The House met at 2 p.m.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor signed by her own hand.
Mr. Speaker: By her own hand, P. M. McGibbon, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, transmits supplementary estimates of certain additional sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1977, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, November 23, 1976.
Statements by the ministry.
UTDC TEST AND DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Hon. Mr. Irvine: I would like to take this opportunity to inform the members of this House that at approximately 1:30 this afternoon in the city of Kingston, the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) announced that Ontario’s Urban Transportation Development Corporation Limited will locate its urban transit test and development centre on a 480-acre site in Ernestown township in the county of Lennox and Addington. The specific site in Ernestown was chosen after very careful evaluation of a number of potential locations in the area.
The major UTDC programme to be conducted here will be development of an advanced technology rail system for urban transit. As members may know, this is a system which consists of small, quiet, steel-wheeled trains operating on exclusive rights of way. These trains can be operated at street level, on elevated structures or underground.
This programme began in April, 1975, when the Ontario government provided $6.1 million to UTDC to complete phases one and two of a five-phase programme. During these first two phases UTDC worked with transit operators, municipalities and planners to define the kind of system needed. Based on the results of this work the Ontario government authorized the corporation to develop and build a prototype system.
Phase three is a 36-month programme which will cost approximately $55 million, including the cost of the test centre.
Mr. Nixon: It sounds like the old Krauss-Maffei thing.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s like down at the Exhibition.
Hon. Mr. Irvine: Relative to this programme, the centre will be equipped with a 2,560-metre track with a station, with elevated and at-grade track sections and with automation --
Mr. Cassidy: You tore the last one down.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Never built it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Irvine: -- equipment to develop and test its prototype technology.
This new test centre will also play a large role in the development of both the new light rail transit vehicle for Toronto and future generations of light rail vehicles. The centre will include a 4,800-metre light rail track for just this purpose.
In addition to the two tracks, the site will also house office and technical facilities for as many as 100 staff members and subcontractors.
The selection of a site in the Kingston area is particularly appropriate in light of this government’s commitment to a policy of encouraging the development of eastern Ontario. In our view, the Kingston area represents a major focal point of economic development in the eastern sector of the province.
Mr. Cassidy: You didn’t pick Prescott. What about Prescott?
Hon. Mr. Irvine: It has a well-developed industrial and commercial base; it is central to both Toronto and Ottawa. It is the home of Queen’s University and it is accessible from the country’s major highways and railways.
Mr. Conway: Do you think it will save the Minister of Community and Family Services (Mr. Taylor)?
Mr. McEwen: Point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a point of order?
Mr. McEwen: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask why this particular location was decided on.
Mr. Cassidy: He has never got up before, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I’m sure that’s not a point of order. The hon. member may ask questions, during the question period, of the minister for information.
Mr. McEwen: I would like clarification if possible, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Can it not wait until the question period? I think it would be more appropriate at that time.
ISOLATED COMMUNITIES ASSISTANCE FUND
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, my colleague, the hon. Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) of the province of Ontario, announced the establishment of the Isolated Communities Assistance Fund.
Under this fund, three-quarters of a million dollars will be available over the next 16 months to assist unorganized communities in northern Ontario to identify and tackle their most serious local problems.
I would like to stress today that my ministry is moving as quickly as possible to set up the necessary machinery to make sure that applications submitted to us will be processed with dispatch. We also want to establish as soon as possible the ground rules regarding eligibility.
To ensure that we have covered all the bases, I have already made contact with the two unorganized communities associations of northern Ontario, UCANO West and UCANO East, and I will be meeting with them in the very near future to obtain the benefit of their advice on these matters generally and more specifically the establishing of priorities.
In the meantime, I would urge any unorganized community seeking help with local servicing problems to contact its nearest Ministry of Natural Resources office or to write directly to me in Toronto in order that we may get on with the job of aiding our isolated communities to solve their problems.
WINTER TRAILS PROGRAMME
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The second statement is in connection with the winter trails programme. I’m pleased to announce that once again this year the government of Ontario will operate the winter trails programme to assist local trail clubs to provide outdoor recreation opportunities during the winter months.
Mr. S. Smith: Go right down off the end of the ski jump.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The programme we are offering this year is made up of three parts. First, my own ministry will again be responsible for the winter trails grooming and maintenance programme. The funds allocated will be $250,000 and will be used in two ways: non-statutory grants to snowmobile and cross-country skiing clubs to do their own grooming and maintenance of trails, and for maintenance, repair and replacement of ministry equipment which we had loaned to the clubs for this purpose.
Second, the Ministry of Natural Resources will continue its winter trails programme on public lands in high-demand areas of the province.
Third, my colleague, the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch) has asked me to mention that trails clubs may apply to the Wintario fund for financial assistance for trail-related capital projects.
Mr. Breithaupt: I’ll bet he has.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Applications for funding from my ministry’s $250,000 trail programme for grooming and maintenance should be made directly to the nearest office of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Mr. Ruston: What a farce!
Mr. Breithaupt: The line forms on the left.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Are the hon. members against the trails programme?
Mr. Kerrio: No, we are just getting the feel of it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Those clubs wishing to apply for Wintario funding should apply directly to the local field office of the Ministry of Culture and Recreation. It is our hope that this programme of government assistance will give thousands of Ontario people a rich opportunity to enjoy recreation on winter trails during this coming season.
Mr. Breithaupt: There’s a long, long trail a-winding.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, today I want to set before the Legislature the government’s economic strategy for the upcoming year.
Mr. Breithaupt: That won’t take long.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Our objectives remain unchanged: to sustain economic recovery without rekindling inflation and to keep Ontario fully competitive in terms of investment and new jobs.
The thrust of our policies in the last two budgets has been to reduce the growth in government spending and to trim our bureaucracy in order to make room for private sector expansion and improved take-home pay. I am convinced this has been the right course because it shifts economic resources into the market economy, thereby building a more solid base for future growth and prosperity. We intend to continue this basic strategy of public sector control and private sector expansion during 1977.
Mr. Cassidy: That is known as private affluence and public squalor.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: In this statement I shall review Ontario’s economic performance and prospects. Though the Ontario economy is back on trend, continued healthy expansion requires perseverance in the attack on inflation and a positive climate for increased business investment and job creation. I shall also outline the main dimensions of the spending plan which the government has drawn up for 1977-78 and announce several tax changes. We intend to continue spending restraint in 1977 and to provide long-term tax incentives to ensure that this province records another dynamic and productive year.
Mr. Cassidy: Just like the last one.
Mr. Breithaupt: How big is the deficit?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: In my April budget, I predicted brisk economic growth for the Ontario economy during 1976.
Mr. Bain: You were wrong then too.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: This was predicated on the strong surge of activity in the second half of 1975, propelled by this government’s expansionary actions plus anticipated recovery in the US economy. To date, the American economy has not rebounded as strongly as I had hoped --
Mr. Bain: They don’t have the benefit of --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I know this hurts.
Mr. Breithaupt: It hurts the province.
Mr. S. Smith: Just take an Aspirin and read it anyway.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Ontario, nevertheless, is having a reasonably good year. Our real gross provincial product is expanding at better than five per cent, while prices have risen considerably less than I had predicted. Productivity has improved and, adjusting for seasonal factors, nearly 100,000 new jobs have been created since mid-1975.
We can be justifiably proud of these economic results. Over the last three years -- that is, during the course of the last business cycle -- Canada has significantly outperformed such other jurisdictions as the United States, Japan and the OECD bloc of industrial nations. And Ontario’s record in industrial production has exceeded that of Canada.
Turning to the prospects for next year, I am quite optimistic. Published 1977 forecasts for the Canadian economy range from four per cent to better than six per cent real growth, along with a continuing reduction in the rate of inflation. No improvement is foreseen for unemployment in Canada however, and business investment is expected to remain sluggish. I anticipate broadly similar trends for the Ontario economy.
While there is weakness in our manufacturing and construction sectors, exports and consumer spending are advancing strongly. I look forward to a greater increase in new jobs in Ontario than in 1976 which should improve our employment rate.
Overall, I expect our real output in 1977 to grow at about the five per cent rate achieved in 1976, and prices should continue to moderate. This will provide a sound basis to begin the process of phasing out the anti-inflation programme.
The challenge for economic management in 1977 is to ensure that cost and price stability is restored in the Canadian economy so that controls can be terminated on schedule. The reason we have controls today is that during a period of international inflation Canada tried to have the best of both worlds. We wanted high levels of public services and low taxes; we wanted high wages, high salaries and high profits and low costs and low prices. All participants in the economic process -- government, labour and business -- must now accept with hard-nosed realism that we can’t have the best of both worlds.
Mr. Swart: With your government we can’t have either.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: To ensure the growth, jobs and prosperities we all want, Canada must remain competitive with its trading partners.
Mr. Wildman: You are going to have high unemployment.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We are now more than a year into the anti-inflation programme and I believe that the progress made is encouraging. As of October, the year-over-year increase in the consumer price index had declined to 6.2 per cent, a full four percentage points lower than the double- digit level of the previous two years. Certainly, much of this improvement is attributable to the decline in the food prices, which are only partly subject to controls.
Mr. S. Smith: Hurray for the feds.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But there has also been encouraging moderation in other cost-of-living components.
Some people would lead us to believe that the AIP works only to control wages and salaries --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- while prices and profits go unrestrained. This view simply does not square with the facts. Collective bargaining settlements have indeed come down significantly to 9.7 per cent in the third quarter of 1976, from about 15 per cent in the spring of 1975. But real wages are rising faster today than they were prior to controls and the share of gross national product accounted for by wages and salaries has increased over the past 12 months. Corporate profits have not shown comparable gains; in fact, their share of GNP has declined.
An hon. member: Give them another tax concession.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Later in this statement I shall discuss the matter of profits more fully. Suffice it now to note that shrinking profits bring falling investments and that our economy, with its still growing labour force, must invest and must grow.
I would like to table, for the information of the members, a report prepared by my staff which assesses the operation of the AIP since its inception last October. I am convinced the controls programme has been successful in restraining price inflation without sacrifice of jobs or real income. I am confident the programme can be phased out on schedule.
Mr. Warner: You should be phased out on schedule.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Hon. members have been informed by the Premier (Mr. Davis) of Ontario’s intention to seek other constructive suggestions and proposals for actions this government can take on its own, as well as for directions that national economic policy should take following termination of the controls programme.
Mr. Conway: Did Turner write this?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We intend, in a public way, to involve representatives of all sectors of society in the development of provincial positions on these matters.
I would now like to turn to the matter of improving productivity, which is the key to strong economic performance in the longer run.
Mr. Cunningham: Give Lorne a job.
Mr. Moffatt: He’s got a full-time job.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Productivity results not just from the efforts of labour but also from capital investments, technological advance and human initiative. In my budget statement last April I drew attention to the wide productivity gap between Canada and the United States. Since then the American government has revised downwards its productivity statistics, and Canada’s relative performance does not look quite as bad.
Nevertheless, there is no room for complacency. The basic fact remains that productivity in Canadian manufacturing is almost one-fifth below that in the US, while our average wages in manufacturing are above US levels. At the same time, Canadian firms face higher interest costs and Canadian exporters face an exchange rate above parity.
Mr. Lewis: Where is the evidence for that statement?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.
Mr. Lewis: If that comes from the C. D. Howe Institute, it is not valid.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The problems created by this situation are well known.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Since 1973 there has been little expansion and not enough new job opportunities have been created in Canada’s manufacturing sector. Our trade balance in finished goods has continued to deteriorate. Even after the revival in the auto sector, the trade deficit has come down only modestly.
Productivity improvement is a question of vital significance for Ontario, because this province accounts for over half of all manufacturing employment in Canada.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: If we hope to maintain and expand our manufacturing base and the high-paying jobs that it generates, then we have no choice except to increase our productivity.
Ms. Bryden: You are operating below capacity.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Later in this statement I will outline tax measures to encourage investment in new machinery and equipment, thereby upgrading our efficiency.
I am convinced, however, that there must also be a basic reorientation of thinking and attitudes if we are to remain competitive in the post-control period, including: A recognition that healthy profits are crucial to new investment --
Mr. Nixon: How healthy?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- a realization that only through increased investment and increased productivity can we secure permanent gains in employment; a recognition that our plants must be of world scale, even though this means more concentrated industries; and a reappraisal of foreign investment policies at both the federal and provincial levels to ensure that we are not discouraging beneficial capital inflows.
Mr. Renwick: What a reactionary approach.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: All members will appreciate the key role played by our private enterprises in generating the new investment, jobs and rising incomes essential to continued prosperity in Ontario.
Mr. Lewis: You sound like a public relations officer for the Chase Manhattan Bank.
Mr. Yakabuski: Will you listen for a change?
Mr. Speaker: Order!
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But this activity will only take place when corporations large and small are earning adequate profits and have confidence about the future.
An hon. member: What does that mean?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: They must also believe in the ability of government to guide the economy with a minimum of interference and to create an environment which encourages savings and investment and rewards private initiative.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Weakness in profits reduces corporate cash flow and holds down investment. For the interest of members, I have provided a table showing the after-tax profits performance of 30 important Ontario corporations which have reported results for the first nine months of 1976. The figures show a decline for most natural resource companies, including mining, oil and pulp and paper. Overall, after-tax profits are down 2.7 per cent for these large companies, while sales are up 11.1 per cent. Profits before taxes for those 30 large companies show a similar adverse trend.
The rapid inflation of recent years has had both positive and negative effects on corporate profits. While inventory profits have been substantial in many cases, overall growth in profits has slowed considerably since 1974.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Pre-tax profits in Canada, which rose at an average of 22.1 per cent per annum from 1972 to 1974 after adjustment for inventory inflation, increased by 8.1 per cent in 1975 and are estimated to rise about 10 per cent in 1976. This downtrend is also reflected in the drop in pre-tax profits expressed as a percentage of gross national income from 13 per cent in 1974 to an estimated 10 per cent in 1976.
Mr. Moffatt: Has the member for London North (Mr. Shore) read this?
Mr. Foulds: where’s the member for London North?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The longer-run implications of these developments are unclear. In fact, there is much debate about the nature of the impact of inflation on corporation and its implications for social equity, investment and productivity. There is an obvious conflict between the conventional accounting tenets which show rapidly rising profits in inflationary periods and the stock market’s negative and nervous reaction. Profits and debt financing are the vital lubricants of business investment and growth and there will be enormous public and private demand for capital in the years ahead.
I believe it is essential that we understand better the implications of inflation on corporate finances. My concern is that dealing with the performance of profits in the economy, we substantially underestimate the impact of inflation on replacement costs to the individual firm.
Mr. Warner: Here we come.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I think there is general agreement that financial statements, based on traditional historical cost accounting, understate the escalating costs to business of replacing machinery, equipment, buildings and inventory.
As members are aware, investments create jobs. The sensitivity of the investment climate is a real and frequently troublesome factor in the job creation process. I think we have to be concerned, therefore, if financial statements are overstating the profit performance of our industries and overstating the soundness of their position.
At the extreme, we have the example of British Leyland, a major United Kingdom automotive firm, which was forced into virtual receivership despite financial statements which continued to report profits. The chances are high that this kind of situation is more widespread than we suspect.
The effects of misrepresentation of financial status can affect us in a number of ways.
Mr. Cassidy: Expenses are high.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Individual investors are faced with incomplete --
Mr. Cassidy: Where was your research in all of this?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- and inadequate information on which to base decisions. Even well-managed pension funds, which account for a large and growing share of business ownership, face this problem. Certainly, equity markets have discounted share values for the impact of inflation and the dismal results are plain to see. To the extent that traditional business accounting does not reflect these realities, company management is unable to assess accurately its own performance or to determine appropriately capital investment decisions.
I believe, furthermore, that the public interest is not properly served by a narrow access to information about the actual performance of the private sector. This affects not only the public perception of the business community but also government’s appraisal of the economic environment and the regulation of securities markets.
There has already been considerable discussion and preliminary study of so-called inflation accounting both in the private and in the public sectors. I believe the merits of such financial disclosure have been well documented and other jurisdictions are already pulling ahead of us in this matter. For example, a programme of action has already been initiated by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States, and various countries in Europe as well as Australia are either studying the matter or have taken action on it.
The capacity of the business community to undertake job-creating investment is vitally important to the economic well-being of Ontario and a matter of concern to all of us. Our citizens have a direct stake in the health of business through their pension funds and personal savings. Therefore, the government is establishing a committee to examine the various options open to us and to advise on a course of action for implementing a programme of financial disclosure of the effects of inflation in Ontario.
I understand that others both at the federal level and in various professional organizations have expressed an interest in the problem. I believe, however, that Ontario must take the lead. We have retained the Toronto chartered accountancy firm of Touche Ross and Company to undertake this study, and have asked Michael Alexander, a partner of this firm and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario to take responsibility for chairing the committee. Mr. Alexander has previously been extensively involved in a major study of this issue and has been the author of a number of important papers on the subject.
In addition I have asked four other experienced individuals, representing a spectrum of interests and backgrounds, to assist Mr. Alexander in this undertaking. These four are: Mr. Adam Zimmerman, executive vice-president of Noranda Mines Limited; Mr. James Fleck, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism --
Mr. Lewis: Oh, the Harvard business world.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Sam Martin, professor of business administration, University of Western Ontario, and Mr. Gordon Milling, director of research, United Steelworkers.
Mr. Lewis: If you could find a woman you would have every minority group.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Peter Honey, assistant deputy minister in my own ministry, will serve as secretary of the committee. Additionally, Charles Salter, director of the Ontario Securities Commission, and Morley Carscallen, partner in Coopers and Lybrand and chairman of the financial disclosure advisory board of the Ontario Securities Commission, will act as advisers.
