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, December 6, 1976.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
RUST PROTECTION WARRANTY
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, as most members now are aware, a new standard rust protection warranty is being offered to consumers through the combined efforts of Ontario motor vehicle dealers and my ministry.
An increasing number of complaints, indicating that consumers ran into a brick wall when they tried to obtain redress for a rusted car, prompted the ministry’s investigation of the rust protection business several months ago.
Car dealers sold rust protection as a service to their customers, applying a compound supplied by outside agencies which offered their own warranties. If rust appeared, the excuse of the dealer often was that the fault lay in the supplier’s material. If the supplier was confronted, the problem was blamed on shoddy application by the dealer. Either way, the consumer was caught in the middle.
Consumers who placed faith in the warranties offered by suppliers soon found these were no guarantee of satisfaction either. The documents often contained so many loopholes as to be virtually useless.
To solve the problem the ministry’s motor vehicle dealer branch initiated discussions with both the Toronto and the Ontario Automobile Dealers Associations. The result is a uniform rust-inhibitor service warranty, which all dealers have been requested by their associations to adopt.
They have also agreed to remove the term rust-proofing from all advertising material because it tends to mislead consumers. Rust-inhibiting compounds may offer several years of protection but they do not provide absolute rust-proofing.
The new warranty is to apply for a period of five years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Consumers who have purchased the process from participating dealers will be guaranteed that the underbody, frame and all enclosed parts of the vehicle have been treated correctly.
Consumers must return the vehicle for annual check-ups if the warranty is to apply. This gives the dealer the opportunity to make sure the compound was applied correctly. If rust is found, it is the dealer’s responsibility to repair completely or replace the damaged area or part, free of charge.
Dealers bear total responsibility for the rust-protection job even if the compound used is supplied by an outside agency. They are also responsible if they refer customers to an independent rust-protection company for any remuneration. Warranties provided by suppliers may be offered as well as long as the basic consumer rights in the standard warranty are not diminished by disclaimers or hidden phrases.
Discussions with the independent rust-protection companies are still continuing. Some have already agreed to change their approach and adjust their warranties to conform with the standards that now apply to dealers.
The ministry has reached mutual agreement with the industry on this warranty. It provides consumers with a reasonable standard of protection and ensures that dealers will live up to their responsibilities in the rust protection field.
Mr. Speaker, now for the bad news.
FINANCE COMPANY SOLICITATIONS
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The Christmas season has always been a favourite time of year for some members of the community to take advantage of the general feeling of good will among consumers. I would like to take this opportunity to warn members and the public at large of one such scheme which came to my attention yesterday.
A major finance company is distributing to its so-called preferred customers a promissory note which is labelled as a cash voucher.
I would like to read the letter accompanying this promissory note.
“Dear Customer: Enclosed is a voucher in your name which is good for $506.94. Just sign the voucher and return it in the enclosed self-addressed envelope. You will receive your cheque for $506.94 by return mail.”
Mr. Moffatt: Sounds like a home buyer’s grant.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: “That is all there is to it. No office visits required. No red tape. No additional forms to fill out. Simply sign the voucher and return it to me. This offer is made to you as one of our preferred customers. So return your signed voucher today and you will receive a cheque for $506.94 in the earliest return mail possible. You can be sure of my personal attention.”
Mr. Lewis: Absolutely incredible.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: “Best wishes for a happy holiday season. P.S. Act now. Remember you only have 15 days to send in the voucher. Also, if you need a larger loan, call me personally.”
Mr. Lewis: Come on.
Mr. Moffatt: Is that signed by the Premier?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: The overall effect of this representation could mislead the consumer into supposing this is an offer of special benefit to him when in fact it is an offer of a loan at an effective annual rate of interest of 21.5 per cent.
There may be nothing specifically illegal about this solicitation although my lawyers are looking at it carefully.
Mr. Lewis: It sure is misleading.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Not every immoral action is illegal. But if we cannot proceed under statute, I will ask the company to withdraw this campaign voluntarily. One way or another, it must be stopped.
If members of the business community wonder why they are plagued by consumer legislation they need only look to actions of this kind which cry out for a response from government.
I urge members of this House to draw any further solicitations of this kind to my attention.
Mr. Moffatt: What is the name of the company?
Mr. McClellan: The name of the company.
Mr. Lewis: On a point of order, because I don’t want to take the question period time for this, Mr. Speaker, do I understand that the minister prefaced his statement with an indication that he wanted to bring to the attention of the public one such solicitation, taking advantage of Christmas cheer? Does the Speaker not think it would assist the House if we and the public were told the name of the finance company he is speaking of?
Mr. Singer: That’s not a point of clarification or order or anything else. How about calling him to order?
Mr. Lewis: Yes, it is. Certainly, it is.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Any further questions should be directed during the question period.
Mr. Lewis: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Singer: Why doesn’t he ask it in question period the same as everybody else?
Mr. Speaker: I really don’t think it’s a point of order.
Mr. Lewis: I was trying to raise a point of order, whatever the barracking. I don’t think it should be necessary for us to take time during question period to ask a question which should have been answered when the statement was made.
Mr. Singer: Nonsense. There is not one set of rules for him and another for somebody else. Call him to order.
Mr. Lewis: Now, what kind of silliness is that?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. If there is an answer to it or if it is a general warning --
Hon. Mr. Handleman: If I might speak on the point of order --
Mr. Singer: It is a question of whether he is in order or not.
Mr. Foulds: Is the company one of the clients of the member for Wilson Heights?
Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. minister have a further comment on that?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, what I was trying to bring to the attention of all members and the public at large is that this kind of solicitation is taking place and that we would like to put a stop to it.
Mr. Speaker: That was my understanding.
Mr. MacDonald: Name them.
Mr. Singer: Now we’ve got a debate going on between the Leader of the Opposition and the minister, before the orders of the day.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: If anybody wishes to ask me, I’d be prepared to identify the company.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
Mr. Breithaupt: Ask him what the name is.
FINANCE COMPANY SOLICITATIONS
Mr. Lewis: To the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Would he like to share with the Legislature and the public, whose transactions and misleading solicitations he has described?
Hon. Mr. Handleman: First of all, I don’t know yet whether they’re misleading in terms of our legislation. The company under whose letterhead this solicitation is made is Household Finance Corporation.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you.
Mr. Reid: Why didn’t the minister say that in the first place?
Mr. Lewis: May I address a question first to the Minister of Labour? Do I take it the Minister of Labour knows of the unprecedented and welcome letter from Dr. William McCracken of the Workmen’s Compensation Board to the medical profession, where Dr. McCracken actually solicits information from the profession on industrially-generated diseases? I think it’s the first time it’s ever happened with the board. Can we ask her, following on from this, to see whether the board would initiate the second phase, which is to track down those workers in industries who may have been exposed to industrially-generated disease and will subsequently fall ill?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The action taken by Dr. McCracken was with the co-operation of the general secretary of the Ontario Medical Association. It is a move further than has ever been taken, I think, by a medical director of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, in earlier days and it will be a very useful activity. It is my hope that the occupational health division or branch of the Ontario Medical Association will spearhead the responses to this request.
In response to the second question posed by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, it seems to me the initial activity which is necessary is to find out from every single industrial establishment in this province the history of those chemicals which have been used and those chemicals which are being used at the present time. The Ministry of Labour itself has taken that on as the initial move in the direction which he is suggesting; that has already been done.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary: Would the minister require all manufacturing companies in the province of Ontario to submit a list to her every time they order any type of chemical, so that she would have a complete list of the chemicals ordered by that company at the time of ordering them?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Most industrial establishments are aware, as a result of their long- range planning, of the kinds of chemicals which they are likely to be using within the foreseeable future, and we have asked them to give us full information about those which they have used in the past, are presently using and will probably be using in the future.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Since the board has now moved in this important way, might it not also look at those industries where there is a clear incidence of occupationally-related disease -- the Reeves Mine comes to mind -- and begin to track down workers who may have had undue or excessive exposure since we are finally transforming the role which the board has seen fit to play up to now?
Hon. B. Stephenson: This is a very desirable activity and one I believe the board wishes to carry out. There are some problems related to it. The development of nominal roles in the asbestos industry, for example, is inhibited somewhat by the mobility of the workers from that area and our apparent inability to receive from other Workmen’s Compensation Boards and other agencies the kind of information which would be useful. A great deal of thought is being given to that specific activity and I am sure something of that sort will be established.
Mr. Godfrey: Will the minister now initiate an inquiry from Chipman Chemicals Limited in Hamilton about workers who have been exposed to leptophos over the past 10 years?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The Chipman Chemicals company has informed us that it is using leptophos in the trade name variety, Phosvel, which it acquires from a distributor in Mississauga, known as Velsical Corporation of Canada. Apparently this material is used to kill cutworms on tobacco plants, primarily. It is shipped out in 300-pound containers which are sealed and which consist of flakes. I gather for the tobacco industry it is mixed with xylene and sprayed.
The workers in that plant specifically have been under the supervision of The Industrial Safety Act and the industrial safety inspectors have been in the plant. I believe the last time was in March or April of this year. At that time no directions were left because this particular chemical company has such a good health and safety record. Instead of being on a six-month cycle for inspection they are now, I think, on a 12-month or even a 24-month cycle, because their record is excellent.
All of the workers have been supplied with complete protective equipment -- coveralls; rubber aprons; rubber boots; masks; goggles; hats; gloves -- and they have had no problems at all because Dr. Strickland has tested most of the workers who have been involved with that drug. Specifically, at the Hamilton General Hospital, they have had cholinesterase tests done with some regularity and there is no evidence at all of any abnormality.
Mr. Lewis: A question related to that, to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, if I may. Is the minister aware that the United States federal government has refused to issue a licence for the use of leptophos as an agricultural pesticide? Will his ministry and the Ministry of the Environment give serious consideration to removing leptophos as a pesticide in use, I guess it is, under schedule 2 for agricultural purposes in view of the information coming from the United States about the very severe nerve damage done to some who are exposed to that pesticide?
Hon. W. Newman: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I’ll be glad to talk it over with the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr).
Mr. Lewis: And then perhaps report back to the House?
Hon. W. Newman: I really think the answer should come from the Minister of the Environment but I will discuss it with him.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask, by way of supplementary, has the minister been made aware of the potential hazards associated with leptophos? Has anything come to his attention?
Hon. W. Newman: It has come to the attention of the ministry and I was aware of it but I wasn’t aware of the total effects of using it.
FUNDS FOR MENTALLY RETARDED
Mr. Lewis: If I may, a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Is it possible for the minister to comment on the letter he received, dated November 18, from the Georgian Bay Council on Mental Retardation, drawing to his attention the absence of government support of a number of light skills programmes put forward by community groups -- with implicit or explicit approval from the ministry, though no funding -- from Owen Sound, Port Elgin, the Dufferin area, Orillia, Collingwood, Barrie and Walkerton? Can he give some explanation about the delay within the ministry?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: I would be happy to share with the Leader of the Opposition my response to that particular matter. I will see that he gets a copy of that.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, if I may, was the minister not aware of the very strong concern being voiced by the Georgian Bay Council on Mental Retardation at the delay in approval of projects which were discussed with the ministry, sometimes as far back as July and August and left hanging until today, describing therefore how the feeling among those responsible for finances in the workshops has turned from optimism in 1975 to depression, et cetera?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: This is a continuation of some comments I made last week. As the Leader of the Opposition knows, or should know, all of the projects that are desired in an area are discussed not only with the local Association for the Mentally Retarded but through the district working groups, and we have 19 such district working groups now in place in Ontario and functioning very well.
May I also say what we did in my ministry -- and I may say I’ve ensured that it was so -- was, with the money that is provided in the budget, we set forth goals in terms of number of places or additional places in workshops, accommodation places and so on. Those statistics are all available and I’m happy to say that we are really in advance of our target.
In general terms, we are really exceeding our expectations in regard to providing more places in workshops and more accommodation. As I explained last week, there were some problems in regard to financing some things, principally workshops. That was due, I think principally, to an expansion of their programmes without prior consultation or approval from the ministry which meant, of course, an adjustment of their budgets. Their budgets were approved and they may have surmised that they could proceed with an expansion of the programme, whereas their budget only accommodated the existing level of programme.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a brief supplementary. This question was asked last week. Has the minister yet found out why it is that the monthly salary money has not been received by some of these workshops, in particular the one in Alexandria, which I drew to his attention last week? Does he have an answer on that yet?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: Again, with the individual workshops -- and I believe we have 138 in Ontario -- it’s difficult to deal with those in the question period other than the individual one. May I say that what we have done, and again I ensured this, was to accommodate the operation of workshops and other programmes to providing regular monthly payments as opposed to payment upon submission of claims. I thought that would ensure an orderly cash flow and assist the operation of these programmes.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary: Is the minister aware that the delays apply not only to workshops in operation in asking for increases but they also apply to new workshops -- specifically I can give the minister one, the new workshop in Wingham, where the delay was over a year -- and is the minister prepared to take a look at the procedures in respect to the rehabilitation branch in his ministry to see whether it couldn’t be streamlined, because even the regional people are getting discouraged?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: May I say that not only was I prepared to take a look but I did, in fact, take a look and have streamlined the internal operation that was actually divided between the two parts of the ministry, the part dealing with the developmental side, that is the side pertaining to mental retardation, as opposed to the other resources. We have combined that now and I think members will see much better progress in terms of tying these programmes together and expediting the clearance or approvals of them. I want the member to know I’m most mindful of the problem that did exist and I think we’ve resolved that now.
Mr. McClellan: Do I understand the minister to say, or is my understanding correct, that at least in some of these cases, for example, Owen Sound, the budget was cleared by ministry officials at the local level who gave approval but not by the ministry here in Toronto? If that is the case, what is happening within his ministry to cause this kind of confusion between the local office and guidelines coming from the centre?
Hon. Mr. Taylor: No, I hope the member did not understand me to say that because I hadn’t said that.
CULTURAL AGENCIES’ BUDGETS
Mr. Lewis: I just want to ask one brief question of the Minister of Culture and Recreation, speaking to his philistinism. May I ask the minister why he’s taking such a particularly hard line towards a number of specific cultural agencies, quite apart from the 95 per cent level which I’m sure he can explain to the House, in subtracting what they are able to elicit from the public from what the government will give them? That’s an unusual policy. What brought the minister to that?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I’m very pleased that the Leader of the Opposition has raised this question because it provides me with an opportunity to correct some misunderstanding which the story writer obviously shares.
Mr. Singer: I happen to have 10 pages here.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Actually, it’s not unusual at this particular time of year that we would be discussing the next fiscal year. We’re going through the budgetary process and we’ve invited our agencies to share in this particular consideration by submitting their requests to us in a certain form. We’re particularly interested in their revenues as well as their requests with respect to overall spending.
I think the story, particularly as it relates to private donations, is misunderstood because some of these agencies are supported partially from the private sector for specific projects and wouldn’t be interfered with in any way. We are interested only as they would relate to general operating expenses and, therefore, we wanted a breakdown with respect to other sources of revenue in this way.
Under the circumstances, I feel it’s very misleading to suggest the minister has either been hard or unreasonable because all that’s going on at the moment is the budgetary review in order that I might have the information I need with respect to their priorities when it comes time to present my budget for the consideration of my colleagues.
Mr. Singer: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister could advise us if it is in fact correct, as the newspaper article suggested, that in his talks with various agencies -- the gallery, the museum, Science Centre and so on -- he cautioned them that these talks, or the five per cent deduction, should not be made public? Is that in fact correct?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Certainly near the end of the meeting, I shared with the agencies that it would be difficult if they were to do their job properly if they did not fully disclose the results of our meeting with their respective boards; that if there was to be any publicity given to this it would be very important that all the facts and figures, all the information, be shared and that might be difficult at this stage.
I even went so far as to suggest that if they weren’t careful with respect to the information that was being given to them, they might well expect within a few days to see headlines saying: “Welch has cut budgets five per cent.”
Mr. Breithaupt: And that is what they got.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what happened. I think that’s very unfortunate.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: In order to clear up this unfortunate situation, would the minister be prepared to table in the House the letters that he has subsequently sent out to the agencies as a result of his meeting and that are referred to in the article?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Inasmuch as the partial contents of these letters have now been made public, there’d be every reason to table the letter which I made available to the chairman of each agency at the conclusion of that meeting. I’d be very glad to do that.
OHTB BUS LICENCE
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Is the minister aware and can he explain why it is that in 1961 the Ontario Highway Transport Board ruled against Greyhound’s application to overrun the area that’s covered by Gray Coach Lines and listed as part of their reason for ruling against it: “The board accepts the evidence that it feels the profitability of the operation of Gray Coach between Toronto and Sudbury would be adversely affected if this application were granted?” What has happened since 1961 and why should there be such a fundamental change now?
Hon. Mr. Snow: As the Premier has just stated, 15 years have gone by since 1961.
Mr. S. Smith: He obviously didn’t take his math under the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells).
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s the old math.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I’m not aware of the full background of any decision made in 1961. I’m not saying that after considering an application at that particular time that may -- I accept the fact that that probably was the decision of the board at that time.
