitution to give the court the necessary jurisdiction. We expect these matters to be finalized in the next several weeks, and we will then bring forward legislation to create the unified family court at Hamilton. If the three-year Hamilton project proves a success, as I believe it will, we hope to be able to extend the unified family court across Ontario.
I have spoken of four family law bills which the government plans for this session, but there still remains one extremely important area which I have not yet directly addressed, the law relating to children.
In our new family law reform bill, we propose to give all children the same rights to support from their parents, whether or not the child’s parents are married. Bill 85, on the law of succession, contains the same kind of provisions in relation to children’s rights of inheritance.
In addition, I am developing a proposal to abolish once and for all the status of illegitimacy for all purposes of Ontario law. I am also considering proposals for legal means of ascertaining the parentage of children born outside marriage; a procedure to appoint a guardian for one’s children by will; independent legal representation for children in family disputes; and guidelines for a court in making decisions on custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. I will be discussing those areas with my colleagues in the cabinet with a view to producing further legislation on these subjects.
I have gone into some detail in this statement because I want the members of this House and the public at large to be fully aware of the scope and importance of the government’s legislative plans in the area of family law. These measures abolish the last remnants of the married woman’s inferior status and guarantee to both spouses a fair share of matrimonial property if their marriage breaks down. They provide for new support remedies which will recognize the obligation of both husband and wife to become self-sufficient if they can, and the right of either husband or wife to claim support from the other when in need. The security of the matrimonial home is protected by new measures for controls over dealings with it and for orders for exclusive possession of it.
This legislation is the culmination of years of work by successive Attorneys General, the Law Reform Commission and officials within my ministry. We believe that it is a comprehensive legislative recognition of the need for change in our law and that it responds to the wishes of the people of this province.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Solicitor General.
Mr. Cassidy: How long is it?
CITIZEN COMPLAINTS AGAINST POLICE
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I wish to comment briefly on my ministry’s plan for a new system for dealing with citizens’ complaints against police. Out of courtesy to those opposite and so they may know that I mean briefly, if they wish to keep track of my progress as I turn the pages, I have two pages.
We propose that a civilian authority be created to oversee the handling of these complaints and the consequential disciplining of police officers. It has been said, quite rightly, that the police should not be the final arbiters in their own cause. Complaints and discipline would be the special focus and special responsibility of this new authority. It would be independent of the police and would report to the Solicitor General. It would monitor the handling of less serious complaints by police and would be directly involved in the investigation and adjudication of the more serious complaints. This authority would be a final court of appeal both for citizens who feel aggrieved and for police officers whose employment or employment status might be affected. This independent authority would have sufficient power and resources to ensure that justice is done to all parties.
We have extensively reviewed recent studies and reports on the subject and I might mention in particular those of Mr. Arthur Maloney, QC, His Honour Judge René Marin and the Hon. Mr. Justice Morand. The underlying philosophies contained in these reports are perhaps more striking in their similarities than they are in their differences. I might say that our proposed scheme draws extensively from these reports.
I feel that the system should apply to all municipal police forces and the Ontario Provincial Police, and I am therefore unable to adopt any one scheme in its totality. Furthermore, we want to establish a system which includes the best features of existing and proposed systems. The system will be flexible and capable of expansion as the need arises. Every attempt will be made to avoid unnecessary expense and the creation of unnecessary bureaucracies. At the same time I am determined that the system be made to work and will do everything in my power to see that it is equipped for this objective.
At the present time, I have just completed the first round of discussions with police associations, police governing bodies and other interested groups. I might add that these groups are giving us full co-operation and many useful suggestions. The points of view are many and varied and sometimes conflicting.
I do appreciate the need for action. In the words of one writer, we must venture into this field in a highly visible way and then let the experience, in action, decide whether the structure created is doing the job it was intended to do. The government’s approach has now been finalized and a second round of discussions centring on these proposals has now commenced. This consultation completed, we will be in a position to introduce the legislation before the end of this session.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I will be introducing The Wine Content Act, 1976, the purpose of which is to help the Ontario wine industry gain a greater share of Canadian and foreign wine markets.
This legislation marks a major change in our policy in that it will permit the limited use of foreign wine-making materials in Ontario wines. Grape growers and wineries have jointly accepted this change.
In recent years, the public taste has turned toward dry table wines rather than fortified dessert wines. This development in the market has demanded great adjustments from our wine industry. Grape growers have responded with new plantings of the varietal grapes capable of meeting the public demand.
Mr. Cunningham: You guys buy it at election time.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The government’s loan support for this programme has been welcomed by the growers. This transition is proving successful and the quality of Ontario wines has improved dramatically.
Mr. Nixon: As long as the federal government buys the surplus and you let the concentrate be imported.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Nonetheless, it is apparent that some importing of grapes and blending wines, not concentrates, may be necessary to sustain the transition and enable the industry to continue to meet public expectations.
As members are aware, the health of the Ontario wine industry is essential to the preservation of the unique tender fruit land of Niagara. If we are able to maintain healthy sales of wine, we can keep --
An hon. member: How many seats?
Mr. Warner: Talk to the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes).
Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- thousands of acres of valuable land in the Niagara Peninsula from conversion to non-agricultural use. About 54 per cent of the cultivated land in the peninsula is in grapes and 70 per cent of the crop goes into wine.
Mr. Nixon: Have you decided to stop that conversion of land?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Expanding the markets for domestic wines is therefore one of the most practical and inexpensive ways to preserve this land for future generations.
It is obviously necessary to maintain a careful balance between the use of imported materials to help wine sales and the market for Ontario grapes. To that end, the regulations will provide two important safeguards. First, the amount of imported materials will be limited to a fixed percentage of the total materials used. Secondly, the yield of wine per ton of grapes will be reduced so that more Ontario grapes must be purchased for every gallon of wine produced. The entire blending procedure covered by this legislation will be subject to review in five years’ time.
Probably the most meaningful future protection is the development of a set of wine standards to improve sales. The government will be working with the wineries and growers to establish these standards, hopefully for introduction in 1977.
I would also like to take this opportunity to announce another initiative taken by the government recently to assist Ontario’s grape growers and wineries. In the past two years, French producers have taken steps to enforce the terms of a 40-year-old treaty which subjects Canadian business to foreign laws. The treaty in question threatens the right of our wineries to use names like champagne, despite the fact --
Mr. Conway: Take it easy on the French.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- that all labels clearly show the Canadian origin of the beverage.
Last week, I sent a telegram to the Hon. Jean Chretien urging him to consider abrogating this treaty.
Mr. Nixon: Did you thank the federal government for buying all the grapes?
Mr. Conway: Easy does it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: No other wine-making jurisdiction has had to accept such an insulting loss of sovereignty.
Mr. Nixon: You only buy the grapes in an election year.
Hon. W. Newman: Nonsense. We bought grapes this year. You don’t know anything about the Niagara Peninsula.
Mr. Nixon: They were the ones who wanted to stop the importing. You are the one who is criticizing the government of Canada for not importing the grapes
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor only.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I understand that trade talks between Canada and France are expected next month. We urged the government of Canada to place this treaty on the agenda and to insist that it he changed or rescinded to reflect modern usage..
I have a second statement, Mr. Speaker, while I am on my feet.
CORPORATIONS INFORMATION ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Later today I will be introducing for first reading a revised Corporations Information Act and complementary amendments to The Business Corporations Act and The Corporations Act. In this legislation we have attempted to ease the burden of both large and small corporations by eliminating the annual filing and the payment of a filing fee.
We are also taking steps to make it easier for consumers and small businessmen to take legal action against corporations they do business with. Instead of the annual return now required from each corporation carrying on business in Ontario, the new Act requires filing only when a change occurs in the information kept on file. The amendments provide for cancellation and dissolution for non-payment of taxes rather than for failure to file annual returns.
In the case of a non-share corporation, the amendments provide for cancellation and dissolution for failure to file a notice on demand. This demand will be made every three years with a view to removing inactive corporations from the records.
The cost of enforcing the existing legislation has been climbing steadily. Under the new amendments, even when the $10 filing fee is dropped, the net administrative cost will be lower. However, up-to-date information on corporations will continue to be available in one central location.
I think everyone in this Legislature agrees that small businessmen have been deluged in recent years with too much government paperwork. While the federal government has talked about doing something to help, we are taking this practical action to help to improve the situation.
Mr. Samis: That’s what an election can do.
Mr. Roy: You should have saved all this for a spring election.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: With certain exceptions, every corporation carrying on business in Ontario will be required to file an initial notice setting out basically the information which is now required under the existing legislation. Returns now on file will be treated as the initial notice required by the amendments provided they are up to date.
By reciprocal arrangement, corporations chartered federally or in Quebec do not require a licence to carry on business in Ontario. These corporations will be required to file an initial notice setting out only information as to name, date, manner and jurisdiction of incorporation. Notices of change will still be required. Names and addresses of officers and directors of Canadian and Quebec corporations are available to creditors and others in the files maintained by the Canada corporations branch at Ottawa or by the Quebec companies branch in Quebec City.
The amendments will also require an extra-provincial corporation to file an initial notice as well as notices of change containing the name and address of its attorney in Ontario, the name and office address of its thief officer or manager in Ontario, and the location of its principal office in this province.
Under the existing legislation, a corporation is prohibited from carrying on business or identifying itself by other than the registered name or style. This rule will be strengthened in the new legislation by further disclosure requirements. A corporation will henceforth use its corporate name in all contracts, invoices, negotiable instruments and orders for goods or services. To permit corporations time to use existing stocks of stationery this provision will not come into force until July 1, 1977.
In the process of developing this legislation we received very valuable advice from representatives of the commercial, consumer and corporate law section of the Ontario branch of the Canadian Bar Association and I would like to acknowledge that contribution with thanks. These amendments will provide better service to the public at consistently less cost both to the taxpayer and to Ontario’s small businessman.
Mr. Speaker: Just before we call for the next statement perhaps we might have the TV lights turned down; the cameras seem to have gone their way. Secondly, there’s a great --
Mr. Nixon: Arthur, you are not going to be on TV tonight.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There is a great difficulty in hearing everything that’s said and that’s part of our cause right there. The difficulty is mainly because of the interjections, most of which are totally irrelevant. Also, please, will those people who are carrying on private conversations please keep them at as low a level as possible.
Mr. Roy: Can we have a coffee break?
Mr. Deans: On a point of order, if I may. I wonder if it might be possible to turn the volume on the microphones down, and whether that would interfere with the transcribing of it in the transcription room. If the tape still works from the lower volume we could probably hear people much more readily in their normal speaking voice.
Mr. Speaker: It is worth a try, but it seems to me the background noise appears to be the main difficulty; it echoes.
Mr. Singer: Did they throw out the old system? Could we not bring that one back?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Revenue.
Mr. Roy: Art, just file it.
HOME BUYER GRANT AUDIT
Hon. Mr. Meen: Back in July I issued a statement to the press concerning the audit of Ontario home buyer grant applications. I said at that time that audit statistics would be released at the completion of the programme, scheduled for the end of this year. In light of recent articles in the press, I think it would now be useful to provide an interim report on the progress to date of the home buyer grant audit.
Mr. Cassidy: It sure would.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Meen: As members will recall the home buyer grant programme was one of a number of measures introduced in the provincial budget in April, 1975, to counteract weakness in the Ontario economy.
Mr. Ruston: During an election year.
Mr. Nixon: To buy votes.
Mr. S. Smith: It is called a pre-restraint programme.
Hon. Mr. Meen: It was a short-term measure intended to have immediate economic impact and, therefore, our primary objective was to establish the administrative machinery to ensure payments of the grants as quickly as possible with minimum red tape. To verify by external audit or field audit every aspect of every grant application prior to payments being made would clearly have nullified the economic impact of the programme and caused unnecessary delays and hardship to the great majority of people who were properly qualified.
Mr. S. Smith: Delayed it past election day.
Mr. Nixon: Right. You wanted to get the cheques out before election day.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Further, statistics prove that in any kind of programme, whether it is a tax collection programme or an income redistribution programme --
Mr. Sargent: It was a bribery programme.
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- the vast majority of applications -- and I emphasize this Mr. Speaker -- the vast majority of applications for assistance and tax returns are basically correct. Programmes are therefore designed to provide the least amount of inconvenience to the persons submitting that majority of applications and reliance is placed on auditing techniques to deal with the exceptions rather than subject every grant application and tax return to the same degree of detailed scrutiny.
To deal with the home buyers’ grant programme, a three-step plan was used which, in the first instance, was based on a self-assessment approach common to many government programmes. The first step involved scrutiny of submitted declarations and documents. Grants were paid primarily on the basis of people’s declarations that they met the necessary conditions cited on the application forms, supported by certain documentary evidence.
The second step was the request for additional documentation or information in cases where our initial scrutiny indicated insufficient information had been supplied to determine the eligibility of the application.
In the course of the first two steps, approximately six per cent of all applications were rejected.
The third step was an audit based on a predetermined selection of files where it was judged that the highest number of ineligible applicants would be found.
This post-audit of grant applications began in earnest in April of this year with 46 auditors seconded from corporation tax and retail sales tax branches of my ministry. To October 22 of this year 9,453 files had been audited and of these, 1,016 grants, that is 10.7 per cent of those audited were disallowed.
