The House met at 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry. The hon. Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
PROTECTION FOR BORROWERS AND DEPOSITORS
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment today on the Borrowers and Depositors Protection Bill which was tabled in the House of Commons this week by the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
The Ontario government welcomes the federal government’s efforts particularly in protecting borrowers against loan sharking and the excessive discounting of income tax refunds and welfare payments. However, I would like to point out that Ottawa did not write the book on consumer protection in the credit field. Ontario consumers have enjoyed the protection of cost of credit disclosure for 10 years.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: In fact, Ontario and the other provinces, by injecting themselves into the consultation process while the Act was in preparation, managed to persuade Ottawa to make substantial changes in the original proposals. These consultations began at the administrative level and continued in December, 1975, and February, 1976, at the ministerial level.
The most important change these talks brought about was the deletion of a registration system which would have required almost any credit-granting business to register, creating yet another huge, unmanageable bureaucracy at the federal level.
We have done everything possible to eliminate conflict over this Act between the provincial and federal jurisdictions. There are serious constitutional and administrative problems still to be overcome. The BNA Act gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over interest and we do not dispute that jurisdiction. Contracts, however, fall within the provincial sphere, and I am sure our colleagues in Quebec will have something to say about that. We feel it may take some time before these problems are resolved and indeed they will probably end up in the courts.
Mr. Speaker, my ministry officials and I stand ready to work with Ottawa toward a resolution of the problems created by this new bill. Our first concern, of course, is for consumers and anything we can do to enhance their status as borrowers and depositors.
ENERGY CONSERVATION WEEK
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind hon. members that the first week in November has been declared Energy Conservation Week in Ontario.
As members will know, the purpose of the week is to encourage greater public participation in cutting energy bills throughout the province. To highlight the week, on Monday, November 1, there will be a special night-time lightstick parade from Toronto City Hall to Queen’s Park, involving Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Air Cadets from around the province. I hope the hon. members will join me at the culmination of the parade at about 8 o’clock in the evening in front of the buildings to greet the marchers.
I have been greatly encouraged by the participation of groups across the province in Energy Conservation Week. High schools, colleges, universities, chambers of commerce, community groups, municipal governments and corporations have come forward in support of the programme and are undertaking a wide variety of special projects to assist in encouraging energy conservation.
I hope all members of the Legislature will take this opportunity to show leadership in their own communities by practising good energy management, especially next week, and in the months and years to come.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, of the Chairman of Cabinet. Can he tell us what he told Andy Rickard at 9:30 this morning in his meeting with him?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Well --
Mr. Lewis: I didn’t think the question was terribly complicated. Just what did he say at the meeting?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I’d be pleased to answer although I thought this was a private conversation between Mr. Rickard and myself. However, since the Leader of the Opposition brings this up now --
Mr. Lewis: About the Reed Paper Company?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: I indicated to Mr. Rickard that we would be prepared to consider financial assistance to Treaty No. 9 to prepare their case when they appear before the review board. I gave him a copy of the Premier’s statement of yesterday and a transcript of Hansard as to the discussions that took place in this room between the Premier and the members, which mention that the Premier was prepared to appoint someone with a legal background who would be an independent chairman of this board; that it would be a very impartial board and that Treaty No. 9 would be provided with every assistance possible in order to present their case and in order to protect their rights. This was the gist of our conversation this morning.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you. May I ask, by --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, just as a further point of clarification so the members will all know; I understand that Mr. Rickard also asked that I confirm this by letter to him, which I found encouraging. The letter is presently being prepared and will be delivered to him this morning.
Mr. Lewis: Things are moving more rapidly toward the end of the week than they were at the beginning of the week. Can I ask the Premier, perhaps by way of supplementary: Is he saying that the government will underwrite the costs in total of any presentation which Treaty No. 9 would wish to make, should they decide to appear before the board? I don’t know what Mr. Rickard will say at his press conference.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can’t undertake to underwrite in total any costs. I think it’s something that the Chairman of Cabinet, who has special responsibility here, has indicated to Mr. Rickard that he will talk to him about. Certainly, we want to be of assistance.
I think we have to get some indication from them on just what form their presentation is going to take and we certainly want to be helpful. I should further add that Mr. Rickard has asked to visit with me. He is going back to his own community for a couple of weeks and I’m indicating that representatives of the government or I, if I’m available, would be delighted to meet with him about this. It’ll be in two or three weeks’ time.
Mr. Kerrio: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Could we expect this same sort of co-operation on other environmental hearings throughout the province for people who are left to their own resources to present cases to environmental hearings?
Hon. Mr. Davis: No. I would say to the member for Niagara Falls that as much as this government is anxious to help everybody we can; reasonably I think to suggest this would become a uniform policy for every group or every individual making presentations to whatever government it may or may not be would be asking a bit much. I really couldn’t give him that sort of assurance.
I think the hon. member, and I would hope all members, would recognize that this situation is unique. We are talking about an interest of the native people of this province whose resources are quite obviously limited and where from their standpoint there is, I think, a very genuine, legitimate concern. I would like to think the public generally and the taxpayers would understand that as a government we could make some assistance available without it becoming a matter of policy that anybody could seek government support for making presentations to the Environmental Review Board or any other government agency.
I think the hon. member surely can recognize what I think here is a very valid distinction, and I would hope all members of the House would recognize that.
TRAINING SCHOOL DEATH
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Correctional Services: Does the minister want to make, or does he feel he might make, a statement on the very sad story that appears in the Globe and Mail this morning about the suicide of the young, 14-year-old girl in a training school? Can he, in the process of the reply, talk about the bitter irony which had that young girl presumably referred to the training school by a government ministry institution, Thistletown, under, I assume, section 8 of The Training Schools Act, which almost two years ago this assembly agreed should be abolished from the Act? Can the minister comment on that?
Hon. J. R. Smith: I’d be pleased to report to the hon. member. The story in today’s Globe and Mail seems to be a debate between various professional treatment people, all of whom saw the girl prior to her admission to the training school and several of whom have not seen her for three years. My ministry was not involved in the child’s case until after she was admitted to training school. Therefore, I don’t think it is proper at this time that I should enter into the debate as to whether or not she should have been admitted to one of our schools.
It is a most unfortunate and a tragic incident and one such incident is too many. However, it might be pointed out that this was the first suicide of a child at a training school in the past 22 years. It speaks well of the staff supervision considering the fact that many seriously disturbed and acting-out young people are admitted to training schools and also considering the high rate of suicides amongst young people in the community.
An inquest will be held which will explore all the details surrounding her death and no doubt will make recommendations. As always in the case of such incidents in nor institutions, we will co-operate fully with the coroner and provide him with all the information at our disposal. I feel it would be inappropriate to make any further comment pending the outcome of that inquest.
Mr. Lewis: I have a supplementary, if I may. Can the minister give us in the Legislature any sense when he will remove section 8 from The Training Schools Act as we passed in law in this Legislature almost two years ago, and without which section this referral could not have been made and therefore the consequences would not have followed? If the minister can’t say that, can he tell us when he is going to close down the training school network altogether, as many have asked for years?
Hon. J. R. Smith: First, I think I should point out that I understand this young lady was committed under section 9.
Mr. Lewis: No, the minister has to be joking. Thistletown charged her as a delinquent and sent her to a training school?
Mr. Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Lewis: That’s hard to believe.
Hon. J. R. Smith: The actual question of the proclamation of section 8 should be directed to the minister responsible for social development.
