30th Parliament, 4th Session

L016 - Tue 19 Apr 1977 / Mar 19 avr 1977

The House met at 2 p.m.



Mr. Speaker: On Friday last, during the question period, a rather unusual procedure developed, brought about, I think it is fair to say, by the large number of ministers absent from the House during the question period.

There are two points that should be mentioned as far as the procedural aspect is concerned. First, as was pointed out, the ordinary rule as set out in standing order 31(a) is that motions to adjourn the House may be moved prior to the orders of the day only by leave of the House. I suggest that leave of the House does not necessarily predicate the unanimous consent, but is something which the Speaker must judge according to circumstances at the time.

In view of what occurred on Friday -- and as no objection to the motion was made, I presumed leave of the House, and I feel that I was correct in this presumption -- I point out that there is precedent for this action.

The second point on which I feel I should comment is that a member must under ordinary circumstances gain the floor in the usual way before he has the right to move such a motion. He may not interrupt the member who has the floor, by alleging a point of order for the purpose of moving the adjournment. However, the circumstances were again unusual. It was in the question period. That is, no one was holding the floor to speak on a debate; and as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis), who had the floor to ask a question, took no objection to Mr. S. Smith’s interruption, I again gauged the mood of the House to be such that it was desirable to allow the bells to ring on the motion, in order to bring the House back to some semblance of order.

With respect to the other point raised by the government House leader, while it is true that he does not have any specific duties prescribed by the rules, until the orders of the day have been entered upon, it is surely the duty of the executive council to see that there are sufficient members of the council in the House during the question period to make it meaningful. Certainly, the Speaker cannot be expected to take on this obligation.

Mr. Singer: So much for Welch and Deans.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

May I take the opportunity to introduce to the hon. members, three honoured guests in the Speaker’s gallery this afternoon, from Newfoundland. We have Mr. Roger Simmons, who is chairman of the public accounts committee; Mr. R. V. Winsor, the vice-chairman; accompanied by Mr. Ronald Penney the clerk. Welcome gentlemen.


Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege, if I may. I shall state the point with brevity; but I must state it, because in my nearly 14 years in the Legislature I can hardly think of another matter about which I feel more strongly.

Last night, almost at the end of his address, the Premier (Mr. Davis) quoted certain words from my Throne Speech reply which he first implied, and then stated, showed a difference of opinion between the government and ourselves over the question of Quebec.

My words as quoted, Mr. Speaker, were: “When you are talking about sovereignty with economic association, there is an increasing appeal to a lot of people in Quebec; that, I think, is why it is so desperately important that Ontario keep the option open -- keep the doors open.” Somehow, those words were then construed as suggesting that we in the NDP might countenance some kind of independence for Quebec with continued economic union with Canada.

Nothing, but nothing, could be further from the truth. I have said on a dozen different occasions -- and it is all a matter of public record, well known to the Premier -- that we in this party cannot contemplate Canada without Quebec; and that we would do everything in our power, personally and politically, to prevent independence.

My plea for keeping doors open spoke specifically to the need to reach the majority of federalists in Quebec who reject separation on any grounds. On rereading that section of my Throne Speech reply I cannot see any other possible interpretation. Indeed, in that speech I, again, specifically supported the Premier’s initiatives, called for consensus in Ontario, and, ironically enough, added these words; “The majority of Quebecois still want to hear the voices which speak for unity. Let us not be discordant. I judge we won’t be.”

Last night’s episode proves my judgement wrong, and I am frankly upset about that. My remarks were subject to what can only be called the grossest misrepresentation. Occasionally, unhappy degrees of animus, exaggeration or feeling invade this legislative chamber, but surely, on an issue of this kind, there has to be a limit to partisan political expression where that expression is wholly unwarranted.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, on the same point of privilege. I recognize that the Leader of the Opposition has made this point in good faith and it is one about which he feels very deeply. I would like to address myself to that point of privilege in similar good faith and with similar deep conviction. I only regret that the Leader of the Opposition didn’t refer to two items that I raised in the remarks last night. The citations which I included in my remarks last evening both with respect to the defiling of children and sovereignty with economic association were precise.

If what the Leader of the Opposition said at that time with respect to the defiling of children --

Mr. Ferris: It’s a red herring.

Mr. Lewis: Order.

Mr. S. Smith: It’s not on his point of privilege.

Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would like to --

Hon. Mr. Davis: Are you prepared to --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Lewis: I would rise to a point of privilege on that as well, but I beg you, Mr. Speaker, not to allow this to happen. I uttered a point of privilege specifically dealing with one matter and I asked you not to allow the Premier to use his authority and presence in the House to shift it to another matter.


Mr. Speaker: I’m sorry. I did not hear the remarks. I believe the hon. member really should have risen on a point of order to correct a wrong impression that was left.

Mr. Lewis: Well.

Mr. Speaker: We would ask that the mood of the House perhaps accept that explanation or correction in the interpretation of certain remarks with which I am not familiar. Was the hon. Premier finished with his remarks? Would he please stick to the spirit of the House? Thank you.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes, I will pass over the concern that I expressed last night on that other matter which I had hoped the Leader of the Opposition might refer. On the issue that the Leader of the Opposition spoke just a moment ago, I believe that the juxtaposition and sequence of the remarks on page 128 of Hansard, the April 4 edition, indicate quite clearly to any reasonable reader that there is, in fact, a relationship between the apparent appeal of economic association with sovereignty in Quebec and the notion “that Ontario keep the option open, keep the doors open --”

Mr. Lewis: Right.

Hon. Mr. Davis: “-- largely as the Premier said he will do and largely as the direction of policy seems to be.”

Mr. Lewis: Right. Exactly.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I also believe, Mr. Speaker, that insofar as that statement creates any ambiguity about Ontario’s position --

Mr. Lewis: Oh, come on!

Hon. Mr. Davis: -- it should have been corrected. Let me finish, I didn’t interrupt.

Mr. Lewis: All right, I am sorry.

Hon. Mr. Davis: As these comments made by the Leader of the Opposition appear to indicate his views, it was responsible and important for me to point out where -- and I now quote from my own remarks -- perhaps this was missed last night. I prefaced my remarks by saying, “I think, sir --” I didn’t say that “in fact,” I said, “I think, sir --”

Mr. Bain: Don’t quibble.

Mr. MacDonald: Then we have innuendo.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Davis: “-- that the Leader of the Opposition and I differ.”

Mr. MacDonald: Innuendo.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, the member for York South should know about that.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We don’t want this to develop into a debate.

Hon. Mr. Davis: If the Leader of the Opposition believes that I was unfair and believes that the sequential relationship between the two thoughts do not imply either his position or the view he thinks he holds -- or we hold -- then I accept that gladly and I am prepared to stand corrected and I am delighted to hear him say it.

I would also take issue, Mr. Speaker, with the headline in today’s Toronto Star which implies that I said one of the parties in Ontario is “soft on separatism.”

Mr. Lewis: Not one of the parties -- us.

An. hon. member: Right.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am just going by the headline. I simply did not say that. I reread what I said very carefully. It is in my view an unfair headline in every respect.


Hon. Mr. Davis: On tender topics -- and I won’t refer to troubled children again although I am disappointed that the Leader of the Opposition didn’t see fit to raise this --

Mr. Renwick: This is a separate matter, wait.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Well, all right.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Could we keep to this point of order? Thank you.


Hon. Mr. Davis: I suggest that loose language helps no one. It was my duty to point that out last night, as the Leader of the Opposition feels he has to today, and I respect that, but I also intend to do so when necessary in the future.


Mr. Lewis: I rise on another and related point of order then, Mr. Speaker, if I may.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I thought you just spoke once.

Mr. Lewis: No, I see them as separate matters. During the Premier’s remarks last night he made reference to a specific sentence of mine taken from a portion of my Throne Speech reply which dealt with the establishment of a new children’s authority. I told him at the time, and Hansard will bear it out, that I thought the reference was taken out of context. The Premier said to me he didn’t think so. I said I thought about that part pretty carefully and I was sure that I hadn’t uttered an indiscretion of that type, the implication of the Premier’s remarks being fairly extreme.

When I went back and looked at Hansard I noticed that the Premier had said yesterday that if I would reread it again and didn’t think those remarks meant what they meant he would apologize. May I simply say to the Premier, through the Speaker, that I went back this morning and read those remarks very carefully. I noted that I had acknowledged the genuineness of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch), I noted that I had paid tribute to the deputy minister who was appointed and to his aide. I noted that I had hoped it would go to the Ministry of Education rather than Comsoc and had simply expressed a strong reservation about the capacity of Comsoc to deal with this question of the children’s authority. It was done in entire good faith and even if the one word “defiling” was not as exact as it might have been, it could not possibly be given the interpretation which the Premier put upon it in the context of my contribution on that subject in that debate.

Mr. Eakins: You are in trouble.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can’t but say that I was disappointed that the Leader of the Opposition didn’t say to this House that he didn’t mean what is recorded in Hansard. I read very simply from Hansard -- and I’m not a language scholar; I don’t purport to have the command of the language that the Leader of the Opposition possesses -- but I read very simply and I have read the context: “I look at the rest of the programmes in Comsoc and, honest to God, I don’t know how the children will not be defiled by the inadequacy of the rest of the ministry.” Mr. Speaker, I shall say no more.

Mr. Lewis: “By the inadequacy,” that’s right, I stand by that.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please, I think these matters have been explained. There’s a difference of opinion obviously as to their interpretation. We consider the matter closed.

Mr. Deans: You are clutching at straws.



Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, April 5, the hon. member for York Centre (Mr. Stong) asked me two questions in regard to the inquest into the tragic death of five inmates of the Stratford jail, and I undertook to provide an update on the action taken to implement the 12 jury recommendations which relate to this ministry’s operations.

I must preface my reply by pointing out that the hon. member’s second question appeared to have been based on the false assumption that these five inmates were being held in solitary confinement at the time of the fire. These inmates were not in solitary confinement, but were locked in their regular cells as a security measure as a result of information passed to the jail superintendent by police that at least two of these men were involved in plans for a jail break. Ironically, if these men had been in solitary confinement and denied all normal privileges they would not have had either the matches or the various magazines and papers which were used by one or more of them to start this fire.

The ministry has acted on all 12 of the jury’s recommendations that affect the ministry. The following is a summary of our response to each recommendation.

In regard to the recommendations relating to staff training, fire drills and liaison with local police and fire departments, effective April 1 all new jail staff are being trained in the use of air packs and firefighting equipment within one month of employment. I might observe parenthetically that the jury recommended that this be done within three months.

All other staff will have received refresher training within three months. An ongoing programme of training will also be maintained. The ministry has made allowances for the payment of overtime to facilitate this training. Fire drills are being conducted on a regular monthly basis and simulated night-time drills are to be carried at least once every three months. Closer liaison is being established with local police and fire departments to assist in training our staff and to familiarize their personnel with the physical layout of our buildings. All ganglock boxes have been painted a fluorescent red in keeping with the jury’s recommendations. Arrangements have been made to ensure prompt access to our buildings by emergency services, and master key rings are being established in institutions where this is practical, having regard for necessary overall security.

Memoranda regarding the storage of mattresses which are not in use have been reinforced and the ministry is giving high priority to the replacement of polyurethane mattresses with a type of cotton mattress. Steps have been taken to extend staff coverage at the Stratford jail. Wooden shelving in day areas of jails has been removed and is being replaced by metal shelving.

I have personally written letters of commendation to the policemen and correctional officers whom the jury commended for bravery. Ministry officials are currently working to complete a highly reliable checkback system relating to directives. In the interim, all superintendents are required to acknowledge in writing all memoranda on matters relating to inmate safety.

That covers the 12 recommendations relating to this ministry. The 13th recommendation was for the installation by the city of Stratford of an emergency telephone system, and I have expressed confidence that local authorities will give favourable consideration to this matter, which falls within their jurisdiction.

Mr. Speaker, following the question by the hon. member for York Centre, the hon. member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) asked me a supplementary question relating to directives which are sent to jail superintendents. As I have already indicated in my reply to the hon. member for York Centre, a reliable checkback system is currently being devised by senior officials of my ministry. In the interim, all superintendents are being required to acknowledge in writing to their regional administrators the receipt of all directives related to the safety and welfare of inmates.

The hon. member for London Centre also asked whether changes had been made in the system under which inmates sent messages to their lawyers and other persons outside the jail. The ministry feels that the present system for handling inmate requests is quite efficient. This system was set up to ensure that action was taken on all reasonable inmate requests and it works this way:

Each request an inmate makes is recorded on a chronologically numbered form, filed, and kept an indefinite period of time. The time at which the request is received is noted on the form and the inmate signs it to indicate the content of the message is accurate. Premising that the request is not frivolous, action is initiated by staff. When action has been completed, or if a request is denied, the inmate is informed and is required to again initial the request form in acknowledgement that he has been so advised.

One of the difficulties that jail staff encounter is that they are not always able to contact people by telephone on the first try and this sometimes leads to unavoidable delays in passing messages along. I have personally reviewed the request form and I feel that when attempts are made to telephone someone on an inmate’s behalf, the times should be recorded whether the calls are successful or not. Therefore, I have instructed that when the present supply of request forms is used up a space will be provided on the new form for recording such information.

In regard to the situation at the Stratford jail on the day of the fire, the point about the message sent from an inmate to his lawyer involved whether or not any sense of urgency was conveyed. I do not think there could be any doubt that a sense of urgency was conveyed to the lawyer, since when he eventually received the message it appears that he immediately telephoned the jail to make arrangements to visit his client.

Mr. Speaker, while I’m on my feet, I have a second reply as well.

Mr. Roy: Good for you, Art.


Hon. Mr. Meen: On Tuesday, April 12, the hon. member for Hamilton West (Mr. S. Smith) asked me two questions relating to the Toronto jail. He asked for a report on an incident in which it was alleged that an inmate, Mr. Michael McKinnon, was assaulted by staff. He further asked me to comment on a letter written by six inmates in which they claimed that neither they nor visitors to the jail who witnessed the alleged assault were questioned during the investigation which followed.

In view of the fact that this matter is now before the courts, I think it would be prejudicial to discuss it in detail. I think I can say, though, that upon learning of the incident which occurred in the visiting area of the Toronto jail on Sunday, February 20, an inspector from the ministry’s inspections and investigations branch was sent to the jail the following day to conduct an investigation. He interviewed Mr. McKinnon who stated that he did not wish to press charges against any correctional officer, but he reserved the right to do so at a later time if he felt it necessary. He also stated that he did not wish an investigation into the matter.

When the inspector went to interview one of the correctional officers, he learned that that officer had laid a formal charge of assault against Mr. McKinnon. At that stage, the alleged occurrence became a matter for police investigation and, as is normal practice when an official police investigation begins, the ministry investigation was terminated so as to not in any way impede the police investigation.

Miss Callwood also infers that people are locked in these cells 24 hours a day when, in fact, they are locked in them overnight to sleep and released from them early in the morning.

Mr. S. Smith: The minister has missed page two.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Thank you; thank you very much. It was out of sequence in my copy. I appreciate that.

Mr. S. Smith: I am hanging on every word.

Mr. Reid: Surprised you, somebody was listening.

Hon. Mr. Meen: Then for the benefit of Hansard, the last that should be recorded are the words “-- impede the police investigation.” I’ll have to be really on my toes on this one.

The hon. member also asked me for my comment on an exchange of letters between Miss June Callwood and the director of the Ontario Humane Society concerning the size of the cells in the old section of the Toronto jail. I can only reiterate the committal of my ministry to the closure of the old wing of the Toronto jail at the earliest possible moment.

I have met Miss Callwood and discussed the plans of my ministry regarding the opening of the two new detention centres in Toronto within the next few weeks. This will, almost immediately, reduce the count in the old wing by more than 300 persons.

Toronto South Detention Centre, which will house 400 men and 100 women, is well advanced into the planning stage, and with the completion of construction the problems of the old Toronto jail will be relegated to the past.

Miss Callwood states the jail is verminous. I am informed that sections of the Toronto jail are disinfested weekly by a reliable extermination company. The kitchen area, in addition to the weekly programme, receives a special treatment every month. The jail also has a full-time housekeeping officer, trained by the extermination company that is under contract to the jail.

In her letter, June Callwood states that the majority of prisoners in the Toronto jail are, and I quote: “16, 17 and 18 years old.” A check of this information reveals that during the period of August 13, 1976, to March 13, 1977, only 12.5 per cent --

Mr. Sargent: Why don’t you take it as read?

Hon. Mr. Meen: -- of the total male population admitted to the Toronto jail was in the age group of 16 to 18. Miss Callwood also inferred that people are locked in these cells 24 hours a day, when in fact they are locked in them overnight to sleep and released from them early in the morning. They spend all day, and most of the evening, in a day corridor where there are proper toilet facilities, lighting, television and so on.

Secondly, Miss Callwood claims that they are the least dangerous prisoners. The fact that a person is young, or even that it is the first time he has been incarcerated, does not mean, Mr. Speaker, that he is not dangerous nor that he has not been in considerable previous trouble with the law. Some of these individuals are charged with serious offences and others have been denied bail because they are considered too dangerous to be released into the community.

Many of them are unknown quantities. In other words, the jail does not know for sure whether they have serious emotional problems, whether they are dangerous because of excessive drug use and so on, and the jail must maintain them in a secure situation for the safety of the public.