Mr. Sargent: That was a great make-work programme wasn’t it -- 46 auditors?
Hon. Mr. Meen: This percentage is higher than it would have been had our audit been based on a random sampling of all applicants.
Mr. Sargent: You should be ashamed of yourself.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Since, as described earlier, it is not necessary to audit all 87,000 approved applications, and since by the end of this year the auditors seconded to this programme will have to return to their normal duties, the audit was concentrated on areas where we anticipated the highest number of ineligible applications and hence the highest rate of return, with particular emphasis on higher-priced homes. In that portion of the audit sample selected randomly, disqualifications were considerably lower than in other areas of specialized selection on which audit activity has been concentrated.
Mr. S. Smith: What was the rate?
Hon. Mr. Meen: The greatest single reason for post-audit disallowance of grants has been the applicant’s previous ownership of a principal residence, In fact, 72 per cent of disallowances fall into this category. Other significant categories include housing units found to be tri-plexes, four-plexes, and housing units not occupied as the applicant’s principal residence. These categories account for 12 and nine per cent respectively of post-audit disallowances.
As to the procedures used in our audits, the report in last Wednesday’s Globe and Mail indicated that investigators are appearing unannounced at doorsteps across the province. I would simply like to point out that it is impossible to estimate the length of interview which may be required with any particular applicant and, therefore, it is difficult to schedule a series of such interviews ahead of time.
Mr. Sargent: Can you tell us the cost?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Were we to attempt to make advance appointments in all cases, the audit would be slowed considerably.
As I indicated earlier, the audit of the initial $1,000 payments of the home buyer grants will continue until the end of this year --
Mr. Sargent: An $87 million bribe.
Mr. Cunningham: Do they pay interest?
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- and I will be releasing complete statistics at the conclusion of the audit. Mr. Speaker, while I’m on my feet, I have another short statement.
ASSESSMENT, GIFT TAX AMENDMENTS
Hon. Mr. Meen: Later this afternoon I shall be introducing The Assessment Amendment Act and shall propose amendments to The Ontario Gift Tax Act, 1972.
Mr. Conway: What about Willis Blair?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Meen: As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, in the 1976 Ontario budget the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) introduced 15 proposals to reform the property tax system of this province. Subsequently, the Property Tax Reform Commission, under the chairmanship of Mr. Willis Blair, was established to review these proposals and encourage public response concerning their implementation. The changes proposed in The Assessment Act, 1976, will delay for one year, until 1977, the return of assessments at full market value throughout Ontario.
Mr. Sargent: The election ploy.
Hon. Mr. Meen: This delay will preserve current levels of assessment and existing procedures under The Assessment Act for the year 1977.
Mr. Cassidy: This is the fifth time in a row.
Mr. Nixon: That is the third withdrawal.
Hon. Mr. Meen: This, of course, is the deferral in the assessment process which I’ve been talking about for months and all of the rest of you have known about it for months as well. This delay --
Mr. Conway: I bet Eddie Goodman had a few things to say.
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- will allow time for response to the report of the Blair commission expected later this year and for the preparation of legislation by my ministry based on the commission’s report and the public response to it. In addition, Mr. Speaker, I shall introduce The Gift Tax Amendment Act, 1976, No. 2, in which I shall propose a number of changes to The Gift Tax Act. In general, these are housekeeping amendments with little revenue implications for the province.
Three changes I shall propose in this amending bill arise out of the provisions of the proposed Succession Law Reform Act 1976, introduced by the Attorney General on May 11, 1976, as Bill 85. That Act was not concerned with taxation but with a more generous and equitable treatment of illegitimate children, common-law spouses, and various types of defendants and survivors. With some necessary modifications the relevant provisions of that Act are to be incorporated into The Gift Tax Act.
An additional change I shall propose will extend tax-free benefits gifted to a spouse to include the establishment of an inter vivos trust for his or her benefit. Through this amendment we hope to incorporate a change which was first put forward to my staff by a joint committee of the Canadian Bar Association and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. Under the current Act, a gift to a spousal trust is subject to tax. This proposed amendment will permit us to extend the current interspousal exemption to include a gift to a spousal trust. In order to qualify for this exemption, all of the income must belong to the spouse of the donor and anyone else benefitting from the trust must be alive at the time the gift is made to the trust for the spouse’s benefits to be exempt.
The third major proposal in the package of amendments to The Gift Tax Act concerns the collection of tax where the donor, who is primarily liable for the gift tax, does not pay and the liability then falls to the recipient of the gift. This proposed law would allow my ministry to file a lien upon property located in Toronto and owned by the non-resident recipient of such gift.
I believe the proposed amendments I’ve described today combine to demonstrate this government’s commitment to maintaining an effective and thoroughly useful dialogue with interested parties and, importantly, the people of Ontario, as we continue to implement property and other tax reforms.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The Minister of Natural Resources.
Mr. Cassidy: The minister has been hiding, eh?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I shall be tabling later on this afternoon a memorandum of understanding signed today by myself of behalf of the government and on behalf of Reed Paper Limited, by Mr. R. W. Billingsley, president and chief executive officer and Mr. K. D. Greaves, group vice-president, forestry and wood products.
This understanding sets out a series of steps to be taken, both by the company and by the government, to investigate the desirability of proceeding with a proposed development of a new integrated forest industry complex in northwestern Ontario.
The understanding also guarantees full public disclosure of all data-gathering procedures and public hearings before any decision is taken by the government concerning the feasibility or the desirability of proceeding with any forest harvesting plan for the area under study.
This understanding established the framework within which studies will be undertaken of the forest resources of an area to the north and the east of Red Lake. In addition, It provides for a hearing by the Environmental Assessment Board and for public participation in northwestern Ontario. Today’s signing of this understanding follows, by 2½ years, a proposal made by the company to the government.
In that proposal, Reed Paper Limited indicated that it was prepared to consider the feasibility of developing an integrated forest complex in the Ear Falls-Red Lake area. This proposal, in turn, resulted from a request I made to all pulp and paper companies in Ontario to provide the government with their long range development programmes to achieve a fuller and more effective utilization of provincial forest resources.
Members will recall that in 1971 the government accepted the recommendations of the Design for Development Phase II report to be a policy objective for the social and the economic development of the northwest region of this province. This report made a number of recommendations on the role of the pulp and paper industry in this vast region. It recommended that some 4,000 to 5,000 new jobs be created by this industry by 1990. It also recommended better utilization of the forest resources by the harvesting of over-mature trees and all forest species to achieve a more balanced forest management programme.
It recommended that a study be made of the feasibility of establishing at least one new pulp and paper mill in northwestern Ontario, with priority being given to the areas of the northwest region where the forestry resource was under-utilized.
It recommended that particular attention should be given to the possibility of establishing an integrated forest products complex in what the report termed strategic B communities, such as those in the Red Lake area.
It is recommended that both the government and industry jointly develop special training programmes for the people living in remote areas to increase their opportunities for steady employment, both in the mechanized woods operations and in the mills.
Following the government’s acceptance of these recommendations, I asked each pulp and paper company to present the government with their proposals on how their operations might be expanded to reach these goals.
To date, two companies have embarked upon major expansion programmes totalling $358 million, and projecting almost 1,700 new jobs. The proposal from Reed Paper Limited projects an investment of $400 million and the creation of up to 1,200 new jobs. This proposal was announced in this Legislature by the Premier in March of 1974. Since then, the company has been engaged in its own technical study of a possible kraft mill in the Red Lake-Ear Falls area.
It is now appropriate to undertake an investigation into the forest resource of this part of northwestern Ontario lying north of the 51st parallel.
While other jurisdictions in Canada and many other countries have successfully carried on forest harvesting operations considerably north of this parallel, Ontario has not conducted an intensive forest inventory of this region or studied its possible economic values to the province. The time has now come to do this.
Together with my ministry’s emphasis on improved forest management and greater species utilization, there is also an obligation on my ministry to expand and improve its forest regeneration programmes. A further statement of our plans in this regard will be made when studies now under way have been completed and our requirements are more fully understood and assessed.
This understanding provides for the carrying out of a complete forest inventory of the area under study. The study should be completed within 18 months. It will be undertaken by the government and our costs are to be reimbursed by the company. In addition, the company will reimburse the government for its costs, related to the operating studies for that portion required for the company’s forest operating plan, if and when the company and the government agree that they should proceed.
The company will submit to the government and will be required to make available to the public, Within 60 days from the signing of this understanding, its environmental impact and site selection study for a possible mill in the Ear Falls-Red Lake area.
The company agrees to provide the government with its proposals for a comprehensive forest management plan, and an operating plan 12 months after the completion of the forest inventory. These reports will be made available to the public.
These studies and plans will be designed to: 1. Develop plans designed to optimize the utilization of the forest; 2. Raise the growth potential of the forest; 3. Improve the standard of forest protection; 4. Conform with the government’s plans for the economic development of northwestern Ontario; 5. Maintain or enhance the area’s fish and wildlife resources and its recreational potential; 6. Improve the employment opportunities for all local inhabitants placing particular emphasis on meeting the economic and social aspirations of the native people in that region.
The company has agreed to participate in a hearing of the Environmental Assessment Board of the Ministry of the Environment to determine, in a public manner, that a new pulp mill would be environmentally acceptable. The company will not be allowed to proceed to construct the integrated wood-using manufactories at any location until the Ministry of the Environment gives the necessary approvals.
Should the company and the government agree that the development of the complex is in the public interest and its social benefits are commensurate with its economic benefits to the public of this province, the company has agreed to provide the government with an Irrevocable and valid letter of credit in the amount of $500,000 as a guarantee that the company will fulfil its various obligations.
Mr. Lewis: You said that in March, 1974. You still haven’t got the money.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: This memorandum of understanding provides a comprehensive framework --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Really, I am surprised.
Mr. Sargent: It’s a steal.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- to ensure that an exhaustive investigation of the forest resources of this area is undertaken and that any possible harvesting operation will conform --
Mr. Lewis: We understand what’s going on.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- to the strictest possible environmental safeguards known to us.
Mr. Lewis: You are giving them the agreement to bankroll them.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is also the first time that a private company in this province has been asked and has agreed to participate in an Environmental Assessment Board hearing.
Mr. Conway: Anything on the Metro Zoo?
Hon. Mr. Davis: We thought it would be very appropriate for you to raise it.
Mr. Conway: You really are a zoo gang.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Show us the long right arm hanging from the limb.
Mr. Conway: Turn your coat around.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Withdraw your tail and sit down.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the hon. members for Renfrew North and Sault Ste. Marie conduct their private conversations outside the chamber?
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Natural Resources: Is he prepared to table in the Legislature this week all the documents which he received over the last several months, which were never shared with the public, relating to the Reed Paper expansion -- the documents on the environmental studies, the documents dealing with native peoples’ rights, the documents dealing with statistical analysis of the economic implications? Is the government prepared to table those documents or must we wait until they are doctored by Reed?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what the member is referring to because we have not, in the Ministry of Natural Resources, in my office, received any official impact studies or reports to which he is referring.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask the Minister of the Environment? Will the Minister of the Environment table in the Legislature --
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order --
Mr. Lewis: I’m sorry.
Mr. Nixon: I have a supplementary on the question that was put forward. With reference to the minister’s statement on documents pertaining to the negotiations with Reed, did the minister indicate that there would be no public hearings held out of northwestern Ontario in this connection?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I said that the Environmental Assessment Board hearings would be held in Red Lake, Ear Falls and Dryden; that is in northwestern Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: A supplementary: Does that preclude hearings in Toronto or other jurisdictions across the province, pertaining to these resources which are held in trust by all the citizens?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, that would be a decision of the Environmental Assessment Board.
Mr. Nixon: The minister has no objection?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No.
Mr. Reid: A supplementary: Do I understand the Premier’s statement of March, 1974, correctly, that if Reed did not begin construction by December, 1976, it would forfeit the $500,000 bond it posted?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, if one reads the statement correctly, there was an agreement to be reached. That agreement was never reached and the bond was never posted. Until this memorandum of understanding and all the various sequences of events had been clearly outlined --
Mr. Reid: The bond was never posted?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, it was not.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There’s been no agreement.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: There’s been no agreement to post a bond.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s what you people don’t understand.
Mr. Lewis: No.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We’ve got the structure in place now whereby the timetable is set and if all the various steps are taken and the timetable is reached, the deposit will be made to the government.
Mr. Foulds: In view of the fact that in the minister’s statement he tied the agreement so closely to Design for Development for northwestern Ontario, does he not think it appropriate that at least a hearing be held in every town of major size in northwestern Ontario, from Manitouwadge to the Manitoba border?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, as I said to the member for Brant, that would be a decision of the Environmental Assessment Board. Certainly I have no objections to them holding public meetings in any part of this province where there is an interest and is a concern.
Mr. Lewis: A question to the Minister of the Environment: Is the minister prepared to table in the Legislature this week all of the documents relating to the Reed Paper proposal which came to his ministry and “other involved ministries” -- I would have thought Natural Resources, perhaps not -- revealed in the various memoranda which have come to light, among staff members of his ministry, involving the environmental assessment, the native peoples’ assessment, the statistical data, the economic implications? Why cannot that now be made public as part of this discussion?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, as a result of the environmental assessment conducted by the company, that report was turned over to my ministry for assessment by my ministry officials for a period of time, and during that period there were some inter-office memoranda exchanged and also discussions with officials of the company, people involved in the assessment for the company, and other ministries.