During the next six months, the committee will solicit the views of a broad range of people with an interest in the subject. I also expect they will involve other individuals and organizations with an expertise in the area to provide an input in the process. I anticipate a full set of recommendations of the scope, process, and implementation procedures for a programme of business disclosure of the effects of inflation.
Along with this statement is a more detailed description of inflation accounting, together with terms of reference of the committee.
Mr. Cassidy: You might begin with some business disclosure.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, a key element in Ontario’s economic strategy is control of government spending. The government of Ontario has clearly stated its philosophy on this issue -- excessive growth in public spending bids away economic resources from more productive uses, contributes directly to inflationary pressures and detracts from the long-run growth capacity of the economy. We have worked hard in this province to avoid these pitfalls and in the process have emerged with more efficient public services and less upward pressure on our tax structure. This maintains our financial integrity, strengthens our inherent economic advantages and gives us more leeway to respond to short-term stabilization requirements.
Our approach of overall limits on spending growth plus sharper priority setting within these limits will continue in 1977-78. The government has established a ceiling of 9.6 per cent as the spending increase that this province and its taxpayers can afford for the next fiscal year. This compares favourably with the now estimated 11.5 per cent increase in the current year and, more important, is substantially below the expected expansion rate for the economy as a whole in 1977. I shall outline the main details of our 1977 spending plan in a moment, but first I would like to review for members the performance of our 1976 budget plan.
Mr. Speaker, in October we published the second-quarter issue of Ontario Finances. It showed that after six months of the current fiscal year our 1976 budget plan was right on target. On both the revenue and expenditure side our actual performance was within four-tenths of one per cent of the original total, and our cash requirements were virtually unchanged from the $1,230 million tabled in the Legislature on April 6, 1976. As we enter the eighth month of this fiscal year our finances are still on target. As of today, I estimate our revenues at $11,378 million, up $32 million, and our expenditures at $12,616 million, up $40 million. This revises our cash requirements to $1,238 million -- only $8 million above my original plan.
Some hon. members: Only?
Mr. McClellan: What’s $8 million?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: All ministers and deputies of the government have responded to the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) strong leadership in controlling --
Mr. Breithaupt: The member for London North (Mr. Shore) doesn’t applaud.
An hon. member: There is one for Roy.
Mr. Bullbrook: Now we know Marvin wrote that.
Mr. Moffatt: Who wrote that?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I needed a rest.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Great phrase.
Mr. Lewis: Just get to the revised version.
Mr. Speaker: All right now, order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, all ministers and deputies have responded to the Premier’s strong leadership in controlling our spending and have contributed to this success.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ask my wife.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: They have made sure our new budget control system works, even though this meant shifting resources out of their own ministry estimates to meet unavoidable and unforeseen increases in other areas such as hospitals, community arenas and firefighting. This has allowed Management Board to keep in-year spending deterioration to a bare minimum. It demonstrates that with firm resolve, government can trim costs and shift priorities to meet new needs.
To date, the government had identified some $233 million in spending requirements over and above the 1976 estimates. The Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Auld) will table today supplementary estimates covering $159 million of this amount. The balance of $74 million represents statutory items and contingencies for other potential overruns. The important thing, however, is that our net additional spending for 1976 has been kept to $40 million; the rest of the unavoidable increases in spending have been offset by deliberate savings which we will realize within the original estimates.
The government’s top goal in determining its 1977 expenditure package was to contain the increase in our total spending well below the expansion in the economy as a whole. Our second goal was to ensure that our commitments to local governments were fully honoured. Our third goal was to minimize our operating costs and overhead expenditures so that more resources would be available for job-creating investment projects.
The 1977 spending plan which I am outlining today meets each of these objectives. Total outlays in 1977-78 are planned at $13,830 million, an increase of $1,214 million or 9.6 per cent over the current year. Originally the government had aimed at the extremely difficult target of an eight per cent increase for 1977 but found that this was unachievable without harm to essential provincial services. Let me emphasize, however, that this $13.8 billion amount is the spending ceiling for next year. If new requirements arise during the year, we will adjust our spending plan to find the necessary funds within that total.
Transfers to local governments will increase by $330 million, in line with our Edmonton commitment. This is a considerably more generous increase at 10.7 per cent than we have allowed for our own account spending, which will rise by only 9.3 per cent.
Ms. Bryden: Still taking some back on the Edmonton commitment.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Members will recall that the government announced this important element of our spending plan on September 10, and that early announcement has proved extremely helpful to municipalities, school boards and local agencies. It has allowed them to plan ahead and prepare their budgets for 1977, knowing with certainty the provincial transfers they would receive. I have received numerous messages of appreciation to this effect. To quote a recent letter --
Mr. Moffatt: Which is the other one?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- from the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario:
“The board of directors of the association and its member municipalities express their appreciation to you in fulfilling the commitments that you made last year to provide local governments with advance notice on proposed provincial transfer payments for 1977-78 and for having achieved this objective some six and one half months prior to the fiscal year-end of the province and three and one half months prior to the municipal fiscal year-end.”
Ms. Bryden: You are not living up to the commitment.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am hopeful that we can provide this early notice of provincial transfers again next year as it obviously is a great help in local budgeting.
Turning to our own account spending, after meeting the Edmonton commitment, we have provided $884 million in new dollars for all of our programmes. Health care is allotted $360 million, an increase of 11.6 per cent, including an additional $64 million for home care, extended care and mental health and other special health programmes. Support for universities and colleges plus student aid is increased by $89 million, up 9.3 per cent. Provincial social assistance is allotted $69 million or an 11.8 per cent increase. Spending on agricultural programmes is increased by $14 million or 12.8 per cent. We have also allotted increases of $85 million and $150 million respectively for civil service salaries and interest on the public debt. The remaining $117 million is distributed among all other programmes, including provincial roads and transit, provincial loans and general government support.
I believe the government has drawn up a balanced and responsible spending plan for next year. When it is brought forward in the form of detailed estimates, I am confident it will commend itself to all members of the Legislature.
In concluding this explanation of our 1977 spending plan, let me report on two related matters. As of October 31, we have achieved our target reduction of 1,000 civil service complement positions during this fiscal year.
Mr. Wildman: How many casuals do you have?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We are now down to 66,537 complement positions, a cut of more than 4,200 since 1974. This pruning has been a very healthy exercise; it has left Ontario with a leaner and more efficient public service. The government has decided not to push for further complement reductions in 1977. Rather, we shall strive within the constraint of zero growth to achieve further efficiencies in the use of our manpower and better service delivery to the taxpaying public.
One of the most useful actions we have taken in waging our war on waste was to establish a special programme review committee. It brought us refreshing outside perspectives to the evaluation of our spending and challenged long-held views. Having completed its review of the special programme review report, the government agrees in principle with many of its recommendations, as indicated by the summary response which I shall table today. Details on how specific recommendations are to be implemented or their purpose otherwise accomplished will be the responsibility of individual ministries. The job done by the special programme review committee was a very useful exercise for the government as a whole. We see great merit in undertaking such a searching examination of our spending on a regular basis.
Before proceeding with the tax actions the government now proposes, I should like to report on the fiscal aspects of federal-provincial affairs. As members know, the provinces have been negotiating with the federal government to devise new fiscal arrangements for the next five years. These negotiations have been conducted against a background of federal retrenchment on all major fronts.
On the positive side, however, the federal government has come around in its thinking and seems prepared to proceed with fundamental reforms of our fiscal arrangements, particularly in respect of the mature shared-cost programmes. Members are aware that Ontario and some other provinces have argued consistently that cost sharing should be replaced by tax sharing, providing provinces with the independent fiscal capacity to carry out their constitutional responsibilities. On the basis of the current federal proposals, it appears that Ottawa is now ready to accept this basic change.
I believe an important breakthrough among the provinces themselves has been achieved. After a number of meetings of provincial finance ministers, we have been able to agree on a common position to take to the bargaining table with Ottawa. Undoubtedly, this consensus reflects the concern of all provinces over federal fiscal retrenchments but it also represents a real achievement, given the regional differences that exist across this country.
The largest single issue for the provinces is the revenue guarantee. Its termination without equivalent replacement means an erosion of the occupancy in the income tax field that the provinces have held for over a decade. The provinces are unanimous that a fair and appropriate replacement requires the transfer of four personal income tax points. I believe the federal government recognizes the legitimacy of the provincial argument and will not act in such a way as to jeopardize the trust on which our federal system is based.
What Ontario seeks in these federal-provincial negotiations is disentanglement of responsibilities and a commensurate redistribution of fiscal resources between levels of government so that public services can be provided more efficiently. Obviously, this should be possible without an increase in the total tax burdens. I am optimistic that the current negotiations with Ottawa will lead to this result. As these negotiations will continue over the next few months, it would be premature for Ontario to prejudge the outcome by raising its income tax rate as of January 1, 1977. I am announcing today, therefore, that Ontario’s tax rate will remain at 30.5 per cent until these fiscal negotiations are finalized. The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen) will introduce the bill today.
Mr. Lewis: Surprise, surprise.
Mr. S. Smith: They sure backed down on that one.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.
Mr. Roy: That’s called retreat.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You guys are the experts.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: While on the subject of the personal income tax, I would like to take this opportunity to draw members’ attention to an important --
Mr. Roy: You backed right off.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No. They’re showing some reasonableness up there.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- to draw members’ attention to an important research study just completed by my staff. Ontario Tax Studies 12, which I am tabling today, analyses the major growth characteristics of the personal income tax in Ontario and examines how the income tax system is used to encourage savings and investment. This province intends to continue its research on the tax system and to ensure that the 1972 reforms and subsequent changes work to the benefit of our economy and our taxpayers.
The temporary exemption of production machinery from retail sales tax is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. There is ample evidence that this has been an effective incentive. Our businesses have used it to expand production and improve their competitiveness.
Mr. Cassidy: There is no evidence of that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: There is no evidence.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please!
Hon. Mr. McKeough: All Ontarians benefit from these actions because the economy generates a high return from the tax dollars so invested.
Mr. Lewis: No evidence.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: In recent years, Ontario’s share of total new investment in Canada has been declining. A number of factors account for this trend including the massive investment in energy resources and major public projects in other parts of Canada such as the Olympics.
On the other hand, Ontario’s share of new investment in machinery and equipment has continued upward, increasing steadily from 38.5 per cent in 1972 to 39.4 per cent in 1975. It is clear from these figures that this province continues to have a strong underlying attraction to the manufacturing and related industries.
Mr. Lewis: That is natural. That is nothing to do with the tax credit. That is just natural growth.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: Of course it is.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, this reflects our favourable geographic location --
Mr. Lewis: Precisely.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- our highly skilled labour force --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- our strong resource base, and of course stable and conservative government.
Mr. Lewis: That has nothing to do with the sales tax credit.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If you don’t believe us just recall what happened in British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Treasurer has the floor.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, over the past two years there has been another significant trend in investment patterns in Ontario -- a productive shift in favour of private sector investments, particularly in machinery and equipment. The business share of total new investment has risen by more than one percentage point, and the share of machinery and equipment investment a full two percentage point. This transfer of resources directly reflects the government’s restraint programme and its tax policies. In particular, the temporary exemption of production machinery and equipment, introduced in April, 1975, and the incentives provided to the mining industry since 1974, have proved to be powerful stimulants.
Mr. Cassidy: Not proven, not proven!
Hon. Mr. McKeough: In 1976, for example, the growth in new investment in our manufacturing and mining industries is expected to be significantly higher than in the rest of the country.
This province must remain competitive with other jurisdictions in terms of attracting new industry and investment. Even with the present exemption on production equipment, the sales tax burden on new investment is higher in Ontario than in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania or New York, and about level with Minnesota and Quebec. A reimposition of the retail sales tax on January 1, 1977, would mean a much higher tax burden in Ontario than in any of these other jurisdictions.
Mr. Breaugh: You can’t even say it.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: This is clearly undesirable since it would reduce our competitive edge, hamper investment and retard job creation.
Mr. Lewis: What creation?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am including a table comparing our sales tax burden with that of other jurisdictions, to demonstrate why it is so imperative that we keep the sales tax off machinery and equipment.
Mr. Breaugh: Why don’t you compare the profits?
Mr. Breithaupt: How many jobs?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Effective January 1, 1977, therefore, I propose that the current temporary exemption be replaced by a new long-term exemption. This will exempt from tax all production machinery and equipment used by the private sector in the production of tangible personal property. I estimate that this tax measure will be $160 million in a full year, and perhaps $10 million in the remainder of this fiscal year.
Mr. Moffatt: This is incredible.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Your union supports it.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Examples of the tax savings which --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order.
Mr. Lewis: We certainly know where we get the money for the taxes; right here!
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Examples of the tax savings which will flow to business making new investments in Ontario are set out in the following table.
The definition of production machinery and equipment will be simplified by closely paralleling the federal exemption provision described in part XIII of schedule III of the federal Excise Tax Act. This important tax simplification initiative will be beneficial both to the government and business enterprises. The new definition is also broad enough to encompass pollution control equipment and equipment used to remove waste and noxious fumes. Full details will be provided by the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen).
In addition to this long-term cost-reducing incentive, I will be considering the merits of extending the manufacturing and processing fast write-off for Ontario tax purposes. This incentive was introduced by the federal government and paralleled by Ontario in 1972 to reduce the tax burden on the manufacturing sector. This action was necessary to keep Canadian industry on a competitive footing in light of the United States export-encouraging DISC legislation.
In 1974, the federal government extended the fast write-off incentive indefinitely, while we continued it until the end of 1977. The cost of this incentive will be a significant factor in our determination of whether or not it will continue. Under the revenue guarantee, Ontario is reimbursed by the federal government for the loss of tax revenues due to paralleling the incentive, but only until the end of this year. If the corporation tax revenue guarantee expires on December 31, 1976, as announced by the federal government, then Ontario would have to absorb the cost of the fast write-off for 1977 and subsequent tax years. This may be as much as $80 million in the 1977-78 fiscal year.
The Minister of Revenue will also be introducing a bill amending the treatment of foreign income under our Corporations Tax Act. It will provide a full foreign tax credit to parallel the tax treatment in other provinces.
The above incentives are extended to large and small businesses alike. However, small businesses still face many problems in raising capital for expansion. I am therefore tabling a progress report prepared by my staff on venture investment corporations. You will recall that I introduced Bill 44, An Act respecting the Registration of Venture Investment Corporations, for first reading only with my 1976 budget legislation. Since that time my staff have had extensive discussions with interested individual company representatives, federal and provincial government officials and private sector associations. A revised version of the bill is attached to the report which is being tabled. We have requested a commitment from Ottawa that there will be no federal attempt to discourage or neutralize this incentive programme through contrary tax treatment.
In conclusion, let me sum up my statement today. After reviewing current economic performance and anticipated future trends, the government of Ontario has decided its basic economic strategy for the upcoming year. We will carry forward into 1977 our concerted effort to restrain public expenditure and to foster private sector expansion. These positive policies will work to combat inflation, to strengthen the competitiveness of our industries and to create expanded employment opportunities for our people.
Mr. Wildman: Is this the best you can do?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I believe this is the correct policy approach at this time. It builds upon our generally good economic recovery in 1976 and our reasonably buoyant prospects for next year; but it also stimulates the lagging sector of investment, which is the key to improved productivity, job creation and real prosperity in the long run.
Let me state clearly, however, that we will not adhere slavishly to this approach if circumstances change. We are monitoring the economic situation closely and are prepared to take decisive stimulating action, just as we did in 1975, if new policy initiatives are needed. The performance of the economy will be reported in our 1977 budget along with the province’s fiscal and financing programme for 1977-78.
Mr. Cassidy: Never have.
Mr. Conway: How about an election?
Mr. Breithaupt: One election at a time.
Mr. S. Smith: New bicycle buyers grant.
Mr. Sargent: Election promises.
Mr. Warner: If this is the best you can do, resign.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I am optimistic about Ontario’s future. This province has proven consistently that with the right combination of public policies, our inherently strong economy performs dynamically and generates for our citizens a standard of living and a quality of life second to none.
Mr. Eakins: Who wrote this?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: This government, under the wise leadership of the Premier (Mr. Davis), is determined --
Mr. S. Smith: Methinks he doth protest too much.
Mr. Peterson: Who wrote this, Jim Fleck?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We are determined to continue to provide that right combination of policies for all the people of Ontario.
Mr. Eakins: Tell us more about the Premier.
Mr. S. Smith: You are embarrassed.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Peterson: Wasting our time with that.
Mr. Cunningham: How much did that cost?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Any further statements?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
SALES TAX EXEMPTION ON PRODUCTION MACHINERY
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Treasurer: Is he aware that officials of the Treasury ministry, meeting with those in the lock-up this morning, indicated there was absolutely no study done in the province of Ontario to determine the impact on jobs of his sales tax write-off for the purchase of machinery and equipment last year? And since he has no knowledge whatsoever of the impact on actual new jobs created by this write-off, why is the Treasurer willing now to give another $160-million gift to the corporate sector?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition would get over some of his pink inhibitions --.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Breithaupt: It’s like calling him a socialist.
Mr. Speaker: Order. What is the point of privilege?
Mr. Lewis: Just for clarification. I thought the Treasurer was going to say “if the Leader of the Opposition would get over his pique,” but as I understand it he said “pink” what?
Some hon. members: “Inhibitions.”
Mr. Lewis: “Inhibitions.” Okay, I wanted to get it on the record.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition would get over his pique that we use the word “profit” and are proud of it on this side of the House -- and if he doesn’t know what the word is all about, then he doesn’t understand it!
Mr. Breithaupt: How many jobs?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But you won’t get over that.
Mr. Yakabuski: The only time he knew about profit was when it was at Browndale.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: He sold a house one time.