Mr. Lewis: I’m sorry, a supplementary, if I may: Is the minister saying that the Thistletown centre for the treatment of disturbed children brought a young girl of 14 to a training school through section 9, which requires an equivalent of a criminal act if performed by an adult, rather than section 8 which would require some particular treatment and supervision? I find that very hard to believe.
Hon. J. R. Smith: I’ll have to wait until Monday or later this morning to clarify this for the hon. member.
Mr. Lewis: It could happen; section 9 covers delinquency.
Hon. J. R. Smith: I thought originally it was section 8 and then there’s something that says to me that perhaps it was section 9. I’m not certain exactly as to under what section she was committed.
Mr. S. Smith: Is the minister conferring with his colleague, the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller), to see if the latter will finally introduce into the province a sufficient number of adolescent health care facilities with a closed door possibility, so that this type of thing doesn’t have to occur?
Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, that particular minister has been very involved, particularly all through the summer months, visiting the centres, speaking with the juvenile and family court judges and developing a programme to bring forward a programme that will ensure that things like this don’t happen.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister could tell the House why, if the suicide occurred August 20, it has just become public knowledge and concern now?
Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, that was reported in the press. I was informed by telephone at my home during the latter part of August, the day it happened, and I understand it was reported in the Peterborough news media. It was public knowledge. But I found no mention of it in some papers like the Globe and Mail.
Mr. Nixon: If I might pursue it with another supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I realize that all of us are shocked at this matter, but has the minister, since he first heard of it many weeks ago, undertaken a review of the situation which has been brought to our attention in the House here today by the questions asked?
Mr. S. Smith: Good question.
Hon. J. R. Smith: Yes, we’ve reviewed it.
Mr. Nixon: Well, I wonder if we might have the advantage of the outcome of that review. It’s not enough for him to say yes, he’s reviewed it. What’s happened in the weeks since August 20? Anything?
Hon. J. B. Smith: Mr. Speaker, an inquest is going to take place and we’re going to co-operate fully with it.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. A final supplementary on this, yes. The member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: Thank you. Since the minister has indicated that, as usual, there is ongoing dialogue between the government and family court judges to get all sorts of advice, would the minister in specific terms advise us not about discussions but what is put in place, in order that we may scrap this section, which we all agree should not be there? Would you tell us now?
Mr. Roy: Don’t be bashful.
Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, the government has not decided as yet when to announce any new programme.
Mr. Lewis: You just don’t have all the facilities.
Mrs. Campbell: You don’t have any places.
Hon. J. R. Smith: There’s obviously a definite need for secure facilities for emotionally disturbed and children with health related problems, some of whom are presently in the training school system.
Mrs. Campbell: That’s not a definite answer.
Hon. J. R. Smith: I know the Provincial Secretary for Social Development has some propositions to come forward to the government and perhaps the question should be directed to her.
Mr. S. Smith: Just a brief supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: That was the final supplementary. Any further questions? If not --
Mr. Lewis: Well, it’s okay.
Mr. S. Smith: Just a quick one really. It’s related -- .
Mr. Speaker: You’ll have an opportunity if you wish to come back to this.
Mr. S. Smith: Thank you.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps it’s your turn now, is it?
HALTON LANDFILL SITE
Mr. Lewis: Just one question if I may, Mr. Speaker, of the Minister of the Environment: Why is the Minister of the Environment so quick to applaud the intended Tremaine-Britannia landfill site in Halton county when the agricultural rep on the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food appeared before the regional council and spoke against the particular dump site which appears to be in prospect? When is the minister going to sort out the conflicts between the ministries; that is, between the Ministry of the Environment’s prior ties and those of the Ministry of Agriculture, to preserve agricultural land?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, this could be comparable to the questions that the hon. member asked yesterday regarding Canborough. We have to understand the process and the provisions of The Environmental Assessment Act and the Board. The minister is not supposed to be involved. I have not applauded any decision of the regional council.
This is a local decision. They’ve had a consultant’s report recommending four or five different sites. The Tremaine site is apparently the number one recommendation. They’ll now carry out certain types of soil testing to see if it is an acceptable site. Then, when the region has that information, there will be a hearing before the Environmental Assessment Board. Everybody who is involved, including the citizens in that area, will be able to make representation to the board. The minister has to stay out of it until that stage and until the board’s report is submitted to him. I have no real control over “Billy’s boys” in Halton; when they want to make a comment about a site, fine --
Mr. Lewis: Confusing for the citizens.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- I think they will make those comments at the hearing in any event. My people, I am sure, will make comments about the site and say that it is right or wrong. In the meantime, I have to stay out. And if the hon. member can do something about all those postcards I’m getting, please do. I am even getting them from Calgary.
Mr. Lewis: I mail them from almost anywhere I am at any given moment.
May I ask the minister, by way of supplementary, if he can do something about the widely reported understanding in the community that he, as minister, has indicated to members of the citizens’ groups who have talked to him about Tremaine-Britannia, that he sees no reason at all why it shouldn’t be a landfill site -- the minister thought it might make a nice ski area when it was all over, so he is reported as saying -- and that members of his ministry have already indicated approval of it in advance? How are the citizens supposed to cope with this when Agriculture and Food and Environment are taking opposite positions publicly?
Mr. S. Smith: By tippy-toeing between them.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: When delegations have come to see me, I have indicated to them the problems regarding the establishment of a sanitary landfill site. Nobody wants them in their area. All I have pleaded with these people is to give it a chance.
Mr. Dean: Give it a chance!
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I realize that aesthetically it isn’t the best possible area.
Mr. Lewis: How about a few recycling plants?
Mr. S. Smith: What about your backyard?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: My backyard? I’ve got a rotocropper, which the hon. member hasn’t got, by the way.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’ve got two!
Hon. Mr. Kerr: And he’s doing fine.
An hon. member: Yes, but yours flew away.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Where’s yours?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister will continue.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I have attempted to remain neutral.
Mr. Lewis: You’ve failed.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I think I have.
Mr. Lewis: No, you haven’t.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I have indicated their concern to the regional council --
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- and, hopefully, when a decision is made -- who knows, it may be in my backyard.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Halton-Burlington wished to ask a supplementary, I believe.
Mr. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would explain to the House his ministry’s position regarding the obvious alternative to landfill sites; that is, a comprehensive solid waste recovery programme which will make use of 100 per cent of the garbage input?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: First of all, there is no plant in existence that makes use of 100 per cent of garbage input --
Mr. Lewis: Then build one.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: There is always some residue going to sanitary landfill sites, regardless of the type of plant. However, the region has made an application to my ministry for a reclamation plant with separation and removal of sludge and things of that sort. It will be what we call a front-end plant. And I am expecting that that process and that application will be completed within a matter of weeks and that next spring that plant will commence construction.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’ll have a supplementary here first of all. The member for Durham West.
Mr. Godfrey: Supplementary: in view of the fact that he has received two recent reports, one from Enviricon and the other from MacLaren-Dillon, pointing out very strongly that there is a good possibility of siting a solid waste reclamation plant in a proper area, and in view of the fact that we have such an area in the Hamilton area, would he not mount immediately, as a priority, an investigation to see if that would not be a suitable alternative to the Tremaine-Britannia land site?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The proposal for a plant in Halton has top priority.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk with a final supplementary on this.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would not agree that since no one wants a sanitary landfill site in his backyard and the problems are increasing as the sites established became filled up -- even in the Peel area, I understand -- why wouldn’t the government now move for a comprehensive ban on a large percentage of the non-returnable containers, as has been urged upon him for such a long time and which he accepted, I believe, four years ago?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: As the hon. member knows we have new legislation and new regulations dealing with non-returnable containers.