Mr. Warner: You didn’t have Eddie Goodman for a lawyer then either.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He is not writing editorials.
Hon. Mr. Snow: A lot of things have happened in public transportation since 1961. A lot of applications have been made to the Highway Transport Board, both in the trucking industry and the bus industry. What may have been a very valid point in 1961 I don’t think would necessarily be as valid or more valid in 1976.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: Given that this is a fundamental change from the franchising method of dealing with bus services up to now, why would the minister set up a select committee to look into regulated trucking and the licensing thereof yet allow one or two men -- which is all it was -- to make this decision which is a fundamental change in franchising operations in the province of Ontario?
Mr. Haggerty: Loss of jobs affected too.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I do not accept that it is a fundamental change. There is no way that I can see by which the members of the Highway Transport Board have made any change in policy.
Mr. S. Smith: Where else is there an overrun?
Mr. Reid: Come on.
Hon. Mr. Snow: They look at applications before the board based on the public need and necessity for service as they do in applications for licences for the hauling of goods or the transportation of passengers.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary --
Mr. Speaker: The member for York South with a supplementary.
Mr. MacDonald: May I ask the minister, is it or is it not government policy that a public transportation company such as Gray Coach should be able to make profits on one line in order to have the financial resources to extend lines into non-profitable areas in the province? If that is government policy, why does a quasi-judicial body like our Highway Transport Board not have to operate within the framework of that policy?
Mr. Warner: Right on.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t think there is any policy which states that any bus company, whether it be Gray Coach or any --
Mr. Reid: Just say there isn’t any policy.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- other operator, has to operate certain lines at a profit and other lines at a loss. There is no policy which says any company has to operate certain lines at a loss and subsidize them from other lines.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary --
Mr. Reid: Supplementary --
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We can’t pursue these points too far. We’re into a debate.
The member for Hamilton West, with a further supplementary on this.
Mr. S. Smith: Yes, that’s right. Since the minister answered my previous question by saying it doesn’t represent a change in policy to have another company overrunning a major route presently held by one company, can he please list for this House other major routes between major centres in the province of Ontario which are presently being overrun by another company on the same route? Clearly that’s a change in policy.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t think that indicates a change in policy at all. I don’t believe there is --
Mr. Nixon: It certainly does.
Mr. Reid: You have destroyed the whole concept of franchises.
Hon. B. Stephenson: When did Gray Coach have a franchise?
Mr. S. Smith: We are for Gray Coach.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have trouble in comprehending the position of the Liberal Party in this particular case. We have discussed trucking and when one looks at the recommendations of the select committee and one looks at the points made by members of the Liberal Party in previous debates in this House, from what I have seen, they have been totally in support of having more competition in the industry.
Mr. Cunningham: With common sense.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Now, in this particular case, they are against competition all of a sudden.
Mr. S. Smith: It is a change in policy.
Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary. The member for Durham East.
Mr. Moffatt: Mr. Speaker, would the minister agree there is a difference between transportation of goods and transportation of people and that he cannot, in fact, make the two policies work exactly the same way for the two different areas?
Mr. Nixon: Not in his mind.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I think I would have to agree, certainly, that there is a difference in the two Acts --
Mr. Moffatt: For the two committee areas.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- but I think the basic principle of the two Acts is supplying a proper service to the people of Ontario, whether it be for the transportation of passengers or the transportation of goods.
Gray Coach Lines has had the opportunity for many years to improve its service and to meet the needs of the travelling public over these particular routes if it had wished to do so. It has not done so, in the opinion of the board, as I read the decision, and the board has decided that with the increase in traffic there should be additional service on those routes.
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to ask a question of the Premier on this same topic. Does the Premier not agree that the effect of this Highway Transport Board decision, in addition to making fundamental policy which should be the role of the government, is substantially to give away a $10-million asset belonging to the public, giving it away to a private American-controlled giant? Does he not substantially agree that this is what is happening?
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, Mr. Speaker. I don’t want to disappoint the member for Hamilton West. There are some things about this that, if it comes to cabinet, we will be discussing and that I am interested in, but I would have to say to the hon. member for Hamilton West that I just do not agree with his supposition in this particular instance.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, would the Premier not agree, from his considerable experience in the business world, that two lines which are producing approximately $800,000 in profit annually, should they substantially be unusable by Gray Coach after a year or so of this division of the number of passengers between themselves and Greyhound, given the fact that Greyhound can run express and Gray Coach is forced to run local, if that $800,000 is lost annually, would the Premier not say that’s equivalent to approximately an $8-million to $10-million asset that has been taken out of public hands and put in private hands, American-controlled?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, drawing on my considerable experience in the business community, my answer to that would be not necessarily so.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s why you won’t handle my account.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, it’s a silly question.
Mr. Foulds: Well, you didn’t have to give a silly answer.
Mr. Deans: It’s not really all that silly.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary to the Premier: Is the Premier aware that Michael Warren, a man once much revered in the Conservative ranks --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Now, that’s not true.
Mr. Lewis: Was he not much revered?
Hon. Mr. Davis: He was a public servant.
Mr. Lewis: That’s what I mean, much revered.
Hon. Mr. Davis: By yourselves as well.
Mr. Lewis: By everybody, but by you as well. My apologies.
Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. member have a question?
Mr. Lewis: Michael Warren, a man who had an ambivalent position in the ranks of government but is now heading the TTC -- is the Premier aware that Mr. Warren has said the duplication of routes granted by the transport board to Greyhound will result in the necessary curtailment of rural routes and other routes by Gray Coach? He even named them; he said places like Owen Sound --
Mr. S. Smith: And Shelburne, Wiarton.
Mr. Lewis: -- and Alliston and so on -- in western Ontario, and that, therefore, what we have effectively done is to skewer the excellent service to certain areas of Ontario provided by Gray Coach. Can the Premier not allow for a cabinet rehearing from Gray Coach and the union and the TTC before there is any discussion?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I certainly am not going to debate the view of the head of the TTC at this moment. As regards an observation by Mr. Warren that, because of a certain situation on two runs, Gray Coach is going to reduce its service on other runs -- with great respect to Mr. Warren, I don’t believe that necessarily has to be the case.
Mr. Warner: Give them further subsidy.
Mr. Reid: You don’t know the economics of the situation.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, I confess to a vested interest in this. Gray Coach comes right by my door and I am very interested --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ask the member for London South (Mr. Ferris).
Hon. Mr. Davis: So does the GO service.
I mean a lot of people go right by -- a lot of them drop in too. Gray Coach doesn’t, although it stops right across the road.
Mr. Warner: Does the Greyhound stop?
Hon. Mr. Davis: My mother uses it fairly regularly, so there is no way that I want to see Gray Coach service reduced. But I do say -- and I say this without being facetious at all -- that I understand observations of that kind in the heat of the debate that is going on. I think it is understandable that when any company, whether it’s a public company, whether it’s transportation of people or merchandise, when they see competition facing them, they’re going to try to draw the bleakest picture. This is human nature.
Hon. Mr. Davis: This is obviously part of the approach of some people on this issue. I just say to the Leader of the Opposition, despite the implication that Gray Coach will have to reduce their service to other parts of the community because they may be faced with competition on two particular runs, I say with respect this does not have to happen.
Mr. Reid: They are the only one. Supplementary, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I just point out we’re branching out into all sections of this whole area.
Mr. Reid: This is right on.
Mr. Speaker: No. Order, please. The hon. leader’s question had to do with the effect of the decision in changing the ownership and the interest from Canadian to US; that was the basic part of it at least. We’re getting into the whole question of the whole transaction and we should keep it much narrower. I’ll hear the member for Rainy River.
Mr. Reid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker -- I don’t know how I’m going to work this in.
Mr. Speaker: You promised it was right on.
Mr. Reid: But I’m following my leader’s question. Would the Premier not agree it’s a responsibility of the cabinet and the government to set government policy in regard to transportation in the province of Ontario, rather than an appointed Highway Transport Board?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think it’s the responsibility of government to do many things --
An hon. member: Do something.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and one of the responsibilities of the government is to see that the consumer interest, the rights of people, whether they want to be transported by bus, train, automobile or what have you --
Mr. Reid: Who sets the policy?
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- are as adequately looked after as possible. I don’t argue that for a moment. That is part of our responsibility and we discharge it, I think, relatively well.
Mr. Reid: Who sets the policy?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If what the member really is saying to me is that the policy should be -- as he or his leader would like to have it, but not the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) -- that there be a total monopoly for some situations --
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and that’s really what they are suggesting -- and that never any consideration be given for competition, whether it be for the transportation of goods or people, once again, I would have to say that I don’t think that should be a policy.
Mr. Reid: Have you so directed the transport board?
Mr. Conway: You are out of order and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If you are saying there should be a total monopoly in perpetuity.
Mr. Reid: I am not saying that. I’m just asking who is running the thing.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, but that is what the member is saying. That’s what the member is saying and I’m saying I think that would be an erroneous policy.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. I think there is a new question. The member for Hamilton West.
Mr. S. Smith: A new question on the same topic to the Premier: Since he regards as silly my previous question pointing out that the threatened loss of an $800,000 annual income is equivalent to the loss of a $10-million asset and since he just said that my policy was to keep franchising --
Mr. Speaker: Your question, please?
Mr. S. Smith: -- as a reasonable policy, is also silly, would the Premier like to comment on this memorandum from the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) to the Minister of Transportation and Communications in which he points out that “bus services have always been controlled to maximize benefit to the public”? He goes on to say: “The reference to free enterprise has bothered a number of present bus line owners, and I can appreciate their view.” The Premier knows that this has been the policy in this province --
Mr. Speaker: Is this part of the question?
Mr. S. Smith: -- why is it changing and why is it not the government or a select committee that’s doing the changing?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, with great respect, as the Minister of Transportation and Communications has explained, it does not represent a change in policy.
Mr. Reid: It does.
Mr. S. Smith: The Treasurer thinks it does.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Hamilton West has every right to question the judgement of the Ontario Highway Transport Board; that’s fair. But I have to say to him, with respect, I know of no policy that has been laid down by this government that says that John Jones, Henry Smith or Mr. Lewis cannot apply to the Ontario Highway Transport Board for a right to carry passengers or goods and services as long as they comply with the Act. So for heaven’s sake understand what the Act provides. Now if you want to dispute --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Reid: Can you name one other that’s been granted?
Mr. S. Smith: There have never been overruns before.
Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, there are many instances where franchises and licences have been issued --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, we have overruns in railway transportation.
Mr. S. Smith: It’s not those we are talking about.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All right, but listen: There are other boards who grant, shall we say, rights to transport passengers by rail. There have been overruns. In other words, we have two national railways, believe it or not, in this country, and some of them carry passengers through the same community.
Mr. Nixon: That’s weak.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would just say to the leader of the Liberal Party that I know he would like to provoke me into some, shall we say, definitive statement, and I’ve explained to him --
Mr. Reid: That would be a change in policy.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I just say to the member for Hamilton West, don’t ask me the time of day. He knows how long that would take me to answer. But I just have to tell him, as I have tried to explain to the members of this House -- and I ask him to seek a little advice from the member for Wilson Heights and the member for Kitchener who are always so careful to look after the legal niceties and the appropriateness or otherwise of making decisions, pending appeals -- for me to comment in any specific nature as to this particular situation until it is dealt with by cabinet, if it reaches cabinet, would be totally inappropriate. I have got to say to the member for Hamilton West, in that he was sort of suggesting that somebody had been in touch with the chairman or members of the board as it relates to this decision, we don’t believe that that’s an appropriate way of doing business either.
Mr. Nixon: Of course he didn’t make any such suggestion.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I point out that there have been 15 minutes of each of the lead-off set of questions and 30 minutes have now expired? Are there further questions?
PICKERING NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION
Mr. S. Smith: I have one more question please, Mr. Speaker. A question for the Minister of Energy: In view of the comments quoted from a book, Nuclear Energy: The Unforgiving Technology, quoted in today’s Globe and Mail, could he tell us whether there is a secret document called the Pickering Safety Report and whether that particular document does indicate, as suggested here, that during periodic clean-up of Pickering boiler room concentrations of radioactivity as high as 200 times the maximum permissible were detected and that concentrations higher than maximum permissibles were traced up to two miles away from the reactor? Is that true? Is there such a report and would the minister please table it if it does exist?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I haven’t had a chance to read that article so I am not familiar with the section quoted by the member for Hamilton West. If he will afford me the opportunity to look into that, I will report back.
Ms. Bryden: I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Recreation relating to what appears to be an unannounced change in policy on equipment grants to the minor leagues which provide team sports for many Ontario youngsters. In recent years these teams received a number of items of equipment free from the office of the athletic commissioner but this year they were informed, I understand, that the budget for that office no longer existed and they were referred to Wintario. Up until October --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the member can ask the question right away.
Ms. Bryden: I have to give the background, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Very briefly.
Ms. Bryden: Up until October, I understand that the teams were receiving equipment or the cash equivalent on somewhat the same basis as they used to get from the office of the athletic commissioner.
Mr. Reid: Is this a statement?
An hon. member: She’s coming to it. Just wait.
Ms. Bryden: But since October 1, I understand they have been told they must provide 50 per cent of the retail value of this equipment. Can the minister tell me, is this correct and, if so, how does he justify this change in policy to these leagues which have additional costs for ice time and everything else, while now he is asking them to put up 50 per cent for the equipment they used to get free?
Hon. Mr. Welch: There are two points to be covered here. The equipment allocations from the office of the athletic commissioner were fairly nominal insofar as the number of items that were sent forward. Thanks to Wintario we have been able to enrich that programme and, notwithstanding the sharing principle, provide far more for the teams than was originally the case. The programme has been modified further. Instead of actually sending out the equipment, we sent out the cash equivalent so that teams can make these purchases in their home areas, which I think is fairer to the retailers in those areas.
Ms. Bryden: I wonder if the minister could provide us with lists showing what equipment teams used to get under the old scheme and what they are getting now, because I understand from a great many of them that they are actually getting less.
Hon. Mr. Welch: That’s a very reasonable question and I would be prepared to provide some comparisons.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Our teams are getting lots of lacrosse sticks.
Mr. Lewis: Everything comes to Brampton.
AIR POLLUTION AT NIAGARA FALLS
Mr. Kerrio: In the absence of the Minister of the Environment, I’d like to direct this question to the Premier.
Is the Premier aware that an iron oxide fallout from the Niagara Metals plant which has been experienced in the Niagara Falls area has led the company’s insurance representatives to attempt to get the residents in the area to sign releases from damages which may arise from this fallout? I wonder if the Premier would discuss this with his minister and find out if such is the case?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will be delighted to discuss this, at the request of the member for Niagara Falls, with the Minister of the Environment. It may be Wednesday before I am able to do so but I would be delighted and either he or I shall report to the House.
Mr. Kerrio: A supplementary, please. In the discussion the Premier has with him, there is one matter which seems to be rather urgent. Would he please ask the minister if there is any health danger associated with this fallout, and whether the minister will lay charges against this plant since a violation notice has been served?
Mr. Conway: It sounds like the Premier’s response.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, in my supplementary conversation with the minister I will raise the supplementary question.
Mr. Conway: Such generosity.
Mr. Swart: May I ask the Premier if he would also investigate the legality of forms which the company has asked area residents to sign which, for a small payment, would make the company harmless in any future action?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to mislead the House. I don’t think I really said I would personally look after the two issues raised by the member for Niagara Falls. I think I agreed to discuss it with the minister and ask him to report to the House. I would say the same to the member for Welland-Thorold. I will raise that matter with the Minister of the Environment as part of the original question from the member for Niagara Falls.
Are there any other chores?
DRG GLOBE ENVELOPES LIMITED
Mr. Grande: My question is to the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware of the working conditions at DRG Globe Envelopes on Queen Street? In the afternoon shift, between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m., the employees are allowed only a 10-minute break between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to eat their lunch. Further, when the machines are running, the employees have to find somebody else to replace them at the machines; if no one is found the employee does not eat. Is this not a clear violation of The Employment Standards Act?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware factually of the conditions in that plant and I will certainly investigate them. If we find they are in violation of The Employment Standards Act, they will be investigated and prosecutions will take place. At the present time I have no knowledge that those items as listed by the hon. member are factual.
PRICES AT HIGHWAY SERVICE CENTRES
Mr. Spence: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is the minister aware that service centres along Highway 401, licensed and leased by the Ontario government, charge as much as $18 for less than an hour’s labour?
I have a letter and receipt to that effect which I will be glad to forward to the minister if he so wishes.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I am not particularly aware of the particular service centre which may have charged $18 for an hour’s labour. I am not sure that we would have control over that particular aspect of the business.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is more than we make.
Mr. Reid: Everybody makes more than we do.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I recall that last week I personally got an invoice from a service man, for less than one hour’s labour which cost me $24.
Mr. Cunningham: Did he know who you were?
Mr. Conway: That would make a small dent in your millions.
Mr. Spence: A supplementary: Will the minister have his officials look into this case in which a constituent was charged $18 for changing a tire and installing a new one?
Hon. Mr. Snow: If the hon. member will send me the information, we will certainly look into it.