Mr. Speaker: Please, let’s have the answer.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Where’s your Pilkey button, Stephen?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition would look at page 29 of the statement and find out that in Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania --
Mr. Moffatt: You are wrong again.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s where the competition is, and the sooner he learns it the better he’ll know that’s where the competition is. Let me say this, there’s no competition coming from Manitoba, none from Manitoba, none from Saskatchewan. Our competition comes from the States and he knows it.
Mr. Deans: He substitutes volume for logic. He has never been able to show it; never been able to substantiate it.
Mr. Renwick: Boy, it’s time to change ministers, I can tell you that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Could we have a non-provocative question?
Mr. Lewis: I hesitate to ask a supplementary, lest he expire from hyperbolic apoplexy, but if he can return to a more civilized demeanour as the Treasurer of Ontario, may I ask him why he is proceeding with this $160 million gift to the corporations in the manufacturing sector, without any evidence or documentation, when in fact, according to Statistics Canada, the capital expenditure on machinery and equipment for Ontario, 1976 over 1975, declined from 23.9 per cent in the previous year to 10.5 per cent in that year; and when the jobs in the manufacturing sector declined, in 1975 over 1974, by 6.5 per cent, compared to an increase of 2.7 per cent in all sectors?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: What would you do with it?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, as calmly as I can, I say that it’s those kind of figures that give worry to us, it’s those kind of figures which lead us to say that this province must remain competitive; and the actions we’ve taken today will ensure that we are competitive.
Mr. Warner: Stop giving money away.
Mr. Renwick: You continue to pursue a system which doesn’t work.
Mr. Lewis: Why does the Treasurer continue to use an incentive which amounts to a $160 million gift to the corporations when --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Nonsense.
Mr. Lewis: -- now just listen to this and explain it to me -- the 1975 intentions for capital expenditure on machinery and equipment, as set by Statistics Canada, were at $2.3 billion; after the Treasurer announced his special tax credit the actual preliminary investment amounted to something just over $2 billion, that is a quarter of a billion dollars less purchase of machinery and equipment and $160 million additional from the public purse? How does he justify that?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, we’ll be debating this, no doubt, when the bill comes forward.
Mr. Cassidy: Answer the question.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But I have to ask the Leader of the Opposition, how does he go on justifying the bankruptcy of socialist policy, after seeing what’s happening in Europe, in Saskatchewan, in British Columbia? When is he going to get off the red kick?
Mr. Breithaupt: The best defence is an offence.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Can we not have a more orderly question period? This is not the time for a full debate; that will come later.
Mr. Singer: Why call order for that? It is not against the rules to call ministers to order too, you know.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a supplementary question to that? The hon. member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr. Swart: May I ask the Treasurer a supplementary? How can he justify the exemption of this sales tax to the private sector and not give it to the public sector, particularly local government, when municipal taxes this year increased, by his own figures, on the average of --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That’s sufficiently far away that it can be a new question later.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re getting into a far-ranging debate here. Let’s stick to the original question as much as possible.
Mr. Swart: May I finish the question on supplementary?
Mr. Speaker: No.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think it’s going too far afield for a supplementary. You may work it in at a later time. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Lewis: By way of an additional or new question, Mr. Speaker, leaving the Treasurer’s ideological dialectics aside again for a second: If he can, can he explain, since he has no evidence of any jobs being created, and since he is giving away this $160 million gift to the corporations, is he not concerned that according to his September 10 statement, if memory serves me, the revenues for 1977-78 will be $12.219 billion, and as the Treasurer has said today that expenditures will be $13.830 billion his deficit will therefore be tabulated at $1.6 billion, an increase over this year’s deficit of 30.1 per cent? Is that part of his fiscal constraint programme?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the statement today did not touch on our forecast of revenue; that will be done in the spring.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, in his statement to the provincial-municipal liaison committee, September 10, 1976, he set out his projected revenue yield at $12.219 billion quite definitively. Is he now reneging on that projected revenue bill? In other words, he is adding almost $400 million to our deficit in Ontario by this statement today --
Mr. Yakabuski: Question.
Mr. Lewis: -- $160 million of it to the corporations.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: No, not $160 million, because that --
Mr. Cassidy: In a full year.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- that is in a full year, $10 million for the balance of this year. The $160 million would not all occur in 1977-78. But if the hon. member is asking if my revenue forecasts have changed since September 10, yes.
Mr. Lewis: Where are they now?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: They will be disclosed at the time of the budget, I assume in March or April.
Mr. Lewis: It was only two months ago you know.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the Treasurer: If the revenue forecast has changed, will the Treasurer change the amounts under the Edmonton commitment to the municipalities?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the change in our revenue forecast at this moment would not make a significant difference in the Edmonton commitment figures.
Mr. Lewis: He didn’t know the deficit was there.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: But I’m not going to get into a discussion today of what revenue forecasts may or may not become next March or April.
THUNDER BAY SKI JUMPS
Mr. Lewis: I have only one further question, if I may, to the Minister of Industry and Tourism who sits back in a somnambulant state --
Mr. Yakabuski: Question.
Mr. Lewis: -- stunned by the Treasurer’s announcement, no doubt.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: In full support; in full support.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask him, in the words of the document we heard today, in the spirit of government spending restraint, can he explain what he did with those ski hills in Thunder Bay to cost the taxpayers of Ontario several hundred thousand dollars more than originally anticipated? And can he also please release the details of the lease arrangements with the private holding with whom he has entered specific rental arrangements?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Over the last two or three years we have invested a total of about $460,000 or $470,000 in building two international ski jumps at Thunder Bay. While I am willing to admit to the members that they are not profitable -- and that’s obvious -- I think they’re a direct contribution to the sports and athletic sector of the province of Ontario as much as it is in the field of --
Mr. Lewis: It’s not Minaki Lodge.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The member asked a question. Does he want an answer?
Mr. Lewis: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Okay. Very simply, Mr. Speaker, we have invested funds because we believe it was in the best interests provincially and nationally in assisting our national and international ski jumping teams. Indeed we have been able to bring to Thunder Bay the American ski jumping team as well as other competitive organizations sponsored by the private sector.
The fact is, Mr. Speaker, at the moment the group in Thunder Bay -- and his own member knows as much about the situation as anyone -- would like a further investment which we are not committing the government to.
Mr. Breithaupt: Jessiman’s fault.
Mr. Lewis: Even for sports and recreation?
Mr. Speaker: Order please. The member for Fort William with a supplementary.
Mr. Angus: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister justify to this Legislature the actions of his ministry through the NODC to lease from Mount Norway the land for the outrun of Big Thunder ski jump on only a year-to-year basis instead of a long-term basis?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes, we can justify it because there is a 20-year lease that we’re involved in with the Little Norway ski organization.
Mr. Angus: Were you asking for renewal each year?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, at the moment what we are discussing with them is that they are looking for a bigger percentage on the funds paid to them because of the low revenue factors that the Thunder Bay ski jump has derived.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will, in fact, the minister table the leases that have been asked for with regard to these agreements with a private report? And can he explain to us how it is that the jump itself is on Crown land and yet the government has still had to enter into a lease with a private company that seems to enjoy a lease on that particular Crown land? Surely some other arrangement could have been made. Will the minister table those agreements?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I shall look into the fact of tabling the lease and the agreements, but may I say that, while the ski jump is located on Crown property, the run-off from the ski jump is on privately held property.
Mr. S. Smith: Not the jump itself.
With the interjections, Mr. Speaker, I did not hear the answer. Did the minister say he would table them?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I said I would take it under advisement.
Mr. S. Smith: Under advisement.
Mr. Stokes: I have a supplementary for the same minister. Will the minister undertake the possibility of embarking upon the development of Nordic and cross-country skiing in order to enhance the possibility of recovering some of the investment the government has placed there now?
Mr. Breithaupt: You could have a jump in the lake too.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I have had the opportunity of discussing that with the member in regard to cross-country skiing. I think it’s very obvious that it has a potential in which we might be able as a ministry to encourage the private sector to become much more actively involved. That should supplement and complement the investment we already have in the resort industry that relates to the skiing industry in that part of the province.
Mr. S. Smith: Could the minister please tell us what possible reason there would be for not tabling these leases which involve the expenditure of public money, the taxpayers’ money?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I have already said I would advise this House. I did not say that there was any reason but I would like to review it first.
Mr. S. Smith: Why?
Mr. Speaker: That was the final supplementary. The member for London Centre with the lead-off questions.
Mr. Peterson: I have a question for the Treasurer. I am just reviewing his documents of today. On page 3 he projects real growth at five per cent. With prices continuing to moderate from the current 6.2 per cent level, that adds up to 11.2 per cent. Yet on the other hand, on page 18, he is projecting growth at 12 per cent. Could he explain to the people of this province the disparity in those figures, which comes out in gross numbers to about $500 million?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Five and six don’t make 11 in this particular instance. Those two figures don’t add.
An hon. member: Like Minaki Lodge.
Mr. Peterson: Just so we can clear this up, the Treasurer is projecting --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We can’t hear the question.
Mr. Peterson: At one point in his report, the Treasurer is projecting almost 12 per cent but in another place, when one breaks down that growth, he is projecting real growth at five per cent and price inflation moderating from the current level of 6.2 per cent. I think maybe he needs my help. Five plus 6.2 equals 11.2, is that not so?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The point is that they do not add. One can’t take A and B and add them up to C in this particular instance. Those two indicators don’t total.
Mr. Reid: How did the Treasurer arrive at 12 per cent?
Mr. Peterson: What figures is he using to get his 12 per cent real growth then?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s a separate figure which is being generally used. It happens to be our figure as well, but that’s a separate figure. But one can’t break it down into parts A and B.
Mr. Roy: Why don’t you just say --
Mr. Peterson: Where does the Treasurer get that figure then? He is using two different figures in two different circumstances to explain the same phenomenon.
Mr. S. Smith: What else is there but real growth plus inflation?
Mr. Peterson: I don’t think we’ll pursue that now because I don’t know if the Treasurer understands it. I just want to refer the Treasurer to page 2 in his report today, where he says the Ontario economy is the top performer. He’s talking in those circumstances about industrial production, Ontario being the heartland of the industrialized country. In terms of real growth we are lagging behind the rest of the country. I would like to know his explanation of why we’re off in retail sales, in job creation, in housing starts and all of the other very important indicators. Why is there only one we’re ahead in?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We debated this, as I recall, a year ago last summer. As much as anything there is no escaping the fact that there have been significant developments in other parts of Canada. We can’t always be ahead of the rest of Canada, although we would like to. There is no way that the other regions of Canada are going to come up to something approaching our level of prosperity without growing at a quicker rate than we are.
It so happens that specifically one has to look at the very large energy investments in western Canada and at Baie James in Quebec, and to some extent the Olympics. Also what influenced the figures for 1975 in particular were the very large crops on the prairies.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer realizes, of course, that Ontario pulls the weighted average down; in fact, the real disparity is much greater than the figures reveal between 8.9 gross and 8.7 gross.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a question?
Mr. Peterson: Would the Treasurer not agree with that? He wouldn’t?
Mr. Nixon: We are not averaged in with the rest of Canada.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if I may ask a few more questions of the Treasurer on this important document.
An hon. member: You are doing so well.
Mr. Peterson: The Treasurer talked about productivity and paid lip service to it in a very general way. Could he tell what his goals are for growth in productivity and how he sees that coming about?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I specifically defined that this afternoon. I think what still gives us cause for great concern is that although we have been making productivity gains our competition has been making equal gains. The fact is that our productivity today is still something like 20 per cent below that of the United States in the manufacturing side. I don’t know whether it’s realistic to think we can ever close that gap completely, given our geography as a country, given a smaller market and given the --
Mr. Nixon: And given the government of Ontario.
Mr. S. Smith: And given the Conservative government.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- efficiencies of scale which are in the United States but which aren’t necessarily here.
Mr. S. Smith: The geography was a good thing a moment ago.
Mr. Peterson: Can I ask a supplementary, Mr. Speaker? Does the Treasurer have any plans or any projections that he is going to require capital investment of so much to get so much increase in productivity? Does he have any plans or any goals in this area?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Nothing that I would say specifically. I think there is no question that productivity is the sum of several parts. It happens to be -- to put it in lay terms -- how hard we work; how much money we invest; how technologically advanced the machine is. It will be a combination of a number of those things which is going to bring about productivity gains or continuing productivity gains.
Without being specific this afternoon, I can only tell the member that the Premier (Mr. Davis), the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson), the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett), the provincial secretary and others have been giving this whole subject a great deal of thought. We have nothing definite to put in front of the House at this moment.
Mr. Lewis: A supplementary: Where is the specific information for the contention the productivity in Canadian manufacturing is almost one-fifth below that in the US? As I recall, when the C. D. Howe Institute revised its statistics in February, 1976 -- the statistics which had been used by Macdonald in October when the AIB was announced -- it showed that Canadian productivity in the manufacturing sector had come up to a par with or slightly in excess of the US rate.
Mr. Renwick: Yes.
Mr. Lewis: I remember seeing those statistics.
Mr. Renwick: The Citibank figures say the same thing.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the Howe Institute revised its figures after the Americans had revised theirs. What the original figures had indicated was that the Americans were making greater gains in productivity than Canadians. What was unchanged after the figures were revised was still a relative difference of about 20 per cent on the manufacturing side.
Mr. Peterson: A further question of the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker. He says in his document that he has produced 100,000 jobs since mid-1975 which, of course, was the low point in the business cycle. Could he tell me how many jobs he has created in calendar year 1976?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Let me correct that. We don’t create the jobs. We create the climate, hopefully, in which jobs will be created. The employment figures for -- during this year?
Mr. Peterson: Yes.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: They would indicate that for Ontario, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the labour force and employment and unemployment have stood still really since about the beginning of the year.
Mr. Peterson: Just so that I am clear. Is the Treasurer saying there were no new jobs created? How many new jobs in gross numbers were created?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: What we have seen is -- there have been jobs created but not nearly as many, perhaps, as there should have been. What we have seen, though, are some people leaving the labour force, perhaps prematurely, but --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- from the beginning -- let me give these figures: Our serious problems began in the last months of 1974, or early 1975. During that time employment has risen from 3,539,000 on a seasonally-adjusted basis to 3,700,000, which is exactly what -- 161,000 jobs?
Mr. Deans: Can the minister provide the statistics with regard to which firms took advantage of the machinery tax rebate since its inception and the numbers of new jobs created in those particular firms?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: No. There is no rebate. They have not paid the tax. This is an expected line of questioning by the party opposite.
Mr. Lewis: Of course.
Mr. Deans: Of course, because it is relevant.
Mr. Lewis: You add to their profits. Interjections.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: There is no way that our firms can compete with Quebec and with our neighbours to the south and pay a seven per cent tax. The question you should ask yourselves is how many jobs you want to “uncreate” by high rates of taxation.
Mr. Lewis: That wasn’t the reason for your intervention.
An hon. member: The facts of unemployment.
Mr. Deans: You haven’t produced one single job by that programme, not one. In fact, you have eliminated jobs.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No.
Mr. Deans: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No.
Mr. Deans: Yes, you have eliminated jobs.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Beaches-Woodbine with a final supplementary.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the provincial Treasurer regarding the unemployment rate. Is he not aware that --
Mr. Speaker: No, it is concerning the 100,000 jobs which were created. That is what the original question was.
Ms. Bryden: Yes, well since the unemployment rate on a seasonally adjusted basis has gone up between October, 1975, and October, 1976, from 6.1 per cent to 6.3 per cent and the numbers from 239,000 to 247,000, does that not indicate that not enough jobs are being created?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I wouldn’t deny that for a moment.
Mr. Roy: I have a supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: This will be a final supplementary.
Mr. Roy: I would like to ask the Treasurer, in view of the expected high unemployment this winter and in view of the fact that the high unemployment has affected especially the construction industry, in view of the fact that there is a shortage of affordable housing especially in the area of rental accommodation, why didn’t you pump some money into that sector to get jobs going and to build affordable housing?
Mr. Lewis: Because it is too sensible.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I think that the thrust of what I have been trying to say today is that our present difficulties in the economy, both in terms of inflation and terms of job creation not being at the rate which we would all like to see it, are not going to be solved by higher government spending and therefore higher government deficits. Surely if we have learned something in the last two or three years, it’s that we can’t spend our way out of either inflation or recession.
Mr. Reid: What about these?
Mr. Roy: What about the rebates on cars last year?
Mr. Speaker: The member for London Centre has the floor with a question.
Mr. Peterson: You have cut the civil service down roughly by 1,000 to 66,537. Could you tell me please how many employees are on contract to the government?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s a question that should be addressed to the Chairman of the Management Board (Mr. Auld); but there have been answers to questions tabled in the House which would indicate that the number of people on contract, the number of positions, the amount of dollars being expended, have remained relatively the same.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: What is that same figure, just for our edification.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I don’t have that in front of me.
Mr. Peterson: Just one final question. Rather than this optimism which the Treasurer is displaying, would he not agree with me that when we see these figures, we are lagging behind most of the other provinces in terms of performance in most of the indicated areas, that’s an established fact. The only area where it appears we are ahead is in terms of industrial production. When we are creating jobs more slowly, according to the conference board, would the Treasurer not agree this is a time for some very serious action, and indeed some pessimism that leads to some healthy action, rather than just some optimism, that’s really in a vacuum as I see it?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I wouldn’t agree that this is the time to be pessimistic. I did indicate at the end of my statement that we would continue to monitor the economy. There are obviously worrying things -- and seldom have there not been, I think -- but I see no need to change the stance we have taken, other than to continue the stimulation which we have been able to provide for the last year and a half to one part of the economy and which we think is very much needed.
