The House resumed at 8 p.m.
FUNERAL SERVICES ACT (CONCLUDED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion for second reading of Bill 171, The Funeral Services Act, 1976.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman) who has so kindly given me this opportunity to get up and speak for about five or 10 minutes. It won’t be any longer than that.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That will be a change.
Mr. Grande: I understand that when the House rose at 6 o’clock the member for Lanark was ready to get up on his feet, and so therefore I thank him very much. What I’m going to be saying is very short -- I usually am very short and to the point, Madam Minister --
Hon. B. Stephenson: I wasn’t talking about your height.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I hope the Minister of Labour will not be provocative tonight.
Mr. Warner: Let her; let her.
Mr. Grande: Bill 171 was introduced in this House on November 26 and on December 8 here we are at second reading.
Mr. Worton: December 7.
Mr. Grande: I’m asking myself what kind of prior consultation there has been with the people and the groups affected out there in the province.
Mr. B. Newman: Five years.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Five years.
Mr. Grande: The members say five years.
I am sure every member of this Legislature has received a telegram today. I understand 125 of these telegrams were sent. I received it. If the Minister of Labour doesn’t have it, I guess she’ll receive it tomorrow or perhaps, if she checks her mail, later on tonight.
I would like to put this telegram on the record because I think it speaks for the kind of consultation which the people opposite there are saying has been going on for five years. Yet the telegram says, and I’m quoting:
“40,000 members of Ontario memorial societies urge opposition to Bill 171, abolition of self-regulation of funeral industry and transfer of this consumer Act to Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations.” It’s signed, “Ontario memorial societies.”
Forty thousand people across Ontario can’t be all that wrong. Let us take a look at the two main points of this bill which the memorial societies across Ontario really object to strongly. But before I get into that, I want to say I received a couple of phone calls from one of my constituents -- one yesterday and one today. The gentleman is 80 years of age. He calls me Tony -- that’s my name -- and he said “My wife and I are both senior citizens and are retired -- all we have is the money that we get through our pension and through our guaranteed annual income supplement. We’ve been saving that money but when my wife or myself are going to be passing away, all that saving is lost. What is she or what am I going to do after that?”
There was a tremendous amount of emotion associated with what this gentleman said to me. I asked him, “What are your objections about this legislation?” He said, “What this bill is doing is to give over a complete monopoly to the funeral directors.” This bill says that five of the people on the committee are going to be funeral directors. The other two are going to be chosen by the Lieutenant Governor -- at least they’re going to be appointed. He said, “Where’s the consumer in all of this? What kind of protection does the public get? Since when is a government passing legislation to completely turn over the whole industry to the self-interest of the funeral directors?”
It’s amazing. And yet, he’s right. In this particular legislation, there is no input from the consumer, there isn’t one person who represents the public at large, so to speak, on that particular board. That is one reason I and many of my constituents object to this legislation.
If this legislation passes the way it is presented by this government, it’s going to be sounding the death knell to all the memorial societies in the province. That’s exactly what it’s going to do. As a matter of fact, this gentleman says the memorial societies could be treated like dirt. That’s his own expression and I’ll put it in quotation marks.
For the past several years we have seen headlines in the newspaper talking about the high cost of dying -- and of the cost of funerals being completely out of reach of the average person. A funeral right now will probably cost between $1,200 and $1,500.
Mr. Good: Absolutely wrong. That’s the kind of information you bring in here. Misinformation. That is all you thrive on.
Mr. Lupusella: For an injured worker they pay $600 for his funeral when he is going to die on the job. But the minister will never respond to that -- $600 when an injured worker is dying on the job.
Mr. Shore: Come on, you have been using that too long.
Mr. Lupusella: You’d better read the Act then.
Mr. Conway: Marvin, have you priced your funeral? Your political funeral?
Mr. Grande: The members of the Liberal Party, the third party on that side of the House, are saying it does not cost $1,200 to $1,400 or $1,500.
Mr. Wiseman: He is a funeral director. He should know.
Mr. Grande: Of course, the cost depends on many different factors. it depends on what kind of casket you’re going to be ordering, whether you’re going to have a casket with all the ornamental irons on it, whether you’re going to have a casket finished to the nth degree, as if it is needed for the funeral.
Mr. B. Newman: Who would know better?
Mr. Grande: Instead, what happens --
Mr. B. Newman: Who would know better, you or the man who’s involved in the business?
Mr. Grande: That’s exactly why I am opposing this legislation, because it gives control to the man who’s involved,
Mr. Peterson: We can arrange some firsthand experience for you.
Mr. Spence: We can’t get him to take any money at all.
Mr. Grande: As I was saying, there are different factors that increase the price of a funeral, the price of dying. But all these factors -- the embalming, the beautiful casket, the ceremony that never ends for hours and hours -- are not needed. People at large don’t want all that luxury at a funeral.
Hon. B. Stephenson: This Act doesn’t say they have to have it.
Mr. Grande: But what happens is that the funeral directors take advantage of the person at a very particular time of grief, at a very particular time when they are emotionally upset; take complete advantage of those people. They’re saying, “That’s how much it costs. We will provide everything. You don’t have to do anything. You sit at home and come to the funeral home at a certain time when everything is ready.” For anyone, that kind of price is really too high. But for the senior citizens, for whom I’m actually getting up here to speak tonight, that price is completely out of reach. And it will leave the mate in debt for years.
As I said. I’m not going to be standing on my feet and talking and getting the Minister of Labour upset.
Mr. Conway: She always does.
Mr. Lupusella: I’m not surprised.
Mr. Grande: Therefore, I really am going to end --
Mr. Conway: Go, go.
Mr. Grande: Thank you. I will, though, in spite of my friend’s encouragement to go on.
Mr. Grande: I’ll finish by saying that there’s no way this legislation as it stands right now should be passed, because otherwise all the memorial societies across Ontario will become nothing, will die.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other member wish to participate in this debate? If not, the hon. member for Lanark.
Mr. Peterson: He is dead; he should finish.
Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, I listened with --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Hopefully without interruption.
Mr. Wiseman: Mr. Speaker, I’ve listened with interest to some of the speakers across the House, particularly the NDP members who mentioned that this bill has been rushed through the House. I think it’s been mentioned this afternoon by people who have read the bill and understood it, that this I bill has been talked about for a good long time, for many years. When I went to Health a year ago, the draft bill was there; it hasn’t changed all that much.
I understand that as late as November, the chairman of the board spoke about it at his annual meeting. There also have been regional meetings as well as delegations to see both the minister and others in our ministry to discuss it. So I find it hard to believe that there hasn’t been some input from memorial societies and other people who are interested in the bill.
Mr. Grande: Twenty thousand members.
Mr. Wiseman: This afternoon we heard that the NDP are opposing the bill, mostly because of the composition of the board. We heard from the member for Waterloo North, who had done his homework and who had read and understands the bill; he went into the percentages of the other health disciplines and said that this board probably has one of the highest percentages of lay people we have.
Something that wasn’t mentioned this afternoon is that we have what we call a Funeral Services Review Board, which will be made up of not less than three and not more than seven, all of whom will be lay people. The member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa), who isn’t in his seat, was concerned that it might take a year and a half for somebody to process a complaint. The way that goes -- to explain it a little for him -- it goes to the registrar and is referred to the complaints committee; if the person who makes that complaint gets it in writing and he isn’t satisfied with that, then he can ask that it he referred to the Funeral Services Review Board, the members of which are all lay people. They have the power to hear it if they want or refer it back to the complaints committee to have another look at it. They have the power to overrule the complaints committee. That person has a further appeal to the Supreme Court. I feel that we have looked after the public interest in this way.
As far as the memorial societies go, I would like to say that I understand, in checking with the funeral directors and with the registrar, that anyone can get one of these body disposals if he or she wants it. The cost of this is minimal. It’s in the neighbourhood of $200 to $250, I understand. I'm sure, as has been mentioned here this afternoon, if there are areas which aren’t following along this line and the people bring it to the registrar he will see to it that they can get it.