I would agree that the physical conditions, even for overnight sleeping, are far from ideal. The new detention centres in Metro, which will house significant numbers of these people later this year, will have larger cells with proper lighting and toilet facilities.

Mr. Foulds: I wish the Premier had your sense of understatement.

Hon. Mr. Meen: It would be nice to simply close the old section of the jail tomorrow if that were practical; but I have to say to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is not. One simply cannot turn people loose who are a potential threat to the rest of society. In other words, to close the old section of the jail one has to have alternative accommodations.


Governments are like ordinary citizens. They have to weigh what they would like to do against what they can afford to do. Ontario has made major strides in upgrading older jails and replacing others with modern facilities. Old jails were taken over by the province in 1968, and already we have closed nine outdated facilities. Three more will be closed this week and two more later this year. The capital cost of the four new detention centres -- one which opened in London last week, two in Toronto and one in Hamilton, which will also open this year -- is approximately $60 million. As a government, we have to balance the need for new jails against the need for other facilities and services required by the taxpayer.


Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Today I am tabling -- in fact, I have given copies to the assistant clerk of the House -- the March, 1977, report of the Ontario Council of Health task force on the distribution of hospital and nursing home beds in Metropolitan Toronto.

Following the announcement last year of hospital closings, my colleague the member for Muskoka (Mr. F. S. Miller) then Minister of Health, asked the Ontario Council of Health to undertake an impartial review of the supply and need for hospital and nursing home beds in Metropolitan Toronto. The Council of Health established a task force under the chairmanship of Mr. W. R. Allen, QC. Both Mr. Allen and Mr. Martin, the chairman of the Council of Health, are in the upper gallery.

The report of this task force is based on the Woods, Gordon report of October, 1976 -- commissioned by the ministry in July, 1976 -- which compiled descriptive and analytical data to enable the Council of Health task force to make specific recommendations for the rationalization of beds in Metropolitan Toronto. The data on hospital beds and services used in the study were supplied by the facilities themselves.

The Ministry of Health is in general agreement with the report and its recommendations. It will be apparent from reading the report that matters of timing, definition and implementation require further study and discussion with the groups or the individuals affected.

The ministry will arrange to meet with the appropriate parties to discuss the application and the implementation of the recommendations. At the same time, ministry review teams will examine the more technical recommendations and advise me on the steps necessary to put them into effect. Once the discussion review process is complete, an implementation plan will be developed for discussion, with those involved, prior to its initiation.

The first recommendation deserving special comment is that a district health council be established for Metropolitan Toronto. The ministry fully agrees with the recommendation but has committed itself to await the report of the Robarts commission on Metro Toronto, which may have a bearing on how such a council is to be established.

The recommendation to establish an assessment placement agency to co-ordinate movement among levels of care, as well as initial access to long-term care and home-support services, is also completely consistent with the intentions of this ministry. It is also, I may say, consistent with the intentions of the Ministry of Community and Social Services which would, of course, also be affected by such an agency. Discussions are under way between our two ministries on the provision of assessment and placement services. Metropolitan Toronto will receive a high priority.

Concerning bed rationalization, the task force recommends that the Salvation Army Grace Hospital cease operation as an active treatment hospital, converting to an alternative use in keeping with the role of the Salvation Army.

At a meeting on Monday, April 4, between Commissioner Harold Brown of the Salvation Army and myself, and the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells), it was agreed that the Salvation Army Grace Hospital would cease to function as an active treatment hospital during 1977; that planning for the development of a new Salvation Army Grace Hospital in Lamoureaux would start in the fall of 1977, with operations of the first phase of the new facility to begin in 1982-1983; and that discussion would begin immediately with the downtown Salvation Army Grace Hospital, the Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto and the Ministry of Health on the development of a programme of long-term care at this facility, with emphasis on palliative care for the terminally ill. Some day-hospital facilities will also be provided.

The task force supports the view taken by the ministry in 1976 that an active treatment hospital should cease operation in downtown Toronto. However, the task force recommends that this be the Grace Hospital, whereas the ministry had proposed the Doctors Hospital. It should be recognized that the task force was in possession of the additional data produced by the Woods, Gordon study, and that their recommendations will not yield the operating cost savings the ministry was looking for, savings that had to be realized by reducing other government programmes.

My ministry will continue to fund the Doctors Hospital. We shall, however, pursue the current court case on hospital closings so as to settle the questions of principle concerning the ability of the ministry to close facilities it cannot fund.

Mr. Nixon: What about the other hospitals? What about Paris?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The ministry agrees with the recommendations concerning incentives to encourage health facilities to make better use of their resources. Regulations have recently been passed increasing financial support to hospitals in need of financial assistance to amalgamate duplicated services or to make capital investments that will result in operating savings.

The ministry appreciates the approach taken to the recommendations on paediatric bed rationalization, bed alternatives, emergency services, isolation care and obstetrical care. Work is already under way on these considerations and will be greatly assisted by the advice of the task force.

The ministry will work with the Hospital Council of Metro Toronto, the University Teaching Hospitals’ Association and other relevant groups to review the rationale for the task force’s proposals for other bed rationalization and the best means and timing of their implementation. This review will also involve careful consideration of the proposals’ effects on staff and personnel with representatives of the employee groups affected. We will also consider the recommendation of the Council of Health for a review of the role of Sunnybrook Hospital.

Work is proceeding in the Ministry of Community and Social Services, together with the Ministry of Health, on how best to provide a spectrum of long-term care, how to rationalize the funding of such care and how to further improve the present co-ordination between the ministries. The task force’s recommendations on these points are most useful and will have to be studied by the many agencies already involved in the provision of services involved in the spectrum of long-term care.

Recognition must be given to the role of the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) in initiating the concept of this study --

Mr. Foulds: That puts Bill McMurtry on the spot.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- which will have major implications for the planning of institutional health care.

As a review of the membership will indicate, the Council of Health assembled an excellent team to review the Toronto bed-need situation and they have done a first-rate job. Indeed, the results indicate how valuable a role the Council of Health plays in advising the Minister of Health of this province.

Mr. Eakins: Stand up, Larry, and take a bow.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The report of the task force was well done and has been well received by the ministry. As the report indicates, further study is required on several recommendations and the appropriate groups will be gathered together in short order. Substantial time will have to be devoted to these studies and to consultation on the more specific and immediate recommendations.

I am pleased with the model this study provides for a review of bed needs in other parts of the province, and I am most encouraged by the comment that the task force agrees it is possible to make modifications in the system without making reductions in service. This will be the constant goal of my ministry throughout the province.


Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, today I will be tabling the Ministry of Transportation and Communications road construction programme for 1977-1978.

This fiscal year we are planning to spend an estimated $216.6 million on new road construction. As in the past, construction work has been spread as fairly as possible across the whole province. Most of the proposed new work on the provincial highway system -- 858 miles -- will be on two-lane highways.

Among improvements to northern Ontario highways, which MTC will carry out for my colleague the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier), will be a continuing and accelerated construction programme, including several major new contracts. We will be continuing the passing and truck climbing-lane construction, as well as the development of new access roads and improvements to airports.

Mr. Reid: How about the road between Ignace and Atikokan?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Reid: The one on which your candidate was going to resign if he didn’t get it built.

Mr. Speaker: Order. That can come later, thank you.

Hon. Mr. Snow: In keeping with the Ontario government policy of fiscal constraint, we continue to keep a tight rein on our spending by making a critical assessment of current needs.

Mr. Foulds: What does that mean?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Thus each proposed construction project in this programme has been carefully assessed to ensure that we meet the needs of the motoring public in the immediate future. Above all, we have every intention of maintaining and improving Ontario’s highway system to ensure that its present high standard does not deteriorate.

Copies of the green book, which I am tabling with the clerk, will be distributed to each member through the legislative post office.



Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Health: Since the minister regards the Ontario Health Council task force as first-rate and valuable in its contributions to him, and since its assessment of Metro Toronto hospital bed needs and nursing home needs resulted in a significant reversal of government policy, can we ask that he asks this task force, or another constituted from the council, to review specifically those areas of the province where the ministry may have made other unjustified and precipitate hospital closings before he proceeds further with those small communities?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I point out again that the deliberations of the task force and the council confirm the view of the ministry that, in fact, an active treatment hospital in downtown Toronto should cease to operate as an active treatment hospital.

Mr. Lewis: Somewhat different.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Different ones were concluded. I would hope that he also knows that bed-needs studies are, in fact, under way right now in Grey-Bruce under the auspices of the Grey-Bruce district health council; that there have been discussions between members of my staff and the local area planning co-ordinator with people on the steering committee in the counties of Huron and Perth to develop a bed-needs study in those two counties.

I would hope that he knows that last Friday I received a report from the Essex district health council -- I went to Windsor to receive the report -- as to its views -- that is, views of the local citizens sitting on that council -- as to what it considers to be the most appropriate rationalization of beds in that county.

Certainly none of those hospitals to which the member alludes are under orders to close. We are most anxious to carry out this process, which we know will be long and involved, but with the co-operative spirit of the local people can be very successful in maintaining levels of service and at the same time hopefully saving some hard-earned tax dollars.

Mr. Lewis: By way of an obvious supplementary, since after the event we have now instituted a series of bed-use studies in those various areas, which could surely lead to a rationalization, if any, preferable to the approach of the government, can the minister undertake to promise the communities involved that whatever the results of the court case may be, he will not close down their hospitals until he has -- hopefully never, but if he must -- until he has studies from the various areas showing whether there are alternative possibilities?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I think that’s what I was saying, but perhaps I was a little long-winded about it. I do separate the two issues.

Mr. Reid: That’s hard to believe.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Being an ex-teacher, he understands. I do separate the two issues, that of the resolution of the principle in the courts, and the other being the specifics of individual hospitals within particular areas of the province; I do separate them. Whatever happens in the courts -- well, we’ll see what happens, but I do not have any of those hospitals under any orders to close, and certainly --

Mr. Roy: Don’t be too optimistic about the courts; your record is not one of shining glamour.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- we would hope that the bed-needs studies to which I referred can be carried out as soon as possible, obviously, but certainly involving the input from all those local communities.

Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Since the minister did not refer to the hospital in Paris specifically in his answer to the question from the Leader of the Opposition, might we assume that the bed needs which have been so obviously established over these many months have now led him to abandon any plan that he might have to put the Willett Hospital in jeopardy?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe a number of the beds in the Willett have been converted to chronic care. That’s the way the problem was resolved there. Certainly there are no plans and there is no order outstanding on the Willett Hospital in Paris to close.

Mr. Roy: Nothing going on now.

Mr. S. Smith: What a change.

Mr. Roy: You’re not going to fool around with hospitals now.

Mr. S. Smith: Not until after the election.

Mr. Dukszta: A supplementary: In view of what the minister just said about awaiting the results of studies in Grey-Bruce county, in terms of those two hospitals in Owen Sound, could he tell me how he would explain that the two administrators of the General and Marine Hospital and the administrator of Mackinnon Phillips Psychiatric Hospital are already talking about how to integrate the two hospitals, which would in effect lead to the destruction of one facility?


Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would hope, since the hon. member is the health critic, that he would know that the board of the General and Marine Hospital a number of months ago agreed in principle to pursue the possibility of an amalgamation between the General and Marine and the Dr. Mackinnon Phillips, which would in effect involve a transfer from the province to a local board of the Mackinnon Phillips Hospital. That’s acceptance in principle to investigate,

That investigation is under way. Consultants -- I believe the name of the firm is E.H. and E. or E.H.E., whichever way they say it -- have been meeting with staff and trustees, administrators and so forth, and I would expect we’ll have something from them in the next two or three months. But certainly, as far as I know, the board has not in effect said that they are definitely merging with Mackinnon Phillips. They are as interested as we are in investigating the potential, obviously with the view that we must maintain the quality of health care in the area, and hopefully save not only operating dollars now but future capital dollars, The Mackinnon Phillips hospital, I think, is only about 20 years old and has quite extensive capacity.

Mr. Sargent: Supplementary: Knowing full well about the merger of the two hospitals in Owen Sound, the minister is playing political football there. It’s a patchwork job. What is the timing at this time and place that he should release the Doctors Hospital before an election and yet can’t make a decision for Durham and Chesley at this point?

Mr. Lewis: They need to save the seat.

Mr. Mancini: They want to save a seat.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I don’t know anything about the event alluded to by the hon. member, but --

Mrs. Campbell: You wouldn’t know that that is a Tory riding, would you?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- it’s certainly not a question of a political football.

Mr. Roy: Oh, no.

Mr. Singer: No, no.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I’m pleased the member raises it, since it’s the first time he has raised it with me since I became Minister of Health. As I understand it, there is considerable additional capacity --

Mr. Sargent: You never know the answers.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There is additional capacity, considerable capacity, available in the Mackinnon Phillips Hospital, which is a fairly modern facility when compared to the existing General and Marine, which has had a number of additions and a number of problems at the various levels.

Mr. Sargent: Thirty beds; you are talking about 30 beds.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think it speaks well of the board of that local hospital, the General and Marine, that they would agree, along with the ministry, to investigate the potential of combining the two and thereby saving the public the great deal of money which would be involved in eventually replacing the General and Marine if that had to be done.

Mr. Sargent: Supplementary again.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We can’t take the time of the question period to go around the province with each and every hospital. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Sargent: I am talking about Durham and Chesley.

Mr. Reid: You don’t have a hospital in your riding, do you?

Mr. Roy: There will be only 22 supplementaries.

Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Lewis: I have one last supplementary which is almost for clarification, if I may ask it. In his statement the minister artfully changed the words on page six which suggested clearly that Doctors Hospital would be funded regardless of the outcome of the legal appeal, and in his words to the Legislature he said, “my ministry will continue to fund the Doctors Hospital. We shall, however, pursue the current court case.” Will the minister give a commitment to the continued funding of Doctors Hospital regardless of the legal appeal?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I thought, Mr. Speaker, that the revised wording did, in fact, make that clear.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister is answering.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I had hoped that the revised wording made it clear; certainly that is the point.

As I said earlier, I separate the two, the question of the court proceedings and the individual hospitals, and certainly they will continue to be funded.

Mr. McKessock: Supplementary: In view of the fact that he took the needs study in Toronto, and in view of the fact that there’s just been a health council set up in Grey and Bruce, why couldn’t the minister drop the court appeal on these hospitals in our area and take the advice of the newly-formed health council, the way he has taken advice in Toronto?

Mr. S. Smith: They should have done so in the first place.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I am looking for the advice of that district council, and as I have already indicated in answering a question from the hon. Leader of the Opposition, I separate the two questions. The one is a very fundamental one -- no matter which party or which individuals happen to occupy the Treasury benches -- that is does the government have the right to cease to fund a programme or facility which it cannot afford to fund? That really transcends --

Mr. Singer: Why don’t you amend the statute?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Roy: Just amend your laws.

Mr. Singer: Change the statute.

Mr. Roy: That’s free legal advice.

Mr. Bullbrook: That’s what it’s worth.

Hon. Mr. Davis: One day you would support it and one day you wouldn’t.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I learned a long time ago, growing up in Frontenac county, what to think of free advice. It’s worth about the same.

Mr. Nixon: Don’t talk about your mother that way.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The point is there are no orders hanging over any of the hospitals in Grey-Bruce. We are working with the district health council, we will have local input. Local people on the district health council will review that input and will give their advice as to what they consider to be in the best interests of the health districts of Grey-Bruce.

Mr. Bullbrook: The law suit is redundant. The Premier knows it.


Mr. Riddell: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I have a hospital that is directly affected by the decision made by the former Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller), and now this ministry.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are straying, we are going around the province. We are taking up too much time in the question period. The hon. member may have a chance to ask his question later.

Mr. Nixon: It is the last one, it is the last hospital.

Mr. Speaker: I said this was the final supplementary a moment ago and that must stand.

Mr. Singer: The Legislature is supposed to go around the province.

Mr. S. Smith: We only have 35 Liberal members, so where else can there be hospitals to be closed going around the province?

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the member didn’t have an opportunity to make his point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Yes, he did. I heard the point of order.

Mr. Bullbrook: He didn’t make it.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It is not debatable. We have to get on to a new question now.

Some hon. members: Why?

Mr. Sargent: It’s important to get the Premier off the hook, that’s why.

Mr. Singer: We shouldn’t go round the province because we’re only a Legislature.


Mr. Lewis: A question of the Premier: Flowing from the Throne Speech, can he indicate when he intends to bring down the revised terms for the Patrick Hartt inquiry, and perhaps clarify a little more precisely what those revised terms will do, since it still seems to be a matter of some uncertainty?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Yes. Actually there were discussions on this as recently as 10:30 or 10:45 this morning. The matter is being very actively pursued by a number of people, including those that I undertook to consult with and that includes Chief Rickard.

I am hoping to have some reaction within a few days to the suggestions that were made as recently as this morning, and hopefully make a statement or an announcement to the House very soon thereafter. I think it is fair to state that Chief Rickard, the municipalities and others, but particularly Chief Rickard, have certain consultative processes they must go through. I understand from what Chief Rickard told me this morning that his consultative process would be under way in the next couple of days.

Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: As part of the consideration which the Premier is giving, is he proposing an inquiry which extends beyond the proposed or intended Reed Paper limits to matters of northwestern development rather more generally?