Mr. Speaker: Before we proceed, perhaps the lights might be turned down since the cameras are no longer in operation.
The hon. Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) has the answer to a question asked previously.
NORTH PICKERING PROJECT
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the member for Durham West (Mr. Godfrey) inquired as to what action my ministry would be taking tomorrow at the home of one Roy Bambrough in North Pickering in the face of a contention by Mr. Bambrough that a visit from my staff in that area would have adverse effects on the health of his wife.
Through a series of court actions, Mr. Bambrough has been able to remain in possession of the property he occupies, which was expropriated in February 1974 and for which the ministry requested possession in December 1974. In October of this year, a three-man divisional court decision rejected his latest appeal against the ministry’s writ of possession and on November 15 his request for leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal against that decision was also rejected.
The October decision contained the proviso that the ministry would not take possession of the property for a period of up to three months provided that the ministry shall be entitled to enter on the premises at all reasonable times for the purpose of inspection and appraisal of same.
On November 17 an agreement was reached between Mr. Bambrough’s solicitor and the solicitor for the ministry, in which it was determined that Wednesday, November 24, would be an appropriate time for the ministry’s inspection and appraisal. On Friday, a member of my office staff was served with a notice, the contents of which were discussed by the hon. member yesterday, and we have interpreted this notice as a revocation of the agreement reached between the solicitors two days earlier. Consequently, the ministry has withdrawn for the time being its instructions for the appraisal team to enter the property occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Bambrough. On Monday, Mr. Bambrough’s solicitor was notified to this effect and informed that the ministry would apply to the court for more detailed instructions as provided for in the divisional court order of October 14.
Mr. Nixon: A supplementary: I wonder if the Minister of Housing could indicate, since the expropriation of that property in the Pickering area has caused so much disruption, both in the community and in this case personal disruption, what sort of a timetable the government has got for the development of that property, which they have been messing around with now for about three years or longer than that. Surely the minister ought to be getting out of that business and not continuing the pressure on the property owners in the area.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member is not sure where North Pickering is. What is he talking about?
Mr. S. Smith: The minister knows where it is by now.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member is correct; there have been some difficulties with the acquisition of the land. I think all members are aware of that. There are still some of these matters to be cleared up and until such time as they have been finalized, it is very difficult to get on with the project. Some of the planning is carrying on, as it has been for some time now, and the North Pickering Development Corporation is working towards the goal of that development.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary.
Mr. Godfrey: A supplementary: Will the minister confirm that the plans were to dispatch six to eight officials in order to carry out the appraisal inspection and rental assessment and is this the usual number which is sent on that sort of an expedition?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know whether it was six, eight or a dozen and I don’t know whether it is the usual number. The only time I’ve heard about these figures is in the document that was delivered to my office, in which Mr. Bambrough indicates that he was informed that some six to eight officials or agents were proposed to go to his property. I don’t know what the number would be, sir. I have no idea.
Mr. Godfrey: I suggest you ask your officials.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I suppose I could ask and find out. But, with respect, I cannot always accept what appears in a document that really is just a typed document, whether it is accurate or not.
Mr. Godfrey: Find out.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am quite capable of finding out; I will do so.
LAYOFF OF CASUAL AND UNCLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Chairman of Management Board. In view of the statements made by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier) and his deputy minister on October 27 of this year during the debate on MNR estimates, that they were very concerned about Management Board’s proposal to require a yearly three-month layoff of casual and unclassified staff and were appealing that decision because MNR has considerable investment in these people and could not function without them, has Management Board reconsidered this proposal?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, all I can say at the moment is that Natural Resources has a problem about complement and part-time staff and we’re attempting to resolve it and probably will in the next three months.
Mr. Wildman: Could the minister indicate how many other ministries, other than the Ministry of Natural Resources, and how many individuals on the staff of these ministries are affected by these decisions? Does the minister really consider it honest to agree to allow casual and unclassified staff to accumulate sick-leave benefits in the spring and then to propose a policy in the fall to prevent these people from working long enough to be eligible to collect these benefits?
Hon. Mr. Auld: In answer to the first question, Mr. Speaker, I can’t give that figure to the hon. member today. In answer to the second question, I will produce the information, which will take a little time to get, because, as perhaps the hon. member knows, there are different types of unclassified staff. There are those who will work sort of permanently but on a part-time basis, if I can put it that way. There are those who are working permanently on a short-term basis, say a year or two years, and there are those who work seasonally. Some of the seasonal people, particularly in the north, work say in the wintertime for Transportation and Communications in snow-ploughing and they work for Natural Resources in the summertime in tree planting. It’s a rather complicated arrangement, but I’ll attempt to get that information for the hon. member.
SEVERN PARK DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, this is the question I asked the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Irvine) yesterday, but receiving the usual answer I must ask the Minister of Natural Resources: What rationale could he possibly have used in reaching a decision to turn over a 25-acre parcel of wooded land known as Severn Park, south of Grand Bend, to Grand Bend and Bosanquet township for a possible use as an area community centre and other recreational facilities when he knew that this park presently has a tremendous stand of oak and pine, it’s used as a day camping centre and picnicking area for tourists, and right across the road from this area is land owned by the province which is scrub land and could well be used for the construction of a community centre?
Mr. Conway: Any politics in it, Mr. Bernier?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, the Severn picnic area to which the hon. member refers was surplus land picked up by the Department of Highways back in 1942. We have developed it as a day use area over the years, but it has become surplus to our needs and the Grand Bend people were in to see us with a very interesting proposal for the 28 acres, one that would continue --
Mr. Speaker: Order please.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- the area as a picnic area for day use for the people who now use it and also for expanded recreational needs of the entire area. I am confident that the decision we’ve made is the right one, in the best interests of all the people in that specific area where the greatest use can be made of it by the greatest number of people.
Mr. Riddell: Would a factor in the minister’s decision have anything to do with the fact that Don Southcott, a former executive assistant to the former Treasurer, Charles MacNaughton, within the last month purchased the adjacent lot to Severn Park, knowing that he’s a developer and knowing that he wants to develop that land for which severances have been turned down to this point in time?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Ruston: Lorne must have had a finger in this.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: You are denying your people a recreational opportunity.
Mr. Riddell: Further supplementary.
Mr. Lewis: Give him another supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Solicitor General has the answer to a question asked previously.
Mr. Roy: When you are embarrassed you back off.
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, the Legislature will recall that yesterday --
Mr. S. Smith: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please, the hon. Solicitor General, if we may.
An hon. member: It’s a trap.
Mr. Bullbrook: Don’t get excited, sit down for a few minutes.
Mr. S. Smith: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. Under what rule of the House have you decided to limit supplementaries to one supplementary on a serious question of this kind?
Mr. Deans: That is his prerogative.
Mr. Speaker: In the first place the hon. member didn’t rise until after I started to call the Solicitor General.
Mr. Speaker: That is number one; number two --
Mr. Eakins: It was embarrassing.
Mr. Speaker: No, not a bit.
Mr. Speaker: I think really it wasn’t a proper type of supplementary at any rate.
Mr. Cassidy: You didn’t hear it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Bullbrook: That has never stopped you.
Mr. Lewis: Show some latitude.
Mr. Speaker: On top of that it is the prerogative of the Speaker. I see the time is just about up and I am sure the hon. minister wishes to give the answer to the member who asked a question yesterday.
Mr. R. S. Smith: You sound like the Premier (Mr. Davis).
DEATH OF JAMES CULLEN
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Sorry to cause you so much trouble, Mr. Speaker.
The Legislature will recall that yesterday the member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith) raised a number of questions concerning the death of James Cullen at Inco and the subsequent inquest into that death. I shall attempt to answer each of his points in turn.
The hon. member stated that the site where the death occurred was blown up before a coroner’s jury was able to view it. There were, in fact, two inquests concerning Mr. Cullen’s death. During the first inquest, held on July 15, the jury did visit the scene. However, when there were complaints about the verdict and recommendations made by the first coroner’s jury, a second inquest was scheduled.
On October 22 the lawyer for Inco met with the deputy chief coroner. One of the matters discussed was the possibility of the second jury visiting the site. Dr. Bennett doubted the value of such a visit -- I might say that Dr. Bennett is the deputy chief coroner -- because seven months had passed since the accident. During the intervening time the scoop tram which was involved in the death had been moved and blasts in other areas of the mine had altered the site. It should be stated, however, that the company was fully co-operative and did extend an invitation to visit the scene if Dr. Bennett deemed it necessary.
On November 11, Inco’s mines manager informed the lawyer for Inco that he planned to blast an area adjacent to the death site, but which would affect the death site. The lawyer told the mines manager to go ahead with his plans. The blast was carried out on November 13.
During the second inquest, the jury expressed an interest in visiting the site. Dr. Bennett arranged to take the jury to the mine where they viewed a similar scene just 200 feet from the actual site. While there the jury studied the scoop tram which was involved in the death.
In the second part of his question, the hon. member asked about the power of a coroner under section 11 of The Coroners Act to order Inco not to disturb the site. Section 11, which enables a coroner investigating a death which occurred by violence in a wreck to take charge of the wreckage, is interpreted to mean a vehicle such as a car, bus, train or airplane. This section is not intended to cover buildings, mines or other sites.
It would have been impractical for the coroner to preserve the site for eight months. Because blasts in other areas of the mine had an impact on the site, Inco’s entire operation in that locality would have had to have been stopped.
In any event, the site was protected for several days to allow the coroner and the police to carry out their investigations. Photographs were made and samples were taken which were later examined at the inquest. This procedure has worked well in the past and I see no reason to amend The Coroners Act to broaden the powers of a coroner.
In conclusion, I will state again that the staff of Inco co-operated fully with the coroner’s investigations. I will also add that I am satisfied with the actions of Dr. Bennett, the deputy chief coroner.
Mr. Laughren: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt.
Mr. Laughren: Has the minister taken any action on the recommendation of the inquest jury that there be an investigation by a joint committee of management, labour and government, to investigate conditions in mining at the Frood mine?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, we receive a good number of inquest reports from the various coroner’s juries and in turn we pass them on to the ministries concerned. I might say that the report of the second inquest has not yet been received by us.
THUNDER BAY JAIL
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, a new question to the Provincial Secretary for Justice, in the absence of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry). In the desire of his government to modernize the court system, will he undertake a full scale review of the administration of justice in Thunder Bay, particularly paying special attention to the scheduling of trials in Thunder Bay? I would like the provincial secretary to note in that review, if he would, the critical remarks of Judge J. C. Duthie with regard to the Crown attorney in Thunder Bay, having scheduled a full schedule of trials for November 5 and then having left that to a part-time Crown?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, this sounds, rather than a general view, as if it had specific implications to a certain location and a certain set of facts, and I will pass that to the Attorney General.
Mr. Foulds: A quick supplementary, if I might: In the review that the provincial secretary passes to the Attorney General, will he ask him to look at the latest report from the new inspection panel that replaces the grand jury, which indicates that the average stay in the Thunder Bay jail is three months and sometimes as long as six to 10 months, whereas the jail itself was built for prisoners staying from a mere two to three days? And might he, as Provincial Secretary for Justice, co-ordinate that investigation between the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) and the Attorney General?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I will pass that as well, sir, to the Attorney General.
Mr. Gaunt: A question of the Minister of the Environment in respect to the Whitchurch-Stouffville landfill site. Why is the minister unable or unwilling to provide the hydrocarbon content of the drinking water, even though the town council of Stouffville has asked for this several times? And why was the certificate of approval issued before this was done?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The certificate of approval -- dealing with the last part of the member’s question -- was issued in August and at that time we had the necessary data as far as drinking water is concerned. There have been more tests. I realize that the town council and some of the citizens in the area, at this time of year particularly, are interested in getting more recent tests as far as drinking water is concerned. I’ve had a request from some of the citizens for that; it’s a matter of getting the analysis done and getting the information to the town council.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: May I ask the minister why the monitoring programme is going to be carried on by York Sanitation instead of the ministry in view of the fact that the company has had a rather poor record in this particular area, and because of the fact also that the Environmental Hearing Board recommended against it?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: No, Mr. Speaker. The Environmental Hearing Board recommended that the company in fact do that monitoring on a regular basis and supply the ministry with that information. We have reasonable ways of checking the monitoring to make sure that it’s accurate and is done properly, and it applies to that site. We were satisfied with the information we received from the company, although not necessarily with the results. So rather than the ministry go to that expense, this is a requirement of the board’s recommendation in respect to the company, and it’s rather a normal thing to do.
Mr. Speaker: The time has expired.
Hon. Mrs. Birch presented the second annual report of the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Members of the Legislature will recall that the report was distributed during the summer recess of the Legislature. According to population statistics, Mr. Speaker, the senior age group in Canada by the year 2000 will be approximately 20 per cent of the total population. I am sure that you will agree that a greater effort must be made by all age groups to use more fully the human resources of this very large percentage of our population, so that our senior citizens may continue to contribute to the general welfare of our province and of our country.
It is with this recognition in mind that the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens was established in April of 1974, to advise the government of Ontario on matters pertaining to the well-being of the aged and the ageing process. The report outlines the activities of the council during its second year of operation. I know that all members of the Legislature will join me in welcoming the council’s very able chairman, Miss Hope Holmested, who, along with other members of the council, is with us today in the Speaker’s gallery.
Mr. R. S. Smith: Is that why you cut the grants?
Mr. Speaker: Motions.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the supplementary estimates for the Ministry of the Environment be referred to the standing resources development committee.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills.
CORPORATIONS TAX AMENDMENT ACT (NO.3)
Hon. Mr. Meen moved first reading of Bill 168, An Act to amend The Corporations Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Meen: As indicated earlier this afternoon by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), this bill amends the foreign tax credit provisions of Ontario’s Corporations Tax Act. The changes will bring Ontario’s Act more closely into line with federal legislation. These changes will provide more equity for Ontario-based companies doing business internationally and by more closely paralleling federal treatment will assist Ontario in its pursuit of tax simplification.
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT (NO. 2)
Hon. Mr. Meen moved first reading of Bill 169, An Act to amend The Income Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Meen: This bill contains two amendments. The first will set the provincial income tax rate, as indicated by the Treasurer, for the 1977 taxation year at 30.5 per cent of the basic federal tax payable. I would emphasize that this is the same income tax rate which the province has maintained since 1972.
The second amendment I propose pertains to Ontario’s sales tax credit and was precipitated by proposed amendments to The Income Tax Act, Canada. It will further simplify the calculations of the sales tax credit for all Ontario tax filers.
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT (NO. 2)
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved first reading of Bill 170, An Act to amend The Retail Sales Tax Act.
Some hon. members: Shame.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Lewis: I want to tell the Treasurer, he has given us $160 million a year to play with on the hustings, and we will. I have been looking for that chunk of money to underwrite other programmes. I owe him a debt of thanks.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Before the orders of the day I wish to table the answers to questions 147, 148, 149, 150 and 151 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
FAMILY LAW REFORM ACT (CONCLUDED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 140, An Act to reform the Law Respecting Property Rights and Support Obligations between Married Persons and in other Family Relationships.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I think you will recall that I adjourned the debate on this matter. I’d like to make a very few brief comments on the legislation at this time.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, this type of legislation has been a long time coming. Many of my colleagues and certainly the press have given lengthy accolades to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) for bringing forward this legislation, and I suppose to some degree he deserves some. But basically the Attorney General, being the astute politician that he is, and having some personal initiative -- I’ll give him full marks for that -- is the fortunate beneficiary of the work of an awful lot of people and of many of his predecessors. And I think he’d be the first --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: You are absolutely right.
Mr. Roy: -- yes -- to admit this. But fortunately for you, it’s not going to hurt, in the scheme of things, on your behalf, and in some ways I envy you. I say it’s great. It’s worthwhile legislation, and at least you had enough foresight and initiative to bring it on now.
But it must be said that across the province and in the country as well not only those of us involved with the law but I think the public generally speaking, have felt that the laws have not moved fast enough to keep up with 1976 society. I’m probably emphasizing the obvious by saying that, but this has always been a problem of the lay people who could not understand the laws and why the laws did not adapt quick enough to current situations. And that’s certainly the case in the question of family law reform.
We’ve had in the last while major decisions which have, to some measure, facilitated the task of the Attorney General to bring forward this type of legislation. Because there have been obvious cases which have stunned the public, or stunned at least the feminine population of this country. You talk about the Murdoch case; you talk about other cases that have come forward. Slowly but surely the pressure has been such that governments and Attorney Generals -- hopefully you’ll have some colleagues across the country -- will react and bring forward this type of legislation.
But the point is this: we mustn’t get all that carried away in the sense to think that this is something that is going to change the whole approach to the family law situation. I think this was highlighted today in an article in the Globe and Mail which says that there’s still an awful lot of discretion. In fact it’s suggested in this article that there is too much, in fact, discretion left in presiding judge in these cases. I intend to deal with that later, because I think, to some degree, it’s necessary that you have it that way.
But there are many of the aspects of course that are covered in this legislation which existed before, where the law was evolving to some degree. For instance, the question of the matrimonial home, the question of support payments, the question of obligations of parents towards children and of children towards parents, and so on, were highlighted by the press when the law came up. In fact there were existing laws to this, support obligations in fact in following common law unions. There was always law which said that the parents, the natural parents, the natural father, had some obligations towards his children. This is not a new concept. We had jurisprudence that was saying that before.
I want to deal with some general aspects of the law. If I may, I will start first of all with the question of the common law relationship; look at the way that we are approaching it and try to highlight some of the concerns that we have about giving some legality or some status to the common law relationship in our society.