I would like to say, too, that one can get this body disposal at the same price without being a member of the memorial societies.
Mr. Good: There is the big ripoff -- you pay your $20 bucks to belong to them and you get nothing for it. You can walk in off the street and get the same service at the same price.
Mr. Warner: Do you always apologize for him?
Mr. Peterson: Settle down. John Holtby is a part-time funeral director.
Mr. Wiseman: This bill will also provide in regulations that the funeral director must have a display of his funeral caskets and he must have them from the cheapest to the dearest.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will you carry on your private conversations outside the chamber, please?
Mr. Wiseman: For the information of the last speaker I am told, in checking it out, that in the province an average complete funeral runs from about $550 to about $1,200. We know there are some which go overboard but one can get a really good funeral, a complete funeral, in that area.
Mr. Peterson: Do you say that from experience? We will do you for 50 bucks.
Mr. Wiseman: The member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) mentioned this afternoon that he thought people should have the right to bury their dead if they wanted to. Again, that’s a case of his not reading the bill. There is a provision which would allow a person to bury his or her own dead if it is so wished.
There are many other things I could say about the bill but because the bill is going to committee of the whole House and we will get into it clause by clause I won’t say much more other than I believe the bill regulates The Funeral Services Act and looks after the interests of the public. I would ask each member of the Legislature to support the bill.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Mr. Wiseman moved second reading of Bill 171, to which Mr. Moffatt moved an amendment that Bill 171 be not now read a second time but be read a second time four months hence.
The House divided on the motion that the Shore bill be now read for the second time which was approved on the following vote:
Worton -- 58
Davison (Hamilton Centre)
Ziemba -- 32
Ayes 58; nays 32.
Ordered for committee of the whole.
CORPORATIONS TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Meen moved second reading of Bill 168, An Act to amend The Corporations Tax Act, 1972.
Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. minister have an opening statement, any comments?
Hon. Mr. Meen: In line with the observations made by my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), in his statement to the House on October 26 last, this bill will broaden the base for the Ontario foreign tax credit to include foreign taxes paid on net capital gains earned in the year. Presently such gains are subject to double taxation.
Mr. Speaker: Order please, there is a great deal of background noise in the chamber. We cannot hear the hon. minister. Order please. Those who are leaving will please leave quietly.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Secondly, the bill proposes to increase the amount of the Act to 12 per cent, which is in parallel with the present amount of corporation tax payable.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, as the minister has just said, this bill is to give a full tax credit to corporations which operate outside the country. The provincial Treasurer said that this was being brought in to parallel the treatment in other provinces. He did not make it clear whether this means that Quebec, which is the only other province that has its own corporation tax, has a full foreign tax credit. This is something I would like the minister to clarify -- also whether in the provinces where the federal government collects the corporation tax there is a full foreign tax credit.
We intend to support this bill because in principle we do not like double taxation and that is what foreign tax credits are intended to remove. However, having said that, I would like to note that we observe that this government seems to rush to the aid of corporations when there is a question of inequity, but it is much slower in rushing to the aid of individual income tax payers when inequities are pointed out there.
For example, a year ago I pointed out that our income tax credit for political contributions was working very unfairly in this province in that people of modest income, students and people who only work part of the year and therefore cha not have very much taxable income, were not receiving any benefit from this legislation. The credit for political contributions was taken off after all the tax credits had been taken off, and in many cases that reduced their taxable income to nil so they did not qualify for a political credit. Yet under the federal Act, they would have qualified for a political credit if they had made a contribution to a federal party. The intention was that the two political credits would be parallel.
It seems to me unfair that people of modest means who wish to support political parties should not be able to benefit from this legislation, simply because there are tax credits built into the Ontario system. Most of those tax credits were built in, not to reduce income tax but simply to use the income tax device as a means of compensating people for other taxes which were considered too heavy on the lower income groups. Instead of giving them exemptions for sales tax, they were given a sales tax credit; instead of giving them a cut in property tax or more money to the municipalities, they were given a property tax credit; and instead of giving them an additional supplement to the old age pension, they were given an aged tax credit. Those credits are completely independent of the income tax system and it seems to me that that’s one area where the province could have moved. I will say more about this when we get to the income tax.
I was just pointing out that the government seems to move very quickly to help the corporations. In fact in this particular proposal it’s going to make it retroactive -- which it very seldom does for very many taxpayers -- because this will apply to corporations whose fiscal years end after December 31, 1975.
When this was brought in as a proposal by the provincial Treasurer last month, there was no estimate of the cost of this particular removal of what was considered an inequity. We asked the Treasury officials in the prebudget briefing and they said perhaps from $1 million to $5 million, but you couldn’t really tell. I wonder if the minister has any more up-to-date idea of what this is going to cost him in revenue and how much of a gilt it is to the corporations?
It perhaps points up the need for more publication of corporation tax statistics in this province, since we collect our own corporation tax. Statistics Canada does not have the same information as it does for the provinces where the federal government collects the corporation tax. Therefore the onus is on this province to publish more of its corporation tax statistics, showing us from what sectors the tax is derived and giving us the background data from which one could estimate the kind of burden this particular tax change will have. This would enable us to monitor its cost to the province.
The cost could be constrained if more efforts were made to encourage investment in Ontario, to stop the drain of capital to the United States and other countries. The latest figures from Statistics Canada on direct foreign investment by Canadians abroad at the end of 1974 showed a 20 per cent increase over 1973, and the total stood at $9.3 billion.
We heard recently that the Cadillac Fairview Corporation is right now bidding to invest $284 million in an urban development in California. That may generate income which will be taxed in the US and will become eligible for this foreign tax credit. But Ontario will get nothing from that investment under this amendment. If Cadillac Fairview has that kind of money to invest why is it not investing it here? Goodness knows we need housing -- affordable housing -- in this province.
Has the government made any effort to sit down with Cadillac Fairview and see why that investment could not be made here? Even if some of the money is being raised in the United States by borrowing, there is no reason why the money could not be invested in Canadian housing. Rent control does not apply to new construction so what is the reason we cannot get this kind of money invested in Canada?
Mr. Cunningham: They are scared of the socialists.
Mr. Conway: They are scared of you.
Mr. Mancini: You know the answer to that question. They are scared of you.
Ms. Bryden: Perhaps the government will cease to continue relying on the private sector if it finds that this is what the private sector does with its funds for investment.
Mr. Ferris: Nationalize every one of them.
Ms. Bryden: If we want to keep the cost of this credit down and discourage investment abroad we should consider means of encouraging Canadian investment at home. We might of course withdraw the credit as a lever to encourage investment at home. However, that might lead to retaliation. It might be somewhat harmful to foreign firms which are now operating here. While we don’t agree that the government should be encouraging foreign firms to move in and take over our economy and cause this great drain of profits and management fees and transfer payments of other kinds across the border, we don’t think that the removal of the foreign tax credit is necessarily the best way of discouraging investment abroad and encouraging it here.
Mr. Ferris: Is that both sides of the fence?
Mr. Mancini: Do you understand it?
Ms. Bryden: Instead our investment dealers might be encouraged perhaps by some tax incentives, to be more aggressive in persuading Canadians to invest in Canadian stocks instead of promoting investments in Wall Street at such a rate. The small junior Canadian mining companies, the genuine ones with real finds -- not the bucket shop artists but the genuine ones -- say they can’t get Canadian capital for development.
Mr. Peterson: Of course, you are only in favour of the virtuous moves, aren’t you?
Ms. Bryden: And the recent changes in the Securities Commission regulations have added to their problems. Most of them are forced to sell their finds to the big companies at bargain prices, because they get no help in raising capital for the development of a Canadian resource by Canadian prospectors and developers.