Mr. Swart: My question is to the Attorney General. He will realize it is more than four weeks since I first raised the issue of the drug-pushing magazine, High Times, and exactly four weeks since he said he would try to report to the House on it. Has he had the opportunity to do any investigation on this, has he had any discussion with the federal government, and can he report to the House today?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This matter has been reviewed in some detail by my ministry. We have been in contact with the federal government, and I can assure the hon. member opposite that I will have a fairly significant statement to make before the end of the week. I prefer, in the public interest, not to say anything further at this time, but I will be reporting to the House before the end of the week.
Mr. Conway: Always significant.
Mr. Singer: Significant?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That’s right, significant. Not that you’d know the difference.
Mr. Reid: It’s another headline.
COMMERCIAL FISHING REGULATIONS
Mr. C. I. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. As he is aware, 12 of our fishermen in Port Dover were fined last week and have had their licences suspended because of the fact they were making an orderly attempt to prove the fish in Lung Point Bay were of a smaller size than they are in other portions of the lake. In that $40,000 was set aside to assist in this study, I wonder if the minister is aware that none of those fishermen has received any money to this point in time. I was of the understanding that they were to receive some payment.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It was my understanding that these Port Dover fishermen would be used in our experiment to gather further data in that particular area. I will certainly check into it and report back to the hon. member directly.
Mr. C. I. Miller: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: The question period has expired.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition from 97 citizens of the Ramsey Road-McLeod Road area of Niagara Falls who are concerned about the objectionable emissions from Niagara Metals Limited.
Mr. Speaker: Presenting reports.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the supplementary estimates of the Office of the Assembly, the Ombudsman and the Provincial Auditor be referred to the miscellaneous estimates committee.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the time for the presentation of the final report of the select committee on highway safety be extended to April 29, 1977.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills.
WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Lupusella moved first reading of Bill 182, An Act to amend The Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Lupusella: This bill provides for a 10 per cent increase in the amount payable on award for a permanent disability as of December 1, 1976, and, as of the same date, the introduction of an annual increase in that award, based on the current consumer price index for Canada.
Motion agreed to.
ANSWER TO WRITTEN QUESTION
Hon. Mr. Welch: I wish to table the answer to question 154 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
HIGHWAY TRANSPORTATION OF GOODS
Consideration of the interim report of the select committee on highway transportation of goods.
Mr. Conway: Where is the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea)?
Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be the leadoff speaker in the debate regarding the interim report of the select committee on the highway transportation of goods. This is a committee which, as you know, was struck in May and was charged with the duty of examining the entire transportation industry.
This is an industry of which there has not been a major review in over 40 years. I think it was certainly timely that at this time we are asked to do this job. We were given a mandate to review all aspects of trucking in Ontario. The select committee, of course, is an all-party committee without any one party having a clear majority and, of course, I think members of the opposition would agree with that structure.
The committee members, I believe, had a keen awareness of the responsibility to assess objectively the state of the industry. Of course, the committee members co-operated in pursuing this task. It is my opinion, as the chairman of that committee, that the members of the select committee on highway transportation have been admirably committed to this task. I believe the unanimous agreement arrived at by the members reflects the lengths to which we went to avoid any kind of party differences, differences in philosophy.
Our object was to gather evidence from all segments of industry to protect the interests of the truckers and the shippers and the public at large. We received 250 written submissions and heard 200 delegations. We made ourselves available for hearings in 17 areas in Ontario. In addition to that, through an efficient use of the members’ time, we were able to send delegations to Washington, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Britain, Germany and Belgium. The trip to Europe was certainly a beneficial trip.
Mr. Conway: To be sure.
Mr. Gregory: There was an extensive report written. This was under the able chairmanship of the member for Nipissing (Mr. R. S. Smith) -- I am sorry he isn’t here today. Certainly the report is quite extensive and the benefit of that will appear when we submit our final report, hopefully at the end of February.
I might add that this has been accomplished not only on time and with the unanimous agreement of the members but within the budgetary limits. I think the committee members can take some pride in this. I would suggest that perhaps some other members in this House might take the co-operative working of this committee as an example.
An hon. member: Wait until the second report comes in.
Mr. Gregory: We have had some reaction from industry as a result of this interim report to this point. I had the pleasure of addressing the 50th meeting of the Ontario Trucking Association last month. There has been a very clear response by organized truckers to our efforts.
The industry itself is now mobilized in reaction to the Legislature’s sudden interest in trucking. They felt they had been ignored for far too long -- after all 40 years is a great deal of time without having had major policy statements and changes in regard to the trucking industry except for minor amendments.
What is very pleasing is that the Ontario Trucking Association is very willing to cooperate and accepts the fact that our recommendations will not meet all of its demands.
The members recognize that there are going to be things they won’t be entirely happy with. They also recognize that they will have to make some concessions as well in order to make this work.
We had general approval from the Ontario truckers in regard to our intent to license all the truckers in Ontario. There has been a very positive response to this and to the workings of the committee, if I might just read from a circular that was received, I believe, by all the members of the Legislature. This is from the new president, Mr. C. M. Hendry, Ontario Trucking Association, and in his centre paragraph he comments:
“The thoroughness and impartiality shown by members of the select committee on highway transportation of goods and that on safety as well have been most commendable. We feel confident that all members of the Legislature will be willing to at least give due consideration to matters that we shall communicate to you from time to time.” I regard that as an endorsement of the reports of the two committees.
One major reservation that the trucking association seems to have is that the government will not properly enforce regulations. Therefore, I believe it is incumbent on the government to secure the co-operation of this important economic sector and to gain its trust by introducing regulations which are reasonable to all interested parties and which can be backed up by forceful and effective enforcement procedures.
Just to touch for a moment on some of the recommendations, Mr. Speaker, we began our study based on the following criteria in regard to the recommendations that we made:
First of all, the recommendations ought to lead to swift government action, the recommendations must be enforceable, and thirdly, the recommendations must be reasonable.
I think it important that any recommendations that we make must be enforceable. The law books are full of laws that can’t be enforced. I think one of the problems, and a major problem in the trucking industry today, is that with the system we have of weigh scales it is just not possible to properly enforce the trucking industry. I believe the trucking industry itself is asking us to do this and find ways that it can be done.
One of the major problems, of course, with the industry is because it’s so massive and so difficult to govern, there being some 11,000, almost 12,000, persons involved in the industry and 45,000 trucks. The truckers are not uniform in their organization. There are several organizations. The Ontario Trucking Association, even though it’s the largest, is not the only one. There are others. There’s a great number of unlicensed carriers, independents, and they’re operating under a wide range of corporate guises.
Some of these functions are in a grey area of legal activity. Others are operating completely outside the law but can’t be detected or prosecuted. Even here we had to recognize the fact that they are providing a service, and to eliminate that service would create a hardship for shippers and for some consumers.
I would like to touch on some of our recommendations. The first one, and perhaps the main one, is an attempt to bring all truckers under regulatory guidelines and the organized trucking associations, the licensed trucking associations, tend to agree with this, even though they recognize that it does present some problem to the industry itself. We’re recommending that the principle of control at entry be reaffirmed. We must maintain control of entry into the industry.
We must have a principle of economic control established so that the ministry has some control over the service, financial feasibility and safety of the trucking industry.
We recommend stiff penalties for violations of the law. The committee was of the opinion that minor penalties would not be sufficient to do the job that we wanted to be done.
One recommendation is to spread the legal responsibility to shippers as well as carriers, because in many instances the committee found in its hearings that the responsibility for -- and, in fact, perhaps the cause of -- some of the unlicensed trucking was the shippers themselves.
We feel it important that the role of the Ontario Highway Transport Board be strengthened. There are many recommendations that we have made in this regard, some of them to do with licensing that is no longer being used or advertised or offered to the public. These licensed vehicles should no longer be available.
We discussed at great length the problems of energy consumption and this, of course, led us to take steps to reduce movement of empty trucks. We hope to address ourselves in our final report more extensively to this particular subject, because it was a matter that was brought to our attention by many delegations, the opinion that energy is being wasted.
We are making a strong recommendation to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to investigate reciprocity on both an interprovincial and international basis. We feel that we cannot ignore the fact that the consumer requires goods from other provinces and other countries as well as our own. We feel we have a major problem and I think the government should address itself to quality shipments of goods and to try and eliminate as much interference as possible between provinces and the United States.
We recommend that we clamp down on leasing companies and driver pools and they be put under certain restrictions and certain licensing procedures so that they can be better controlled.
Although our list of recommendations is not extensive, in our interim report we have raised enough issues to generate immediate legislative action in a number of areas. In our final report, which we have scheduled for completion by the end of February, 1977 -- and of course, if the committee is as efficient in the final report as it was in the interim report, we shall certainly hit that target -- it would be difficult to attempt to comment on any conclusions we might raise on the final report but we can indicate some of the things that we will be looking into.
First of all, a broader look at enforcement procedures, private carriage, driver pools, intermodal transportation, regional regulation of couriers -- we have already had hearings on this, of course -- and safety. It is the intention of our committee, and they have directed myself, as the chairman of the committee, to negotiate with the chairman of the highway safety committee, and of course, I’ve already made overtures to him on this, that we will want to co-operate on our final report and no doubt be will want to co-operate with us for his.
We certainly will be looking into the situation regarding bus licensing, and in view of the debate that went on in question period today, this is an area that certainly needs to be looked at.
Mr. Reid: We are going to look at it?
Mr. Gregory: We will be looking into busing. The member didn’t read the information he got.
Mr. Reid: Yes, I read it. I am just wondering when we are going to get time to do it.
Mr. Gregory: We’ll fit it in.
The committee felt that continuity was going to play a large part in this report and any final report we bring forward. The unanimous approval of the committee suggests that the report could be implemented by any party in the House. As we all know, dissolution of the Legislature would lead to dissolution of the committee. We are most anxious that if this happened the work of the committee, and in fact the implementation of the reports, be completed.
In the unlikely happening that at a dissolution of this Legislature a new government was formed, the recommendation of our committee would be that the work be carried on despite that fact. Since we have had unanimity among the three parties on the committee I would suspect that this could happen.
Mr. Reid: Probably with a new chairman.
Mr. Gregory: There probably would be a new chairman at that point; I wonder who it will be.
In conclusion, we feel that the problems in the trucking industry have been sitting dormant as far as the government is concerned, and I’m not being critical, I’m saying it just hasn’t been looked at for a long, long time. I think it’s important for me to finish my statement by saying that these recommendations, in the opinion of the committee, should be acted on with haste in order to derive some of the benefit that can be derived from these recommendations.
Certainly we have, in my opinion, the total support of the trucking industry and, of course, I feel that we will be acting with these recommendations in the best interest of the public and they are, after all, number one.
I urge the Legislature to consider this well, in hopes that the recommendations of the committee can be implemented as quickly as possible.
Mr. Philip: It’s a pleasure to be able to speak on the interim report of the select committee on highway transportation of goods, Mr. Speaker. I have no doubt that since the minister is now in the House he will be following our recommendations and be interested in the report of this committee.
A lot of the success of our committee, I think, can be attributed to the tireless work of an outstanding staff. We couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgeable committee counsel than Mr. Max Rapoport. His skill at asking questions and his knowledge of the field were tremendous assets to our committee. We are appreciative of the fact that the ministry and the committee were able to benefit from this man’s knowledge and abilities.
Likewise, the contribution of Mr. Brian Caldwell, our research director. The bags that we sometimes noted under his eyes were entirely related to the fact that he stayed up all night finding data that we had requested and putting together summaries of briefs and so forth. One couldn’t have asked for a harder working staff person.
A person’s true worth is often discovered by his or her absence, and on those occasions when our secretary, Gayle Roberts, was absent, her absence was certainly felt. I have no doubt that when she graduates from university we in the NDP will be able to find a position somewhere for her.
Hon. J. R. Smith: Don’t count on it.
Mr. Reid: If she graduates she will have too much intelligence to take it.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s very uncharitable, Pat.
Mr. Philip: David Callfas, the assistant clerk of the Legislative Assembly, took on the challenging responsibilities of scheduling and making all of our physical arrangements for the committee, and considering the heterogeneity of the members of the committee, that was no mean task. He certainly deserves our thanks.
Mr. Reid: That has nothing to do with sex, by the way.
Mr. Philip: The hon. member just realized I was talking about him.
The member for Mississauga East, our chairman, and the member for Nipissing, our vice-chairman, also deserve, I think, the appreciation of all members on the committee.
In the case of the member for Nipissing, I might add that those of us who were with him on our study sessions in Britain, Belgium and Germany could not help but feel that he conducted himself in a way that was a tribute to the province and that we certainly earned, by his actions, not only respect for the committee but also for the province of Ontario.
Last, but not least, a lot of credit for the excellent report must go to the many hours that the various individuals who made briefs to us used in preparing their briefs and in researching the briefs and presenting them to us. Of course without their kind of perspiration and inspiration we certainly wouldn’t have been able to present the kind of excellent consensus report that we in fact were able to present.
It’s well known that the members of our committee approached the problems from quite different perspectives. We in the NDP had always favoured the principle of proof of necessity and we felt that it was a safeguard not only of the trucking industry and its employees, but also the shippers and the consumer. Others of other political persuasions were less inclined in that direction.
However, the overwhelming view of the industry was that substantial de-regulation would eventually result in chaos and, therefore, a disservice to the community. The consensus of members of the committee was:
“We believe it is prudent to retain economic regulatory controls over the movement of goods on Ontario highways. To retain capability for that movement is an absolute necessity. To retain influence and control over the shape and nature of that movement is clearly in the public interest.”
The fact that this report represents a consensus of those who initially had had many different points of view is terribly important. It is an indication to the minister that all of us on this side of the House and on the government side of the House clearly want this report implemented as soon as possible.
The member for Mississauga East has called the attention of the minister to the position of the Ontario Trucking Association. In meeting with the delegates at their convention I am convinced that the delegates recognize that the kinds of solutions we are proposing in this interim report are workable solutions which need immediate attention.
It is important that the minister understand that the report must be implemented and we in the NDP will give him no peace until he has taken the kind of action necessary to implement the report. We saw how the Rapoport report on the dump truck industry led to heightened expectations among the truckers. We listened to the frustration in the voices of people like Mr. Angelo Natale, of the Ontario Haulers Association, as they told us how their expectations fell to frustration which eventually drifted into despair as the government did little on the report and it gathered dust. Let me assure the minister that the members of the trucking industry and the members of the committee have invested too much time and energy in this report to allow it to gather the kind of dust that the Rapoport report on the dump truck industry was allowed to gather.
It’s a consensus report We expect him to consider our recommendations seriously and to act on them.
While I have mentioned the Ontario Haulers Association everywhere we went we met people from the dump truck industry, either members of that association or other associations in the aggregate business, or simply dump truck operators of no particular association affiliation. The operators of these vehicles impressed on the committee time and again the need for implementation of the new Ontario R licence classification and the withdrawal of the regional designations together with -- everywhere we got the same thing -- a two-year or longer moratorium on the issuance of licences.
In a very short time the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) will be receiving our final report. I expect this report will contain some very concrete and specific recommendations on alleviating what can only be described as a crisis situation in the dump truck industry. The small entrepreneurs who are involved in this industry are in desperate straits and we in this party feel that urgent action will be needed to improve the situation in the aggregate industry. We expect that the minister will move much faster on the recommendations concerning the aggregate industry in our final report than his government managed to move on the Rapoport report.
Another area of concern to members of this committee is the recommendation considering the North Bay restriction. I had expected the hon. member for Nipissing would be here and that he would be addressing himself to that question in a very concrete and specific way. Those of us who are members of the committee are most anxious to hear his views on that. I expect he will be fairly specific in his views on it and that the minister and members of this House will be interested in what he has to say.
Testimony has been given concerning regulation versus de-regulation. The interesting impression is often being left in the media and with the committee that Great Britain somehow de-regulated and that very little of any consequence happened as the result of de-regulation.
Those of us who travelled to Great Britain and were able to study the trucking industry at a grass roots level, realized that whereas there may in fact have been de-regulation on paper, there really is no de-regulation of trucking in Britain. What has happened is that the real regulation is conducted by the trade union movement, which is an awful lot stronger than it is here. So to compare Britain’s de-regulation as having some kind of consequence to those of us in Ontario is like comparing alligators and oranges. It just doesn’t make any sense.
By the same token those who advocate the laissez-faire system of transportation in the trucking industry talk with horror about what has happened in Germany. While I would be the first to admit in Ontario the biases of regulation practised in Germany just wouldn’t work -- we just don’t have the kind of rail system that the Germans have -- I couldn’t help but be impressed by the vitality and the efficiency of the trucking industry in Germany.
Our committee has been very concerned about the issues of energy conservation. After extensive hearings and study the committee does not feel that entry control per se is a limiting factor to energy conservation. Our report indicates that need for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, in conjunction with the industry, to provide more significant data.
We in this party recognize and appreciate the efforts already undertaken by organizations such as the Ontario Trucking Association in developing methods of fuel conservation. We feel that proper encouragement of and co-operation between the government and bodies such as the Ontario Trucking Association and other bodies in the industry will produce substantial savings in energy. We also recognize that only a profitable trucking industry can in fact promote the kind of energy conservation we need in this province. De-regulation, I feel, would in fact be energy costly, rather than energy saving.