The common law relationship is something, I suppose, that has flowed on the basis of necessity. In other words, the common law relationship, I think, has become a popular form of union in the past 25 or 30 years, basically because the laws have not reacted quickly enough to situations that existed in society. I think the proliferation of these unions across the country, Mr. Speaker, was basically due to the fact that couples who could no longer live together simply separated. it’s only a few years ago that the grounds for divorce were enlarged. At that time the only grounds for divorce was, basically, adultery, so rather than get involved in expensive actions -- hiring detectives to find the people in the act of committing adultery -- rather than get involved in this type of hassle and the cost of it all, people felt it was easier just to live together.
I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the proliferation of the arrangement, by and large, was due to some of this. I am not saying it is not that religion may be less of a factor in today’s society than in the past, and that people aren’t hung up about the fact that maybe they should live together for a period of time in sort of a trial marriage. Our sexual habits and behaviour have changed over the years, Mr. Speaker, and these are all factors which contribute to the proliferation of common law relationships.
But nevertheless, my concerns about giving some status to common law relationships are basically these: You are quite aware, Mr. Speaker, that the grounds for divorce have been enlarged somewhat, but to many people the grounds are still not wide enough. There is the suggestion, for instance, that the grounds should be basically a breakdown of the marriage, for whatever reason. I personally don’t find that approach all that offensive.
Coupled with the fact that there were more grounds for divorce was the fact that Legal Aid came into force. One has only to look at the budget of Legal Aid to realize how many divorces were cranked through the courts over the last few years through Legal Aid.
So my concern is that at a time when divorces are easier, when people who don’t have sufficient money can go to Legal Aid to get their divorces, we seem to be giving some status to common law marriage.
I think we should look at this very carefully. Are we simply legalizing a situation that exists out there in society or are we starting to look at alternatives to the pillars that support our community?
Our whole society is based on the family unit -- the family with the responsibilities, the contract between the parties and what that entails for the children, for their parents and so on; that is what society is built on.
Some of my colleagues have expressed this concern, and I think it is a valid one: I think we have to be concerned that we are not looking at a new sort of unit whether you call it common law or otherwise, a unit which involves an abdication, to some degree, of the responsibility of the spouses toward themselves or toward the children.
There are many people in our community who say that this is the case. Our church leaders have talked about this. Many in society at large see an evolution of history, and are concerned when you change the family unit for something else. In the history of mankind we have yet to find an alternative to good strong family units as the basis of society.
I suppose one of the answers to this concern is that what we are now doing with the law is not in fact establishing a new form of relationship but legalizing it; or at least determining the rights and privileges and responsibilities of the parties already involved in it. In other words that the law, instead of leading in this direction, is reacting to the present situation.
What the Attorney General is attempting to do with this law is to say look, there are all sorts of common law relationships out there and we don’t like the situation, where maybe some spouses don’t get their full rights under that type of a relationship, where maybe husbands or wives get away from their support obligations toward their children under this type of relationship. Possibly this is what we are attempting to do. I would hope that we would be careful when we move in that direction.
When the Attorney General first announced the legislation, he expressed some concern about exactly that and he said, “We are not trying to make it easier for people to live common law or we are not trying to make it look like an alternative sort of relationship which is going to be more convenient and a better relationship than marriage.” In marriage, we still have a situation in which we will be able to have some marriage contracts but that has changed in the last while. The Attorney General seems to have changed that. He says now we are going to allow contracting situations in common law relationship.
I would like to know the reason for that, the in-depth reason for that. I suppose the Attorney General has received comments from both camps. Some have said to him, “We are against bigamy in society and, by and large, with these common law relationships and giving them a certain status, we are contravening a basic principle of society that, for instance, you can have only one wife under the Criminal Code.”
In this particular situation a man can have a wife and a whole series of other common law relationships with certain rights and responsibilities. We have to be careful. I am sure our church leaders and people involved, leaders of the community, have expressed some concern.
On the other hand, we have other people saying it is none of our business. The Attorney General’s own brother said, “Stay out of my affairs. I will do whatever I please” -- with some validity. People got involved in common law relationships because they didn’t want all the hassle. They just didn’t want to be bothered and then big brother -- the Attorney General is big brother, isn’t he? -- comes along and says: “Look at all these responsibilities.” He has a valid point as well.
I take it the Attorney General has tried to arrive at some compromise -- maybe the criticism was made as well that it is going to be tougher on common law spouses in a common law relationship than in a marriage because in a marriage one can contract out of certain obligations but one cannot under common law. Maybe that’s the reason the Attorney General has sort of changed his approach and said: “We will allow contracts, certain contracts, pertaining to common law relationships.”
These are some of the concerns that certainly we have on this side and I have personally. I am anxious to hear all sorts of points of view on this because, as I mentioned, we must be very careful in our society that we don’t undermine its very pillar and that’s the family unit. As we proceed through this legislation it is going to be interesting to hear the points of view of many citizens, community leaders, lawyers and so on on the question of common law relationships. This is by and large my concern.
The other concern, of course, under the legislation -- I am trying to deal with some of the broad principles of it -- is that when it comes to sharing property, a lot of feminists and a lot of women’s groups thought that this legislation was sort of a godsend, but I would say be careful. In many instances, wives were better protected under a system other than this law under the present system.
I see the Attorney General frowning. I will give him an example and this is going on in our courts every day. A husband who is anticipating maybe some problems with his business puts the matrimonial home in the wife’s name to protect his wife and children from any business failure. Under the old system, the law presumed that he had made a gift at that point and he had to prove what was called the resulting trust. Many husbands got caught in a situation in which the marriage broke down and said, “I just gave it to her to protect her from financial hardship.” But the wife said, “No, that’s not the situation.” It belongs 100 per cent to her and that was the case. Under the legislation now, this will not happen.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Why not?
Mr. Roy: It will not happen because, as I understand it, first of all the law deems it to be a 50-50 proposition and no one can contract out of that. That’s the way I read the legislation.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will try to explain it to you.
Mr. Roy: You’ll try and explain it to me. Well I’ll look forward to that, because as I understood it, this was the case. My concern went a point further in that, and this has been expressed by some of my colleagues in a sense, that what happens in a situation if a husband attempts to do that now and the creditors say: “No, it’s a 50-50 proposition.” So a creditor could end up, in fact, being a partner of the wife.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That just isn’t what the law --
Mr. Roy: I’ve read the law and I tell you it’s not all that clear, it’s not all that clear on that point. I know you can bring a motion; I’ve looked at it; I’ve read it quickly and I’ve read further on some of these matters; but I’m anxious to hear your explanation on that because it is not all that clear how you will avoid that type of situation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I think you’ll always run into that trouble when you have laws written by lawyers. If you’ll continue --
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, especially that lawyer there. That is one of the concerns I had about that.
The other concern is that we’re getting involved in this province in this whole business of marriage contracts. As one who has practiced in Ottawa, I see people coming in from Quebec, with the movement of people going both ways, and they come along with their marriage contracts at the time of dissolution of their marriage. I tell you that marriage contract was entered into at a time when there was marital bliss, everybody was in love and everything else. They sort of frown and there’s not much weight given, at least in Ontario, to these marriage contracts. I’m really concerned that we’re getting involved in this whole business of marriage contracts.
The first point is that if we enact certain laws, it is somewhat offensive to the whole principle that you have a law that you can contract out of. It’s offensive to the whole common law aspect, and that we have to be concerned about. But there is another problem, apart from making work for an awful lot of lawyers across the province -- although that might be a good thing the way they are cranking them out of the bar admission course or law schools; maybe they’ll need a lot of work in this because if there is one consensus about this legislation it’s going to make a lot of work for the lawyers, there’s very little doubt about that.
The marriage contract is going to be something else. I’m always concerned that parties are going to get involved in these contracts or be bound by contract at a time when the anticipation of what may happen in the future may well be different on the question of property, the relationship between a party and so on. In other words, you get two parties in love and prepared to compromise. Many of us just have to look back on those days and how easy it was to compromise then, to adapt and everybody is giving which and what. Here they get involved and bound by this contract and a few years later all hell breaks loose at the time of dissolution or separation or whatever, and you try to enforce that contract.
I’m convinced that couples today, when we’re trying again to facilitate procedures for divorce, marriage and so on, the everyday individual on the street will not be running to his lawyer, or they won’t be running to their lawyers to get involved in a contract.
Maybe people with a proper income and education and so on will be protected; they’ll get proper legal advice and so on; but the everyday citizen of this province will not get involved in this type of situation. The fact remains, let’s be careful before we get involved in a situation of contract.
I’m not convinced it’s working all that well in Quebec; and again I express the concern that parties are entering into contracts at a time when they’re compromising and the contract of course only becomes valid or enforceable at the time the dissolution takes place. It seems to me that is a much different situation than at the time they entered the contract, it’s hard to anticipate what’s going to happen in the future.
I can see lawyers getting involved in drafting these contracts in anticipation of all sorts of problems. Boy, some of these contracts, if they start looking like some of our separation agreements that have been drafted by some members of the legal profession, are going to be something to read and something to enforce.
Like I say I think there’s going to be enough work for lawyers created by the legislation without getting involved in marriage contracts. As I say, I’ve got an open mind on this.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Have you consulted your colleague the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer)? He is very approving of the marriage contract.
Mr. Roy: This shows that my colleague and I discuss these with open minds. In fact the approach of this party to this legislation is to approach it with an open mind and see whether we can contribute to it. We don’t want to defeat the minister on this, we want to improve it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Like all other legislation it does have different approaches.
Mr. Roy: But I have a concern. I have to say I am concerned about getting involved in this marriage contract situation. I can give you arguments where it may be a good thing. I think if I was a 60-year-old millionaire who was marrying an 18-year-old chick.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Is that your colleague?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that’s unparliamentary language.
Mr. Roy: You chauvinist, as you might say -- an 18-year-old female then.
Hon. J. R. Smith: Eighty-one-year-old.
Mr. Roy: Or I could reverse the situation for the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson). A 70-year-old widow marrying a 15-year-old hood, or whatever --
Hon. B. Stephenson: A gigolo with acne -- you mean.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I think you better drop that one. Get back to the principle of the bill.
Mr. Roy: The fact is I suppose that the marriage contract might be something that one might want to get into to set out what protection there may be for the parties under this type of relationship. But having set out certain principles in the legislation I really think it is somewhat offensive to think that only the parties -- and that is the interesting part -- only the parties, of course, who have the money, and who have access to lawyers -- and when you talk about access to lawyers it is a problem in our community. I say this very sincerely, Mr. Speaker, because those who have very limited income or are on welfare and so on, okay, they get legal aid. But your middle class who are into a situation where they have some property but just make ends meet, to go and consult a lawyer and even to get involved in drafting a contract is something that might turn out to be a relatively expensive proposition. I put this concern on the record, Mr. Speaker, because I think it is something we should be very careful about.
The other thing I want to talk about, of course, is that I certainly applaud the approach taken by the Attorney General in this project on the question of unified family courts. I think this is going to be something that is going to be extremely important.
It is unfortunate that there is not more co-operation going on between the province and the federal government on this, because I think the public by and large cannot understand the present set-up where if the husband and wife are fighting together they are in family court, and if you are fighting over the children you are in county court, and if you are on alimony or divorce or something you are in Supreme Court. It just doesn’t make sense, and it is not conducive to proceeding and dealing with family problems the way we should be. It shouldn’t only be an adversary process. There are things in the family relationship sometimes that the legal system is not suited to do and I think that other people should be participating in this. I think that the project in Hamilton certainly is a good thing.
The last thing I wanted to mention on the bill is a question that many people have expressed. There is an article today in the Globe and Mail written by Lynn King and Charles Campbell, who apparently are both lawyers. And they say: “Marriage Bill: Too Much Power for Judges?” I don’t know if the Attorney General has had the chance to read this.
I must tell you that by and large I don’t see how we can have this type of legislation without leaving an awful lot of discretion with the court. I really don’t. For anyone involved in this type of work -- in divorce or in separations, and so on -- there are situations that are so different. In every marriage, I suppose, you can find a different situation than in another, and one cannot have hard and fast rules, because in some situations there are some parties that will not receive justice if there is not a certain amount of discretion left with the judges.
The judges haven’t gone on a frolic of their own, even with their having a certain amount of discretion now under the present law. There is jurisprudence still existing which will be applicable to some of the situations under the law as proposed by the Attorney General. I really think that one would run into situations where there would be inequities towards one of the parties if there was not some discretion left in every aspect. I note that they’re critical in the question of support -- that there’s too much discretion left for the trial judge on the question of support; on the question, I suppose, of family assets, and on what criterion should be used to deny a spouse support.
Again, they seem to be critical about looking at the conduct of the parties as one of the factors that should determine support.
I say to you, Mr. Speaker, it’s fair to consider conduct. I can recall a situation not too long ago where an individual was brought to court for about the 10th time by his divorced wife who said that she was not getting adequate support and was on welfare. Because he had a bank account of some $25,000 she felt she should be entitled to some of that for support.
When it was brought up to the judge that the dissolution was caused by her actions -- she took off with another guy for a period of time and caused the breakup of the marriage to start with; secondly, this man has had custody and supported the children, and in fact was still putting the children through university; thirdly, he was sick, had to retire and that was the only income he had ahead of him; he had to live on his own pension which was not sufficient to support himself and the lady he was now living with. Once all this was brought forth to the courts the judge said no, he didn’t think she was entitled to any more in spite of the fact that she was on welfare.
This was clearly a situation where the husband found himself in a predicament not of his own choosing, but resulting from the actions of the wife.
I recall the situation not too long ago where a lady in Hamilton won $1 million and then separated a week later from her husband. Is he entitled to half of that? He may well be, under the legislation. Would the judge do that if he had a certain amount of discretion?
Mr. Foulds: They separated before.
Mr. Roy: My friend mentions that they had separated before? Okay, maybe they bought the ticket at the time they were still cohabitating. Does he get half of that? These are all matters, Mr. Speaker, in which there must be flexibility. Because for every breakup, I could show you different situations.
So I don’t quite agree with the authors of this article in the Globe and Mail. The only way this can work is to leave discretion in the judges, at least when it’s exercised under certain guidelines set out in the legislation. There is a problem with that. When the situations are not clear cut, as they are not under this, it will make a lot of work for lawyers. People will be going to see lawyers for advice because of the discretion lodged there. I can’t really see any way to avoid it. If your legislation is too strict, too narrow, then it’s not good legislation; if too many people suffer under the legislation, it’s not good legislation.
Mr. Speaker, the other concern I failed to mention under the common law relationship, and this might be said in a humorous vein, are the types of situations which will be brought forward as evidence of common law relationships. I don’t have the exact definition of spouse, but as I read it, it says: “Who not being married to each other, have lived together as husband and wife within the preceding six months, and have so lived together continuously for a period not less than two years, or in a relationship of some permanence where there is a child born of whom they are the natural parents.” That’s pretty wide; and it’s going to be interesting.
Of course when parties get involved in a common law relationship and they part, going their own ways, there’s no problem. The problem exists when there is some bitterness in the separation. Then there’s going to be all sorts of evidence brought forward. Is this going to involve the fellow who’s got a mistress every Wednesday night, or Tuesday night, or whatever? That could possibly fit into this type of situation. The Attorney General shakes his head. You figure you’re safe because you’re on Thursdays, without being offensive.
Mr. Foulds: That is offensive.
Mr. Roy: There’ll be situations like that brought forward. Is she just a housekeeper? is she living in this particular situation?
Mr. Nixon: A companion.
Mr. Roy: Yes, a companion or something. I say we’re going to have to look at this closely as well because the element of proof may well be a problem under this.
Having expressed these concerns, I look forward to participating in the formulation of this legislation and hearing comments not only from the Attorney General about some of the views which have been expressed prior to my speaking on this but from people right across the community. As some of my colleagues have mentioned here, undoubtedly this could be a piece of legislation which affects more people personally across this province than any other we’ve passed for a very long time. Certainly, it’s the most important, I suppose, since the last time the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) raised the taxes.
Having said this, I thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak? The hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Mr. Nixon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hope I’m not the last member to speak before the Attorney General comments on this important piece of legislation because, frankly, I am not in a position, in any professional way, to offer criticism or commendation which is significant. I just feel that on a bill of this importance, I want to express a few very personal views which I don’t believe will have any impact on the legislation at all.
I come from a Methodist-Baptist rural background so the whole concept of common law living is about as foreign as one could imagine, believe it or not. You realize that that sort of thing doesn’t happen in the rural areas of the province, Mr. Speaker, so it’s quite academic.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: They come here to do it.
Mr. Nixon: I did have a chance to discuss the ramifications and import of the proposals in this bill with some of the boys around the Shell station and in the barber shop and in the feed mill. They were much more interested in certain other aspects of political affairs but I insisted that their views be expressed and they ran through quite a gamut, interestingly enough.
Also, interestingly enough, I felt a certain sympathy with almost every one of the views expressed because they went from one extreme to the other. One extreme was that this sort of legislation gives credibility to common law arrangements which is a bad thing. The fact that the Legislature, with the leadership of the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), and much research by law officers of the Crown and many very worthwhile disinterested groups, the fact that this is before the House and is supported on all sides is a strong indication that common law arrangements are prevalent and, by our legislation, becoming acceptable with the legal terms of reference which would be applied by the legislation.
There are those, and I felt some sympathy with their view, who were very much against the legislation since it more or less gave the very highest kind of recognition, short of recognition in the church itself, to these arrangements.
The other extreme, of course, was the one expressed by people with a different view who felt that common law arrangements should very well be beyond the pale of legal entanglement and that that’s why they were so valuable and, I suppose, under certain circumstances, attractive. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that I had a certain sympathy with both extremes yet I sense there is a rational response in both of the groups which commented to me to that extent.