Statistics Canada figures for 1974 which I cited earlier showed that 31 per cent of foreign direct investment by Canadian companies abroad was in mining and petroleum. So that is where the money that could be going into our own resource industries is going, and I think things like this foreign tax credit may be encouraging it. We should be counteracting that.
Perhaps we could encourage it by participating in some joint ventures with them. Perhaps we could encourage our own financial institutions to earmark a percentage of their funds for investment at home in housing, in resource development, in new second- cry industries, in import replacement. Much of our machinery and equipment is imported; that’s an area where we should be looking at investments.
One may ask whether the corporations really need this particular form of tax relief at this time. It is a question of priorities. The Treasurer, in his Economic Strategy for 1977, made an attempt to show that the corporations were starving and to excite our pity for them. Yet Eric Kierans in the Walter L. Gordon lecture in St. John’s in November said big business has never had it so good. He went on to ask, “What are they crying about?” He pointed out that corporation profits increased from $7.7 billion in 1970 to $17.8 billion in 1975, a 131 per cent increase in that period, an annual increase of 26 per cent. Forecasts for next year are for 12 per cent to 15 per cent with the relaxed AIB rules for profits. At the same time, the effective rate of federal corporation tax went down from 29.6 per cent to 26.6 per cent in that period from 1970 to 1975. Said Mr. Kierans:
“But who, listening to businessmen, would have believed that this had happened?”
The provincial Treasurer could only show that corporation profits were suffering by a very careful selection of statistics and base periods and some adjustment for inventory inflation due to things like the increase in world oil prices. But he didn’t give us the figures showing the extent of the adjustment, so we don’t really know what his figures are hosed on. In other words, we don’t know to what extent he cooked the books. For example, he used just the first nine months of 1976, compared to the same period a year ago, to show that after-tax profits are dropping for 30 selected companies. Our research department has tabulated the profits of these some 30 companies for the preceding years, 1971 to 1975, and estimated a figure for 1976 based on those first nine-month figures that the Treasurer used.
The table shows that the 30 companies had an annual rate of increase in after-tax profit of 15 per cent since 1971. They did face a drop in the last two years, that is true. But that drop in profits simply reflects the fact that one can’t go on taking more out of the economy than is justified and expect anyone else to have enough purchasing power left to buy the overpriced goods. It also reflects the business cycles, where high profit rises and high price rises are followed by wage catchups, because people have to eat. That, of course, reduces profit in time. One can’t expect to top last year’s profit increases with the same percentage increase ever year, especially if the profits were already at an exorbitant rate. The provincial Treasurer never questions the rate of profits.
While we support this bill in the interests of tax equity, we would like to have seen an amendment to The Corporations Tax Act which would call for a greater contribution to the provincial revenues from the corporations than they are now making. As I mentioned in my budget speech last April, the corporations’ contribution to provincial revenues has gone down from 17.5 per cent in 1965-1966 to 10.9 per cent 11 years later.
I also pointed out that the Ontario corporation tax rate of 12 per cent is below that of three other provinces. British Columbia is 15 per cent, Newfoundland is 14 per cent and Manitoba is 13 per cent. The Ontario rate has not been raised since 1967. A one-point addition to the tax would bring in at least $80 million to help reduce the Treasurer’s overblown deficit. That would be the kind of amendment we would be much more interested in supporting. In that way we could reverse the trend to reduce the corporate contribution to provincial revenues and we could reverse the trend which is shifting the burden of taxes to the overloaded individual taxpayer.
Mr. Peterson: If I could just speak briefly on this bill, Mr. Speaker, we regard it as nothing more than a housekeeping bill, although I must say when I heard the speech of the member for Beaches-Woodbine, who I gather is supporting the bill, I was about to caucus again and maybe reassess our position, because it worries me very much that the NDP are supporting this.
Mr. Nixon: There has got to be something wrong with it.
Mr. McClelland: Gives you a chance for some bravado.
Mr. Peterson: I must say I was very fascinated by her assessment about investment in Ontario. I would be very interested in leaving this matter over for a couple of days to see what her view would be then about investment in Ontario, the productive capacity of Ontario, the manufacturing capacity of Ontario, and all the other various aspects of the Ontario economy that produce wealth. I’ll be very interested to hear her reaction at that particular time; if I may, I would like to take the liberty at that point of recounting to her some of the things she said tonight.
As I said, we don’t regard this as anything more than a housekeeping matter. We see it as bringing Ontario in line with the rest of the provinces. We don’t see it as a dramatic thing. I don’t see it as a point to make great speeches on the state of the economy of the province of Ontario. That will come later.
Mr. Nixon: It is zilch.
Mr. Peterson: We have very serious reservations about the course this government is taking at this time --
Mr. Peterson: At this particular time I don’t see that removing double taxation on a matter of two per cent in foreign income is a significant issue to debate with the government its economic strategy or policies or those areas where the government is encouraging the productive sector of this economy at this time.
Mr. Swart: What’s a million?
Mr. Peterson: As I say, we will support the bill and we will save the serious debate for a later matter.
Mr. Speaker: Do other hon. members wish to speak to this bill? If not, the hon. minister?
Mr. Conway: Is the minister mean?
Mr. Nixon: Meen by name, mean by nature.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine has raised a number of points with respect to the bill. Actually the member for London Centre has answered one of her questions. She was asking about other jurisdictions. Other jurisdictions in Canada, I understand, have had this kind of full credit with respect to capital gains experienced in foreign jurisdictions by corporations paying tax here in Ontario since about 1972. As indicated, we are bringing our legislation into line for a full tax credit to the extent of foreign tax payable -- limited, of course, to the amount of tax credit here.
She was asking about retroactivity. One could have argued, I expect, to have taken it hack a lot earlier than January 1 of this year, but inasmuch as there would be returns that would have been filed without taking this into account, it seemed appropriate to take it back no further than January 1, 1976. That is why we provide for that degree of retroactivity only, rather than to go back as far as 1972 to parallel the kind of tax credit allowances provided for in the other jurisdictions.
As to the extent of the amount of the estimated reduction in revenue, I am not at all clear where the Treasurer or his staff may have found the figure of -- I think the member for Beaches-Woodbine said it was an estimate of $1 million to $5 million. It is our estimate that it is approximately $500,000, rather than that larger figure. By the estimates of my ministry, that’s the maximum reduction in revenue by this streamlining of the foreign capital gains credit.
I wondered which argument the hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine was following when in the first instance she was talking about bringing some equity into the avoidance of double taxation yet on the other hand was suggesting that perhaps we shouldn’t be giving this kind of credit at all in order to justify more investments here in Canada. I think she was really doing that as a sort of obiter dictum rather than something directly on the issue here tonight, because I think all parties agree that this amendment does bring some equity to the legislation. I don’t know why she’s suggesting we have hurried this because, frankly, if we’d been hurrying it we might have chine it sometime earlier. I’m delighted that we’re bringing it into effect at least for this taxation year. I want to express my appreciation to both opposition parties for their indicated support.
Mr. Nixon: Is that on?
Mr. Ferris: You have only got three people here; let Marvin talk for a while.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point, there is an almost irresistible collective request on the part of the opposition parties that the member for London North speak to the bill.
Mr. Ferris: Voluntary irresistibility. Certainly as an accountant --
Mr. Lewis: I think he might do so to show his imaginative expertise.
Mr. Speaker: Even if the member should wish to, it is too late.
Ordered for third reading.
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Meen moved second reading of Bill 169, An Act to amend The Income Tax Act.
Ms. Bryden: This bill does two things. It establishes the Ontario income tax rate for the 1977 tax year, setting it at the same rate it has been since 1912, 30.5 per cent of the federal tax.
Mr. Ferris: You are not getting your notes from the NDP.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Beaches-Woodbine only is making her remarks. Thank you.