Mr. Good: Five years from now.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The proposals to ban nonreturnable bottles, for example, are part of the debate of this Legislature.
Mr. Nixon: But the government accepted that years ago.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I know, but that really is a very small percentage of the total waste that goes to a landfill site.
Mr. Nixon: But the minister is not prepared to take any reasonable steps to reduce solid waste.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, I am. As a matter of fact the whole question of banning non-returnables is still part of our new legislation and our new regulations. As I’ve indicated we’re phasing this in and I expect that by next July --
Mr. Nixon: July, 1994.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- there will be a definite commitment of what we are doing over the next three or four years.
Mr. Nixon: We’ve heard the government say that for the last four years.
TRAINING SCHOOL DEATH
Mr. S. Smith: I’m sorry to see the Minister of Correctional Services has momentarily left us. Perhaps then I’ll direct the question, Mr. Speaker, to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development.
Can she tell us two things: First of all, when was the inquest ordered into the tragic suicide that we were discussing earlier? Was it ordered in August when the matter occurred or today, when the matter became public knowledge in Toronto? That’s the first question.
The second is: Can she tell us what facilities she has been organizing in order to permit the repeal of section 8 to be proclaimed and to have alternatives available for difficult, disturbed adolescents who need a closed door form of control for a period of time?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, through you to the hon. member for Hamilton West, as to the date of the inquest I have no knowledge. I had no knowledge at all of the suicide that took place on August 20 until this morning, when I was notified, so that information will have to be forthcoming from the Minister of Correctional Services.
As to the other, I have spent the entire summer visiting family courts, observing what has been taking place within the family court system. I have had many meetings with family court judges, many meetings with agencies which are engaged in the protection of children. I have visited training schools and I have talked to children within those training schools.
I am just as disturbed as any member of the opposition that we continue to send children to training schools. I firmly believe that community resources should be in place to look after those children, and to those ends I am devoted and hope to bring about recommendations very quickly.
I have had a complete review done of the children in our training school systems under section 8. I have a review of every child within that system at the moment, with a placement ready f or that child just as quickly as we can proclaim the repeal of section 8. I hope to have a recommendation before cabinet very quickly and I can assure the House that this government is just as interested in finding facilities within communities to help these children who so badly need medical help, not training school help.
Mrs. Campbell: In view of the fact that there have been endless reports on this subject; in view of the fact that the family court judges have for years made it quite clear that their hands were tied because they did not have these facilities available for these children, why would we spend the summer looking at the situation, rather than developing the funding that would enable us to have the facilities in place?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, it was my summer and I spent it as I thought it best to be spent
Some hon. members: Oh!
Hon. Mrs. Birch: That was in making sure for myself what was happening. I can say to the hon. member that some of those family court judges still insist that they need section 8, regardless of the resources they have in their communities. Until that is repealed that’s the only way we are going to make them change their mind.
Mrs. Campbell: That’s the point, it is in your hands.
Mr. Lewis: Can the minister consider spending her winter looking at the kids who are inappropriately in training schools under section 9, as apparently this young girl may well have been, because the consequences are equally destructive whatever the route may be? Might she therefore consider the repeal of the whole training school system rather than simply section 8?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I too am disturbed about many of the children who are there under section 9, and that is something we will be making a lot of recommendations about.
Mr. Nixon: I wonder is the minister concerned, as I am, that she who has not only the wide policy responsibility but obviously a great personal interest in this important matter was not informed of the suicide until she saw it in the paper today when it occurred two months ago?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I feel betrayed.
Mr. Lewis: By whom is the minister betrayed?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: By the officials and by the interministerial committee that I have reporting directly to me.
Mr. Lewis: By the minister’s colleague, who heard about it on the day it occurred?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Yes.
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Correctional Services: In view of the statement just made by the Provincial Secretary of Social Development that she feels “betrayed” that she was not informed about the suicide which we have been speaking about today, what responsibility does he take for not informing the senior minister about this tragic event when he says he knew about it in August? Secondly, can he tell us when the inquest was ordered? Was it ordered in August or was it ordered today?
Hon. J. R. Smith: First of all, I heard the earlier question by the leader of the third party when I was outside. The date on which an inquest will be held is up to the coroner. An inquest on the death of a person in correctional facilities is always automatic. I understand the coroner didn’t actually set the date. He was awaiting results of tests from the forensic science laboratories in Toronto. When that was received, he was going to set the date for the inquest.
Mr. S. Smith: Two months to get a test?
Hon. J. R. Smith: That is a question that should be directed to the coroner in Lindsay or wherever he is based in that part of Ontario.
As to the other question asked of the policy minister of being uninformed of the suicide, I apologize for the fact that she was not informed. In fact, it is a lack of communication, I suppose. On the other hand, there are suicides in the adult institutions from time to time and it has not been the policy to inform the social policy minister of these unfortunate deaths. As I say, this was public knowledge in the media in the Lindsay-Peterborough area at the time, and we tried not to conceal anything from anybody. A federal member of Parliament inquired about this in August.
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Solicitor General then: Can he explain the delay by which a coroner has failed to order an inquest in this extraordinary event described by his colleague as the first such occurrence in 22 years? Can he explain the delay which has now taken two months allegedly to obtain certain tests and why mysteriously the delay is over the day it appears in the newspaper? Could he possibly explain that?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I assume that the coroner had an inquiry at the time of the death. Any unusual or violent death requires a coroner’s examination. I assume that that was done although I don’t know. I have not asked for a report on this matter. Generally speaking, one of the purposes, the main purpose, of the coroner’s inquest is to find the cause of death. In this case the cause was I assume obvious although I don’t know and I don’t even know yet whether the coroner has asked for an inquest. I will get that information for the hon. member. I don’t know whether a coroner’s inquest has or has not yet been held or even requested. I will get that information, but as I say --
Mr. Nixon: Your colleague says there has to be an inquiry automatically.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: No, you are getting mixed up between an inquest and an inquiry. When there is a violent death the coroner must attend, but whether or not he goes to the extent of having an inquest is another matter. As I say, generally, the main purpose of an inquest is to find the cause of death. It also has the purpose sometimes of examining whether a similar death can be prevented. In occupational locations where death occurs this is often the reason for having an inquest, to keep that from happening again. Maybe this is one of those occasions when that should take place, sir, and I’ll get that information for the hon. member.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary, surely the Solicitor General is being awfully pedantic when he says the cause of death is reasonably obvious? Surely, it must extend beyond -- wouldn’t the Solicitor General agree that it extends beyond actually what caused the death, perhaps the circumstances surrounding it, what motivated this young girl to take her own life in this way? What could be done in this reform institution to prevent further incidents like this? Surely he’s not just talking about the actual cause which stopped her from breathing?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I thought I made that clear. I said one of the reasons for holding it is to find out the cause of death --
Mr. Singer: The Solicitor General is looking for an escape hatch and he hasn’t got one.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I’m not looking for any escape hatch.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Let’s go on. (I said that there are other reasons for having an inquest and one of the other reasons one might have for holding an inquest -- I wish sometimes the hon. member over there would listen. He’s so involved with thinking up his next question that he doesn’t listen to the answers to the former question. I said there are other reasons for having an inquest.
Mr. Roy: Obviously there are.
Mr. Singer: We know that.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I think those reasons may exist in this case.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I am agreeing with the last part of the member’s question, but I wish he’d listen to my first answer.
LIQUID WASTE DISPOSAL
Mr. S. Smith: A question on a separate topic, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of the Environment, regarding the Canborough disposal well.