Hon. Mr. Davis: As I indicated in the House when we were discussing this matter before, there were, I guess, a number of issues. To try to simplify it, there is the issue of the specifics of Reed; there is the broader issue that Chief Rickard raised, in correspondence and in personal visits I have had with him, as to the general development programme or policy that might be developed for north of the 50th parallel. What we are endeavouring to do, in the situation as we are attempting to bring it together, is to find ways and means of perhaps encompassing both notions at one time. I am not sure this will turn out, but we are trying to do it under the one inquiry; or the one commission, shall we say.

As I say, I can’t really discuss with the Leader of the Opposition the specifics yet, because I have made these undertakings to the people who are very directly affected to give them an opportunity to see whether or not it suits their concept of it or their view of it. As soon as I have this information I will be more than pleased to share it with the House.

Mr. Bullbrook: Supplementary: Premising the Premier’s agreement with me that these terms of reference might be as significant as any ever drafted by his administration, and recognizing that he is taking into account the thoughts of people outside this chamber, would he possibly consider having liaison with the members of the opposition parties with respect to the drafting of the final terms of reference, if they are not going to be included in the statute?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I am sorry, I didn’t get the last part of the question.

Mr. Bullbrook: If I may, it’s my understanding that perhaps the terms of reference might be included in the amending statute, in which case we’d have the opportunity of debating same. If not, would the Premier take us into his confidence, may we be privy to the general terms of reference -- Chief Rickard’s lack of acceptance of same? May we have some opportunity for input?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, my problem here is I am not sure which will come first; the legislation or the terms of reference. I am quite prepared that when the legislation is here, if the terms of reference have been, shall we say, understood and agreed to by the parties which are particularly interested -- and that doesn’t mean others aren’t, but who have a particular interest -- if there is, shall we say, a consensus on the terms of reference at that point then I am quite sure the minister, or whoever, would be quite prepared to have those discussed at the time of the legislation; but I think it is fair to state, and the member would understand this, not as a part of the legislation. I mean, they would be specific terms of reference that would follow from the legislation.

Mr. Bullbrook: One short supplementary: Would the Premier not agree it’s asking a lot of the legislators to enact that amendment, which is going to be significant, without knowing what the terms of reference are?

Hon. Mr. Davis: No. Mr. Speaker, although on occasion I agree with the member for Sarnia, I think the amendments to the legislation, while vital to this matter, can be debated in terms of principle and in terms of particulars by this House without the terms of reference. I think it is quite conceivable that we could have a situation where the government felt these amendments were desirable without necessarily having, shall we say, a study or a commission immediately in the offing and we would be dealing in the ordinary fashion. I would be very surprised if the member for Sarnia won’t be able to understand it and deal with it and debate it just as effectively in this fashion. I would be very surprised if he can’t.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: If the terms of reference have not been worked out and are not close to completion at this time, does Mr. Justice Hartt still think it possible to begin his informal public hearings in July, as was reported by a former Conservative candidate from northwestern Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am always an optimist and I think it is fair to state that Mr. Justice Hartt feels -- assuming that the legislation is approved with enthusiasm and no prolonged delay by members opposite, and in the hope that we can reach an agreement on the terms of reference in the very near future -- that he could start even prior to July.

Mr. Reid: A supplementary to the Premier for clarification: First of all, I take it from his statement and from talking to Mr. Justice Hartt that the inquiry, whatever the terms of reference are and under whatever statute it happens to be, will relate strictly to development north of the 50th latitude and not to that section of Ontario that we might call politically northern Ontario; only that north of the 50th latitude? Can I ask the Premier’s assurance that other development projects, perhaps not on the scale of the Reed Paper proposal, will in fact come under the scrutiny of Mr. Justice Hartt and have to go through this kind of scrutiny before they go ahead?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can’t really tell the hon. member at this point. It is one of the areas I am sure the chief will be wishing to discuss with his colleagues. The general intent is that it be the 50th parallel north, which then, I think, would probably resolve any thoughts the hon. member had with respect to potential development south of the 50th parallel. We don’t know of any at this moment. There may be the potential of one or two. I would think Mr. Justice Hartt in his assessment probably would be taking them into account, I don’t know; I honestly can’t tell the hon. member until I hear back from those parties involved in the discussions.



Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Correctional Services, regarding the Don Jail: Notwithstanding the reports that the old section of the jail will be closing in some year’s time, can he tell what action his ministry is taking to correct the deficiencies -- an alleged three-page list of deficiencies at the jail -- identified by the Toronto Fire Department? These deficiencies included, I believe, the installation of an electronic warning system, automatic sprinklers and so on. Will the minister assure the House that the supposed eventual closure of the jail won’t be used as an excuse to leave it as a fire hazard.

Hon. Mr. Meen: To the extent that it is necessary that modifications or rectifications should be made, the question would more appropriately be directed to my colleague, the Minister of Government Services (Mr. J. R. Smith), since that end of things is under his responsibility -- with the possible exception of the hazards created by a blocked corridor. This was brought to our attention, among other items in that report; and being one of my ministry’s responsibilities as a tenant of that building I have corrected that problem. I’ve instructed that the problem will not arise again.

But may I just repeat that as to the other items, I believe the question should more properly be directed to the Minister of Government Services.

Mr. S. Smith: May I just say that if a tragedy like Stratford were to occur, the minister would have to answer for it.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister has redirected the question.

Hon. J. R. Smith: To the hon. member for Hamilton West: First of all, this inspection was made, at the request of the Ministry of Correctional Services, by the Toronto Fire Department. In its report regarding the first section, which involves the permanent stand pipe system, items (a), (b) and (c) have been completed; and the Toronto Fire Department has advised that item (d) is a heated area and no relocation was necessary.

In the new building, the check valve is being relocated to comply with the report. We are presently investigating the reasons for the drop in pressure to the booster pump; the manual operation will be discontinued, the fault has been found and corrected. Does the member wish me to go through them all?

Mr. S. Smith: That’s very interesting. All I want to know is, whether the ministry is going to comply with the whole report or not?

Hon. J. R. Smith: Yes, we are complying with all of the shortfalls, the needed improvements. The ministry’s electrician has been in poor health and our ministry has supplied another electrician this week so that this work can be carried on.

Mr. S. Smith: Thank you very much for that answer.


Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism: Has the minister any studies available to indicate whether or not Ontario has been getting its money’s worth for the $2.3 million that his ministry has been using to promote overseas trade? I ask this in view of the recommendation of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) that this programme be scrapped?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, I think it would be well to correct the fact that it was not the Treasurer’s remark that it should be scrapped; that was an interpretation placed upon it by a reporter. As for the exact comment in relationship --

Mr. Nixon: The Treasurer never denied it.

Mr. Sweeney: Those reporters are having trouble these days.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Well they do run into a bit of trouble with some of the members of the opposition as well.

Mr. Sweeney: Trying to understand what you guys are saying.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I am misquoted.

Mr. Roy: Now that you’re married, Claude, you’re not supposed to be aggressive.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Albert, let me tell you, I have a peaceful mind, even dealing with you, I can assure you of that.

Mr. Roy: Claude, can I ask you a question?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Ask the question. If it’s what I think it’s going to be -- no, I am not of the same -- oh, I won’t say it, Albert; obviously, we’d wind up in the wrong place in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker: Would the hon. minister answer the first question, thank you.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes, I’ll come back to answering the question.

We do have some reports that would indicate the potential we derive from the trade missions sent abroad. They are taken over a period of three years at intervals of six months, being a report from each of the corporations involved in the mission.

Mr. S. Smith: Do I take it that the minister is quite satisfied with the studies he has been receiving month by month, or semi-annually or whatever, and intends to continue this programme on behalf of Ontario? Or does he agree with the quotation, attributed to the Treasurer, saying that the only reason for that programme was, “when we got into that there was a strong feeling that an industry thinking of coming to Canada was going to be given every incentive to go any place but Ontario”?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, I understand the leader of the Liberal Party has said the quotation was attributed to the Treasurer, and, in my discussion with him yesterday, he did not make the statement. Let me go one step further to say that the Treasurer is aware of the productivity of these missions. We also see very clearly the potential in expanding the trade opportunities, in looking for new ventures of capital investment in this country from foreign lands; that’s the area where we’ll be directing our efforts. I have said to the member of the Liberal Party, who happens to be the critic in this field, that this is the area we’ll be working on and concentrating on more over the next 12 months.

Mr. Sargent: Supplementary: Regarding the minister’s Cara venture this afternoon to export grains to the United States, how much is that costing and how many jobs are going to result?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, I take it that what the member’s referring to is the conference that we have going on at the Cara Inn at this very moment --

Mr. Sargent: To export grains?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- which is being held in conjunction with the Consulting Engineers of Ontario and the Ministry of Industry and Tourism. If there’s one area that is lacking in this government -- and not only in Ontario but in Canada -- it is in co-ordinating the industrial efforts to look for new opportunities in foreign lands. We in Canada have not been able to put together turnkey projects that have been beneficial for this province, and indeed for the economy of Canada.

Mr. Sargent: Sure you have.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: What we are attempting to do today is to get a better understanding by the professional people in Ontario, along with my ministry -- and may I also say that the federal government is represented at this conference -- in the hope that we can find a better understanding so that we can coordinate the professional services in seeking out foreign opportunities and rewarding this province with new jobs and new business for industry. It will not be accomplished -- and I am very emphatic about this -- because for too long it has been kicked about at the federal and provincial levels; for too long we have allowed the private sector to wander off and be very competitive unto themselves in foreign markets --

Mr. Foulds: Where’s your feeling for free enterprise?


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- rather than somebody being the catalyst in the country of Canada in bringing those professions together so that we can secure them.

Mr. Nixon: You tell us what you thought. The Treasurer’s not going to like that either.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I think the Urban Transportation Development Corporation, in its efforts in the Venezuela contract, is a very fair example of what we can achieve.

Mr. Ferrier: Don’t you believe in free enterprise?

Mr. Sargent: How are you doing in Venezuela?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: It doesn’t mean to say we’re going to win every contract, but at least Canada will have a very positive position, with a one-price position, and not be competitive unto ourselves.


Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Peterborough has the floor.


Ms. Sandeman: A question for the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker: Have the directives which were issued to Raybestos-Manhattan after the high levels of asbestos fibres were recorded there in November been carried out; and have the affected areas and the affected personnel yet been retested?

Hon. B. Stephenson: It is my understanding, Mr. Speaker, that the affected areas were retested last week and the inspection was carried out. I have not seen the report but I shall get the results and report on it to this House.

Ms. Sandeman: Supplementary: In the view of the fact that the union were never made aware of the last test results, could the minister assure me that they will be made aware of the directives, any action that follows and the new test results?

Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s the policy of the ministry to provide that information to both the employer and the employees in those situations, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Laughren: Since when?

An hon. member: That’s a joke.

An hon. member: Then why don’t you do it?


Mr. Reed: I have a question for the Minister of Energy: Now that the President of the United States has underlined the gravity of his country’s energy situation, and recognizing that Ontario shares many of our neighbour’s specific problems in this regard, is the minister now prepared to change his position and call for an all-out research and development programme to bring on stream a significant renewable energy component before the end of the century, and not after as stated in his policy paper of last week?

Mr. S. Smith: And to drive a mid-size car?


Hon. Mr. Taylor: I gather that by now, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has had an opportunity to read the energy future report.

Mr. Sargent: We can’t; we couldn’t understand you.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I think that report indicates very clearly the position of this province in terms of our energy future. It’s a report, I think, that was echoed in many regards by President Carter in his television address last night.

Mr. S. Smith: Oh, come on!

Mr. Roy: He copied it.

Mr. S. Smith: He must have seen your statement.

Mr. Nixon: He doesn’t make a move without consulting you.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re wasting valuable time. The hon. minister has the floor.

Mr. Sargent: Now we’ve got a comedian.

Mr. Speaker: Order!


Mr. Singer: What would you do?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I didn’t say that I had given President Carter an advance copy, I didn’t indicate that.

Mr. Roy: Did he pick up the phone?

Mr. Speaker: Order.

An hon. member: What did he-all say to you?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I suppose there is a grapevine, but I must confess that I didn’t see that he got an advance copy of it.

Mr. Roy: You are starting to talk like Trudeau, with your hands.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Then maybe I’ll meet more with your favour.

Mr. Roy: You may.

Mr. Warner: You are getting worse every day.

Mr. Ruston: Ask him to resign.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: In terms of research and development, as members know we are very dedicated to that.

Mr. Sargent: You have got your Premier embarrassed.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: We have hoped to participate more fully in the federal government’s programme. Again, as members know, it is spending about $138 million a year in research and development. About three-quarters of that is actually in the nuclear area --

Mr. Bullbrook: Can’t we get a straight answer from him?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- and Ontario’s benefitting in a very minor way from that overall research and development effort. We are concerned, of course, that it’s Ontario’s consumers who are paying very big dollars in terms of prices for oil and natural gas, and that more of that money should go into research and development. I agree with the member there, if he concurs that more money should be going into research and development.

Mr. S. Smith: This is a form of punishment for asking a question.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Certainly in my budget we are pursuing further projects. I think members are acquainted with a number of the projects that we have going for us in Ontario.

Mr. Bullbrook: Don’t let anybody ask for a supplementary.

Hon. B. Stephenson: That will teach you.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I think members will become more acquainted, of course, with the positive programme that we do have. We are committed, I think I’ve made that clear in terms and emphasis.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re wasting time here.


Mr. Speaker: I didn’t say who.

Hon. J. R. Smith: This is an important question.

Mr. Moffatt: On a point of order --

Mr. Speaker: Order. Just one moment please. When we ask a general question we’re going to get a general answer, I might point out.

Hon. J. R. Smith: A good answer.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Has the hon. minister completed that question?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: No, not quite, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We should not ask a question of this nature in the first place, nor should the answer contain a complete discussion of anything. That should be left for some --

Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Members are straying too far afield. Will the hon. minister bring his answer to a conclusion then, please.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: All right. As you know, Mr. Speaker, it’s a --

Mr. Ruston: Just read the last paragraph, Jim.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Does the hon. member for Durham East have a point of order?

Mr. Moffatt: Yes, Mr. Speaker. My point of order is, could we have the lights turned out while the minister makes his statement?

Mr. Speaker: The answer is no and that is not a point of order. That’s further wasting of time.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re still wasting time. Order. The hon. minister, please.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I do hope that both energy critics are serious about this, because it is a matter of great concern and gravity --

Mr. Sargent: Did you really talk to Jimmy Carter?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: -- not only to the province of Ontario but to Canada. I want the hon. member to know that we are pursuing even more vigorously the areas of renewable energy sources, and I’d be very happy to develop that more fully at some other time.

Mr. Speaker: We’ll allow one supplementary.

Mr. Reed: Does that mean the answer is yes or no?

Mr. Ferris: Maybe.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Was that a supplementary? I didn’t hear it.

Mr. Reed: Yes, that was my supplementary.


Hon. Mr. Taylor: That question elicits a rather lengthy response --


Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the hon. member might mail it.


Hon. Mr. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a very serious problem. I don’t think it should be treated lightly.

Mr. Speaker: It is a very serious problem.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are taking too much time on this question. There are many more questions to be asked. I don’t know what that particular supplementary was, but is there a brief answer to it?

Mr. Roy: Yes or no.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We will get on then.

Mr. di Santo: I have a further supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: This is a final supplementary.

Mr. di Santo: Final supplementary. In the effort to develop other sources of energy, can the minister tell us: 1. To whom will the technology developed with the Syncrude plant go, and what part will go to the province of Ontario? 2. Will he take a public position on the northern pipeline which will cost a lot to the province of Ontario as well?

Mr. Speaker: I think we are getting into specific questions here. Order, please. The next question.


Mr. Angus: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Transportation and Communications with regard to the recent tender call for work on Highway 61 in Thunder Bay, 7.9 miles easterly from Highway 130: Inasmuch as this highway was reconstructed in 1970 and that deterioration was noticeable within the first two years following construction, would the minister undertake a comprehensive soils investigation of all the frost boils and shifts in the roadbed to see if the appropriate backfill was used in the reconstruction of 1970?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Roy: Good boy. Way to go, Jim.

Mr. Angus: A very quick supplementary, Mr. Speaker, very short; we thank you. Would the minister also have his staff examine the inspection records to see what kind of instructions were issued to the field staff regarding the type of backfill that was to be used?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I am not personally aware of all the figures and the dates the hon. member is quoting regarding this particular situation. If the facts as he states them are correct, certainly I will look into the matter and get the answers to those questions. I would be equally as concerned as he is if a road is having to be repaired as extensively as this one is in such a short period of time, and I want to know the reason why.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the minister’s investigation finds the terms of the first contract were not adequately met, can he recover the costs of the rebuilding from the original contractor in 1970 and will he attempt to do so?

Hon. Mr. Snow: That I would have to look into. I would doubt that very much. There is a certain guarantee period on any work, but once the final takeover of a job occurs, once our inspectors give it final approval, I don’t think we can go back eight or 10 years and expect the contractor to be responsible. But I will certainly look into the matter.


Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Education and I would like the Minister of Government Services to listen: Is the minister aware that the teachers’ college located in Windsor, which was built about 10 years ago and designed at that time to be used eventually as a secondary school, might be available for a possible site for the French-language secondary school? Is the minister also aware that the building is owned by Government Services and that the present lessee, the University of Windsor, would like to move back closer to the campus?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am aware the building is there and that it at present is either being leased by or belongs to the University of Windsor. It is the faculty of education; it is not a vacant building. I think there is very little likelihood this government has any capital money for the University of Windsor to build any new buildings of that nature. It is a possibility that if the building were vacant, it would become the French-language school for the area after the member has an opportunity, with the rest of us here, to vote for the bill we have in this Legislature. If it is available then, he can come and talk to me about it.

