The House met at 2 p.m.
Mr. Speaker: I recognize the member for Hastings-Peterborough.
POINT OF PRIVILEGE
Mr. Rollins: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege I would like to clarify an item which appeared in Hansard on Tuesday of last week stating that I interfered with the granting of permits in the Bancroft area. This was read into the record by the hon. member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell). I would like to say to this House that that statement is totally untrue.
The second accusation made by the same member, stating that I sell fuel oil products to all government buildings in the Bancroft area, is totally untrue.
Since I was elected in 1959, I have never solicited or sold to the provincial government.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
DUNDAS PUC INQUIRY
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on Thursday the Premier (Mr. Davis) advised the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) that a statement would be made today regarding the situation at the Dundas Public Utilities Commission. After discussions with the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), who is responsible for both The Municipal Act and The Public Utilities Act. I would like to make the following comments.
The laying of criminal charges against several members of the Dundas Public Utilities Commission is indeed a serious and unfortunate matter. It would, however, be inappropriate for me to comment on this matter since it is sub judice. It would be further inappropriate for me to presume developments. We would all agree, I think, that the time-honoured right of innocence until proved guilty must be upheld. I might say, in that connection, that there is no provincial legislation requiring persons so charged to resign or be subjected to disciplinary measures pending judicial determination. Under these circumstances, the commission can continue to function and the members can continue to carry out their duties.
A new manager was appointed in Dundas in March this year. Since that time a reorganization has been under way and the administrative procedures are being revamped with the assistance of a special consultant made available under contract from Ontario Hydro.
As a result of the provisions of Bill 155, which established the region of Hamilton-Wentworth, there will be no election of public utility commissioners in Dundas in the forthcoming municipal elections. Dundas is part of a global study which is about to start under the direction of the provincial steering committee on municipal Hydro restructuring. The study, when completed next year, will determine the structure that Hydro utilities will take within that region. Once restructured, the first new commissions will be appointed by their respective councils who will, in turn, decide during the first term whether subsequent commissions will be appointed by council or elected at large.
With these circumstances in mind, I see no reason to introduce special legislation which would be necessary to bring on public utility elections in Dundas.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
VAL RITA WATER SUPPLY
Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, for the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Speaker; it’s a smallish matter, perhaps, but I think an important one.
Can he explain his ministry’s behaviour in the case of the Val Rita well drying controversy in the Cochrane area? A number of homeowners appear to be losing their drinking water, probably through the entire winter, because of what appears to be a pumping operation by a private company which slid it without licence in a nearby quarry pit. The ministry has failed to intervene to protect the homeowners.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: First of all, to give some background, the community itself has applied to my ministry for a public project but because of some shortage of funds that has been delayed. In the meantime, we have been monitoring and sampling that water. Whether or not the hon. member has information at this stage that it is not fit to drink, I wouldn’t want to comment, but that information had been given to me over the past few months particularly in relation to submissions which were being made to us for an alternative communal system.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary: Now that there is one family which has to drive 11 miles just for washing; two other families whose well water has disappeared almost entirely; a recording instrument of the Ministry of the Environment which ran out and hasn’t been read since October 6, according to the letter I received from one of the families, is it not possible to uphold the public interest of these families in this little community rather than to grant the company the continued right to pump the quarry dry when the relationship seems clear?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Further to what I have been saying, I have been in touch with the local member, the hon. Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Brunelle), and I have indicated to him that we will be going ahead with the project during the next fiscal year. Meanwhile, I will look into the hon. member’s concerns to see that there is a sufficient supply of potable water in the meantime.
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT EXEMPTIONS
Mr. Lewis: A related question, if I may, to the same minister: Could the minister table the documents or proceedings which attended his decision to exempt so many government ministries and so many government projects for such a long time from the proceedings of The Environmental Assessment Act?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The environmental assessment regulations are something that have been worked on for about the past 14 months prior to proclamation a week or so ago. This was done by a committee, an overseeing committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Chant, together with the deputy ministers from the various ministries which were involved in asking for exemptions. What documents would exist in relation to those discussions I am not aware.
Some of the press information we have read over the weekend is not entirely accurate. For example, the Ministry of Government Services is included in the regulations and that ministry, as the hon. member knows, looks after six or seven different ministries as far as projects and construction are concerned. It is not fair to report that all these ministries are exempt from the regulations when they are not.
The purpose during this period of the operation of the Chant committee is to attempt to come to some type of resolution in respect of those projects which were far enough down the road, shall we say, that it wouldn’t be proper at this stage to include them in an environmental assessment; and those projects, of course, which are not significant enough to require environmental assessment. The Act itself, as the hon. member knows, is very broad and includes everything.
It includes a change of use, the addition of a classroom, the building of any type of building. Rather than tie everything up and completely stop the operation of a number of ministries, it was necessary to have some exemptions. The exemptions now included in those regulations, as I say, have been arrived at after a great deal of negotiation.
Mr. Renwick: Supplementary question --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think we should have the supplementary from the member for Hamilton West first.
Mr. S. Smith: Accepting the minister’s point that a good many plans are already under way and that hearings might delay them, and the various ministries would be upset in this regard, will the minister agree that there might also be similar arguments in the private sector -- that a good many plans are already under way? Why would he not exempt them at the same time? Surely the Act should apply even-handedly to the public and the private sectors because the environment is there for everyone?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: At the time The Environmental Assessment Act was proclaimed in 1975 the indication was made that first of all we would bring in government projects -- that is, provincial government projects -- then municipal projects and then the private sector. The idea was to see how the Act works, to give the board itself the opportunity to become familiar with its duties under The Environmental Assessment Act and to apply the Act in such a way that everything didn’t come to a halt, and that there was some experience, as I say, on the part of the members of the board.
As the hon. member knows, we have indicated that the section dealing with the private sector will be proclaimed and that regulations applying to specific private projects will be implemented next year. In the meantime, certain large private projects such as Elliot Lake and the Reed proposal, will come under the Act immediately.
Mr. Renwick: By way of a supplementary question, if I understand the proclamation of October 20, because the Act hasn’t been fully proclaimed, that still exempts private undertakings from The Environmental Assessment Act. If my understanding is correct, when is the minister going to proclaim the balance of the Act so that at least implementation of the procedures can begin under it, having regard to the Elliot Lake project and having regard, of course, to the Reed Paper project?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I expect that the section dealing with private projects will be proclaimed by the end of this year. As we deal with a specific project such as Reed, the regulations applying to that specific project will be brought in and proclaimed. There is no reason, really, after we have proclaimed the Act generally to apply to private projects, that we can’t also have regulations during the year which can apply to certain private projects which we feel will have some substantial environmental effect.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary--
Mr. S. Smith: Forgive me, Mr. Speaker, I am trying to get this matter clear.
If I understood the minister correctly he is saying that so far the Act has been proclaimed only for the public sector and he has now brought in exemptions, by order in council, to exempt the public sector, and that in the future it will apply to the private sector. In which case, will he use the same criteria for exempting the private sector at that time? That is really the nature of the question I am asking.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member hasn’t read the Act. We haven’t exempted the public sector. What we have done is exempted certain projects within the public sector that are past the planning stage and are so far down the road that it wouldn’t be proper and at this point it would be very costly, to have the whole environmental assessment process applied.
Mr. S. Smith: Then use the same criteria in the private sector,
Hon. Mr. Kerr: That is one criterion. The other is that it wouldn’t have any significant environmental effect in any event, and I’ve used an example of that. As far as the private sector is concerned -- I now realise what the hon. member is asking -- what we will do after we proclaim the section of the Act, 3(b) I believe it is, is that we will bring in the private sector by way of regulations -- specific private projects, as we’re doing with Reed and with Elliot Lake.
Mr. Speaker: We’ve spent 10 minutes on this one question and I think we should go on to a new question. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
USE OF TDI
Mr. Lewis: Just one last question to the Minister of Labour if I may, Mr. Speaker: Has the Minister of Labour been informed of the public anxiety in the United Kingdom over the use of the chemical toluene diisocyanate -- TDI as it is known -- and the observation from the health and safety executive of the government ministry that TDI ranks in its dangers even higher than polyvinyl chloride, although a little lower than asbestos, and that the parts per million which are exposed in the work place should now he reduced dramatically as a result of a sudden asthmatic death -- I guess it must have been August or September -- in the UK?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I have not read that report. I thank the hon. member for bringing it to my attention, and I shall most certainly look into it.
Mr. Lewis: Fine. Would the minister look at the threshold limit value in Ontario, which is set at 0.02 parts per million, and may be 10 or 20 times as high as is manageable with the information that’s coming forward? Thank you, no further questions.
DEATH OF PATIENT AT MENTAL HEALTH CENTRE
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Community and Social Services: I wonder if the minister would comment on the allegation that a patient died by scalding herself in a health facility while she was on a waiting list to be transferred to a centre for the retarded? Perhaps the minister is aware of the incident we’re talking about. Could he give some comment on why the waiting list was so long, since it appears that the patient has been in this health centre at Queen Street since 1960?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: That was certainly an unfortunate incident. It was in a facility under the Ministry of Health. It was a scalding episode. May I say that it could have taken place in an institution for the retarded as well as a health facility. Without commenting in connection with the merits of it, and addressing the inquiry as to the waiting list, it was not my understanding that there were waiting lists that would prevent a qualified person from entering an institution for the retarded for that long, or anywhere near that long.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since it was a surprise to the minister to learn that there was such a waiting list, has he taken some steps to look into how it happened that this particular patient was kept that long on the waiting list? Does he not have regulations in his institutions for the retarded which keep the Fahrenheit degrees at which hot water is allowed to be in the tap system limited to something that would not be that dangerous?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Yes. In answer to the first part of the question, at the end of last week, I believe it was Friday, when this came to light I did ask my staff for a report in regard to the question of admission to one of the institutions. On the other aspect of it, in terms of water temperature, it’s my understanding that the water temperature is controlled so that a person could not scald himself or herself through immersion in bath water.
BROWNDALE LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Labour, if I might: Has the minister some comment to make about the fact that employee dissatisfaction at Browndale has now come to the point where for the second time in a year they’re applying to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, complaining about the anti-union attitude of the Browndale employer, and has she discussed with the Minister of Health any implications this might have for the quality of care and the atmosphere in the Browndale institution?
Mr. Mancini: Let the member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis) look into it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the matter is before the Labour Relations Board which, as each member of the Legislature knows, is a quasi-judicial body and I do not interfere with its deliberations. When they have made their decision, I’m sure that this will be being discussed with the chairman of the board -- the basis of their report and their deliberations -- and if it is necessary, I shall most certainly discuss it with the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller).
Mr. McClellan: I have a supplementary to the Minister of Labour: I understand that there has been a delay in the completion of the report by the Ministry of Labour investigator looking into this labour dispute, and I would ask the minister to look into that matter and find out whether, in fact, the investigator is meeting the deadline for the hearing, which is scheduled for later this month?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The investigators of the Ontario Labour Relations Board are, in fact, employees of the Labour Relations Board rather than specifically of the Ministry of Labour, but I shall most certainly inquire about that.
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of the Environment: Has he visited the sewage treatment facility in the Burlington area and can he confirm that a great many millions of gallons of untreated sewage, or partially treated chlorinated sewage, have made their way into the bay in which he has had his famous swim? Does he have any comment to tell the House about this?
Mr. Good: How could you get any more in there, George?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t had an opportunity to visit the plant. So far as the excess flow is concerned, it has been pretty well confirmed by the plant’s operators that there has been an excess flow during the period indicated, from about the end of June until about the middle of October. As the reports over the weekend indicated, this is during a period of construction. The plant now has reached a capacity where there should not be any overflow.
There is an excess now of at least four million gallons per day. The reason for this, I would assume, is that there were home connections as a result of housing requirements in that area that brought the plant to overcapacity during wet periods.
Mr. S. Smith: A brief supplementary: Can the minister tell us what the government is doing to guarantee that when there is rapid home expansion in a given area, that it does not proceed more rapidly than the sewage treatment capacity itself so that we don’t ruin the bodies of water that are already quite threatened?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: My ministry has been criticized from time to time, particularly by local authorities, that we are too tough, that we are holding up subdivisions, that we’re not allowing land separations, that we’re not allowing connections, particularly when there’s a housing shortage and great pressure to provide more accommodation. We’ll just have to be tougher.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary: I’m just wondering if the ministry had any discussions with the people in Hamilton with respect to alternatives during this construction period?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I’m advised that rather than allowing the bypass that took place over this period of time, if all the effluent and all the sewage went through the plant, although this would reduce the efficiency of the treated sewage, it would have been better than having a prolonged period of bypass. That is the only solution while a plant is in use at the same time there is an expansion going on in the guts of that plant. That was the problem there. If the plant had got started, say three months to six months ahead of time, there wouldn’t have been a problem.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Labour has the answer to a question asked previously.
GREAT WEST STEEL PLANT CLOSURE
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, on November 2 the member for Downsview (Mr. di Santo) asked a question regarding the reasons for closing of Great West Steel in Mississauga. We have investigated the reasons for this closing and can find only that indeed the operation was unsuccessful and non-profitable in the hands of its previous owners.
It was bought in that condition by the present owners and in spite of their efforts they have not been able to make it a profitable venture. As a result of the drop in demand caused by the severe decline in construction activity throughout Ontario the plant has been losing money at an unconscionable rate over the past year and a half. As a result of these financial difficulties, this plant has been closed.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Etobicoke. I’m sorry -- yes, the hon. member for Downsview with a supplementary.
Mr. di Santo: Has the minister attempted to convince the owners of the company to postpone the closing at least until after Christmas, as I asked last week?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s my understanding that there will be a few members of staff still employed after Christmas but very few.
Mr. Philip: A question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Is the minister aware of plans by Canadian National Railways to transfer its wheel manufacturing operation from Toronto to Montreal? If so, is the minister meeting with the CNR to ensure that servicing of GO train equipment will not be affected since I understand it now takes six weeks for wheels to arrive from Montreal to Toronto?
Mr. Breithaupt: They come by train, too. These are not big wheels, either.
Mr. Ruston: Square wheels.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I’m not aware of what the hon. member refers to. It has not been brought to my attention. I certainly will look into it.
Mr. Philip: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Since GO Transit has been a major user of wheels -- 239 pairs in 1974; 364 pairs in 1975; and 338 pairs to October this year -- would the minister use his influence as a major user of these to save some 20 jobs of Ontario workers?
Mr. Roy: You should go to Krauss-Maffei. There were no wheels there.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Certainly, I’ll look into the matter. As I told the hon. member, I’m not aware of any plans of the CNR along this line but I will look into it and investigate it. I assure the member I’ll do everything possible to see that no jobs are transferred out of Ontario.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Industry and Tourism. What, if anything, does he have to report about the bringing onstream of the much talked about Timbertown tourist project for Renfrew county?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, in the fullness of time we shall be making our announcement in respect to Timbertown. Until we have certain other things put in place, such as the acquiring of land and so on, there will be no announcement made.
Mr. Conway: A brief supplementary: Would the minister care to focus more sharply the time span for those of us who are interested as to when this may or may not be with us?
Mr. Davidson: When does the fullness occur?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: As soon as we find we have all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in place, we shall make that announcement.
Mr. Ruston: That is election time.
Mr. Roy: For the minister that is going to take a while.
Mr. S. Smith: A miniature Darcy.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The Leader of the Opposition with a supplementary.
An hon. member: You’ll never get it assembled.
Mr. Lewis: Since Timbertown seems to be the primary focus of the so-called economic development for Renfrew county is it not possible to share with the citizenry of Renfrew the eventual plans for that complex, rather than just using the name and inspiring all kinds of curiosity but no facts of any kind at all?
Mr. Breithaupt: He has not even told the member for Renfrew South (Mr. Yakabuski).
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We have been working with the committee put together in that area for its economic development, members of the county council and the municipal council with respect to establishing Timbertown, which is one of the programmes they felt would have viability in their community. We believe it will have but as far as we’re concerned until we have all of the pieces in place, there is nothing to be gained by making an announcement in respect to location because of speculation which could arise in land prices.
CONDOMINIUM HOME OWNERSHIP
Ms. Gigantes: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Following on his announcement last week of an interministerial committee to study the problems of condominium ownership in Ontario, I wonder if the minister would be willing to tell us who is to be the independent consultant to co-ordinate this committee; what are the qualifications he’s looking for in that independent consultant; and when will the committee report?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The consultant has not yet been appointed, so I can’t answer that part of the question. The qualifications, I suppose, would be a knowledge of and experience in the problems of condominiums from whatever viewpoint. We have not set any time constraints on the committee but I would like to be able to discuss that with the committee when it is formed and the consultant to see what is possible and practicable.
Ms. Gigantes: A supplementary: I wonder if the minister could confirm that the person he is approaching -- I don’t know whether he has been able to firm up the contract -- as the consultant coordinator is Mr. Darwin Kealey, a former candidate in Carleton East?