I was proud to be a member of this committee. I look forward to seeing this government implement its recommendations.
Mr. Reid: I too would like to underline and emphasize some of the remarks made by my colleague on the committee, particularly in regard to the hard-working staff we were blessed with on the committee. I’ve been on a number of select committees and other committees of the Legislature and it certainly makes a difference when you have knowledgeable people to work with in your deliberations and who are able to ask the questions and have the background information when required.
This has been an interesting exercise in the parliamentary system in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Moffatt: It’s minority government.
Mr. Reid: Bill 4, which was introduced, focused on transportation problems on the highways in the province of Ontario and, of course, was the reason for the select committee being set up. It’s an interesting philosophical approach and perhaps I might be allowed a little latitude in discussing it. There may be some objections to what I say, but that’s not an abnormality.
It’s interesting that the government, in introducing Bill 4, was responding to the large trucking concerns in the province of Ontario. We might call them large business. The NDP supported the bill, because the Teamsters Union --
Mr. Moffatt: That’s malarkey.
Mr. Reid: You can disagree.
Mr. Moffatt: You read the Hansard of the other day.
Mr. Reid: -- were supporting the bill for reasons of their own. The Liberal Party, trying to represent the small individual person in the province, opposed the passing of Bill 4 and I think we put some very excellent reasons why we should. Some reasons were philosophical and others were put because we felt this committee was necessary to look into the whole matter of truck transportation in the province of Ontario.
While initially I think the OTA, for instance, and others, were somewhat upset about the fact that Bill 4 did not get passed at that time, I think they and others will agree that the deliberations of the committee and the recommendations we have made, which hopefully will be translated into legislation, are to the benefit of the people of the province as a whole.
I want to say a couple of other things about the select committee process itself, and I will be very brief. As members of the committee, or the committee as a whole hearing testimony, for want of a better word -- which was not under oath, I might point out -- we were given certain facts, figures and conclusions from people who appeared before us as to the vitality or the rules and regulations of the trucking business in other parts of the world, particularly Britain and the Common Market area. We were told they had had such a system in regard to de-regulation, as my friend has just commented earlier. Quite frankly, I found that 90 per cent of some of that information was wholly false.
While we as a committee could not always compare the British system or the German system or the Common Market system and relate it directly to Canada, the part that struck me was that the information we had been given, supposedly by expert witnesses, was not correct or was misleading. I am not saying, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I am sure you are sensitive on the point, that they deliberately misled the committee; but it was interesting to have the committee or some members of the committee go and see for themselves. While I am not trying to defend committee travel, I think it’s particularly important that members of a committee become aware, through their own first-hand knowledge, of just what’s going on and not rely on government experts or industry experts or other experts outside of government for all their information, because they have their own biases and distortions from the positions in which they sit in regard to the information they are providing.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, mainly because it’s you in the chair, I want to relate a little incident that happened, actually, when the committee was in Brussels.
Hon. Mr. Snow: That should be interesting,
Hon. Mr. Bernier: How long were you there?
Mr. Reid: Not that one, but you would be interested in this one too. One of the staff members and I had made our usual night visit to the church for contemplation and meditation. Afterwards, about 11 o’clock, we were sitting in the square in Brussels just having a coffee and feeding the birds.
An. hon. member: Feeding the pigeons.
Mr. Reid: The Minister of Natural Resources will be particularly interested in this. As we were sitting there contemplating nature and other things, standing beside me looking into a store window was a young lady who was wearing a T-shirt with Wabigoon, Ontario, on it. Wabigoon is in my riding and formerly was in the riding of the Minister of Natural Resources.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Our people get around.
Mr. Reid: They sure do. In any case, there she was with a cousin and they had been travelling around Europe. She said, having seen some of the things in Europe and in Asia, that she would come back to Canada and the province of Ontario and appreciate much better how well off we were in this province.
Hon. J. R. Smith: Especially the government.
Mr. Reid: Except she said it would be much better with a Liberal government. I remember her distinctly saying that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Did she know who her member was?
Mr. Reid: Yes, she did. She kept calling me Leo for some reason, but other than that it was all right.
Mr. Drea: I wonder why.
Mr. Reid: The interim report deals primarily, as I see it, with three items. The recommendations fall generally into dealing with leasing, dormant licences and reciprocity.
I must admit to you, and to the chairman, that I find our recommendations on leasing not quite as specific and as clarified as they might be. We dealt with this problem, we spent a lot of time on this particular problem. As I pointed out, this was probably what led to the formation of the committee in the first place.
I am sure the minister and his officials have had time to go over the suggestion of the committee or the recommendation of the committee that we grandfather these people who have been doing trip leasing to make them a part of the regulated trucking industry.
The report does not make a recommendation as to exactly how the minister is going to do that, whether he is going to create another class of licence or so on; hopefully we will deal with that in our final report. But I think this is something -- and this is a problem with government always; what bothers people more than anything else is the insecurity of not knowing where they stand -- that has to be dealt with in a fairly quick fashion so that those people who are out there in that grey area know just what guidelines they are going to have to follow, if any -- whatever decision the minister makes -- and that the regulated trucking industry, as represented by the OTA and others, also know where they are going to stand and whether or not they should be applying for some kind of licences in regard to this kind of leasing. That’s one thing.
The dormant licences also bother me, because I don’t think we have been accurate enough in pinpointing exactly what we mean by a dormant licence. The PCV licence requires public necessity and convenience. If that licence is not being used, for whatever reason -- because there has been a merger, an overrun or whatever -- then it seems to me the raison d’être for that licence in the first place is therefore not valid. If there is no request for public need and convenience for that licence, then perhaps these dormant licences should revert automatically to the OHTB after a certain period of time. I realize that is an oversimplification and that, as we found out in everything we got into --
Hon. Mr. Snow: Are you saying Gray Coach is a dormant licence?
Mr. Reid: It is going to be dormant. I’ll make the minister a wager that within a year, or two years at the most, Gray Coach will not be operating on those runs because they --
Hon. Mr. Snow: They have got a lot of dormant ones now.
Mr. Reid: Then they should be forced to give them up if they are not --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I don’t think that is part of the select committee report.
Mr. Reid: We are going to get into that anyway. In any case, I would urge that these dormant licences be looked at very carefully. I am sure we will be reviewing these matters in our final report.
The other one the minister is able to implement immediately, if not sooner, is our recommendations on reciprocity. I would say the urgency is probably with the province of Quebec, let alone our neighbours to the south. But the interim recommendation is that the ministry set up a division within the ministry to deal completely with reciprocity with our sister provinces and with these various states in the United States.
This is a matter that almost everyone complained to us about. It is something on which, for some reason -- and I can appreciate some of the reasons -- the ministry has been dragging its feet over the years, and little, if any, success seems to have come forth in regard to this. Admittedly it is a fantastically complex business, but it seems to me the minister must have someone within his ministry devoting full time to dealing with this particular matter. You might be dealing with the international registration plan and other things. I might add, when I say that, that it seems to me in a ministry of this size that the minister can find staff who can deal with this without hiring more people. But that is an aside.
If I could urge the minister to take any immediate action on the report, this is the one area in particular where it is needed. As we know, this involves long and complicated negotiations between the provinces and between the various states. It is not going to be solved overnight, but we are already years behind and the sooner we get at it the better.
I want to touch on two things briefly. One is that in all of the hearings, and during our travelling around the province, I always felt one item was missing. Very few people addressed themselves to the question: Is the consumer getting a good deal from the highway transportation of goods in this province? Is the ultimate consumer being ripped off for transportation costs? Is he getting a fair break, or maybe he’s being over-subsidized? We could never come to grips with that particular problem, nor, in all the submissions and briefs we heard, did we ever hear anyone -- I think maybe there was one, but if there was it was a very minor submission to the select committee -- saying on behalf of the consumer, “Look, we are not getting a fair deal on this.”
We tried at some points to actually arrive at the rate setting of the trucking industry, and we discussed rate bureaus and we had submissions on that end of it. But we found it impossible to relate the cost of that component called transportation to the final cost of the goods in a store or delivered.
I want to say a word about rate bureaus, because in my humble and non-legalistic opinion this is one area where something has to be cleared up. The trucking industry, generally, is for regulation of people getting in and out of the industry. It seems to me that they should also be for some kind of regulation of rates. It appears to me that they could be charged under the anti-combines act, and in fact we’ve heard rumours that perhaps they’re looking at this. Many of the shippers made no attempt at concealing the fact that they got together, set the rates, sent them to the tariff bureau; the tariff bureau duly listed them, put them in the right columns, the right figures; they were duly sent to the OHTB, which gave 30 days’ notice and then routinely had them in the Ontario Gazette and they became, in fact, the rates that were then charged.
In the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ own study on truck transportation in the province of Ontario, phase 3, an analysis of the basic rate structure, they deal in that particular text with the LTL rates particularly. While I won’t go through all of them, it’s obvious that, particularly in LTL rates -- less-than-truckload rates -- Ontario people are paying a much higher cost than they are in almost all other jurisdictions. There are all kinds of reasons for this. There is some indication that truckload lots, particularly for commodities, perhaps are lower than they are in other provinces, that the LTL rates are cross-subsidizing the TL rates and so on; but we don’t really have any hard information that we can hang our hat on.
It does seem to me that, ultimately, if the truckers want a regulated trucking system as to who gets in and who gets out, then they are also going to have to accept at some stage of the game justifying their rates before a tribunal or before the OHTB. I don’t say that idly, Mr. Speaker, because I realize the experience in other jurisdictions, the kind of fantastic bureaucratic problems that can arise; but it seems to me there has to be some kind of mechanism set up to ensure that the people of the province of Ontario are not paying unduly for the transportation system that they have in the province of Ontario.
The second thing I want to talk about is the role of the Ontario Highway Transport Board itself. In the hearings, the committee went to the board and we saw how they functioned, we heard submissions from various people on the way the board operated and so on. I was always under the impression, until just recently, that the OHTB, while it was an independent manifestation of the government, and autonomous from the government, that the province of Ontario, through the cabinet and through the Minister of Transportation and Communications, was setting policy for transportation in the province of Ontario. That had always been my understanding, and that within the broad guidelines as handed down by the minister, the OHTB carried out its functions.
While this is not in the report it still is a concern of mine and I hope the minister can clarify it. I refer to the recent Gray Coach business, which to my mind is a policy departure from what occurred at the board formerly. In question period today in the House and previously the minister has not clarified, to my satisfaction at least, how the OHTB fits into the scheme of things. I thought I was clear in --
Mr. Philip: He has come down squarely on both sides.
Mr. Reid: -- my own mind on how the OHTB --
Mr. Moffatt: That is a terrible one.
Mr. Reid: -- operated within the general guidelines of transportation policy in the province. The minister contends that the decision in regard to Gray Coach and Greyhound was not a departure from previous policy.
If it is a simple matter of interpretation between us that’s one thing, but I say that was a fundamental change in policy and it was made by the Ontario Highway Transport Board not, as I understand it, at any suggestion or recommendation or policy statement by the minister. I hope he can clear that up. I don’t think it’s a function of the Ontario Highway Transport Board to make policy for transportation on highways in the province of Ontario.
Having said all that, I look forward to the final report of the committee. I think, quite frankly, that the matter is so complex, so mobile -- if I may use that without intending a pun -- that even the select committee, which had some of the best members of the Legislature on it --
Hon. Mr. Snow: Don’t mislead the House now.
Mr. Reid: -- has found that it has only scratched the surface.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: You might have said fluid.
Mr. Reid: Well, that too. It has only scratched the surface of the complexity of truck transportation in the province of Ontario. With that degree of humbleness, I think we do urge in any case that the minister act quickly on some of these recommendations.
Mr. Drea: The interim report of the select committee, in my point of view, demonstrates two things in conjunction with the highway transportation of goods in this province.
One is that for the first time there will be a policy on the movement of goods. I think in one of his appearances before us the minister pointed out that one of the difficulties in the present administration of the Acts has been that those Acts and the amendments to them have come over the years in response to particular situations, to particular problems and, latterly, in the light of changing technology in the transportation field.
As a matter of fact, from the very beginning of provincial licensing of highway movements, whether of people or goods, the only reason the province appeared on the scene is that the federal government showed absolutely no interest. It became a problem on the highways not only in terms of safety but also in terms of competition.
An aspect of that is that the North Bay restriction, which this committee is suggesting be removed, at least as a permanent thing, was put forward in the 1930s, in the Depression era, for the plain and simple purpose of bolstering the revenues of the Ontario Northland Railway. In the 1960s, because the Ontario Northland Railway ventured into the direct trucking field through the purchase of an existing licence, that policy somehow became not to enhance the railway revenues of the Ontario Northland, but to leave the trucking arm of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission in a very competitive, and quite frankly a very protected, environment. That, I suggest, is only one aspect of how a general overall lack of policy has in many ways contributed to some of the intense economic difficulties that have faced the trucking firms, particularly the highway trucking firms, in this province in the last five or six years.
Secondly, this report seems to me to be not just a vindication of the minister on Bill 4, but as a matter of fact establishes the minister in his policy of meeting the particular problem of the pseudo lease and the trip leases that were being used to flout the existing and traditional highway route licensing procedures of this province. As a matter of fact, I think it establishes the minister and his ministry in the forefront of being able to cope with a particular problem -- which, by the time he inherited it, was of such magnitude that at a very conservative estimate if the licensing procedures put forward in this report are carried out by the Ontario Highway Transport Board, we are looking at somewhere in the vicinity of 752 new over-the-road licences. That is just an indication of how many operators there were. And bear in mind that we have put forward very substantial and significant criteria. We are talking about a prolonged period of operation under these dubious leases -- a steady trade of business either with one shipper or to a specific number of customers at the other end.
In fact, if you really want to break it down, what we are saying is that you were really not only successful but extremely stable in business, notwithstanding the fact you were circumventing the law -- in conjunction, incidentally, with shippers and customers. I think the fact that we’re talking about over 700 new major licences in this province if these are adopted is an indication of the problem that faced the minister when he brought in Bill 4. While now, with hindsight, it’s very easy to say that Bill 4 was somewhat primitive because it did not take in the scope that is envisaged by the committee report, nonetheless, further hindsight, I think, will show that Bill 4 was a most significant document in the transportation history of this province.
The truth of the matter is that were it not for Bill 4 there would have never have been a select committee. Were it not for the select committee it probably would have been quite some time down the road before an attempt to begin an overall review of transportation policies would have commenced in this province; and by that I do not mean a back-handed attempt to look at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications or its transportation section, or at the Ontario Highway Transportation Board.
The simple truth of the matter is transportation has become such a priority item in this province -- and not necessarily the highway movement of goods or of people, which is now in the media, but indeed it has become probably the most essential criterion upon which this province is going to meet the very many economic and social challenges of the last quarter of this century. It’s no accident that we included energy in this report, because changes in energy in three or four years have made massive inroads upon traditional transportation concepts and are going to make even more. I suggest that Bill 4 has provided an impetus for a new insight into transportation in this province.
One of the difficulties in attempting to come to grips with a transportation policy is the fact that once again as a province we are being faced with the insatiable lust of the federal government to intrude once again into an area where not just this province but all 10 provinces have assumed their duties and have worked out a transportation system that is at least equal to, if not better than, any other in the world, bearing in mind the geographic differences, the climate and a number of other factors. I cannot understand why a federal government that 40 years ago or even 50 years ago, even as late as 10 years ago, had no interest in trucking whatsoever, now has this inordinate desire to get into the field.
Hon. B. Stephenson: So do the rest of us have inordinate desires.
Mr. Drea: Especially, and this may be the most significant thing, since from its inception in this country the federal government has controlled air traffic, whether people or goods. It has ruined the airline industry in this country. Probably because of the American experience, it inherited the inter-provincial railroads, in fact all the railroads. I think I will get a response on this when I say government policy, not only toward the two major railways of this country but toward the provincial branch lines, has proven such a disaster that quite frankly, in the foreseeable future railways will no longer be a first-class mode of transportation.
In the movement of people, railways have already been virtually phased out. In the movement of perishables, railways are now such an insignificant contributor to the transportation picture that for practical purposes they might just as well be phased out. They are having the greatest of difficulty in handling specialized goods or specialized commodities or hazardous commodities. In fact, all of the new modes of carrying goods or of being able to move goods to a place where they can be instantly used are in the field of trucking. Once again, this puts tremendous pressure upon a province to be able to regulate and to attempt to set long-term policies for highway transport, when there is an ever-looming threat of the federal civil service wanting to tinker and to make their average in terms of transportation in this country absolutely perfect. They already have two dismal failures to their record. They merely want to add a third.
I suggest that this report should demonstrate to the federal government there really is no place for the federal government in the intraprovincial trucking sphere. I don’t think anybody disagrees that the federal government does have a responsibility, albeit a relatively minor one because of the co-operation of the provinces, in the interprovincial field. The thrust of this report is regulation. I would hope in the foreseeable future there will not again be a ringing debate over the merits of de-regulation.