Mr. Ruston: Supplementary: Since the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) made a recent statement about how he wants to save money, it seems to me that if the University of Windsor feels it can do with much smaller facilities, to move back in its own area so that its cost of operations would be less, would be a logical thing to do.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The point then is for the University of Windsor to come to us and say we can have that building back and that it will give it to us. It would then have to be considered by the French-language advisory committees of the Essex and the Windsor school boards. If they found it was a suitable facility for a unique, French-language secondary school, it could possibly be used, if they wish. But I would suggest the likelihood is very remote, and I’m sure the possibility has been thought of before.

Mr. Burr: Supplementary: Has the minister explored the possibility that Massey Secondary School in Windsor could be used for this purpose, inasmuch as it has a great many big classrooms? Essex county students were withdrawn from that building, which had been originally designed to accommodate Essex county secondary school students.

Hon. Mr. Wells: As my friend knows, it hasn’t really been the duty of the minister to explore all these possibilities; it has been the responsibility of the elected Essex County Public School Board.

Mr. Breithaupt: Perhaps they would be happy to look at them now.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I would have to assume they have done all these things and have investigated all these possibilities, working in conjunction with their French-language advisory committee, and for one reason or another have not come up with any acceptable solution to this problem. Therefore, unfortunately, we find it here with us today and this week.

Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary: Would the minister ensure that they explore this?

Mr. Speaker: I said that was the final supplementary.

Mr. Shore: Get another location.

Mr. Roy: It may save the minister some money, and he’s not smart enough to know it.


Mr. Philip: A question for the Minister of Health: In the light of recent increases in such diseases as diphtheria and measles, is the minister concerned about the recent action taken by the Peel regional health unit to discontinue the immunization programme in schools, and about other programmes similar to this that have been discontinued in the province? What action is the minister contemplating?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We have met with the health unit in Peel on a number of occasions -- at least half a dozen times in the last few months -- and I think we’re getting that problem resolved. What it comes down to is that, according to the last report I had, the unit cost of the immunization programme being operated by the Peel health unit is higher than what it would cost to have it administered in a doctor’s office.

That, I suggest, is symptomatic of the fact that perhaps the public is apathetic or lethargic about the whole question of immunization. It does have to do with the volumes of immunization which we certainly encourage -- the regular initial immunization and follow-up. That problem, I believe, is well in hand and being resolved between the staff in my ministry and the Peel health unit.

Mr. Philip: Supplementary: Accepting the fact that the cost per unit may be higher under OHIP, has the minister examined the incidences of those people who are not getting immunization, since there seems to be an increase in diseases in the province?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If the hon. member were to look at the epidemiological reports, which do come out regularly and cover a wide range of diseases, all the way from such exotic things as typhus to measles, he would find that the facts bear that out. But certainly it is a concern that people tend to think that with advancements in the last 20 years a lot of these problems are solved, and of course they’re not solved unless regular immunization and re-immunization are carried on.


Mr. Gaunt: A question of the Minister of the Environment: Can the minister tell us what the policy of the government is regarding the disposal of liquid waste into disposal wells, in view of the fact that there are applications before the ministry to reopen two of these wells in the Sarnia area -- the Tricil well in Moore township and the Thompson well in Petrolia?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: The policy is that if there are any applications of that nature to open old wells, the ministry will appraise the applications. If there is any possibility that the wells can be utilized they would then, under the provisions of The Environmental Protection Act, go before the Environmental Assessment Board. There would be a public hearing and a decision would then be made whether or not those wells would be open again.

Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary: Has the ministry made any advances with respect to promoting the recycling of these industrial wastes?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes. For example, the Tricil plant in Mississauga is involved in recycling spent fuels such as waste oil and toxic materials of that kind.


Mr. Davidson: A question to the Minister of Correctional Services: Can the minister give us the rationale behind the terminating of the contracts of at least 16 teachers in the juvenile division of his ministry? Does he not feel that rather than terminating the teachers’ contracts, there should be upgrading of existing programmes and support given in other areas?

Hon. Mr. Meen: There’s been a marked reduction in the number of children in the training schools, to such an extent that we really did have to take a look at our whole picture of the number of students versus the number of teachers, and our present constraints in the juvenile division.

Teachers work under the Provincial Schools Authority, and their working conditions agreement calls for the notice of redundancy to be declared before March 31 of each year. If we had not taken this action, we would have been locked in for another year. Therefore, we did notify 16 teachers of the fact that, as we saw it, their positions were redundant.

But we would expect the Provincial Schools Authority, in negotiating with these teachers -- and with others who have been made redundant -- will take into consideration vacancies that will occur over the next few months because of the retirement of others from the system, which will mean that very few -- possibly three or four -- will, as my people expressed it, drop out the bottom. The rest of the 16 can be expected to find positions within the teaching service.

But we think the ratios as established with the declaration of redundancies and the readjustment of their positions will still provide the very best facility for these young people in the system.

Mr. Davidson: Can the minister then explain why, since only six months ago a recommendation was called for to put additional teaching staff in the Champlain school at Alfred, Ontario, it is now cutting back? The possibility of having to drop some of the existing subjects is there. Is the minister also aware of the fact that they may have to drop teaching at the elementary school level in that school, where at the present time they are teaching eight students?

Hon. Mr. Meen: I am not aware of any reduction in the provision of teaching in that school.

Mr. Foulds: It is happening all over the province.

Hon. Mr. Meen: There certainly has been a reduction in the number of students at the school, but I am not aware there has been any reduction in the provision of the courses to the students who are at the school.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. A final supplementary from the member for Peterborough.

Ms. Sandeman: Could the minister tell us if he discussed the staff reductions with the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton), in view of the fact that on July 1 the staff of the trade schools will come under that minister’s jurisdiction? It would seem wise that he would take part in discussions if he is to receive on that date a very depleted staff.

Mr. Moffatt: Nothing left.

Hon. Mr. Meen: The answer is yes, I did discuss this with the minister before these steps were taken in March. It was necessary that they be taken before the end of March, as I have already indicated. But that does not mean the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which will have the responsibility for this very important function beginning July 1, will be locked into any fixed position. The notices simply indicate redundancy, and if he sees fit to make adjustments in that position between now and September 1 when the teaching would recommence, then he has the full latitude to do so. All that we have done has been to advise the Provincial Schools Authority that in our opinion these positions are redundant.



Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I have a brief question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Would the minister assure the members of the House that he might consider sharing with us the report of the Highway Transport Board concerning the Greyhound-Gray Coach matter, which is currently under review by that board, at the time that it is presented to the cabinet?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I assure the hon. member that I have not received the report that he refers to from the Highway Transport Board, and I don’t believe it will be ready for a little while yet because of the --

Mr. MacDonald: That wasn’t the question.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Snow: He’s asking me to share with him a report which I don’t have, I’m sorry.

Mr. S. Smith: The question was, will you make it public when you get it?

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, if I could clarify it for the minister, I asked, would he share it with us when it is available.

Mr. Sargent: Why don’t you phone Eddie Goodman and find out?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Why don’t you phone him?

Mr. Foulds: He doesn’t expect to be the minister.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Yes, the answer was, will he share it -- the question, that is.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, this is a report that has been requested by cabinet to deal with the appeal on this particular case, and as soon as I receive the report I’ll give that consideration.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Will the minister not agree that the knowledge that this particular report will be given public circulation as soon as it is completed might just happen to have some influence on the content of the report? Therefore, would he not agree to guarantee right now that the report will be made public as soon as he receives it?

Mr. MacDonald: He should.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I cannot give the hon. member that assurance at this moment. I can assure him the report will be made public, but I can’t give him the assurance it will be made public the moment I receive it.

Mr. Deans: Freedom of information.

Mr. S. Smith: That’s a publicly financed board, it’s a quasi-judicial body.


Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health having just recently left the House, I will instead address this question to the Minister of Labour. Would the minister investigate personally and immediately with the Minister of Health why the Ministry of Health continually refuses to find and offer light duty employment to one Alexander Jacques from the Oshawa area -- a former employee of the ambulance services branch, now with a 20 per cent disability rating due to a back injury incurred with that ambulance branch -- when there do exist light duty, even driving positions right within that same ambulance branch? Will she investigate why, with Mr. Jacques being impressively and articulately bilingual French-English, this particular talent is not being put to use in the area of the extension of health services in the French language across Ontario, as recommended by Monsieur Dubois in his recent report, Pas des Problèmes?, released five months ago?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, yes.

Mr. Nixon: I will look into it.

Mr. S. Smith: Oh, that’s unbelievable. Write him a letter.

Mr. Spence: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. I guess he’s gone.

Mr. S. Smith: Ask the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch).

Mr. Speaker: We’ll hear the member for Erie then.


Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to direct a question to the Minister of Labour. During the Ministry of Labour estimates, the standing resources development committee on December 14, 1976, adopted a resolution that directed the government, through the Workmen’s Compensation Board, to carry out a study of all the benefits available to injured persons for the goal of integrating all the present programmes of assistance to provide a measure of means of economic security to the injured employee and survivors’ benefits. Can the minister indicate to the Legislature what progress has been made in that study area, and can the minister inform the members when the report will be completed and available for government action?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the study is under way, as I reported to this House, I think, earlier, and I anticipate we will be having a preliminary report early in June. That is the date which has been given to me by the consultant group and by the committee. Whether that will be the complete report or not, I can’t tell you, Mr. Speaker, but I would predict we will have at least an interim report by that time.


Mr. Mackenzie: A question of the Minister of Labour: Does the minister agree with the actions of a company, Custom Aggregates, which has a quarry at Aberfoyle and which has brought in a security company and eight security employees from the province of Quebec under a six-month licence to escort strike-breakers though the picket lines daily at that quarry? Does she consider this compatible with bargaining in good faith, which we are trying to establish under The Labour Relations Act? Would the minister intervene in this situation?

Hon. B. Stephenson: I suggested yesterday to the hon. member that I would try to find out all of the information I could about this situation and that is precisely what I am doing at the moment. When I have that information, I will be pleased to respond to the member’s question.


Mr. Spence: I have a question of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. Is the minister aware that in my community one of my constituents had a son in retardation facilities and he was billed for $33,045.50 for less than three years’ stay in Cedar Springs Hospital? Is it the policy of the government to charge parents for their son or daughter in those facilities?

Hon. Mrs. Birch: I am not aware of that incident but I certainly will bring it to the attention of the Minister of Community and Social Services and will report back to the member as quickly as possible.

Mr. Good: It happens all the time with the special care. They even put mortgages on the family home to pay those bills.


Ms. Bryden: I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Since the government is reported to have dropped the rentals charged to the oil companies operating the service centres along Highways 400 and 401 by $1 million a year, can the minister tell us if all of this $1 million is being passed on to the consumers in lower gasoline prices? Or, if not all, what percentage is each company passing on in the next year?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I made a statement in the House last fall relating to this matter, stating that the ministry would be eliminating the special federal tax and extra increases in the price of fuel from the sales of the oil companies when establishing the rental rate for the premises. This was only to be done, and I am sure only has been done, when the full amount of that reduction is passed on to the motorist. I understand the reduction in the price of gasoline at the service centres on our major highways has been reduced by varying amounts from two cents to nine cents per gallon.

Ms. Bryden: Supplementary: Would the minister be willing to table for us a statement showing how much each oil company has dropped the price since the new rental agreement and how much additional funds out of this $1 million is going to the oil companies?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I will just have to say that there are now additional funds from the $1 million going to the oil companies because the leases on these oil company premises are calculated on a percentage of their sales. When we have reduced the calculation on that sale it is not included in calculating the rent, and that is only done when that amount is passed on. But I will get the hon. member a list of the prices -- as much as I can get -- that were charged before and after. The reason for the difference between the two cents and the nine cents is that there is a considerable difference in the percentage paid by the oil companies on different stations, mainly because of different locations and because of the tenders that were submitted when the awards were made some years ago.

Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.



Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, what instruction do you give your attendants pertaining to the lights for the television cameras?

Mr. Speaker: There are still camera people there. They have a right to turn the machine on as and when they please. They usually leave about this time so I imagine that the hon. members will soon be relieved.

Mr. Nixon: Could we amend the instruction so the last cameraman out turns out the lights?

Mr. Speaker: I don’t know whether I’d trust the cameraman for that, but there is a gentleman assigned for that purpose.

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Your point of order?

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, it has always been a concern of mine that the government at its behest, or of its own will, can have its cabinet ministers give ministerial statements ad infinitum as long as they want to. How do you measure the fact that we have an hour for question period and the ministers can get up -- possibly before an election -- and can read into the record all the statements they want to, and you sit there and let them --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There is nothing out of order so it is not a point of order. But just to answer the hon. member’s point of information -- I believe; not a point of order -- there is a request that long answers, for instance, be delivered as ministerial statements and we have insisted on that. At least some of those statements this afternoon -- the first couple of them at least -- were the answer to a series of questions. So we are doing exactly as the House has requested.

Mr. Sargent: On a further point of order.

Mr. Speaker: No. Order, please.

Mr. Sargent: On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member has no point of order in that respect.

Mr. Sargent: On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: What is your point of order then?

Mr. Sargent: My point of order is this: Where do you draw the line on how many ministerial statements there will be?

Mr. Speaker: No, that is not a point of order. There is no way the Speaker can dictate or decide how many statements shall be given.


Mrs. Campbell from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:

Your committee has carefully examined the following applications for private Acts and finds the notices, as published in each case, sufficient:

City of Ottawa;

City of Toronto.

Mr. Speaker: Motions.



Mr. Deans, on behalf of Mr. Lewis, moved first reading of Bill 38, An Act respecting Toxic and Hazardous Substances.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is:

1. To require that every new substance or new process be tested for toxic or hazardous characteristics by an independent research organization before it is introduced into the work place;

2. To enable the Minister of Labour to require any substance or process already in use to be tested for toxic or hazardous characteristics by any independent research organization when the effect on the health of the employee is in question;

3. Where toxic or hazardous characteristics are found through the testing procedures, the minister can prohibit, severely limit or place conditions on its introduction;

4. To require an annual audit of the use by amount of toxic or hazardous substances and mixtures in each work place.


Mr. Grossman moved first reading of Bill 39, An Act to prohibit Discrimination in Business Transactions.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Singer: Is that a government bill or a private member’s bill?

Mr. Grossman: Private member’s.

Mr. Singer: A private member’s bill with a cabinet minister seconding it.

Mr. Deans: It would have a better chance of success if it happened the other way around.

Mr. Singer: If it catches fire, then they believed it all the time.


Mr. Grossman: This bill is designed to protect the business against discrimination in its business dealings on the basis of the race, creed, colour, marital status, nationality, ancestry or place of origin of its directors, shareholders and personnel. The protection against these types of discrimination is also extended to individual persons working in a business environment.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might take a moment before the orders of the day to draw to the attention of the hon. members the presence in the gallery to my right of a former distinguished member of the Legislature and colleague of ours for many years, Mr. William Stewart.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, with respect to that matter, surely the gentleman isn’t a former distinguished member, he is a distinguished former member.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I accept the correction in good faith.

Mr. Speaker: Correction noted.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day again, I wish to table the answers to questions 26 and 27, and the interim answers to questions 25 and 28 standing on the notice paper.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, before proceeding with the orders, the House leader asked me to make the following statement concerning the estimates scheduling. Since today is budget day and since consideration of estimates will begin later this week, I think this might be an appropriate time to indicate, pursuant to the new rules, the amount of time the House leaders have agreed on for each set of estimates.

In the House as agreed the committee of supply will sit Monday afternoons and Friday mornings, or about four hours a week. The sequence will begin May 2, with the Solicitor General, 20 hours; then the Attorney General, 20 hours; then Consumer and Commercial Relations, 20 hours -- which would take us into the fall -- then Correctional Services, 12 hours; then the Provincial Secretariat for Justice, 10 hours.

In the standing resources development committee there are up to three meetings a week possible for estimates, or about seven and a half hours. The estimates volume for this policy field will not be tabled until Thursday of this week. The estimates of the Ministry of Housing, 25 hours, will be first and can begin on Friday; then Energy, 15 hours; Labour, 15 hours; Industry and Tourism, 15 hours; Agriculture and Food, 20 hours. At this time we should be into the fall, with Environment, 20 hours; Natural Resources, 25 hours; Resources Development Secretariat, five hours; Transportation and Communications, 25 hours; and Northern Affairs -- the allocation to this ministry will be resolved when we return in the fall.

The standing committee on social development, under the fixed schedule of meetings agreed by the parties, can meet up to three times a week on estimates, or about eight hours a week. The Social Development Secretariat is first with 12 hours, which could begin Monday, April 25; then Education, 22 hours; Colleges and Universities, 10 hours; Community and Social Services, 20 hours; and in the fall we will have Health, 20 hours, and, last but not least, Culture and Recreation, 15 hours.

The standing committee on general government may meet up to three times a week with eight hours available. There is an agreement that we will start with the estimates of the Treasury, which will have 20 hours at the committee; then the Ministry of Government Services, 20 hours; Revenue, six hours; Management Board, three hours; Office of the Assembly, 10 hours; Office of the Provincial Auditor, five hours. By then we would be into the fall, with the Ombudsman for nine hours and the Premier, cabinet and Lieutenant Governor’s estimates to conclude.



Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 28, An Act to amend The Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I have a very brief opening statement in view of the limited time available for debate. I just want to point out to the members of the House that this bill is essentially a continuation of the existing legislation --

Mr. Singer: How much time do you need? Debate it for a week?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- the principles and the purposes of which have already been extensively discussed in the Legislature, in meetings of many kinds around the province and through the media.

It’s essential that ample time be available for the provisions of the bill when passed to be advertised so that landlords, tenants and rent review staff will have ample opportunity to become familiar with those changes which are in the bill. These changes have been before the House now for a week and should be well known to all of us.

Mr. Singer: Therefore, let’s not debate it.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: During the life of the present legislation, many landlords have matched the length of leases and other tenancy agreements with the time periods in the Act. As a result, a large number of tenancies will be renewed on August 1, requiring landlords to serve the mandatory 90-day notice for an increase by May 1 at the latest. Those tenants who wish to appeal increases through the rent review process or to terminate their tenancies because of the rent increases are also subject to the same time strictures.

I will be moving two minor amendments to the bill, one of which will restore to the bill the requirement for written reasons, as now provided in section 7, subsection 3 of the Act.

I’m keeping my introductory comments deliberately brief, in order to provide as much of the limited time available for the members --

Mr. Singer: There’s as much time available as we need.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- so that they may debate the principle of the bill.

Mr. Singer: We can go on for days on this.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: The need for the effective use of the time available to us must be obvious to all members.

Mr. Singer: What is this “time available” nonsense?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Don’t you understand the problem?

Mr. Breithaupt: I wish to ask a question. I was not aware that the time was limited in any particular way.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I thought I made it clear in my opening remarks that there are certain time strictures in the bill.

Mr. Singer: Well, that’s your fault.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: We have debated the bill at some length before this and --

Mr. Singer: When?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- May 1 is a very critical date in this whole legislative process.

Mr. Singer: You don’t like debates.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: No. Debate as much as you want.

Mr. Singer: You don’t like the bill.

Mr. Good: And you said you wouldn’t be minister when this happened.

Mr. Singer: That’s right. So, let’s have a short debate -- not to bother you too much.


Mr. Singer: We’ll bother you as much as we need to.

Mr. Good: How come you’re still minister?

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. Can we have a little order before the hon. member for Oshawa commences his remarks?

Mr. Singer: Tell the minister not to be so silly.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member will continue.

Mr. Breaugh: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

An hon. member: Level with us.

Mr. Breaugh: I join with all parties in this House in welcoming this long-awaited announcement. I think we would be remiss if we didn’t state at the outset that we certainly do support in principle the extension of this rent review legislation as being a very necessary and desirable thing. I think we would be remiss, too, if we didn’t make mention of the rather concerted effort that has been made over the last three or four months to support and not support, extend and not extend, extend in some version and extend in some other version, and recognize the difficulties that it has placed on landlords and tenants -- the uncertainty.

Though I wouldn’t be one to welcome the minister’s resignation as an amendment, I think the minister’s statements really did not do a great deal for anybody involved in this process during the time when the government was making that initial decision to extend the rent review. I think, too, that a basic problem in the very principle of this extension is the uncertainty involved.

I would like to take some time to point out some of the difficulties that are inherent in this particular bill. It is obviously a necessary programme to be extended, because the problem still exists; it has not been rectified a great deal, though it has been modified somewhat. So we will support this bill in principle, and I would like to outline -- because I think it’s necessary -- that there should be a review of this particular Act. Some of the problems that are inherent in the rent review legislation have, at least, been acknowledged in this extension bill; but not all of them. Not all of them. When we go through clause by clause, we would hope in proposing amendments that we would be able to deal with some of those things, and that there would be support given, either by the minister himself or by the Liberal Party, for some very serious problems that have not really been properly acknowledged in this particular extension bill.

It is appropriate that we review in some detail, the problems that have been inherent in The Rent Review Act itself. I would like to quote a gentleman named Brian Bucknall who did work for the Rent Review Board on one occasion. I understand that he had the temerity to make some criticisms of it and does not work for it any more. But I think his criticisms are particularly valid. May I quote a couple of passages from his rather learned paper on this particular programme?

He states: “While many of the policies embodied in the rent review programme are open to debate, there are two fundamental assumptions which, from both the substantive and administrative point of view, shape and misshape the whole scheme. The first of these assumptions was, it was noted previously, that rent control could be a temporary measure, that a two-year life span for the whole programme was acceptable, and that the administrative structure required by the programme could be assembled, have its work completed and be disassembled within 18 months. Obviously, the decision to have a temporary scheme had no foundation in economic theory and it can only be regarded as the political response of a disaffected government to a programme which it disliked.

“The other assumption was that the rent review programme could be established and administered wholly separate from the general law of residential tenancies. Rent control is, in theory, inseparable from a regime of security of tenure.”

I think that it is a very valid point, that the temporary nature of the programme has caused great problems on all sides. It really is a matter of “When will we invest? Now? Or will we wait until after the scheme is ended? And now, with an extension, how far will this extension go?” Are we dealing with a permanent government programme or one that is temporary? Will that programme change, should the government change substantively, whether the same political party returns to power after the next general election or not?

I want to quote a couple of other small comments from Mr. Bucknall’s paper, because I do think it is probably the definitive comment of rent review in Ontario.

“Again, it must be emphasized that the prospect of acquiring and training a competent staff for this most complex regulatory scheme was hopelessly compromised from the outset by the decision to make the entire programme temporary. Neither serious recruitment nor effective training could be undertaken where the whole effort was to dissolve in just a few months’ time.

“The draftsman of the new legislation may have been guilty of an excessive enthusiasm for prescribed forms. The programme came into being graced with no less than 12 forms which had to be used at one time or another in the rent review process. In some cases, the forms were drafted in a rather casual manner and had to be amended.”

There, in a nutshell, is the problem of the principle that we’ve been dealing with in this rent control legislation. It is the principle of temporary legislation that adds an air of unease about it; and it runs right through the entire programme -- from personnel who are involved in the rent review programme to the kind of response that is made in the terms of an administrative technique and to the kind of problems that are encountered by those people who actually try to function within the programme, whether they be landlords or tenants. That uncertainty, that air of the temporary that pervades the entire programme, causes most of its difficulties.

Let me point out some areas that I suggest need substantial improvement. In the first place, I think we have to address ourselves to that temporary problem. I really cannot see the basis for an automatic termination date of the programme. Surely the programme is a valid one until such time as the shortage of rental accommodation has been solved in some way or another. I fail to see how anyone at this time, and least of all this government, could prognosticate a date or pick a time out of the air when that could be done. Surely this legislation should be legislation to establish a rent review programme that works until such time as the programme is no longer needed; and then the government, of course, has an undeniable case to bring before this House in legislation ending the programme. But so far as anyone can see, there are no solutions available or in operation now that will solve the problem.

The Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) did announce some incentives for new rental accommodation. Those particular programmes have not worked, by his own admission, in any of the areas where rental accommodation is a particularly vexing problem; and there is very little indication that the kinds of programmes being advanced by the government now will actually do the job. They are an attempt, but there is no assurance, by any stretch of the imagination, that the rent problem in Metro Toronto and the larger urban centres in Ontario will have been solved by the time this bill terminates. So the provision for an automatic termination date makes no sense to this party at all and we would make some suggestions in that regard.

I want to move to a second and major point. The principle of this particular bill is tied very closely to the federal anti-inflation programme, even though there is a rather strange relationship at work here. The original bill, hon. members will recall, was presented to this House and conceived before there was a federal anti-inflation programme. The minister responsible, in his statements concerning the rent review programme in Ontario, always managed to make reference to a federal anti-inflation programme and then promptly says: “But this bill is not tied to that programme.” I would accept one way or the other: Either it is a part of that programme or it isn’t. But I have great difficulty in accepting the notion that it is for some purposes and it is not for others.


Surely, as we have seen in rent review programmes in other jurisdictions, there comes a time to review the guideline -- accepting that it is a guideline and not a fixed amount, accepting that it is open to some kind of judgement. But surely in this instance, in this province, we would now say, this provincial government being rather firmly and proudly, I might add, attached to the federal anti-inflation programme, that it would respond accordingly for rents -- that it would say if the federal anti-inflation programme in its first year of operation accepted eight per cent as a magic number, as an allowable increase, then surely in the second year it would also say it would follow the same guidelines, that it would say six per cent. There are arguments that can be made, whether it’s six in British Columbia -- recently they have struck the magic number of seven per cent. But I find it difficult to --

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Ten in Manitoba.

Mr. Breaugh: That’s fine. I would find it very difficult in this province with this government to find a rationale for saying that we would not go to that six per cent number. Certainly if there is one, that would be an interesting thing to see. And certainly since we are talking about a guideline, not necessarily a fixed rule, one that could be exceeded on a cost pass-through basis which almost everyone involved in the programme does accept, it would not be an undue hardship on anyone to make the six per cent the guideline.

I don’t see that response in this, yet that’s an underlying principle in this bill, I think, that it is attached to, related very carefully to, the federal anti-inflation programme which aspires to have in its second year a six per cent maximum. It is not reflected in this bill, and I really think we need some clarification on that. Obviously we are proposing that we go to a six per cent guideline. Those may be open to arguments, that’s true, but I would like to see the rationale behind that and I don’t. I would propose that when we get to that stage in discussing this particular bill that we will move that amendment.

A third area, and a major one that is not involved in this particular bill that I think has to be, stems from an emerging consensus on both sides of the issue, from both landlords and tenants, that the matter of going back before a rent review officer three and four times and sometimes more to deal with the same apartment building, to look at the same numbers, is nonsensical. The minister said very clearly in his opening statement the other day that an attempt was made to streamline this process. Everyone that I have talked to, whether they are landlords or tenants, agree that it makes no sense to go back three and four times to look at the same set of numbers for a different unit in the same building.

There appears to me to be a clearly emerging consensus there that you could look at an annual building review. The landlord would arrive at the rent review officer with his facts and figures for this building, for this year, and that it could be handled wisely and judiciously. Yes, there are some difficulties but this rent review programme has faced difficulties before. In its early days it had a lot of confusion about it and in some measure at least has managed to struggle out from underneath that.

So the concept of an annual building review seems to me to be the most logical one from anybody’s point of view -- from a cost saving point of view, from an aggravation point of view, from an administrative point of view, from a paper-work point of view, from a wise and judicial use of the rent review officers and all of the facilities that they have in the province of Ontario now. The concept of doing the building once a year seems to make a good deal of sense for everybody.

The argument can be made, of course, that a landlord can do that now under existing legislation. But it is not being done. I would hope that when we do the clause by clause debate, the amendment we will propose to provide for the annual building review on a regular basis would be accepted on all sides. There may be some argument about the details of it, and the mechanics, but I think that that concept has to be embodied. Frankly, of all the things that you could do with the rent review programme, that one single thing would probably do more towards cleaning up the administration, providing all parties with a fair and equitable hearing, and taking out of it the animosity that exists.

There are some other things that need to be done but of all the ones that I can think of and of all the people that I have talked to, there seems to be a clear consensus that that’s a workable idea and one that ought to be embodied in this legislation. If we are going to review this legislation and extend it, now is the time to do that.

Let me point out a couple of other small areas -- they are not small areas, they are matters of some grave concern to a number of people, but they don’t require major amendments to the legislation. Let me point out that if we move to something that would allow a registration of the rent of all the units in a building, not a complicated procedure -- and I must say in this rent review process a number of very complicated things have been attempted; this is not that complicated; in fact most of those numbers are on file -- that would serve everyone’s purpose, I think, to a good end.

It would provide for a number of the landlords a good survey, for one thing, of what rents are being charged and are being allowed by the rent review agency across their municipality, across the province of Ontario. It would facilitate tenants when they go to appear before a rental officer. It is simply a matter of getting together publicly accessible facts, indisputable ones -- a registry, if you like. I don’t think that is a difficult concept to accomplish; I think it is a worthwhile one. I think, frankly, that it’s a very simple step that would accomplish a great deal for all involved.

Let me put to you, Mr. Speaker, a couple of areas that I’m sure the minister is aware of, and which I think he wouldn’t need to be really unduly pushed to get around to. This matter of proper notice that’s contained in the legislation -- which, again, goes right back to the principle of the bill. Is this a judicial process, or is this something like a quasi-judicial process, or what kind of a process is it?

I fail to see how somebody can waive his rights unconsciously. Surely the legislation is written so that if proper notice is given and the tenant or whoever appears before the rent review officer raises the issue, that’s extremely valid and that’s provided for in the legislation. But how do you lose your rights by saying nothing?

I think those rights are enshrined in the previous legislation and ought to be enshrined in this legislation. I am aware of the problem that did exist, but proper notice really has to be given before the hearing can be proceeded with and that strikes me as a very simple matter. The first question the rent review officer asks is, “Has there been proper notice given?” and the onus is on neither the landlord nor the tenant, but on the person that we, as a government, appoint to look after that particular hearing.

It seems to me a very logical thing that his first question would be, “Has proper notice been given?” That raises the issue, clarifies the stance and is not going to cost anybody a lot of money or a lot of time or a lot of aggravation. If that were written into this legislation I think it would solve problems for a great many people.

Those are, very quickly, some of the major areas. Let me deal now with some of the things that have been brought before me, as housing critic for this party, and before the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) when he was housing critic, that I think have to be at least discussed when we are discussing the principle of this legislation.

There is this matter of the regulations and of the guidebook and of the bulletins that were put out. Tenants in particular -- and I think from the landlords that I have talked to, to the landlords as well -- find that a particularly aggravating process. Understanding the traditions of the House, it’s one thing as a legislator to understand that the minister probably ought to retain the right to make regulations from time to time, that underneath that the staff that’s working in the administration probably has to have some leeway to publish guidebooks -- the mysterious, secret guidebook -- or to send out bulletins to clarify particular issues.

But the basic problem is, you see, that that’s the guts of the programme. Whatever we put in legislation here, whatever principles we adopt here, are good or bad depending on how the programme works afterwards. By and large, it works on the regulations that are published and gazetted, on the guidebooks that are put out, even though most people don’t see them, and on the bulletins that are published by the rent review board itself.

There is a problem that I have with that. I admit, quite frankly, that any government would probably need that kind of leeway, that it would probably want to retain that even if we were the government and we were proposing this kind of legislation. The ironic thing, as an example, in discussing the matter with some people from the Metro Tenants Federation last evening, is that they were very happy with the kind of advisory agency that Manitoba uses, but it is difficult to say how you enshrine that in law because you really are talking about (a) the principle of the bill itself and (b) the policies and practices of the government of the day.

Perhaps in one jurisdiction they are more attracted to the government than they would be in this jurisdiction. Perhaps they are happier with the tone and tenor of the guidelines that are put out. Perhaps they are more in tune with those people who administer the same kind of a programme in another jurisdiction.

It’s a difficult one -- and I don’t propose that we run off into committee in an attempt to set up some other advisory body, but I did think it important enough to bring it up when we discussed the principle of this legislation. Because, in many instances, I feel, and a number of other people do, the principle of the legislation, the purpose of it all, was definitely thwarted by the regulations, the guidelines and the bulletins that were put out. I think even the minister would be prepared to agree that on occasion that has happened. It’s a matter of some debate among landlords and tenants as to how frequently that happened, but without question there were some really serious problems that emerged, essentially around that issue of what happens after the minister writes the legislation, after he establishes the principle of the thing, and after he gets all his amendments approved. When it then goes into operation, what happens? There is a serious problem there. I am afraid we do have to go back to a government reluctant to put in this kind of legislation, for starters, and a minister, frankly and openly, reluctant to administer such a programme.

Given that kind of after-the-legislation tenor or atmosphere, it becomes understandable why there were difficulties in the administration of the rent review programme. There were those who said in the early days -- and, frankly, I shared the thought quite often -- that the whole thing was set up afterwards in terms of its administration and regulations and guidelines and bulletins, that after putting the legislation through the House, the government then set about to make sure that it could never work and that it would strangle itself. That early feeling seems to have modified somewhat, at least in my view.

But I really have to put to the minister and to the government that there is a prevailing feeling that there are great difficulties there; that this government has backed into this legislation; that the administration suffers greatly in terms of morale, in terms of production and in terms of efficiency because everyone really gets the impression that while there’s a programme at work here, some legislation under way, the government is implementing legislation that really in its heart of hearts it didn’t want to do. There are arguments on both sides of that coin but I think that is a problem. I wish, quite frankly, we could somehow in the legislation write the spirit of the thing with a great fervour that would carry over after the legislation is passed to see that the thing does work in subsequent days.

There are some other matters. There is the matter of written decisions, of providing a reasonably accurate account of why a rent review officer made the decision he did. I would understand in the early days when there was a backlog, when things were hot and heavy, when there was a good deal of confusion, when the forms weren’t even printed and sometimes misinformation was given out by rental offices themselves, the officer really couldn’t contemplate providing a satisfactory written response or a written reason for the decision.

I think, though, that that day has passed and that that now could be done, that that’s a perfectly sensible and feasible thing that would establish some rationale, some pattern and some frames of reference for people when they go before the rent review officer. I think that that could be done from my conversations with those people who worked as rental officers who now say that that could be done and from those people who appear before rent review hearings who think that that would be of great assistance to them. That could be done and it wouldn’t be at this stage of the game an impossible task at all. It would serve some great purpose for most people.