Mr. Lewis: Come on.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I know the hon. member would be offended if that appointment were indeed made. However, Mr. Kealey is knowledgeable in the field and we are prepared to consider him. Thanks for the suggestion.
Mr. Roy: What are his qualifications?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The member for Ottawa East with a supplementary.
Mr. Roy: I wonder if the minister would care to elaborate and tell us what are his qualifications to head such a commission?
Mr. Lewis: His long Conservative ancestry.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Kealey is a partner in or the proprietor of a research consulting firm in Ottawa which has prepared a task force paper, has prepared a memorandum and submitted it to our ministry indicating both a knowledge and an interest in condominium problems. He is not from Metropolitan Toronto --
Mr. Warner: Is his membership paid up?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- which, in my view, may be an overriding qualification.
Mr. S. Smith: Your friend almost fell through the chair.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: He has displayed an interest in condominium problems which I think equals that of anybody in this province. as far as our ministry is concerned.
Mr. MacDonald: So you have made up your mind.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: There may be other people who have an equal interest in it but have not displayed that to our ministry. The assumption that Mr. Kealey may be appointed to this is, in my view, premature.
Mr. Roy: We know how you operate.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary, the member for Etobicoke.
Mr. Philip: The November 1 issue of The Condominium quotes the minister as stating that the provincial government does not intend to legislate guidelines for developers. Does the minister not feel that in making such a statement just before announcing his committee he is in some way limiting or unduly influencing the recommendations this committee will be bringing forth?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I haven’t seen the report referred to by the hon. member but I recall the interview in which I said we were not prepared to introduce legislation at this session. This doesn’t mean we are not prepared ever to introduce any kind of legislation and we will await the committee’s report.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Kealey didn’t even run second.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: What does that have to do with it? Would you take Paul Taylor?
Mr. Eakins: A question of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. In view of the absence of the Minister of Health I am sure the senior minister can answer this question for me. Considering the fact that many of us have received letters from Mr. Ian Sorbie concerning legal expenses incurred by Peterborough parents and others when they sought an injunction preventing Browndale from closing its programme, is the minister reconsidering the refusal to assume these expenses?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, through you to the hon. member, that’s an internal matter within the Ministry of Health and I would respectfully suggest that the member refer that question to him when he is in the House.
Mr. Eakins: A supplementary: I would like to ask the minister if the minister has conferred with her and told her about the problem? Also, in view of the fact that his ministry did nothing but sat back and forced the parents to seek the injunction, does she not think it right that the ministry assume these costs considering that its oft-repeated claim is for the programme and for the children? Personally, does she not think this should be assumed?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, through you to the hon. member, I am not familiar with all the aspects of that particular problem. I would suggest that the member speak directly to the Minister of Health.
NIAGARA REGION OFFICIAL PLAN
Mr. Swart: A question of the Minister of Housing. Could he tell the House whether the decision on the official plan for the Niagara region will be announced to the House within a very short period of time? If not, what is the delay for the decision?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No, I don’t think the announcement will be made in a very short period of time. The reason for any delay is that the official plan is in the ministry and has been circulated, as are all official plan proposals, to the various agencies and ministries which will be responding and sending their comments to us.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary: In view of the fact that it’s not going to be made in a short period of time, why has the minister refused to meet with the Preservation of Agricultural Land Society to hear its views on this matter, especially in view of the fact that six cabinet ministers met with the senior people in the Niagara region?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I have written to that particular organization suggesting that I would not meet with them due to the fact that the original letter from them demanded a meeting of me on the grounds that I had met with developers and all other people. I have not held any meetings with any other parties involved in their concerns over the Niagara region official plan, with the exception of the regional councillors and the members of the planning committee.
I say to the hon. member quite clearly that I will not meet with every individual group which wants to make a submission to me, because if the members think there is some delay now, he can imagine the kind of delay well have by meeting with every group that wants to come in and make a submission. We have the plan, and to be quite frank I don’t think that anything can be added to the information we have.
I know what the position of that particular group is. I have letters from them individually and collectively, enough to make a book of. So I know what their position is. I don’t think a face to face meeting is going to add anything to what is needed in order to make a decision.
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Attorney General now that he is in the House: Does he have an answer yet to my question of last week regarding the racial incident in Toronto where an attack is alleged to have taken place and where the hoodlums are alleged to have been identified to the police and yet never arrested? Considering the rather unfortunate nature of the circumstances and the great concern about racism in the city, has he looked into the matter and could he give us a response?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, I have looked into the matter. I’m still waiting a complete report from the Metropolitan Toronto police department. I communicated with them again after the question to see if that report couldn’t be expedited. I thought I gave an undertaking to the leader of the Liberal Party that I would apprise him of the information that I receive as soon as it is received.
Mr. S. Smith: Just by way of a brief supplementary, is the minister aware -- I’m sure he is -- that the more the delay occurs, albeit it’s totally out of his hands, the more that the community affected begins to feel it doesn’t enjoy a high priority? So could he please undertake to have it as quickly as possible?
EXTORTION CASE SENTENCES
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, in view of the apparent leniency of the sentence imposed upon Messrs. Cofroni, Violi, Papalia and one other in the recent extortion ease, is the minister giving consideration to appealing the sentence?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, this is a matter that the member for Riverdale took up with me privately to alert me to the fact that he was interested in this matter, as we all are, and I apologize for this fumbling, but I did have a fairly lengthy report on that in view of the fact that we’re still dealing with the estimates of the ministry. While I’m looking for it, I recall there was some question as to whether or not the Crown counsel who conducted the trial -- so it was reported in the press at least -- should have pressed harder for the maximum penalty, which was 10 years.
As the hon. member probably knows, the Crown counsel involved did an excellent job on a very complicated case. The report I have indicates that it was the view of the criminal law office of the Crown that the maximum sentence was not warranted and it would not be recommending an appeal for a number of reasons. I’d be quite happy to review these reasons with the hon. member and members of the Legislature now, but it may take me some time.
Mr. Speaker: Do I understand this matter is being discussed in the committee?
Mr. Roy: Yes.
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps that would be the more satisfactory place to discuss it, since both parties interested will be in that committee.
ICE STORM DAMAGE
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Could the minister tell me how many municipalities received special grants last winter as a result of severe ice storms and whether the $5,000 that the town of Ridgetown received was for highway construction or was it, in effect, because of the severe ice storm in the town? Or was it due to the fact that the mayor is a candidate for the Conservative Party?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Nixon: That’s an easy one to answer.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, if I may answer the last question first, I wasn’t aware of that fact, but if he is, I am sure he is on the right track.
I can’t say exactly how many municipalities received grants relating to the ice storm. We did have requests for some additional financial assistance from a number of municipalities after that ice storm took place because of their high costs in removing downed trees and so on from the highways rights of way. Our budget was very constrained and we were unable to grant any additional supplementaries at that time. As the year went on, we were able to allocate some moneys from another area within the ministry funding which allowed us to grant supplementary allocations of funds to, I would guess, about seven or eight or more municipalities that had had major expenditures due to that ice storm and, of course, the money was to assist in paying the cost of cleaning up the rights of way after the ice storm.
Mr. Ruston: Supplementary: If it is only seven or eight municipalities, could the minister give me the names of those municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I can’t recall all of them at this moment; there might have been more than that, but I know there was a considerable number down in western Ontario and along the Lake Erie shoreline. There may have been more than that, and I will get a list of the municipalities that received the supplementary grants for that purpose.
Mr. McClellan: A question to the Minister of Education, if I may, with respect to Harbord Collegiate: The Harbord Collegiate building advisory committee wrote the minister on October 19 and said, among other things:
“In view of the new construction pending and the probable demolition of much of the old building, only minimum maintenance has been provided since 1968 with the result that the building is in imminent danger of condemnation and collapse even before new construction can start.”
In view of this morning’s Globe and Mail reaffirmation that Harbord seems to have a low priority for capital funds, I want to ask the minister what it takes to get priority from his ministry for Harbord Collegiate? Does it have to fall down?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, we will be glad to send some of our people, with the Toronto board people, to look again at Harbord Collegiate. There is no question that ultimately it probably should be replaced. There are many schools in this province that are in the same or indeed a worse category. The hon. member’s friend from Timmins can tell him about Timmins High and Vocational.
It is not our understanding that it is imminently in a state of readiness to collapse or anything like that, and I have to tell the hon. member that given the kind of financial restraints that this government has on capital money and our priority to spend that money for new pupil spaces where new housing areas are concerned, I am afraid that Harbord Collegiate replacement is going to have to wait a couple of years yet.
Mr. McClellan: Supplementary: Is the minister aware that on October 23, 1973, the Metro school board passed a policy motion which established Harbord as number one priority within the Metro system and that, as far as I understand, that priority for the school, which serves mainly new Canadians, still stands?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t ever recall it being put in number one priority for all of Metro, because I think Metro always did agree to a priority of new pupil spaces first. It was number one priority, as I recall, in the replacement category, and that is a different category from new pupil spaces. As it has turned out, there hasn’t been enough money for all the replacement projects. I draw my friend’s attention to some of the schools that have been replaced in that particular area.
To say that nothing is being done in that particular area in regard to replacement is not so. Look at Brown School, or look at Kensington School. The Toronto Board of Education’s record of replacement is very good and our record of supporting them. But I have to tell him that at the minute, because of the tightness of money and the number of new spaces that have to be provided, it isn’t going to be possible to fund Harbord in the immediate future.
Mr. Mancini: It’s not too good in Ruthven, I’ll tell the minister.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Supplementaries really should be for further information, not almost a rehash of the original question. If there is a supplementary based on the answer I’ll allow it.
The member for Bellwoods.
STUDENT COMMENT ON EDUCATION STANDARDS
Mr. McClellan: I just wanted to ask the minister if he saw the comments of the valedictorian at Central High School of Commerce in the weekend papers, and if he would take those remarks and call them into consideration?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, that is a new question, but I must say I would like to answer that.
Mr. Roy: It’s up to the Speaker, not up to you.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I did see those comments. I will reflect on them, as I know the Toronto board will. I have talked to the director of education of the Toronto board about them, and they will reflect on them.
I just want to point out to my friend that there were commencements all over Metropolitan Toronto last Friday. I have checked with a lot of people and I attended one of them myself personally and that kind of sentiment or comment did not come through at any others. It is not representative of the kind of graduates or valedictorians in Metropolitan Toronto.
Mr. McClellan: Okay; but the comment was by a student from that area. It’s a very real problem in our area -- that’s the point.
OTTAWA MILL RATES
Mr. Roy: I have a question of the Treasurer. I wonder if the Treasurer might explain why is it that in Ottawa and in the suburban areas of Ottawa, the taxes being paid by the home owners in those areas range from 18 per cent to 80 per cent higher than in all other large municipalities in the province? If he is aware of that could he explain why; and secondly, what he is doing to correct this discrepancy?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I wouldn’t propose to do anything to correct that discrepancy. It is a matter of local government which this side of the House happens to believe in. They will have their opportunity four weeks from today.
Mr. Nixon: After you jammed regional government down their throats.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: There is no way we are going to interfere in the way the member has suggested in local mill-rate setting. It is just sheer nonsense to suggest that sort of thing --
Mr. Nixon: It’s the McKeough tax.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- by the party which talks about decentralizing government and makes that kind of a statement. Just nonsense.
Mr. Roy: In view of the fact that the Treasurer comes down around Ottawa and brags about all the good things the government does down there, and also his cohorts, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett) and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) --
Mr. Speaker: Is there a supplementary question?
Mr. Roy: -- how can he say he is doing things for people in the Ottawa area when they are paying taxes 80 per cent higher than other people in the province? Where is the leadership?
Mr. Speaker: It seems to me that is debating the question.
GROUP RESIDENCES FOR MENTALLY RETARDED
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. I wonder if the minister could tell us if his ministry is considering introducing legislation to provide for funding for urban residential accommodation for retarded teenagers under the age of 18, whose families wish them to obtain vocational training in urban centres but who live at such a distance as to make commuting impossible?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: If the question is whether or not the Ministry of Community and Social Services is providing group residences --
Mr. Ruston: Start again.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Was that the question? I am sorry I can’t hear too well over here with the background noise. I was trying to zero in on the question.
Mr. Speaker: Order please; the hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. Breithaupt: Ask the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Henderson) to be quiet.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: If that is the question, we have been for years.
Mr. Wildman: The minister should be aware, from correspondence that I sent to him, of people in Algoma district who have been unable to obtain accommodation.
Mr. Speaker: Is there a question now?
Mr. Wildman: Can he do anything about the fact that people in Algoma district cannot obtain accommodation for their children who are under the age of 18 who want to obtain accommodation in residences in Sault Ste. Marie so they can attend these courses? There are just not enough.
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I guess that’s a question and an answer, Mr. Speaker, but basically, certainly we have been doing that. The process is through the local association for the mentally retarded and the district working groups, and submissions have been made and are being made, and we have been creating the appropriate placements. This year I think we have about 875 additional placements already.
Mr. Speaker: There is time for a brief question from the member for London Centre.
BUS DECAL PROGRAMME
Mr. Peterson: To the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Can he tell the House the total cost and the number of communities where he is suggesting or insisting, or whatever word he’s using, that the local buses put on a decal saying that the government of Ontario is subsidizing that transportation?
Mr. Deans: Is it true they have your picture on the walls?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, that is not true.
The cost of the decal will be 71 cents for the decal that would go on each bus.
Mr. Kerrio: You are going to need thousands of them.
Mr. Ruston: I heard the feds were going to start doing that.
Mr. Roy: Are you going to put signs in front of the schools and hospitals?
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, it is very important that I pursue this at this time --
Mr. Speaker: No. We are almost a minute over. The oral question period has expired.
Introduction of bills.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT CLAIMS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Grande moved first reading of Bill 161, An Act to amend The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to raise the limit on the amount that may be paid out of the fund after the first day of January, 1974, from $50,000 to $500,000.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answer to question No. 70 standing on the notice paper.
GIFT TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Meen moved second reading of Bill 134, An Act to amend The Gift Tax Act, 1972.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This bill deals with three things. First of all, it’s a method of collecting gift tax when the donee is a non-resident but either receives property in Ontario or already owns property in Ontario.
The second thing it does is extending the exemption from gift tax for interspousal gifts to gifts by way of the creation of a settlement or the transfer of property to a trust, subject to certain stipulations about the kind of trust which qualifies for the exemption.
Third, it parallels the definitions of child and common law spouse in The Succession Law Reform Act, 1976, now before the House as Bill 85.
This is designed to remove discrimination against illegitimate children and to recognize certain defined common-law unions as being eligible to benefit from the exemptions in The Gift Tax Act.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Can we have some order in the chamber, please? There are far too many conversations going on.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, going back to the first item, we would of course favour any improvement in the methods of enforcing collection of a tax since, to the extent that legitimate taxes are not collected, the rest of the taxpayers pay. I attempted to point this out recently in questioning whether the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen), by diverting his tax auditors to pursuing people who were able to take advantage of that very badly designed give-away programme, the home buyers grant, was costing the taxpayers considerable sums in lost sales tax and corporation tax revenue. I don’t think we should let the home buyers grant cheaters get away, but some other method of pursuing them should be devised that doesn’t weaken our collection machinery for other taxes.
We favour this part of the bill, which would enable the province to put a lien on the property in Ontario of a non-resident donee to enforce collection. But I have one reservation about it. We know that both donor and donee are liable for payment of the tax, but there is some difficulty in pursuing a non-resident donee. I don’t think there is any difficulty in putting a lien on Ontario property comprising a gift to a non-resident, since this is a way of taxing the gift. But there may be a constitutional difficulty in putting a lien on other Ontario property of a non-resident in order to collect a tax on items that are not part of this property.
My first question to the minister is: Has he consulted with his legal advisers about the constitutionality of imposing this kind of collection machinery on the Ontario property not comprising a gift, and does he himself consider that the proposed method of collection would be constitutional?
The second item in the bill relates to the extension of the gift tax exemption for interspousal transfers made by way of creation of a settlement or the transfer of property to a trust. In view of the government’s need for revenue to reduce its overblown deficit, we are concerned about a request for a further exemption from gift tax. As I mentioned before, an exemption to one taxpayer means more taxes to another or a higher deficit.
To some extent, gift taxes are complementary to succession duties, since they are partly designed to prevent income splitting to reduce succession duties. The government’s record in the field of succession duties has been a continual erosion of the tax base, and some very well-off people are benefiting from this. As a result, succession duties as a proportion of provincial revenue have declined from 3.9 per cent in 1964-65 to 0.6 per cent today. They are estimated to bring in only $60 million this year. The gift tax is bringing in only about $1½ million a year, but we question whether this pitifully small sum should be further reduced.