For myself, having indicated that I can see the thought processes and, I suppose, gut reactions to these views, I have no hesitation at all in supporting the legislation and commending the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and these who have spoken in its support in the past. I feel the single important step this House has taken is to recognize the valid role of women in the community, in life, in what we’re doing. The Legislature and most of the law-giving chambers have been under the influence of men, with all the chauvinism that has been taken so naturally over these many years -- I mean all of the years until recently I don’t think there has ever been a time, except in rare individual instances, when the role of woman has been at least approaching the kind of equality and recognition which of course it must have.
Mr. Cassidy: Under Boadicea.
Mr. Nixon: Well I suppose even Queen Victoria had a role to play. There have been statements made by governments ait all levels and so on, there have been token appointments. I can remember the present Premier (Mr. Davis) saying yes, he was prepared to appoint a woman to the cabinet; and it was obvious that there was no way he would appoint two, that sort of thing. Even he --
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: And now there are three.
Mr. Nixon: Well of course the appointments have been forced upon him. He even appointed the Minister for Energy (Mr. Timbrell) for reasons that are very difficult to discern; we’ve seen that.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I’m pleased to hear that.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Upset the balance.
Mr. Nixon: This legislation gives the members of this chamber an opportunity to truly accept the equality that must be a part of our law. It wasn’t long ago when the Murdoch case prompted public meetings, one of them up at OISE, about three years ago. The arguments put forward -- mostly by women, but men attended as well -- expressed, I thought, progressive and constructive views.
But that was a subject for front page reporting. This idea of equality in the law, which this legislation I believe puts forward and reinforces and establishes, is quite a new idea. It is amazing and a healthy thing indeed that it has been so well accepted.
So it’s with that feeling that I have no hesitation at all in supporting the concept. I have listened with a great deal of interest, to lawyers particularly, indicating some of the problems that may evolve and develop under these circumstances. But we’re talking about the principle of the bill and I find it of far-reaching importance, a real milestone, and one I support without any equivocation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Do any other members wish to discuss this bill in second reading? If not, the hon. member for Essex North.
Mr. Ruston: I am reluctant to get up and speak. I’m sure it will be very brief, but I just want to emphasize a couple of things the member from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) said.
One of the things that concerns me is that I wonder if there is any way that in carrying out this bill in ensuing years, that if there isn’t -- I don’t know the word for it; I’m looking, really, at the social worker who will be able to interpret this particular law; I’m concerned about our court structure and our court system in this regard. I know you’re overhauling that so the family has one area to go into.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Why not?
Mr. Ruston: I have seen so many cases of people coming to me about the way our court structure is now -- policemen, detectives, people who deal with people, having to go to court for family problems or whatever. As a layman without very much education, I am really concerned about the availability and the ability of the average citizen to get into our court system without too much cost.
I would hope there would be some solution to this. I know that a great deal of discretion goes to the judge in many of these things where they can’t be resolved. Of course we realize that you need someone to referee these things; it can’t be done or resolved in any other way, we accept that; but I really am concerned that when this bill does become law there will be a real streamlining to set up some system where people can deal with this. I am concerned about the costs, too, that people will face.
I realize that we are getting into a professional world where everyone claims that they have a profession and feels that their rate of pay must be so great. For instance, the doctor says he is not going to doctor any more he is going to be a plumber, because he can get $15 a house call whereas if he is a doctor be gets $10 a house call under OHIP. It’s a situation we are in now and I would hope that there would be some way that the Attorney General, whoever is in government at that time, will try and see that these things are available to all people without what some of us think are very high costs.
I am happy with the parts of the legislation that gives the woman an equal status. I suppose some women have equal status because they work for their husbands all the time or where each works on their own job. Sometimes the women make more than the men. I see that with some close friends; the wife is working and she is making more than the husband. It isn’t always so; I hear of a number of cases where the woman’s wages are lower -- they are in the world as a whole -- but we can certainly find places where the wife is making more than the husband.
My wife never went out to work as such. She said she was always afraid that it would interfere with her leisure time so she never wanted to go out in the work force and she would rather that I made sure we had enough on the table. She felt if she was working it might interfere, I suppose, with a soap opera that came on at 1:30 in the afternoon or something. However, I am sure she works as hard as I do.
We feel that in many cases the wives form a basic part of the family structure, particularly I suppose in farming and so forth, where they drive the tractor and do many of the jobs that the men do. But the only reason I wanted to get up, Mr. Speaker, was because of one of the things that I had mentioned before -- the concern that I have as to the availability and without the extreme costs that we seem to run into in some of our court structure. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I have no intention whatsoever of delaying the conclusion of this debate but I simply wanted to say how pleased I have been in having the very, very small role in the Justice policy field working with the previous Attorney General, Mr. Clement, and the present incumbent of that office in developing this legislation. And I am also pleased to see that it does have widespread support because it is milestone legislation, there’s no question about it whatsoever.
Mr. Cassidy: Are you a struggler for women’s rights?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I certainly do not subscribe to the extreme positions of many of the people in the women’s liberation movement. I want to say that I have always believed in equitable positions for men and women. I don’t believe there is such a thing as pure equality. Men and women are not equal but they should be treated the same in the eyes of the law. And as far as I am concerned, that’s what this legislation is supposed to do.
Mr. Cassidy: Have you ever helped with the housework?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: I have helped with the housework when my wife went out to work. I owe my university education to my wife. Many of us owe a great deal more than that to women and I am not doing this simply to try and save my marriage. I want you to know it’s in absolutely no danger whatsoever. But I think we should all --
Mr. Cassidy: Why did you mention it then?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- recognize the fact that this legislation is long overdue.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I believe the hon. member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) has already spoken.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, just as the previous speaker said, there are many occasions when this is not going to work completely in the interests of women. I told the Attorney General that shortly after he made the announcement and introduced the legislation here I was at home and the first call I received was from a woman who wanted to talk to me about the legislation. My first thought was, “Well, isn’t that great. They are starting to praise us already.”
I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that this woman conveyed to me the message that that no-good that she had married was not going to get one cent of her money in the event of a marriage breakdown. So it isn’t all that well received by everybody, but there is no question in my mind that it is good legislation. It deserves the kind of support that has been expressed in this Legislature and I want to commend the Attorney General for leading the debate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak in this debate? If not, the hon. Attorney General.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I should say first of all I welcome the expressions of support, at least in principle, to the legislation. I appreciate both the approval that the legislation has generally received and at the same time I appreciate the criticisms, because there is no doubt -- if I might say so with all due respect to every other member of the Legislature -- this is perhaps the most important piece of legislation which has been introduced to the House in my brief time here. There can be no doubt that it is going to have an enormous impact on the lives of a great many of our fellow citizens across the province in the years to come.
There is no question that it’s very important legislation and must be thought through very carefully. In that respect, obviously an enormous amount of work has gone into this legislation by my predecessors and many senior law officers of the Crown who have worked very diligently in recent years. Of course, they in turn have had the benefit of the views of many other special interest groups and Law Reform Commissions which have made a very important contribution to this legislation.
The legislation, if it passes second reading, will go to the justice committee and I look forward to the clause by clause debate or discussion and the continued public input that will occur at that time. Again, that is important and essential in order that we may produce the best possible legislation in the circumstances.
Notwithstanding this careful discussion which will take place after second reading, there still are some matters I would like to refer to in view of the many concerns which have been raised by the members. I can’t hope or wish to deal with all of them at this time but there are a number I would like to refer to at least briefly.
I should say first of all that I am very appreciative of the support for the very important principle of wide judicial discretion that was referred to by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy). I think he appreciates, as do most of the members, the necessity of entrusting to our courts wide discretion in relation to these matters.
Firstly, it is quite obvious that no two relationships, whether they are within or outside the formal marriage bond, are the same. Each and every one has certain peculiar special characteristics that must be regarded, must be considered and, therefore, it is important that wide discretion be given to the judiciary. I can state without equivocation that in introducing the legislation it was certainly my intention that the judiciary be given the widest possible discretion, within certain broad guidelines, because it is important for people to have a general understanding of what their rights are.
I think there are some of us here who are very familiar with the courts of the province. I think I can state quite clearly and, again, unequivocally that each individual judge having to decide or make a decision in a case where there has been marriage breakdown is totally and absolutely aware of the importance, the vital importance, of his role in any such unhappy dispute. Certainly, in almost 20 years in the courts, I can’t recall any case in which the individual judge hasn’t done the very best he or she could in the circumstances to arrive at a just result.
I think we must demonstrate and reflect the confidence which I think all the members of this Legislature do have in the judiciary. This legislation is intended to give them, if I might put it in a very fundamental way, the tools with which to work in order to arrive at a just result or the most just result in any individual case.
There are some certain specific aspects of the legislation I would like to refer to firstly, dealing with marriage contracts. I was interested again in the observations of my friend and colleague, the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), because he is also, of course, the justice critic for the Liberal Party. His concerns in relation to marriage contracts I know reflect the concerns of many people in the community. I think it’s important that we recognize that the Ontario community is made up of a very cosmopolitan community and each individual has his or her different aspirations in life. I think it’s incumbent upon us as legislators to provide an umbrella under which each individual, or any group of individuals, can regularize their activities and their relationships to the greatest extent that is reasonably possible. As you know, marriage contracts are very much a part of other cultures and many people come to this country fully expecting that they’ll be able to enter into some form of marriage contract.
Another very positive aspect of the marriage contract is that when people, although those of us who are perhaps traditionalists and I think, the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) and myself probably fall generally in the category of traditionalists with respect to the institution of marriage, and marriage contracts, when we made that very important decision, might somehow have felt it not to be consistent with the romance of the occasion. The fact of the matter is that it’s important that people realize that there are certain legal rights and obligations related to marriage. Perhaps when couples choose to enter into a contract, the fact that they are entering into a contract will make them aware to a greater extent of the legal rights and obligations which I think they should be made aware of, again, without unduly distracting from the romance of the occasion.
There are others, more advanced in life, who are entering second marriages as a result of divorce or being widows or widowers. They have other close members of the family to protect, possibly their own children by a previous marriage; and obviously it’s important that these people be given this framework within which to regulate their activities in order to protect their property and the rights of others to whom they have similar, or very important, obligations.
What we are really trying to provide here is a considerable degree of flexibility. Obviously, we’re not imposing the necessity of entering into a marriage contract, but to give individuals that right, it seems to me at this particular point in time, is a very important step forward.
The member for Ottawa East reflected for a moment also on statements that I’ve made indicating that those who have a common law relationship, or spouses within the meaning of the legislation, my indication that I intended to propose an amendment allowing such spouses, such persons or parties to enter into such a contract. In my view, that is probably a useful amendment but there again I’d be very interested to hear the views of all members of the Legislature.
Certainly many people who choose a common law relationship have made the allegation that they were being treated as somehow second class citizens in not being allowed to enter into a contract which of course would only have effect with relation to support obligations as opposed to property. I think there are different considerations with respect to property. But there is no intention on anybody’s part to treat anyone as second class citizens, nor was there an intention on anybody’s part to undermine the institution of marriage which I agree is of fundamental importance to the community.
Quite apart from many other considerations, I think a benefit of allowing common law spouses to enter into contracts respecting support obligations is that it does draw their attention to the fact that there are or may be legal obligations and responsibilities that could -- not will but could -- arise as a result of the relationship. If entering into some form of contract is of assistance in drawing their attention to that fact, then I think the public interest, as well as their individual interests, are well served. At the same time there seems to be general approval of the principle -- I think I detect it -- in relation to legislation permitting marriage contracts which the common law does not, as members know. At the same time some of the members raised questions of concern in relation to the court’s ability to override a marriage contract’s provisions. I would like to refer to that for a moment.
Mr. Singer: I wonder if the Attorney General would permit a question?
Mr. Foulds: It is the Speaker who has to permit a question.
Mr. Roy: Would the Attorney General permit a point of clarification?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have no objection.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I have no objection as long as it is brief.
Mr. Singer: Thank you. The Attorney General just commented that the common law doesn’t permit a marriage contract between common law spouses. I don’t know how one can have a marriage contract between common law spouses.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I didn’t say between common law spouses. I said it doesn’t permit a marriage contract.
Mr. Singer: But two people living common law surely could enter into a contract, couldn’t they?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I didn’t anticipate a debate or two people on their feet at once.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: If the member wishes some further clarification I’ll go on to say the common law does not recognize a marriage based on cohabitation. That is, if contracts, whether between married couples or people who are living together, are based on cohabitation as a consideration for entering into the contract, they are not enforceable in this province.
Mr. Singer: There could still be a contract.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The general principle of freedom to contract is affirmed in section 2, subsection 5 of the bill which provides that the Act does not apply where a marriage contract contains a stipulation contrary to the terms of the Act.
This general statement, however, is limited only by the terms of section 46 which invalidates a marriage contract only insofar as it limits the rights of the spouse to possession or control over dealings with the matrimonial home as provided for in part 3 of the legislation; or where it results in one of the spouses going on welfare; or if it contains provisions contrary to the best interests of the children of the marriage. Aside from that there is absolutely no limitation on the ability of the spouses to opt out of their property rights under part 1 of the bill.
In the same area it has been suggested that a court should have power to vary the support provisions of a marriage contract in some situations, short of one of the spouses becoming dependent on welfare as a result. I think we must be very careful indeed about interfering with the right of spouses to enter into a contract. When it comes to court discretion I would be very reluctant to support the broadening of that section which would give courts the right to interfere with a marriage contract whenever the court felt it was justified in the circumstances; or certainly any greater power than the court has to override a contract for other considerations such as duress or fraud, for example.
Otherwise, it would lead to a situation in which the court, in effect, would be writing the contract and not the parties. If we are going to protect the fundamental importance of parties entering into marriage contracts, we should be very cautious about giving the courts rights to vary.
It is well recognized now that a separation agreement is not subject to variation unless it contains a provision for variation by a court or a private arbitrator. I would expect that this kind of term would be commonly included in a marriage contract. Alternatively, it is open to spouses to make an agreement which would expire after a term of years.
I would, however, be prepared to consider a modification of section 46 to permit a court to alter a contract with respect to support which it finds unconscionable in view of the circumstances of the parties at the time the application is made. I would be very interested in hearing further from the members of the Legislature with respect to this, certainly on third reading, that is the modification of section 46 to permit a court to alter a contract with respect to support which it finds unconscionable in view of the circumstances of the parties. I’d be very interested to have their views at the appropriate time, for I believe that such a modification to the bill could go a long way toward meeting the concerns that have been expressed in this area.
Mr. Singer: Is the Attorney General going to have an amendment on that?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’d be quite prepared to consider an amendment. At the same time, I have to state that I think we should be very careful on the extent to which we give courts the right to vary a contract. All I’m suggesting, Mr. Speaker, is I think such a proposal has considerable merit and should be considered again at the appropriate time.
Mr. Speaker, the suggestion has also been made of ensuring that each spouse obtain independent legal advice before entering into a marriage contract. This principle was considered very carefully by myself and my staff in preparing this legislation. Certainly the suggestion has a bearing on the ability of the court to vary a marriage contract, but notwithstanding the wisdom of such a suggestion, we made a conscious decision not to insert such a requirement.
First of all, it seemed wrong to us in principle to insist on independent legal advice as a condition of validity for a marriage contract. We’ve heard criticism here today about legislators, particularly lawyers who are members of the Legislature, introducing legislation that will have the effect of driving people to lawyers. We simply think this would be wrong in principle to make this a basic requirement. Certainly such a requirement could result in the voiding of many marriage contracts simply by accident because the parties were not aware of this requirement. In addition it would put people to time, trouble and expense which they might not be willing to undergo, and might in itself be a deterrent to the entering into of a marriage contract.
We are also very concerned that the provision of independent legal advice would do little to avoid situations of fraud, duress or undue influence, while making it very difficult for a spouse to prove a case of such conduct at a later date.
Mr. Singer: You lost me on that one.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In other words, our feeling was that a requirement of independent legal advice would not carry out its intended purposes and might act as a deterrent to the entering into of a marriage contract.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, would the minister permit a question in that regard?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Perhaps the hon. member would allow the minister to complete his remarks.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’d prefer, Mr. Speaker, to move on because there are a number of issues but Mr. Speaker, I’m in your hands.
Mr. Cassidy: The question is renewability.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I would suggest that the hon. minister continue.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have no objection, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I think the hon. minister should continue.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I’ve noted with some care and interest the concern that has been expressed by some of the members with respect to the inclusion of conduct as a factor for the court to consider in determining the amount of support.
I would, first, like to point out that conduct is no longer to be a condition precedent to the awarding of support, or an absolute defence to the claim of support, as it presently is. It is merely a factor that may be taken into account in determining the amount. In addition, it is not any single, isolated incident that is taken into account, but only a course of conduct -- and I want to stress that -- only a course of conduct tending to repudiate the relationship of the parties. In retaining conduct as a factor to consider, we are consistent with virtually every other jurisdiction and we are following the recommendation of our Law Reform Commission.
We believe, Mr. Speaker, that public reaction to removal of conduct as a factor would be extremely adverse, as in my view it would represent a significant departure from concepts of individual responsibility and accountability. Further, for a court to ignore serious misconduct -- and it’s only serious misconduct with which we are concerned -- for a court to ignore serious misconduct where it does, in fact, amount to a repudiation of the relationship, would only serve, in my view, to create a very understandable feeling of injustice and lasting bitterness on the part of the aggrieved party.
The suggestion is made that the consideration of conduct would only hamper the potential for reconciliation. In our view, when there is always any issue that can be raised, certainly in relation to conduct, true, it can have that effect. But for a party, for example, to be ordered to pay support where it’s quite clear that the conduct of the other party has been tantamount to repudiating the marriage relationship would, in my view, create a feeling of injustice and bitterness. It would only lead to many, many appearances in court, because obviously a person in those circumstances would feel a moral right not to pay the support. There are many other cases that I could think of where it would be simply wrong to eliminate all considerations of conduct.