I have some difficulties with the idea of the principle of discontinuing service. I understand the previous problem of saying that that is a rent increase and now saying that if they discontinue a service of course the tenant can always run off to the rental officer later on. There are some grave problems with that. I would say, quite frankly, in discussing the principle of this bill, that that’s one area where there have been some rather serious problems -- not with a lot of landlords perhaps but certainly with some that I’m aware of. Being disgruntled and a bit unhappy by times and, I suppose, to be quite fair about it all, a bit confused by the whole process, they turn around to strike back and see in what areas they could get back at their tenant.

In my riding we have had a couple of unfortunate incidents, that I know the minister is aware of, where a landlord perhaps had some difficulty understanding the legislation and understanding why his guys did it to him and took some rather untimely actions, some of which may have been justified and some of which undoubtedly were not justified, not the least of which was the discontinuing of some services.

I think the minister has to address himself to that because part and parcel of this concept, this principle of rent review, is that when one rents an apartment he gets it as it was when he went in there. The dishwasher works, the laundry room works and they do clean the snow from the drive in the winter. In the case of the sauna, the swimming pool or whatever it was that attracted a person there in the first place, whatever it was that got him to the position where he was prepared to pay that kind of rent in the first instance, they don’t start shutting down all those facilities. Quite frankly, that is an area that is a problem and certainly a source of aggravation to tenants, and I don’t really think it’s a satisfactory answer for any landlord. At least the ones I’ve talked to are unhappy about that.


Quite frankly, in my riding most of the landlords with whom I have discussed the matter are quite proud of running good buildings; they make the effort to keep their places clean and to keep them reasonably well maintained. They’re not happy about spending money that doesn’t turn a profit afterwards, but a number of them do have pride in their properties. A number of them, in particular those who are local owners, are extremely proud of the kind of place that they run. They like to keep it clean. They like, frankly, to keep their tenants happy. They want them to be happy where they are; they don’t want them grumbling all the time. They don’t like the kind of complaints that we get in other situations where a landlord doesn’t quite respond to that degree.

There is the difficulty of reopening hearings. I think we also have to discuss the matter of the rent review board itself and how it responds, because after that point, in looking at the principle of the first legislation that we investigated in this House, there was this idea that there would be a final appeal for both parties through a rent review board.

Unfortunately, the feeling that I get is that the kind of atmosphere in which people operate is such that they tend to think now that the rent review board is not really an appeal process for the tenant. It is supposed to be that, but they feel that in practice it hasn’t turned out to be that; it’s the place the landlord goes. If he’s a big landlord, if he’s got the time, the talent, the money and the expertise to appeal, off he goes to the rent review board.

The general feeling, to be specific about it, is that the rent review board is the place that the landlord goes if he feels he didn’t get a happy hearing at the local level. That has to be changed somewhat. There are some problems with that, very frankly.

Perhaps it is personnel. Perhaps it goes back to the kind of comment made by Brian Bucknall, which I read into the record initially, that when the programme is temporary in nature and seems to be a programme that was accepted with great reluctance on the part of the government, that establishes kind of a milieu in which the whole programme operates and it would be rather difficult for tenants to think that they are always getting a fair shake.

Quite frankly, a couple of landlords with whom I have discussed the matter don’t feel they’re getting much of a shake out of it either. They feel the programme itself is rather shaky, and that speaks to my initial point about it being temporary in nature and the kind of problems that are associated with that temporariness.

There is kind of a smell of bias about it all, that it’s a reluctant thing, an unwanted creature that it’s not ever going to work extremely well because no one really wants it ever to work extremely well. Of course, if we address ourselves specifically to the principle of the bill, we would have to say yes, we want this legislation to work as well as it can, accepting that there will be hiccups along the line, that it will not always work smoothly and that not everyone will be happy. But surely there ought to be an overriding consideration that we want this legislation to work as effectively as it can. And that’s lacking.

I’m not sure that we can get rid of the nature of the bias. In particular, I’m not sure that we can get rid of that when the minister seems to persist in making statements about his reluctance about the programme itself. Frankly, I wish he would either stay silent on that matter or make some rather carefully worded statements in support of the programme. That does seem to be a problem on both sides.

From the landlords’ point of view -- at least the ones that I’ve discussed it with -- we might say that some of them are withholding capital. Most of them are saying to me, “We’re not sure what’s going to happen in a year and a half from now or whenever termination dates might be adjusted to. After all, we looked at it as a temporary programme once. We thought that if we waited it out for 18 months, and we wanted to invest some money in apartments at the end of 18 months, we could zap it in and there would be no controls.” There are no controls now on new units and nothing contemplated to change that. But it’s that kind of air of uncertainty which flows through this entire programme, that is causing the problem. Eighteen months ago they thought it would only go for 18 months, and now we’re talking about an extension already. What are we going to do when this one expires? Come back with another extension?

Wouldn’t people be better off if we were to say the programme is in place until it is no longer needed? Wouldn’t that do a number of things for us? Wouldn’t that clearly establish the principle of the legislation, for starters? Wouldn’t that clearly establish that for someone who wanted to take a job as a rent review officer, or someone who wanted to fill a position on the rent review board, there would be some permanence there; that it’s worth establishing some part of your life to work for this mechanism and to make this kind of legislation successful administratively and in a number of other terms? That would go in great measure, I would say, to answer the problem that the minister addressed himself to in his opening statement about the uncertainty of starts in rental accommodation. I think, too, although perhaps it is a bit off the mark in specifics, it is not off the mark in terms of the principles of the legislation, that little problem that emerged about whether or not people in public housing are in or out of rent review.

There have been people evicted because they got caught in the backlog. And it is true to say, I suppose, that if you looked at it from a strictly legal sense they should have put the money in a bank in a separate account, and if they were out, okay, they would have had the money in a little pot. But people at that income level don’t do that kind of thing. They are worried about frivolous items like clothes for the kids and food for the table. So if an extra few bucks show up in the monthly budget that means that some kid gets a new pair of shoes or a raincoat or a winter jacket, or the family eats a little better that month than they did the previous month.

I am a little disappointed that the minister has not seen fit -- I am not suggesting it ought to be enshrined in legislation in any way -- to deal with that problem, to solve it. Of course, part of our difficulty here is that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) is dealing with this legislation as opposed to the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes). That split, that small shift, that shoving off to another ministry, causes problems all over the place, not the least of which is this one.

I suppose from the government’s point of view it provides an opportunity to do a small shuffle and to get rid of a problem by giving it to somebody else; but from the tenants’ point of view, and particularly from public housing tenants’ point of view, they got caught in a trap that was not of their own making. It was unreal to expect them to be able to deal with that situation and some of them suffered rather atrocious consequences not of their own making. Frankly, I am rather disappointed that the government did not see fit to at least make a short statement to indicate to local housing authorities, or just to the House at large, that they intend to forgive and forget, to understand that some innocent people got caught in a small bit of legislative byplay that hurt them, and that the government would be prepared now to readdress itself to that problem and to see that that doesn’t occur again.

There is this problem which I don’t think was addressed properly in the initial legislation, although there was considerable discussion about it. No one is quite sure at the hearing level what is going on.

Is this a court? Well it is not a court.

How informal is it? Do we have to put things in writing? What can we see? What can’t we see? What can we say? What can’t we say? Because, you see, I don’t think that particular approach was clarified.

In some ways the rent review programme functions in a very officious way. You have to fill out all these forms. You have to get somebody appointed if you want them to represent you. There is a proper form to fill out.

In other ways, though, it is not a very official thing; it is not a very judicial process. It can be someone sitting with two or three people. It can be someone sitting with 300 people; and, of course, when the 300 show up the rent review officer does not exactly know how to deal with that situation.

So I think there needs to be some clarification on exactly what we are doing here, and in being a little more precise about what kind of a hearing it will be -- what are the rules of that game, what is the aura that surrounds that situation.

One would think after 18 months that the programme would have settled in. It probably has in a number of areas, the problem is that there are some inconsistencies from one to the next.

In a couple of the hearings that I have been at it has been a rather informal affair. It struck me that in those situations, with the small number of people in attendance, what started out to be accomplished was in fact accomplished, though some of the informality of it all tended to let it get a little sloppy and some of the detail tended to get lost in the mess.

There were some problems of landlords, for example, being allowed to bring in information after the hearing which they didn’t have at the hearing for starters. Now some hearing officers said, “Whatever you have on the table at the time of the hearing, that is what we allow.” But some said, “Well, if you want to drop it around to my office next Tuesday I’ll take a look at that.”

That is a problem. What are the rules of the game? Is this a situation where when you walk in and, okay, there are normal rules of order applying, but more important than that, do you have to put the stuff on the table there? If the ministry is allowing the landlord, as an example, to come around three days later and present new information that the tenant doesn’t see and can’t argue with, that strikes me as being unfair. There seems to be a need at least to have the minister, in his directions to these personnel who carry out these hearings, straighten that out.

There seem to be different sets of rules at play in different hearings. I know that in some of the areas surrounding my own riding there are different rent review officers hearing cases.

In Metro Toronto there are certainly many different rent review officers hearing cases, and some of them are beginning to establish reputations as being easy to some and not easy to others. Some are establishing the idea that they give tenants a fair hearing; some are getting the reputation that they really don’t listen to the tenants, they want to listen to the landlords. Some are taking the approach that this is really an accounting procedure as opposed to a hearing of two sides of a situation; and that the real function of the rent review officer is, after the hearing is all over, he takes the landlord’s books away and somewhere in private makes his decision, consulting, I suppose, the great secret guide book along the way.

It’s a problem of consistency. It is also a problem of information, of what information is provided. I frankly don’t see why we couldn’t do a very simple thing like asking the landlord and the tenant when they supply information to the rent review officer to simply supply it in three copies; one of which is for the rent review officer, one of which is for the tenant involved and one of which is for the landlord himself.

Of course, if you went to a building by building situation and you allowed them annual building review, that seems to simplify the process even further. Maybe hinging on that one concept are a number of solutions to administrative problems that we’ve got.

I certainly don’t think it’s a sensible proposition, though it seems to have been worked out in many rent review offices, that you charge people for duplicating things, or that initially you wouldn’t let them duplicate things and you made them write it all out. That seems to have kind of worked itself out. It strikes me a simple solution in the final aspect is to simply have people file three copies. It seems to me to be quite a reasonable thing. It poses difficulties for some, that’s true; but not for everyone and not insurmountable difficulties, and it seems to me that it would also stop some problems.

Let me point out another area that is mentioned in the principle of this bill and which was mentioned again in the statement the minister read when he introduced the legislation in the House. That is the relationship between this rent review programme and The Landlord and Tenant Act, because it is related. You are talking about the same people; you are talking about the laws of the same government and the same province in this nation. They are related, without question.

What’s missing is some mechanism to allow a tenant to get his rights under The Landlord and Tenant Act. By the same token, it lacks some easy mechanism, some workable mechanism, to allow the landlord to see that his rights as a landlord are fulfilled.

In my own area we have the rather fortunate situation of an individual who was hired by the region of Durham to function as a housing registry officer who advises both landlords and tenants on their rights and their responsibilities. He facilitates that process; he enjoys an excellent reputation in the community and solves a number of problems for a number of people.

Incidentally, he started, in the beginning, to serve the needs of people who needed some kind of housing accommodation, but he functions as much for the landlords as he does for the tenants and that simple mechanism seems to make a lot of sense.

It has been suggested in many quarters that a rent review officer could serve some of those functions. I do understand the argument that he can’t be all things to all people and that he can’t police nine Acts instead of one, but it does strike me that the government has got to address itself to that problem. There are people who have rights, both landlords and tenants, who are having their rights abused because they are not aware of what they are, because there is no real mechanism that they can use to see that those rights are fulfilled.

I want to conclude, Mr. Speaker, by just running through those areas we would like to focus on and on which we will move amendments when we get to clause by clause, just so that the minister is clear on our position.

We agree with the principle of the bill without question. We also agree that it needs to be extended. We do think that an automatic termination date associated with the rent review programme really doesn’t make sense, and that this programme should continue in force until the rental housing market conditions are no longer under the kind of pressure they are under now.

We think, too, that the maximum rent increase permitted without appeal to the rent review process should be reduced from eight per cent to six per cent to make it consistent with the anti-inflation programme.

We think the legislation should allow for one hearing to be held for each building for each 12-month period, that the hearing deal in advance with all leases due to expire in that year and that the officers’ orders come into effect as the lease expires. That all landlords should be required to register the rents of all units in a building each year with the rent review officer, that this information be publicly accessible at all times and that the rent review officers be responsible for ensuring that proper notice has been given to the tenants before proceeding with the rent review hearing.


Mr. Speaker, we will continue, there are several members who want to speak to the principle of this particular bill. We will be moving amendments when we get to clause by clause, but I want to reiterate that we support the principle of the bill; and we in turn anticipate some support from the minister himself on a number of the points that I have raised and that other members will raise. Thank you.

Mr. Edighoffer: Mr. Speaker, in making a few remarks in reference to this amendment, I think first of all this is the first opportunity I’ve had to review legislation under the new rules of the House and I want to thank the minister for the compendium of background information. I certainly found it helpful while reviewing the legislation.

I should begin by saying that we in this party certainly are in support of the principle which extends the previous legislation. We have had discussions with many landlord and tenant groups and there certainly are a number of areas that we feel should have more consideration by the minister and possibly be amended during the committee session.

We still realize that the number of Ontario citizens who are tenants is increasing very steadily. I’d like to remind the House that in 1975 over 35 per cent of all Ontario households rented shelter. I’m positive that in many urban areas the majority of housing units which are rented rather than owned has increased substantially since that time.

In looking over some of the statistics of the dwelling starts in what they call the “apartment and other” category, this seems to have been declining steadily over the last few years. As a consequence the vacancy rate still is extremely low in many Ontario urban areas. The last figures I was able to come up with were the nine selected Ontario metropolitan areas, which were referred to by CMHC in the October, 1976, survey, when Thunder Bay had 0.2 per cent vacancy, Toronto one per cent, St. Catharines and Niagara 1.2 per cent, Sudbury 1.2 per cent, London 1.3 per cent, Ottawa 1.9 per cent --

Mr. Shore: Where are you getting that 1.3 per cent?

Mr. Edighoffer: I told you, weren’t you listening?

Mr. Kerrio: He got it from you when you were on our side.

Mr. Singer: It was in your speech, the one in which you talked about the budget.

Mr. Kerrio: Did you change your figures when you went over there?

Mr. Edighoffer: Windsor 2.2 per cent, Kitchener 2.6 per cent and Hamilton 2.9 per cent.

An hon. member: Where’s the Minister of Housing?


Mr. Edighoffer: Many housing experts suggest, of course, that a vacancy rate of approximately four per cent is necessary to ensure relative freedom of choice for tenants. Listening to a number of landlords from areas throughout Ontario, it’s been drawn to my attention that at the present time in the Kitchener-Waterloo area the vacancy rate is now close to that four per cent. I’d like to suggest to the minister that this area should be watched very carefully over the next six to 12 months and much can be learned for the eventual decontrolling of rents under this legislation.

I also want to recall to the minister’s mind that the minister stated, at the time when this legislation was introduced, and I quote: “This bill is designed to take care of a situation that is here with us now. It is not conceived to be long term. We have a termination clause in the bill. The purpose of the termination clause is to emphasize that we consider this to be a short-term necessity as part of the overall endeavour of the people of this country to fight inflation.”

The rate of inflation really has not decreased, and we have before us this amendment, which we in the Liberal Party have discussed fully. The extension of the rent review legislation should correspond with the scheduled termination of the anti-inflation programme.

The first section in this amendment sets out the rate increase at eight per cent or “such lesser percentage amount as may be determined by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.” We in this party have stated on many occasions that it is not reasonable to leave such decisions to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. We feel that in this particular case it should be spelled out in the Act what really will take place between now and the end of 1978.

I would like to refer to the Throne Speech of March 29, when it stated:

“Ontario’s commitment to the AIB is also coupled with a commitment to ensure basic protection from unacceptable high costs for the citizens of our province. The rent control programme, initiated in 1975, will be continued until the scheduled end of the anti-inflation programme, and legislation to this effect will be presented to the House.”

The legislation is now before us, and the section near the end of the bill sets out and extends the date to December 31, 1978. The AIB guidelines, which were set out and which the province agreed to, were, I believe, 10 per cent for October 1975 to October 1976, eight per cent for October 1976 to October 1977, and six per cent from October 1977 until the termination of the programme. As this legislation is now tied in with the AIB guidelines -- or so it has been intimated on many occasions -- it is most important that section 1(1) of the bill be related to the guidelines.

As I stated earlier, we in this caucus feel that this future percentage change of rent increase should be spelled out in the legislation. I want to inform the minister that when we come to committee I will be proposing an amendment that would truly relate this bill to the AIB guidelines and would reduce the rate of increase to six per cent in October 1977 or at such times as the AIB guidelines are reduced.

I might also say a word about that past performance of the rent review board and officers. I suppose I should compliment them, as the expenditures for their programme were much less than expected.

Mr. Kerrio: They overestimated.