I don’t know whether he’s listening, but I would like to ask the minister how much revenue he expects to lose by this amendment? I understand that only a very few wealthy people would take advantage of the kind of trust or settlement which is envisaged by the legislation. Does the minister have any statistics on how many people are likely to make use of this exemption?
We have decided not to oppose this exemption in principle although we may consider amendments, but we do think that if we were in power the whole thrust of The Succession Duty and Gift Tax Act would be designed to provide greater revenue for the province. We do not feel this particular exemption is significant enough. Unless the minister’s figures show that it is going to affect a great many people and affect a great amount of revenue, we do not feel it is significant enough to oppose at this stage. I’m just stating that our position on these taxes would be considerably different from the government’s.
The third item, removing the discrimination against illegitimate children, we’re certainly in favour of that and I think this should be carried through in all pieces of legislation as is being gradually done. It should be done without delay. Also we would favour recognizing certain defined common-law unions as being eligible for the exemptions under the Act, since it envisages unions which are fairly stable and some where there are children involved as well.
For those reasons, we will support the bill but I would like some answers from the minister on the questions I’ve raised.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, as the previous speaker had mentioned, this bill deals with certain continuing exemptions to The Gift Tax Act and, as she had set out, there are two particular areas which are now being covered by this legislation.
The matter in section 3, which deals with the ability to give an exemption by way of a trust or settlement, has been quite clearly explained in the note. The extension of the lien, as set out in section 5, is also something with which we agree.
It would appear that gift tax is becoming less and less a source of revenue to the government, more particularly because of the capital gains tax situation and because of other general legislation which allows certain policies followed by the government to receive substantial revenues. We have no objection to the continuation of these items as set out particularly in section 3, 4, and 5 and we are prepared to support them.
With respect to the first two sections, I had the opportunity of speaking with the hon. minister earlier. I understand it’s his intention to have this bill go to committee and to wait there in committee until Bill 85 is dealt with so that the various definitions of child and common-law spouse will be the same as those in Bill 85 when that bill is attended to by the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) as his estimates are completed.
Section 2, as well, deals with the same requirements as a result of Bill 85 so it is satisfactory to us that this bill receive approval in principle with the knowledge that any corrections in the definitions section will be attended to in committee after Bill 85 has been dealt with.
Mr. Renwick: I have only the one question, and I hope in the course of his remarks the minister will deal with it, which is what was the motivation that led him to introduce the extension with respect to the beneficial interest in trusts and settlements? What specifically made him feel at this particular point in time that that particular kind of abstruse property settlement arrangement deserves treatment now and not only does it deserve treatment now but that it is coming into force on January 1, 1977? I am just curious as to who is awaiting the signal from the minister before preparing the necessary legal documents to give effect to that kind of a trust settlement which will provide an exemption from gift tax to the extent of the beneficial interest.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to comment on the bill? If not, the hon. Minister of Revenue.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was just away from my desk for a moment to get confirmation of the source of the request with respect to inter vivos spousal trusts. I wanted to confirm my understanding. It’s the Canadian Bar Association and, as I understand it, also the Institute of Chartered Accountants which suggested that, in the interest of tidying up this area of interspousal gifts which is presently covered and totally exempted under The Gift Tax Act, when a man or a woman makes a gift to his spouse or her spouse respectively that gift is free of any attraction of tax, but where the donor endeavours to establish a trust for the benefit of his wife, or the donor to establish a trust for the benefit of her husband for her or his lifetime, as the case may be, that otherwise in that situation The Gift Tax Act did not provide the same kind of exemption. There is no need that the provision be retroactive and so we decided to make it effective for the whole of the fiscal year -- of a calendar year in this case, and therefore to be effective on January 1.
I have noted the comments by the members opposite and, in the order in which the questions were raised, the matter of the constitutionality of taxing other property not comprised in the gift hadn’t really crossed my mind so far as the donee is concerned.
The primary party responsible for the payment of gift tax is the donor and, of course, he is responsible for the payment of moneys relative to that tax. In other words, that renders any of his property exigible for the purpose of payment of the tax. But it is when the donor has property that is not attachable or has no attachable property that one wants to look to the donee, and until now, without this amendment, if the donee is non-resident then it is difficult if not impossible to recover or levy against the property of the donee. This section gives the minister the authority to place a lien upon the property which is the subject of the gift when that property is situate here in Ontario. So I am not sure that there is a constitutional problem, and in this sense the property doubtless is good for the value of the tax that would be attracted by it.
The hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) also raised the question of the revenue effect and how many people are anticipated to be affected. I really have no idea of the numbers of people who would be affected. They would be very small. As indicated in my comments in reply to the hon. member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), the motivation for this stems from the professions who are dealing in this area. Their suggestion is that it tidies up an area that otherwise wasn’t taken care of under the Act since The Gift Tax Act is in place to protect succession duty revenues, which albeit may represent a smaller and smaller portion of the total revenues of the province still represent some $62 million in this fiscal year and therefore is something we can’t exactly throw away. It’s a sizable amount of money. We want to protect those revenues therefore, and it is essential that The Gift Tax Act be in place, but when we have certain exemptions for succession duty it’s appropriate that there be similar exemptions under The Gift Tax Act. The revenue effect, accordingly, is considered to be very small, if not nil. It is so close to zero that we consider it of no particular effect inasmuch as interspousal transfers are ordinarily clear of any gift tax or succession duty implication.
The member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) has referred to our discussions previously on that. I’m pleased to confirm that it is my intention, namely, that following second reading I will ask that this bill be stood over to the committee of the whole House to await there the completion of the Attorney General’s legislation dealing in the more general nature with common law relationships. I’m given to understand there may be some minor variation in his definition of common law spouse and common law child, or illegitimate child, which I will want to parallel precisely, or as nearly precisely as is appropriate, within The Gift Tax Act amendments which are before us this afternoon.
Subject to that, I think I’ve responded to the questions which the hon. members raised. I wish to express my thanks to them for indicating their support of the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 155, An Act to amend The Insurance Act.
Mr. Renwick: The bill itself is patent on its face. It simply changes the figures in the particular section 218 of The Insurance Act, to raise the minimum limits under automobile insurance policies to $100,000 with the consequential changes. The companion bill, Bill 156 amending The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act, has the same effect.
I think our concern is, as always, the background of the discussions which the minister or the superintendent may have had with the insurance industry as to whether or not this increase in minimum liability for personal injury and property damage will have any effect on the level of premiums in the province. It comes into effect, according to the bill, on January 1, 1977. It may be that the insurance industry will feel that they should raise the premiums because the minimum liability is raised. I would like a direct response by the minister to that comment. I assume that the select committee, on which a number of us are sitting, dealing with the automobile insurance industry will likely have an interim report early in the new year. At that time, I would hope we would be able to get away from this arbitrary raising of limits and selecting a particular round figure as the figure which is appropriate and be able to come up with a more intelligent way of dealing with this problem of minimum limits.
With those comments we certainly will support the bill at this time and vote for it. But I would appreciate the minister’s comments.
Mr. Cunningham: We too will be supporting this legislation. From my point of view anyway the need for an increase in the minimum liability insurance coverage is evident in so many areas. It wasn’t that long ago we had a very tragic situation where a medical student at McMaster was very seriously injured. As the minister is probably well aware, the extent to which she was compensated through this particular fund had no relevance whatsoever to the damages that occurred.
No matter what amount a victim may be awarded, that person in my view still faces the possibility of receiving only $100,000, since this law will now make that the minimum amount. While I am not entirely aware of or conversant with the matter as well as is my friend, the member for Riverdale, I anticipate the report from the select committee on company law will deal with it.
I would ask the minister whether he would indicate to us what kind of economic basis or relationship there is right now between an increase in the amount of people who are actually participating in voluntary insurance and what possibility higher damages are going to have in increasing insurance rates as they are today. With those few comments, I would only say that we will be supporting it.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity briefly to make a point about the $100,000 amount that is now available in very extreme and aggravated cases. I don’t want to be presumptuous enough to intrude on the interim recommendations that will come from the select committee. I assume they will guide us. But I suspect it is more than mere coincidence, or maybe it is just mere coincidence, that this bill follows on the Zorsitto case which focused such universal public attention in Ontario on the inadequacy of the previous $50,000 under section 22(1) of this Act.
I share some qualms about the principle of retroactivity, although I suppose if it’s fair it is defensible. I am not sure that one has to formalize anything in that way, but in the atmosphere of this Legislature -- (a) in its minority government nature and (b) in the fact that he is introducing the bill and both opposition parties are supporting it -- I want to urge upon the minister a possible compassionate reassessment of the Zorsitto case in particular and of other cases which may have occurred in the last two, three or four years which significantly and qualitatively exceeded the $50,000 limit, to see whether or not the fund is in a position to pay an additional amount of money.
We will never compensate that young woman for the horror of what occurred. I understand that. But there is something that really violates elemental principles of justice in offering $50,000 for a claim which I believe was honoured in the courts at $350,000 or something in that area.
I am suggesting that in the Legislature now that the minister would find no opposition at all to the particular Zorsitto example and I urge that that be made available.
If it is coincidence, what can one do? But there is something terribly awkward and unsettling about the fact that in this one case, which made it all so vivid for everybody, she is entitled to the $50,000, while on January 1, 1977, we are making it $100,000 and the court awarded $350,000. It is like compounding the injustice in the process.
I am sure there can’t be many such cases in the province of Ontario, so I am asking the minister whether there is some retroactive clause that might be looked at or, if that is offensive for a whole variety of legal and social reasons which I wouldn’t pretend to understand, whether there are some compassionate grounds on which the minister is given the right to extend the amount in these cases, which were prejudiced because they occurred before this amendment. I think the minister would find -- I hope I am not being presumptuous -- that the opposition parties and the Legislature would support him.
On behalf of that principle, I urge the minister to consider it carefully, because I have been frankly surprised at the range of public awareness as a result of the Zorsitto award and the sense of some terribly unhappy injustice inherent in what we have been unable to provide that young woman. I take it there may be other analogous cases.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments concerning this legislation as I am quite familiar with Dr. Zorsitto. The family and relatives live in my riding and I received a substantial amount of correspondence from neighbours, friends, relatives and concerned citizens in the community. I don’t intend to read the comments they made but they were one and all alike in their request for substantially raising the maximum.
The minister is raising the maximum from a $50,000 limit now to $100,000. In their communications even to the Premier (Mr. Davis) they suggested a $500,000 maximum be set. The $500,000 which may have been provided to Dr. Zorsitto in this instance in no way would have really met the earning power that Dr. Zorsitto could have had were she fully able to use all of her faculties. Dr. Zorsitto’s case is one that could exemplify the need for a far greater increase than is being suggested by this legislation.
I too would join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis) in suggesting to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, that there be some type of retroactivity so if we can’t resolve her problem medically maybe we can financially ease some of the problems she is going to be confronted with for the balance of her life.
The Premier did reply to the series of petitions which were drawn up by the residents in my riding but he mentioned that the select committee studying this would come down with recommendations and more than likely those recommendations would be the ones which would be studied by government and may be implemented. I would like to say that I would strongly recommend to the minister that he give consideration to some type of compassionate retroactivity for Dr. Zorsitto; that he take into consideration the strong public opinion that has been generated as a result of this unfortunate accident; and that he look at the series of editorials which were published in papers all across the province. I happen to have a series from the Toronto papers and, I think, one from my own local paper recommending a substantial increase in the minimum.
I support the bill, only hoping that there could have been a little better accommodation for Dr. Zorsitto as the result of being an innocent victim. Surely we have to protect the innocent in our society and if we can protect them financially all well and good.
I would also like to bring to the attention of the minister that in accidents involving the automobile in the United States there has been a new approach as far as the injured individual was concerned. The injured individual now is suing the state because the state provided the driver’s licence to the individual who was involved in the accident. In many cases, especially in cases where the individual was elderly or had some type of physical or emotional problem, the courts maintained that the state should not have issued a driver’s licence to the individual but because it did issue one, the state was responsible. As a result of the suits many of the states have been required to pay substantially more than the minimum amount carried by their legislation.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, as is the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick), so I have the pleasure of being a member of the select committee which at the present time is reviewing the law of automobile and vehicle insurance within Ontario.
The amendments that have been brought forward in Bill 155 are in areas which have been discussed at some length by the select committee of the House. Without anticipating what the report of that select committee might be, I do expect that certainly this particular area will be looked into because the matter of the $50,000 limit is something which does concern all of us.
Of course, the response has been that the $50,000 figure is one of the highest, if not the highest, of the various provinces and states of the United States at the present time and that by increasing it to $100,000 we are certainly, in Ontario, going to the top end of all jurisdictions within North America. That certainly, I think, is worthy of comment because the actions of the Legislature in moving to that point are ones which no doubt will be followed by many other jurisdictions.
So the limits, which are now very high, are going to become the highest of any jurisdiction in North America. It may well be, of course, that the select committee will refer to this item even further, with respect to the areas of unlimited liability and some of the other things which we learned about more particularly as we were in Zurich reviewing the situation of European insurance coverage. In any event, this is certainly a first step which I think is to be commended and which will no doubt lead to further action on the part of the Legislature.
Certainly the need for an increase in the minimum liability insurance coverage is evident from some of the recent awards which have been referred to earlier in the House. Because of inflation, of course, the costs of repairing and replacing vehicles, the matter of hospital charges and the matter of lost wages and other such expenses have all been increasing. In addition, the trend towards higher awards has been firmly established, and there is no doubt of it from the particular case which has been referred to by my colleague from Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman), particularly that of Dr. Zorsitto, and in several others that have been brought to the attention of the House from time to time.
There are no doubt many other awards that have been higher than this $50,000 amount when the victim has been the victim of an uninsured driver and where, of course, the chance of collecting any more funds for awards given by the courts is otherwise lost. It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that most private insurance companies have said that they would be willing to readily offer half a million dollars in liability coverage. They apparently see no particular problem in providing this kind of limit, or indeed a million dollar limit as some drivers have now. In fact, many companies have been encouraging their policyholders to increase their own present limits of $200,000 or $250,000 to this liability figure of $500,000. The extra cost, of course, is not very high.
In some figures obtained from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, setting a liability coverage at $35,000 and saying that the premium is $100, we see that $50,000 would cost $109, $100,000 $115, then moving up to half a million would cost $129 and, finally, $1 million would cost $136 on that percentage scale.
To go, for example, from the $50,000 figure to $100,000 figure would be a premium increase from $109 to $115. In other words, perhaps four per cent or five per cent. So the cost is not a great one for the average driver, and, presumably, the risk effect and the resultant claims on the fund will be such that increasing these limits will not prove to bring an unexceptional burden to the fund. It is still really pretty cheap insurance coverage for that proportionate increase which would benefit the average driver, and I’m sure would benefit very much the unfortunate victim of the uninsured driver.
The whole matter of the uninsured driver is something which, of course, relates particularly to this matter of the motor vehicle accident claims fund.
Compulsory automobile insurance is a subject which we have discussed also in the select committee and I would expect that some recommendations may be made with respect to the subject. However, we are informed that in Ontario some 92 or 93 per cent of drivers are already insured directly by their own activities. This is a much higher percentage than exists in many of the states of the United States which have as a result brought in compulsory insurance to try to bring up by a large proportion the number of insured drivers within their state. Indeed that has happened and has been discussed to some extent within various provinces as well.
Where well over 90 per cent of the citizens are voluntarily dealing with insurance companies and insuring themselves it becomes somewhat more questionable that the matter of compulsory insurance will, in effect, get the attention of the last few percentage points of the people who apparently are somewhat negligent in the way they see their possible responsibilities or who simply don’t care and have not the resources in any event to deal with any unfortunate accident which their activities might bring forward. The matter of compulsory automobile insurance may not necessarily resolve the problem even though it’s something at which we are looking.
The matter of the driver review board which, again, would deal with setting out the kinds of terms upon which this fund might be called upon less and less by proportion is something, as well, which the select committee may review.
I understand that the motor vehicle accident claims fund at the present time -- at least in June, 1975 -- had some 140,000 persons paying their $40 fee out of the three and a half million vehicles registered in Ontario. Since that time the fee has increased to $60 and I understand that the latest figures are that some 112,320 driver-owners have paid into that fund. We know that the fee is going to go to $100 and it would appear that that increase might well cut into this uninsured driver total. It would appear that any increase in the uninsured driver’s fee has always resulted in a rather substantial drop in the patronage of those persons who pay this amount and who are given a licence to drive without insurance.
Unfortunately, many of them think that they are insured in some mystical and magical way through the payment of this fee. I suppose one cannot repeat too often the fact that they are not insured. They are simply getting permission to drive and will have full responsibility, as a result, for any damage which is caused as a result of an accident in which they, as drivers, might be found to be negligent.
In effect, the increase in the fee has cut, perhaps by a quarter, the number of persons who had paid this amount the last time it was raised. As a result we might, perhaps, have a further cut by 25 per cent or so and get well below the $100,000 figure when this $100 payment does come in.