Ms. Bryden: The second thing it does is change the method or the basis for calculating the tax credit in the income tax system which is given for retail sales tax expenditures. The intention of that tax credit was to allow low- and moderate-income people some relief from the sales tax which they paid on a great many things which were really necessities of life and which cut down their amount of disposable income very seriously.
Speaking to the second thing first, it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure out the exact meaning of the clauses changing the base for the calculation of the retail sales tax credit.
Mr. Conway: Does the NDP need Philadelphia lawyers? Never.
Ms. Bryden: It’s based on the federal tax exemptions and deductions. I believe, end I ,stand open to correction by the minister, that the amendment is reducing the base on which the retail sales tax credit is calculated by deleting from the calculations certain deductions allowed under the federal Income Tax Act.
These deductions are those now made under section 110, subsection 1 and then the letters e, f, g and h. They relate to deductions for blind persons or disabled persons confined to bed or a wheelchair and who did not claim under the medical expense deduction for an attendant or for nursing home care. They also relate to deductions for university costs, the $50 a month allowed to either students or those who support them.
The federal Minister of Finance in his budget speech last May announced certain changes in these sections for 1976, and they are now before the House of Commons in Bill C-22. They have not yet been passed. But this bill appears to remove those particular deductions from the calculation of the retail sales tax credit so that in future it will be confined mainly to the personal exemptions for single and married status, for dependants. children and so on. If we are correct that this is happening, that the base is being reduced, it seems most inappropriate at this time, when inflation is causing the burden of sales tax to increase. Even though the exemptions on which the sales tax credit is calculated are indexed, the indexing never keeps up with the cost of living. There is always a lag. The indexing may not be precisely fitted to the particular cost of taxable items but may be a more general index that covers general increases in the cost of living.
I think we should have some explanation from the minister as to whether he really is reducing the base for this tax credit. It seems to me that what we should be seeing at this time is an increase in the retail sales tax credit, as well as an increase in all the other tax credits which are provided in our income tax system, in order to try to make it more fair and less regressive.
For instance, the property tax credit has not been changed in two years and it is becoming less and less of an offset to higher property taxes; therefore, it is reducing the regressivity of the property tax much less because it is mainly a fixed amount of $180 and only allows for 10 per cent of property taxes or of rents to be added to that $180. The higher that taxes and rents go, only 10 per cent is taken into account in calculating the property tax credit. And, of course, as incomes rise, the offset at the other end, which permits the tax credit to phase out for the upper-income groups, becomes higher and higher as a result of inflation in incomes; so more and more people are cut out of the tax credit than in the past.
I think the whole tax credit system is ready for re-examination and increase if we are going to have a fairer, more equitable and more progressive tax system. We also need not only tax credits to offset the burden but also some action to control prices and profits, which are causing this inflation which, as I mentioned, is raising the burden of the amount of sales tax paid.
Going back to the first part of the bill, it was presumably to set our income tax rates for 1977 but, in fact, we are really being asked to buy a pig in a poke. The Treasurer, in his statement called Ontario’s Economic Strategy for 1977, said that he was not suggesting that income tax should be raised until the fiscal negotiations for more tax room are finalized. We know that the Treasurer is up in Ottawa right now discussing those fiscal arrangements, but if he comes back without the sort of tax room that he wanted, then perhaps we will be facing another amendment to The Income Tax Act next week which will change the present rate of 30.5 per cent.
The provincial Treasurer has already rattled his sabre and suggested that if the federal government does not continue the guarantee payment -- which was supposed to help the provinces adjust to the so-called tax reform we got and which did cause some reduction in revenues -- if the federal guarantee payment is discontinued at the end of this year, as was proposed by the federal government, he might have to impose a 10 per cent across the hoard income tax increase. We don’t know if that is what we will be facing when the Treasurer gets back.
Of course, he will also have to find money to pay for the $160 million tax concession he’s going to give to the corporations for the machinery and equipment sales tax rebate.
We think the provincial Treasurer should not consider a 10 per cent or any across-the-board income tax increase until he has looked at other sources of revenue; until he has a proper contribution from the corporations, as I have mentioned in discussing the previous bill; until he has a proper contribution from our resource industries; until he has looked at various other aspects such as the number of loopholes in our present income tax system.
A recent study by the National Council of Welfare talks about our personal income tax system as being the hidden well are system. It points out that total exemptions and deductions under the personal income tax in 1974 came to $6.4 billion and that 33 per cent -- or over $2 billion -- of those exemptions and deductions went to the top 11 per cent of the tax filers.
That’s the sort of income tax system we have right now which the Ontario government should be pressing the federal government to change, rather than just going up and asking for more tax room. If the federal government closed some of those loopholes and withdrew some of those over-generous concessions, which really go mainly to the sipper income groups, he could have more revenue. We could also have more revenue if we didn’t have just a half-tax on capital gains.
The provincial Treasurer provided us with a new study of personal income tax with his mini-budget last month. It gives a rather interesting picture of the kind of income tax we have in this province and who is really paying the taxes -- although he has promised that another study is coming out which will go into more detail about the incidence.
I thought we should look at the situation with regard to the number of taxpayers earning over $35,000 in 1974 and what effective rate of tax they were paying. His figures show that there were 50,000 taxpayers in this category -- over $35,000. The equivalent income of those same taxpayers now probably would be over $50,000 or more.
The average income of those 50,000 taxpayers was $60,500. Their effective tax rate was 34 per cent. In other words, they were paying only a third of their $60,000 and still have $40,000 left on average. In addition they received, on capital gains, almost half of the total taxable capital gains, they received, on RRSP contributions, two to three times the average contribution for RRSPs. They received three to four times the average contribution for registered pension plans, and on interest income from bonds, banks and mortgages they received some four to 20 times the average contribution, so we have people at the top who are being somewhat under-taxed. That category would now be $50,000 and up, because in the previous two years their income went up by 38 per cent and it’s probably gone up by at least that much in the last two years.
One of the things that the National Council of Welfare study showed is that all these deductions for registered pension plans and RRSPs and the registered home ownership saving plan tend to go to the higher income earners. The more they earn the greater the benefit. They suggested that most of these personal exemptions and deductions should be put on the basis of tax credits so that everybody gets the same amount instead of it going up as your income goes up. That is certainly something that this government should be pressing for in its negotiations with Ottawa and in working out its own tax credit system.
There are just two other points I wanted to make. I mentioned in discussing the previous bill the inequity on political contributions. The people of modest income are just not being allowed to play their role in our democracy by being able to contribute to a political party and get a tax rebate. This is because the rebate is calculated after their tax credits. I mentioned that the tax credits really are supplementary to the income tax system and therefore should not be taken off before the political contribution is allowed for.
There is another rather difficult point on election contributions. I understand the federal government permits the election contribution credit to be made regardless of whether the husband or the wife signed the cheque in the case where one spouse is not a taxpayer -- or the cheque could be signed on a joint account or to be a joint contribution. I understand the provincial government was asked by the federal authorities if they would not like the administration to be the same, since the federal government collects the income tax -- to apply the same rules to the provincial political contribution credit.
I have been told that the provincial government turned this down on two grounds; one was revenue and the other was principle. The revenue would be negligible. I am sure. The number of places where the political contribution cheque was signed by the non-working spouse and the tax rebate goes to the working spouse would not be a great many. But it would give those families an opportunity to be first-class citizens instead of second-class citizens in participating in our democratic process. On principle, it seems to me, that should be the guiding factor if we are going to have a tax credit for political purposes that encourages the participation of many people in the financing of our parties.
Another possibility which has been put forward by this party and was, I believe, also suggested by the Camp commission -- or discussed by them anyway -- is the idea of a political checkoff on the income tax. The taxpayer could --
An hon. member: You do well by the checkoff system.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I fail to see where that is any part of this particular bill.
Mr. Reid: What has been on this particular bill?