Mr. Edighoffer: The information given to me by the minister certainly showed that the expense was not as much as estimated. However, when we look at the figures and the operation of the rent review board and when we look at the decrease in the rent requested and the rent granted, we see that the average saving to the tenant was approximately $15.74. When one figures this out in relation to the number of units that went before the board, it may be considered that it is still fairly costly to administer this programme.

There are many other changes in the legislation, and I would have to say that a number of specific sections incorporate a number of new and amended provisions to provide, I hope, better administration of the programme. These certainly can’t be opposed as long as they bring about more efficient administration.

We in this party feel, of course, it’s important to make sure that any rent increase granted during the period of the Act remains in force for a 12-month period. It’s important to allow for new hearings by the Residential Review Board in order to correct errors and also hear appeals by parties unable to attend an original hearing.

The previous speaker referred to section 5 and the discontinuance of service or a privilege or an item, which would not be considered an increase in rent. I know we discussed this very carefully and I would appreciate it if the minister would spell out, to some effect, what might take place in accordance with section 5.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: On a point of order. In order to avoid repetitive debate on this matter, I should point out that discontinuation of a service is considered to be an increase in rent; it is not considered to be an increase in rent for the purposes of the 12-month period. I think that should be clarified, rather than have this point repeated over and over again. It is considered, and always has been considered, an increase in rent by the rent review officer.

Mr. Edighoffer: Thanks, I’m glad the minister clarified that.

This amendment, of course, changes section 10 which increases the penalty --

Mr. Deans: On a point of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: There is no point of order.

Mr. Deans: The minister rose on a point of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The minister rose on a point of information, and it was truly out of order because second reading isn’t the time for an exchange of questions and answers across the floor. I permitted it just to facilitate an orderly discussion on the principle of this bill. Any further elucidation will have to wait until the minister winds up.

Mr. Deans: That’s what happened by allowing it. It was money he was referring to. I don’t understand it at all.

Mr. Singer: Then get up and make a speech about it later.

Mr. Deans: Do you understand it?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Perth has the floor.

Mr. Singer: Why don’t you get yourself in order for a change?

Mr. Good: Yes, exactly.

Mr. Deans: Did you understand what he said?

Mr. Singer: Yes.

Mr. Deans: No, of course not

Mr. Singer: Get yourself in order. You are the great interpreter of the rules.

Mr. Edighoffer: Thank you for controlling the members, Mr. Speaker.

I’d just like to make a comment on section 10, which is the penalty clause increasing the penalty for a corporation. I see nothing wrong with this. I notice one word is taken out of that section, and the word is “knowingly.” I hope this will not create hardship for new Canadians who as yet have difficulty with the language.

Section 8(2) sets out regulatory powers to permit the levying of fees, when necessary, to recover the cost of providing copies of documents. I think that’s probably what this is, but I’d certainly like the minister to clarify this in his final remarks, to let us know what further powers we are giving to the regulations.

Basically, we in this party agree in principle with this legislation. As I stated earlier, I’ll be presenting an amendment when this comes to committee to bring this in line with the AIB guidelines. I know that many other members, particularly urban members from this caucus, will have comments on other sections of the bill.

Mr. McCague: How about Harry there, he’ll lose a lot of money.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.

Mr. Warner: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Kerrio: Why don’t you resign?

Mr. Warner: I’ve never heard that suggestion before from anyone.

An hon. member: He’s cost a lot of money, hasn’t he?

Mr. Warner: Saving the taxpayers’ dollars.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to take part in the discussion of this bill and will try to do so in a non-provocative fashion. I address my comments to the minister of consumer and corporate protection.


Mr. Shore: Address them to the Chair.

Mr. Kerrio: Isn’t the Minister of Housing interested in this discussion?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: It’s Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Mr. Warner: I stand corrected, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Shore: You catch on fast.

Mr. Warner: Yes. Now that I have the title straightened out, perhaps the minister can straighten out the function.

Mr. Shore: Get yourself straightened out a little too.

Mr. Warner: I appreciate the fact that the bill is here. It is rather late, it should have been dealt with earlier.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: When? This is the first day you could deal with it. Tell me when you could have done it earlier?

Mr. Warner: Those suggestions were put forward early in December.

Mr. Singer: We convened on March 29.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Ask your House leader.

Mr. Singer: Oh, come on.

Mr. Warner: If the minister will recall, we asked several times that the legislation be put forward before the House adjourned in December --

Mr. Shore: Have you got anything constructive to say?

Mr. Warner: -- so that groups out there who are tenants and who are owners would have an opportunity to look at what was being proposed and have some meaningful dialogue before the eleventh hour approached, but it wasn’t done. We listened -- I listened anyway to a very thoughtful presentation put forward by the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), who outlined in a speech somewhere around December 15 or 16 --

Mr. Shore: He got demoted.

Mr. Warner: -- a considerable number of important and useful suggestions as to how the rent review process could be improved, and again reiterated that we should have something to work on before the end of April. Obviously this is before the end of April but it certainly isn’t going to give enough time to have the type of in-depth dialogue there should be.

The minister has given us some suggestions as to how to improve the system. There are quite a few more that are missing, an awful lot more. I would like, in a very objective way, to sketch out for him some of the problems I have encountered and some of my observations in working with tenants, not only in my riding in Scarborough but in various parts of Metro.

I know the minister had problems in bringing in The Rent Review Act. I know he ended up with people who were to administer it as review officers who in a lot of cases didn’t know what they were doing.

In Scarborough we went through several rent review officers. A couple of them, I understand, had to be told to leave. I don’t know if one would call it fired or not, but they were told to vacate the premises. They were doing some strange and unusual things which were not entirely their fault. The training probably was inadequate.

I don’t know why the ministry had automatically to go and drag in real estate agents to operate the programme but that appears to be what was necessary in its view. I think there could have been a better way to bring that about. The most common complaint I have had from tenants has been that they don’t understand why people in the same building end up at different rent review hearings and why there has to be so much paper work.

Why is it necessary, where there are 100 apartments in a building and everyone in there decides to go to rent review, to end up with 10,000 sheets of paper passing hands? Why is that necessary? I have never heard an adequate explanation as to why that’s necessary. It seems to me that there are ways of simplifying the process. One of the ways is to have one hearing for the entire building, one hearing for the 12 months, and consider all of the apartments at the same time.

The basic flaw in the programme, as pointed out by tenants to me, was that we weren’t dealing with the base rent. We didn’t know what base figure we were starting at. Those older buildings with the mortgage cleared off had, I would presume, substantially less cost to meet in relationship to new buildings or buildings that had gone up within the last five years.

There was no accommodation for that because we are basing the rent review on the present figure. If it is $250 now, then we are talking about what percentage above $250? We are not looking at the real cost of the unit, and not getting back and saying to the guy: “What’s the size of your mortgage and what kind of refinancing have you done and why? And if that refinancing is not legitimate, then we are going to exclude that portion.” Let’s get down to the real base cost so that in fact if the rent had been $250 before rent review, after it could have been reduced to below $250.

I found one particular set of apartments in my riding where they had paid off the mortgage. There was no mortgage and they could have reduced the rents below the level being charged and still have made a good profit. They were obviously making a pretty excessive profit. But the rent review officer couldn’t deal with that. All he could deal with was the percentage that was being asked above the given base rent at that point.

I think that’s a flaw, and it’s not attended to in this legislation either. That’s unfortunate because at some point in time we have to get to the real cost.

The other question that came up quite frequently from tenants was why is it that if someone else who’s in the same size apartment as I am -- if it’s a two-bedroom and they’ve got a two-bedroom -- that we have different rents? Why is it that someone else is paying $80 or $100 a month less for the same kind of apartment that I have? How does that happen; and why can’t the rent review process level that out? Bring him up a bit or me down a bit; or in some way level it out so that all of those one-bedrooms or all of those two-bedrooms in that building end up at the same price.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: It wasn’t done before rent review, why do it now?

Mr. Warner: You know, that’s your leadership problem; if you can’t straighten that out that’s your problem.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: The minister doesn’t have the floor. He’ll have an opportunity later on.

Mr. Warner: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. MacDonald: Get a handle on that minister.

Mr. Warner: When we discuss the rent review and the rental situation in Metro Toronto I think it’s important to realize how many people it is we’re talking about, because we don’t really have affordable housing for most of the people who live in Metro. Almost a million people are living in some form of rental accommodation in the city. That’s a lot of people, who will be living in apartments or in rental accommodation most of their lives. Unlike 15 years ago, the average family with a single wage earner cannot get affordable housing. It happened 15 years ago for a person on an average income; it doesn’t happen today. Unless this government does something about it, or there’s a change in government, it’s not going to happen in the future.

So those people are going to be living in rented accommodation for most of their lives. The question, obviously, is what is this government going to do to help that situation. What kind of protection will those tenants have? Not just in terms of rent review, but in terms of tenant rights. Rent review could be very well looked at as a protection of a tenant’s right, the right to live without fear of going into debt, based on regular income that goes up by a certain small set amount, particularly during the anti-inflation programme. Yet what kind of protection does he or she have?

What you’re saying to me in this bill is that in a year and a half from now the rental accommodation problem in Metro Toronto is going to be solved. Therefore, you can dissolve rent review and leave it to the whims of the free market and everything will be fine.

You know as well as I that everything is not going to be fine. I’m quite willing to bet, and I would imagine that you would as well -- silently, not in front of Hansard -- that rental accommodation will not be available in large numbers and there won’t be a large vacancy rate a year and a half from now. If I’m wrong, terrific; that’s the leadership of this government and if that leadership is going to prove me wrong -- that there will be lots of affordable rental accommodation in this city -- terrific, you’ve done your job. And obviously we’ve done ours in prodding you to action, and I appreciate that.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: That’s right, you win no matter what happens.

Mr. Warner: Okay, let’s get back to the problem then --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Get back to the principle of the bill.

Mr. Warner: That’s right, right on. The principle of this bill is that it expires in approximately a year and a half, give or take a month or so.

Mr. Shore: Just before you.

Mr. Warner: If the member wants to speak to his own weaknesses, that’s fine.

Mr. Moffatt: You will expire long before that, Marvin.

Mr. Shore: Have some fun there.

Mr. Moffatt: You will expire long before that.

Mr. Warner: What I am saying to the minister is that that is inappropriate and it’s not realistic, because the rental situation in Metro Toronto is not going to be cleared up in a year and a half. Those tenants who are going to remain in rental accommodation for many, many years, are going to be left without protection -- proper protection.

Why does it not make sense to the minister that the protection for tenants should remain so long as there is a vacancy problem, so long as we do not have the proper kind of vacancy rate? Why doesn’t he consider that to be reasonable? I don’t know and perhaps he can give us an answer.

Unless there are some answers, I’ll tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, that most of those one million people in Metro Toronto who are in rental accommodations will be left without protection after December 31, 1978, goes by and at the whim and vagaries of that free market system --

Mr. Shore: Use your scare tactics -- keep going. Scare me.

Mr. Warner: -- and we will be back in the same kind --

An hon. member: Postpone the scare.

Mr. Nixon: Where do you stand on rent control, Marvin?

Mr. Shore: Start early --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I can recognize the hon. member for London North at a later time.

Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I apologize if I have scared the member for London North --

Mr. Shore: You didn’t scare me at all.

Mr. Mackenzie: You woke him up.

Mr. Warner: Is the member for London North finished? If not now, he will be.

Mr. Nixon: Are you going to vote for this bill, Marvin?

Mr. Warner: I’d like to know how the minister then reconciles the situation that will occur following December 31, 1978, with what went on before the government brought in The Rent Review Act. How is it that the situation following December 31, 1978, is going to be any different from what was in place before the government brought in any form of rent review? What kind of magic thing is going to happen between now and then that will make the situation any different?

Mr. Singer: You don’t know the answer to that one? They hope to have some more seats over there. That’s what will make everything possible.

Mr. Warner: They may or may not end up with more seats, but we’re not going to end up with more apartments --

Mr. Singer: Well, that’s what they are gambling on at the moment.

Mr. Warner: -- and that’s the problem. The minister knows it and I know it, but he is not prepared to do anything about it in this particular bill. That is what is so very annoying.

No one in this House believes for a moment that every landlord out there is some sort of pirate -- not all of them. The minister knows as well as we do that many of those pirates out there were identified -- they were identified by his government during the rent review hearings. There were landlords who were brought into line and they were told, “You are asking excessive rents and you have to roll them back.” That’s the case; that’s what happened, and the minister has the documentation for it.

I sat in on those hearings, as I am sure all of us did at one point or another, and I heard the rent review officer order those rollbacks. In one particular building, the rent review officer told the landlord, “No increase. Your increase is so excessive you don’t even deserve an increase at all,” and ordered that there be no increase. So this government realizes there are pirates out there, the same way we do.

Now where have they all gone? Will they not be there in 1978? Will they not resurface on January 1, 1979? They certainly will and they’ll be out there in full force. And who’s going to protect the tenants against these pirates? Who? Tell me. Not the government, obviously, because it has decided that the end of December its responsibility for protecting the tenants of Ontario is ended. I say that’s wrong.

Mr. Shore: You have got the most warped mind there is.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Have you ever read the Speech from the Throne? Try it some time, it might help. Read the rest of it.

Mr. Warner: An interesting document; fascinating, yes. You’re going to move all this into The Landlord and Tenant Act.

Mr. Shore: You’ve got a warped mind.

Mr. Warner: There’s an interesting one to ponder.

Mr. Martel: Like playing Mickey Mouse.

Mr. Warner: Perhaps the minister in his response could indicate whether or not it is reasonable to take some form of rent review protection for tenants for the period beyond December 31, 1978, and move it into The Landlord and Tenant Act. I’d be interested in hearing his thoughts on that. It would be a good way to handle some of the problems.


When we get down to another principle of the bill which talks about the precise kind of increase that should be allowed -- and the minister has grabbed at the figure of eight per cent -- obviously we question why. We’ve heard both from the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) and the Liberal spokesman --

Mr. Riddell: The member for Perth (Mr. Edighoffer).

Mr. Samis: The squire of Perth, the entrepreneur.

Mr. Warner: -- the gentleman member from Perth who spoke so nicely, that it’s more appropriate to have six per cent. Since we have all been told by this government that the cost of living has gone down, and since we’ve been told by this government that it believes in the anti-inflation programme and that it wishes to mirror the federal government as much as possible, particularly where it involves Ottawa taking over its responsibilities, then it only makes good and reasonable sense to accept six per cent instead of eight. If the minister has some argument as to why that should not occur, I would be very happy to hear it.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: What’s the point of a compendium? Did the member read it?

Mr. Warner: I read everything that you send over, not everything makes sense.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Let the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) read it to him.

Mr. Moffatt: As the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations said, only wages are controlled at six per cent.

Mr. Ferrier: The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere has the floor.

Mr. Warner: Thank you. I guess what is most disturbing about this bill, particularly in light of what went before it and the attitudes of the government prior to any bill about rent review, is -- and I don’t mean this in any sort of mean way or vindictive way --

Mr. Shore: Not you!

Mr. Singer: He said it. I don’t know why you are so worried.

Mr. Warner: -- that I really don’t think that the minister’s heart’s in it, I really don’t.

Mr. Nixon: I suspect the member for London North isn’t really keen about it.

Mr. Singer: He never was.

Mr. Nixon: Without giving away caucus secrets.

Mr. Shore: It’s the best piece of legislation.

Mr. Warner: Perhaps he would rather be minister of beer in the ball park, I don’t know, but I don’t think the minister’s heart is in this whole business. I really don’t think he has the protection of tenants at heart. He would like somehow to think that the whole thing could be done without any effort, that somehow the free-market system is going to take care of all those people out there; tenants won’t have problems and we can do away with this. I have the feeling if we didn’t have any anti-inflation programme around, if the federal government had decided to do away with it, we wouldn’t even have this in here now. This government would let the tenants struggle individually and in small groups against those corporate giants Meridian and Cadillac.

Mr. Shore: What have the corporate giants done?

Mr. Moffatt: The member for London North is going to get a promotion. He is going to be parliamentary secretary to the member for Scarborough Centre (Mr. Drea).

Mr. Warner: Perhaps the member for London North should have someone read him the financial statements of Cadillac and Meridian and then tell me whether they’re corporate giants or not.

Mr. Shore: Once you learn how to read, you might learn something about rent review. What about unions? Aren’t they big giants?

Mr. Samis: Stand in line.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Will the member for London North try to keep quiet just for a few minutes?

Mr. Warner: Thank you. It seems to me that the minister, in addition to including the six per cent in there and deciding that we should not automatically terminate The Rent Review Act, should ensure that we could handle all of the appeals for one building in one calendar year. Take the expiry dates, the one that are coming up and the ones that have occurred, and let’s deal with them in one hearing at one time.

He could also ensure that during that process the tenants would have the same advantage that the landlords have. The process he went through in producing a nice little book for the landlords, telling them how to go about rent review, could be done for the tenants. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, but if the minister thinks it’s unreasonable I’d like to hear his argument on that score.

Appeal procedure, quite frankly, was always a mystery to me. I couldn’t understand why things that were not allowed at the hearing were allowed at the appeal, and why the course of events that took place at the hearing to give the officer some notion as to what had happened got turned around at the appeal and why it had to be so awkward for tenants to take part.

When the landlord wants to go to an appeal, he doesn’t even have to show up as long as he sends a lawyer and an accountant; and he can take that sum of money, whatever it is they charge him for their services, and enter it into the review process as an allowable expense. The tenant, in order to have a valid case, has to appear and in many cases takes time off from work. Is his loss of salary deducted from the rent increase or accommodated in any way? No, it doesn’t happen.