I haven’t had a chance to look at any of those papers or any of the memoranda, nor have I had an opportunity to discuss them with any officials of my ministry.
Mr. Lewis: It’s only 16 million acres; no reason why you should be concerned.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I realize that. But these are all very preliminary assessments as a result of receiving assessments from the company’s agents, the people who did the assessments for them. That assessment wasn’t complete, as the hon. member probably knows, and that is one of the reasons --
Mr. Lewis: No, I don’t.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- why the company asked for it back. The assessment wasn’t complete in their opinion.
Mr. Reid: Why did they give them to you in the first place?
Mr. Lewis: Where are the documents?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: As far as the environmental assessment is concerned, it is with the company. That document is with the company, not with my ministry.
Mr. Foulds: You didn’t make a copy when you had it?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Allow the minister an opportunity to answer the question that was asked and asked legitimately.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: As the hon. member knows, some of these memoranda were, as reported in the press recently in articles, exchanged between officials within a department of my ministry. I would like to be able to look at that file to see just what is appropriate to be tabled in this Legislature.
Mr. Lewis: Appropriate?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes.
Mr. Lewis: I want to pursue this. Why is it not possible for the minister to share with the public of Ontario, now that the government has signed a formal agreement with Reed, as he tables the agreement, all of the studies and data which have come to his attention and about which his staff has written fully one to the other and claimed “other involved ministries have reviewed it as well”? Which other ministries? Where’s the material?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: As I say, Mr. Speaker, I have no objection to tabling relevant material in respect to the assessment done for Reed Paper by, I believe, Acres Limited. But I think the hon. member can appreciate that apparently a file of an official of my ministry was copied in some way, including a lot of inter-office memos, some of it illegible, and types of material of that kind. I want to make sure that anything I table here is relevant and appropriate to the particular proposal being submitted by Reed.
Mr. Cassidy: And you’ll make that decision?
Mr. Reid: Can the minister tell us today, or tell us tomorrow, or Thursday, what other relevant ministries in fact received the information? Would it be the Ministry of Natural Resources, or Health, or who? Will he give us that information? Who else received the report?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure exactly what other ministries may have received it from the company or from other ministries. Certainly I would be happy to table anything which passed between my ministry and some other ministry that may relate to this subject.
Mr. Lewis: You sign agreements but you don’t know what you’ve got.
Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. Is the Minister of Natural Resources not concerned about entering into this kind of agreement with the Reed Paper Company when he has such a damning condemnation of that company submitted by his forest management officer, Mr. J. R. Cary as recently as September, 1976, pointing out that the regeneration is running at less than half the level it should be and indicating that the cutting and high-grading practices are no part of any forest management system to his knowledge? How can the minister enter an agreement with a company with that record?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition should realize this is a memorandum of understanding. It sets up the framework in which all the various steps and timetables have been spelled out for public participation. Let’s make that point clear.
With regard to an individual’s comment with regard to the reforestation practices, I think the member is aware that since 1962 the Ministry of Natural Resources has been responsible in taking the lead in regeneration and management practices.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: If there is a criticism it has to come right back to the way we are approving those particular plans. I will indicate to members, in the course of my estimates, which start tonight, that we will be reviewing many of the actions which have been taken, and these plans.
Mr. Conway: But you are responsible.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: While it may be one individual’s opinion within that particular field, we will certainly correct anything that has gone on, and with other companies, too.
Mr. Lewis: A supplementary: Is the minister aware that there is a memorandum from M. D. Kirk, environmental planner in the Ministry of the Environment, to V. W. Rudik, assistant director, environmental approvals branch, dated April 26, 1976, relating to a seminar on forest management and environment, April 20 to April 23, 1976, at which there were 15 private sector foresters and three Ministry of Natural Resources foresters in attendance, including Cary from Reed, in which they indicated everything from undue industry, administrative and political influence on the Ministry of Natural Resources, indicated that we may have a timber shortage in the province by the year 2000 and that regeneration was virtually non-existent? How can the minister continue to grant to Reed a part of Ontario as large as the province of Nova Scotia with the record which his own people are chronicling? Why is he doing it?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think the hon. Leader of the Opposition is ignoring my earlier comments and he just refuses to accept them. All kinds of people can make all kinds of comments. If there is any truth or depth to those particulars --
Mr. Lewis: They are your people; they are your memos.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- it’s certainly something I would like to look into. Certainly I am not aware of these practices to which the hon. member refers.
Mrs. Campbell: You should know.
Mr. Angus: I would ask the minister if, in his earlier comments, he or his ministry took the blame for high-grading within the Reed area? Is that what he said?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, we don’t, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Angus: Who does?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It was just an individual’s opinion, if it is high-graded or not. We have a forest management plan for every licensed area in the province of Ontario. The member may think it is high-grading. We think it is forest management.
GASOLINE PRICES IN NORTHERN ONTARIO
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Energy: Since the Isbister commission report has now been out for several months, is it possible for him to act on one tiny particle of it and begin to equalize gasoline prices in the north as in the south, which is so profoundly felt by those people?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I will be responding to the various reports of Isbister in a few weeks’ time here in the Legislature and the question of gasoline prices and differentials, not just between the north and the south but around the province, will be dealt with in that response. I might say that I note with great interest some of the comments made by the members, particularly that particular member, and I will have a great deal to say to challenge some of the assumptions they make which are misleading the people of the north.
Mr. S. Smith: A brief question to the Minister of Natural Resources on the previous topic, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister satisfied that the environmental assessment hearings which he is reporting will take place in northwestern Ontario, will be sufficient to give proper consideration to the impact of the proposed Reed deal on the native peoples’ situation as well as on the whole matter of forestry generation in Ontario, and if he is not satisfied with that, can he assure us that a separate public inquiry into these matters will be considered by the minister?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, there is a real concern by this government with regard to the native peoples and --
Mrs. Campbell: When did that happen?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- this development, if and when it ever goes ahead, and certainly we will do everything in our power to make sure that their views are properly expressed and made known to the Environmental Hearing Board so that they in turn can make recommendations. I don’t think at this point in time though I would be committed to have a separate, public inquiry, because I think that this will be an all-encompassing one, held in different places in northwestern Ontario where they could provide that input.
Mr. S. Smith: I’ll leave that topic for now, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. S. Smith: A question to the Attorney General, if I might. Has the Attorney General received a letter and petition dated October 9, from the Toronto East Indian community, complaining of a racial attack which allegedly occurred on September 30, on Weston Road, and can he explain if he has received this why it is that although the petition says, and I quote:
“The attackers were still visibly present when the police were there. Although they were identified to the police, no action was taken against the attackers.”
My understanding is that as of today no charges have been laid. Can he give some comment on this?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have some recollection of a letter of that nature and upon receipt of the letter I requested the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department to give me a full report of the incident and I have yet to receive a reply.
Mr. S. Smith: Just by way of brief supplementary, I presume that the Attorney General will report to the House when he receives such a reply?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
PUBLIC HEALTH NURSES’ NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. S. Smith: A question to the Minister of Labour and this regards the public health nurses situation where, as she knows, Mr. Speaker, 29 of 37 units are still without a contract. Is she intending in fact to do something about this? And may I ask if this is part of the policy outlined in the Ministry of Health’s brochure called “Ontario’s Health Units Looking After You” where it says, “It’s been said when you walk through the door of a good health unit you’ll find nothing but empty desks. An exaggeration of course, but one with a great deal of truth.” I’d say there’s a lot more truth nowadays than was intended. “A health unit doesn’t sit back and wait for trouble to happen.” Can she possibly explain to us what the government is planning to do in this regard?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I can’t explain the brochure which the hon. leader of the third party has just produced. I haven’t seen it.
We are in fact still discussing the problems with the executive group of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. We have had conversations and a great deal of communication from the various boards of health throughout the province. Each side to this dispute is of course intent upon presenting their point of view regarding the dispute and we are listening with a good deal of interest to both sides.
Mr. Mackenzie: It’s taking an awful long time.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It would seem to me that because of the fact that there has been the capability demonstrated by some boards of health and by some units of the public health nurses to achieve a settlement that in fact this should be a possibility throughout all of the negotiations at this time.
I understand that there is a campaign afoot by at least a group of the Ontario Nurses’ Association to persuade some individual to introduce a private member’s bill to ensure that --
Mr. Sargent: That would be a big help, wouldn’t it, eh? Would you support a private member’s bill?
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- the nurses in public health units will in fact be capable of achieving compulsory arbitration, for their specific membership within the health unit. This is a possibility, I would anticipate. However, the communications which I received from boards of health would lead me to believe that they are not entirely enamoured of that kind of concept, and I think we have to listen to both sides within this dispute.
Mr. Cassidy: How can they bargain when it is shut down?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Are you supporting compulsory arbitration, Mike?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why don’t you ask Mike to arbitrate?
Mr. S. Smith: When the minister speaks of some particular person among the nurses, is she referring to the letter from the chief executive officer of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Anne S. Gribben, in this regard? And is it in fact the intention then of the ministry to proceed with arbitration and to continue to deny this one possible remedy to the public health nurses whose work is so important in this province?
Mr. Lewis: Some remedy.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to deny any group any right at all. It would seem to me that the employers of the nurses also have a right to express their opinions --
Mr. Cunningham: Did they tell you they needed more money?
Mrs. Campbell: For how long?
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- about the move to compulsory arbitration which would in fact place the --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Cassidy advises compulsory arbitration.
Mr. Cassidy: The employees bargained in good faith.
Mr. S. Smith: Pay no attention to him.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I have difficulty in overcoming Mr. Motor Mouth -- pardon me -- across the way.
Mr. Reid: That lowers the level.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I apologize. In the heat of the moment, I allowed my thoughts to run away with me.
Mr. Conway: Is this your Kitchener speech?
Mr. Lewis: That’s the phrase for the week; you blurted it out.
Hon. B. Stephenson: This is a very difficult situation and there might possibly be a solution to it if we could persuade both parties to this to meet again together to discuss the possibility of going this route with the kind of mediation which we have provided for them. We have provided mediation services in many of the instances and in some of them have been successful in reaching an agreement. The agreement I gather is satisfactory to the Ontario Nurses’ Association in those instances in which in fact it has been achieved.
Mr. Deans: A supplementary question: Does the minister have any of her staff currently working on any of the disputes in an effort to find a solution? Is the minister satisfied that there has in fact been bargaining in good faith taking place, at least during the last three or four months of the dispute, since the dispute has been going on for some considerable period of time?
Mr. Bullbrook: About 18 months.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am completely satisfied that in several of the instances where senior members of my staff have been involved there has been bargaining in good faith.
Mr. Deans: Is it carrying on now?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Today, no; last week, yes.
Mr. Sargent: In view of the cutbacks in health by the minister and the great job these public health nurses do up our way and across the province, would the minister support a private member’s bill in this regard?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any cutbacks in health. To my knowledge, there have been increases right across the board in all areas. I am also aware of the fact that local boards of health do have another source of income if they wish to negotiate beyond specific guidelines, and in fact they might approach that source of income, which is their local taxpayers, to improve the financial situation. I would have to see the bill which is being proposed before I could agree to consider it seriously. I haven’t seen it.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask the Minister of Labour, instead of driving the public health nurses, who are clearly now frantic and driven to extremity, advocating compulsory arbitration on one side to resolve it, why doesn’t she break through the collusion among the local units and the bad faith bargaining and insist -- even through her appointed representatives, if she has to, dissolve some of the health units in the process -- that they reach a contract? Why is she doing it to the nurses for 18 months?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I don’t appoint the public health units. How on earth could I dissolve them if I don’t have the authority to appoint them? The hon. Leader of the Opposition should know whereof he speaks.
Mr. Bullbrook: In view of the fact that the minister wants to know the wording of the statute, I would like to send a copy of the proposed legislation that I intend to submit for the consideration of the House at the appropriate time, but I want to ask a question supplementary to that submission. Since this dispute has been going on now for approximately 18 months -- and recognizing totally the need for sincere collective bargaining and recognizing also that we don’t want to interfere with free collective bargaining -- in view of the fact that this government has always seen fit to impose arbitration when the public good is at stake, would the minister answer me in this context: After 18 months, doesn’t she think it’s time that we gave some justice to these public health people?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I can only say, with all humility, that’s precisely what I have been attempting to do over the last eight months.
Mr. Sargent: Because they have no political clout, that is why.
Mr. Ferrier: I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. I wonder if the minister is aware that Pamour Mines has announced the closing of the Hallnor and Aunor divisions to take place about the end of the year, adding another 100 men in the gold mines who will be out of work, to about 650 in the Timmins area? Is the minister prepared to announce some imminent action by the Ontario government to try to protect the jobs of the gold miners in this province since we don’t seem to be getting much result at the federal level?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I’m very pleased that the member for Cochrane South is most interested in the jobs of the people in northern Ontario. I wish his leader was equally concerned about the jobs in northwestern Ontario on the lakes and in the non-renewable resources.