Mr. Reid: It will never end.
Mr. Drea: I would certainly hope, on the basis of the findings of this report, of the evaluation, of the experiments with de-regulation, and quite frankly, the government’s own experiment with de-regulation which ruined the dump truck industry, that at least that particular aspect of transportation problems has been solved.
The fundamental difficulty for the committee -- and it is a very difficult one for people who, by occupation, not only make laws but are called upon to enforce them and to respect them -- was to come to grips with a situation where we had this extraordinarily large number of stable, successful and absolutely law-defiant companies on the roads.
When we are confronted with evidence that there have been companies operating for eight, nine or 10 years as the sole shipper for rather large firms in this province, and that there has been a conspiracy by the shipper, that there are literally brokering agencies which can find an illicit operator not only a load but a lawyer who will draw him up a phoney trip lease and that that is done every day of the week, it becomes very difficult for a committee to have to wrestle with the realities of the situation. The truth of the matter is that when defiance and breaking of the law reaches that extent it is impossible to turn back the clock and to bring about enforcement that would have given these people the penalty they probably deserved.
I don’t think any member of the committee likes to be in a position of licensing the bootlegger or absolving the law-breaker. None the less, in the field of transportation there is the overriding public interest. Transportation is not only a public necessity; it must serve the public interest. Quite frankly, if the system was too inflexible or too cumbersome or too unwieldy and people could start up in defiance of the law and it did serve the public interest, then it is incumbent that the law be changed.
What the committee is recommending is very simple. That in 1977 -- we wanted 1976, but early 1977 will suffice -- we establish firmly the beginnings of an overall transportation policy in this province by bringing in under the regulation of government the disparate segments of the highway transport industry.
I am pleased to say -- because I could understand why they would vehemently oppose this -- that the Ontario Trucking Association has given grudging approval to this proposal. I think that demonstrates the responsibility and the maturity of the industry, because it would have been very easy to say, “Why should you license the law-breakers at our expense when we obeyed the law all along?”
The two major labour organizations in this field, the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Transport and General Workers and the Teamsters Union, have contributed their thoughts to this report. I think it is a demonstration of their maturity and their responsibility that they see this as a beginning for a more stable, a more successful, and a better transportation industry that indeed will fulfil its potential in the public interest. I think it would have been very easy for them to oppose this, because with the number of new licences coming on the road there may very well be some dislocation of employees. But I think in the overall picture and in the relatively near future it will not only make for a better industry for the consumer but a better industry for the employee, as well as for the companies involved.
The key to the success of this report is not only relatively quick adoption by the government; quite frankly many, in fact almost all, of the recommendations do not require legislation.
I was rather surprised to hear the member for Rainy River (Mr. Reid) say he didn’t understand the exact procedure or how the procedure would work to bring in the companies that have operated under pseudo-leases. It is a relatively simple one. Public need and necessity is recognized by the Highway Transport Board, but the report says that where there has been a stable and a successful transportation relationship between a shipper and a trucking company or a number of consumers and that trucking company, there is the criterion for public need and acceptance.
Mr. Reid: What kind of licence are you going to give them?
Mr. Drea: Most of them will apply for Cs, they don’t want As. I would imagine there would be a few Ds. There will be one R, which I think will be fascinating. Everybody has always denied there was a pseudo trip leaser in the tank truck field but there is one of some substance.
I don’t think that in itself will be the major problem; and after all we have suggested that they are not getting off with absolution, they are still going to have to do a year of penance and if they don’t do the year of penance with what according to the Highway Transport Board is considered to be satisfactory behaviour, they are out for all time.
But the real key to it is enforcement. Personally I think the methods of enforcement today, relying upon the weigh scales and the mobile cruisers -- I think these are passé. They are passé because of cost, because of the sophistication and the great diversity of shipping routes and also the citizens’ band radio has made the weigh scale almost obsolete except --
Mr. Reid: The portable ones.
Mr. Drea: Well, the cruiser with the portable ones; it takes two men and there is the cost of it. The CB radio makes it possible to avoid them as well. The weigh scale has become as much of a joke as the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit on Interstate 75 in the United States.
If the weigh scales and the cruisers with the portable equipment were really to be in the enforcement field they would have to be open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The cost of erecting a sufficient number of weigh-scale locations where trucks could be impounded, the cost of providing two men to a car for the portable weigh scales to be used on that extensive an operation would, I think, be extremely costly to the taxpayers of this province. And I also suggest it would not really come to grips with enforcement.
One of the departures in this report is the suggestion that it is not just the trucker who circumvents the law; that indeed when a law is circumvented it is usually a conspiracy, because the shipper sits down with the unlicensed carrier and they conspire together to defeat the laws of this province -- and always for only one reason; one is going to make money, the other is going to save money. We have suggested in this report that a shipper who knowingly enters into one of these agreements in the future faces not only an extremely heavy fine but also may learn to give the transportation policy course at Millhaven Penitentiary. I suggest that is a far better way of enforcement.
We don’t enforce tax collection with people overseeing the cash register. We don’t enforce the very many taxes there are in the licensed alcohol industry with people standing by on every transaction or monitor. We do it through a sophisticated audit. We do it through spot checks and, quite frankly, to me that is a far more substantial threat and deterrent for a potential law-breaker than all the weigh scales or the portable weigh scales, or the activities of the Ontario Provincial Police in carrying out the applicable provisions of The Highway Traffic Act.
If a man is a traffic manager or the proprietor of a company and he doesn’t know when the audit is coming or doesn’t know when the check is coming but he knows he may go to Millhaven for saving some money, I suggest he will rapidly depart from trying to play fun and games with the government, aided and abetted, of course, by his friendly solicitor who just happens to have a two-way trip lease in his back pocket. Enforcement, if we are to have a regulated truck industry, is essential. The committee has agreed that a regulated truck industry is essential not only to the present economy of this province but to the future improvement and the future development of this province.
Secondly, and the member for Rainy River as well as other speakers touched upon this, there is the issue of reciprocity. Reciprocity is going to be a lifetime occupation in the transportation field of this province because in no way, shape or form is it ever a simple independent decision.
Reciprocity has to be weighed on the basis of its impact upon Ontario carriers in the short run. It has to be weighed in terms of revenue in the short run and in the long run. It has to be weighed in terms of this country’s export policies. It has to be weighed in terms of this country’s export policies. It has to be weighed very substantially in terms of the orderly shipment of goods in this province.
It has to be viewed in terms of the capital which may or may not be divested. It has to be constantly weighed, whether the reciprocity agreements are with individual states, the western provinces or the province of Quebec and the Maritimes, because governments change, attitudes change.
In this year we have been slapped twice in the face by once relatively reciprocal partners. The state of Michigan, rightly or wrongly, took arbitrary action. The province of Quebec has yet to accept its responsibilities in terms of the Ottawa dump-truck drivers. I would certainly hope that Mr. Levesque, and I take him at his word, wants friendly and honourable relations with the other provinces. I hope Mr. Levesque will do what Mr. Bourassa not only wouldn’t do but dropped his own curtain of double talk around -- that is look at the particular problem of a one-sided arrangement on the Ottawa River.
We have asked the ministry to set up an office or a division to look at reciprocity. I don’t think I could be any more eloquent than the member for Rainy River; I think he has stated the case for it. I think if only that came out of this report, that alone would justify the work which has been done.
Finally, I would like to echo the very many comments about the dump-truck situation made here today by the member for Etobicoke. It is a particularly vexing situation. It is one that only regulation can help and it may have to be very stringent and very harsh and, perhaps for a short period of time, almost draconian regulation. In this province we have lived, in my adulthood anyway, with chaos after turmoil after chaos after turmoil in the dump-truck industry, and each and every time a Band-Aid or a very small solution has been attempted. I beg your pardon; once we took the big step -- that was de-regulation -- but we found out it was 100 per cent wrong and we brought it back into a form of regulation.
The aggregate hauling industry is an essential one which many people look to as their only opportunity or their first opportunity to get into business in this country, but it is one in which the people, despite their pleas to government for at least two decades, have never received the attention that their problems merited. Therefore, in the ensuing weeks and months I hope this committee will be able to sit down and draw up a definitive policy for the dump-truck industry, whether it be in northern Ontario, where road work is virtually the only avenue of revenue for them, or whether it be in southern Ontario, where it does the complete gamut from gravel and sand hauling and snow ploughing on up to snow removal.
It is a very difficult field. It is one that I am sure will challenge the ingenuity and talents of the members on this committee. But I think 1977, and as early as possible in 1977, is the appropriate time to deal finally with that segment of the industry. It is rather unique in that it is the only one where safety checks are required. Not even for your passenger car is a safety check ever required. As a matter of fact, you can send a very substantial cargo of very inflammable gasoline or chemicals down the road without going through about one-tenth or one-fifth of the safety checks that we inflict upon the vehicles in the dump-truck industry. I am not questioning that those safety checks may be necessary, but I find it extremely significant that one of their complaints in this industry is they don’t mind the safety checks but if it is good enough for them, why isn’t it done in the tank-truck industry and why isn’t it done in the over-the-road industry with the same degree of government enforcement as faces them.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not pay tribute to Mr. Max Rapoport, our general counsel for the interim report and who will serve for the final report. I think the work and the counselling of members that he accomplished this fall certainly emphasizes that he is indeed the country’s foremost transportation lawyer. Indeed, he is probably one of the two or three foremost transportation authorities in this country -- and that goes far beyond the legal sphere.
Secondly, we were extremely fortunate in this committee -- and we are going to be fortunate again -- because we were able to borrow from the civil service. I think we sometimes sneer a little too much at the civil service, but in this case we were able to draw upon the resources of the civil service in this province and we had Mr. Brian Caldwell from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications as our research director. I would say categorically at this time that were it not for the research work of Mr. Caldwell, and the overall general counselling of Mr. Rapoport, this report would be the traditional kind of interim report that is tabled in this Legislature.
We have met for many months and we will give you detailed reports a year or two from now. I think that such a complex subject was able to be broken down into its components with such relative speed and the number of hearings -- whereby, incidentally, no one in this province has said that they didn’t have the opportunity to have input -- is a great tribute to these two men.
I would hope that when this report is really analysed, prior to the introduction of policy changes, administrative practices, or the very small sections that do require legislation, those who are considering it consider it in the light that it must be a package. The recommendations cannot be implemented on a hit or miss or sporadic basis, because if they are then I suggest we are following the traditional fallacies that have plagued attempts at really coming to grips with the problems of this industry.
You cannot isolate the North Bay restriction from the fact that there are going to be new C and D licences on the road. You cannot isolate an overall transportation policy from the issue of reciprocity. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, it was intended to be adopted as a package. I would hope that it is viewed as a practical, reasonable package of proposals that will be a beginning for a transportation policy that will enhance the economic and the social development of this province.
Mr. Conway: Frank Drea for the cabinet. He should get a cabinet post.
Mr. Moffatt: I gather it is traditional with select committee interim reports that they be rather mundane and not very substantive documents. I think this particular document is substantive and I think it goes some distance toward answering a number of problems which appeared to us to have been existent in the transportation of goods in this province for a number of years. Those problems didn’t arise because of great government policy, with all respect. I suggest that there has been a glaring lack of government policy in the transportation of goods field which has led to the chairman of the Highway Transport Board and his able officials not understanding exactly where they should go with regard to enforcement; with regard to the controlling of entry and so on. It has led to confusion in the industry.
Hon. Mr. Snow: They don’t have powers of enforcement.
Mr. Moffatt: Obviously, as the minister has interjected, the Highway Transport Board does not have powers of enforcement. Somebody has to do the enforcement; that is one of the problems.
What I am suggesting to the minister -- and I appreciate the fact that the minister has stayed here all afternoon to listen to our comments with regard to this report -- what I am suggesting is that there has been an absence of policy. If there has been a policy it has not been clearly stated. There have not been clear objectives by which the Highway Transport Beard or any of the other agencies could measure their effectiveness.
If we have regulation of the industry what is the purpose of that regulation? If we listen to the representatives of the regulated industry they will tell you that the industry regulation has one purpose. If we listen to the people employed by those same firms we find out that regulation has another purpose. If we listen to the people who are not in the licensed industry we find that regulation has another purpose entirely and that, in their words, was to keep them out of the business.
I think it is very clear, as the member for Scarborough Centre has outlined, that this report lists the recommendations in a summary form, in a complete form, and that it is not our intention that little bits and pieces be lifted out of this report and be put in as a kind of Band-Aid or patchwork bit of legislation that will clear up the situation. There is a problem existent in what is probably the most important industry in this province and that is the transportation of goods.
The problem is not going to go away. It is in a state of hiatus now because the people, some of whom are in the galleries today, are here to see that this select committee report will come into being. If there are not substantial moves made by the ministry to implement the policies recommended, the problem will re-emerge and they will not be satisfied with the appearance of a sop by forming a new select committee or introducing a little bit of legislation to get the thing corrected.
I refer to the Rapoport report which said, in 47 recommendations, that the dump truck industry was in some difficulty and that 47 things should be done in order to correct it.
To date, I think we’ve had three little items from that particular report and that was to clear up a problem which has been in existence for some time. If the same attitude continues with regard to this report, nothing will happen except that the people who are concerned with this industry will be in a much worse state a year from now than they are right now.
I think a policy on the transportation of goods in this province has to take into consideration the reliability and safety of the transportation of those goods and the safety of people using our highways. It also has to take into consideration the economics of the situation. It cannot be only cheap; it must be reliable as well. It cannot be only reliable; it must be safe and it must look after the individuals who are concerned and who are employed in those industries.
The highways are not owned by the trucking companies nor by the people who drive those trucks. They are built and paid for by the people of this province who expect the delivery of goods will be facilitated by a reliable industry using those highways. It is a dynamic industry and, in that case, it needs to have flexibility in the ministry so that problems can be responded to at the time the problems arise not pushed into a corner or ignored. I suspect that’s what’s happened.
To my way of thinking, and I think the people in this party are united on this, it is not an industry which needs to have needless and mindless competition in order to make it effective. It needs to have the continuance of government regulations in order to ensure that the public will be served, which is the first commitment we would make to the public.
The hon. member for Rainy River alluded to the group in this party caving in under pressure from the Teamsters with regard to Bill 4.
I want to tell members right now that at the time Bill 4 came before this House, we had not had any contact with people attempting to get us to cave in under the Teamsters or anyone else; the whole allusion by the member was an illusion, in fact.
I think it’s important to note in this report that one of the problems which has constantly plagued the trucking industry is that leasing vehicles is a kind of fluid arrangement which changes from week to week or month to month or year to year. I would hope that one of the things we’ll be able to come up with is some form of standardized leasing contract which will be able, over the long run, to clarify this whole business.
Visiting Washington we were given information by the interstate commerce commission and various other agencies which indicated that in the United States they are going to a fairly standard form of leasing arrangement for cab cars and so on. I think that may well make enforcement, which would flow from a final report and this report, much more effective.
The member for Scarborough Centre has come out with his normal policy of draconian enforcement to clear up the situation. It may well be that enforcement in this particular instance will be effectively dealt with by some of the methods we’ve suggested in the report. I gather that making the shipper liable for the activities of the trucker he employs is one method which is novel and, I think, it may well work in this instance.
One of the things we had happen to us in dealing with other areas was that people from other states had written letters to the minister and had not had answers to some of their problems. In the middle of this past summer the state of Michigan imposed a penalty against trucking firms from Ontario moving into Michigan. It seemed to us, from the submissions made to the select committee, that what had happened was they had written, called, visited Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications and elicited no real response.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Never heard from them.
Mr. Moffatt: They took that kind of action in order to draw a serious problem to the minister’s attention. I suspect, if that’s what’s happening, there’s something a little remiss in what is going on in the Ontario government when reacting to questions, comments and briefs from other jurisdictions. If what they related to us is true, I suspect that something needs to be cleared up somewhere in the ministry.
Mr. Shoniker, the chairman of the Highway Transport Board, in his appearances before us detailed a number of cases where he had acted in the interest of the Highway Transport Board on his own volition. For instance, he told us he issued telegrams of authority where in fact there was no place in the legislation that could be done. Mr. Shoniker was to be commended for that initiative, but at the same time I suspect there were times when he wondered if he was going to have his job the next day after having issued a telegram of authority. It seems to us that kind of thing should he corrected.
I am not going to go on much longer.
Mr. Conway: Hear, hear.
Mr. Moffatt: I realize there are other people who wish to speak and the member for Renfrew North may wish to interject on his own behalf and take up his own time.
I wanted to say, though, that the constitutional issue which was raised by the member for Scarborough Centre is one that I think needs to be looked at very carefully. It seems to me and others among my colleagues that this whole question of constitutional matters in transportation has not really been an area where Ontario has shown much leadership.
We always like to come on as though it’s always the federal government that has been at fault, that the federal government is messing around with something and is invading the rights of the government of Ontario. I submit the government of Ontario has left that field completely to the federal government and it is only when the federal government appears to be moving in that good old Ontario starts once more to look after its borders. The whole question of inter-provincial movement of goods and so on is of great consequence and great importance. It is too important to be left to somebody else to look after.