In view of the minister’s answer yesterday that he was monitoring the abandoned waste wells in the Sarnia area, how does that correspond with the information we have from his London regional office that he is not measuring the pressure loss in those wells, and it’s that particular matter that would tell us whether wastes are travelling in the underground strata? According to his own officials there be is only monitoring some water wells surrounding the waste wells and not the pressure in the waste wells themselves. Can he get himself better informed about that or explain the discrepancy, please?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, as far as monitoring the pressure is concerned, a great deal depends on the depth of the well. In talking about the Canborough well yesterday I made the point that it is about 3,000 feet deep and whether or not that particular well could be measured or monitored in that way was questionable.
I don’t know who the member was talking to in the London office but my information is that at the wells in the Sarnia area, which arc of a depth of anywhere from 200 feet to 400 feet or 500 feet, that type of monitoring does go on, as well as monitoring any adjacent water wells.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, clearly there’s a discrepancy between what the minister says and what his officials do. To move on to the Canborough matter itself, would the minister not agree that since the proposal he describes as going halfway to Peking is unique and it’s the first time that such a thing has been contemplated in this province, it would be better to have the hearings under The Environmental Assessment Act rather than The Environmental Protection Act so that a very thorough hearing not merely as to whether it’s economical, as the company says, but as to all the ramifications of this way of disposing of waste could be properly dealt with in a public forum? I’m personally very concerned about what he is doing.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member was concerned he would have his facts correct. There’s no intention of having a hearing under The Environmental Protection Act. That just isn’t possible in our legislation today. The hearing will be under The Environmental Assessment Act and it will be the Environmental Assessment Board that will conduct the hearing.
Mr. Speaker: Further questions?
Mr. Roy: Mine is a new question.
Mr. Speaker: This is not a supplementary, is it? The hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine with a question.
Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had intended to ask my question of the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch) who is responsible for the Ontario Lottery Corporation, but since he isn’t here I’d like to direct it to the Premier, since it’s a question of respect or disrespect for the Legislature.
I want to know is the government planning to bring in legislation to legalize the advertising of the Ontario Lottery Corporation for the new lottery which is to commence this weekend? They are advertising that the proceeds will go to medical research and to health-related environmental programmes. While I’m very much in favour of help for these activities, I cannot see that they are covered under the present legislation --
An hon. member: Question?
Ms. Bryden: -- regarding the disposition of the proceeds.
Mr. Roy: She is right. They are not.
Mr. Speaker: I think the question was asked at the beginning.
Mr. Breaugh: Answer.
Mr. Wildman: Answer.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I still haven’t heard the question yet. I heard a statement. If the hon. member is asking me for a legal opinion, she’s asking the wrong person.
Mr. Ruston: We know that we don’t ask the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough).
Mr. Roy: We know that we don’t ask the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) for a legal opinion either.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t want to become provocative here this morning, but there are several lawyers opposite I wouldn’t ask an opinion of either.
Mr. Roy: Our legal opinions have more standing in the Supreme Court than yours.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Several, including the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy).
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Ruston: We are batting a better batting average than you are.
Hon. Mr. Davis: In fact, after I listened to the debate between the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) yesterday, I’m not sure I would retain him on that particular issue either. In fact, I was sitting over here --
Mr. Speaker: Order please. The question was asked over here.
Hon. Mr. Davis: However, the Minister of Culture and Recreation has returned and he may wish to venture a legal opinion.
Mr. Speaker: Would the hon. member care to repeat her question -- the question part, that is?
Ms. Bryden: May I then ask the Minister of Culture and Recreation, since the Act states that all proceeds must go to the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities therefor, how are proceeds from the new lottery going to go to medical research and health-related environmental programmes under that clause without the legislation being amended? If it has to be amended, is the lottery corporation anticipating an amendment and showing contempt for this Legislature? Certainly up to now the Wintario money has never been made available for this kind of activity.
Hon. Mr. Welch: This government has never been in contempt of this Legislature.
Mr. Roy: Well you are.
Mr. Lewis: Even though you may feel that the Legislature is in contempt of government.
Mr. Renwick: Is that a legal opinion?
Mr. Speaker: Would the hon. minister please continue? Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Welch: From time to time we may have to regularize certain things.
Mr. Lewis: With a majority no doubt.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We regularize it without a majority. Some people chickened out.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. Let’s get on. We’re wasting valuable time here,
Hon. Mr. Welch: It’s a matter of opinion whether it’s valuable or not.
Mr. Lewis: Stop taunting them now. They may turn on you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, I don’t doubt it at some point in time.
Mr. Cunningham: When you least expect it.
Hon. Mr. Welch: The lottery to which the hon. member makes reference is not a lottery being run by the Ontario Lottery Corporation, point number one.
Number two, the lottery is being run by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation. Ontario is a party and has asked the Ontario Lottery Corporation to act as its agent. Therefore, Ontario has decided by order in council that the proceeds which are derived from that particular activity will be kept in Ontario, insofar as ticket sales in Ontario are concerned, and will be used for health research and health-related environmental matters. It’s quite clear, and under the circumstances, Ontario has authorized the Ontario Lottery Corporation to enter into an agreement which falls under section 7 of the legislation to which the hon. member makes reference.
Ms. Bryden: Here is the Wintario Lottery News published by the Ontario Lottery Corporation which says: “Introducing the Provincial. Now a $5 ticket.” It seems to me that it appears to be being run by the Ontario Lottery Corporation which is governed by The Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I just told the hon. member that the Ontario Lottery Corporation has been designated as the agent insofar as this particular lottery corporation is concerned. The proceeds are coming to Ontario from the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation.
Mr. Roy: Just so I get the point, is the minister saying that he is collecting the moneys and he will be expending these moneys for whatever purposes he sees fit without consulting the Legislature? Is that what he is saying?
Mr. Lewis: That’s right. That is exactly what he said. He said it nicely, but that is what he said.
Hon. Mr. Welch: No, that is not what I said.
Mr. Roy: What is it then if it is by order in council?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I would prefer to say it my way.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Because that will be the right way.
Mr. Breithaupt: It may take a little time.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I pointed out to the hon. member for Woodbine --
Mr. Breaugh: Woodbine is the racetrack.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- the member for Beaches-Woodbine, in response to a question as to why the proceeds of the Provincial lottery were not flowing to sports, recreation, culture and fitness under section 9 in the same way as the proceeds from Wintario were flowing, that this was a different arrangement because it was a lottery being run by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation. A statement was made in this House last May --
Mr. Roy: I asked you then.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- so it should come as no surprise -- last May -- that the proceeds, insofar as Ontario ticket sales from the Provincial were concerned, were going to be used at this stage for health research and health-related environmental projects, and for such other priorities that from time to time would proceed. Indeed, the government authorized the entering into the agreement with respect to the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation and has designated that those proceeds would flow that way through the mechanisms to which I’ve made reference.
Mr. S. Smith: We said you would need an amendment.
Mr. Roy: A supplementary on that, Mr. Speaker. Didn’t the minister say at that time -- I think I asked him a question back in March -- that he would be --
Hon. Mr. Welch: May.
Mr. Roy: -- bringing legislation to the House? Didn’t he say that? If he didn’t say so, what he is saying here today is that he has decided how to spend the money without consulting us.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We announced last May --
Hon. Mr. Davis: You were told.
Mr. S. Smith: We were told, he says.
Mr. Roy: That’s what I’m saying.
Hon Mr. Davis: Don’t you want it spent that way?