Mr. Good: She has been on the bill for half an hour.
Ms. Bryden: This is the sort of change in the tax credit system --
Mr. Reid: Running her old speeches through again.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I just point out that the hon. member is supposed to be talking to the amendment that is contained in this particular bill and not to any other part of the general income tax.
Ms. Bryden: There is a tax credit in this hill, Mr. Speaker, and I thought this was --
Mr. Speaker: I see nothing to do with, for instance, political contributions or what have you. So we should refrain from discussing those particular items which are not contained in this particular bill.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I think that I’ve made the main points that I wanted to make. We’d rather see a bill that was bringing in a reform of the tax credit system and bringing in a reform of the general income tax so that there is more equity and more progressiveness in it.
Mr. Peterson: We regard this bill I too as mainly a matter of housekeeping. But I was very interested to hear the member for Beaches-Woodbine again speak on this bill with respect to political tax credits. It seems to me that her system of income taxation and credits would only revolve around political tax credits. I would respectfully submit to her there is more to it than that. It is interesting to me that she takes every single opportunity to throw in a little move for increased or better handled political tax credits --
Mr. McClellan: Eat your heart out.
Mr. Peterson: -- and I think there are more important things in this particular legislation -- as there were in the last piece of legislation -- that we should deal with.
As I said, we regard this as a matter of housekeeping. It’s very interesting that the Treasurer was running around this province in the last three or four months threatening four per cent income tax hikes and making all sorts of threatening noises about what may or may not happen, depending on certain federal action. Bet eventually I’m sure that he will construe himself again as a man of constraint because he’s held the income tax rate at 30.5 per cent. In fact this has been, I understand it, the same rate since about 1972. We don’t regard it as dramatic; we don’t regard it as particularly exciting.
The matter of income tax reform we think is a very important one. We’re not sure if this is the time or the bill to discuss that particular matter. We will be discussing that because we think there are a great number of changes that have to be brought forward.
Having the second lowest income tax rate in the Dominion of Canada there is certainly some room to move, in our view, particularly in view of the excessive property tax increases and in view of the Treasurer’s idea of restraint being to load more and more on to the municipalities through a different tax base. We think this is a very important tax base that we can deal with, we think there’s room to move and we’ll be bringing forward proposals --
Mr. Lewis: What do you mean there is room to move?
Mr. Peterson: There’s room to move up.
Mr. Lewis: You mean to increase the income tax?
Mr. Peterson: There’s room to increase the income tax, there’s no question.
Mr. Lewis: I just wanted to get that in black and white.
Mr. Peterson: Again I’ll say that very clearly for the Leader of the Opposition, just so that he understands it very clearly. We think that given the second lowest rate of income tax in the Dominion that there is room to move in an organized, orchestrated, well-coordinated basis. We’re particularly concerned --
Mr. Lewis: But it means up rather than down, I take it.
Mr. Peterson: You can move either way.
An hon. member: No, sideways.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please -- the hon. member for London Centre only.
Mr. Peterson: We find that we can go both ways on several issues and you never know what will happen. We’ll save that as a surprise for later on But we regard this, as I said, as a matter of housekeeping. We don’t see any real fundamental disagreement, given --
Mr. Lewis: How high do you intend I to go on income tax? How high are you going?
Mr. Peterson: It depends on --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for London Centre, please, will ignore the interjections and debate the bill, thank you.
Mr. Ferris: Well said, Mr. Speaker. Long overdue.
Mr. Lewis: Would the member permit a question perhaps?
Mr. Peterson: Certainly.
Mr. Lewis: I wonder if you would tell us how high is up? That is to say, how much do you intend to increase the income tax?
Mr. Peterson: Let me say by way of answer that the potential of up is infinity. If the hon. member had a philosophical course at university he would know that.
Mr. Lewis: I see.
Mr. Peterson: Let me just say I’m not predicting that now. I’m saying that we will support this particular bill. But what concerns us, as I said --
Mr. Lewis: No wonder Marvin crossed the floor.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, the Treasurer has run around calling himself a man of restraint --
Mr. Lewis: I would think so compared to you.
Mr. Peterson: -- yet at the same time threatening these income tax increases. We are on record. We have been on record for a long time --
Mr. Lewis: You have promised income tax increases.
Mr. Peterson: -- as favouring this particular rate. As the system is presently constituted, we support it. We would support no increase as it is presently constituted. If that’s the way it sits; we will support the bill. There is no equivocation on that.
Mr. Speaker: Do any other hon. members wish to address themselves to this bill? The hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.
Mr. Lewis: This is the new testament he is making --
Mr. Nixon: I will make a comment or two in support of what my colleague has said.
Mr. Nixon: It seems to me that if -- and God forbid --
Mr. Lewis: At least God, yes.
Mr. Nixon: -- the Tories were ever to be returned in a position in which they had enough members so they weren’t concerned with the opposition position we would not have been treated to this particular bill. They have spoken in favour of an increased income tax percentage and certainly we think it would be a tragic mistake if it were to be raised. For the minister to sit there as he has, the patsy of the Treasurer as he always is -- he has no control over the figures which go into this bill in any particular area at all. He simply reflects the policy which has been stated by the Treasurer who is not even in the House tonight. All he does is pilot the legislation through the House even though his mouth is wide open even when he isn’t speaking, from time to time.
I would suggest that in the unlikely event the Conservative Party is returned in a position of majority in this province again the rate would be substantially higher than that which is before us now. Of course, we support this level because we feel it is as high as it should be and I would hope --
Mr. Lewis: That isn’t what your financial critic says.
Mr. Nixon: -- that an increase in the income tax would not be necessary. All the Minister of Revenue has to do is persuade his colleague, the Treasurer, to cut some of the inordinate expenses of government and that would surely be an improvement on the situation we presently have.
Mr. Spence: But he won’t do that.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order. The hon. member for Welland-Thorold.
Mr. Shore: Can we have a third opinion over there? Let’s get a third opinion.
Mr. Swart: I want to say that the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk not only has to rise and bail out his leader on occasion but now he’s bailing out the potential leader.
Mr. Nixon: Not at all, I am supporting him.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I found that interesting, Mr. Speaker. It sure didn’t sound to me as if he was supporting the member for London Centre.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. Lewis: I intend to quote Peterson on this subject rather than Nixon, is that all right on the hustings?
Mr. Nixon: Nobody will listen to you whatever you say.
Mr. Speaker: The hon minister has the floor, thank you.
Hon. Mr. Meen: As a matter of fact, I think I would like to quote the member for London Centre, too, and it would make a little more sense. At least one gets the picture of the Liberal party.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I might observe that the 30.5 per cent is a relatively low rate across Canada. We make no apologies for holding it at that for the time being and for the foreseeable future, so far as I am aware.
Mr. Nixon: Until your instructions come from the Treasurer.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I might observe that there is only one other province with a lower rate, namely Alberta, at 26 per cent -- and they have oil. British Columbia has 31.5 this year, going to 32.5 for 1977. Manitoba is 42.5 per cent -- 42.5 per cent in that socialist province -- and staying at 42.5 per cent next year. They are not proposing to come down. New Brunswick is 41.5. Newfoundland is 41 per cent and going to 42.
Mr. Cunningham: A Tory province.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Nova Scotia is 38.5 and holding at that for next year. Prince Edward Island is 36 per cent and holding -- a Liberal stronghold. Saskatchewan, that other centre of socialism, is 40 per cent and holding.
Mr. Nixon: They are not getting a checkoff from the corporations out there?
Hon. Mr. Meen: It appears they are going to hold the line on that for at least next year. I think it is appropriate in times like this that we should try to hold on to the 30.5 per cent figure and that is precisely what we are doing.
There seems to me to be some confusion with respect to this credit under the retail sales tax aspect of the Ontario tax credit programme, and I am not going to respond in detail to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, who wandered very far off the principle of this bill, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McClellan: She was right on.