Mr. Lewis: All the resource-based communities will collapse when you are through with them.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, this government took the leading role with respect to the problems facing the gold-mining communities in this province -- and indeed, Canada -- ahead of the federal government.
We made a passionate plea at the mine ministers’ conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland, asking the federal government, first, to approach the International Monetary Fund to put some form of moratorium on these gold auctions that it was approving and of which the federal government had a part in the decision. We had other countries in the world asking for the same thing. We have not yet received any consideration from the federal government.
We also asked the federal government to look at some possibility of assisting those gold mines which may have to phase down over a short period of time.
Both of those requests are still before the federal government. It is studying them, to my information. I have taken it upon myself to meet with the gold committee, led by that very able mayor from Timmins, Leo del Villano, at which meeting the member was present.
Mr. Laughren: Spare us.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We reviewed the entire situation as it relates to the gold-mining communities, not only in this province but, indeed, Canada. They are serious; there’s no question about it. We will continue to press the federal government for some decision as it relates to the gold-mining industry because it has that responsibility. I can assure you this government will apply all its weight in that direction.
Mr. S. Smith: Has Joe Clark given you his position on that?
Mr. Ferrier: I have a supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Before it becomes even more critical than it already is, would the minister be prepared to make further representation at this time to the federal government to try to get some action out of them? If that fails, is there some action, such as was requested by the gold study committee last week for a loan, that the minister is considering and on which he will try to have some answer for us as soon as possible?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I can only repeat that we will use all the weight of this government on the federal government to listen to our request --
Mr. Nixon: What are you going to do?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- because even the senior civil servants of that ministry indicated that our proposals were the soundest yet received from any province in Canada. We intend to use everything we’ve got in our power to get them to pay attention and do something about it.
Mr. Conway: Send Ed Havrot.
Mr. Bain: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the federal government refuses to act, will the provincial government do something on its own for a change? Will the government provide a subsidy or will it provide a low-interest loan, or is it going to sit back and do nothing if the federal government refuses to act?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, that’s a hypothetical question.
RELEASE OF INDIVIDUAL FROM MENTAL HEALTH CENTRE
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Attorney General. I wonder if the Attorney General could tell us, in view of the release of one Max Bluestein from the provincial mental health institution, just the procedures whereby the order in council was passed, the reasons that the order in council was not available for examination by members of the public; the reason the Metropolitan Toronto police force was not advised of the man’s release; and the ground rules that the cabinet has, if any, governing this kind of decision prior to passing such an order in council?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I think there were four or five questions asked by the hon. member. I don’t know if he wants them answered in any particular order. As the hon. member knows, the recommendations to cabinet are brought forward from the advisory review board, headed by Mr. Justice Edson Haines of the Supreme Court. They are brought to cabinet by the Minister of Health because once the person is found not guilty by reason of insanity the person is no longer in the justice system but is treated as a mental patient. As I recall, I believe I was in cabinet on one occasion when the Minister of Health brought forward a recommendation of the advisory board in relation to Mr. Bluestein. I can’t recall for certain but I believe I was there.
As members know, this advisory review board is constituted of not only a judge of the Supreme Court but two psychiatrists, neither of whom has anything to do with the institution which is treating the patient; and two members of the community, including a member of the legal profession. It’s my view, without delving into confidential cabinet discussions, that I have great respect for this review board and speaking very personally, Mr. Speaker, I would not be prepared to reject a recommendation of that review board unless for very cogent reasons. There was no such reason as I recall in my view on this occasion.
As to the publishing of the order in council, I am not prepared to give a definitive legal opinion, except to say that the medical staff of these institutions -- more particularly the Clarke Institute, whom I happened to confer with recently -- are very concerned about the publication of these orders in council in view of the often detrimental effect it can have on a mental patient. As to whether or not this cabinet is wise to accept the best medical opinion available in that respect, with respect to making these matters public, I am not in a position to state any precise legal opinion at this time other than to state that to my knowledge the non-publication of any such order in council, loosening a warrant, is done because the psychiatrists of this province think it would be very detrimental to the progress, the treatment, the rehabilitation of our mental patients to do so.
Mr. Singer: By way of supplementary: Does the Attorney General believe that the recommendation of this committee which, up to the time this matter was made public, its membership was kept secret, should be conclusive? Does he not believe it is reasonable that the law enforcement authorities be consulted? Certainly the death of another citizen had been involved, even though there was an acquittal on grounds of insanity, and the safety of the public had to be considered. Does he not think that the whole procedure demands a review and an enforced consultation of the law enforcement authorities, at least for their opinion, and, certainly as with other matters concerning the imprisonment of citizens, that the matters be done in public and the public be allowed to become aware of what has happened?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think the hon. member opposite labours under an almost total misunderstanding of how the system works.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: First of all, Mr. Speaker, the individual is not in prison. He is not an accused person. He has not been found guilty of a criminal offence. Under the law of this land he has been found not guilty and is regarded as a mental patient.
Mr. Singer: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the Attorney General had listened, he would have heard that I did not say the accused had been found guilty. I said that he had been acquitted by reason of insanity, and I wish the Attorney General, before he builds up a straw man to attack, would listen carefully and answer the question that was put to him.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I listened very carefully, Mr. Speaker, and --
Mr. R. S. Smith: Maybe Darcy would help.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- he went further than talking about an accused person, he referred to a form of imprisonment, so I would remind him again that the person is a patient and is not in a correctional institution.
Mr. Worton: Driving a car.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) made it quite clear last week his instructions are for the local police department to be advised in relation to a loosening of a warrant and that he had a clear understanding with the Clarke Institute that this was, in fact, to be done. I further understand that although there may have been some confusion in the minds of some persons at the Clarke Institute that the Toronto police, in fact, were aware of the fact that Mr. Bluestein did have some privileges in the community and had known this for some months.
In relation to the advisory review board consulting the local police before they make a recommendation, I would have grave reservations about endorsing such a procedure.
Mr. Bullbrook: By way of supplementary --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Bullbrook: There has been one question and some supplementaries.
Mr. Speaker: Multiple questions and multiple supplementaries.
Mr. Bullbrook: Yes, but may I --
Mr. Speaker: We’ll allow a final supplementary to the member for Sarnia.
Mr. Bullbrook: Thank you very much. Peripheral to the response, on a matter that I consider extremely important, do I understand the Attorney General correctly to say that the question of the publication or otherwise of an order-in-council should be a matter of legal opinion, because I want to say, should he not consider it to be a matter of legislative approval or not? Should not those guidelines that assist the government in assessing, for example, in a situation like this, whether an order-in-council should be withheld from public knowledge, those guidelines should be established by us in the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have nothing further to add to what I said earlier.
Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of the Environment.
Mr. Renwick: Go get him, Doug.
Mr. Breithaupt: It is tough not being in cabinet any more.
TRICIL WASTE MANAGEMENT
Mr. Kennedy: Would the minister advise the present status of the air pollution abatement control order at the Tricil Waste industrial plant at Clarkson? As I understand, negotiations have been going on for some time now and could he bring us up to date, please?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there is a new control order issued against that company and also a violation notice was issued about the end of August. The problem is there, they are burning wastes that their incinerator can’t handle and they are required to do certain things to the plant in order to be able to do that.
Mr. Kennedy: Supplementary; Could the minister give us some indication that the problem of --
Mr. Sargent: Don’t make it too difficult now.
Mr. Kennedy: -- noxious odour will be remedied?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, if the combustion process that they hope to change is adequate to handle the waste that is being delivered to that plant, that should eliminate the odour and that is a requirement of the control order.
DUNDAS P.U.C. INQUIRY
Mr. Deans: A question for the Treasurer: Today’s Hamilton Spectator on page 10 quotes someone in his ministry -- Mr. Spencer Hope, I believe it is, in the ministry -- as saying that the ministry is going to launch an investigation into the Dundas PUC. On page 10 it also says, and it quotes Dennis Timbrell as saying that the ministry is not going to launch an investigation, that it’s a matter for the local municipality to resolve. Who am I to believe?
Mrs. Campbell: Neither one of them.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I have not yet seen page 10 of today’s Hamilton Spectator --
Mr. Lewis: Why not?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- for which I offer my apologies to you, sir, and to the House.
Mr. Deans: All I am asking is, who do I believe?
Mr. Bullbrook: You are labouring under delusions again.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are wasting valuable time here.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The carriage of this particular matter has been with my colleague, the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell), and if the hon. member is waiting breathlessly to decide who he should believe when he reads the Spectator, I would suggest that he follow the advice given by whoever it was from the Ministry of Energy rather than from my ministry.
Mr. Deans: A supplementary question: Is the story wrong that the Treasurer’s ministry is going to investigate the PUC? If it is, why then is it that his ministry officials are quoted extensively as to exactly what form the investigation will take? And thirdly -- let me ask this and get it all over at one time -- why won’t the minister hold an election there to clear the air and allow the people to decide, since it will be at least two years before any finalization of the restructuring is reached?
Mr. R. S. Smith: Because he is not sure you won’t run.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, not having read the story, I am not in the position to say whether it is right or wrong.
Mr. Deans: So you don’t know.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: It is not my intention to have some sort of an investigation, as I have said. That matter has been looked into by my colleague, the Minister of Energy, and I believe it is not his intention to have any further investigation. As to whether there will be an election or not, I would suggest that would be an appropriate question to put to the Minister of Energy, who is not in his seat at the moment.
Mr. Deans: But it is your responsibility under The Municipal Act.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Yes, but as the member is well aware, there are a series of consultations going on across the province under the aegis of a committee set up by Ontario Hydro, by the Ministry of Energy and by the OMEA, and the carriage of that is with Minister of Energy. The ultimate solution and the legislation may well come within The Public Utilities Act, but I would expect that the legislation would be carried by my colleague, the Minister of Energy, rather than by myself, and I would suggest that the hon. member address the question to him. I will certainly alert him to look at the Hamilton Spectator.
Mr. Speaker: Is this a supplementary, member for Wentworth North?
Mr. Cunningham: Yes.
Mr. Deans: Is there any significance in that document?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I can’t hear you.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Wentworth North with a supplementary.
Mr. Cunningham: A supplementary to the provincial Treasurer: Given the continuing difficulty that exists within my riding on this subject, the pressure by the council in asking the province of Ontario to intervene directly on this and the fact that we have had two inquiries, I’m just wondering whether the provincial Treasurer will address himself to Section 135 of Bill 155, passed in 1973, wherein the government says that the members of the Public Utilities Commission shall continue to hold office until a date to be determined by the minister. Given that it has been three years, would the Treasurer please kindly have an election and straighten this out? You know, we’re getting tired of the whole thing. Show some leadership.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address myself to the preamble of that question: Given the difficulty which exists in your riding… How true that is. How true that is.
Mr. Breithaupt: Only for Tories.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I can only suggest that the hon. member address his question to the Minister of Energy.
Mr. Cunningham: Do the municipalities not relate to the Treasurer’s portfolio? Isn’t that his concern, his domain?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I’ve already explained this. If you’d like me to take a little more time, I’d be glad to do so.
Mr. Sargent: Answer his question.
Mr. Lewis: Tell us about your domain.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: There is a consultative committee, which was announced in this House and which is meeting with the municipalities, with the regions and with the utilities, and consisting of representatives from my Ministry, from Energy, from Ontario Hydro, from the OMEA and from the local utilities. Those committees ultimately report to Ontario Hydro and through Hydro, to the Minister of Energy, and through the Minister of Energy to the cabinet. At such time, then the legislation will be introduced. If the member is seriously interested in the progress or otherwise of those various committee studies, then I suggest that he address his question, as I have said, I think now for the fifth time, to the Minister of Energy.
Mr. Cunningham: How long do we have to wait?
Mr. Speaker: Any further questions?
LAND ANNEXATION IN BARRIE AREA
Mr. Good: A question to the provincial Treasurer: In view of the fact that he has endorsed the application by the city of Barrie for a mass of land in Vespra, Oro and Innisfil, I believe -- he has endorsed that application in his letter to the OMB -- and taking into consideration the fact that this will take over 90 per cent of the industrial and commercial assessment of Vespra township, does the minister not feel that the townships are going to be left in a position where they will not have a viable tax base? And could he comment on their fear that the Treasurer is using their endorsement of this as an underhanded manner to force them eventually into a regional government situation in that area?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I have not endorsed that particular application. What the government has endorsed and will continue to endorse is the growth of a large urban area in the Barrie area, centred on Barrie and also ultimately, I think, on Orillia, on Collingwood and on Midland. How large or small that application should be is a matter to be determined by the Ontario Municipal Board. I have made no secret of the fact, though, that if that kind of growth is to be achieved then I think it would be more easily achieved under one government, presumably the city of Barrie, rather than having three or four or five governments competing for the same kinds of growth.
I have indicated to Vespra and to other municipalities that if they feel they are going to be financially disadvantaged by whatever form the annexation might ultimately take then we, as a government, are prepared to assist in ameliorating that financial disadvantage.