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- that we were going to -- that we had initially designated -- does the member have some objection to that particular --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Roy: No, just ask us. We might have some other priorities.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Hamilton West with a supplementary.
Mr. Lewis: It took us a few months to get agitated about it as we reflected on it.
Mr. S. Smith: A supplementary question to the minister. In view of what he has just said, in view of the Premier’s interjection which said we were told, and particularly in View of the recent statement by Dr. Fraser Mustard, author of the Mustard report, dean of health sciences at McMaster, that he has grave doubts because of the possibility that pouring this money totally into health research according to certain out-dated reports would overstress the present health research facilities, would the minister agree to give this House some opportunity to debate, however briefly, the use to which he is going to put these funds?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I would think, with the greatest respect, Dr. Mustard and several very learned people have shared with us views with respect to how we might avoid --
Mr. S. Smith: Us? What about this “us?” The Legislature? You know you regard us as “L’état, c’est vous.” It comes from Louis XIV.
Mr. Nixon: It comes from Louis XIV; and I think he had his head cut off.
Hon. Mr. Davis: What was that again? Are you saying your leader is like Louis XIV? That’s an insult. I wouldn’t say that about him.
Mr. Roy: You are not as good looking.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there further answer?
Mr. Lewis: The leader says to complete the phrase, aprés moi, le deluge.
Mr. Nixon: Do we detect he is not very sure of his position on this?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Certainly no decision -- I’m having some difficulty getting it across here because of all the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will be quiet, Mr. House leader.
Mr. S. Smith: Let’s debate it in the House.
Mr. Nixon: You just had a press conference on it.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I’ll tell you, you’re such a good actor -- I’m now referring to the leader of the third party -- that you should wear a costume on Sunday night and come to the first Provincial draw.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: He wouldn’t have to wear a costume.
Mr. Reid: We understand you don’t have to wear one.
Hon. Mr. Welch: If you’re so interested in getting an answer from me just sit back and give me a chance to answer. You’re frustrating me from giving an answer.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a further answer to the question, whatever it was?
Mr. Ruston: You are making it political. Political is all you are.
Mr. Roy: You can’t even run the lottery.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. You would almost think it was Hallowe’en here this morning. Will the hon. minister please complete his answer if there is further reply? If not, we’ll get on to the next question.
Mr. Nixon: If there is one.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Would I please complete the answer? I’ve been trying for five minutes to complete the answer.
Mr. Roy: That shows how incompetent you are. You can’t even answer.
Hon. Mr. Welch: There are a number of possible projects presently being considered. The views of Dr. Mustard and a number of other learned people have already been shared with those who are charged with some responsibility to come forward with some advice.
Mr. Roy: An in group.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I will be glad to report to the House when we have something more definite with respect to specific projects in line with the general designation of health research and health related environmental matters.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s $50 million you are talking about; well let’s talk about it.
Mr. B. Newman: May I ask of the minister, as a supplementary, whether the ministry has provided any funds to date for any type of health-related research or assistance to individuals who wished to use Wintario or the new funds for certain health problems that they may have had or still have?
Mr. Good: Have you paid any money out?
Mr. B. Newman: Have you paid moneys out?
Hon. Mr. Welch: There is no money paid out yet. The first draw is not till Sunday night. There are no proceeds at the moment.
Mr. Ruston: Darcy has used the money, eh?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Have you bought your ticket yet?
Mr. Roy: How many tickets did you buy?
Mr. Speaker: The member for Kitchener-Wilmot with a question.
An hon. member: Too bad, Albert. You had your turn.
Mr. Roy: I was looking forward to Darcy all morning.
POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION COSTS
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Ministry of Colleges and Universities: In view of the distinct possibility that there will be an increase in tuition fees for post-secondary students, can the minister tell us on what basis that decision is going to be made and what criterion is going to be used to decide the amount of that increase?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’ll provide that information at the appropriate time, and it is not today.
Mr. Nixon: What is more appropriate than today?
Mr. Speaker: The question period has expired.
POINT OF ORDER
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I am sure the Solicitor General would not have deliberately misinformed the House. However, I want to draw to his attention and to your attention, sir, the provisions of section 9(4) of The Coroners Act, which says:
“Where a person dies while detained or in actual custody of a peace officer, or while an inmate on the premises -- “
Hon. Mr. Kerr: What is the difference between detained and imprisoned?
Mr. Singer: It continues:
” -- of a correctional institution, lockup or training school [and training school was where this girl was detained] the peace officer or official in charge of the lockup or the training school, as the case may be, shall immediately give notice of the death to the coroner and the coroner shall issue his warrant to hold an inquest upon the body.”
That’s quite contrary to what the hon. minister said.
Mr. Lewis: That’s what John Smith said.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s right. What a bunch over there; incompetent.
Mr. Roy: Wrong again. Small wonder you get in trouble with that type of legal advice.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I just checked with the coroner himself and he assures me that the Hon. Mr. Justice Singer is quite correct in his interpretation of the law.
Mr. Reid: As usual.
Mr. S. Smith: What has been the two-month delay then?
TRAINING SCHOOL DEATH
Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, in view of the seriousness of the incident that has been discussed here this morning I feel it incumbent upon me to report to the House the absolutely exact nature, as I now have it, of the circumstances surrounding this girl being admitted to the school.
Mr. Roy: He is out of order with it.
Hon. J. R. Smith: I am informed she was at Thistletown --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Do we have the permission of the House to revert to either an extended question period or ministerial statements to answer a question? Is that all right? Do we agree?
Mr. Speaker: All right, the hon. minister may continue. I believe it’s in answer to the Leader of the Opposition’s question.
Hon. J. R. Smith: Yes, Mr. Speaker, to the opposition, she was at Thistletown until she appeared in family court on May 18 on a charge of break-and-enter and theft. On May 18 she was placed on probation and the case adjourned until Sept. 14 on condition that probation would be terminated if her behaviour was satisfactory. Unfortunately, her behaviour continued to deteriorate and she appeared in court six times between May 18 and July 7, and on July 7 she was charged and appeared in court before a judge on a common assault charge, at which time she was committed to training school.
Mr. Lewis: Was she at Thistletown all that time?
Hon. J. B. Smith: She went from court to the Oakville assessment and reception centre at Oakville and subsequently Kawartha Lakes School in Lindsay.
Mr. Lewis: Just a question of information and clarification, Mr. Speaker: During the period of the various criminal violations, was she within Thistletown? Was it Thistletown that was looking after this young girl?
Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I don’t have that. I’ll find out for the hon. member.
Mr. Speaker: Petitions.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am tabling today a copy of a report prepared by Ontario Hydro on the costing and pricing of electricity, and three copies of the study overview. In your upper gallery, Mr. Speaker, there are Mr. Gordon Davidson, the chairman of the study team, and Mr. David Dent, the senior economist of the team.
The study, which grew out of recommendations of Task Force Hydro and the Ontario Energy Board, was formally launched by the Ontario Hydro Board in September 1974 -- only a few months, in fact, after that board had come into existence. At that time it received the wholehearted support of the then Minister of Energy. It is one of the most exhaustive studies of this subject that has ever been made anywhere.
While the report makes a series of recommendations, it should be borne in mind that these are recommendations of the study team, and not of Ontario Hydro. Indeed, in its letter of transmittal the Hydro board explicitly states that it “does not take any position at this time with respect to the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report.” It goes on to say that it “wants to make it perfectly clear that the whole purpose of the exercise from its inception has been to prepare a document that will serve as a useful focus of discussion concerning the development of an appropriate pricing structure for the electric power system in Ontario.”