I do commend the minister to the point that by bringing in this legislation he does, by the activities of his ministry, bring Ontario to the lead of the kinds of levels for this $100,000 amount which puts us well ahead of every other jurisdiction in North America. It is something which is a good step and it is something, indeed, which may go a long way to resolving at least a number of these unfortunate accidents which fall within that $50,000 to $100,000 limit.
I don’t know if there is any practical way of dealing with these three or four exceptional cases but I commend to the minister, too, some consideration of these particular hardship matters. It’s always difficult to amend a statute because of the old legal saw that says a hard case makes bad law. Obviously we cannot legislate for the exception but surely there is a good compassionate approach which should be taken in some of these particular things. I, too, commend to the minister the comments, not only by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis), but also by the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) who asked that this particular point be reviewed.
Of course, we will support this bill and the companion item of Bill 156, and we commend the minister for bringing it forward at this time.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak on second reading? If not, the lion. Minister for Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, it appears that both Bill 155 and Bill 156 have been thoroughly discussed and without any distinction between the two bills. So I think I might respond to the arguments on both bills without really identifying the bills.
The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) asked about discussions with the insurance industry and, of course, we had none until such time as the bill was introduced. We have had some unofficial response from them since that time. They’re prepared to absorb the retroactive coverage which is required by the bill because, effective January 1, all policies then in force which do not carry $100,000 minimum will be deemed to have coverage of $100,000 minimum, and there will be no additional premium for that.
Future premiums, of course, are based on claims experience and this will undoubtedly be a factor. As the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) pointed out, there is a minimal effect on the total insurance premium for vastly increased coverage. This will only affect something like five per cent of the drivers who are now insured for less than $100,000, so to that extent it’s a very small total bill for the drivers of Ontario to carry.
Certainly the $100,000 is an interim measure and, despite the fact that it may be the highest in North America, I feel that perhaps some thought will be given by the select committee to that particular aspect because $100,000 certainly is not sufficient to cover some of the judgements which our courts have been awarding recently. I hope the select committee benefited from discussions in Great Britain, where I understand there is another system in place which seems to meet the needs of the population there. On the other hand, it appears that the awards in Britain are not affected as much as ours are by the experience of American courts. I think this is one of the unfortunate imports that we’ve taken from American jurisprudence.
On the question of retroactivity to cover the very unfortunate cases, and Dr. Zorsitto’s name has been mentioned, it should be pointed out that Dr. Zorsitto, despite the tragedy of the situation, is certainly not the only person affected. Dr. Zorsitto is affected by the maximum amount payable out of the motor vehicle accident claims fund. There’s no question in my mind that any compensation regardless of the amount would not be sufficient to compensate for the damage done, or the loss suffered by Dr. Zorsitto. There are however, others wherein the driver had insurance, not covered by the motor vehicle accident claims fund.
In one case, the driver had $100,000 insurance -- that’s the Bonnie McLeod case -- where the courts awarded a half a million dollars in damages. Obviously there was nothing that the motor vehicle accident claims fund would be able to do under those circumstances, unless the government was to take the position that all awards over the amount in insurance would be carried by the taxpayers of the province.
I don’t think hon. members would suggest that for one minute. The McLeod case brought forward, as I recall, an open letter -- and I think all members received a copy of it -- in which a great case was made for the driver of the automobile, who, as the writer of the letter put it, was involved in what is after all only an accident, despite the finding of the court that there was complete negligence, and therefore that driver should be completely absolved of any responsibility over and above the amount of insurance carried.
I must say to all members that I am pleased that none of them responded affirmatively, although I did have one cabinet minister from Ottawa support that position, and my response to him was, I think, quite blunt, that in that case I had no sympathy whatsoever for the driver, and that the victim was the one we should be concerned about.
I don’t know what the answer to those extreme cases is, and as the Premier (Mr. Davis) wrote in his response to the family and those who petitioned him, we do hope that perhaps the select committee will be able to give us the answer. I have looked at some of the statistics and there is no question in my mind that inflation has played a great part in making our $50,000 figure obsolete in both Acts. In the fiscal year 1971, there were only two cases that the motor vehicle accident claims fund was faced with over $50,000. The next year that went to 8,000, then to 13,000 and then to 15,000. In the last full fiscal year -- that is, the fiscal year ended March 31, 1976 -- it went to 38,000, and in this fiscal year to date it’s 24,000. So, over the past four years, we are talking in terms of almost 100 cases where the awards were over $50,000. And that is only out of the motor vehicle accident claims fund. I have no statistics that would indicate where the driver of a car carried insurance of $50,000, $100,000 or $200,000, that the award of the court was above that.
I think it should be recognized that the principle of insurance is to provide compensation to an innocent victim but not to relieve the negligent party of responsibility. This is one of the reasons why proposals for no-fault insurance have been received coolly by those who are concerned about the responsibility for a negligent action. We certainly cannot relieve people who are negligent of their full responsibility.
In the Zorsitto case I reviewed the driver’s record, which fortunately was available from Transportation and Communications, despite the claims of some people that it should not be, and I was aghast at the person’s record. The member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) pointed out that some governments are being held responsible by the courts in the United States. My own feeling is that that driver should not have been permitted on the road in Ontario because of his driving record. He was. To that extent I think we all collectively bear some responsibility for the fact that we permit people with that kind of a record to continue to infest our highways.
I certainly will discuss with my colleagues what measures can be taken for Dr. Zorsitto, the McLeods and the other extreme cases, because I think everyone will realize that it is simply an ex gratia payment out of the Treasury to these people. There is no legal basis for such a grant, and that is what it would be; it would be simply a grant. It would not be a payment out of the motor vehicle accident claims fund, because there is no provision for that.
I think hon. members recognize that in bringing forward this measure the government looks on it as an interim step only, and we hope that there will be a great deal more added to our store of knowledge as a result of the select committee’s findings and that their recommendations will lead us into a permanent solution to a problem which has become more and more irksome, both to my ministry and to the government and, I suppose, to all members of the Legislature. Certainly there is no question in our mind that the Zorsittos, the McLeods and others deserve more than we have been able to give them. I really don’t know what the answer is.
I think I should point out that the increase in the motor vehicle accident claims fund, while it has had some salutary effects on those people who have been steered to insurance by it, may also have led to a large number of people who have neither taken out insurance nor contributed to the fund. Obviously we don’t know how many of those there are. I hope again the select committee will devote itself to some solution to that problem. Undoubtedly, we will have to enlist the aid of the industry in letting us know who has taken out insurance. We’ll also have to have a much faster method of determining those who cancel insurance, because even now a person can obtain a driver’s licence quite legally, having paid the first instalment on an insurance premium, and cancel it the next week, Despite the sophistication of the insurance companies, they seem to have great difficulty in being able to retrieve that information in order to notify us of those who are driving illegally.
Mr. Good: Is it illegal to cancel your insurance?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: No. It is not illegal to cancel the insurance. It is illegal to drive without insurance and not have contributed to the motor vehicle accident claims fund. Many people have done neither and therefore are driving illegally. Those who have taken out insurance and cancelled it without notifying the Ministry of Transportation and Communications are, in fact, driving illegally. We have no way of retrieving that information. We hoped that the industry would have, and we discussed this with them. They have said it would require a great deal of software to be fed into the computerized system. I don’t think that that should be an insurmountable obstacle.
There seems to be general recognition that financial compensation alone is not sufficient for the extreme cases. It does seem to me that society, having permitted people who should not be driving to drive, does have a responsibility; and obviously society in this case is represented by the government. How we meet that responsibility, I confess to all members, I don’t know. Simply increasing the limits would not be sufficient, in my view, because there will be judgements over the limit, no matter what limit is placed on it. If we have unlimited compensation, then obviously that will involve a cost to the people of Ontario and it’s a cost that they should know. I’m pleased the members have accepted this interim measure -- that’s all it is -- and that they are going to give it their support.
Motion agreed to.
INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved third reading of Bill 155, An Act to amend The Insurance Act
Mr. Grande: I have some comments on third reading. I asked the minister earlier this morning and I understand he was not able to dig up the information; I called the secretary of his deputy minister, and he did mention the fact that there were about 100 cases in which the settlement has been $50,000. I wonder if the minister could give us an idea of whether these settlements had been between the years 1969 to December 31, 1973? How many of those 100 settlements had been at the $50,000 mark? How many have been from January 1, 1974, to the present time, of which he knows?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: First, this matter is related to Bill 156. I assume the hon. member will accept we are now talking about Bill 156 in third reading of Bill 155.
The figures we have indicate there were 23 cases wherein the judgements, not the settlements, were in excess of $50,000, but since there was a $50,000 limit on the motor vehicle accident claims fund that is all that was paid. The settlement was $50,000 but the judgement was more than that.
From April 1, 1974 -- that is in the last 2% fiscal years -- we’re talking in terms of 87 cases wherein the judgements were in excess of $50,000. I think that was the information I gave the House previously during second reading debate.
Motion agreed to.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT CLAIMS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 156, An Act to amend The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act.
Motion agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 156, An Act to amend The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act.
MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 149, An Act to amend The Municipal Act.
Mr. Norton: I realize, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) was in the process of making some comments when we adjourned on the last day. I wonder if I might make a couple of comments in response to some of his earlier remarks, which might be of assistance to the members.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: It is on second reading and since you only have an opportunity to speak once, I think perhaps the hon. member for Welland-Thorold should complete his comments.
Mr. Norton: Very well.
Mr. Swart: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the bill’s second reading was introduced, I had dealt with most of the bill but there are a few comments which I still wish to make. I had mentioned at that time that I was very much concerned about the lack of time for consultation with the municipal associations and the municipalities on this bill and I intimated they had expressed this concern. I also stated at that time that I was concerned about the indifference of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) which he has apparently continually shown in this House to municipal matters. He has not been here when any of the bills have been dealt with since a year ago last September pertaining to municipal matters. It seems to be pretty low on his priority. Perhaps there should be a Minister of Municipal Affairs who could give full time to this matter when it is in the billions of dollars annually of the taxpayers’ money and even in the billions of dollars of provincial funds in the total transfers to local government.
I stated at that time that we would support the bill in principle so it could go to the committee of the whole House for second reading and that we would be making some amendments at that time. I won’t deal with those areas in which I said we would make some amendments that I have already covered. I want now to turn to page 7 of that bill, to the matter dealing with the repeal of paragraph 86 of subsection 1 of the said section 354, which is the section which now gives permission to municipalities to prohibit the use of trailers, except in trailer parks, for continual habitation.
I would like to ask the parliamentary assistant, when he rises to speak on this bill, if he would particularly address himself to the question of whether this will eliminate the prohibition by municipalities with regard to licensing trailers which may not be in trailer parks. They do specifically now have that right; and certainly it has been ruled on many occasions that the right to license is not the right to prohibit. If this applies in this case, then will this mean that a municipality must, within its residential zoning, permit the use of trailers for residential purposes, if they are on certain size lots and under certain conditions?
I should say that I am in general agreement with the thrust of this but I am not sure whether they will have the right to prohibit. It could be a real concern in many residential areas if they could not prohibit the use of trailers in a residential area. Therefore, as I say, I am asking him to address himself to this. Whether we will move an amendment will depend on his answer.
I realize that much of paragraph 15 is a duplication from the previous Act. There is only a minor change and I don’t disagree with the change which is proposed. But because the section is dealt with in total and includes the limitation of $20 per month payable by the owner of a trailer camp for each such lot where a trailer is located for continual use as habitation, we will take the opportunity in the committee stage to ask that that limitation be removed. The limit of $20 per month, of course, is a maximum of $240 a year which can be paid to n municipality in lieu of taxes, or perhaps in way of taxes, for a trailer which is being used as a residence. It seems that with the trend towards more luxurious trailers that it is inadequate in many areas to have the limit of $20, and therefore we will be moving an amendment to eliminate that $20 limitation.
Permission is also given in this Act for a municipality to send out separate bills for municipal taxation and for educational taxation. We basically agree with that and I am sure the parliamentary assistant will give some assurance that the degree to which the tax bills are considered separate with regard to payment of taxes, instalments, and so on, should be limited, and that we don’t get into having two whole separate tax systems for education and for municipal taxation.
That concludes my comments on second reading of this bill. As I say we will have some amendments to move when it goes to the committee of the House.
Mr. Good: I have a few comments on the bill. Many of the sections of the bill reduce from a two-thirds requirement to a simple majority the vote of a city council acting on certain things. There are a wide variety of measures which did require two-thirds of the vote of municipal councils previously. This is reduced to a simple majority and I think that is a good move.
It is hard to designate which matters of council are that much more important than other matters, and which therefore would require support by more council members, up to the two-thirds amount. I think it certainly is a worthwhile move to reduce the two-thirds to a simple majority and make that uniform and constant, no matter what matters councils are dealing with.
The municipal code to cover a wide variety of bylaws is something which I am sure will simplify administration. People going in to look at the bylaws of a municipality pertaining to a certain subject will be able to see a collection of those bylaws in a municipal code, and that code then will be passed as one bylaw.
Other sections in the bill deal with the extension of debenturing from 10 to 20 years for certain garbage and refuse expenditures, and from five to 10 years for the purchase of road-making machinery. I am sure this will facilitate financing and the issuing of debentures for these matters in the municipalities.
The one thing in the bill which has drawn some debate is the provisions of section 296 of The Municipal Act, which now allow municipalities, both above or below 20,000, to change the terms of their debenture issue with the approval of the OMB. They find in practice that sometimes part of an issue will be sold and then for reasons of the daily fluctuation of the market a municipality will find that the rest of that issue cannot find a buyer. This, of course, leaves the municipality in a very awkward situation and there are only two alternatives: Either the debentures have to be sold with either a premium or a discount, depending on which way the issue is fluctuating, whether to the advantage or disadvantage of the municipality, or to change the interest rate. I had been told that the bond houses are very reluctant to pay the premiums or to buy at a discount in order to correct the interest rate.
So there has been provision for municipalities to change the terms of their issues half way through the sale, or even the amount to be issued or the interest rate. But the biggest problem, of course, is changing that interest rate.
Previously, all municipalities required OMB approval to change the interest rate on any issue during the terms of its sale. Under this amendment municipalities under 20,000 would be able to change that interest rate only with OMB approval, and municipalities over 20,000 would be able to change the interest rate at will without OMB approval, provided that rate did not go more than one half of one per cent.
I’m told that it’s a very critical matter, when debentures are being sold and the interest rate is changing almost on an hourly basis, and time, of course, means money to that municipality. The large municipalities which are putting out large issues must be able to change that rate almost on the spur of the moment or almost hour by hour to ensure the sale of that debenture or to ensure that they’re not paying more than they should be if the interest rate is falling. I concur with the assumption that large municipalities which have sophisticated procedures and a very competent and large enough staff to handle these facilities will, in fact, benefit from this amendment in that they will not have to receive OMB approval if they want to change the terms of their debenture issue. Consequently, they can change their terms best suited to the sale of those debentures and for the benefit of the municipality.
Then we go to the other part of the amendment, which says that municipalities under 20,000 still retain the same provisions that existed in the section previous to this amendment coming in. Personally, I can’t see too much wrong with that, In many other instances we differentiate between the large municipalities and the small municipality. First of all, the Ontario Municipal Improvement Corporation is available for all municipalities under 20,000. Municipalities over 20,000 population cannot avail themselves of the services of OMIC, because OMIC provides funds to buy debentures only for municipalities under 20,000.
Mr. Swart: The last resort.
Mr. Good: Consequently, the greater proportion of financing done by municipalities is done through OMIC, and the issuing of debentures on the public market is not very common by municipalities under 20,000. If they are issuing they’re usually much smaller issues than they would be for a large municipality. I think the point could well be made that a small municipality cannot afford to have highly trained personnel on the staff simply to service this debenture procedure which comes very seldom on the public money market. So it only makes sense to me that this should be retained for the simple reason that the staff in those small municipalities, I’m sure, would look on it maybe as enjoying the protection of the OMB before these decisions are made.
While the previous speaker had indicated that they don’t think this is right, that it is discriminating, I personally feel there are valid and good grounds for making a difference between those municipalities that do most of their financing through the Ontario Municipal Improvement Corporation, and those larger municipalities that have to go to the public money market for all their financing.
Incidentally, municipalities can now collect dues of up to one-half of a mill from the ratepayers for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and no ministerial approval is required any more for that particular operation.
There’s another section in the bill which is very interesting and that is the matter that deals with the municipalities now being permitted to levy a sewage surcharge on the water bill and do it legally. My own opinion is they’ve all been doing it for years and years and it has been shown, I believe, if I’m not mistaken, in some court action that there has been no authority.
I checked with my own municipality and I find that the revenue derived from the sewage surcharge is shown as taxation revenue. While municipalities can issue this surcharge on taxable property the crunch has come where this surcharge has been levied on properties which have been exempt under section 3 of The Assessment Act.