I would urge the minister to make sure that any moves by Ottawa be constantly scrutinized by his ministry and that Ontario show some kind of leadership in establishing reciprocity within Ontario, and between Ontario and other provinces and other countries. There are many states in the United States, which are members of the international registration plan. It may well be, if the committee that is suggested in our report is set up, that Ontario also will join that plan. From what we have seen of the committee that would make some sense.
I want to congratulate the chairman and the vice-chairman of the committee. They did an extremely good job. Despite their party affiliation, they proved to be very competent people.
Mr. Cunningham: I would like to make some brief comments on the interim report which we have tabled more recently here in the Legislature. I am sure members will appreciate the environment of regulated trucking as it currently exists in the province of Ontario. Since 1928 with the inception of The PCV Act, and four years later the Duff report, the province of Ontario, as it relates to truck transportation on our highways, operated within the environment of a regulated type of system. I suppose it was within that context that last spring we were required to vote on Bill 4. It is not my intention today to justify what my party did or to castigate members of opposing parties for their actions on that particular bill.
Mr. Conway: Statesmanship.
Mr. Cunningham: I don’t think at that time either I would impute motives, as was done at that time, and certainly as transpired in the time gone by, as to why or why not various parties voted in various ways and what particular groups got to them. I think it would be unfair to put those kind of motives into the political context at this time. I would only say I think there has been a predisposition of thought, sincerely I am sure, within the ministry as to how to cope with the very contentious problem of regulation and more specifically the problem of illegal leasing.
We heard here not too long ago I suppose some discussion as it relates to illegal leasing I would agree there is a number of activities in the province where the operation in itself could be termed illegal. I am sure if it were tested in the courts it would in fact be illegal. There were at the same time, I think, many operations which operated in a quasi-legal fashion, recognizing most of the rules and regulations of this province, but without benefit of a licence by way of The FCV Act through a hearing at the Highway Transport Board. The reasons for that operation are many, and it’s not for me to justify them or to condemn them in any way. We can only say that they are a fact of life and that there is a great deal of business that operates in that fashion within the province of Ontario on behalf of many consumers and many businesses.
I looked back on Bill 4 and its context, and I looked at my remarks on April 6. I can only say that I didn’t have any regrets in voting against that bill. I didn’t think it would accomplish what was required at this time, largely because I thought it was inherently unfair. It would require one-way leasing, which I thought to be uneconomical as it relates to the consumption of energy and fuel. It would also be blatantly unfair and, I thought, very difficult to enforce. In fact, if enforcement were so easy, I think effective enforcement would have been brought in some time ago and this issue that is before us would have been cleared up a long time ago.
In participating in this committee, I must say I was quite pleased by the way the members of all parties worked together. The first day we met, I thought the members of the government party would try to legitimize their position on Bill 4, which I thought was blatantly wrong, and I thought the members of the NDP probably would react accordingly as well. Naturally, I must say sincerely, I had a previous supposition as to Bill 4 and the way we should go. I must say I did have some feelings that related to the concept of de-regulation, and I’m sure that some members of other parties had some feelings about excessive regulations. In the time that transpired and the briefs that we heard, I think we all came to the realization that the only fair and equitable solution is a compromise -- some position somewhere in the middle. I think that, recognizing that, we have tabled a report which I think deserves a great deal of consideration by the ministry and by the minister himself.
I would refer you to the section in the report on energy, Mr. Speaker. I think we’ll be saying more about that in our final report, but I would say that we have had some great co-operation by the ministry and by other sectors within the province. Our recommendations as they relate to empty movements and the interlining of C licences in accordance with public necessity and convenience, I think would represent a great constituency within the province in that there is great feeling for this conservation of energy. To that end, I can only request, pressure or somehow encourage the minister to consider a more effective interlining of C carriers or other carriers as may be the case.
It wasn’t that long ago -- in 1974, I believe -- that there was a case between a carrier in Hamilton and a carrier in Windsor who wanted effectively to interline their operations. I recall reading the arguments by the counsel for both of the applicants; they both quoted the then Minister of Energy, who is now the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) indicating the necessity for conserving energy in those days. I think the situation is much more severe right now, and, unfortunately, I’m sure it will probably get worse.
Also unfortunately, the Highway Transport Board did not rule in favour of that. There were a number of respondents to the application who I guess were more or less protecting their own interests -- and one can hardly blame them for it -- but in the final analysis possibly the public was not being served by that particular decision.
With that in mind, I will briefly direct my remarks to the operation of the Highway Transport Board itself. I can only say to the minister that I have the utmost of respect for the independence and the honesty of the chairman of that board and, I suppose, to the intentions of the board. Where I must make some comment, possibly in a negative fashion, would be the relationship of the government itself to the Highway Transport Board and by that process the government conveys its thoughts, its feelings and its philosophies of the day to the transport board -- not necessarily as they relate to the granting of a licence, whether it be to Greyhound, Gray Coach or a certain carrier or an extension thereof, but the process by which the government conveys its feelings of policy in the day-to-day activities which I think reflect very appropriately on the government itself.
In our report we spoke of reciprocity. I’m not going to elaborate in great depth on this; other members have addressed themselves to it. We did hear, though, in the course of our hearings that the state of Michigan and other jurisdictions have been in touch with this ministry directly and in the case of the state of Michigan, I think, without a reply. I must say it’s not our function as a committee to negotiate reciprocity with the state of Michigan or any other state or province.
I can only say to the minister that I sense in my sitting on this committee that there is a great necessity for this. I can only encourage him to adhere to the recommendation that we have as it relates to reciprocity and that is that a branch of the ministry be established immediately to negotiate and establish a degree of reciprocity with the states that I’ve mentioned and certainly with other provinces.
Unfortunately the member for Nipissing can’t be here at this time. I believe he is ill in hospital. I know he would like to comment on the North Bay restriction and other topics. Specifically I can only say that I think the gradual removal of this restriction would ensure some further competition in northern Ontario and thereby reduce the cost of transportation to the people in northern Ontario.
One thing that was very apparent to me in listening to some testimony given to us in Geraldton was that the cost of transportation up there is inflationary by nature and, of course, the minister knows that they all pay sales tax on that inflated price, which I think is very fortunate. A television set down here may cost $400. In northern Ontario it could be $450 and the $50 that relates to the transportation costs certainly adds to the cost of the purchase of the product and the sales tax is computed on that final price. I just found it to be somewhat unfair.
I’ve talked very briefly on the subject of interlining, and I only hope that the minister will take this report and analyse it. I’m sure I can speak for the members of my party in saying that we look forward to working with him in establishing a more fair approach to the entire situation, to bringing into the fold, into the regulated environment, people who heretofore maybe have been referred to as “bad Indians.” At least we’ll know where they are and what their operating authorities are and if one is licensed to go from Toronto to Windsor and we find him in Haileybury, or North Bay, or Peterborough, or somewhere else looking for a load, then he is in trouble -- I think he would lose his licence -- and we can effectively see some meaningful form of compromise in that regard.
The member for Scarborough Centre has been an active member of this committee, as all members have. I appreciate his remarks as it relates to the total package concept of this report. Again, it’s not our function to dictate policy to the minister but I think that if we adopt these recommendations in isolation then we may in fact find ourselves in some difficulty as it relates to enforcement.
I think that the comments on shipper responsibility are very valid in the confines of this report. I know it’s the minister’s intention to do that with aggregate shippers and I think it’s a good idea and one that deserves his immediate consideration.
Before I conclude I can only say that I appreciate the assistance given to us by our counsel, Mr. Max Rapoport, and again the efforts of one of the minister’s staff, Mr. Brian Caldwell were just tremendous for us. Gayle Roberts and David Callfas were of great assistance to us. As well, I found complete co-operation with all sectors of the province of Ontario including the transport board itself and its chairman, Mr. Shoniker, and I guess most appropriately -- I’m sorry he’s not in his seat to hear this -- I should pay some tribute to our chairman who somehow managed to keep all of us together despite our contentious differences of opinions at one time. We’ve all found ourselves in the position where we more effectively can put our names on this report and endorse for the most part the recommendations that we’ve made and I think to that end the chairman should be commended.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, before I proceed I believe the member for Etobicoke had wished to speak on this matter and time is running along. I’ll try to --
Mr. Reid: He has already spoken.
Mr. Williams: He has spoken? I’m sorry.
Mr. Reid: I want to hear from the minister though.
Mr. Williams: I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this discussion this afternoon having been a member of the select committee. I think without exception all the members who participated in the deliberations of the committee and sat through many public hearings came to appreciate and understand -- only, I think, through those ways and means -- the complexity and scope of the transportation industry in this province.
Up to this time, I think all of us individually had had, in varying degrees, some appreciation of the size of the industry but none of us really -- I’m sure, after having been through these initial hearings -- had total and full appreciation of the impact of the trucking industry on the economy of this province.
So often when one reads legislation and the rules and regulations governed by that legislation, one can analyse and supposedly understand all the ramifications of that legislation as it applies in a practical way. However, I think from this experience one quickly learns that this is a fallacy. One does have to acquaint oneself in a practical way with the workings of any sector of our society which is affected by legislation to have a full and comprehensive understanding of the legislation’s impact and how the industry as a whole operates within the framework of existing legislation. One gains a better appreciation and understanding of how an industry can be impeded from operating as efficiently as it might because of existing or outdated legislation.
Consequently the meetings this committee had in various cities and towns in this province brought a degree of enlightenment to the members of the committee which we would not otherwise have had the opportunity to gain.
We found that in every sector of the province we travelled to and held public hearings in, whether it was Fort Frances in the far northwest, Tirnmins, Kapuskasing, Windsor, Ottawa, Fort Erie, London -- wherever it may have been in the province -- the meetings proved most beneficial and gave the members of the committee a much more comprehensive understanding of the complexities and the problems confronting the industry today.
I would hasten to point out that we were fortunate in having the committee chaired by my colleague, the member for Mississauga East, who, I think, has proved to all members to be a very impartial and fair chairman and a man who could get the job done as is demonstrated clearly by the presentation of this report within the time parameters imposed upon the committee, bearing in mind that this has turned out to be a very full and complete interim report. Consequently, I don’t hesitate to compliment the member for Mississauga East and I’m sure that other members of the committee, while I have been absent from the chamber, have commented equally on his effectiveness as chairman.
As a result of his guidance the committee, I think, has come forward with very sound and substantive recommendations which the committee as a whole felt were pressing issues which required as immediate attention as possible and which were issues and matters which could not wait for the final report to come forward. We felt, virtually with regard to all of these recommendations, that there was a degree of urgency and it was because of the concerted effort of the chairman and our learned counsel and staff that we were able to bring together some meaningful and, we feel, positive recommendations which we’re hopeful the government will take -- and I’m sure is taking -- under advisement at this time and will be hopefully taking action on within the very near future.
One of the things I find of interest is the difference that exists between the Ontario Highway Transport Board, as it operates as an independent body in this province, and its counterpart in the United States, the ICC, and the relationship that appears to exist between our board and our ministry, and the ICC and the Department of Transportation in the United States.
As a result of our trip to Washington it became quite apparent to the members of the committee that the views and attitudes and philosophies of those two bodies in the US jurisdiction were diametrically opposed, whereas in Ontario it appears that there is a much greater meeting of minds. In fact, the two seem to very much complement one another in their ongoing but somewhat distinct areas of responsibility.
I am sure that without exception the members of the committee came away from our Washington tour feeling quite elated over the fact that there wasn’t this division of difference and attitudes that we found so apparent in the United States and that indeed there was a greater spirit of co-operation and unified approach to the problems in this jurisdiction in the province of Ontario. And that, indeed, I think the members of the committee found to be most gratifying indeed.
Mr. Reid: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if I could rise, not necessarily on a point of order but because time is short.
We only have about seven minutes left and I am sure we would all want to hear what the minister’s response is to the interim report.
I wonder if we could prevail upon our friend to cut his remarks somewhat short.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I will be through in about two minutes, if I might.
So, consequently, these were indeed matters of great interest to the committee. There will be opportunity in the future to discuss the various points that have been gone through today by the various members of the committee dealing with the specific interim recommendations.
The only other point that I would like to dwell on at this point in time is related to a responsibility that I had in visiting for a day the University of Michigan and Michigan State University to talk with people in the academic community as to how the colleges and universities in that jurisdiction associate themselves with this very important industry in the United States.
I found that to be a very interesting visit and enlightening to find that there is a very strong dialogue between the private sector and the trucking industry in particular and the colleges and universities. As I will be reporting again at greater depth in the near future, there are many courses offered in the universities that provide opportunities to people going through the learning institutions to have an opportunity to become aware of and learn about and, in fact, embark upon a career in the trucking industry.
This is emerging in this jurisdiction but not to the same extent as it prevails in the United States and I would hope that in the future more of the colleges and universities will be offering courses in this field, because indeed it is of such a magnitude that greater opportunities should be made available to the coming generations.
With those few brief remarks, I will terminate my comments at this time in order to give the minister an opportunity to speak to the interim report.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I have only a few remarks I would like to make regarding the interim report of the committee. First, I would like to compliment the chairman and the members of the committee and the staff on a very busy summer that they put in. I know how complicated and how deep the subject is, and I know they had to do a lot of work and a lot of research just to familiarize themselves with the depth and breadth of the particular problems that we’re dealing with. I know they’ll have considerably more work to do before they are in a position to bring forward their final report.
I do assure the members of the committee that this report is not being treated lightly. I have reviewed the report, and my staff have been working on the report since we received it. I do not feel, because of the lateness of the tabling of the report and the restrictions on the time this fall, that we’re going to be able to deal with legislation this fall. But I do want to finalize matters and make some decisions prior to the opening of the House again next spring.
I do object to some of the comments of the members opposite relating to the Rapoport inquiry and the suggestions that only two or three minor items were lifted from that report and implemented. I won’t accuse the hon. members of deliberately misleading the House, but certainly someone has misled himself -- probably that is the best way to put it. I understand that of the 43 Rapoport recommendations -- I believe there are 47 recommendations in total, but some of them dealt with the industry itself and did not deal with the government -- some 25 of them, including the major ones, have been implemented.
I was also interested in the comments regarding this reciprocity and the horrible way my ministry and myself have treated our friends from Michigan. I find that difficult to accept and difficult to even understand. I have had no personal letters from anyone from the state of Michigan. There has been much correspondence at the staff level.
Mr. Reid: It was the member for Scarborough Centre who raised that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: There has been much correspondence at the staff level but obviously, because the public service in Michigan didn’t get the answer they wanted from us, then there’s a lack of communication. I guess that is the way of it.
There are two or three things on which I will be coming back to the committee and asking for clarification as to what the committee had in mind relating to the report. Much of the report I have no trouble with and I can accept without any problem. But there are two or three questions.
One relates mainly to the recommendations of grandfathering-in all the unlicensed carriers that were in business on October 1 and had been in business for two years. What about the unlicensed trucker who had been in business for a number of years but was put out of business on September 29 because of regulations? In other words, the enforcement of the ministry is not what I guess we would like it to be; if we had been able to enforce everything in the legislation, we wouldn’t have the problem we have now, but we couldn’t. However, there are illegal operators who were put out of business because of enforcement. It looks to me as though the guys who got away with it a little longer are going to be grandfathered in. In effect, we would be saying, “You are good boys. Here’s your legal licence. Go to town.” But I’d like to know what the committee really wants to do with the poor fellow who’s out there.
Another little matter: What do we do about the proud owners of licences, the licensed truckers who are operating outside of their licence? The licensed truckers aren’t all saints either. They may have a licence --
Mr. Reid: Careful. Careful.
Hon. Mr. Snow: They may have a licence to operate on certain routes, but we find that there are licensed truckers who are carrying on illegal operations outside those they are presently licensed to carry on. Would you grandfather those illegal operations run by the licensed truckers the same as you would the ones that are not?
Mr. Reid: It is only fair.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I would like to know what the committee feels on this.
Mr. Speaker: May I point out the time has expired?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Everybody else seemed to have lots of time.
Just a couple of more things. I would also like to know --
Mr. Speaker: We have to start the private members’ hour at 5 o’clock.
Mr. Reid: Just let him wind up.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Let me have one moment will you, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: May we extend it a moment?
Hon. Mr. Snow: The other matter: I don’t disagree with the recommendations of the committee in trying to bring some sort of a conclusion to the problems that are in the industry now, but if we do this then does the committee feel that the general provisions of Bill 4 or a modified Bill 4 should be part of the regulation to stop this whole thing from happening all over again? I won’t be here and probably the members across there won’t be here either, but I don’t want to see some minister coming here 10 years from now debating this thing all over again and grand- fathering-in another 500 illegal truckers because of that. So I think I would like to get some comment; and I will be bringing forward some questions of this type to the chairman of the committee, who I hope will call a special meeting of the committee to clarify some of these points for us this fall so that we can work on this during the break.
Mr. Speaker: This item is discharged from the order paper.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ HOUR:
WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Bain moved second reading of Bill 178, An Act to amend The Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Mr. Bain: This evening it gives me great pleasure to rise and debate Bill 178, An Act to amend The Workmen’s Compensation Act.