Basically, it is a study of how the costs incurred by Hydro to provide electricity should be charged to various customer groups and how those costs should be recovered from individual customers within those groups through pricing.
It is the 10 volumes of this very lengthy and detailed report that I am tabling today, along with the three copies of the overview. Copies of volume one, which gives an overview of the entire report, are available for members, and each caucus will receive a copy of the full 10-volume text when these are received from the printer within the next week to 10 days.
The study covers four basic areas -- costing, pricing, demand elasticity and impact. The study group which Ontario Hydro established was directed to study and, where appropriate, make recommendations concerning:
1. The principles and methods for determining electricity costs and for allocating these costs to customer groups;
2. Electricity pricing policies and rate structures for all end users of electricity in the province;
3. The demand for electricity as it is affected by income, price and the prices of alternative energy sources; and
4. The effect that changes in the costing and pricing of electricity have on customers and the economy in Ontario.
The study group has concluded that some form of marginal cost pricing should be the basis of electricity pricing in Ontario. If the marginal cost principle is accepted as the basis for pricing, it would mean the end of the declining block rate structure for the residential consumer. It would mean the end of flat-rate water heaters and consideration of ending the bulk metering of apartment buildings where that is economically feasible. It would mean that interruptible power and time of day and seasonal rates for large industrial customers would be introduced or expanded. It would mean that when each customer makes a decision whether or not to consume electric power, the objective would be to have the expense or saving he or she experiences equal the expense or saving experienced by Hydro as a result of his or her decision.
You will note, sir, that some of the proposals made by the study group are similar to recommendations made by the select committee which inquired into Hydro’s 1976 bulk power rates. I plan, in fact, to table the government’s response to that report next week.
Apart from marginal cost pricing, the study group looked into four other possible approaches or principles upon which electricity pricing could be based. These are: average cost pricing, pricing to minimize environmental impact, pricing for conservation, and pricing for income redistribution. After investigating each of these alternatives, the group concluded that marginal cost pricing resulted in the most efficient use of resources to produce electricity as well as contributing positively towards the desirable characteristics of the other pricing philosophies reviewed. Marginal cost pricing was also felt to be consistent with Ontario Hydro’s objective to sell power at the lowest feasible cost. Although the proposals made in the report would change the rate structure through which Hydro’s revenues are generated, they would not result in an increase in total revenues.
At present the residential customer is charged on what is known as the declining block rate structure. That is, a relatively high rate is charged for the first block of kilowatt-hours used, usually 50; the second block of kilowatt-hours, however, is less expensive than the first and the third less expensive still. This type of rate structure is sometimes criticized as favouring the large user and encouraging the increased consumption of electricity.
The residential rate structure proposed by the Hydro study group would have two components. The first would be a fixed customer charge, based on the fixed costs associated with keeping that customer connected to the system. The second would be a charge for the electricity actually consumed. It would be based on a fixed price for each kilowatt hour multiplied by the total consumption. The study group has concluded that such a pricing approach would discourage the wasteful and unnecessary use of electrical energy.
Because of the importance of this study, I have referred it to the Ontario Energy Board which will begin public hearings on it around May of next year. A specific reference to the OEB will be made in early January outlining in detail how the public hearings should be conducted. I should emphasize that because of the public hearing process, it is unlikely that any of the rate proposals, if accepted, could be implemented before January 1, 1979.
I have asked Ontario Hydro to circulate copies of the report to interested individuals and organizations for their information. Arrangements have also been made for the report to be sold through the Ontario government bookstore. It is my intention to encourage the widest possible discussion and understanding of the implications of this study as it could have a significant impact on the way electricity is priced in this province for every consumer.
POINT OF ORDER
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: As the minister did not move the adoption of the report, which I believe he just tabled for discussion purposes, would it not have been more appropriate for the minister to make his remarks as a ministerial statement indicating that he would table the report later?
Mr. Speaker: It’s a matter of choice. It is done both ways. Quite often there’s a statement when a report is tabled in the normal manner, as there was yesterday and ever since I have been around here. Occasionally there is a statement preceding, but it’s not necessary. It is at the discretion of the minister himself.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, could I pursue it just for a second? I would like you to examine the precedents, because as long as I can remember in the House, which is a much lesser time than yours admittedly, a long statement such as the minister made has only been made by a speaker who moved the adoption of his report. I would like you to examine the precedents and report back.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I had considered making it a statement, but inasmuch as that would have involved a statement and then another shorter statement at the time of tabling, my decision was to do it all at once. As I pointed out, the report is going to the Energy Board. It is there now so that they can begin the necessary staff work to evaluate the more than 1,000 pages of the report. In January I will send the Energy Board a specific reference indicating how, as I said in the statement, the hearings are to be conducted. Then I anticipate by May I at the very latest the hearings will begin. Staff from the member’s caucus were at the briefing session this morning where this was gone over and they have the schedule.
Mr. Foulds: My point was simply a procedural one.
Mr. Speaker: As I say, occasionally the statement is made at the ministerial statement period, and at other times they are at the presentation of reports. I presume it is at the discretion of the minister when it is more appropriate. There is no precedent set any more than there has been throughout history here.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry presented the report of the Law Foundation of Ontario for the year 1975.
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Introduction of bills.
ONTARIO WASTE DISPOSAL AND RECLAMATION COMMISSION ACT
Mr. B. Newman moved first reading of Bill 160, An Act to establish The Ontario Waste Disposal and Reclamation Commission.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the bill establishes an Ontario waste disposal and reclamation commission to have authority over matters concerning the disposal, reclamation and recycling of liquid, solid or gaseous wastes, with particular reference to the possible development of energy from these sources. In light of today’s discussions in the chamber, my suggestion would resolve many of the problems. As an aside, this was first introduced in this House in 1973.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. Ziemba: Let me be the first member this session, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate you on how you conduct the affairs of this House. I’m sure all members believe you are a real credit to this Legislature and I just want to put that on the record.
This Conservative government’s private enterprise attitude toward succession duties, home buyer grants, tax credits, and particularly health care, is ripping off the citizens of Ontario for millions of dollars. I have the privilege of serving on the public accounts committee and until now I believed, as many people did, that the Conservatives had an instinct for economic management. But I find now, as do many people, that the Tories are not as good managers of the economy as people once thought they were. I’m going to try today to describe how the Conservative government’s private enterprise approach is the root cause of many of our social and economic problems today.
We’ll start with succession duties. In 1974, this province received $88 million in succession duties. The following year, in 1975, it dropped to $78 million; in 1976 it dropped further still to $64 million; and in 1977 we expect it will drop to $62 million. Why is that, especially when we’re talking about estates in excess of a quarter of a million dollars? It’s obvious that the government isn’t interested in collecting succession duties, a fairly equitable tax, from wealthy people. Its lack of interest is shown by the fact that it has cut down the number of auditors to one-third what it had in 1974; these auditors are charged with the responsibility of travelling around the province and assessing these estates. Too many rich people, I guess, are having to pay succession duties and the government doesn’t want to antagonize any of its friends.
Home buyers’ grants are something that have been coming up quite a bit lately. The government had originally budgeted for $50 million and will wind up giving away $130 million. One out of every 10 turned out to be either fraudulent or paid in error -- people had homes previously or grants were paid for units that weren’t even built or people were applying for grants for summer cottages.
Contrast that with the means test and the investigations that go on when people apply for welfare or even our basic social services. I’m sure members have, as I have, attended with constituents and witnessed the amount of indignity, undisguised as far as the bureaucrats are concerned, which is heaped on these people.