An hon. member: She would have nothing to say if she didn’t.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Let me just explain what we are trying to do here, by taking the members back to 1973, when the sales tax credit was under consideration. It was the intention then to give the credit to taxpayers and their dependants based on the taxpayer’s personal exemption. Simple enough so far, I would venture to say.
Hon. Mr. Meen: Subsequently, in 1974, the federal government introduced provisions in the federal Act allowing for the transfer of certain unused deductions between spouses, and we paralleled this action by an appropriate amendment in our legislation.
The transfer deductions and the taxpayer’s own personal exemptions were treated together as total personal exemptions on page four of the tax return. This resulted in the amount of the sales tax credit being higher than had originally been intended because, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine indicated, some other elements got caught up into this which had really not been intended.
Now that the federal government intends -- and it is Bill C-22 to which the hon. member made reference -- to include only personal exemptions in section 109 of the federal Act, and separate from transferred deductions on page four of the tax return -- in other words, they are segregating these things -- it is practical to base once again the sales tax credit on the personal exemptions only. In other words, to come back to the position which we had originally intended. In fact, to use the colloquial, were we to do nothing at this stage with our legislation and the use of the federal forms, which I guess are now printed with respect to the returns to be filed next year --
Mr. Nixon: You mean they print them without this legislation?
Hon. Mr. Meen: -- we would have ourselves in what might be called a bit of a mishmash.
Ms. Bryden: Cutting back on handicapped people.
Hon. Mr. Meen: So it is essential that we straighten this out so that the credit is only properly applicable.
I think that explains it as clearly us I can in a few succinct sentences. It is a complicated kind of thing, as the hon. member has said. I am not sure that it takes a Philadelphia lawyer to understand it, but I can say that it takes a good deal of time to concentrate on the various sections in order to comprehend what the federal government is doing by its amendments to sections 109 and 110 of The Income Tax Act, and therefore what we have to do in order to simplify the return and to simplify the tax credit application with respect to retail sales tax credit of one per cent in the application to the forms.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 168, An Act to amend The Corporations Tax Act.
Bill 169, An Act to amend The Income Tax Act.
EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT
House in committee on Bill 139, An Act respecting Employees’ Health and Safety.
Mr. Chairman: Are there any comments, remarks or amendments to any section of Bill 139? If so, what section?
On section 1:
Mr. Laughren: As strange as it may seem, Mr. Chairman, it’s section 1. I did want to indicate to the chairman and to the minister that we shall be proposing a number of amendments, and I have sent a copy of those amendments to the minister. There are several of the amendments about which we feel very strongly, and with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I’ll indicate what those are just prior to moving an amendment to section 1.
Mr. Bullbrook: May I rise on a point of order, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Chairman: Any time.
Mr. Bullbrook: Anticipating the amendments, and I appreciate very much the fact that my colleague from Nickel Belt has supplied me with a copy of them, frankly I think we should resolve now the method of the ultimate resolution by the House of the amendment. My understanding has been that my colleague wishes to stack some and not stack others. I want to say to you, sir, that as much as we would like to facilitate my colleague, I just can’t subscribe to that. My understanding of the purpose of stacking is to expedite the business of the House.
I totally subscribe to any request made by any member in connection with the amendments proposed by the minister, by the official opposition or by ourselves, that we stack them. But to stack some and not stack others really makes a travesty of the intent of stacking, because what it does is to permit a party or an individual to emphasize the intent with respect to any individual amendment.
I hope that we’ll be able to go with total stacking, because I understand there is something in the neighbourhood of 30 amendments that are proposed at the present time. I ask that we anticipate this so that we understand where we’re going.
Mr. Laughren: On the point of order, Mr. Chairman. I, too, wish to expedite the business of the House with these amendments. For that particular reason I was going to propose -- and I mentioned it to the member for Sarnia -- that in order to expedite the business of the House that we do stack certain amendments. I was under the impression that stacking of amendments was for the convenience of the members and that it was an indication that there would be a similar vote on certain amendments, but it was at the wish of the members of the Legislature and the persons moving the amendments as to how they were to be voted on. I see nothing, in principle, that is wrong with stacking certain votes and not stacking other votes. I find the alternative in a bill such as this to be extremely time-consuming and, I might say, unnecessary.
Mr. Bullbrook: May I just make one comment, sir? I appreciate your indulgence. Under the rules, I feel that you can’t make any ruling now. We’ll have to wait until the first proposition as to stacking.
Mr. Chairman: To stack or not to stack is not the prerogative of the Chair. You stack with unanimous consent of the House; if that’s withheld, you vote. It’s not within the province of the Chair.
Mr. Bullbrook: I think you understand my purpose in rising.
Mr. Chairman: Will the hon. member for Nickel Belt please put his amendment?
Mr. Laughren: May I say a couple of words about section 1 of the bill before I put my amendment, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. Chairman: All right.
Mr. Laughren: Thank you. There are several sections in the bill that we intend to move amendments on --
Mr. Chairman: You must speak to section 1, though.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, I shall speak to section 1. In section 1, which consists of the definitions, there is much that can be read into definitions. When one compares the approach to occupational health in the various jurisdictions, it becomes clear just how important definitions can be when dealing with occupational health. One need look no further than section 1(b) of the bill, which defines employer to include a manager as defined in part IX of The Mining Act. We feel that employer should not be one who has control over the work place and the employees at the work place, but rather that an employer can mean a person, a firm, association, body, or corporation who or which has in connection with the operation of a place of employment one or more workers in his or its service.
Mr. Chairman, I might point out -- and I know that you would be interested in this -- that there is a very big difference between giving an employer in principle the right to control the employees in his work place and the right to be in charge of the operation of a place of employment. Surely the sooner we can move away from the whole concept of an employer having control over the employee, the further we move toward civilized industrial relations.
It was evident in the submissions that were made to the standing social development committee that the employers in Ontario don’t agree with me. But I can tell you it is because of some of those submissions that I feel even stronger about this section now than I did before I drafted the amendment. Some of the attitudes displayed before the standing committee indicated that the employer had to be the one who controlled not only the work place, not only the conditions of safety and health, but the employee -- every moment that the employee was at the work place. Surely that is not acceptable.
If we are going to say to employees in Ontario that we want you to --
Mr. Bullbrook: Yon didn’t say that.
Mr. Laughren: I’m going to tell you something: If we are saying to the employees in Ontario that we want you to have a joint responsibility in matters of occupational health -- that’s what this bill says, that there’s a creation of a joint committee to deal with occupational health problems -- and if we believe that employees have a joint responsibility with the managers over problems of occupational health, then we have to give those employees some control over the work place. You cannot continue to give the employees the responsibility without the control over the work place.
Mr. Bullbrook: I am just telling you about second reading, where you state the employee has total control.
Mr. Chairman: Order please, the hon. member for Nickel Belt has the floor. The member for Sarnia will have his opportunity.
Mr. Laughren: I shall not dwell unduly on section 1(h), but I do think it is terribly important to establish that when we are debating a bill that gives employees joint responsibility in matters dealing with occupational health we say to those employees all across Ontario, “Not only are we going to give you responsibility but we are going to give you some authority in the work place.” You don’t say that to the employees by saying that the definition of an employer is someone who has control over them. That’s not how you build a joint safety and health relationship in the province of Ontario.
I am very concerned that this bill will give employees the impression that they suddenly have new-found rights. Hopefully there will be a large educational process all across Ontario in connection with this bill.
If they turn to part IX of The Mining Act and find that an employer is someone who has control over the employees, the employees are going to say, “Just a minute now. I thought we had some kind of say in these matters.” Yet by definition the employer has control over them. I don’t see anything in this bill that says it refutes the definition of employer as defined in The Mining Act. As a matter of fact, you are enshrining that archaic definition in this bill.