Mr. Good: Supplementary: In that the words of the minister as used in his letter state that the government is prepared to look favourably on the provision of a portion of the funds for the purpose, would the minister assure both the citizens of Barrie and the citizens of the townships that the application, when brought to its completion by the annexation, will not bear unduly on the tax burden in either the annexing city or the areas to be annexed, and would he be prepared to put up the money to eliminate the hardships even if the Municipal Board should not make awards under section 14 of The Municipal Act?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I doubt that very much. I have great confidence in the board’s fact-finding skill in this particular area and I certainly wouldn’t commit the government to doing something until the Municipal Board has had a look at the situation.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Mr. Renwick presented the first report of the select committee on the Ombudsman and asked in accordance with the terms of reference that it be placed on the order paper for consideration.
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that Mr. Ferris be substituted for Mr. Hodgson on the select committee on company law.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills. The Minister of Transportation and Communications.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I changed portfolio in February, 1976.
Mr. Foulds: It hasn’t been noticeable.
Mr. Sweeney: You see how unnoticeable it was.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I did my job. I am a lot like your leader.
Mr. Cassidy: Did you feel left out earlier today?
Mr. Lewis: You are making quite an impact.
PLANNING AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Rhodes moved first reading of Bill 130, An Act to amend The Planning Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, this bill deals essentially with two subject matters: namely, the exercise of the consent-granting function with respect to subdivision and part lot control; and the exercise of the ministerial powers in respect of land-use control.
Consistent with the policy of delegating power to the local level in appropriate circumstances, section 1 will enable the delegation of the consent-granting function in the territorial districts to local planning boards or to newly created district land division committees. As well, the day-to-day involvement of the ministry in the review of the decisions of the committees of adjustment and land division committees is being terminated, with the deletion of the requirement for forwarding copies of all decisions to the ministry.
Provision is made, however, to re-invoke the requirement in respect of individual committees by giving of registered notice. Related to the foregoing section 31 of the Act is amended to authorize withdrawal of the consent-granting function from a land division committee the same as is presently provided for in respect of the committee of adjustment.
Section 4 of the bill clarifies the procedures to be followed in the making of minister’s orders and amendments thereto, including the giving of notice in respect thereof and subsequent hearings by the Municipal Board.
Mr. Nixon: This is the one the courts say you don’t have the authority to oppose.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: A substantive provision contained in section 5 of the bill verifies the status of all minister’s orders made heretofore.
FARM INCOME STABILIZATION
Hon. W. Newman moved first reading of Bill 131, An Act respecting Farm Income Stabilization.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. W. Newman: There’s a very short explanatory note. The bill provides the establishment of the Farm Income Stabilization Commission of Ontario and empowers the commission, subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to make regulations establishing, amending and revoking voluntary plans for farm income stabilization respecting farm products and governing the terms and conditions of stabilization under any plan.
The commission in exercising its powers may ascertain farm product receipts applicable to any farm products under a plan, may establish a stabilization price or prices respecting any such farm products, and may pay to persons enrolled in the plan the amount, if any, by which the appropriate stabilization price exceeds the appropriate farm product receipts. The stabilization price, where fixed in relation to farm products, will be fixed at 95 per cent of the five-year average price adjusted for cash cost changes. Farm product receipts would be established at a level representing not less than 90 per cent of the five-year average price, adjusted for cash cost changes.
CORONERS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. MacBeth moved first reading of Bill 132, An Act to amend The Coroners Act, 1972.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, The Coroners Amendment Act, 1976, provides for two changes to the present legislation. The first would eliminate the need for mandatory reporting to a coroner of deaths which occur in nursing homes and subsequent investigation by him. However, such reporting and investigation procedures would become mandatory in facilities designated under The Developmental Services Act, 1974.
ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Meen moved first reading of Bill 133, An Act to amend The Assessment Act.
Motion agreed to.
GIFT TAX AMENDMENT ACT (NO. 2)
Hon. Mr. Meen moved first reading of Bill 134, An Act to amend The Gift Tax Act, 1972.
Motion agreed to.
WINE CONTENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved first reading of Bill 135, An Act to provide for the Limited Inclusion of Grapes grown outside Ontario in Ontario Wine.
Motion agreed to.
CORPORATIONS INFORMATION ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved first reading of Bill 136, The Corporations Information Act, 1976.
Motion agreed to.
BUSINESS CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved first reading of Bill 137, An Act to amend The Business Corporations Act.
Motion agreed to.
CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved first reading of Bill 138, An Act to amend The Corporations Act.
Motion agreed to.
EMPLOYEE’S HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
Hon. B. Stephenson moved first reading of Bill 139, An Act respecting Employees’ Health and Safety.
Motion agreed to.
FAMILY LAW REFORM ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 140, An Act to reform the Law respecting Property Rights and Support Obligations between Married Persons and in other Family Relationships.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 141, The Marriage Act, 1976.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Are there any further bills?
Mr. Bullbrook: Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition was on the floor.
Mr. Bullbrook: I had your eye first, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Had you? I had my eye on the hon. Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Bullbrook: I thought I was rising as he was rising, sir, but I’ll yield. I’ll yield to the Leader of the Opposition.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: You are not an elder statesman yet.
Mr. Bullbrook: That’s my obligation.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you very much. The hon. member for Sarnia is always a gentleman.
Mr. Bullbrook: I’ll go first then.
Mr. Lewis: Yes, why not.
HOSPITAL LABOUR DISPUTES ARBITRATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Bullbrook moved first reading of Bill 142, An Act to amend The Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act 1976.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Is that the one for the nurses?
Mr. Bullbrook: That’s the one for the nurses.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Your last hurrah.
Mr. Bullbrook: By way of explanation, the bill permits public health nurses and any other employees of a public health unit to avoid a strike or lockout and consequent disturbance of service to the community by permitting their trade union to elect to arbitrate any collective bargaining dispute.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, I have five bills, all of them related. I would appreciate introducing them in a series and then giving a quick explanation.
TOXIC AND HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT
Mr. Lewis moved first reading of Bill 143, An Act respecting Toxic and Hazardous Substances.
Motion agreed to.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH DATA ACT
Mr. Lewis moved first reading of Bill 144, An Act respecting the collection of Occupational Health Data.
Motion agreed to.
RIGHT TO REFUSE TO PERFORM DANGEROUS WORK ACT
Mr. Lewis moved first reading of Bill 145, An Act respecting the Ensuring of Rights of Employees to Refuse to Perform Work that is Dangerous to their Health or Safety.
Motion agreed to.
HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEES ACT
Mr. Lewis moved first reading of Bill 146, An Act respecting Health and Safety Committees.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Lewis moved first reading of Bill 147, An Act respecting the Establishment of Worker-Inspectors in the Work Place.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, I have introduced these bills as part of the New Democratic response to the Ham commission report, which we, unlike the government, however, feel has application to workers’ rights across the province.
Therefore, the two bills dealing with worker-inspectors and health and safety committees have application to every work place in Ontario with a number of employees greater than 10, and which is mandatory rather than the permissive nonsense that I judge I read in the minister’s statement earlier this afternoon. The right to refuse work is set out explicitly with protective features, and I’ll be glad to take a look at the bill again in light of what the minister’s bill may or may not include.
The two bills dealing with occupational health data and the testing of substances in advance of their introduction into the work place are qualitatively different from anything which the minister has even mooted here today, and which we think have absolute application across the province.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Breithaupt moved first reading of Bill 148, An Act to amend The Highway Traffic Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, this bill limits the use of the left lane on highways of four or more lanes to passing and left turns.
ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 58, 74, 89, 90, 99, 113, 121, 124, 126, 132, 133, 135, 136, 137, 138 and 139 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
Mr. Laughren: Would you lean on Mr. Kerr for No. 145?
CREDIT UNIONS ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 97, The Credit Unions Act.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Since this is milestone legislation, I think I should be excused a little bit of reminiscing about the background and history of the bill.
When I became Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations back in early 1975 I found my predecessor had been working long and hard on a complete revision of The Credit Unions Act, and that I was scheduled to meet with the credit unions to discuss the provisions of that Act before bringing it into the Legislature, so that we could obtain some form of consensus before actually drafting it into bill form. I found very quickly, somewhat to my surprise I must confess, that many of the credit unions and caisses populaires in the province were not completely enamoured of the provisions of the bill. After a certain number of meetings, I think very wisely and with the kind of judgement that this government often displays, we felt we should not proceed with something that this movement did not want, and we went back to the drawing board.
After a full year, I think I can say with some justification that we did manage to arrive at some consensus in the movement. With the consent and backing of the Ontario Credit Union League and the Federation des Caisses Populaires we were able to bring in Bill 97 last spring, and it has sat on the order paper ever since. During that time, we have of course continued to receive submissions from both the league and the federation as well as the many independent credit unions and caisses populaires that were not involved in discussions leading to the drafting of the bill.
We will be introducing in the committee stage more than 100 amendments to the legislation. I want to say that these are almost entirely as a result of submissions which have been made to us by members of the movement, the legal profession and the accounting profession. The bulk of the changes -- in fact, to the best of my recollection almost all of the changes -- are minor in nature and will not in any way alter either the intent or the principle of the legislation.
I had hoped to have on members’ desks before the beginning of this debate, copies of the bill reprinted with all of the amendments. Somewhere in the printing process, unfortunately, and I apologize to the House for this, we have not been able to achieve that. However, I am told that they should be available by 8:30 tonight and that the debate can proceed. However, since this debate is on the principle, I want again to inform the members of the House that the amendments that we will be introducing are relatively minor and should not affect the debate in any way.
I would like to repeat the basics of the legislation, since it has been several months since it was introduced here. In general terms the Act provides new powers for credit unions and improves security for depositors. The provision of deposit insurance at amounts up to $20,000 is, of course, the very basic new provision in the Act. This insurance is the same as that which was offered by competitive financial institutions such as banks and loan and trust companies. It will be administered by a new Ontario Share and Deposit Insurance Corporation which will have a nine-member board of directors. One of the disputes during the original stages of the bill was representation on the board of directors. It has now been agreed that there will be six representing those credit unions and caisses populaires which are affiliated with one of the centrals, while the other three members will represent the public or those credit unions which are not members of one of the central associations.
The Deposit Insurance Corporation will be funded by an assessment of one per cent of the total share deposits of every credit union and caisse populaire in Ontario. We expect that a total of $17 million will be raised in this way and that the contributions will be treated as an investment rather than an expense, which was another point of contention in the original draft that we had discussed last year. Interest paid on the invested funds should be more than is required to cover the administrative costs of the corporation, so we do not anticipate any additional assessments to cover the administrative expenses.
In this way the insurance scheme will not burden the public purse or the movement, and we don’t believe that additional assessment should ever be required unless the fund sustains very serious losses. I must say that, in view of the movement’s excellent record in Ontario and indeed everywhere in the world, losses certainly are not anticipated.
The provincial government will retain responsibility for supervision and inspection of credit unions in Ontario. The superintendent of insurance will examine the share and deposit insurance corporation in the same way that he would examine any other insurance company. So obviously the corporation will have to meet the same requirements as other insurance companies. The superintendent of insurance will have that responsibility.
On the basis of providing deposit insurance the government feels the movement should have wider powers and faster growth. To this end, the legislation includes the following new powers -- these have been listed before but I’d just like to go over them for the benefit of the members -- the power to invest in guaranteed or insured mortgages; the eligibility of business partnerships for credit union membership; the power to act outside of Ontario in certain matters; the elimination of the requirement that credit union members must make up 51 per cent of the voting shareholders of corporations which have membership in a credit union; the power to invest in real estate for income purposes; the power to act as an agent on behalf of credit union members; the power to purchase life insurance for members and the power to establish and support funds, trusts and pensions for employees or former employees and their dependents.
Not too many people really are aware of the size and importance of the credit union movement in Ontario. I think I should again say to the House that at last count and from the best statistics we have approximately two million Ontarians are members of the movement. In view of that fact, I think it’s understandable that there would not be unanimity in support of this Act. There are some who have minor differences and, as I understand it, will be coming to the standing committee, and I propose it to go to standing committee to discuss their individual points of view. But the consensus has been reached with the movement regarding the large majority of changes to be made. I anticipate the Credit Union League, as well as the Federation des Caisses Populaires, will have some suggestions as well as some of the independent credit unions and caisses populaires in the province.
We have held a great many meetings with members of the movement and with boards of directors of individual credit unions and we have received a great number of briefs from credit unions and such organizations, as I said, as the Institute of Chartered Accountants. We’ve held discussions with many other interested parties and it was ascertained that there was no disagreement on the basic principles. For this reason, none of the amendments are really substantial in nature.
I think, because we don’t have the printed bill here, I’d just like to mention some of the amendments for the benefit of members who may wish to touch on them in their comments. Originally the Act required every credit union to have the words “credit union” or “caisse populaire” in its name. We’ll propose an amendment to permit those which didn’t contain either phrase prior to the introduction of the Act to maintain their original names. I think probably the outstanding example of that is the Civil Service Co-op, which is the largest credit union in Ontario, but did not use the words “credit union” in its title,
In addition to giving recognition to some of the existing practices the words “credit union” need not be in English and we will permit French translations as well as the words “caisse populaire” which is a different form of credit union. To allow greater flexibility for growth potential credit unions will be allowed to build, purchase or lease property in excess of current needs, if, in the opinion of their boards of directors, the extra space may be required in the future. The original draft did not permit that. A subsection which allowed advertising in “the press” will be changed to permit advertising in other media as well to meet the obvious needs to advertise in media other than the printed media.