I presume this section is put in here to legalize the practice which has existed for many years. In my own municipality, it would be ridiculous to think the municipality would not receive a sewage surcharge, say, from the university which is exempt from taxation under The Assessment Act. Over the years the university has required expansion to our municipal sewage treatment plant which would not otherwise have been necessary.
If this is the purpose of this -- to legalize what municipalities have been doing -- I would say it’s about time it was done. The only thing that concerns me is that this amendment is in The Municipal Act. It’s also in The Regional Municipalities Acts -- in The Regional Municipalities Amendment Acts -- which apply to many of the regions. I suppose the reason for that must surely be that in some areas the regions are distributing water and collecting sewage and in other areas it’s done by the lower municipality.
I hope the parliamentary assistant (Mr. Norton) will assure me that there will be no double surcharge allowable by an area government and by a region because this is happening on lot levies across the province -- the impost charges -- and, in my view, it’s a poor way to raise money by having both the area government and the region imposing lot levies. The way I read this that is not the case but I want the parliamentary assistant to assure me that there will be no double impost system -- at least, no double surcharge on sewage -- at the local level and at the regional level. This amendment is in both the municipal bills and the regional bills.
The bylaws to prohibit and control animals within a municipality are being considerably tightened up and there is more control by the municipality. One interesting section for those who haven’t read the bill is that the appointees on the downtown improvement board -- the appointees by the corporation -- must also be persons who can be elected to or are qualified to be elected to city council. That has always been the case of appointees on the board of the downtown merchants but now corporation appointments will have to have that as well.
There’s one interesting amendment here and that is that we’re taking out something which we put in about a year ago. I’m sure it’s not more than a year ago that we required municipalities entering into an agreement with a development corporation to put up something for security. I remember when the bill came through; the way it read it sounded to me as though the municipality would have to mortgage its city hall or one of its buildings in order to get this money from the development corporation. At the time, I suggested that this was a ridiculous procedure because surely a municipality’s credit is based on that municipality’s ability to raise money and nothing more; not whether it has a big city hall or a small holding in property but certainly on the municipality’s ability to raise tax dollars. That’s the basis on which all decisions on the credit of that municipality must be based.
We put the amendment in The Development Corporations Act and the amendment in The Municipal Act that the municipality had to pledge some asset when it got money from that procedure out of The Public Utilities Act last spring, and I’m glad to see now that we’re taking it out of The Municipal Act, because it should never have been put in there about a year and a half ago when it was put in.
The trailer bylaws which the municipalities have been able to pass at present in The Municipal Act will be repealed in January, 1979. In the interim the procedure will be that the municipalities will have to pass bylaws. I hope that municipalities are made aware of this amendment, because some cases, I’m sure, are going to arise in 1979 and municipalities will find that their bylaws are no good and they haven’t made any provisions in their zoning to accommodate trailers. There could be quite a problem in that regard. I think it is going to require immediate action in many municipalities to change the method in which trailer parks and the use of mobile homes in that particular municipality can be regulated. I hope that they recognize the significance of this.
I am not at all impressed with the amendment in here which gives the municipality the right to send out two tax bills. I really think it’s just showmanship to try to divide the education portion of the tax bill and the municipal portion of the tax bill into two tax bills. It’s shown separately on the present tax bill. It’s a needless cost in my view involving more paperwork and more administration. I hope the ministry realizes that in municipalities, where there are, say, two interim tax bills and two tax bills after the mill rate has been set, or even one, that would mean six or eight pieces of taxation documents coming into a household.
Can you imagine the confusion this is going to have for elderly people who get their tax bills? They look at the total and look at the amount of education tax and the amount of municipal tax. You say goodness the education cost is now more than the municipal cost. In many municipalities it is. It’s the major portion of the tax bill. Putting that on two separate pieces of paper is not going to change matters one little bit. I think this thing must have been put in here to satisfy some municipal councillors who feel that it’s a great thing to talk about in the year of municipal elections.
I understand the extra staff for the trial run that was done in Sudbury cost about $10,000. Certain people in the region are extolling it as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I don’t think it makes one little bit of difference whether your education taxes are on one piece of paper and your municipal tax on another piece of paper or whether the two are shown separately on one piece of paper. I think it’s all just a lot of window dressing -- that is the word I was looking for.
Furthermore, I understand that there now is a committee under the provincial-municipal liaison group that is studying the whole matter of tax bills and trying to come up with a standard tax bill. It don’t think this is any time to be fooling around with issuing two tax bills. It is more paperwork. Some of the municipalities I’ve spoken to are not in favour of it. They say much more administration will be required. The large mortgage companies that are paying taxation on houses certainly don’t want to get six tax bills a year instead of three. They’re fed up with the administration of it now. The municipalities rely a great deal on getting a great portion of their tax money in from mortgage companies. They like it. They get it all in one bundle of money and it certainly simplifies their administration.
I think that this thing is more window dressing than it is of practical value. That concludes the major portion of my remarks. We can go into other things in detail in committee of the whole.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to discuss this bill on second reading? If not, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
Mr. Norton: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps at the outset I could direct some remarks to the hon. member for Welland-Thorold on his concern about the consultation. Actually I am surprised that he was not already aware of the fact that there had been very extensive consultation taking place.
As I have said before in the House, one of the limitations that I and people in our ministry are faced with is that there has to be some consideration, primarily I think, of our responsibility to this House. So that has always confronted me with a situation where I am hesitant to go to municipalities with drafted legislation before the legislation is formally before this Legislature. And that does not mean that there is no prior consultation. I can assure you that in the case of this legislation, in almost every instance, the amendments that are being proposed to the House at this time originated with the municipalities and arose out of consultation with those municipalities.
In addition to that, the hon. member was present at the PMLG meeting last month when, although the bill was not at that time before this House, I did discuss with the municipalities represented there and it is representative. However, subject to criticism from the members opposite as it may be, it is nevertheless there to represent the municipalities of this province. I did discuss with them the principles involved in the legislation that we were presenting during this session.
At that time, I anticipated, considering the way the business of the House was proceeding, that we would be some two weeks or more from the time of the first reading of the bill before it would come on for second reading. With the re-ordering of the business to some extent, we are proceeding earlier than we expected.
Upon realizing that, I immediately contacted the chairman of the PMLC, advised him of that fact and pointed out that what I would request was that, although we were going ahead with second reading at this time, I would ask that each of the bills, all six of the bills, would go to committee of the whole House and would ask that that be delayed. I have discussed that with the House leader. I hope that the other parties will co-operate, that these bills will not be dealt with in committee of the whole House for from 10 days to two weeks from the time of second reading. I hope that that will afford ample opportunity for some further response from the municipalities.
In addition to that, on the day in which the bills were introduced in the Legislature, copies were sent to all of the municipalities affected. Now, we are not responsible for the postal service in this country. I understand that some did receive them as late as two or three days ago. However, I can assure you that the copies were sent out at the time of their introduction in the House. I am not sure that I really should comment on the suggestions made by the hon. member opposite with respect to the alleged indifference of the Treasurer. I can assure him that it is easy to say those things when the Treasurer does not happen to be present in the House, perhaps that’s a consequence of his absence at the moment.
Mr. Deans: If he wanted to be here he could. He doesn’t have to give you the job.
Mr. Norton: I think the hon. member opposite realizes that the minister has a very demanding ministry and there is --
Mr. Swart: That is why it should be divided.
Mr. Norton: -- in this instance an area in which a parliamentary assistant may be of some help to him. I should think that he ought not to be subject to criticism for utilizing the services of a parliamentary assistant, however effective or ineffective that particular individual might be. But I can assure you that the Treasurer has a continuing and active and responsive interest in municipal affairs in this province. He is well aware of everything that is going on in this legislation and has had an active part to play in it.
Mr. Swart: He just hasn’t got time.
Mr. Norton: In response to some of the specific comments on sections in the bill -- first of all with regard to the changing of terms of unsold debentures, that’s in section 5. The hon. member raised some question again about the 20,000 population cutoff. I would point out to him that that is not as meaningless as it may sound as has been pointed out, I think, by the hon. member for Waterloo North (Mr. Good). In fact, under the provisions of the Ontario Municipal Improvement Corporation municipalities with populations of less than 20,000 may apply for loans for any municipal purpose. That is not something which is available to municipalities of over 20,000. They may borrow but only for specific purposes.
In contemplation of this particular amendment that was an important consideration. The smaller municipalities often function with a clerk, and relatively little expert advice or professional advice in the area of finances. As a consequence the provisions of OMIC are extended to them on a much broader scale than to larger municipalities.
Also the larger municipalities are dealing in larger sums and must react more quickly in order to make savings when there are fluctuations in the market in order to make sure that their debentures are moving. I think it’s worthy of being mentioned as well that we have not had a single request, to my knowledge, from a small municipality or municipality of fewer than 20,000 for such a change, although we have had, certainly, from larger municipalities faced with more severe problems.
On the question of the trailers -- the provisions which would eliminate the prohibition of trailers within a municipality -- it is intended, as is evident from the note, that the municipalities would utilize land-use planning methods and would view the prohibition or otherwise of trailers as part of their land-use planning process.
The hon. member for Welland-Thorold raised the question as to whether or not it would allow for prohibition by the licensing power. I think the intention is that any prohibition would be done through zoning by-laws and I’m assured by the persons in our ministry that the power could very well be exercised in that way. That’s why it has been proposed that it not be effective until 1979, because we are aware of the fact that there are in excess of 100 municipalities in the province that do not have zoning bylaws at the present time. We want to be sure that they have ample time to get such bylaws into place, and can also assure you that we will be bringing to their attention the need to look seriously at this right away, with the date of 1979 in mind.
On section 15, the member for Welland-Thorold also raised the question of the $20 fee as the ceiling and was going to suggest that that be removed. I would ask that he consider that very carefully, because the reason we are going with that in this point in time is that we are engaging in further consultation with the municipalities -- we have been for some time -- on the question of fees. There has been presented to the PMLC a discussion paper that was prepared within the ministry on the question of fees and fees chargeable by municipalities and we are still awaiting a response from the PMLC on that discussion paper.
I would not want to start without having an overall policy. This is what we’re trying to arrive at with the municipalities, an overall policy with respect to fees, and I would like to encourage you to leave this as is for the moment until such an overall policy can be used as the blueprint for any changes.
On the question of the separate tax bills, I believe there were two issues that were raised. First of all, I am sure members are aware it is permissive. There is nothing here that is going to make it mandatory for municipalities to issue two separate tax bills. Again, I think that if we really mean what we say in terms of allowing the decision-making power at the local level to be effective, surely such things as this have to be granted to them. They can use their own good judgement in deciding whether it is appropriate or not in their municipalities to issue two separate tax bills.
I am aware of the fact that there would be certain additional costs involved and I am sure they would be when they considered that course of action as well. However, I am not sure that those arguments alone are sufficient to deny them even that option when they are faced with the kinds of demands that are -- we all know why municipalities have been requesting this, because of the- -
Mr. Good: More than one?
Mr. Norton: Yes, more than one. Many more than one as a matter of fact. There is one that has already gone ahead and done it and it certainly has not been challenged. There are differences of opinion as to the legality of the step that they have taken, but it certainly is not clear that it is not a legal step. This would clarify the matter. There would not be any duplication of tax billing procedures with the exception of the bill itself.
The function and the responsibility would still remain with the municipality and it is not a matter where they could now say to the school board, “Okay, you set up your own taxing department and send out your own bills.” Clearly the responsibility rests with the municipality. The only additional authority would be that they can send out two separate bills if they choose to in their area.
The only other thing that comes to mind immediately that was mentioned was the concern that was raised with respect to the possibility of a double surcharge on sewage. I can assure members that is not our intent, and I have checked and been advised that it is not possible that there would be a double charge there, that the charge would go with whichever tier of government had the responsibility for the sewer service.
I think I have touched on all of the major points that have been raised by the members and I am sure that there will be an opportunity for much fuller discussion when it is dealt with in committee.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 150, An Act to amend The Regional Municipalities Act.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, most of the items in this bill are provisions that we have dealt with in the previous bill, Bill 149, and I am not going to duplicate the discussion that took place on that bill. However, we will ask, and I guess the parliamentary assistant has agreed, that this bill and subsequent bills will go to committee of the whole House even though there may not be amendments for the prime reason to give opportunity for the municipal association and the municipalities to determine what is in the bills and to bring forth any recommendations which they may have. In this bill, I have a question relative to sections 2, 17, 13, 19, 25, and so on, which propose the repeal of these sections which provide that “the regional council shall by bylaw appoint a regional roads commissioner, who shall be a professional engineer registered as a civil engineer under The Professional Engineers Act, to administer and manage the regional road system,” and that “the regional roads commissioner shall not be dismissed from office except after a hearing by the regional council if so requested by the commissioner.”
In the explanatory notes it says that the purpose is to remove the requirement that he be a civil engineer. At least that is the way I read the explanation. However, it does much more than that, unless there is some other provision in some other section of some other Act of which I am unaware. In fact, it removes the requirement for the regional council to appoint a roads commissioner and removes the right of that roads commissioner to have certain rights against dismissal by the council and certain rights of appeal.
I am wondering whether it is really the intention of the government to remove the appointment provision and to remove the right of a hearing for the roads commissioner. The roads commissioner is a pretty important person in the structure and operation of regional government, and it seems to me that when it is required in The Municipal Act for certain other officials to be appointed in municipalities -- there are certain requirements for certain officials -- that perhaps here we should not remove that requirement for the council to appoint them and for them to have a certain right of appeal. I am sure the parliamentary assistant will deal with that matter when he speaks to this bill.
Because all of the other provisions in the Act are similar to Bill 149, with the possible exception of the removal of the approval by MTC of speed limits, which I support, I will turn to the last item I want to mention in connection with the bill. I would like an explanation of the reason that York wants a different system with regard to the variation in water rates, which is a somewhat different policy to the other regions, and of the reasons, although they may be perfectly satisfactory, for them constructing buildings for the Children’s Aid Society.
I think those are the only questions that the bill raises as far as I am concerned.
Mr. Good: Mr. Speaker, I have a very few comments. Most things in this bill follow the amendments in the previous bill under The Municipal Act, except I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the government finally did recognize that there is confusion between the regional municipality of Durham and the town of Durham in Grey county.
Mr. Gaunt: It took them a long time. They’ve been a long time coming around.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We just wanted to be sure.
Mr. Good: It’s something we have been talking about ever since the regional municipality of Durham was instituted.
Mr. Gaunt: Light dawned slowly.
Mr. Good: In fact, the former Management Board chairman lost his seat partly over that issue, along with a lot of other inefficiencies and shortcomings of the government.
But, finally, we have an amendment which clearly states in the explanatory notes that the name of the Durham planning area will be changed to the regional municipality of Durham planning area “in an attempt to avoid confusion with the town of Durham in the county of Grey.” For five years we have been telling them that they shouldn’t have identified the regional municipality of Durham by that name, because there is another town of Durham. The town of Durham did everything within its power to dissuade the government from creating another municipality of Durham, but to no avail. It cost the government one seat, but finally they are beginning to recognize that this confusion does indeed exist.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. member wish to address himself to this bill? If not, the hon. parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate the hon. member for Durham East (Mr. Moffatt) is not present in the House to assist me on that particular issue.
Mr. Cunningham: He’s campaigning in Kingston.
Mr. Norton: On the question of deleting the requirement of appointing a roads commissioner within a municipality, the hon. member is quite right in that the explanation does appear to remove the requirement that he be a civil engineer. It was the original intent to remove that specific requirement because of the changing methods of training and educating engineers. That became less and less significant in terms of certification of professional engineers.
At the same time it was pointed out to us that surely when we’re dealing with municipalities today, particularly regional municipalities, we’re dealing with a pretty sophisticated form of government which surely ought to be able to make decisions such as whether or not it requires an engineer at all for this particular function. It might decide, for example, to handle that responsibility -- it is clearly charged with that responsibility -- in some way other than through the specific appointment of this individual.
Again, I think it merely reflects a growing confidence in the ability of local governments to make dependable and responsible decisions. I think that in many ways over the years our legislation with respect to municipalities has, on such points, appeared to be rather paternalistic. I think that this is a move in the right direction.
Mr. Foulds: It not only appeared to be, it was.
Mr. Norton: They have the responsibility and I think, having given them that responsibility we can surely also allow them to discharge it in whatever way they see fit and account to their electorate for it.
Obviously, if we’re not going to have a requirement to appoint, the procedure for a hearing on dismissal becomes rather redundant. I would hope that would he something dealt with in the contract the individual might have with the municipality or might be dealt with as a matter of policy on the same basis as other administrative personnel within the municipal government structure.
On the question of the York water rates it is an unusual situation and they have asked for special consideration because they are in a very special situation at the moment. They have indicated there is some urgency in this matter. As members may know -- many of them know, perhaps, better than I -- York region is now being charged for water purchased from the province under the south central York servicing scheme. These costs are, in turn, passed along to the area municipalities affected or parts of the area municipalities, depending upon the circumstances.