I want to stress, Mr. Speaker, that conduct is only one of many considerations that a court may take into consideration in arriving at a just result. In the great majority of cases it probably will not be a factor, but there are obviously some cases again where it does amount to a repudiation of the relationship and a just result, in our view, might not be reached if that consideration were to be eliminated.
Another issue that was raised was the suggestion that we expand the category of family assets. For example, we’ve been criticized by some members of the official opposition, I think, for not providing that all assets owned by the spouses be subject to equal division. What this really amounts to is a rejection of the family assets concept in favour of the principle of deferred community of property.
We recognize, of course, that a matrimonial property system can be, in theory, close to perfect, but it will be absolutely useless in practice unless it has widespread public acceptance. We have learned from the experience of Quebec where the old full community regime was recently replaced by deferred community of property. One of the major factors leading to the replacement of the property system was the fact that substantial numbers of couples were opting out of it. Even under the new deferred community system, the Quebec experience to date has been that a large number of couples also opt out.
In the contact of the ministry with the public during the period immediately following the publication of the Ontario Law Reform Commission’s report on matrimonial property, the ministry found there was substantial public opposition to the concept of sharing business assets automatically on marriage breakdown. At the same time, the idea of sharing family assets such as the home, furniture, family car and vacation property, received a high degree of acceptance. We therefore had designed this bill to appeal to as wide a segment of the Ontario community as possible, and we simply do not believe that automatic sharing of all property is regarded as the right approach by the people of this province.
I’ve already inferred during the debate, by interjections which may or may not have been appropriate, that section 4(2)(e) and (g) of the legislation gives the court wide discretion to making orders with respect to other property that does not fall within the definition of family property. So the court does have the power and the discretion to relieve against hardship, unfairness, injustice where the presumption of equal division of the family assets is not sufficient.
Mr. Cassidy: Was that men or women who disagreed on sharing of business assets?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’ve heard from a lot of women who disagree with that. This was touched on by my colleague a few moments ago. Interestingly enough, I think it’s well known to all the members of the Legislature that women in society today, during the last 10 years, have made considerable progress economically. Many women are simply more successful than their husbands. And I have heard from a number of these women who would be opposed to any automatic sharing. You can shake your head all you want --
Mr. Cassidy: You are hiding discrimination behind a very few cases.
Mr. Speaker: Order please.
Mr. Cassidy: You are protecting discrimination.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Take your head out of the sand one day, please, and you might really find out what’s going on in the world around you. I really make that recommendation in all seriousness.
There was some concern expressed with respect to the so-called Murdoch clause.
Mr. Cassidy: You are legislating inequality.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In view of the remarks that were made by some of the members opposite, I have reviewed the wording of the Murdoch clause in this bill and have compared it with its predecessor in The Family Law Reform Act of 1975. It was certainly not our intention to cut down on the protection provided by that predecessor provision and the deletion of some of the wording found there was done under the assumption, and I think under the reasonable assumption, that the new section provided equivalent protection. Nevertheless, I am quite prepared to reinsert the statement that a spouse is entitled to share in the business property notwithstanding that the acts were those of a reasonable spouse of that sex in the circumstances and we’ll be introducing “of that sex in the circumstances” and will be introducing an amendment.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s welcomed.
Mr. Roy: You are okay now; but Cassidy agrees with you so you may be in trouble.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: For the moment, for the moment.
Mr. Grossman: Let’s think it over.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There were a number of expressions of concern related to public agencies claiming support. It has been said, and very vigorously, that it is inappropriate for this bill to provide for public agencies making a claim for support on behalf of a person receiving welfare or family benefits.
We are, however, of the view that it is absolutely essential that these agencies be given an independent right to claim support in their own name. The existing practice of taking assignments of the right to support from needy persons so as to enable the ministry to enforce a support obligation has been severely criticized. The validity of the assignment to the Ministry of Community and Social Services has been attacked in family court proceedings and it is generally regarded as undesirable to have the person receiving benefits named as a nominal applicant in a support proceeding, whereas the ministry is conducting the case and the ministry is the only one to benefit from the support order.
The Ontario Law Reform Commission has said that the objective of recovering public support moneys from individuals who are responsible for supporting their dependants is worthy of support not only because of the resultant saving of public money but also because the legal obligations to support one’s dependants ought not to be flouted with impunity. We agree with that view and that is why we have included in this bill a provision enabling public agencies to claim support in their own name on behalf of the person receiving public funds.
Concern has been expressed, and rightly so, over the enforcement of support orders made under this bill. It is obviously extremely important that the enforcement mechanisms be as effective as possible. For this reason, we have incorporated a number of existing procedures which have proved to be effective and have, in addition, created some new ones which should be of great assistance in ensuring that a person ordered to pay support lives up to his or her obligations.
Section 21 of the bill continues the existing practice whereby support orders may be filed in the office of the family court. I might point out at the same time that this provision is only one option available to enforce a support order. It does not preclude the enforcement of a county or Supreme Court order by the usual processes for enforcing county and Supreme Court judgements. If the order is filed in the provincial court, that court will now have the power to issue execution and garnishment in addition to resorting to the existing show-cause hearing procedure under which the person in default is summoned to explain the default to the court.
Provision is made for court officers to take enforcement steps on behalf of the person in whose favour the order is made so as to prevent support orders from going too far in arrears.
We have retained the power to order a defaulter to jail where the fault was due to wilful refusal to pay. We have done so with some degree of reluctance, but the experience of the provincial court judges has shown that the power to imprison is one of the most effective means available of pressuring a defaulting spouse to meet the obligations of a support order.
Where a defaulting spouse has gone into hiding in an attempt to avoid payment of the support order, it will be possible to obtain an order requiring persons such as employers to disclose the whereabouts of the defaulter from business records. In addition, it will be possible to obtain an order for the attachment of the defaulter’s wages so as to have a payroll deduction made for the payments under a support order.
We are resolved to make the enforcement mechanisms available under this bill as efficient as possible, and we believe that the new means of enforcement that we have proposed offer significant improvements over the existing legislation.
There was also concern expressed yesterday with respect to the enforcement against Crown employees. We have made provision in this bill for the enforcement of support orders with respect to Crown employees of the province of Ontario. We are negotiating with the federal government in relation to this very difficult problem of enforcing garnishee orders, for example, against federal Crown employees or members of the armed forces.
I would urge my friends opposite in the Liberal Party to again petition and urge their friends in Ottawa to communicate the concern of all members, I am sure, of this Legislature to the federal government in order to provide for the necessary legislation to provide again a greater degree of enforcement for employees of the federal Crown, because undoubtedly many very serious injustices that do occur as a result of the failure of dependent spouses and children to enforce such orders.
Some issues have been raised with respect to the age to which parents should be obliged to support their children. The bill provides that children must be supported to age 16 in every case and beyond the age of 16 where they are unable by reason of illness, disability or other cause to withdraw from their parents’ charge or provide themselves with necessaries of life.
The age of 16 was chosen as a dividing line with some care. Under the existing law, a 16-year-old is entitled to quit school, drive a car, apply for a social insurance number, get a job, apply for unemployment insurance or welfare, leave home or join the armed forces. We felt that to impose a statutory dependency on all children until age 18 would be to erode the basis for many of their own existing rights and freedoms. We also must recognize that there are many 16- and 17-year-olds who have chosen to become independent so that not all children obviously require support up until the age of 18.
The formula that we have adopted, which it should be noted is borrowed substantially from the federal Divorce Act, is flexible enough to give support to a child when he or she needs it. For example, the case law under the existing Divorce Act explicitly recognizes the fact that educational dependence is a sufficient ground for a support order in favour of a child over 16. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, many divorce cases have risen in which children as old as 21 have had support awards made in their favour in order to allow them to continue their education. By adopting the same guidelines as the federal divorce legislation, we have the benefit of the existing jurisprudence and we have a uniform standard that will not act as an inducement to parties to obtain an early divorce in order to take advantage of the more generous federal support provisions as happens at the present time.
Some concerns have also been expressed. particularly by the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell), about the obligation of children to support their parents as provided in this bill. First of all, section 14 of the bill makes it clear that only children who are not minors have an obligation to support their parents. I believe however that the member for St. George was more concerned with the rights of parents to obtain a share of property obtained either by judgement in a personal injury case or perhaps by a lottery. This is not the case now and in any event I believe that this kind of matter could be better dealt with in a bill concerning the rights of children and the right to the child’s guardian as to control over the person or property of the child. My ministry is currently preparing legislative proposals in these areas and I hope that the members who have expressed concerns will find their concerns adequately dealt with.
I have already indicated, Mr. Speaker, my response to some of the controversy in relation to the bill which developed in the area of whether persons living together in what is generally known as a common law relationship will have the right to make contracts excluding themselves from the operation of this bill. I should point out at the same time, though, a related question which I think has been raised -- whether such persons will be permitted to make a contract providing for the sharing of property that they acquire.
I have already dealt with the matter of support contracts. I would like to state, Mr. Speaker, that in my view contracts concerning property do not suffer the same fate in being considered to be against public policy as cohabitation contracts. They do not suffer the same fate under the existing common law as long as they do not provide for a property division on a future marriage breakdown. It should therefore be pointed out that common-law spouses are permitted to enter into contracts to share property so long as the consideration of the contract is not future cohabitation.
Mr. Singer: Yes, that’s about what I was saying before.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There is, of course, nothing to prevent a gift of a property from one common-law spouse to the other as well. Contracts between unmarried parents in relation to their children are already given limited recognition in the form of affiliation agreements under The Child Welfare Act.
There’s been some reference made to concerns about, and, generally, support of the unified family court. The bill does make references to the new unified family court which we propose to set up on a development basis in Hamilton. I’m very pleased to bear the expression of support and eagerness for proceeding with such a unified family court as quickly as possible.
We will be introducing legislation in relation to the unified family court so it is probably not appropriate for me to say very much about it at this point in time other than that we are moving as quickly as we can toward the establishment of this court. At the same time I must remind the members opposite that there are substantial constitutional difficulties involved which require federal cooperation in this venture. As soon as we can resolve those constitutional difficulties with the federal government it is our intention to proceed with the unified family court across the province as quickly as possible.
Mr. Singer: Whose judges are going to sit in that court? Provincial judges?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Provincial judges. This came up in estimates and I feel very strongly about it and we’ll discuss this again when we introduce the legislation. In view of the interest which has been expressed I feel I should state very strongly that a unified family court should be established at the provincial level because the provincial courts do have a very close working relationship with the community resources which are necessary to the successful operation of any court. There’s some history there of a close working relationship.
Furthermore, the family court is more accessible to the public; it’s less expensive. I don’t think there could be any question that the public interest will be best served by establishing a family court at the provincial court level. The judges of the family court, furthermore, are dealing with family problems virtually every day of the week and in our view are really the best qualified to wrestle with these very difficult problems.
At the same time I recognize the concern of the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) about the court structures generally and their adequacy in relation to dealing with these matters. I should state that part of our concept in establishing a family court is to make these courts more readily accessible to the public.
At the same time we are proceeding with a conciliation project in Toronto which, hopefully, will succeed and will demonstrate the need to provide some form of diversion for these disputes, to resolve them by conciliation when possible, outside the court structure. I think this is a very important development and I think we’re all going to watch this conciliation project with some interest.
The Supreme Court has recognized the need to deal with family disputes within its jurisdiction as quickly as possible and only this September opened up a special family division of the Supreme Court of Ontario, in order to give family court matters the very top priority that they deserve in order to avoid some of the delays that have occurred in the past which obviously can have a very unhappy effect on the whole unhappy business of marriage breakdown.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) made some interesting observations. For example, he referred to or questioned the meaning of “settled intention.” I agree with him that it is rather a confusing term, and we want to change it. As I understand the meaning, it is a demonstrated intention, and I think it would be much easier to say demonstrated intention than settled intention. If he has any other suggestions in order to clarify that I would be happy to hear them. But we will make an amendment to that section to clarify that.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere also was concerned about attachment of earnings in other provinces and states. As he knows, we do have reciprocal enforcement legislation with most of the other provinces in Canada and many states of the US. It is sometimes difficult, of course, for a court to enforce these orders with the same degree of enthusiasm when the applicant is not living within the jurisdiction, but it does provide some relief.
I think I have already reflected for a moment on the concern in relation to jail for defaulters as being too severe. Certainly, it is a remedy or a sanction that is only applied in very extreme cases. But it is our considered view, and the view of the family court judges, that in certain cases it is the only way that some of these orders can be enforced. It is the only method available to the court to avoid simply flagrant flouting of the court order. It is not a sanction that is imposed except, as I say, in the appropriate case.
I think the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere also expressed some concern in relation to our tracing procedures and the use of government records. I want to assure him that the legislation provides for information only in relation to the address and no other information. We are very concerned about the individual’s rights to privacy, but we do believe that where a defaulter is benefiting from some other government scheme that is paid for by all taxpayers, that the taxpayers do have an interest in enforcing the support order. If he is going to benefit from a government scheme such as OHIP, for one, surely the court should have the right at least to learn of his address in order to avoid the deliberate flouting of court orders.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere also was concerned about what we were doing with respect to equalizing the rights of women generally, whether it is with respect to retraining at a certain age, or just job opportunities generally. He pointed out, quite properly, that many of these matters were of particular interest to the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson). I can assure him, particularly as the father of three daughters, that their concerns are well expressed and endorsed by myself. And while this legislation is certainly not intended to be by any means a total answer, or an answer at all to some of these concerns expressed, I do believe it is a major step forward in recognizing the equality of the sexes.
Mr. Warner: I asked an earlier question on section 17 also. Did the minister have any reply to that? I missed it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I did respond to the age of children where support is ordered and pointed out -- and the member may have been out -- where the legislation is similar to that of the federal Divorce Act which does give the court jurisdiction, particularly where children are being educated even up to age 21. I think that was the example the member used. The court does have that jurisdiction and we’ve tried to establish a uniformity with the federal legislation.
I am pleased to see that the member for Armourdale (Mr. Givens) supports our view with respect to the family assets approach as opposed to any sort of automatic sharing of business assets. I think he also expressed some concern about common-law spouses being able to share in family property. Common-law spouses will have rights in relation to family property at common law. I can’t be more specific at the moment with respect to his concern, other than to indicate that in our view there are special considerations in relation to property within a formal marriage, as opposed to a relationship which is not within a formal marriage.
The member for Armourdale also raised a very important issue, because the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) and I had one of our brief, spontaneous debates that take place from time to time in relation to a creditor being able to attach half of the family home. First of all, I want to make it clear that the presumption of equal sharing of a family home does not affect the title to the property. It only occurs where a court makes an order that the husband or the wife, as the case may be, is the half-owner of the house. Up until that time, for example, if the property is in the wife’s name, the title remains in the wife’s name until a court makes an order to the contrary, and so no creditor can attach that interest and certainly no creditor can invoke the provisions of the legislation.
Mr. Roy: He can’t? I thought he could and then get a declaration it is 50-50 and attach the house.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, that is not open to a creditor under this legislation.
Mr. Roy: Is that right? Where is that? Is that in here?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes. It’s the right of a spouse.
Mr. Givens: There’s no expectancy of an interest?
Mr. Singer: There is an interest in possession; that’s all.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There may be an expectancy in one sense, but not in a legal sense, no.
Mr. Givens: No pecuniary expectancy?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, only where the court makes an order. As you know, one spouse can’t deal with the family home, for example, without the consent of the other spouse; but the title does not change until there is an actual court order.
Mr. Roy: I will be sending a press release to all my clients.
Mr. Singer: You explained that a little earlier.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: There was some concern expressed in relation to the adversary. It was the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) who expressed some concern about the adversary approach to marital problems which we hope will be expanded throughout the province as it proves itself in the not-too-distant future.
The member for Beaches-Woodbine also expressed some concern with respect to the right of parents to obtain support from children. Obviously, it’s only going to apply in very special cases where there is a demonstrated need on the one hand and an ability to pay on the other hand. It would therefore apply to relatively few parents and children situations, but there is obviously some cases where, in our view, justice would demand such a provision.
The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) expressed some concern as to whether or not, by presenting this legislation -- I think this is the thrust of his remarks -- I was undermining the institution of marriage by giving some official sanction to common-law relationships. It’s interesting to hear this comment. Most of the criticism I have received has been from the other quarter -- suggesting that this legislation was trying to force people into marriage relationships by imposing rights and obligations. So that’s the other side of the coin.
I’ve discussed this legislation with a number of church leaders of all the major denominations. Interestingly enough, they agree that this should serve to strengthen the institution of marriage by making people aware that there’s going to be the possibility of obligations and responsibilities that exist outside of the marriage relationships. Those who might want to enter into a common-law relationship of some duration, particularly where there are children, with the initial purpose of avoiding such responsibilities, will no longer have that course available to them. So to that extent it may encourage some people to get married without unnecessarily or unfairly imposing standards of conduct on others who choose to live outside the marriage relationship.
The member for Ottawa East also expressed some concern regarding the onus of proof. How are you going to prove a common-law relationship? It might provide for some interesting evidence at trial, and like any other matrimonial issue, the onus of proof is a very relevant factor. Certainly if a person is asserting a right or an obligation as a result of a common-law relationship outside a formal marriage then it’s obviously in the public interest that that right only be asserted if there is a reasonable preponderance of evidence. It’s my view that if there will be a relatively heavy onus on any individual who’s asserting a right as a result of this relationship, the courts should only act on a reasonably strong preponderance of evidence. The onus, of course, may be difficult to discharge. In those cases one might very well say that there should be no support order or obligation.