To assist small municipalities and school boards the investment powers of credit unions have been expanded to specifically allow investment in the bonds or debentures of any municipality or school corporation which will provide of course an extra source of funds and broaden the capital markets for those local governments. Originally in the first reading draft investment in bonds or debentures had been limited to those of any Canadian province.
Another amendment will permit a further expansion of investment powers by allowing credit union leagues to invest in ancillary corporations which provide services to individual credit unions or in any corporation registered under The Loan and Trust Corporations Act. An example of such a subsidiary corporation might be one which would provide data processing services to member credit unions.
To save time and expense for credit unions an amendment will be introduced to empower the director -- the director of the credit unions branch in our ministry -- to revise bylaws to proper legal form without having to convene a membership meeting provided the board of directors agrees and the intent of the members is not altered. In many cases, minutes and resolutions are passed which require translation into legalese in order for them to be effective and not be confusing.
We will also introduce an amendment to allow credit unions to grow in size with a minimum of red tape by eliminating the concept of authorized share capital and a fixed number of shares.
Another point which was brought to our attention by the movement was that we had said that members must be 18 years of age. We have removed that requirement. It is now up to the board of directors to decide whether or not persons under that age may become members of the credit union.
A new section will be introduced at the committee stage to provide that money payable by a member to a credit union will be a debt recoverable in court. In addition, to protect the interest of all members, credit unions will be able to place a lien on the shares of a member to cover outstanding debts.
We had originally intended that the period of notice required to convene an annual meeting would be 21 days but some of the smaller credit unions felt that was too lengthy a period and they requested that we reduce it to seven. An amendment will be introduced to permit that.
To encourage investment in co-op housing ventures or other socially desirable developments, the powers of credit unions will be amended in committee to clarify that unions may invest up to five per cent of assets in investments not otherwise authorized by the Act. To reinforce the investment aspect of the one per cent assessment, a provision will be added so that it is refundable under appropriate circumstances, such as a winding up of the lien. This would be a refund of their one per cent assessment as recorded on the books of the deposit insurance corporation so that it is not money completely given to the corporation for ever.
To allow for situations where an individual may reside in one province and work in Ontario an amendment will be introduced to provide that if Ontario makes reciprocal arrangements with other provinces, credit unions will be allowed to act in those provinces to the extent of the agreement. This is of particular interest at the present time in Ottawa and Sault Ste. Marie and perhaps other centres in Ontario which have not been in touch with us.
Those are only a few of the amendments but I hope that the amendments and the original Act make the intention of the government quite clear because our position is clear. The legislation reflects our desire to assist the credit union movement in retaining an independent stance and in remaining one of the most self-reliant and responsible groups with which I have had the pleasure to deal as minister.
We want to improve their competitive situation with regard to other financial intermediaries such as the banks and trust companies. We have recognized that credit unions have traditionally been very responsive to local conditions, particularly in rural areas, and sometimes constitute the only form of financial service available in small communities. Sometimes those small communities have been ignored by the larger financial institutions.
For this reason, we see a strong, healthy and independent credit union movement as one of the best possible ways to increase competition within the financial system and assuring at the same time, of course, that the financial needs of Ontario residents are adequately met.
I should at this time say that it has been a long process in developing legislation and a number of people have been involved. I would like to pay tribute right now to at least one, the former Superintendent of Insurance, Mr. Gordon Grundy, who accompanied me on that tour. The late Mr. Grundy was widely respected in the credit union movement and I am sure that those members of the movement would join with me in expressing our gratitude to him. Unfortunately, of course, he is not here today to see his efforts come to fruition.
I would also like to pay tribute to the present Superintendent of Insurance, Murray Thompson, and the director of the credit union branch of my ministry, Mr. Bill Jaffray, who have worked so hard on this together with the hundreds, if not thousands, of dedicated credit union directors, voluntary workers and managers, all of whom have had their input into this legislation with the result, I believe, that it is one of the best pieces of legislation I have introduced during my period in cabinet.
Mr. Moffatt: The comments which the minister has made are, I think, going to be echoed by a number of people. I’m glad that the government recovered from the 15-stop tour last February and March. I sense the government has recovered from that rather shocking tour, where the credit union movement stood up and told them exactly what they wanted in terms of legislation which would enable them to undertake the kind of development policies which we in this party have for a number of years felt is properly the role of the credit union movement and the caisses populaires in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: Do you remember we wanted to take over their funds?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Ontario is fortunate in having a government willing to --
Mr. Nixon: Take over all their deposit insurance. If you ever got an opportunity you’d do it again.
Mr. Moffatt: Indeed it’s odd to hear the comments being made by the former leader of the now third party. He said “Back off” during the election as well. I don’t think that the term “back off” really applied in this case. I think that what happened is that the government went out and, for the first time in 30 years, listened to at least one group of people and they heard something that they heard again on September 18. That is, if you don’t listen, you’re not going to be here.
Mr. Moffatt: I think the credit union movement has been a service to the province of Ontario by proving that if you do stand up and yell loud enough, even a Tory government is apt to hear you once in a while.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That’s the reverse --
Mr. Roy: Then they back off after the election.
Mr. Moffatt: I’m sorry that the amendments that the minister has promised us are not available. I want to deal with a couple of things that I hope will be available in amendment form and if they aren’t included in the list perhaps we could include them during the committee stage. We also have contacted all of the credit unions, the leagues and the independents. I might add one point I wish to draw to the minister’s attention in this connection is that when we went to contact all of the independent credit unions and caisses populaires we had some difficulty in getting that list from his ministry.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Why don’t you ask me?
Mr. Moffatt: I don’t know whether he was afraid we were going to shred it, or just what he was afraid we were going to do, but I would ask that where one of the opposition parties, and particularly a person who has been designated as a critic for that party, asks for such a list, that we not be required to sign our names in blood before a hint is even given. Perhaps it would be appropriate to have asked the minister, except that the minister wasn’t here at that time and we talked directly to his office.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: How long was I away?
Mr. Moffatt: I have no idea how long you were away. I don’t have time to follow you around.
Mr. Nixon: Were you abroad again, Sidney?
Mr. Moffatt: What I would like to say is that the hint at amendments that the minister has just mentioned, where the main problems have arisen between the various groups, I’m glad to see he has changed his mind on that. I think that’s one area that was going to be contentious and yet it wasn’t really going to have any effect on the spirit of the bill. So he has moderated that particular stand.
I’d like to direct the minister’s attention at this point to a number of other sections. On section 12 of the bill, there was no hint that he had amendments to Section 12, and I think that’s one of the areas that we’re going to have to look at rather carefully. The minimum of 50 is given there, and I think that’s going to cause some difficulty for some of the smaller credit unions. It might be possible to put forward an and/or amendment which would take into consideration the number of members involved in a credit union as opposed to putting a number of credit unions affiliated to a league. As I say, I think the minimum number which is mentioned in section 12 is going to need some change.
I’m interested also in section 62, and the limited amount of money which is indicated there, of $300,000, will in fact today include perhaps most of the credit unions in that particular section. It would seem to me that if we asked all of the small credit unions to spend significant amounts on auditing fees and services each year because they fall into that $300,000 bracket, or whatever it turns out to be, that’s an additional expense that they really don’t need to bear. The main beneficiaries of that clause, I would suspect, will be the people who are involved in the business of auditing.
I recognize though that that is one of the recommendations from the select committee. I am pleased to see that the minister has, in the drafting, followed the recommendations of the select committee but perhaps this is one area where there should be a little flexibility. Some of the credit unions and other organizations to which we have spoken suggest raising that amount of money to $500,000; others suggest $1 million might be a more reasonable amount in today’s economy. Obviously you are going to get input at the committee level.
There are a number of errors in the bill, printing errors and so on, and that has led to some difficulty. I know from discussions with some of the people in the credit unions branch that they have been caught and are being worked upon. I should say that some of the people who are new to that branch are really doing a lot toward making the credit unions branch within your ministry a viable agency now.
One of the things I hope will happen eventually though is that in the province of Ontario there will be a ministry which deals almost exclusively with the credit union movement. This would give it the kind of support that it must have if it is ever to be the kind of competition to the major lending and financial institutions that we, in this party, envisage a co-operative movement and credit unions to be. We think that that’s one of the areas where this government has not in the past taken advantage of initiatives that could come from the people instead of from foreign companies and from lending outside and so on. My colleague points out that BC and Manitoba have moved significantly ahead of Ontario in that area, and I hope that we will move towards that.
In the minister’s comments he made reference to the provision of funds and the support of co-operative housing. I welcome that comment. I hope that he will confirm that in writing and perhaps engrave it in stone and leave it on the desk of the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) because that ministry really has no interest in putting forward co-operative housing schemes. If you want information on co-op housing from that ministry, you have to find the group of people that have been designated. They are hiding off somewhere in a little cubby-hole and while they may be good people, they haven’t the support from the ministerial function to put anything together to assist in the development of co-operative housing.
That’s one of the areas where we really need to move and I submit to the minister that if he will push the Minister of Housing in that area, perhaps all of the people in Ontario -- not just the credit union movement but all of the people -- will benefit from significantly lower housing costs.
I am going to conclude my remarks at that point, Mr. Speaker. I understand the bill will go to the justice committee and that the public and any interested person will be able to make representation. I trust that we will have some timetable now which allows those groups the chance to have organizational staff put together their input so that we will know when it might be that they will meet.
I realize that that would be a ruling of the Chair but I want to point out that if we schedule those meetings at too early a date, the chance for input will not take place. A number of people want to have input. I think we will all benefit. I hate to do this but I will congratulate the minister on having put forward a bill that this party will have no reservation in supporting. I hope that the mechanics of the bill are in keeping with the spirit of the bill as it is presented now.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, we too, in the Liberal Party welcome the movement of this piece of legislation which many of us feel is long overdue. I will speak to it very briefly as I understand it is going to the standing committee on justice. I would like to add my personal congratulations to the people who participated over seven years ago in the select committee on company law who examined the credit unions. Just for the record, because so many of their recommendations are adhered to in this current piece of legislation, they were: Mr. Carton, Mr. De Monte, Mr. Johnston (St. Catharines), Mr. Meen, Mr. Reilly, Mr. Rowe, Mr. Sopha, Mr. Trotter, Mr. Shulman, Mr. Renwick, Mr. Price, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Braithwaite and last, and likely not least, Mr. Henderson.
To that end, I would offer my congratulations to them as I, personally, having read that report, think it bears a great relationship to this one. As a person who is quite keen as a Liberal in not seeing any more government regulation than we need, I appreciate the thesis of the legislation as it relates to self-regulation. I commend the minister in that particular regard. I think it bears a similar kind of relationship to the home warranties programme which, I understand and I think, will be administered very well by HUDAC; at least it’s my intention that it will be. Some of us are optimists anyway.
I do wish we had a copy right now of the series of amendments that I understand are going to take place. I’d like to echo the words of my associate from Durham East (Mr. Moffatt) in hoping that proper notice will be given to all the credit unions and that some length of time be given to afford them the opportunity to participate with us in these discussions, as I think we’d all have to concede they have a great deal of expertise in this growing method of investment savings and loan opportunities.
To that end, I can only suggest that the movement of this Act will in many ways keep people out of the clutches of the finance companies and, more appropriately in some of the big cities, the loan sharks we all know exist. Personally, I welcome any competitive move to assist the people of Ontario to borrow money possibly at more competitive rates than our banks and trust companies are currently offering. I’m sure that will be of great benefit to us all in the future.
While I don’t want to get into the specifics of the bill, I would hope some consideration would be given to changing section 40(2) wherein it is stated that “A deceased member shall deem to have given notice to a credit union of his intention to withdraw on the day of his death.” It seems to be kind of redundant and it almost borders on being morbid.
Mr. Moffatt: I don’t know what you can do with that.
Mr. Cunningham: I’m sure we could speak to that within the committee framework, but I would think sufficient notice would be given upon death. However, I look forward to discussing this with the minister during the course of the committee. I guess it’s been seven years but I commend them for their action at this time. I’m sure it will be of great benefit to the people of Ontario.
Mr. Renwick: I would like to comment very briefly on the principle of the bill. As my colleague has said, we will support the bill.
I noticed in looking at the report of the select committee which was tabled in 1969 that but four of the 14 members are still members of the assembly. I have never been able to understand why it has taken the government so long to implement this particular piece of legislation which is in accordance with the provisions of the report of the select committee. I’ve never been one who thought that select committees’ reports were wholly read but the impetus given to the reform of the law relating to credit unions by that report should not have been delayed this long in implementation by the government.
It does seem to me that it has now made it extremely difficult for the credit union movement -- and perhaps we may hear more of this later on -- to deal with this legislation and the impact which this legislation will have on their operations, necessary as that may be, when it comes forward at exactly the same time when the credit union movement is faced with the revisions inherent in the banking system under the decennial revisions of The Bank Act. There are serious problems about the interrelationship between financial institutions which by incorporation and otherwise are under the control and jurisdiction of this assembly in some aspects of their affairs but in other aspects of their affairs are subject of course to the overriding authority of the federal government insofar as the banking and financial institutions in the country are concerned.