Another ripoff of the public purse which will come to light in the coming weeks is the tax credits. What started out as a very progressive move ends up, because of government bungling and the government’s lack of economic management, as a ripoff of the public purse. Until July 1, anyone could get a social insurance card just for the mailing. In fact, I heard of one case in which a fellow got a social insurance card for his dog. That came out when visitors to this country were found to be getting social insurance cards and being able to work. The federal government tightened up that policy on July 1 but, prior to that, thousands of social insurance cards were made out because the government used the social insurance card as the main criterion for checking out the tax credits that people applied for, once that was established, the credit would be sent out.
I have received a letter from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and I’m going to just read it into the record; it may prove interesting.
“Receipt is acknowledged of your letter dated October 8, 1976, relating to the alleged fraud involving Ontario property tax credits. While I understand Inspector Brown of our commercial crime section provided you with details of our investigation as per your telephone conversation with him on October 18, 1976, I am setting out hereunder a résumé of the facts known to us in answer to the questions raised in your letter.
“In co-operation with other police departments, we have investigated several instances of frauds of this nature during the past six months. To date, Criminal Code charges have been laid in three cases. In St. Catharines 10 persons are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and five other individuals are charged with fraud-related offences. This particular investigation is still ongoing and the amount involved is approximately $80,000. The other two cases are in Toronto where two persons are charged separately with fraud, involving approximately $33,000 and $10,000 respectively. Thus, the total fraud we are aware of at this time involving Ontario property tax credits amounts to $123,000.
“Revenue Canada, Taxation, referred these matters to us for investigation in the first instance and we are completely aware of the facts of the eases. I understand that the department is taking corrective measure to prevent recurrence of this type of fraud in the future.
“F. A. Howe, Superintendent
“Officer in Charge
“Criminal Operations Branch
“Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”
This is just the tip of the frauds they’re going to turn up. If it was just available for the asking, if people just had to fill in a tax credit form with their T-4 slip and use a social insurance number, I can imagine the thousands that were sent out. In fact, in this St. Catharines group a handful of people apparently got $80,000. Again, if only the government had taken the basic steps in monitoring this system, we wouldn’t have to be into this post-auditing mess and be out all this money.
At this point, I’d like to zero in on the health delivery system in this province. Forty years ago, a dedicated Ontario doctor wrote -- and I quote:
“The situation which is confronting medicine today is a contest of two forces in medicine itself: One holds that the important thing is the maintenance of our vested historical interests, our private property, our monopoly of health distribution; and the other contends that the function of medicine is greater than the maintenance of the doctor’s position, that the security of the people’s health is our primary duty and that we are above professional privileges.”
That was Dr. Norman Bethune. Truer words were never spoken, then or now. Bethune was the first to suggest the mandate for the medical delivery system that we have in this province today. But I saw the mandate for providing this service starting in the province in which I was born, Saskatchewan. The year was 1943 and the government was a CCF one. The Premier was that great Canadian, Tommy Douglas. That was 1943, and that CCF government carried out its mandate of instituting Medicare as we know it today. That was a generation ago, and whether this government likes it or not, no government can now reverse this progressive social move.
So what I have is a cursory examination of the performance of the delivery of medical care services to the people of Ontario. I’m going to start, as my first example, with the Ontario drug benefit plan. Up until last year, the Ontario drug benefit plan was only available to the disabled and the socially assisted.
In 1975 our senior citizens, 1,000,000 of them, were added to the plan. The cost in 1975 of this plan was $7.9 million. In 1976 the cost went to $34,737,500. In 1977 we expect it to be $57,190,000.
The Ontario Pharmaceutical Association, representing 1,600 pharmacies, insisted on the 30-day supply limit as its price for co-operating in the drug plan, the argument being that welfare recipients could end up with a job and be in a position to pay for their own drugs, so why should the government pay for them and why extend the plan over too long a term. This was very thoughtful and perceptive of them.
However, what the pharmacists didn’t say was every time a prescription was renewed a new dispensing fee could be charged, so why not have them coming back every 30 days.
Now, however, we have 1,000,000 senior citizens added to the plan. Thirty to 40 per cent of the prescriptions filled under it are for maintenance drugs only, long-term drugs. The welfare argument no longer applies. Still, under the terms of the agreement with the Ontario Pharmaceutical Association, these long-term prescriptions must be renewed every 30 days, with the pharmacies earning a dispensing fee each time.
The average price of a prescription is $4.50. The dispensing fee included in this price can range from $2.05 to $2.60.
Let me read a letter I received from an Etobicoke woman:
“I am inclined to have slightly elevated blood pressure and have been taking two 25 milligrams of hydrochlorothiazide tablets per week. I purchased 100 of these tablets on December 19, 1974, and these sufficed until early in December, 1975. My doctor then gave me another prescription for the same kind of tablet and I decided to use, for the first time, my privilege card for drug benefits. And since I was determined to get the best deal possible for the government [there’s a very considerate woman] I took my prescription to three different local pharmacies and asked the price of 100 tablets. I received these quotations: $3.60, $3.65, and $3.31.
“Now, when I presented my privilege card, I was promptly informed that I could have only a month’s supply. Since I needed the tablets I had the prescription filled -- for nine tablets. [Nine tablets instead of 100.] I asked the pharmacist what he would charge the government for that prescription. It was $2.35. I multiplied $2.35 by 12 and obtained $28.20. Then my blood pressure really rose! I could purchase a year’s supply of my needed tablets for $3.31 but under the drug benefit plan the taxpayers would have to pay $28.20 -- a bonus for the pharmacist of $24.89, minus the cost of 11 plastic containers, extras which just add to our pollution problem.
“Most citizens are delighted that such a plan has been implemented and do not object to supporting it with their taxes. But this is no reason why they should be asked to pay exorbitant sums to a business group that was doing quite well financially even before the drug benefit plan came into effect.”
Here’s a Star article of September 18, 1976, headed “Nursing Home Ripoff. OHIP Was Cheated: Doctor.” It states:
“Many doctors treating patients in homes for the aged and nursing homes are cheating the taxpayers through unjustified billings to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, OHIP, a Metro coroner charged yesterday.
“Dr. Margaret Milton said one doctor working out of a nursing home charged OHIP $3,895 for a claimed 921 visits in a single month last year. The same doctor in a different month of the same year -- 1975 -- billed OHIP $3,849 for 910 visits, she said.”
That’s 40 patients a day.
Nursing Homes: Elderly residents of nursing homes are sitting ducks not only for medical doctors, but for podiatrists and private lab operators as well. I have come across one Toronto nursing home with 252 residents where they have a doctor’s office immediately next door. The doctor, rather than being on a contract, is paid on a fee-for-service basis. As far as I am concerned, when that fellow goes down the hall he may as well be pushing a cash register because he can write his own ticket every day of the week.
The patients of the nursing home are a captive group who are accustomed to submitting to tests and seldom question blood tests. There is a private lab that comes regularly and, whether they need it or not, they are subjected to tests, as considerable inconvenience to some of the people. This is the private enterprise attitude, the private enterprise approach, to health care. Write your own ticket on a fee for service basis.
Podiatrists: On June 22 the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) admitted in this House that podiatrists can go through a nursing home and bill OHIP $2,000 for an hour’s work. They are foot doctors and they deal in corns. At $2.50 a corn times 10, it adds up. It is $2,000 for an hour’s work. The Conservative government looks the other way and allows public funds to be ripped off in this way. Instead they close down small community hospitals and psychiatric facilities without consideration for the impact on the communities involved.