The question has been raised by a number of members, Mr. Speaker -- I don’t know whether with any great degree of seriousness -- that by introducing this legislation, we are making more work for lawyers -- creating clients who might not otherwise be in lawyers’ offices in the normal course of events. My only response to that is that surely when this Legislature passes legislation which extends certain fundamental rights, those people must have the right to assert those new rights. If it’s necessary, to engage lawyers in the assertion of those rights, all I can say is, so be it.
A number of other matters have been raised that will be dealt with in the clause by clause consideration of this legislation.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I’m gratified to hear the general expression of support for the principles of this bill --
Mr. Cassidy: Qualified support.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- from the two opposition parties. It reaffirms my conviction that we have taken the right path in providing a fair share of matrimonial property, protection of the integrity of the matrimonial home --
Mr. Cassidy: But it still enshrines inequality.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and financial support where it is needed, and the means for enforcement of support obligations. This legislation, which is the culmination of years of hard work, and public consultation, is the most comprehensive family-law reform measure ever introduced anywhere in the Commonwealth. As I have already indicated, it is my intention to seek a referral of this bill to the standing committee on justice where interested members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on its provision.
I hope the committee will proceed expeditiously so that we can have these badly needed reforms come into force as planned by next July 1 at least.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for the standing administration of justice committee.
Mr. Speaker: Before we call the next order of business I should announce to the House that pursuant to standing order 27 there are three matters to be raised at the adjournment of the House this evening.
Mr. B. Newman: The late show you mean.
Mr. Speaker: The members for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) and Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) will raise the question of rent review with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman); the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) wishes to debate the question of French language policy.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 141, The Marriage Act.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) I rise to indicate that we will support bill --
Mr. Speaker: Order please. I believe the minister would like to say some things at the beginning which would be in order.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I just have a brief --
Mr. Cassidy: You are in favour of --
Hon Mr. McMurtry: -- opening as I wish to outline the main principles of the bill as I did not discuss them in detail in introduction of the legislation.
First of all, I should remind the House that the provinces have only a limited jurisdiction under our constitution in matters related to marriage. The Parliament of Canada has jurisdiction over marriage and divorce under section 91 of The British North America Act, and this includes such matters as capacity to marry and minimum age. The province has jurisdiction only over the solemnization of marriages and this is a power relating to procedural and administrative matters such as licensing.
The procedural requirements of the bill would apply only to the first marriage ceremony a couple engage in. This would permit a couple who have had a civil marriage, for example, to have a religious marriage ceremony later on without having to obtain a licence or have bans published.
The bill also removes the requirement of 15 days residence in the province before a marriage licence could be obtained. The residence rule, which was originally to provide publicity in a community so that anyone knowing of a reason why the marriage could not take place could come forward, no longer serves its purpose.
The minimum age for solemnizing a marriage is now equalized for both males and females at the age of 14. Formerly a female could marry under that age to legitimize a child. Under federal law a male has the capacity to marry at age 14.
The bill also revises the law on consent to the marriage of minors so as to equalize the position of the parents. At present, only the father’s consent is required for a minor to marry. The mother becomes involved only if the father is dead or the father is separated from the minor and not providing support. Section 5 of the bill involves both parents in the consent process, and no longer gives a pre-eminent position to either parent.
Section 32 of the bill abolishes the action for breach of promise to marry. This is in keeping with the spirit of Bill 140, The Family Law Reform Act, which abolishes many outmoded forms of action.
We think that if a couple has made a mistake in becoming engaged to marry, it is far better that the error be rectified by breaking off the engagement, than to have the threat of a lawsuit bring about a marriage which would probably only end in divorce. In the same vein, gifts by one intended spouse to the other will not fall to be distributed according to which spouse is at fault if the wedding never takes place.
The most important feature of the bill is section 24 which authorizes justices of the peace and other designated classes of persons to perform civil marriage ceremonies. Members of the public, the bench and the clergy have told us of the difficulty in having non-religious ceremonies performed without undue delay and with a dignity that befits the occasion. This provision should meet the concerns which have been expressed to us.
The bill carries out several of the recommendations of the Ontario Law Reform Commission and is an integral part of the government’s programme to bring family law into tune with the conditions of society in Ontario today.
Mr. Renwick: In the absence of my colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) I rise to make a very brief comment on the bill. We will support the bill on second reading. It is the result of an exhaustive study by the Law Reform Commission of a very limited jurisdiction of the province under the constitution to deal with the questions related to the solemnization of marriage.
A reading of the Ontario Law Reform Commission report on family law, part II, dealing with marriage, which was published as long ago as 1970, and a reading of the present Marriage Act as contained in the Revised Statutes of Ontario and comparing it with the proposed bill, would indicate that each and every one of the changes is an updating or a rectification of archaic provisions which would no longer be acceptable in the province. It’s a modernization of the law relating to the solemnization of marriage and in my view, Mr. Speaker, can best be dealt with in committee when we can deal with the specific provisions of the existing law, the specific provisions of the proposed Bill 141, in the light of the recommendations made by the Ontario Law Reform Commission.
Without further ado, Mr. Speaker, we would hope that the bill would go, along with the preceding bill, to the standing committee on justice.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I think my colleagues and I join with the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), of course, in supporting this legislation. As has been mentioned by the previous speaker, the legislation incorporates suggestions made by the Law Reform Commission some time ago.
Having said this, I want to point out to you, Mr. Speaker, one of the problems that is being solved by this legislation is in its allowing justices of the peace to perform marriages, because in the Ottawa area this situation of having couples run over to provincial court judges had reached the stage where it was somewhat of a charade. I suppose in Toronto it may well have been the same thing.
For one thing, the janitorial staff around the courthouse always got very excited when there was a marriage because there was confetti all over the place. That was one of the first problems. The other problem is that we were always short of judges to sit in our courts, never mind performing marriages. You had a situation where the provincial judges, in Ottawa at least, were getting extremely annoyed at a situation where they were running in and out of court performing marriages. If someone had the flu one day and felt he wasn’t up to sitting in court, he would be sitting in a room there marrying people. I felt that that was not an atmosphere that was too conducive to starting a happy relationship.
I want to point out to you that I think this change was necessary. I think the judges have been complaining about this for some time and, of course, we are very much in favour of this.
The other thing that we are removing under this bill that we are in favour of is the question of the action for a breach of promise of marriage. Of course, my colleagues and I are very grateful about removing that particular legislation.
Mr. Cassidy: Gets you off the hook, eh?
Mr. Peterson: Speak for yourself.
Mr. Roy: I am sure all members of the House here will applaud this.
Mr. Peterson: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker. I don’t think he is entitled to speak for the rest of us in this party on that particular matter.
Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, can I add just a few words on this?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I presume we should rotate. Was there someone else who wished to rise to speak?
Mr. Cassidy: In a philosophical bent and not having too much expertise in the subject, since I have only tried out the institution once, I want to raise a couple of questions of concern. Possibly they can be raised again during the course of the committee stage, but I suspect it’s too late to have any serious reconsideration of some of the proposals that exist in the bill.
The first question is whether it is reasonable to continue the age of marriage as at the age of 14. I just have enormous reservations about that. That couples with the second reservation I have about the bill, which is that essentially Ontario has opted now for an easy marriage policy, if you will, which puts almost no obstacles in the way of a young man or young woman who desire to get wed, apart from the need to wait three days and apart from the need to negotiate a pass from the municipal clerk who will issue them their licence. In fact, if they can persuade the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman), they can get married without even the delay of three days which is involved in the bill.
It has long been the practice in our society in this province to make divorce a very difficult and rather heart-breaking institution. I guess it is easier to get a divorce now than it was a few years ago, but a decree nisi takes about six months, I believe, after the initial order of divorce and the whole process of divorce can easily take a period of a year, a year and a half or even two years. A number of people have wondered out loud whether we shouldn’t make it more difficult for people to get married but then make it rather more easy for people, where there is a case of marriage breakdown, to recognize that fact with divorce. But that isn’t done here.
There are no requirements at all on the desire of a couple to get married and no responsibilities laid upon them, apart from the fact that they have to wait for three days. I question that, and I think that at least we should have some discussion during the committee stage on that particular point. All members of this House know that for the most part when a couple choose or decide to get married, they enter into the decision with a fairly substantial consciousness and understanding of what it is they are getting into.
I think we all know, whether from personal experience or the observation of others, that there will be a certain starry-eyed quality to the decision of getting married which is inevitable, given the status of the institution and possibly the age of the participants. However, I think we are also aware that there are a substantial and rather tragic number of cases where people do get married without really understanding the responsibilities they are getting into at all; and where the romance alone doesn’t justify the difficulties into which they get through a hasty marriage -- in this case, a weekend marriage which is permitted after a very short acquaintanceship -- through getting into very close relationship with somebody whom they may know very poorly and in getting into an institution whose responsibilities they understand very poorly as well.
The results of those kinds of marriages are to be seen in the divorce courts. Unfortunately the results are also to be seen on the welfare rolls, in the Children’s Aid Societies and in the product offspring, for example, who grow up in unhappy homes or individuals who get themselves into unhappy situations and find it extraordinarily difficult to get out of them.
I can’t really suggest what the concrete solutions are, because it is difficult to legislate good judgement and wisdom on individuals who choose to get married. I know, though, that some jurisdictions have experimented with longer delayed periods, with some kind of suggestion or requirement that people intending to get married should take counselling of various kinds. I think that there are pros and cons in that particular concept. The con is that it interferes with the individual liberty to make a decision about getting married or not. The pro is simply that these days, given that marriage is no longer for most people the opening of the door in a sexual sense, it seems to me that it is possible to invest marriage with a greater sanctity in the law than we have in the past and, therefore, possibly, to insist that people do somehow try to come to grips with what it is they’re getting into or have to demonstrate to the solemnizing parties, to the clergymen or to the judge, that they have taken steps to do so in order to get themselves married. If they choose to jump into bed together they can always live common law and there’s no particular restraint to that. If they don’t believe in living common law then the need to delay by 15 days or 30 days a relationship intended to last for a lifetime should surely not be that great an impediment.
I’m suggesting ideas and ways of procedure. I find it curious, I may say, that the conservative Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), of a province which has a Progressive Conservative government, should have gone to the extremes of liberalism which are represented in this particular bill and which put absolutely no impediment beyond a 2½ day delay on a couple who wish to solemnize their marriage. I would appreciate some comments from the ministry on these particular comments.
Mr. Singer: I must admit I’m rather intrigued by the comments of the member for Ottawa South --
Mr. Cassidy: Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Roy: He sounded like Ottawa South.
Mr. Singer: I’m intrigued by this, too. The member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) seems to miss the fact that these bills come before us as a package. There has been great concern and his colleague spent some time talking about the rights of common-law spouses. He has missed the fact that if we have additional impediments to marriage that we’re encouraging or forcing people into a common-law relationship. Which way does he really want it? Does he want to force people into a common-law relationship by making marriage more difficult now than it has ever been before in Ontario? Or is he prepared to accept a modernization --
Mr. Cassidy: I’d like people to understand what the marital issue is all about.
Mr. Singer: All right. If we’re going to write in a delay, my point -- and the member for Ottawa Centre should be able to understand it; it is a very simple point -- is we are going to encourage people to skip the marriage ceremony and go into the common-law relationship. That’s something which really doesn’t seem to me at least --
Mr. Cassidy: For 15 days they live in sin.
Mr. Singer: -- to be in the public interest. It doesn’t seem to me to be in keeping with the spirit of the statutes which are presented to us.
I commend the minister for bringing this forward as a part of a package. I think the bill makes sense. There’s nothing very radical about it. The changes in the statute are, by and large, of form; by and large, administrative.
I was interested to hear my colleague from Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) say that it would be a good thing to get marriage ceremonies out of the courtrooms of the provincial judges and send them to the JPs. I can’t miss the opportunity of asking the Attorney General if the JPs are going to perform these ceremonies, where are they going to do it? They haven’t any offices. They have great difficulty finding any accommodation and that was one of the things we talked about at some length during the estimates. The JPs are in a pretty bad state. If we’re going to put this responsibility over on all the JPs I guess there’s going to be an awful lot of outdoor marriages.
Mr. Stokes: Use the skating rink.
Mr. Singer: That would save wear and tear on the courtroom and perhaps that’s a good thing.
An hon. member: The Garden of Eden.
Mr. Singer: The other thing in keeping with some of the remarks made around here and certainly of at least passing interest to a number of people -- some of whom are in the Legislature -- is that the action for breach of promise of marriage is now about to be done away with. It was a strange action and I don’t know that it really has any appropriate place any longer in the laws of the province of Ontario. I have no hesitancy at all in joining with my colleagues in support of this bill.
Mr. Roy: Only Cassidy is in favour of sin.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I think for the purpose of this legislation the remarks of the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) have been adequately answered to a very large extent by the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer). I am grateful for his contribution in that respect, and I don’t think there is anything I can add to what he said.
The age of marriage is a very troublesome matter. Certainly the age of 16, in many respects, seems to be perhaps the minimum age or the lowest age at which anyone should contemplate such an important step. I agree with the remarks of the member for Ottawa Centre as to the obvious importance of the step. Some of us are somewhat concerned about the age in relation to certain rights and customs of native people and that had some bearing on the decision that was made. Certainly, any reasonable amendments at the committee stage would be looked at with interest as far as the government is concerned. We would be quite prepared to entertain any reasonable suggestions in that regard.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing administration of justice committee.
SUCCESSION LAW REFORM ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 85, An Act to reform the Law respecting Succession to the Estates of Deceased Persons.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: When I introduced this bill for first reading last spring I made a detailed statement explaining the principles embodied in the bill. It is certainly not my intention to take the time of the House to review those principles now. However, I would like to mention that in the interval between first reading and the present time we have received a very large number of comments and suggestions from persons having an interest in the field of estates law for improvement to the bill. I would particularly like to point out the contribution made by the members of the special committee established by the wills and trust subsection, the Ontario branch of the Canadian Bar Association.
As a result of these comments and suggestions I have arranged for the bill to be reprinted incorporating many of the changes submitted. It is also my intention, as indicated, to have this bill referred to the standing committee on justice and I will be introducing, at that time, the amendments shown in the reprint of the bill which I believe has been distributed to the members.
Perhaps the most important change that I propose to make at this time is the adoption of the bar committee’s recommendation concerning section 1. That section would equalize the position of children born within or outside marriage for the purposes of estates and would deem all references to a child in a will to include a child born outside the marriage.
Now, the bar committee pointed out that there may be many persons who have drawn their wills in reliance on the existing law under which a reference to a child is deemed to include only a child born within marriage. It has been stated that it would put these persons through a great deal of time, trouble and expense to rewrite their wills under the new law. And some of these persons may even, for example, have lost the mental capacity to revise their wills. I should say that I am not convinced, but on balance it perhaps would be fair to restrict the application of section 1 to wills made after the Act comes into force. The Act will apply fully where a person dies without a will after the Act comes into force, of course.
There again, I have indicated my intention at this time. But I am very anxious to hear the views of all the members in respect to this because I must state that I still have some difficulty in my own mind as to the proper course of action in that respect. In any event, Mr. Speaker, I would like to reserve any further comments on the bill to the end of the debate.
Mr. Renwick: Again, in the absence of my colleague the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) I rise to indicate that we will obviously support the bill. It is also the product of an intensive study by the Law Reform Commission. I for one consider that it covers what could be called an arcane obstacle course full of potholes and pitfalls for the unwary practitioner who may think he knows something about the law relating to the estates of deceased persons.
The bill in substance deals with people who die with wills, people who die without wills and the power of courts to vary for support purposes the provisions of wills where the obligation to support has been less than adequately satisfied by the will of the deceased person. It incorporates into our law for the first time the provisions relating to an international will, having to do with the convention which has been entered into by a number of countries, of which the United States of America is the depository for the instruments of ratification and adhesion.
I really think the bill doesn’t lend itself to lengthy discussion on second reading. It can be appropriately dealt with in the committee. I think it’s essential that it be dealt with in the committee because we will undoubtedly have formal presentations by persons who will explain some of the points which have been raised in the briefs which have been prepared and the submissions which have been made.
I do think, however, at some point in the discussion of these particular bills, all of which, as my colleague the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) says, form a package of the reform of laws relating to family relationships, both for living people and dead persons, it should be noted that the bill which received second reading a few minutes ago, Bill 140, provides, when it comes into force for the repeal of The Dower Act, as The Dower Act relates to deceased persons. I do think I should, at least for my own edification, read into the record the provision relating to the law of dower which has been a part of the law of the United Kingdom and part of the law of Canada since the formation of the province of Upper Canada in 1791, but in England goes back, I believe, to Magna Carta.
One part of it, which is ignored, is worth commenting upon. I also think the language of it, which still has archaic overtones, should perhaps be read into the record, and I now do so.
The Dower Act provides in substance that:
“A widow on the death of her husband may tarry in his chief house for 40 days after his death, within which time her dower shall be assigned her if it has not been assigned her before and, in the meantime, she shall have her reasonable maintenance and for her dower shall be assigned to her as a third part of all the lands of her husband, whereof he was seized at any time during coverture, except such thereof as he was so seized of in trust for another.”
That language is going to disappear from our law. I did think there were very few people who recognized that, coupled with the one-third interest in the lands of the husband of which he died seized at any time, the widow could tarry in the chief house -- and in the original version “of her lord” -- for 40 days after his death. That is a right which the widow no longer will get under the laws which we are passing today in this assembly.
Mr. Stokes: Couldn’t we observe one minute’s silence for its demise?
Mr. Speaker: Are there any other comments on this bill?
Mr. Singer: Yes, after 8 o’clock.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.