I think one of the great benefits has been lost in the work of the select committee. At the time of its report in 1969, if a bill had been implemented at that time and passed into law with substantial agreement, which could have been achieved very quickly with the credit union movement, the select committee’s report envisaged a further review after those changes had been implemented in the archaic structure behind the credit union movement, so that when the decennial review of The Bank Act came up we could have all focused our attention upon the impact which that revision is going to have upon the credit unions as financial institutions, peculiarly related mainly to local conditions within the particular areas in communities which they serve.
I notice, for example, that while we are providing significant changes with respect to protecting the depositors in the province of Ontario with credit unions, not that they haven’t got that protection now, the credit union movement is faced with additional expense, indeed, very significant costs to them if the implementation of the white paper in the decennial revision of The Bank Act requires them to put up the reserve which is presently forecast for them. It will be a tremendous drain on their resources, and it will be a burden under which they, in their competitive role within the banking system, will have a difficult task to maintain their competitive position. I don’t know what the government’s intentions are to assist the credit unions in making whatever representations they may want to make in Ottawa in the next few months on that whole question of the revision of The Bank Act, to make certain that the Ontario position is put clearly before the federal government and to militate and to assist the credit union movement from having any unnecessary burden imposed upon them because of those proposed amendments to The Bank Act.
I have here, and I’m sure the minister has seen it, the response of the National Association of Canadian Credit Unions to the federal white paper. They do make two or three very clear points. One is they want to make certain that they remain under provincial jurisdiction and that there’s no entrenching or attempt by the federal government, in the course of the amendments to The Bank Act, to destroy in any way the solid basis in provincial jurisdiction which the credit union movement has. The credit union movement wants to become a part of a national clearing scheme for payment purposes; that’s very clear. I think that is one of the major advances which may come about for the credit union movement, to be part of the national clearing system rather than to have that clearing system basically at the present time limited to the chartered banks and those who have traditionally been able to clear their payments through the clearing house system of the chartered banks.
The desire, however, of the government to appear to want to involve the credit unions as financial institutions within the monetary policy of the federal government is the point and the clear area where the credit union movement feels very strongly. At the present time, the proposal is that they must maintain reserves with the Bank of Canada of some two per cent of their assets for the purpose of ensuring the stability of the monetary system. The response of the National Association of Canadian Credit Unions indicates that that burden of $40 million in idle balances would be a burden which would seriously impinge upon the capacity of the credit union movement to engage competitively in providing the services on the local and community basis that they do with the other financial institutions, be they other near banks or with the chartered banks.
I think it’s an area where the government of the province of Ontario has got to be in a position to assist the credit union movement in ensuring that there is no unnecessary burden placed in the way of the credit union movement being able to continue to expand and to deliver the services to the community which they presently deliver.
My own particular concern is that we do now recognize that the credit union movement as such has become an integral part of the financial institutions of the province. Indeed, the expansion of the credit union movement which dated for practical purposes from 1940 to 1976 has been nothing short of phenomenal. I think that all of us recognize that they do play an immensely significant role in the life of the ordinary citizen of the province. As the minister said, some two million people in the province may very well be participants in the credit union operations throughout the province, both with respect to the provision of consumer credit, and with respect to the provision of mortgage loans.
The statistics show and the charts show and the graphs show that in the 10-year period from 1967 to the present time -- or just about a 10-year period -- that the actual growth rate of the assets of the credit union movement, if charted on the basis of 100 in 1967, would be today in the neighbourhood of well over 450, which would be the largest acceleration of expansion of assets of any of the financial institutions, including the trust companies and the banks and the other near bank institutions which operate in Canada, and of course a good part of that growth took place in the province of Ontario.
One of the other areas which I think was of immense concern to us in the select committee dealing with this area and, subsequent to this particular report in 1969 with the co-operative movement, was to be able, in a financial environment and in a business environment so largely dominated by the share capital organization of the traditional business corporation, to maintain in some sure and effective way the co-operative ethic. That ethic, because of the demands of size for economy and efficiency of operation, has been in many areas in the co-operative movement lessened in the way in which it infuses the operation of the credit union movement and of the co-operative movement.
I recognize that those persons who are devoted to the credit union movement spend a great deal of their time in educational programmes and other programmes designed to reinforce and to strengthen that co-operative ethic. It does seem to me that, when all of this legislation is passed, when the new framework for the credit union movement is established, when the consultation which has finally taken place has resulted in a statute which is acceptable to the credit union movement and acceptable to the government and acceptable to the Legislature, we must still -- as we tried to say in both the report on co-operatives and in the report on credit unions -- do a great deal to ensure the democratic control inherent in the co-operative ethic on the basis of one person, one vote, with no relationship whatsoever to the particular share investment or other investment which a particular member might have. How to retain that kind of democratic response, both through the committees which are provided -- the credit committees and the supervisory committees -- the structure of the credit union movement must of necessity be one of the main purposes that within the dry bones of a statute such as this should infuse the spirit of the ministry in ensuring that to the extent possible that co-operative ethic is maintained in an otherwise extremely competitive society.
I would appreciate it if the minister would, in the course of his remarks, comment about any study which his ministry has done, even in a preliminary way, about the impact of the government of Canada white paper related to the banking system in the country; what role it intends to play in reinforcing the legitimate positions of the credit union movement to make certain that its position as a provincial institution is respected; and at the same time to make certain that no further burden is imposed upon it other than is necessary under the federal jurisdiction of the government of Canada to ensure that there will be a stable and nationwide financial system under the government of Canada and under the Bank of Canada.
Within those limits we are dealing with a very fragile form of financial institution if the competitive capacity of that institution -- the credit union movement as a whole -- if the balance of that is tipped away from its capacity to compete with the other institutions. I’m suggesting to the minister that when all is said and done, and all of the provisions of the statute are passed into law, the remaining problem will be the way in which the government can assist the credit union movement in its negotiations with the government of Canada, in its appearances before the standing committees of the House of Commons and of the Senate on the revisions to The Bank Act, to make certain that the competitive position of the institution, of the credit union, is maintained in the province in an atmosphere, in a framework, which will permit it to expand and develop in the way in which it has done in the last 25 years and particularly within the last 10 years when its growth has been quite explosive.
I think all of us who have now had connections with the credit union movement in the work of the development of this bill -- even though it has taken a long time -- have come out of the experience with an immense sense of respect for those who are in charge of the credit union movement; the dedication which they have to the co-operative ethic in the otherwise competitive society in which we live; and the care and attention which they have taken to ensure that no particular credit union would get into the kind of serious financial difficulty which might reflect in any way upon the financial stability of the credit union movement as a whole; and of the apprehension of the public of the security of the credit union movement.
There has been, as the minister is well aware, a number of consolidations, a number of absorptions one way or another, of credit unions which have run into difficulty. That, of course, has been for the purpose of ensuring that the stability of the overall credit union movement is enhanced, I have never clearly understood what is, if I may use a dreadful term, the so-called interface between The Canadian Credit Societies Act -- or whatever the appropriate title for that Act is -- and the credit union movement in the province of Ontario.
Somewhere along the line, someday, perhaps the minister will explain to me why there are these parallel statutes at the federal level and at the provincial level which appear to me perhaps to be an unnecessary exacerbation in the work of the credit union movement. I don’t understand -- and even during the time of the select committee never did clearly understand -- what the relationship between the federal legislation, apart from the banking system, was to the provincial legislation dealing with these co-operative credit societies or credit unions as we know them.
I did notice that one of the matters we were concerned about was the relatively small number but very substantial size of those credit unions which didn’t choose to belong to the Ontario Credit Union League or to either of the two federations of Caisses Populaires in the province of Ontario. We were very concerned and we looked very carefully at the problem as to whether or not we should require them to become members of one of the leagues. In trying to weigh, as a judgemental value, what our position would be the committee felt we shouldn’t force any particular credit union to become a member of a particular league unless it chose to do so itself, provided that the provincial legislation was sufficient to ensure, by inspection and other mechanisms, that no one of those credit unions that didn’t have the support of league membership would get into financial difficulties.
I notice now, of course, that if the Canadian Payments Association is implemented, one of the terms -- so the white paper says -- is that every credit union is going to have to become a member of presumably one of the leagues in the province of Ontario before it can participate in the Canadian Payments Association. I would be somewhat concerned as to what the minister’s response would be to have the federal legislation require the kind of compulsory membership in a league system of those credit unions which have chosen up to now to remain independent, and what his concern would be if federal legislation requires what we certainly felt from a provincial point of view was not a necessary requirement for the security of those persons who were dealing with, I think at that time, some 34 independent credit unions.
Those are the major points. I am quite certain that as we go through the bill, clause by clause, in committee and have the benefit of the comments of the ministry officials and the persons involved in the credit union movement of Ontario, I think we will come out of it with a very fine bill. I do hope that, somehow or other, the delay in the government’s bringing forward the legislation to the point where it could be passed will not deter the government from taking a very cold, hard look at the impact of the white paper and the proposed revisions to The Bank Act on the credit union movement insofar as its competitive capacity on a local basis for the people in the various communities across the province is concerned, so that we can be certain that the very real benefits of the existence of those credit unions scattered across the province to the variety and stability of the life of the province will be maintained. I am very much concerned the government has a significant role to play in ensuring that that competitive position and the place of the credit union movement in Ontario are preserved and its capacity for development enhanced.
Mr. Nixon: I wanted to join in this debate simply to give every encouragement to the minister and to the other members of the House to work in support of amendments and changes in regulations which will encourage and enhance the usefulness and the impact of the credit union movement in the province.
The minister in his opening remarks to second reading said he didn’t feel that all the members were aware of the importance that the credit union movement has now. Well, coming from a rural community I am very much aware of it. I must admit that I still keep my savings, such as they are, with the Bank of Montreal.
Mr. Warner: Ah, Bob. Shame!
Mr. Nixon: But having declared that as perhaps a conflict of interest I would say that I was deeply disappointed when I read the reviews of the federal provisions having to do with the amendments to The Bank Act which the government of Canada brings forward on a regular -- five-year basis?
Mr. Samis: Ten.
Mr. Nixon: Ten-year basis. Because I felt that the government missed an opportunity to bring more or less into modern focus the importance of the credit institutions or the banks particularly in Canada. Over more than a century the banks as they are presently chartered have had the advantages of legislation which in my view restricted competition and gave them the opportunity to grow without the bounds that one would normally have expected in the absence of the kind of competition you find, let’s say, in the United States and perhaps in other jurisdictions.
Mr. Samis: Dead on!
Mr. Nixon: So I felt disappointed when I read the experts’ reviews and accounts of the amendments proposed by the government of Canada. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister had made some rather interesting extemporaneous comments about the banks before the amendments had been introduced and I had the feeling that perhaps we were going to be treated to more far-reaching amendments than were the case when they finally saw the light of day.
I am not too sure who had the moderating influence on the views that the Prime Minister had expressed personally, but of course from my point of view there is very little, if anything, he does that’s wrong, and it must be the fault of his advisers, both past and present.
I feel also that the minister has been able to slide out from a rather serious load of blame, if not almost an indictment on the inaction of the ministry and his predecessor in connection with credit unions. He made reference to his predecessor and I was hard pressed to know who he was referring to, unless it was Mr. Winkler, because he’s had so many predecessors who have all fiddled and diddled around with the credit union legislation without ever coming to grips with it. Trying to determine the sense of what their friends in the world of high finance were going to insist upon and perhaps what was the least the credit unions would accept under these circumstances.
I believe the minister was one of the ones who were most surprised at the influence of the credit union movement in this province. He may have felt that it was possible for him to come forward with that bag full of amendments we were treated to previously in which he was proposing to take over the deposit insurance function and the funds of the credit union which they had built up for that purpose. He was soon set straight in that regard and we haven’t really seen the amendments until these were put before us after such a long delay.
So I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, it certainly is to the benefit of us all, and to the credit of the credit unions, that they were able to educate this minister while he was still in the capacity which he now enjoys so that re-education perhaps of one of his successors before the government changes would not be necessary.
I can remember also -- and this goes back quite a time; I think the hon. member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) would remember it very clearly -- when the government was faced with the problems in another group of financial institutions, the trust companies. In those days really it was frightening when the trust companies, acting under provincial charter, got into such serious difficulties. The Atlantic Acceptance case was the one probably that impressed us most directly, but British Mortgage and certain other institutions experienced a tremendous series of fiscal accidents which just shook the financial community here and across Canada and, as the minister must surely know, internationally.
I can remember the government of the day bringing in a very hasty bill indeed establishing deposit insurance at the provincial level. Although the bill was proclaimed, I believe, we did not have to use it because the government of Canada, which had a fully evolved deposit insurance mechanism for banks, moved into the area on agreement with this province to save this province and this government from the continuing series of fiscal blows and, in my view, serious political embarrassment associated with them.
I can remember certainly the day in which the hon. member of Riverdale undertook to review the whole situation and had a number of his relatives in the galleries. They filled all the galleries, as I recall, as he undertook to persuade the government to do something for these good people. Perhaps they were more than relatives. There might have been others who had invested --
Mr. Renwick: All friends.
Mr. Nixon: -- funds in Atlantic Acceptance. Even before I was a member of this House I remember my father, the previous member for Brant, saying, “Well, you know, what can you expect? They had invested their money at seven per cent, and anybody who expects seven per cent return has got to be prepared to take a tremendous risk.” It’s an indication of how times pass.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: It was nine per cent.