Mr. Chairman, if I might, I am including with the amendment other amendments on section 1, for your information.
Mr. Chairman: Do you want to read them all at once?
Mr. Laughren: I would rather speak to the others individually because they are somewhat different. They deal with different definitions so, with your permission, we would deal with them individually.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Laughren moves that section 1(b) of the Bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(b) Employer means a person, firm, association, body or corporation who or which has in connection with the operation of a place of employment one or more workers in his or its service.”
Mr. Bullbrook: I want to voice again my appreciation to both the minister and my colleague from Nickel Belt for giving me copies of the amendments they have in mind. I want to generalize, with your indulgence, for a moment. I’m very pleased to see that my colleague from Nickel Belt --
Mr. Laughren: Careful.
Mr. Bullbrook: -- representing the new left.
Mr. Laughren: No. On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I represent the strength and centre.
Mr. Chairman: That’s not a point of order.
Mr. Reid: Nor is it true.
Mr. Shore: That’s good.
Mr. Chairman: You would expedite the operation of this committee if you wouldn’t indulge in frivolous points of order. Thank you.
Mr. Bullbrook: Again you have demonstrated your own ability both as Deputy Speaker and chairman of the whole House. I didn’t mean to be provocative with respect to my comment about the new left. I did have some insidious motivation which I won’t expand upon now.
Mr. Warner: No, extraneous perhaps.
Mr. Chairman: Is this on section 1(b) of the bill?
Mr. Bullbrook: On section 1(b) -- as much as my colleague from Nickel Belt, in the first five minutes of his dissertation, was on section 1(b). I want to say this, if I may, and I quote from Hansard on second reading --
Mr. Wildman: Try Shakespeare.
Mr. Bullbrook: It was “The employee must control the working place.” I mid, in response to that, “Quite the contrary. The intention of this legislation is that the employer and the employee working together control the health and safety of the work place.” That’s our intention. If we view ourselves as the middle of the road in this legislation, so be it --
Mr. Warner: You can get hit by cars coming in both directions.
Mr. Bullbrook: -- and we’re happy with it. I want to look at the amendment which was given to me. The effect of this amendment is to broaden very much the definition of what constitutes an employer and then to restrict and at the same time broaden the application of the statute to it. It says, in effect, that any person, firm, association, body -- now there is something. I’d love to sit down and invite my colleague from Nickel Belt to define for me what a body is.
Mr. Wildman: We dealt with that.
Mr. Bullbrook: We just finished the funeral directors’ legislation and one inherently knew what a body was there. I look at The Interpretation Act and there’s no such thing as a body. I looked at the Criminal Code to define the word body there.
Mr. Mackenzie: As long as you don’t oppose it.
Mr. Samis: Just tell us you are opposing it.
Mr. Bullbrook: I want to sit down and I want to direct a question to my colleague from Nickel Belt. What is the legal meaning of body? Does he mean unincorporated association? If he moans that, say it. I want to know what he means by body because I’m vitally concerned. Do you realise the implication of what you’re doing here? Frankly, if you are prepared to explain to me totally the impact of the amendment, I’ll accept it.
I want to voice through you, Mr. Chairman, to the Leader of the Opposition and to all his colleagues that I am not interested in the gamesmanship that went on in committee about who is intellectual, articulate, sensitive but has no heart. This isn’t a question of whether individuals have heart. We are beginning a sincere attempt to structure, by statute, a protection for the workmen, individually and collectively, in the province of Ontario and we in this party support it totally, recognizing the need for balance. As I said once, legislation for reasonable people, but legislation for unreasonable people too.
We must look at the application of that, and we begin with what seems to be an innocuous section. But what it says is that within the framework of all these people, including “body,” once you have one or more employees, then the statute applies to it. Just thinking from my own legal background, if I may, let’s say a management corporation is established for tax purposes, sometimes nefarious tax purposes; this provision would bring the administration of that statute into play with respect to that corporation.
I try to transport myself, as Alice in Wonderland as it might be, to my function as the Minister of Labour --
Mr. Bullbrook: Frankly, I think we’ve got to be administratively sound. When we get to section 4(1), then we begin to define where the exercise of the ministerial discretion should be effected; we’re going to get into a numbers game there, although I hope we don’t. I truly believe under this statute that the obligation of the minister should be mandatory where either management or the employees are not content with the health and safety provisions that prevail in the work place. I’ve said this in committee, but amendments for the sake of words are not what we need. This statute, being a beginning, doesn’t require obfuscation by enlargement that has no validity or purpose.
I ask you, what is a body in connection with “the operation of a place of employment, one or more workers in his or its service”? With that, I’m going to sit down. I hope I get an answer. I beg your indulgence in this respect. I can envisage this debate going on for a week.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Forever.
Mr. Bullbrook: If we’re going to be involved with amendments for the sake of amendments, we’re going to be involved with very elasticized debate. But if we’re going to be involved with amendments that deal with the very gut issues of this legislation -- that is, the protection of the individual employee and the protection collectively of the employees -- then we’re going to support the government wholeheartedly and we’re going to support the opposition wholeheartedly, where it makes sense.
Mr. Ferrier: You can’t do both, though.
Mr. Bullbrook: Yes, you bet your life we’re on both sides. If in our judgement it’s in the best interests of the employee primarily, and the employer also -- we have an obligation as legislators to look at the employer --
An hon. member: Talk about Alice in Wonderland!
Mr. Bullbrook: Certainly we do. There’s no doubt about it.
Mr. Ferrier: Aren’t you straddling both sides of the fence?
Mr. Bullbrook: The Leader of the Opposition nods in consent, because the day of the narrow approach to trade unionism, to collective bargaining, to labour relations, has finished. It’s totally finished. I’m going to resume my seat, asking my colleague from Nickel Belt, what is a “body” in the context of his amendment?
Mr. Hodgson: Almost, Stephen.
Mr. Drea: I hope it’s a live one.
Mr. Wildman: There’s a body over there. Mr. Warner: They want a description.
Mr. Laughren: If I might respond to the member for Sarnia, if I thought for one moment that if I was to delete the word “body” that he would support my amendment, I would do so immediately.
Mr. Laughren: If the member for Sarnia will indicate that’s the case, I shall delete it; otherwise I shall proceed with an explanation.
Mr. Bullbrook: Oh, you will proceed with the explanation?
Mr. Laughren: Unless you are going to support the amendment.
Mr. Bullbrook: Oh, no.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Bullbrook: I don’t want to be involved in gamesmanship. If my colleague can explain to me what “body” means, that’s what I’m asking for. I’m just asking what “body” means.
An hon. member: I haven’t got the foggiest idea.
Mr. Mackenzie: Quit playing games.
Mr. Ferrier: Quit playing your lawyer games.
Mr. Ruston: Go and get the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick).
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Chairman, if the member for Sarnia is saying that the word “body” is different somehow from the word “firm” or the word “association” or the term “corporation,” I would only say that his pettifogging skills exceed mine. Thank you.
Mr. Bullbrook: That is exactly the response I anticipated, and I use it purely to point out to you Mr. Chairman, that we don’t need to be dealing with superfluous words.
Mr. Warner: Then sit down.
Mr. Bullbrook: What we’re doing is passing legislation -- when we get to 2(1), for example, we’re going to be dealing with legislation which is tremendously subjective, tremendously effective. All I am attempting to do is to point out we don’t need words for the sake of words. I don’t mean this to embarrass or to be nasty. The fact is I don’t know what a body is. I presume the intention is to enlarge the definition of employer so that any person exercising administrative or managerial function will not escape as a result of the present definition. I think that’s what the intention is and that’s a very meritorious intention.
Then when we hook on it, the thing I find unattractive, frankly, is the hook on it. It’s not the definition of person, firm, association or corporation --
Mr. Warner: I’ll bet you are a wizard at Scrabble.