I am pleased to see the minister here. I look forward to some constructive exchanges between us. I will attempt to be non-provocative in the hope that the minister will reciprocate and that we can make some constructive changes.
I believe that the Act itself, although initially a good idea when it was first brought in in 1914, has retained many of the implications that would better have stayed in 1914 and not be found in 1976. One of the things that I find with the Act is that there is a tremendous amount of burden of responsibility upon the claimant and that sufficient benefit of the doubt isn’t given to the claimant, but I know the minister’s position on that so we won’t debate that. What I would like to focus in on would be the three ways that I feel The Workmen’s Compensation Act could be constructively changed to better enable the injured worker and his family to receive justice.
First of all, Bill 178 would remove the requirement that a recipient must either be 100 per cent permanently disabled to receive an award, or die in order to receive a pension. It would also make sure that a claimant had access to his compensation file. It would also entitle any worker who contracted an industrial disease to receive compensation for that disease, whether the disease was disabling or not.
The reason I find the Compensation Board most difficult is because of the personal experiences that one runs into. In my short time as a member -- and I would be most willing to concede that my tenure in this House has been short but I think the minister’s has been equally short so I think we both have a lot to learn about the Workmen’s Compensation Board. I have been very struck since my election in September, 1975, by the number of people who have not received justice from the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
I know that members on the government side also deal with compensation problems and I don’t know why we still see the same injustices perpetrated time after time by the Workmen’s Compensation Board. I would think that any member sharing the same feeling of injustice to injured workers from his or her riding would immediately want to see changes made in the Act or in the way the Act is administered.
One of the problems we run into is that often people who are not receiving a full 100 per cent disability pension or do not die from the disease they are receiving compensation for, don’t receive a pension for their dependents upon their death. I found this to be a great problem because, as I am sure the minister will appreciate, many wives who survive their husbands who may have worked in the bush or especially in the mines in northern Ontario, would much prefer a compensation pension to receiving assistance from community and social services.
The minister may say it would be the same amount of money and in many cases, sure, it would be. I know widows who would prefer to receive a smaller pension from the Workmen’s Compensation Board than the amount they receive from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The reason for this is that a pension from the Compensation Board doesn’t carry any social comment with it.
Unfortunately, there still is an implication in this province that if one is receiving assistance from the Ministry of Community and Social Services in some way it is something one does not totally deserve. To use the jargon, it is welfare or it is a handout. Many dependents of injured workers would feel much better about receiving a Compensation Board pension and I think that is only fair.
Let us say for the sake of argument that we have two miners who have silicosis; one is receiving a 90 per cent disability pension and the other is receiving 100 per cent disability pension. Both of them are killed by something totally unrelated to the compensable disease. The minister readily realizes that one, the gentleman receiving the 100 per cent disability pension, will receive that pension for his wife, whereas the person receiving a 90 per cent disability pension will not because he didn’t die of the silicosis for which he was being compensated. There is example after example on record of this situation.
At Johns-Manville in the city there is a case on record in which a worker was receiving a 40 per cent disability pension for asbestosis yet he died of a heart attack. That particular case was appealed through every avenue of appeal open to the widow. The board was adamant. The worker did not die of anything related to the disease for which the worker was being compensated, therefore there was no pension.
I think this has to be changed. I think it is only fair, if a person is receiving a Compensation Board pension, that upon his death, regardless of the amount of the pension, regardless of the reasons for death, the pension automatically goes to the dependents.
The other item which I feel is also very important is access to records. Access to one’s Workmen’s Compensation Board file appears to be a very nebulous sort of thing. The minister might say that according to the present Act there is nothing which restricts a worker from having full access to his Workmen’s Compensation Board file but the way the board operates is quite different.
I have had contact with the board and people in administration say: “In general, a claimant himself does not have access to his file except for the summary of information. This is due to the fact that he would not be able to discriminate as to what he should or should not see.”
If the claimant himself can’t discriminate as to what he or she should or should not see, who can? This person is the one who ultimately is responsible for shepherding his or her claim through the whole labyrinth of the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
The board does allow certain people to see portions of a file or, perhaps, if they are fortunate enough, to see all of the file. For some reason, MPPs are allowed to see files. Union representatives and doctors are sometimes allowed to see files. But the claimant himself can only see the file at the discretion of the board.
It’s obvious this should be changed. The claimant should have total access to his file -- and not just a claimant here in Metro Toronto. Even if we said that a person would be welcome to come down and see all their files on him, that would really restrict it to people here in the city, unless the minister was willing to say that any person from any place in the province would be able to come down and see his file and the Workmen’s Compensation Board would pay for those expenses.
Mr. Speaker, might I interject? We did start a little late. Is there going to be any compensation for time? How much extra?
Mr. Speaker: We’ll try to give you your 20 minutes. Quite often a speaker doesn’t take up the full allotment of time, but we may work it out that way.
Mr. Bain: How much time are we talking about?
Mr. Speaker: Two minutes after.
Mr. Bain: Okay, very good; because there are other people who would like to speak, I don’t want to go too much over my time.
But it is sufficient to say that claimants from all across the province should be allowed to have total access to their file, everything in their file, and anyone the claimant designates should also have access to the file.
The other item that I would like to deal with is where a person contracts an industrial disease. I think it’s evident that the board tends to operate from the point of view of whether it’s disabling. I asked the minister a question about this, and she said the Workmen’s Compensation Board does not necessarily restrict payment to a disabling disease. But what she really said was whether or not it might become disabling in the future. Therefore, there has to be an element of disability involved.
I would submit that any worker who contracts an industrial disease should be compensated for it, whether or not he or she is able to continue working. I would like to read one little part from a summary of information that I have here on a constituent. I’ll cover two points by reading this excerpt:
“What the physician did not state is that the man was a heavy smoker for 50 years, had bronchitis and asthma since the age of 10. With such a history, it is not at all surprising that he could not pass an army medical. Gassing underground in 1929 cannot be assessed today because he did work for another 26 years after that, so it could not have been too severe.”
Two things here; the first is really an aside:
I don’t really appreciate gratuitous remarks by the Workmen’s Compensation Board in these summaries of information. The board has already said that smoking is not considered in disallowing a claim; if it’s not, why does the board bother to mention it in the summary of information? The second thing is, this person was gassed underground, and the board didn’t feel that he should be compensated for that; after all, he was able to work another 26 years, so the board says it couldn’t have been too severe.
In this particular case the only way that man managed to survive -- and everyone will recall that in 1929 if you didn’t work you couldn’t support your family -- was that he worked underground for 26 more years by the sheer strength of his own personality and a commitment to his family. In the later years of his life, while he was still working underground in that mine, all he could do was perform basic duties on the job. He came home every night, and it was all that could be done to get him enough rest that night. His wife would give him medication and some food that he could get down. He could barely get rested enough to drag himself to work the next morning to perform his job. He could still work, but only because of his own personal inner strength.
I feel anyone who contracts a disease on the job should be compensated.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on Bill 178 and to support the bill in principle. The first amendment, in section 1, refers to section 42(7); the intent of the amendment is to delete “the underlined words, thereby having the effect of extending compensation entitlement for pension purposes to include less than 100 per cent disability allowances.”
We in this particular party, the Liberal Party, have indicated in the Legislature on a number of occasions that survivors’ benefits under the existing Workmen’s Compensation Act were inadequate. The present programme has not kept pace with the current economic difficulties facing a great number of families whose main provider has succumbed to a fatal occupational accident, leaving many survivors and dependants destitute, sometimes turning to welfare for assistance; some are forced to liquidate their assets to survive.
Studies in other countries have indicated that in this province the death payments are the least generous in loss replacement of all workmen’s compensation benefits. In Ontario benefits in this area have fallen behind considerably. They have not kept pace with the cost of living. The economic burden of inflation takes its toll with those persons and families of an injured worker receiving benefits under the present Workmen’s Compensation Act.
With all the present schemes available for Ontario’s labour force for some guarantee for a basic social insurance, it still falls far short of its objective of providing sufficient income to families to maintain a decent support level of income. We have, for example, health and accident insurance to cover many employees in Ontario on the job and off the job. We have unemployment insurance and there are sick benefits. We have Canada Pension Plan. We have the private insurance, and there are other schemes of halfway measures to support injured workers’ families.
Often when a member is assisting in an appeal, a member of the board will suggest the Canada Pension Plan for assistance, but that is as far as they go. There is a lack of co-ordination in the systems. Some widows or dependants do receive benefits from the Workmen’s Compensation Board and there are some who do receive Canada Pension along with it, but a great number are not that fortunate to be able to be assisted in this direction. This does cause economic hardship to them.
I believe the minister must adopt a new approach in this area and it seems reasonable to accept a plan integrating the present programmes that are available -- the Canada Pension Plan benefits and the Workmen’s Compensation Act benefits -- to provide a measure of economic security for survivors. The present programme falls far short of maintaining a decent standard of living for the injured workers and their families. For example, a person was deceased and the survivor had to pay mortgage payments and you know how high they are today.
If you look at what is provided as the widow’s allowance today under the Workmen’s Compensation Act -- what is it? Widow’s or widower’s, I should say -- $260 I believe it is, $70 for a dependant. If the average family is about four, you are only talking about $500 a month, not much more -- far less than most persons receiving old age security; in fact in some cases they don’t have enough. In comparison you can see the position that you put a number of families in under the present scheme; that is, an income insufficient to maintain a decent standard of living.
I suggest that the minister should be looking at a consolidation of all the different programmes that are available for persons employed in industry so that they have one decent programme for survivors; I think the minister should be looking in that area. Often an employee working in industry contributes to a number of schemes. Sometimes he has to pay for part of that scheme himself. But it is unfortunate when he is injured, either at home or in industry, that there isn’t sufficient income. It’s perhaps time we had a complete consolidation of all these programmes and worked out a better uniformity in our schemes for disabled persons and their families.
The other matter concerning the second section of the amendment to the Act, section 2, the new section 99 entitles an employee to reasonable access to materials relating to the employee filed with the board.
On a number of occasions when I have appeared before the board these files have been available to me but again, as a layman, I don’t understand all the medical terms. I think if the board is going to allow what is suggested here, perhaps all the information should be sent back to the family doctor. The injured worker has more of a dialogue with his family doctor and perhaps he can assist the worker on where the problem is and what might be of some assistance to him for further appeal.
I look at this particular section but in some cases when I have appeared before the board there have been other problems which were not related to the accident. I wouldn’t want me or somebody else to be in the position of saying: “This is your problem here.” I think there should be more dialogue with the family doctor, and more information sent to him; perhaps he should have all the records on file. If the claimant wants to review them in the doctor’s office I think they should be open to him and he can advise him accordingly.
The other matter concerns the amendment which deletes “The words underlined, thereby removing the disablement prerequisite to entitlement to compensation, permitting compensation for any occurrence of industrial disease caused by his employment.” I can say that we have this party, the Liberal Party, on record as saying that when a person has come down with an industrial disease, compensation should be paid in full.
Under schedule 3 it’s limited to a number of certain industrial diseases. I suppose when we relate it to silicosis it still leaves us up in the air as to whether the person is entitled to compensation for that particular industrial disease. I think, in this particular area, the minister should come in -- I’m sure the report of the royal commission on health and safety of workers in mines, the Ham commission report, has it there in sections 22, 24, 25, 32 and 110.
I should read in particular one section, section 53, of The Workmen’s Compensation Act, which should be amended as necessary to provide a clear entitlement for rehabilitative compensation based on the principle of work adjustment for a person subject to exceptional exposure through environmental hazards at work. I suppose if we want to interpret that further there are a number of industrial diseases not covered by Workmen’s Compensation.
He suggests that when the risk is there, full compensation should be paid regardless of what the occupational disease may be. In this particular area I think it’s important that it is broadened and the worker should be compensated for any injury or disease which follows his occupational environment. In one particular area I find The Workmen’s Compensation Act is not quite clear and I think it is rather restrictive in the particular area as it relates to heart diseases and vascular diseases. If one works around certain foundries or steel companies where there are carbon monoxide gas and toxic agents a number of persons I’m sure -- it’s been proved in other countries -- have come down with heart diseases.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s not proved. It’s theorized.
Mr. Haggerty: The minister shakes her head, no. I can cite one particular instance in an industry in the city of Port Colborne. I’m just quoting from memory now but the Port Colborne fire department was called in for rescue work and on three instances they picked this man up lying on the railroad track right next to the stoves. This is where they recycle the gas in the open furnace so it can be burnt again. This is very deadly gas. Three times he was picked up there in different years.
This person is not employed today because he has vascular diseases -- a heart condition. Studies in Europe and even in the United States indicate that this can be one of the contributing causes -- occupational hazards in this field.
I know under the existing legislation there have been perhaps one or two occasions in which you have allowed claims for heart diseases, and those relate perhaps to policemen or firemen.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member’s time has expired.
Mr. Haggerty: So soon? I just got going, Mr. Speaker. But we do support the bill in principle and I think any changes in the Act today will make a vast improvement to workmen’s compensation claims.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to participate in this debate on the bill introduced by the hon. member for Timiskaming, to whom I should like to announce that my association with the Workmen’s Compensation Board has been very much longer than his. It has not been one year plus two months. It has, in fact, been almost 30 years as a practising physician during which I had, certainly, regular dealings --
Mr. Kerrio: You’re not that old.
Mr. Conway: You’re not that old.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Thank you, gentlemen. That’s very kind of you indeed, but I’ll confess it right now.
The bill which has been introduced by the hon. member for Timiskaming and seconded by the hon. member for -- is it Cochrane something?
Mr. Bain: Algoma.
An hon. member: The northern alliance.
Hon. B. Stephenson: My humble apologies. The bill is interesting in a way in that in the first section of the bill the hon. member is proposing that any worker receiving any pension at all or any disability pension from the Workmen’s Compensation Board should, if he dies of any cause, ensure that his dependants would receive a 100 per cent dependant pension from the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Mr. Bain: Just receive the pension he received.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The individual who is receiving a disability pension at the level of 100 per cent ensures that his dependants will receive that level of dependant benefits.
Mr. Bain: Any pension?
Hon. B. Stephenson: In many instances where there is a causal relationship established between the death of the individual and the disease or the injury, for which the worker has been given a disability pension, the Workmen’s Compensation Board pays not just what the worker would have been receiving but a dependant benefit of the same order as they would have received had he been pensioned on a disability pension of 100 per cent.
I would like to draw the hon. member’s attention to the effect of removing the two sections which he has suggested. If a worker has had, say, a thumb amputated, he probably and very likely will have a permanent disability pension of the order of approximately 10 per cent. The effect of removal of these two phrases within the section, which the hon. member is suggesting, would be that if that individual were run over by an automobile, having had that 10 per cent disability pension, his dependants would receive from the Workmen’s Compensation Board, for an accident totally unrelated to his disability and totally unrelated to his work, a 100 per cent dependant pension.
Mr. Bain: No, just 10 per cent.
Hon. B. Stephenson: But that can’t be done without modifying another section of the bill, because the amount of dependant pension is statutorily set; it is the same for all dependants, whether the individual was pensioned or had a disability pension of 50 per cent, 75 per cent or 100 per cent. The dependant benefits are equal to all dependants. Therefore, I think it would be unwise at this time to consider the kind of amendments which the hon. member for Timiskaming is promoting.
It would seem to me much wiser to consider the effect of producing a pension scheme from a general revenue source, as is done for those individuals who have served in our country’s armies. They may have a very small pension from the armed services but, no matter what the cause of their death, in times of hardship they may be given the full pension. This is granted on the basis of service to country, and it is extracted from the general revenue fund.
But to extract from the fund of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, which I would remind all members is supplied totally by the employers of this province, a benefit fund for widows and children of individuals who have died from causes totally unrelated to their work or work experience, I think is probably quite inappropriate. If we wish to look at another form of providing these benefits, then I would be very willing to do so, but in the meantime I think that it would be entirely wrong to delete the sections which the hon. member is suggesting be deleted in order to ensure that a worker’s family received the total benefit under Workmen’s Compensation Board dependency benefits for any cause at any level of pensionable disability.
Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that I’m a little bit surprised that section 2 is included here, because I thought that the hon. member for Timiskaming had received all of the information that he needed from the Workmen’s Compensation Board. I am surprised, as I said, that he is still questioning the amount of information which is provided by the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
I should like the hon. member to know, and all hon. members in this House to know, that indeed the Workmen’s Compensation Board in this province provides more information to claimants than does any other workmen’s compensation board in Canada, or any other in the United States that I am aware of. Through a number of sources, including the worker’s advisers, through the individual officers of the Workmen’s Compensation Board, a number of pieces of information are freely available to all claimants.
Medical information is entirely available to all claimants through the claimant’s individual physician, because I would remind the hon. member for Erie -- I’m probably in the wrong area again --
Mr. Haggerty: That’s right.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Is that right? Thank you -- that indeed all reports of consultations, all reports of medical examinations, are submitted by the board to the individual claimant’s physician -- to his personal physician. That information resides with that personal physician and at any time the claimant is free to approach his personal physician to request explanation of or exploration of all of the medical information there.