At the present time, the legislation permits the regional council to fix rates for the supply of water to area municipalities but it doesn’t cover any alternative methods for charging for this service or any differential of rates. Because of the special circumstances in York they have requested permission in order to do this -- to pass along the cost to the area municipalities -- and that’s why this amendment is being introduced at this time. No other municipality is in that situation and that’s why it’s unique to York.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY OF MUSKOKA AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 151, An Act to amend The District Municipality of Muskoka Act.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, this follows the pattern of the changes in the bills for the other regional municipalities which were made last year and in which we were able to make some valuable amendments. Because it does, we will support the bill. I will not make any comment on it, except to say that I’m pleased that the parliamentary assistant included in this bill the amendment which we moved last year, which was passed by this House and on which on division the government stood up and supported us and the other opposition party at that time to give the rate- payer the right within regional municipalities to have an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board on the ward system.
We will support this bill, but for the reasons previously mentioned will ask that it go to the committee of the whole House.
Mr. Good: We can find no additional amendments that were net in the other bills, so we will support this as well.
Mr. Norton: I have nothing to add, on this bill.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 152, An Act to amend The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Mr. Swart: This bill again contains the provisions which we’ve already approved and/or discussed in the previous Acts with one or two slight exceptions.
Under section 3, it proposes to remove the authority for the metropolitan council to make an annual grant of not more than $ 169,000 to the Toronto Transit Commission towards the cost of providing free transportation for blind persons and war amputees. We even support the removal of that because they have authority elsewhere. However, I think we would have preferred that perhaps there be specific mention in all of the municipal Acts about free transportation for blind persons, war amputees and other disabled persons to highlight the very real necessity for this, and not only to provide them with free transportation, but also to provide the type of facilities that those types of people can use.
We’re not going to oppose the bill for that reason. But I very much wanted to make that point here that the time has come in transportation where society has to take responsibility for the disabled to see that they have the same rights of public transportation as all other people have. That includes financial rights, so that they’re not excluded because of financial inability nor also because of the type of construction of the transportation vehicles.
Mr. Norton: Very briefly, I appreciate what the hon. member for Welland-Thorold is attempting to do in his comments on that particular section. Surely he has to recognize, though, that many municipalities in this province over the last few years have made very sincere efforts to improve the transportation facilities for people with specific handicaps and specific disabilities. They have the authority to go as far as they can. In some municipalities, they don’t have public transit for anyone, but there are many municipalities that have specific equipment to provide low-cost transit for handicapped people.
Once again, I think it would be presumptuous of us as a Legislature, if we have any confidence in local government at all, to prescribe in legislation what their specific priorities should be. I agree with the import of what he is saying, but I just don’t think that it is our responsibility to prescribe priorities for municipalities.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
COUNTY OF OXFORD AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 153, An Act to amend The County of Oxford Act, 1974.
Mr. Swart: Again, Mr. Speaker, the Act to amend The County of Oxford Act, which we have before us now, follows generally the pattern of the other regional municipalities and therefore we will support this bill in principle. It’s particularly desirable to lengthen the time from 30 days to 60 days to replace a member of the council, if they want to use the provisions of the Act. When they wish to elect that person rather than appoint him, they need that extra time, and therefore that amendment is desirable.
The next item I have some concern with, as we expressed in the other regional municipalities Act, and that is that the regional municipality has authority over the local municipalities with regard to the stop signs, even on the local municipal roads. I am aware, of course, that formerly the local municipalities had to get approval from MTC for their traffic bylaws, now they must get it from the regional council. My point is, and I think it’s a valid one, that they shouldn’t need to get it from either. I think it’s perfectly legitimate that the regional council should have authority over all the roads coming on to the regional roads with regard to traffic, but on those roads well removed from the regional roads, why should the regional municipality have authority? It is really just a duplication again of all kinds of rules and regulations and bylaws, and I would like to see the local municipality have full authority over that decision-making process.
That’s the only comment I have pertaining to this Act.
Mr. Good: I just have one comment, Mr. Speaker, and that is that the provisions in this amendment to The County of Oxford Act bring it into line with other amendments made to both The Municipal Act and to the other regional governments, so in name only we find The County of Oxford Act is retaining its stature as a county, when in fact it is a region, as we pointed out when the original bill was passed. The only difference is the chairman of the region is called a warden. Other than that, the legislation is now in complete uniformity with all other regional government bills and we see nothing particularly different from these amendments than from all other amendments to both regional bills and The Municipal Act.
The matter to which the previous speaker made reference simply means that I suppose it is somewhat of an improvement where the authority of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is now substituted by the county instead of the ministry, which is, of course, some improvement as far as the area government is concerned.
Mr. Speaker: Any further comments? The hon. member for Oxford.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’m afraid I just can’t let the comments of the member for Waterloo North go without any comment. I really do believe that there are some very significant differences between The County of Oxford Act and the regional bills. I’d be glad to elaborate on that if he would like. Certainly, our police protection is significantly different than the regional municipalities. I would think if members would look at all of the ramifications of that Bill 95 passed some two years ago now, they would find a very significant difference, and I think we should have it on the record that we in Oxford are very content with the fact that this government has made a very substantial effort to address itself to a different form of local government than the regional municipality. Because there are options in this province and the government has seen fit in Oxford to make a very notable example of what can be done on the basis of dialogue between the treasury and the local officials I would think that after two years that there is a great deal of testimony to the fact that that bill is working.
I read in the local press just last week that one of the strongest opponents of the restructuring of Oxford, who became the mayor of one of the municipalities, has said without doubt he thinks the system is working and is good for Oxford. Now, that is not surprising if it were someone who had previously supported the bill. But I would think from my knowledge of the situation that he was one of the strongest opponents and has now been convinced that the bill has worked well and will continue to work well. I think this is an illustration of where continuing dialogue between Queen’s Park and the local municipalities is effective and the people of Oxford are quite content with it.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I wanted to say just a word or two about the amendments as they are before us. As the member for Oxford, the hon. minister who just spoke is well aware, the amendments follow directly in the pattern established for the other regional governments in the province. The differences are indiscernible and I just felt that this should be made clear in response to what the member for Oxford has said. it is true that it is not called a regional government but a restructured county. Mr. Speaker, being very familiar with these matters yourself you will be aware that the only essential difference really has been that we don’t have a chairman who is named by the government here at Queen’s Park as has been the case --
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Oh that is just not so.
Mr. Nixon: -- in the other regions. In fact the head of the municipality is the warden and the warden who has been serving for the last few years, I understand, is stepping down this year after giving good service under the circumstances of the bill that was passed establishing the restructured county. But for the hon. minister --
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Tell me --
Mr. Nixon: -- who is now interjecting to indicate that one of the significant differences is that we don’t have regional police in Oxford is an indication, perhaps, that he is not familiar with the patterns in other regional governments. Where they were imposed under other instances, it was not with the imposition of regional police which turn out to be extremely expensive indeed but with the maintenance of the service of the OPP at least for the first few years. And in my opinion it’s one of the tragedies of a continuation of Conservative government if -- and it is devoutly hoped that it would not happen -- this Legislature would be called upon to approve the establishment of a regional police force or perhaps a restructured county police force to make a bow to the difference that the minister sees but which is not really apparent.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Don’t hold your breath.
Mr. Nixon: The provisions of this bill, however, as you are aware are completely parallel with the changes in the other regional governments in the province.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: No, they are not.
Mr. Nixon: One of the significant studies that has come out of the government in recent months -- it’s just a bit more than a year -- was the study brought forward by the committee headed by the Treasurer in which efforts were made to change the costing structures of the systems and programmes in the province of Ontario. After assessing the costs of regional government and restructured county government the committee, chaired by the Treasurer, brought forward a clear recommendation that no further regionalization or restructuring of counties should go forward because of the increase in the costs. Not only do local costs increase but the grants from the government have increased in a way which indicate that while the services may in fact be better in restructured counties and regions, the costs have also escalated tremendously compared with those parts of the province that haven’t been treated to this kind of leadership from the Conservative government.
Mr. Speaker: Any further comments? If not, the hon. parliamentary assistant. I might say many of those remarks of the last two speakers have been out of order because they really weren’t included in this bill, but they were interesting. The hon. parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Kerrio: So were the interjections.
Mr. Nixon: Well, there is one on each side then.
Mr. Norton: I do hope that doesn’t preclude me from responding to the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon). When I hear someone speaking so quickly with his tongue in his cheek without biting it, it just amazes me; I must admire the man. I’m sure that had the hon. member for Oxford (Mr. Parrott) not been present in the House that those remarks would not have been made at all in response to the proposed amendments here.
I know the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is well aware of the difference between powers and structures. Although a restructured county may end up with many of the powers that a regional form of government has, it does not mean that in structure it is a regional government. There are vast differences and I’m sure that he is aware of that, given the area of the province that he represents.
The fact that these amendments are here right now represents a very long period of consultation that we engaged in with that particular municipality.
Mr. Good: You would have a tough job convincing them of that.
Mr. Norton: They are very well aware of their uniqueness. It was largely because of that the consultation took as long as it did. My visits to that municipality to discuss the proposed amendments with them --
Mr. Nixon: It is regional government by the back door.
Mr. Norton: -- have reinforced for me the uniqueness of Oxford as a restructured municipality. It is vastly different from the regional governments in this province.
Mr. Speaker: Can we wind up on Bill 153, please? Could we get back to the principle of Bill 153?
Mr. Nixon: The Speaker says come to order.
Ms. Norton: Yes, of course, Mr. Speaker. I just felt that since the others had raised such basic questions that I really ought to be able to respond. I think really there’s nothing more for me to respond to, other than to the question raised by the hon. member for Welland-Thorold -- I believe it was he -- about traffic approvals at the county level. I think that makes eminently good sense. Surely there has to be some overall co-ordination of traffic flow within a municipality. In this case it was in the county. I think it’s important that there be an overview for approval of these at the local level, which would not allow for simply inconsistent traffic regulations on roads which flow from one municipality into the other.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
MUNICIPALITY OF SHUNIAH ACT
Mr. Norton, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough moved second reading of Bill 154, An Act respecting the Municipality of Shuniah.
Mr. Foulds: I’ll be very brief. The bill has been subjected to a searching examination by myself, by my colleague from Welland-Thorold and by our caucus. We support the bill in principle. There is no need in our opinion for the bill to go into committee.
I have talked extensively with councillors and with the clerk in the municipality of Shuniah. They are in favour of it unanimously, as are, to the best of my knowledge, the residents of the area. The first section simply involves a name change that will bring the municipality in line with the number of others of the same rank and status in the province.
The second section allows the municipality simply to set a uniform mill rate for the whole municipality instead of having to do the two entirely different sets of estimates and rate books as they do now for McTavish and MacGregor. Over the last number of years our research indicates that there has only ever been a difference of half a mill between each of the two wards. It has in fact fluctuated from side to side. As there is no reason I can see for objection, I think that the bill should receive speedy approval.
Mr. Speaker: Any further comments? I point out it is 5 o’clock, which is supposed to be the beginning of the private members’ hour. If it is going to be lengthy we will adjourn the debate.
Mr. Good: No, Mr. Speaker, we will support the amendments in this bill as well.
Mr. Norton: I have nothing to add, except to say this is not one that I would ask to go to committee, because there is some urgency about its being passed through third reading as quickly as possible.
Motion agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 154, An Act respecting the Municipality of Shuniah.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ HOUR:
CONDOMINIUM AMENDMENT ACT II
Mr. Leluk moved second reading of Bill 57, An Act to amend The Condominium Act.
Mr. Leluk moved second reading of Bill 58, An Act to amend The Condominium Act.
NOTICE OF MOTION NO. 13
Mr. Leluk moved resolution No. 13.
Resolved: That in the opinion of this House a select committee of the Legislature be appointed to examine The Condominium Act, condominium law in other jurisdictions, mortgage financing of condominium projects, trends in industrial and commercial use of condominiums, and any other pertinent condominium matters with a view to improving condominium lifestyles, to prepare and submit a report to the Legislature by the end of March, 1977, with its recommendations.
Mr. Leluk: The basic purpose of Bill 57 is to improve the qualifications of condominium directors who sit on a board. The present qualifications only require that a board member be 18 years of age or older. My bill would require that in addition he or she would have to be an owner in the corporation and the holder of a condominium director’s certificate issued by prescribed institutions where such a course is being offered. Since my introduction of this bill in April of this year, I have had enthusiastic response from condominium owners, board members and so forth.
I respect the views of those who do not agree with my position but feel that it is in the best interests of condominium owners. It is nice to know that on occasion the members of the Legislature are supported by the press. I would like to read into the record the October 6 editorial from the Etobicoke Advertiser-Guardian which supports my position and says that:
“York West MPP Nick Leluk has the right idea in calling for qualification upgrading for condominium boards of directors. Handling, maintenance, budget insurance and mortgage payments, administering condominium bylaws and management agreements and coping with Condominium Act regulations -- in short the duties of a condominium board is no mickey mouse job. Condominium directors, once elected, should be required to attend courses in such things with course expenses paid by the condominium corporations which elected them.”
Mr. Foulds: Didn’t you get better reviews than that?
Mr. Leluk: Well, I haven’t seen any review in this area from the hon. member across the House. Some community colleges do offer limited three-day courses.
Mr. McClellan: He will give you a review in a few minutes.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The interjections are just wasting valuable time, when each one is limited to so many minutes.
Mr. Leluk: These courses are offered on a voluntary basis and hence treat condominium complexities too superficially. These courses I feel should be mandatory. They should be broader in scope and a maximum of six weeks in length. Some people who have taken the existing courses would argue that while it does provide them with some condominium knowledge, the time constraints prohibit that topics be treated in greater depth. I believe that the course will make for better informed and responsible directors.
Now why do I believe that the directors of these condominiums need greater knowledge and qualifications? I would like to say here that many of them do an excellent job with their limited knowledge. I would argue that this is essential because the major task of a condominium board is to maintain the property and its related assets. Presently this is only true to a limited extent because condominium property management firms are assuming more than just a job of carrying nut the tasks of property maintenance. In fact, so-called professional condominium property management firms are assuming the role of directors as well in many cases.
Mr. Philip: Why don’t you regulate them?
Mr. Leluk: It’s the age-old question of who is setting policy and who is carrying the policy out. I feel that a more informed and responsible board will be able to instruct condominium property management firms in what they want to have done. The whole area of condominium property management needs to be examined in great detail as to professional standards, qualifications, and above all, business ethics.
My Act would allow directors to be paid for services rendered where the declaration so stipulates. I believe that if people are required to be qualified and are expected to put in the necessary time as members of a board of directors, then I feel there should be some remuneration for this. Also, I feel that this will be an incentive to attract better qualified persons to seek positions on the boards of directors. I view condominium corporations not only as residences, but as businesses with large operating budgets and reserve funds. I have been told that where people are not paid, eventually temptation rears its sweet head.
Mr. Cunningham: What do you mean by that?
Mr. Leluk: What do I mean by that? Eventually there are opportunities for directors to receive special consideration from contractors, developers, or what have you. Now having said that, I know that the media will try to impugn the motives of the large majority of directors. The fact remains that payments would tend to curb such potential abuses. If all directors were not to be paid, because there have been arguments against expenses being already too high in some condominiums, then we might encourage the concept of a professional director whose responsibility could include that of general manager of the corporation. He or she could receive an honorarium for services rendered.
The Act would eliminate the expensive practice, which presently exists, whereby corporations always have to call two meetings to get a quorum. Presently for a budget meeting there is a need for 33½ per cent to 50 per cent of all owners to be present for a quorum. With the present apathy that exists in condominiums, they don’t usually have 33½ per cent to 50 per cent of all owners present at a meeting. If the first meeting was eliminated, and a meeting was called with notices and an agenda sent out, say, 10 days prior to the meeting, and if there was no quorum of owners about half-an-hour after the time for that meeting, those present would then constitute a quorum and a meeting would convene. I also believe that a simple majority of those present at a meeting for, say, discussion of a budget or for election of board members, is sufficient.
The Act also provides that proxies must be in a prescribed form. This is not the ease at present, and the intention here would be to make owners more aware of what they are signing. There are abuses, I am told, with proxies in condominiums. Some have argued that their use in condominiums should be illegal, that The Condominium Act specifies that The Business Corporations Act shall not govern, and that the only place where you find proxies is in The Business Corporations Act. Others have argued that there should be a limit established on the number of proxies that any member of a corporation can use. This would stop the practice of one person, in a ease mentioned to me, for example, from collecting 250 proxies and coming to a meeting and controlling that meeting. If there were 125 persons present in person --
Mr. Philip: Who did this? The developer?