Mr. Bullbrook: I’m sorry; I didn’t hear that. Did you wish to say something?
Mr. Reid: Just one of his more juvenile comments; carry on.
Mr. Bullbrook: No, go ahead, if you wish to. I’m always prepared to sit down.
Mr. Warner: You do a fine job with a dictionary.
Mr. Bullbrook: Mr. Chairman, I want to tell you that during the course of this debate, if my colleague from -- I forget the riding; Scarborough-Ellesmere -- wants to join in, I’m only too prepared to resume my seat.
Mr. Warner: It may take a week.
Mr. Bullbrook: I don’t intend to take that long, believe me. I’m trying to set the tone for the debate because it’s going to be a significant debate.
Mr. Warner: You have done that.
Mr. Bullbrook: However, we’ll put up with that. I appreciate it. Mr. Chairman, I’ll direct my remarks to you and to my colleagues through you.
If I may say, there is nothing unattractive to me and, I think, to my colleagues of the Liberal Party in the words person, firm, association or corporation. I think for the sake of exemplification that “body” is a redundancy and not needed in law. It’s the question of one or more workers in his or its service. What that does, in effect -- and I’m not sure the minister will agree with me but I’ll direct my comment to her through you.
We’re eventually going to get into a question of whether we’re involved in a numbers game in the application of the statute. I don’t feel it belongs in the definition section.
It belongs in section 4(1) when we decide in section 4(1) whether it’s more appropriate, for example, as my thought is, that we make it mandatory -- not the word may, but mandatory -- on the minister to impose the health and safety committees where there isn’t one which is satisfactory to both employee and employer. That’s the intention I have.
As to the definition expressed in committee by the New Democratic Party, fine. They had to make an arbitrary decision and they decided on 10, was it not? I think it was 10. Be that as it may, I don’t think the numbers game is an appropriate game.
To begin our discussion of the statute by playing a numbers game as to what constitutes an employer is not appropriate. Frankly, I don’t know why it’s needed. Why don’t we just say an employer means a person, firm, association, or corporation which has, in connection with the operation of its employment, employee, if you want to?
I don’t know why we get into it. Again, I beg the pardon of the chairman and the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere but I want to say this to you -- the purpose of this is not to play games. It totally won’t be as far as I’m concerned. This purpose is to get the best statute possible.
We have heard a tremendous number of briefs; some of which bordered on the sublime, some of which were the contrary in words. We want to work together --
Mr. Deans: We accept that.
Mr. Bullbrook: -- and I’m sure we can work with the member for Nickel Belt.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Chairman, may I respond to that? I agree with most of the remarks of the member for Sarnia, and I will say to him two things: One, that the definition of employer is not entirely out of my mind, it’s from another statute or at least partly drawn from another statute. The word “body” is included to make sure that everything was included. If it is redundant I accept that is possible and I would be quite willing to have that word removed from the section. I agree with the member --
Mr. Chairman: The time for adjournment has arrived.
Mr. Laughren: Well, won’t let a guy finish his sentence either, you know.
Mr. Deans: Let’s put it to a motion.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the committee of the whole House reported progress and asked for leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I know there is some special consideration being given to a question of one of my colleagues, but before you proceed with that may I indicate that on Thursday we were hoping to do second reading of Bill 170 and then to go back into committee of the whole House to carry on with this legislation, plus whatever else may be in committee of the whole House.
Mr. Speaker: The House was notified earlier this afternoon that I was duly and properly informed by the member for Bellwoods that he was not satisfied with the answer to a question directed to the Minister of Health and he wished to raise it at the close of the meeting this evening.
So, in accordance with section 28(a), I deem a motion to adjourn to have been made and I now call upon the member for Bellwoods. He has five minutes to explain his position.
FUNDS FOR SPECIAL FACILITIES
Mr. McClellan: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
In 1974 the Legislature passed The Developmental Services Act, which transferred mentally retarded people from the jurisdiction of The Mental Health Act to The Developmental Services Act by way of providing the legislative framework for implementing the Williston report on normal community living for the mentally retarded.
‘When that was done a major oversight was committed, as follows: The mentally retarded were no longer protected by the services of The Mental Health Act in the event they had a mental illness. Some centres have managed to overcome this problem but it remains a serious problem at the Huronia Regional Centre. A number of tragedies have occurred.
On November 22 the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) tabled the Willard report which was commissioned as a result of a number of serious community tragedies in the Orillia area. When be tabled that report, he said: “The Minister of Health has agreed to undertake with me an immediate review concerning the provision of psychiatric services with a view to inaugurating, insofar as it is feasible, the special psychiatric units under The Mental Health Act which are being recommended by the Willard report.
The Willard report is an excellent report which is eminently supportable by all members of this House, because it addresses itself to the serious problems caused by the gap created when The Developmental Services Act was enacted.
When I asked the Minister of Health on December 2 when, in effect, he would proceed to implement the recommendations of the Willard report as promised on November 22, I understood, by the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Minister of Health left real doubt as to whether he intended to proceed at all to implement the recommendations of the Willard report.
I want to stress how urgently we view this matter and what high priority it has. There are two things at stake: The most obvious is that every-day psychiatric facilities are not available for potentially dangerous and harmful retardates who are also emotionally disturbed, the likelihood of further tragedy is increased, and the very lives and safety of the residents at Huronia Regional Centre are endangered.
But secondly the future of the whole programme of normal community living for the mentally retarded -- the programme of deinstitutionalization, of desegregation -- is threatened by virtue of the failure to implement and to provide psychiatric facilities for emotionally disturbed retardates.
I want to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that this matter was raised by us on April 13, 1976. I suggested to the minister that he do precisely that -- that he establish some kind of half-way facilities under the jurisdiction of The Mental Health Act. The Minister of Community and Social Services said then, “I think the capacity is already there.” I pointed out, “But there are no facilities” -- and today there are still no facilities. I want an assurance from the Minister of Health that he will proceed to set up the facilities now -- not in the 1977-1978 fiscal year and not in April or May but now -- so that they will be in place as quickly as possible. I understand from his response that this means in March.
We are facing at least a year of delay from the time that the obvious solution, not dreamt up by us but ascertained after consultation with those who are responsible for the provision of service, was first brought forward. Surely, the retarded in institutions have a right to security, to freedom from harm and danger. It’s the responsibility of government to provide that and it owes this right to their families. It should be a matter of urgent priority and I urge the minister to give us the assurance that we can look forward to speedy action on this very pressing matter.
Hon. F. S. Miller: When the hon. member spoke to me, both during my estimates when he was overruled by the chairman and later during question period, he was really asking whether moneys were being made available in supplementary estimates for this particular programme. I pointed out that there was no need to do it -- that they would appear in the 1977-1978 estimates if, as, and when required. At the same time I did not try to imply that there was no action being taken. I believe he made that assumption.
Reports are not immediately translated into facilities. I think this report is getting faster and more thorough attention than most. There are 69 recommendations. I don’t know how many of them apply to Health but I would guess perhaps a third of them do. We can accept the great bulk of them. We may not agree in full detail with all of them in the final analysis, but that’s pretty normal.
At the same time we have already set up, I understand, a committee of three people who should start looking at the various patients and residents to determine which should be in psychiatric facilities and which should not. Therefore we’ve accepted the main premise, that there should be a differentiation.
Secondly we will find places to put them in two or three of our facilities -- not necessarily Huronia, but not necessarily excluding Huronia -- as quickly as we can determine where they are best cared for.
I can simply say that the question of the dollars is the least important of the problems. It is simply, for the time being, a transfer from one ministry to another rather than an addition of absolute dollars to the total government budget. I can only assure the member that it is proceeding quickly, is getting the attention it deserves and will receive the priority from me that the member feels it merits.
Mr. Speaker: I deem the motion to adjourn to have been carried.
The House adjourned at 10:40 p.m.