Let me read you a letter, Mr. Speaker, from a woman in Thunder Bay. She says:
“My daughter, 28 years old, who lives in Atikokan, Ontario, had to wait from July, 1975, until October 23, 1975, to get an appointment with a doctor in Thunder Bay, and then had to wait until December 7 for a hospital bed. When her problem was finally looked into, a bone biopsy was finally done on Dee. 17. [That’s from July to December.] She was found to have bone cancer in her arm, and since the doctors here were unable to do anything for her at this point, they arranged for her to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where she had her case diagnosed in one day. The next day, December 30, they had to amputate her right arm and shoulder, because by now the tumour had penetrated too deeply and they were forced to do this radical an amputation. I feel that had she not had to wait so long to see a doctor and for a hospital bed, she may have been spared some of this heartbreaking situation.”
Last year 812 physicians billed OHIP at least $100,000 each. The total payments under OHIP jumped $90 million to a record $648 million. Let’s break down the figure for general practitioners. The average general practitioner’s OHIP billing per patient is $11.32; based on a normal work week that works out that each patient is allotted 11 minutes. That is $1 a minute. And this Conservative government tolerates this practice.
Hero’s another article which I found interesting: “Show Me Your Money; Paying Doctors by the Case Load Is Called Corrupting.” It’s written in Dublin.
“Fee-for-service payment for medical care corrupts doctors, leading them to charge for bad or needless care, two British doctors claimed yesterday.
“Dr. J. L. Stevens of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, a general practitioner who worked in Canada for three months, said, ‘I became aware of the system corrupting me.’
“He said his nephew, a young Canadian physician ‘makes $80,000 a year working from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. doing useless bloody fee-for-service practice. I do think Canadians are on the wrong track. Fee for service is the road to hell.’
“Dr. H. A. F. Dudley, of London, a surgeon, said as a patient himself, attended by a fee-for-service physician, he had been billed for a respiratory function test by a doctor who put a stethoscope briefly on his back.
“‘I would do the same, I’m corruptible,’ he admitted.
“Stevens said fees-for-service doctors become obsessed with money and their attitude is ‘show me your greenbacks and I’ll be nice to you.’
“Under the British National Health Service, Stevens is paid a flat rate to provide all the care needed by the 2,500 people assigned to him.
“In Ontario most doctors are paid on a fee-for-service basis and Ontario Deputy Minister of Health Allan Backley recently told the Star that the government has no intention of changing it.”
One hundred and twenty-four million dollars is wasted on needless surgery and some money hungry surgeons see our non-vital organs as a simple source of revenue.
Mr. Ruston: Money hungry? How about Morty?
Mr. Ziemba: Tonsils, gall stones, appendix, hemorrhoids, adenoids, male prostate glands.
More tonsils are removed in Ontario than in any other jurisdiction in Canada, or the world, at a cost of $13 million. Of every 10,000 Ontario children, 200 had their adenoids or tonsils removed.
Of every 10,000 New England children, 70 had their adenoids or tonsils removed and the figure drops. In Liverpool, England, 26; Uppsala, Sweden, only 17. We would save $10 million of that $13 million if we followed the UK example. The period 1973-74 saw the removal of 27,000 gall bladders. If the present trend continues one out of every 10 of us will be minus a gall bladder before we die. There is $124 million wasted on unnecessary surgery which also exposes people to unnecessary dangers.
I’m going to read this letter from a woman in Toronto.
“I completely support the recent revelations concerning certain doctors involved in unethical, perhaps illegal, arrangements whereby payments are made to these persons directly or indirectly, some of which payments apparently are designed to also avoid income tax.
“I have reasons to believe that in the case of Dr. [I won’t mention his name] these matters go further. On certain occasions, Dr. X has indicated that he has processed a great number of OHIP cards, shall we say, without having seen the patient or without having performed any medical services. It is unfortunate that these actions may be hard to trace or prove, but nonetheless they exist and the general public pays. On at least one occasion, Dr. X indicated that he feared an investigation would not be to his benefit, to say the least, which indicated then an investigation was overdue. At least if one example could be made the others inclined to engage in this activity would be persuaded to be honest.”
As it turned out, Dr. X was investigated and they found that he was ordering a great number of lab tests and was billing for work that was unnecessary and wasn’t even performed.
I found that he suspected everyone of having liver disorders, whether it was a 70-year-old man or a brand new baby, and he had them all take lab tests, sometimes at two labs a day, for this disorder. They caught up with him and he has since had his licence lifted for six months, but he will be open again for business in time for Christmas.
Over the first part of this year I visited a great number of Ontario’s private labs, and I have come to understand how a number of these private lab operators rip off OHIP for millions of dollars. I am going to take you briefly, Mr. Speaker, to the lab nether world and describe some of the fraud and abuse. The Minister of Health couldn’t believe that $66 million would be spent on the private labs, but I have learned that it was only recently, this summer, that the lab billing levelled off; in fact, it’s now dropping.
When I first started with the lab investigations, one doctor said to me: “Whatever you do, don’t give this lab any publicity, because every doctor I know will want to deal with it since they are all after kickbacks.” I hope that’s not true. Sixty-six million dollars has been paid to the private labs, and I found kickbacks were regarded by some doctors as a cost of doing business. Kickbacks take the form of straight cash or expensive gifts -- furniture or trips to Europe. Another form of kickback is the payment of rent for part of the physician’s office or payment of the salaries of one or more of the physician’s employees.
There are four basic schemes used to rip off OHIP. One is that the labs charge for tests that are not ordered by the physician. Can you imagine anything so stupid and irresponsible as the Conservative government not insisting on a triplicate invoice so that doctors and patients can see what the lab operator bills OHIP? In fact, I think that the whole system, even as it is presently being run, would benefit if the patients could just get a bill for what OHIP is billed in their name. The Minister of Health was shocked to find that OHIP was billed $2,400 when he stayed in hospital during the summer, and I am sure that if many of us saw what was billed, it would be a disincentive to people who are billing OHIP to try to pull something like that if they knew that they were being monitored by the people that they were naming. We would also do away with that earlier criticism where the doctor was just going through his file, pulling cards, and billing OHIP for people he hadn’t even seen; most of these people turned out to be immigrants who had difficulty communicating with the OHIP officials when they were contacted.
Another way that OHIP was ripped off by the labs was for component parts of a test as though the test had been performed before the sophisticated testers became available. There is one tester called the SMA 12 that can do eight tests simultaneously; but instead of charging the $6 package price these labs were billing for eight tests done the old way; eight times $5 equals $40. In the meantime, the tester could do it in about eight seconds.
They were using test request forms which encouraged abuse. The ripoff labs were providing physicians with test request forms which made it impossible for them to order certain test.; without ordering related tests which, in fact, were unnecessary but lucrative. When the New Democratic Party pointed this out to the ministry, they did insist that the request forms be changed, but again it is closing the barn door too late.
You can see now, Mr. Speaker, why lab billings have gone from $17 million in 1971 to $88 million in 1976. I think this would be a good point, sir, for me to adjourn this debate.
On motion by Mr. Ziemba, the debate was adjourned.
Hon. Mr. Irvine: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment of the House, I’d like to indicate to the members that the matters for consideration on Monday will be order No. 31, followed by private member’s Bill 91. There will be no sitting on Monday night.
On Tuesday we will deal with legislation in this order; Nos. 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17. The House will be sitting on Tuesday evening; there will be no sitting on Wednesday.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Irvine, the House adjourned at 11:35 a.m.