I think it would be very unwise to --
Mr. Good: And his doctor tells him one thing and tells the board something else.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The documents are sent to the physicians precisely for that purpose, so that indeed the individual claimant can see the information which has come from the consultants, with the assistance of his physician.
There are some reports, I’m sure, which will be indecipherable to some claimants and they would need the assistance of their personal physician to make some sense of some of the statements which are contained therein. But in addition to that it is entirely possible that some of the consultants’ reports would be terrifying to some of the claimants if they read them without the assistance of someone with some expertise in the medical field.
As well as that, I think it would be very unwise to broaden the availability of any medical information to anyone other than the individual’s personal physician, because, as was suggested earlier, it is quite possible that this might become much more public knowledge and might not in fact do the claimant any good at all. There may be information within that documentation which the claimant would much rather have no one else in the community -- or even within his family -- aware of. It is quite possible that unless the confidentiality of medical documentation is maintained, that the privacy of that individual may be violated rather dramatically. Thus it is that the Workmen’s Compensation Board in Ontario has, I believe, bent over backwards to make sure that as much information as it is possible to provide is available to each and every claimant individually. This, I think, is a reasonable situation and I hope will continue.
I would remind the hon. members that there was a good deal of activity in this area several years ago led by a Mr. Ison, from the faculty of law at Queen’s University, who later went on to become the chairman of the Workmen’s Compensation Board in British Columbia. When the Act was amended in British Columbia, he ensured, and in fact devised a treatise of some length to ensure, that the freedom of information which is granted under The Workmen’s Compensation Act in this province would not be repeated in British Columbia. Indeed, the strictures there are much greater than they are within this province. May I have one moment to deal with the final question?
Mr. Speaker: You have about 20 seconds.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Twenty seconds. Oh!
The provision of a disability pension for lack of disability is indeed a total anomaly.
As the hon. member for Timiskaming knows, the Workmen’s Compensation Board provides medical benefits and provides compensation for any worker who develops an industrial illness during the period that he is away from work. But if he is not permanently disabled, and if indeed he is able to continue his employment, then I wonder how we can use the concept of providing compensation or a disability pension for the non-disabled individual?
As the hon. member obviously knows, in the programmes which are being carried on at Elliot Lake and in other places and in the silicosis programme, an individual who may show dust effects only and has no sign of disability is enabled by funds from the Workmen’s Compensation Board to change his employment in order that he may remove himself from the dire effects of the area in which he is working and take on other employment. It is a programme which has been initiated by this Compensation Board. It is unique in this world and I think it is a very good one.
This is providing a form of compensation, if one likes, for individuals who are not disabled and this we feel is valid. But to say that we are going to provide disability pensions for people who are not medically disabled, who have no loss of income and have no problems I think is a total anomaly and cannot be supported.
Mr. Lupusella: Of course, I completely disagree with the statements of the Minister of Labour.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s natural.
Mr. Lupusella: I hope it is very understandable in view of the fact that the factual explanations which she has been giving us are not correct. In view of the limited time which--
Hon. B. Stephenson: They are indeed entirely correct.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the hon. member should not make a statement like that.
Mr. Lupusella: The Minister of Labour is always disagreeing with us so I am not surprised what she has been saying in the House.
To get to the core of the problem, I had better talk today. I hope that on December 13 we are going to have a better opportunity to exchange our ideas in relation to the activity of the Workmen’s Compensation Board when we discuss the budget of the board.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is not to discuss the budget of the board. Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, that committee does not discuss the budget of the board.
Mr. Lupusella: We are going, on December 13 --
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Dovercourt will speak to this bill, thank you.
Mr. Lupusella: In view of the limited time which is available to me, let me talk for a while about the freedom of information.
I am very pleased today to speak on this private member’s bill introduced by the hon. member for Timiskaming. It is my duty to support strongly the principles involved in this bill not only in my capacity as an official critic of the Workmen’s Compensation Board for the New Democratic Party but primarily because this government has a great responsibility in dealing with problems relating to injured workers.
In my budget debate speech of June 21, 1976, I pointed out to the government that it is time to make changes in The Workmen’s Compensation Act. Therefore, the bill introduced by my colleague from Timiskaming is one to which the government should give its consideration, to alleviate the bad feelings and needs of injured people when they are dealing with the present cumbersome bureaucracy existing within the Workmen’s Compensation Board structure.
When the Act establishing the Workmen’s Compensation Board was passed by the provincial Legislature in 1915 its first scope was to help, on a humanitarian basis, those unfortunate enough to have suffered injuries on the job.
Since then the Act has applied an adversary system toward injured workers by favouring employers, big companies and the corporations. The Progressive Conservative Party hasn’t been very concerned with making radical changes in the Act in order that injured workers may gain some of the trust already lost since The Workmen’s Compensation Act was enacted.
One way in which the board is very adverse to injured workers, besides other problems, is when they are requesting to see their files. The bill is going to cover this loophole presently existing in The Workmen’s Compensation Act. There is no doubt in my mind that an injured worker should have access to his files and other materials filed with the board concerning that employee. Besides that, there is no specific provision in the Act which says that an employee can see his file whenever he wants. This bill gives the right to the injured worker to have full access to material in his file.
Up to the moment the board has a policy that you can only see the file through a special arrangement with the board officials, especially when the case is under appeal. The Unemployment Insurance Commission is more flexible in this regard. If a claimant wants to see his file while he’s getting benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Commission, he just has to go to the Unemployment Commission office. Their officials don’t object. Why can this kind of a flexibility not exist with the board? Why is it that the claims officers won’t show their medical reports on which they based their decision when granting or denying benefits to injured workers?
Hon. B. Stephenson: He doesn’t see all the documents.
Mr. Lupusella: I think that is a very disgraceful deprivation of a right to injured workers when they are in the process of defending themselves.
Because of the limited period of time available, I won’t be able to pursue other items which my colleague from Timiskaming has incorporated in his bill. One thing which I want to emphasize is that the board is supposed to use some humanitarian sense in making available to injured workers information received by doctors and specialists. My frustration has reached a peak level when dealing with the board. I’m sure, as I stated in previous speeches -- and I think my colleagues will support me in this -- that the board is making injured workers’ lives very hard and I don’t think it’s too strong to say that the Workmen’s Compensation Board is the most disgraceful branch of this government.
This bill is going to alleviate, at least in part, the difficulties in getting information from the board and will relieve the difficulties imposed on poor injured workers who do not know the channels of defending themselves for lack of information.
The one thing I would like to make clear today in speaking on this bill is that there are a lot of heavy flaws in The Workmen’s Compensation Act, a lot of inefficiencies, a lot of loopholes. We must find ways to avoid these loopholes and inefficiencies by pushing for changes. I can assure you that if we form the government some day, the Workmen’s Compensation Board will be completely abolished and a universal insurance plan will be introduced to replace it which will be sensitive and more humane to the needs of injured workers in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Sweeney: I rise to speak to this bill and to support each of its sections. I rise to support the basic principle of each of the three sections. Whether or not the same result could be achieved in some other way, I am not free to say, so I am supporting the principle.
I do so for a couple of reasons. The first one is that in the short time that I’ve been in this Legislature I have more concerns brought to me by constituents dealing with the Workmen’s Compensation Board than any other agency of the government. As a matter of fact, the very first three concerns I had brought to my attention the day after I was elected were three cases that had been in abeyance, shall we say, or had been in the line of action with the Workmen’s Compensation Board for upwards of three years. Now after a period of seven or eight months each one of those cases were eventually satisfactorily settled, but it did take an awful long time to do it.
Mr. Davidson: They probably cut them off again.
Mr. Sweeney: I’d like to speak very briefly to each of the three sections.
First of all, I support the first one because the whole issue of degree of disability is one that seems to be creating more problems than anything else. Even the medical profession itself very recently had a short article in the Ontario Medical Review, September, 1976, in which they, as doctors, indicated their concern about the position they often found themselves in, in assessing the amount or the percentage of disability. We’re talking here of 100 per cent, but I think we can talk about that whole range of percentage of disability.
I believe very strongly that when a husband and a father and the breadwinner of the family dies, whether or not he has been 100 per cent disabled, whether or not he had 100 per cent pension, whatever he had at the time of his death should continue. There should be some kind of a continuing link with the breadwinner -- and I am speaking here primarily of the father, although I suspect it could be the mother as well -- so that the breadwinner somehow should continue in the life of the family. The wife, in this particular case, and the children should appreciate the fact that the income or the support maintenance that was coming to their family as a result of their father and their husband should be continued. There should be that kind of continuing link.
I also believe that we should recognize, as I discussed a minute ago, that this whole question about the degree or the percentage of disability is one in which there is a great deal of controversy, a great deal of concern and very frequently a lack of agreement. For that reason I am supporting section 1.
For section 2, dealing with access to materials, I would start off by saying that I personally have not had any difficulty when approaching the board to get the kinds of materials that I need to assist my constituents. I don’t think that’s the question here. I also don’t have any examples that I can quote where individuals, when they finally went all the way down the line and literally demanded to see certain pieces of their file, weren’t allowed to see them.
I think there are two questions here, though. The first one is that quite a number of my constituents, rightly or wrongly, have the perception that they cannot see the file; that somehow or another there’s a great deal of secrecy there. I would repeat: Whether that’s correct or not, that’s the perception that they have given to me. When I have dealt with them a little bit longer and have been able to get some of the information that they were looking for, this somewhat relieved them. I guess the point I am trying to make is that out there in the world beyond this Legislature, there are a lot of people who have been involved with the Workmen’s Compensation Board who do not perceive that.
The second point I want to make is that seeing bits and pieces of a file is not always the best way, because quite obviously the board bases its decision on the totality of the file, on everything that’s there -- all the little bits and pieces that go together to make up the final picture. It has also been expressed to me by some of my constituents that they are never really sure why the final decision was made the way it was, because they didn’t have access to all the pieces that someone somewhere put together to come to a decision.
I would like to suggest to the minister that some provision be made for the people who are dealing with the Workmen’s Compensation Board to be able to sit down with someone, whether it is here in Toronto or whether it’s in the various district offices scattered throughout the province -- and surely that’s one of the roles those offices can play -- with their total file. I agree with the minister that the individual by himself or herself could very well be confused in trying to read the file alone. But I do feel that the ministry has competent people in its local office and its regional offices who could sit down with the individual, go over the file and be sure they fully understand all of the factors that are being taken into consideration. It is my perception that there are times when that does not take place and the person, maybe unnecessarily so, feels aggrieved by the decision because they didn’t have the information available to them.
On section 3, the whole business about industrial disease, I want to base my total comments on the first line and the first word of the second line, “where an employee suffers from an industrial disease.” In other words, we are starting out with that presumption that in fact the employee has contracted an industrial disease. That’s the base upon which I am starting. Whether or not that employee is physically disabled and whether or not he or she still is able to continue to work, obviously he or she is less than a full person. There is the mental anguish, if nothing else. There is the psychological and emotional trauma that that person has to go through, knowing that they are carrying within their body a disease which somehow or another is not going to enable them to reach their full potential as a human being, even though they are able to continue to work and to earn money. I believe that they are eligible for some compensation for that kind of mental anguish, that emotional trauma, which they carry with them for maybe 30 or 40 years of their life.
Let me repeat: I am starting out from the assumption that this says, “ ... suffers from an industrial disease.” They actually have the disease.
Mr. Haggerty: Chronic bronchitis is not covered.
Mr. Sweeney: Whatever the case may be, we as society owe that person something. I think in all three of these there is an underlying concern which somewhere, somehow in this Legislature we are going to have to deal with. That is the funding because I believe -- correct me if I am wrong -- that one of the reasons the government has to look so often so carefully at what it can do with this board is that the total funding has to come from the employer.
Somewhere down the line we have to draw a limit as to how much we can take out of the employers. Somewhere, we are going to have to speak to the whole issue about funding this in a different way. Whether we are talking of taking some of it out of the consolidated revenue fund; whether we are talking of some form of insurance scheme, such as has been suggested by my colleagues to the right, I am not sure what the final answer is.
I do know that as long as the present funding mechanism is going to continue to prevent us from making some of the needed and essential changes in this legislation, we should be looking at the funding mechanism as well. I think that has to be tied in with all three of these sections.
I close by saying that I support the principle of these three amending sections. I think that as the Act stands now we are doing a disservice to some people who have to deal with the Workmen’s Compensation Board.
Mr. Williams: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill and join with the Minister of Labour in opposing the bill in principle as presently laid before us in the House this afternoon.
The reasons for opposing the bill have been stated by the minister. In speaking to all three sections of the bill, which I will be referring to, the one section which is of particular concern to me and one which is far-ranging and all-encompassing is the one dealing with the proposed new section 2.
This section, as worded, certainly goes far beyond the specific wording of the existing sections in the legislation. It goes beyond, it would appear, simply requiring that certain medical or other professional information of a medical nature be provided. It suggests at this point in time that an injured worker may be prejudiced because of the existing circumstances and degree of confidentiality which are retained under the present system.
If we look at the section it does not restrict itself, it would appear, simply to having total access to medical advice but rather, as the section says, “ ... to all reports and other materials filed with the board concerning that employee.” As the minister stated earlier, no other comparable board in operation in this country provides as much information and makes as much information available to claimants in assessing their case so that they can have a full understanding and appreciation of what factors have gone into the board’s arrival at such a decision as it may in an individual case.
There is just cause for maintaining a degree of confidentiality with regard to the doctor-patient relationship. There are very few instances of confidentiality in law in society today. It appears that of the areas where a degree of confidentiality is retained and recognized in law, one exists between solicitor and client; one exists between doctor and patient; and I suppose there are one or two other situations which prevail, too. The number of situations in which this degree of confidentiality is recognized and retained certainly can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The type of section we have before us in section 2 is a lawyer’s delight, if I might say that. Wherever one finds legislation that contains a word such as “reasonable,” there we have the makings for more litigation, more discussion and more debate than we’ll find under any other given circumstance.
Mr. Davidson: You must be against Bill 39.
Mr. Williams: I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that this type of phraseology in legislation is a lawyer’s delight, because it keeps lawyers employed from one year end to the other.
The use of a term such as “reasonable” is subjective at best. In all instances when this word is used in relevant sections of legislation, it provides hours of discussion and argument in the courts of law. This has become so well known in the legal profession and beyond, that this is one particular term that lawyers today avoid and strongly urge the legislators to avoid using for this very reason.
I think lawyers are busy enough without having to have additional extra work burdened upon them because of the ambiguities and uncertainties of such phraseology being used. It tests not only the wisdom and judgement of members in the legal profession, but members of the bench. Certainly many judges have found that in final summation they themselves have had to apply some degree of subjectivity to giving an interpretation as to what fact was reasonable -- not in the eye of a claimant or in the eyes of a defendant but in trying to apply an objective interpretation of what in fact is reasonable.
This section in itself I think is just cause for speaking against the bill, because it creates more uncertainties and more ambiguities than it was intended -- I think in good faith -- to resolve.
It has been pointed out on a number of occasions in this House that the board has been well aware of the fact that there is a potential for an injured worker being prejudiced if they didn’t have as much information as possible. With this confidentiality position being maintained -- in fact, Mr. Speaker, as you would well know, this has been upheld in the courts -- with this degree of confidentiality being maintained, the board has developed a system of providing summaries of information to injured workers, including the pertinent segments of medical reports, as an acceptable substitute for total and complete access to medical information. I think a reasonable and practical way of resolving a potential difficulty has been worked out from past experience and practice by the actions that are presently applied by the board.
Mr. Davidson: You find it reasonable.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Oriole only has the floor.
Mr. Williams: Where an employee does wish full access to contents of medical reports, again I can only stress that these reports should only be disclosed -- and this was stated by the minister earlier -- by the attending doctor, to provide a full understanding of the medical history or status of the injured worker. Only in this way, I think, can the board gain full and complete information from a medical practitioner who feels a degree of protection, thereby providing an atmosphere in which a doctor can fully and completely report in his medical judgement as to the actual degree of injury, permanency of injury and all other facets of the injury that have been experienced by the worker. Were it not for the degree of protection provided, I think medical doctors would be reluctant to be as frank, forthright and complete in reporting as is required and prescribed under the legislation.
Mr. Speaker: I would point out that the time has expired.
Mr. Williams: Certainly that section alone gives me cause to oppose the legislation. In concluding I would reiterate what the minister has said, that certainly no disability payments should be payable where no disability exists, as she referred to in speaking to the third section of the proposed amendment.
Mr. Bain: Let’s vote on the bill.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if in the absence of the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch), I might table copies of the letters which were requested today in the Legislature; these are from the Minister of Culture and Recreation.
Mr. Speaker: Yes, that would be in order.
Hon. B. Stephenson: May I also indicate to the Speaker and to the members of the House the business for tomorrow. There will be supplementary estimates of the Ministry of Health -- hopefully the minister will be available tomorrow, he happens to be ill today. Following that there will be second readings of Bills 171, 168 and 169, and following that, committee of the whole House on Bill 139.
On motion by Hon. B. Stephenson, the House adjourned at 6 p.m.