Mr. Leluk: As I was told. And, with 272 persons present in the form of proxies, of which 250 were controlled by one person, I was told that this person elected himself to the board and then two months later became the property manager. Now, at present he is a director and a property manager and there is nothing really illegal about this practice.
I am not trying to correct individual problems in condominiums with legislation. I am trying to provide legislation that will enable condominiums to solve their own problems at duly constituted meetings, called for the purpose of correcting those problems. This can’t be done when one person through proxies, for instance, can control not only the meeting but the outcome of that meeting. In my bill I also propose that the corporation need only get a majority vote at any meeting duly called, instead of the 66 2/3 or 80 per cent, as the case may be, of the owners of the common elements agreeing to the proposal.
Since the introduction of the bill I have had many people bring to my attention the problems associated with my proposal, with the result that I have had some change of mind. The Condominium Act presently stipulates that 66 2/3 per cent of the owners who attend a legally constituted meeting can change the bylaws; and where there is damage to property and the board deems that this damage is 25 per cent or better at a meeting called within 30 days, that 80 per cent of all owners must agree to the repairs. I’m told you never get 80 per cent of all owners to attend, and this is the problem. Therefore, I would recommend that the present percentages of 66 2/3 per cent and 80 per cent remain the same, but they should hold true for those present at a duly called meeting and not of all owners present. Otherwise, I’m told that the condominiums would never get anything done. Surely 66 2/3 of, say, 100 persons at a duly constituted meeting are intelligent enough to make changes in bylaws.
Going on to Bill 58, the purpose of the bill is to provide for a condominium registrar, who would have an expertise in the condominium field and would serve and control a central registry office for the filing of pertinent information such as minutes of annual meetings of corporations, lists of directors, financial statements and any other documents required to be registered.
The province of Nova Scotia has a condominium registrar whose duties are somewhat similar to those proposed in my bill. And where my bill specifies that the focus for such an office would be the Ontario government, possibly though the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, however, that is not the only means of achieving this goal. A better model possibly would be the creation of an independent council, association or institute, composed of condominium owners, developers, condominium management firms, lawyers and other professionals to administer the functions of the condominium registrar.
Organizational models already exist for such a concept. For example, this government earlier this year established the new homes warranty council, to be administered by the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada in co-operation with the provincial government. Funding for such a body could come from a variety of independent sources. While my bill proposes that the registrar’s office be located in government, unlike my socialist friends opposite who see government as the saviour of all of us, possibly the second approach has greater usefulness.
Mr. Philip: Your government? At least we don’t regulate individuals.
Mr. Leluk: There have been also some objections raised to the time period for filing a true copy of the minutes of the annual meeting of corporations. In my bill I’ve called for seven days. I now agree that this is not sufficient time, and I would think that 30 days after the approval by the board would be more appropriate.
Similar objections were also raised about the time-frame for filing a copy of the financial statement of a corporation within 30 days of the end of the fiscal year. Again, I am flexible and feel that a 90-day period would be more conventional.
I would now like to turn to Resolution No. 13. When the resolution was placed on the order paper hack in June of this year, I felt that with the adjournment of the House for the summer, a select committee of the Legislature would have been an ideal way to proceed to examine The Condominium Act and other pertinent areas related to condominium living, with a view to preparing and submitting a report to the Legislature by the end of March. Apparently there were already some four or five select committees appointed to look into various problem areas, and this committee never did come into being. The summer passed --
Mr. Cunningham: They ran out of members.
Mr. Leluk: -- and in September, at the Etobicoke Rotary Club luncheon, I called on my government to support a condominium task force composed of a broad cross-section of representatives from the condominium world to deal with the urgent problems of condominium living like our good Conservative friends in Alberta have done. I was therefore --
Mr. Cunningham: Why didn’t you mention the Nova Scotia Liberals?
Mr. Leluk: -- very pleased with the announcement of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) last Friday in this House that an interministerial committee to examine and make recommendations into a number of problems of condominium home ownership would be set up.
Mr. Philip: If you are defeated, you will be the next chairman of it.
Mr. Leluk: Don’t hold your breath, my friend.
Mr. Warner: You don’t want to be chairman?
Mr. Leluk: I want to congratulate the minister on taking this step and getting on with the job. Whether the announcement is a response to my urgings over the past year or not, I am sure that it is welcomed by the numerous Ontario condominium owners. I do hope, however, that its terms of reference will be broadened to include the central registry of condominium corporations for reporting purposes, board liability and indemnification, improved financial protection for condominium owners possibly through the bonding of condominium directors, rental problems on the part of private, one-unit owners and corporate tenants, long-term management agreements between builder, developer and corporation --
Mr. Warner: Administration problems --
Mr. Leluk: -- the question of double taxation where the city or municipality is paid for certain services such as snow removal and then moneys are paid as well to the condominium which, in turn, hires snow removal firms to do the job.
I would hope, too, that they would include the ineligibility of condominium corporations to apply for Ontario Home Renewal Programme loans to make major structural improvements in the corporations; that they look at the language and lifestyle problems pertaining to the many condominiums which are presently experiencing these problems with newcomers who have just arrived from other countries.
Also, the need to re-examine the use of proxies in condominiums is, I think, an important area that should be looked at as well as the priority of condominium corporations over the mortgage holder.
Mr. Warner: This major problem --
Mr. Foulds: Review rating: d-minus.
Mr. Philip: You’re beautiful. You do more to get me re-elected than anyone else in the borough.
Mr. Gregory: You need a lot of help.
Mr. Philip: As a condominium owner and as MPP for a riding that has a great number of condominiums, I appreciate the fact that we can debate Bills 57, 58 and Resolution No. 13 together. I think they clearly show the focus of the member for York West, the focus that he has on condominiums. Instead of dealing with the real problems faced by condominium owners, he zeroes in on their elected boards of directors. It’s an old Conservative Party tactic. If there is a problem. and the “big blue machine” doesn’t want to upset its friends, then it picks a whipping boy and hammers away in the hope that the public will suddenly decide that that is the issue.
Mr. Warner: Right on. He should resign.
Mr. Philip: The fact is that the real problems do not rest with the boards of directors of condominium associations. The real problems are highlighted in the conclusions of a recent report by the chairman and members of the condominium working committee, the Association of Etobicoke Condominium Corporations. The report, incidentally, is being presented this afternoon at the council of the borough of Etobicoke.
I hope that the member for York West will pay attention to this because it is his constituents who are talking.
The conclusion is as follows: “Etobicoke condominium corporations have pointed out all of their problems to both provincial and municipal levels of government for years, but nobody has really tackled the structural and mechanical discrepancies so prevalent in condominiums.”
Furthermore, there’s little indication that this government really intends to look at the problem seriously.
Mr. Varner: That’s right. Have to control development.
Mr. Philip: This month’s issue of The Condominium which I referred to at question period has the headline: “No Plans to Legislate Developers.” The first paragraph reads as follows: “Consumer and Commercial Relations Minister Sidney Handleman says that the provincial government does not intend to legislate guidelines for developers.”
Let me read some of the problems as seen by those who own condominiums in the borough of Etobicoke. I do this not because they are my constituents but also because they are the condominium constituents of the member for York West.
If I may quote again from the report being presented this afternoon before the council of the borough of Etobicoke: “In high-rise condominiums and all others which have underground garages, one of the main trouble areas revolves around insufficient compacting around the foundations of the budding, poor drainage and insulation, cracks in the concrete ceilings resulting from severe leakage problems.”
2. “All existing condominiums have road problems. Either the asphalt is done poorly or the compacting of the road accounts for cracking, sunken areas, and break-ups.”
3. “Townhouses suffer from roof design faults which cause dangerous icing and leakage problems. All developments and high-rises have intensive roof insulation deficiencies.”
4. “Heating systems, ducts and pipe insulation leave plenty to be desired. Furnaces in most townhouses seem to be too small and ducts should be of a larger gauge, the result being that some rooms in the multi-level units are never warm enough.”
5. “Soundproofing has to be improved for all types of high-density buildings, but especially for developments near major highways and air flight passes.”
6. “Electrical wiring outlets and control panels are of dangerously low quality and result in blow-out and fires.”
7. “The plumbing in some high-rise condominiums is so bad that there are backups of raw sewage up to the third and fourth floors. Joint breaks inside the walls are also rather common.”
8. “Improperly caulked windows and flashings, cracks in retaining and outside walls create leakage problems and expensive repairs.”
Now the minister, were he present today, might say that these problems are covered by the home warranty programme. However, we know what that home warranty programme is and we know that the people like myself who own condominiums are not presently protected by the defaults that the government allowed to have all of these developers create these problems in the first place.
I only have to look at the Ottawa Citizen of a couple of days ago which reports condominium owners are suing builders. It tells the whole story of owners of a 375-unit high-rise in Ottawa’s east end who are taking the developers to court. Unfortunately, not all of us live in large condominiums. My own condominium has 55 units. We can’t afford court costs. What we do want, though, is a government that at least takes some initiative to protect us.
One would not deny the need for constantly providing for more professional development of those in any kind of elected office, be he a condominium director or a member of the Ontario Legislature. But there is a difference between the task of facilitating and that of coercing, as is advocated in Bill 58. The government setting specific standards that someone must meet before they run for office is a move in a very serious direction. The members of a democratic society like to decide for themselves who’s qualified to represent them and not be told by big government.
Interestingly enough, the hon. member talks about all the support he has in his own borough or in his own riding for these bills.
Mr. Warner: Loser.
Mr. Philip: One of the directors in his own riding, the riding of York West, telephoned 17 other democratically-elected directors in that riding when it first appeared in the newspaper. Not one of them was in favour of it, and many have expressed indignation that their member should single out condominium directors as the culprits. As one said: “If Mr. Leluk’s government was as competent in managing the government finances of the taxpayers as a lot of our condominium directors are in managing our affairs, then maybe we’d be in a heck of a lot better position in this province.”
Let me read a letter from one of the constituents of York West riding. Mr. P. T. Froggatt is president of York Condominium Corporation No. 110; if I am not mistaken -- and I may be mistaken -- I believe he is also a member of the hon. member’s riding association.
Mr. Warner: He was. He quit.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Philip: I won’t read the whole letter, Mr. Speaker, but I would like to read at least sections of the letter. He concludes his letter by saying:
“Encourage responsible persons to step forward and volunteer their services and, in addition, ensure that they are provided with the tools needed to be able to do the job properly, such as good building construction requirements, meaningful ways of handling chronically illegal parking on the private roadways involved and so on.”
He goes on to say:
“Condominium corporations have done a lot for themselves already (at least in Etobicoke). They have fought and won tax assessment cases, they have formed an association for their mutual benefit, and they have contributed to the municipal and provincial studies and actions with respect to condominiums. I wonder what Mr. Leluk was doing for them while all this was going on?”
It’s signed by Mr. P. T. Froggatt, president of the York Condominium No. 110, in the hon. member’s riding.
Mr. Cunningham: Sounds like a contested nomination.
Mr. Philip: The member for York West must be a very sad person today for clearly the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) has ignored one of his major proposals -- and really the only sensible proposal that he has made today -- and that is of establishing a select committee to investigate the problems of condominium owners. With all the talking the member has done and with all the press coverage he has had regarding his private member’s bill and his resolution, he has not been able to convince his own party to act in the sensible manner that he has advocated at least in the resolution.
Mr. Warner: Right on.
Mr. Philip: It may well be that the condominium owners in that area will learn that the best way to get action out of the government is not by a back-bencher who can’t convince his own party of what is right, but by a member of the other party. At least then they can put some pressure on it.
The minister’s statement on Friday established an interministerial committee on condominiums, and in my opinion it is clearly another attempt to sweep the problems under the rug. The specific refusal by the minister to allow condominium owners to participate in the decisions of such a committee, and not just submit briefs, is indefensible. Likewise, the fact that the minister appointed, as we found out earlier today, a defeated candidate to head up the committee, would put him under a certain amount of suspicion -- at least to some of us -- as to his impartiality.
Mr. Cunningham: Who is that?
Mr. Warner: Name him.
Mr. Philip: To make matters worse, just before he released his statement, the minister announced in the Nov. 1 issue of The Condominium that “Consumer and Commercial Relations Minister Handleman says that the provincial government does not intend to legislate guidelines for developers.”
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Philip: If that is not an instruction to the committee, I don’t know what is.
Mr. Hall: Mr. Speaker, I will speak briefly and talk about the two bills and the resolution all at once as the other members have done.
I come from an area that is not heavily urban and we don’t have the condominium situation that exists in Metro. I understand, however, that there are some 38,000 condominiums in Metro and I think that it is high time that the government took some steps to have a maturity in this important segment of our housing supply.
In this area, condominiums were looked on brightly as one real hope for a major increase in personal homeownership, as it has been in other areas. But over a few years, because of a lack of good guidance and because of looseness of regulation, there have been a lot of problems that have been left unattended. The result is, according to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, as quoted in the Star this fall, that even though there is a housing shortage, there are some 9,000 new vacant condominiums in the Toronto region and again as many are up for resale.
This is because they have faced problems of a lack of knowledge of what they’re getting into and stories from friends who have had unfortunate experiences themselves. There is a question as to who they can turn to for information. Realtors are not necessarily well versed in this product, developers naturally want to put their best foot forward, and the municipalities in some instances are too busy, not interested or ignorant of some of the details relative to condominium legislation.
There are also delays in registration. There are delays in registration under The Land Titles Act for housing generally, but there are delays in this matter which is more complicated than a normal title.
I understand as well that many condominium owners in their units run up against problems, as a board of directors, with franchises for certain facilities such as coin laundries which have been granted and run for a longer tenure than the directorate has any control over. Also the lack of proper financial statements by either the developer or the condominium corporation has again worked against true disclosure, so someone interested in living in a condominium can know exactly what he’s going to buy.
There is also the problem of the developer possibly understating the maintenance costs, which I understand are only guaranteed for the first year, and facing a much higher tab when all involved as owners have moved in and find themselves responsible for a share in the operation of the condominium. When they look at some of the real costs they might face, the bill is pretty high.
I think there is certainly a need to proceed for improvement. The thought of a dialogue, as suggested by the minister on Friday, between everybody who doesn’t know anything about it so they can all get together and make certain they all know their problems, is of some merit. The suggestion of a select committee seems to have been bypassed by the minister; rather, he’s going to have his own sort of select committee, drawing resource personnel from Housing --
Mr. Philip: It’s not a select committee.
Mr. Hall: No, it’s not. I said it’s been bypassed. Now he’s going to have his own resource personnel from Housing, Revenue and TEIGA, and an independent consultant. Inasmuch as roughly two-thirds of the more than 57,000 condominiums in Ontario are in Metro region, in this instance I do suggest very strongly that if there is an independent consultant appointed, that that man come from the Metro area. However, I feel that a select committee would be a better direction to move than what so far has been outlined -- [Applause.]
Mr. Gregory: Another trip, Ed. Is that it?
Mr. Philip: No, he is smarter than the minister. That’s all I’m saying.
Mr. Hall: There are too many loose areas here that cannot be addressed in a vacuum individually. I think they have to be put together and tied down so that we can render a real service. My main concern is to get going, finally, and to make respectable, an important aspect of our housing supply. I think it can be done, but I think it’s time this House addressed itself to the problem in the most serious way that it can find.
Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bills 57 and 58 and Resolution No. 13 from my colleague from York West.
The statement of the minister --
Mr. Warner: There aren’t many condominiums in your riding.
Mr. Gregory: Geez, you could at least let me get started before you started heckling.
The statement of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial relations will accomplish the same desirable results and probably more quickly, in my opinion. I feel a subject this intricate requires the people to investigate the situation who have had a background, perhaps in condominium management. I don’t necessarily agree with my colleagues from across the way who feel that elected people have the brains to solve every problem.
Mr. Foulds: What are you saying?
Mr. Gregory: In many cases they are totally unequipped.
Mr. Cunningham: Especially you guys.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Speak for yourself.
Mr. Gregory: Well, I am looking at them. Condominium ownership in Canada, of course, is a fairly recent phenomenon, basically over the past 10 years. Naturally, as in anything that recent, there are bound to be many, many problems which have not been resolved yet. They are being solved. In my opinion, the government of Ontario has led the way and continues to do so in finding solutions for many of the problems with condominium ownership.
There are a great many advantages to condominium ownership as my colleague from Etobicoke will well imagine and will appreciate. They are certainly more affordable and in these days when there seem to be restrictions on the building of rental accommodation, unfortunately, this is the only way that people can provide homes for themselves and usually at a very low down payment.
There is certainly less time necessary for maintenance for older people, senior citizens who really can’t handle the maintenance of a single-family home. There is better provision for recreational facilities because of the banding together of a group of homeowners who can provide community recreational facilities. There are major advantages to municipalities as well through increased land use efficiency. There are cost savings to municipalities for the reduction of the cost of servicing and the cost of maintenance of those properties which are taken over as common properties.