Mr. Ruston: Ray says it was 3½ per cent.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, 3½ per cent -- or if you bought Hydro bonds I think it was 3½ per cent, because of course they were guaranteed by the province of Ontario itself. Now Hydro has to pay 10½ per cent, even with the provincial guarantee, to get the kinds of moneys they require amounting now to a provincial liability of over $5 billion. I think that’s another subject however, Mr. Speaker, and I would simply conclude my remarks by saying that I am very much in favour of legislation which will improve the position of credit unions and caisses populaires in the financial work of this province and in the supporting of the individual in the communities, rural and otherwise, who have learned to have such a high degree of confidence in the credit unions.
I think one of the things that must instil the confidence in some of the areas that I am familiar with is that in order to do business with them you do not have to go into the largest and most expensive monument to the fiscal system that you can find in the community. I am often absolutely astounded when I go into downtown Toronto and see what the credit of our banking system has built and wrought in this city. It just appals me that the repositories of that much credit are vying with each other in the way the rulers of Egypt used to vie millennia ago. Before I am carried away with some of my more populist approaches in these matters, I would simply say that the amendments which are designed to improve the positions of the credit unions are eminently supportable and I look forward to hearing the views of those people directly involved in it when they appear before the standing committee.
Mr. Shore: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to me to share with my colleague in this debate.
Mr. Sweeney: Which ones?
Mr. Shore: Those who are still my colleagues; I assume you are still a member of the House.
Mr. Nixon: All your friends anyway. If you are lonely over there, let us know.
Mr. Shore: I am particularly pleased, Mr. Speaker, to speak in favour of the principle of this bill. I am particularly pleased to see the rationale of why I am supporting this and why others -- I don’t think this type of bill will divide the House, will it?
Mr. R. S. Smith: It might do.
Mr. Roy: Wouldn’t want to rely on your political judgement, you know.
Mr. Shore: However, the prime reason that I believe this bill is supportive and I think that congratulations should be given to the minister and the government for bringing it forward and despite what some have said that it has taken some time, it is always a great pleasure no matter how much time it has taken to see a good bill come forward.
Mr. Sweeney: When you say it, it comes out different, Marv.
Mr. Shore: I am particularly pleased, as I say, for the following reasons, one of them being that it is an independent bill. It supports self-reliance and it supports competition, and there are some on the other side of the House that I think once they review this a little more they may take another look at it, but it does do that and I think that we should be pleased at it. I am particularly pleased also that it’s being received through public participation and the government in many instances has not always taken the confidence of the public into their public participation, but I must suggest to you that I think they should be congratulated and I am pleased to say that they have. I was particularly pleased to see --
Mr. Nixon: Move that man down one row.
Mr. Shore: Thank you very much.
Mr. Roy: Any further promotion, Marv, and you will be up in the gallery.
Mr. Shore: That’s right. That’s right.
Mr. Sweeney: Especially the public of London North.
Mr. Shore: Well, speaking of the public of London North, I have a lot of confidence that they will recognize a hard-working member when the time comes, without reading the polls incidentally, without reading the polls.
Mr. Worton: Where there’s life, there’s hope.
Mr. Shore: That’s right. Good hard work usually succeeds. I would say this, Mr. Speaker, that the minister should further be congratulated in the sense that hopefully this bill will be legislated in this term because it’s necessary. When I first heard of this bill, I took it upon myself, thinking of the people of London North and London, to try to find out a little bit about the movement of the credit union --
Mr. Shore: -- and I found, coming from an urban riding as a matter of fact, not from a rural riding, that there was at least eight to 10 credit union associations in London with memberships of upwards of probably 3000 to 4,000 people, and I am particularly pleased to speak in favour of this in principle representing those people. I am intending to contact as many of the officials of associations to see if they have any suggestions or improvements that might be made.
In conclusion, I think the minister and my colleagues should be congratulated for bringing this forward. I think it’s a step in the right direction for the improvement of competition and independence.
Mr. Samis: Like the previous speakers, especially my colleagues from Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), I welcome this bill, The effect of a conversion has strange results sometimes and I congratulate the member for London North for at least joining us in support of the bill.
Mr. Sweeney: You are next.
Mr. Samis: Far from it. My main reason for supporting the bill is the effect it’s going to have on our financial system not only in Ontario but, I think, in Canada. I think the most charitable description one could give of our banking system in this country in terms of its structure is that it’s been a tight-knit cartel and very oligopolistic in its whole tenor, structure and outlook. If we compare the banking system in Canada with that of the United States very obviously there has been a lack of competition and, belatedly, even the federal government has recognized that. Ten years ago, it made a few very cautious steps toward the overall goal of a competitive financial system and obviously there are going to be a few small steps made in the next session of the federal parliament.
I welcome this bill because I think that in the central province of our confederation a strong competitive financial system within the provincial jurisdiction is essential. I think the value of credit unions is that in the sort of system which is really controlled by high finance, by international moguls and people with little contact with the daily lives of the average citizens, the credit unions represent grassroots alternatives to the high finance system and the banks which are the representation of that.
In many communities, coming from an industrial community, the only alternative really for an individual, especially a working person looking for consumer credit or limited credit, is the finance company. I can think of very few institutions in our society which are more rapacious, if not exploitive, of working people and poor people than our finance companies which are tolerated and fostered by the federal finance system. If we look at the advertising we see for this alternative to credit unions on television, radio, the different ads for some of these finance companies and how they seduce people into indebtedness at extortionate rates, it’s really obscene in some cases how this is allowed or tolerated.
The advent of this bill, the strengthening of the credit union sector as an alternative at the local level for people looking for consumer credit, is extremely welcome. In my particular community, the credit unions showed their worth, As members recall we had a lengthy strike in the pulp and paper industry and when people had depleted their savings; when the banks were unwilling to extend credit; when the finance companies were either unwilling or willing to exploit it to their own advantage, the one segment in the financial system which came to the aid of the workers and their families was the local credit union.
I think that stands as a testimony to their value not only in my community but I am sure in communities all across this province. It is the sole segment of the financial system in which the consumer and the average person has any say, any degree of influence, on how the financial system operates.
I welcome this principle to give the credit unions not only greater competitiveness, greater security, but also greater scope in which to invest their funds and to operate and to provide greater security for the depositors.
Like my colleague from Riverdale, I am concerned that on the subject of the amendments to the federal banking legislation the provincial government will make strong representations because this bill makes significant progress for Ontario but unless it is done in conjunction with significant progress in the federal legislation its impact will be seriously lessened. I would really hope that this government would see fit to make strong representations to the federal minister to make sure that there is parallel progress in the federal legislation. Otherwise, this legislation will only have limited value.
Mr. Roy: I want to join briefly in the debate on this bill and support some of the statements made by some of my colleagues. I get a kick out of the member for London North (Mr. Shore). I think I am being prevailed upon to say something. As I recall, last time he spoke he was not quite as enthusiastic about a government programme as on this occasion. If the member had followed the tortuous path of this legislation as many of us have -- my colleague from Brant, the member for Riverdale -- and seen some of the original approaches proposed by the government, you would see that the congratulations that you’re throwing -- those flowery approaches to your minister -- were not all that well deserved. Your minister has taken an open-minded approach and the government had backed off --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the hon. member address his remarks to the Chair, please?
Mr. Roy: Yes, yes I will. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Actually I prefer looking in that direction in any event.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I thought you would.
Mr. Roy: I was going to say, Mr. Speaker, that the credit unions, the caisses populaires and the independents have put tremendous pressure on the ministry and have convinced the government. I recall going to a meeting in Ottawa that the minister attended and made a proposal at that time. I still recall --
Mr. Nixon: It was a restricted meeting.
Mr. Roy: I wasn’t invited, I sort of walked in.
Mr. Nixon: I don’t think he asked any of the other members to go.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I saw you at a couple of meetings where you weren’t invited.
Mr. Nixon: At least yours were public and you had to get a crowd.
Mr. Roy: I was not invited, so I walked in. I thought I’d listen to what the credit unions and the caisses populaires had to say. The feathers were flying -- were they not, Sid? -- by the end of the evening. My God, the people there expressed their opinion in no uncertain terms. I recall that the minister at that time was less experienced, more abrasive. He was going to push it through, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: He’s a smoothy now.
Mr. Roy: But I notice we didn’t see the legislation. Yet lo and behold, here we have it now under a different form. So I think, Mr. Speaker, of the member for London North. I suggest a certain amount of caution about his enthusiasm. He should learn more about the history of the legislation before he lets his enthusiasm get away.
Mr. Nixon: Old Marv was an overnight hit.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I want to express one concern which I think I expressed to the minister at that time. I’m looking at the legislation and I don’t see it covered as well as I would have hoped it would have been. Possibly you have amendments. It’s the matter that deals with the conflicts of interest by directors or officers of these credit unions or caisses populaires. I want to say to my colleagues there are members of the real estate profession, there are people who sell insurance, why in fact, Mr. Speaker, there are even members of the legal profession who get involved in conflicts of interest --
Mr. Nixon: Oh, surely not.
Mr. Roy: Very often their sole purpose in becoming officers or directors is to sort of channel business, through mortgages or otherwise, in their direction.
Mr. Moffatt: The Liberal Party knows a little about that.
Mr. Roy: I don’t know about the members to my right, but as Liberals we find that extremely offensive. I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that the minister will be proposing amendments. I was talking to some people from the caisse populaire movement who are proposing some legislation about directors not acting on behalf of these credit unions --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: It’s in there now.
Mr. Roy: If it is you’re going to have to point out the section, because I don’t see it covered as adequately as it should be. I say, Mr. Speaker, these credit unions, these caisses populaires, are set up for the benefit of the members and not for the benefit of certain individuals who are in fact enriching themselves. Some of the business that some of these people do is very lucrative. We’ve estimated in one caisse populaire in Ottawa that there’s one particular lawyer who’s probably making over $250,000 a year just out of commissions from the mortgage work he does for the caisse populaire.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Why don’t you take it up with the bar association?
Mr. Roy: The minister says take it up with the bar association. I say to him it’s not up to the bar association. We’ve got an occasion here to correct this. I think that if we’re taking the approach where we’re tightening up the legislation -- where we’re taking steps at least to establish certain guidelines as to what credit unions can do -- I think that we should deal with the problem and I think we should stop that.
Possibly I’ve not read the legislation adequately, but it seems to me that the similar type of legislation you have for auditors should be for officers as well. That is, they’re officers of these credit unions, Mr. Speaker, but they should not act on their behalf. The sole purpose of many of these people who run for boards or for officers or directors of these credit unions is so that they can get insurance business or real estate business or legal business. I think that’s improper.
Mr. Cunningham: And the accountants.
Mr. Roy: The accountants are in it as well.
Mr. Nixon: Oh, boy, are they in it.
Mr. Roy: As I say, Mr. Speaker, that is hopefully something we might see in the legislation. I know it’s tough to plug up the hole completely. I realize that the minister has had some discussions with the credit unions or the caisses populaires about this problem, but I did want to take an opportunity to express that point of view.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak to this bill? If not, the hon. minister.
Mr. McClellan: Very briefly, I echo again the support of our caucus for the principle of the bill. We welcome what has been described by one person I talked to as the coming of age of the credit union movement in this province. I think it’s probably more accurate to say that the chains and fetters that have bound the credit union and the cooperative movement for so long in this province have finally been loosened and that we hope that with the loosening of these chains and the unhamstringing of the credit union movement, that the co-operative movement in this province can begin to take its rightful place in the economy.
I travelled a little bit this summer. I didn’t travel overseas, I travelled to Canada, but I think I learned something even there. I went to Acadia and had the opportunity to look at the co-operative movement in New Brunswick. I saw a co-operative food distribution system that was integrated from warehousing to packaging to distribution to the inclusion of brand products under the cooperative movement.
In every town of significant size in Acadia, in New Brunswick, there was a co-op supermarket of a size and quality that would rival anything that we have in this province, with one difference -- that the principle of gouging profit was absent and the enterprise was run by the members themselves for the benefit of themselves, their families and their own communities on the basis of the principle of cooperation, not on the basis of gouging and not on the basis of the principle of the power of wealth to increase its own wealth, but on the co-operative principle of one man, one vote and on the principle of sharing together to meet basic needs of individuals, families and communities.
We hope most sincerely that the legislation which has given to the credit union movement the capacity to operate as a full-scale institution in a modern economy will have the effect of stimulating the growth and development of the broader co-operative movement in this province and that we will begin to see the possibility for the first time in Ontario of the development of alternatives to corporate gouging in the provision of food and alternatives to the corporate gouging in the provision of housing, an alternative based on the principle that it is possible to order a society on the principles of co-operation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: It is my understanding that we will continue on with this bill at 8 o’clock.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, may I take this chance just to advise the members of the House that we are planning to go on with this bill at 8 o’clock, as you have indicated, following which we will have some budget debate. There’s a chance there may be an early adjournment tonight, depending on the number of budget speakers.
Two committees meet tonight, however. Justice and resources development are meeting at 8 o’clock. The order with respect to interim supply will appear on the order paper tomorrow in order that we can take that into consideration on Thursday afternoon.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.