I believe there is a need to look at the property management practices of many of the companies which are involved in that particular business. There doesn’t seem to be any set of standard practices followed by these companies. There are no standard rates for their services. Condominium owners do not always have enough knowledge to properly direct the affairs of the condominium corporation and therefore they cannot properly oversee the actions of the management companies.
I believe there is a need for the building management companies, particularly those involved with condominiums, to get together and begin to police themselves. If this is not done, there may be a need in the future for the government of Ontario to get into the licensing of companies and setting the criteria for their entry into the business. There is a great need to educate individual condominium owners in the problems of running a corporation and this is a big step. If a person buys a home it does not matter what age he is. In a condominium, if he is elected to the board of directors, he suddenly becomes a director of a large corporation. In many cases he is not totally equipped for this, through no fault of his own. I believe that there should be methods by which they can be educated, whether they be government-sponsored courses, to enable them to better tackle the problems of the condominium projects.
Mr. Philip: Compulsory courses.
Mr. Gregory: The provincial government has taken initiative in promoting assessment equity in 1966 which has resulted in a lowering of municipal taxes on condominiums by substantial amounts.
Mr. Cassidy: In 1976.
Mr. Gregory: That’s what I said, 1976. What did I say, 1966? Well, we have been thinking about it for 10 years.
Mr. Cassidy: Ten years behind.
Mr. Grande: Ten years later.
Mr. Gregory: In January The Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act becomes law. It provides five year warranties for structural defects and two years for minor defects. This was brought about by pressure from the Ontario division of the Housing and Urban Development Association of Canada, the developers that my friend across the road was haranguing a minute ago. It seems to me they are not all bad. The new building code is going to go a long way towards correcting some of the deficiencies in the buildings themselves.
I wouldn’t have mentioned this for a minute but it seems to me that my friend from Etobicoke was haranguing my friend from York West about the problems and the letters that were going to the member for Etobicoke about the member for York West and criticizing him and his actions. It is almost as if this criticism came out of the air. But it doesn’t come out of the air because my friend from Etobicoke spends a great deal of time and money spreading this type of literature, which does nothing to promote unity in the condominiums. All it does is promote trouble. Some of the statements in there are directly misleading, very misleading. I think any one of you will avail yourself of them --
Mr. Foulds: Point of personal privilege.
Mr. Cassidy: Name one.
Mr. Gregory: Well, for example, last fall I and other members of the NDP fought hard to see that this discriminatory tax burden levied against condominium owners was lifted. We won that fight.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s dead right.
Mr. Gregory: I thought the members of the third party and the members of this party had something to do with that. It was our legislation.
Mr. Foulds: Minor role.
Mr. Philip: We led the fight for five years.
Mr. Cassidy: We led the fight and you responded because it was a motherhood issue.
Mr. Gregory: You led the fight, indeed. You consider that if you are not on the losing end you led the fight. You are usually on the losing end. It is quoted here that municipal taxes are skyrocketing because of the provincial government’s cutback to municipalities. There was no cutback to municipalities.
Mr. Warner: There certainly was.
Mr. Gregory: No, there weren’t any cutbacks at all.
Mr. Warner: Scarborough got less money this year than the year before.
Mr. Gregory: There were increases to the municipalities.
Mr. Philip: You better tell the Conservative mayor in our borough that. He doesn’t know it.
Mr. Gregory: My friend from Etobicoke further doesn’t even know. He goes on to state that at least those taxes paid by condominium owners are remaining about the same.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker. A point of order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Point of order.
Mr. Gregory: He doesn’t even know that in Etobicoke they were reduced by about 20 per cent.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order please. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, do you have a point of order?
Mr. Warner: Yes, I do, Mr. Speaker. The member for Mississauga East indicated that there was an increase. My particular borough of Scarborough actually received less money this year than the year previous.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Warner: I thought it was interesting.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. This has no relevance whatsoever to the bill. No relevance. I would ask you to rule on that.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Mississauga East is addressing himself to the content of Bills 57, 58 and Resolution No. 13.
Mr. Gregory: Yes, that is right.
Mr. Cunningham: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, he is reading a newsletter from the member for Etobicoke which has no relevance whatsoever to the bill.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: He referred to it. He did not read from it.
Mr. Gregory: As a matter of fact I was responding. The member for Etobicoke also read from a letter. I didn’t hear objections at that time.
Mr. Cunningham: It was relevant to the bill.
Mr. Gregory: Are you interested in the information I have or not?
Mr. Philip: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. What I read from was in fact the newspaper and not a letter. It was a letter reported in the newspaper.
Mr. Gregory: This is actually a circular letter I am referring to, Mr. Speaker, which I assume could be regarded as a newspaper. It is not a personal letter.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member can continue.
Mr. Gregory: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. There are a couple of other things in here. The thing that really struck me is that they say another problem is that there was still no effective protection against construction defects. Now I mentioned earlier the home warranty programme. I don’t know what we have to do, but to make a definite statement like that is definitely misleading. There is also a statement here, and this surprised me --
Mr. Philip: Name your condominium.
Mr. Foulds: Withdraw that remark. It is out of order.
Mr. Warner: This is the second time, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Gregory: -- where the member from Etobicoke refers to the second --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. If the member for Mississauga East is saying that the hon. member for Etobicoke misled members of the House, that is not acceptable. If you are saying that he is misleading somebody outside who is reading the letter, we have no control over that. But you must not accuse one member of misleading somebody else in the House.
Mr. Gregory: My apology, Mr. Speaker, I didn’t refer to a misleading of the people in the House. I was referring to the article.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I just wanted that understood.
Mr. Gregory: I didn’t get one of those, except by accident.
Mr. Philip: You didn’t circulate anything to your condominium owners either.
Mr. Gregory: Well yes, I certainly do. As a matter of fact, we do have a condominium association that is quite effective. I have as much influence over that as you have over yours. As a matter of fact, probably more.
This is the statement that disturbed me more than any. He says that the second-class treatment we get as condominium owners must stop.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired, but I will grant him one more minute because of all of the interjections.
Mr. Gregory: The only statement I was going to make regarding this is that in Mississauga we do not regard our condominium owners as second-class citizens. Perhaps the problem in Etobicoke is reflected by the quality of representation they have.
Mr. Cassidy: I wanted to say several things about the debate we are having today. I am glad we are having it, and we welcome the fact that condominium problems are, in fact, the subject of a debate in the Legislature. However, we deplore the government’s indifference to the need for taking urgent action during 1977 on urgent problems that affect condominium owners and purchasers.
We also believe, Mr. Speaker, that the decision of the government to appoint an interministerial committee, to study condominium problems, which the minister announced on Thursday, is designed to put those problems under a rug. The minister’s specific refusal last Friday to allow condominium owners to participate in the decision of such a committee, and not just to submit briefs, is indefensible. I was away today but I understand that we have now learned that the Conservative candidate for Carleton East, Mr. Darwin Kealey, is to be the independent consultant from outside government who was promised by the minister in his statement last week.
I have to say that if that’s the case, then this will not be an independent consultant; it will hardly be from outside government.
Mr. Philip: Unless we change their minds.
Mr. Cassidy: We can change their minds, that’s right. But Mr. Kealey was formerly a research assistant to the Premier (Mr. Davis). He moved up to Ottawa only in time for the 1975 campaign. He was a major campaign worker and organizer for Jean Pigott in the Ottawa-Carleton by-election. He now works through his firm both for the provincial and for the federal Tory parties and he is behaving around Carleton East as though he’s going to be the Tory candidate again.
Mr. Norton: Are you suggesting that he was appointed not simply because he was qualified for the job?
Mr. Cassidy: I’m suggesting that is not an independent consultant. I’m suggesting that is an insult to condominium owners who were promised an independent consultant. And if you’re promising to have David Dehler, who was a Conservative candidate in Ottawa East, he was the guy who arrived 90 minutes late at the meeting of condominium owners in Ottawa last election and had nothing at all to say to them.
Mr. Norton: Are you biased on the basis of politics?
Mr. Cassidy: A lack of knowledge. Mr. Kealey, as well, has no prior knowledge of this field. He is an able --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I must remind the hon. member that who gets appointed to a board to look into condominiums isn’t the subject that we’re dealing with. We’re dealing specifically with Bill 57 and 58 and Resolution No. 13.
Mr. Cassidy: We believe that the best way to study condominium problems would be either the select committee proposed by the member for York West (Mr. Leluk) but repudiated by the Minister for Consumer and Corporate Relations (Mr. Handleman), or a far-reaching inquiry carried out by a representative committee. At least half of this committee should be condominium owners and the committee should also include representatives of local government and of the condominium industry as well as representatives of the province.
We also believe that certain problems are now so urgent that the inquiry carried out should not be into whether reform should be implemented, but into how these reforms should be implemented. I would like to enumerate them.
First, now that we have achieved assessment tax reform for condominium owners they are in urgent need of double tax relief. The government should move to relieve the double tax that condominium property owners now bear by giving condominiums the power to negotiate tax cuts or rebates with a municipality to compensate for services like garbage removal, snow clearance and so on, which they provide for themselves. Until tax reform is in place the province should bear the cost of this rebate. And to be fair, we believe that tenants’ associations in private rental housing should also be able to negotiate comparable rebates.
Second, a major repairs fund is needed on behalf of those condominium owners whose condominiums were built before this year and who do not have the protection of the new home warranties programme. There are serious problems with construction standards of condominiums that are only five or six years old, some of which are having major repairs that have become necessary because of shoddy supervision by the province and because the province is far more interested in encouraging developers into the field than it was in protecting the purchasers of those condominiums.
We believe that special funds should be added to the Ontario Home Renewal Programme in order to provide low interest loans as well as grants for people of modest incomes in order to repair major construction defects that have emerged in condominiums that the government encouraged and for which the government did not provide adequate protection.
Third, there is urgent need in 1977 to give condominium owners a fair deal before registration. And registration is often delayed for a year or more. Occupancy fees are considered by condominium owners as a rip-off. They should not exceed the monthly estimated cost of mortgages, taxes and condominium fees after a unit becomes registered, and the sum that an owner would pay each month on his mortgage principal should be credited to his account in any month that he paid an occupancy fee. This will remove the incentive that developers now have to delay registration, and every month that the condominium owner is living in that unit and paying an occupancy fee he will be paying off his mortgage. That is not allowed under the rules the Conservative government has established at this time.
The NDP also believes that there are other areas of major reform that should be studied by a condominium inquiry or by a select committee, and that should also get urgent action after the first three items which are priority for 1977. The protection of purchasers is foremost among those. Condominium law should be changed in order to stop developers from delaying registration of their condominium developments whether for purposes of tax losses, of marketing strategy or incompetence. We believe that the owners of partially sold condominiums should be protected against the finishing cost of the building being charged off as maintenance fees. This is often done, particularly when the developer is in collusion with a maintenance company which he has used his power to appoint.
Condominium purchasers should have the right to form an association from the day the first condominium is sold and this association should have access to all documents pertaining to the condominiums and to the condominium corporation during the period before registration takes place and the purchasers actually take over the condominium corporation. This is essential protection if condominium owners are to get a fair deal and if the problem that several speakers have referred to in this debate, the shadow of doubt and uncertainty which has descended on the condominium as a concept in housing, is to be cleared. We believe that condominium purchasers need more protection than now exists in the law in cases where the condominium developer contracts out the management of the building to a subsidiary of the developer.
Better standards is next on the list. New standards should be developed, both f or construction and for noise-proofing in order to ensure privacy for condominium owners and the protection of their investment. These standards should also be applied to new apartments for rent.
Better management is next. A registration scheme is needed in order to register condominium management corporations when they manage more than one building. They should be required to file details of the names and backgrounds of the people involved, of any links with developers -- that’s very important -- and of the condominiums for which they provide management services; also of any condominium units which either the management company or its principals own but do not occupy. That is essential because of the conflict of interest that can emerge when a management company also owns and rents condominiums. These management companies should also be required to be bonded.
Next, better information: Ontario shouldn’t force condominium corporation directors to go to school, the way that the member for York West suggests, but it should begin to provide a service of encouragement and technical counselling to condominium owners and corporations rather than only to developers. I think it’s unfair that developers have got all the breaks and there has been no information available to people who run the condominiums after they’re sold.
Community college courses should be available for condominium corporation directors who wish to take advantage of them. Ontario should establish a condominium hot-line at Queen’s Park to provide information and to inform condominium corporations and directors regularly about the changes in legislation, in regulations, and in other practices or services which affect them. They should not be solely dependent on a newspaper published for private profit which may or may not be for their service and benefit.
Next, we believe that The Condominium Act needs to be reviewed once again, only this time we believe the review should be done with the active participation of condominium owners and not just their developers.
Finally, we believe there should be a continuing mechanism so that condominium needs are reflected and felt and heeded here in this Legislature and in the government. The members of the condominium inquiry as we propose it should continue to serve as a condominium advisory committee which would report regularly to the Legislature and to the public as further changes and improvements in condominium law and practice are required. This would give condominium owners the say at Queen’s Park which they now lack.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Cassidy: I have one more point, Mr. Speaker.
We also believe it is ludicrous that Ontario thinks of the condominiums --
Mr. B. Newman: Time.
Mr. Cassidy: -- as a corporate law problem rather than as a housing problem. One more sentence.
Mr. Edighoffer: Time.
Mr. Cassidy: The responsibility for The Condominium Act and all services related to condominiums should he brought together in the Ministry of Housing.
Those are 10 points which we think are vital for adequate protection of condominiums.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, it may not be in order at this time but I’d like to say how inappropriate I found the remarks of the member for Mississauga Fast (Mr. Gregory) when he referred -- I guess not in his capacity as chairman of the select committee on truck transportation on our highways -- to the trip to Europe by one of his members on that committee. I must say I found it not only inappropriate but also inaccurate --
Mr. Gregory: That wasn’t part of my speech.
Mr. Cunningham: -- and highly unparliamentary. He said it.
Mr. Gregory: I didn’t say it.
Mr. Cunningham: You did say it.
Mr. Gregory: I said it when I was heckling; I asked about the trip.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Cunningham: Getting back to the principle of the bill, we’ve had condominiums in Ontario now for long over 10 years. It’s disappointing to me to see that only now we’re starting to take a really intelligent look at the situation. I certainly have a number in my riding and I would say to you that it’s quite apparent it’s going to be a trend that’s going to continue. I think that it’s an intelligent form of housing and one that’s going to be much more affordable for people in lower incomes, or at least those individuals who don’t want to designate more than 50 per cent of their income to acquiring a home.
The fact that we’re looking at this at this time has to be indicative of some of the difficulties that exist within the process of government in itself, or at least this government. I’m glad that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) is here at this time to catch just the tail end of these remarks. I think it would be of great benefit if Resolution No. 13, which I must commend the member for -- I’ve forgotten where he’s from.
Mr. Leluk: York West.
Mr. Cunningham: York West -- I must commend him for his resolution. I think it would be an intelligent solution to this problem. I think we have to have a select committee of people who are well-apprised of this situation -- some lawyers and some of the people on all sides of this House, who I know share our concern. It is a real problem and I think that we could get a great deal of benefit from such a study.
The member for York West indicated in his remarks -- or implied -- that he was the only one who demonstrated some interest in this particular regard. I’d share with the House, just for the record, that in the last session the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip), who unfortunately can’t be with us, tabled Bill 67, which was An Act to amend The Condominium Act. I think in that particular piece of private legislation, that particular member indicated his own dissatisfaction with the situation as it exists today, and the difficulties that condominium owners are facing.
I would say that the time has come for such a select committee to look at the problems. We see difficulties in rentals and in the agreements between condominium developers with prospective tenants who sometimes live there and exist at the expense of the people who’ve taken the time and the interest to buy these particular units.
I was drawn to the remark by the member for York West on the subject of payment of directors. The only inference I could get from your remark in that particular regard is that it would be done to curb dishonesty. I would say to that member I don’t think he’s accurate in that sentiment whatsoever. I don’t think that you can pay people to say that they won’t be dishonest. It’s probably one of the most inane things I’ve heard in this House since I’ve been here.
Mr. Philip: It is designed to hurt the small condominium.
Mr. Cunningham: I appreciate the concept of registration; I appreciate the sentiment echoed that it should be a self-regulating type of system and in many ways keeping with the thesis of The Home Warranties Act. I would hope that self-regulation, with a great deal of input by the condominium owners themselves, would be a good thing. All I would say to you at this point is that I would encourage the minister rethink his position on this particular issue. It’s one that is going to become more complex and it’s going to be a more serious issue as people get more involved in the development of condominiums. I think that we would be well served by a select committee.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: These matters will be discharged from the order paper.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Before moving the adjournment, I just want to draw the attention of members that tomorrow’s order will be No. 8. The motion stands in the name of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell) to discuss and debate the resolutions of the select committee inquiring into Hydro’s proposed bulk power rate.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Handleman, the House adjourned at 6 p.m.