Mr. Drea: Oh, come on.

Mr. Warner: The landlord can deduct the expenses of the accountant and the lawyer, but the tenant takes a half a day off work at his expense and there is no credit. The minister hasn’t covered that.

Mr. Drea: Come on. You never went to one of the hearings and you know it.

Mr. Warner: By the time we are finished, I say to the minister, we are still going to have many of the built-in inequities that were there before.

And they can be solved. There is no great magic to it. The ministers of the government keep telling us they are brilliant bureaucrats, that they know how to organize and streamline things. All right; here’s a chance to prove it. Let them show us how they can streamline this system to cut down on the paperwork, to make it more accessible for the tenants, to better inform the tenants of their rights, obligations and responsibilities, and how the government is going to cut down on the cost. And let them show us how they are going to get a more equitable distribution of those people who are rent review officers so that they don’t have to drag in every real estate agent they can find, but rather they can use other people in the community.

There is one situation in particular on which I would like some clarification from the minister. Maybe it was that the people I talked to didn’t have the authority to tell me this, but in one particular review case I attended I was impressed with the rent review officer because he said, “I am not sure of the validity of these stories. I am going to inspect the building.” He did that; he inspected the building personally. When he was finished, he made his deliberation and came up with a settlement that was agreeable to the tenants. They felt that the rent review officer had done a good job and that he was being fair and objective. I did too.

The question is, is this the normal practice? Is this something that is extraordinary for this particular rent review officer to do? Or is it something that the rent review officer should do if, in his judgement, the facts given by both sides are not clear or he is not convinced that they are clear? Should he then feel himself compelled to personally investigate the building, the books and so on?

I don’t know. I never got an answer. I would appreciate hearing from the minister if that is an acceptable kind of procedure and should be written into the rules for the rent review officer.

Problems which cropped up through the rent review process in some cases turned out to be problems where neither I nor anyone else could deal with the owner, because the government does not say that the owner must identify himself. What the government has said in the rent review process is that the property manager, the owner and/or the property manager, or some person designated to be in charge of the building, shall place his or her name and telephone number in some conspicuous spot in the building. What that means for many of the corporate giants, is that they never have to put down the owner’s name -- only that of the property manager.

I realize, as the minister pointed out before when we dealt with the first Act, that what we are dealing with primarily is rent review and not landlord and tenant problems; somehow you want those separated. But try as you may, when the tenants come into the hearing, they feel aggravated over their rents because of a series of problems that are related to The Landlord and Tenant Act. They say: “Maybe I wouldn’t object so much to the increase in rent if the buildings were kept up properly.” But the rent review officer can’t deal with that. That is not his job. He is dealing with the figures connected with rent review. So, then they turn to me, as their member -- as they have turned to other members -- and say: “How do we go about getting the building fixed up properly?”

Well, the first thing we should do is get hold of the owner. There is no owner’s name. It’s property manager; some real estate company is handling it and they won’t disclose who the owner is; they will only say: “We will get it fixed up in due course.” The phrase sounds familiar.

I wonder if it is entirely unreasonable for us to ask if the minister could include in the bill that the owner’s name be put on the building so that we know who the owner is. Then, if there are problems to be followed up regarding The Landlord and Tenant Act, that are not the responsibility of the ministry, we can follow them up. We will know who the owner is and we can go through that procedure.

Quite frankly I really do think that rent review is part of The Landlord and Tenant Act and at some point, if the government wishes to have a termination date it should seriously consider working rent review into the landlord and tenant process so that there is one set of rules, one Act, one person who is responsible for the whole business. By this means, when a tenant has a problem, whether it’s his or her rent, his or her building that is not kept up, or whatever, it can be dealt with in one straightforward, simple manner. It isn’t done now and I think it can be. Perhaps the minister will have some suggestions as to how that kind of protection will be extended to tenants.

In conclusion, while I support the principle of the bill, because it is better than nothing and it does afford some protection over the next 18 to 20 months, I am really disappointed that this government does not see as its obligation and responsibility the protection of tenants forever; that it will not protect tenants against one single gouging landlord. When those incidents occur in 1979, people are going to have to stand in this House -- maybe the minister, as the official opposition critic -- and ask the government to do something about it.

Mr. Singer: I want to add a few words in this debate. But before getting into it, I wonder what kind of thinking was going through the minister’s mind when he suggested that we had a very limited time to debate this bill. He then proceeded to build up some rather unusual time limit of May 1, suggesting that something has to happen then and something has to happen on another day.

I recognize that the minister doesn’t enjoy the democratic process. He doesn’t enjoy the ordinary rules of debate applying to him. He doesn’t enjoy allowing members of this Legislature to have a full and appropriate say on a very important piece of legislation. Nor is he prepared to explain the hoops that he and his colleagues jumped through before they introduced this legislation as a result of their being a minority government in the first place.

You remember, Mr. Speaker, what happened during the closing weeks of the campaign in 1975 when the minister and his colleagues, particularly his leader, had five different positions on 10 different days, insofar as what they were going to do relating to rent control.

Mr. Shore: Your heart’s not in it, Vern.

Mr. Singer: You remember that?

Mr. Drea: That’s when you were beat.

Mr. Mackenzie: You didn’t do so well either.

Mr. Singer: The end result after the noses were counted and the seats were allocated was that to stay in power at all, the government had to bring in some kind of rent review control. And they did it with as much ill grace as was possible. The present minister said if he had to be associated with it any longer he’d resign. By his words you can tell how serious he was, because he’s still here -- he hasn’t resigned.


The Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) who had it for a while, obviously has a stronger voice in the cabinet caucus than this minister does, because that minister managed to pass the buck to this minister. So now we have this minister who, with ill grace, brings in this amendment because there still is a minority House, and because still they don’t want to go to the people recognizing that they are making no provision to protect tenants.

In this municipality of Metropolitan Toronto -- what is it? -- 50 per cent of the residents live in apartments and as a result of what happened in the last election to the Conservative representation they just can’t afford to arouse the ire of all of those people as they would do if they allowed rent controls to expire.

The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere wondered why there’s an expiration date on this. The suggestion was, I think, pretty obvious that hopefully if they call an election shortly, they think they’re going to have more seats. Then, if they get enough seats, they’ll have the majority of the House and then they can allow the legislation to expire. That’s the master plan, but hopefully the people of Ontario are not going to allow those people to bring into effect that master plan at all.

Mr. Drea: You won’t be here.

Mr. Singer: Sure it is, no question about it.

Mr. Martel: That’s what it is.

Mr. Drea: You won’t be here.


Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I would think that in casting this legislation, there should have been some realization in some quarters at least that all portions of the province of Ontario are not the same. There are some sections of the province where rent control is not needed or rent review procedures are not needed.


Mr. Singer: Where there is a sufficient vacancy incidence such controls are not needed. In talking to some of my colleagues, they tell me that in some of the areas of this province that situation does in fact prevail. Surely it would have made sense, rather than having blanket legislation to cover the whole province, that this would be tied in some way in relation to vacancy rates. CMHC publishes regularly a vacancy rate, and it is reasonably regarded that when the vacancy rate gets to be four per cent that the open market in fact does carry on, and there is competition, and rents are controlled in that way.

Mr. Shore: Four?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Four?


Mr. Singer: It would have made sense, Mr. Speaker -- to me at least -- if the government had provided that where the vacancy rate has stayed say at a four per cent level for six months that that area could in fact be excused from having that kind of review. But where the vacancy rate exists at one per cent or less, as it does now in Metropolitan Toronto, certainly the tenants who are going to be affected by the abandonment of controls or review have to be protected. And they have to be protected for two reasons. One is because of the chaos their living conditions would then be under, and the other is because of the dismal failure this government has shown in its ability to get rental housing accommodation put on the market at affordable prices.

Mr. Good: Right, that’s the problem.

Mr. Singer: We had a gesture the other day from the Minister of Housing who says that this government is now going to give $600 in a grant to people who build rental units in certain areas which are ascertained by applying certain criteria. That’s not a bad step. That’s a step in the right direction. But why has it taken so long?

Surely the government had to recognize a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, that there was a shortage of affordable housing -- a shortage of rental accommodation. Surely the government should have moved then, not just at this hour -- $600 a unit? Fine, good thing. But what about the red tape insofar as planning and development and rezoning are concerned? What about the cost of sewers, water mains, roads, those sort of things? What about those municipalities who can’t afford to further burden their taxpayers by taxes on real estate to allow further development? When is the government going to do something about that? When is it going to unlock the road block that exists in front of building more housing accommodation and more rental accommodation? Those are the things it has to get at.

Until it does, I’m afraid I have to agree with those members of the official opposition that these controls have to stay. They have to stay where the incidence of vacancy is low enough to cause real concern and real hardship on the people who cannot get accommodation within their means. That’s what the crux of the situation is.

Mr. Drea: All this from the lawyer of Gerhard Moog.

Mr. Singer: All the great speeches about free enterprise, competition in the marketplace and so on are meaningless -- when we get one group who are unable to protect themselves and another group of people who want to take every advantage of a scarcity situation. Surely it is a job of this government to protect people who are otherwise unable to protect themselves --

Mr. Drea: All this from the lawyer of Gerhard Moog.

Mr. Singer: -- people of low income, people who are not employed, older people, people on fixed pensions and that sort of thing.


Mr. Singer: Those are the people who have to be protected, and the government has got to recognize that these people need protection as long as they are in this impossible situation existing in our big cities, existing in places like Metropolitan Toronto.

Mr. Drea: You’re not on retainer from Gerhard Moog any more.

Mr. Breithaupt: That’s as stupid a comment as you’ve made for some time.

Mr. Drea: Don’t you push me.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Wilson Heights will continue.

Mr. Singer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

One has to recognize that the system as it was set up has many flaws in it. Some of them have been outlined by the members who have already spoken --

Mr. Martel: Will you Tories get out of the gutter this week at all?

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Wilson Heights will continue without all the interjections.

Mr. Singer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There has to be a recognition that the system as set up was set up in a hurry. It is a flawed system and it is a system that is weighted heavily in favour of the people who are best able to protect themselves, the wealthier people.

For instance, there has to be a system of availability of appropriate advice to the tenants. So often, when they come to the rent review officer or to the appeal board, they are met by accountants and lawyers who are familiar with cost accounting, who are familiar with taxes, assessments, costs, depreciation and that sort of thing. They step into a world that is completely strange to them, and they are compelled to try to cope with that kind of argument without any assistance at all.

Surely the ministry could make available lists of accounting firms and legal firms who would be prepared to take on this kind of advice for those people who have to go before the boards and provide it -- not for free, but at reasonable cost. One has to recognize that when the giant fights with the pygmy, the pygmy needs some very substantial assistance. That assistance is not being given, and that is one of the sources of the greatest complaint that exists. When I’ve been to those hearings, and when I’ve talked to tenants in my riding, these are the things they’re concerned about. They don’t understand, and nobody bothers to explain to them. The rent review officer isn’t able to explain it to them and hasn’t got time. And certainly the landlord, who is asking for an increase in their rent, isn’t anxious to explain it to them; nor is he able to make his advisers available to them. So that kind of thing should be done.

Mr. Drea: Yes, especially when he is a lawyer.

Mr. Singer: Can’t you keep that nattering down to a low level, Mr. Speaker? It’s disturbing, I suppose, to the Hansard people --

Mr. Shore: You can hear yourself that way.

Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member will continue. The Speaker can hear the hon. member quite well and will continue to listen to him.

Mr. Singer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that.

Mr. Drea: A retainer, as always.

Mr. Singer: The second thing that is of very grave importance is the availability of documents to the tenants. There has been all sorts of wrangling here in Metropolitan Toronto about whether or not the tenants are entitled to see the documents that are produced. Rather than allow them to be copied -- and surely a system of providing copying machines for rental use to the tenants could be worked out.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: It has been.

Mr. Singer: Oh, it hasn’t been worked out. They still have to go in and copy out the documents in longhand. Yes, yes, yes.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: No, no, no.

Mr. Singer: Let the minister come with me to some of the hearings in and around Metropolitan Toronto and he’ll see that. Copying machines are not available and again the tenants are under grave disability insofar as getting appropriate information is concerned.

Advice to tenants has already been touched on by one of the earlier participants in this debate. There is a booklet that provides explanations of the statute to landlords, but an appropriate document providing advice to tenants should be made available and it’s most important that it be done.

On the question of notification. At the present time the party initiating an appeal hearing must obtain a list of people who are eligible to appear at the original rent review hearing and the party has to give personal notice to each of the people appearing. I guess I have to put on my glasses.

Once the appeal has been filed, the rent review office should take over the notification. The office has the facilities for making copies of notices, as well as having the lists of those to whom the notices should be sent. A very simple amendment, Mr. Speaker, and an amendment that the ministry could well initiate.

Concerning rent review and appeal board decisions as it is now legislated: A rent review decision applies to every tenant concerned with the hearing regardless of whether the tenant appeared at the hearing or not. However, to appeal a rent review decision, the tenant must have appeared at the original hearing. Once an appeal decision has been made, it applies only to the tenants who have appealed.

There is an amendment that purports to deal with it, but it has some peculiar language, “a valid reason,” or something. What that, in fact, means is very hard to determine. I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that the minister would be a little more explicit and try and be of a little more assistance to tenants without putting them through such complicated steps as to have to explain -- what is the wording of the section?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: You haven’t read it before?

Mr. Singer: “Circumstances beyond his control.” I don’t know what the heck that means. Why should there not be an ability to the tenant, if he has any reasonable excuse, to be able to carry on -- not just circumstances beyond his control, which allows subjective decision by the appeal officer? There should be built-in rights to the tenants to be able to get their full appeal hearing if they want to and not be tied in with this kind of red tape which they don’t properly understand.

The question of flexible controls I’ve already dealt with. The availability of documents for professional assistance. Those are things, Mr. Speaker, that I think should be done and included in the statute.

I don’t know if the minister happened to get to see the article, a rather good one, in the Toronto Star on April 16 -- that’s last Saturday -- dealing with the system that presently exists. It’s rather a good summary and not particularly partisan. A couple of quotations from that article:

“If government is really interested in providing sufficient rental accommodation at an affordable price, it’s going to have to provide the industry with support in the form of incentives.”

I agree with that, and I’ve already commented on what the Minister of Housing said, but that’s only the beginning. The government has to do all of those other things. We’ve been talking about them here for years and none of them are really being done.

“William Robbins, the executive director of Ontario’s Residential Premises Rent Review Programme, said, ‘The legislation was designed as a temporary measure to spread oil on the troubled waters’” -- troubled waters? They’re troubled election waters -- “‘and to put a halt to the inflationary rent increases. As such, I think, it has been relatively fair’.”

William Robbins talks as though those things have all been accomplished and the problem pretty well has gone away. But look at some of the statistics that Richard Conrad quotes: “More than 90 per cent of the 26,000 appeals on review decisions have been initiated by landlords and about 50 per cent of those have resulted in increases in rental.” Surely that speaks more eloquently than anything else, Mr. Speaker, for the fact that the landlord has the very great advantage of going through the first hearing, the second hearing and, at least, in 50 per cent of the 26,000 appeal hearings, the landlord has been successful. That has to reinforce the argument that the tenants need more assistance than they’re presently getting and the ministry has to make sure that that is, in fact, done.


Let me read at random a few other quotes out of this: “Tenant groups in Toronto also are pushing for the implementation of changes that would enable tenants to easily learn what legal maximum rental was for a particular unit. The incidence of illegal rents is increasing daily and if a rent review is continued, we feel that this is a major problem.”

My colleague from Perth mentioned that earlier on.

“Robbins denies accusations that the Ontario programme has resulted in the creation of a bureaucratic mess.”

I would like to hear from the minister. The minister’s comments about the situation was something less than an expression of pleasure. I don’t know whether he would admit there was a bureaucratic mess or whether he would agree with Robbins that it isn’t a bureaucratic mess. But if these controls are going to be with us for a while, and I suspect at the pace we are building affordable housing and affordable rental units it is going to be much longer than the end of 1978, then the minister has got to put his bureaucratic house in order. He has got to understand what he is doing and get about it in a proper and a fair way.

“Sure, the Act is complicated,” says Robbins, “but playing with rents is a serious and complicated business.”

That’s true but if it’s a complicated Act, and Robbins says it’s a complicated Act and so do the tenants who try to cope with it, then the minister in fairness has got to take steps to give explanatory pamphlets and books to those people who can’t properly understand it. All of the tenants haven’t got university education. All of them aren’t used to reading statutes. All of them aren’t used to a legal or quasi-legal kind of system that deals with their rights and can affect their economic well-being.

The minister has to deal with people on the basis that they can understand and he hasn’t taken those steps. He has denied them explanatory pamphlets and he has denied them professional assistance. He sends them into those hearings really with one hand tied behind their back. That’s what’s unfair about this legislation as it presently exists and the minister has caught up very few of these things in the amendments he is bringing in.

There’s the story. If the government is serious and not just paying lip service to this whole problem, if the government is seriously concerned -- and I suggest it has got to be -- about tenants’ ability to cope with inflation and to cope with the very grave shortage of rental units of any kind in places like Metropolitan Toronto, then it should have a better Act than the one it’s bringing in.

Yes, we have it here and it’s going on at least until December 31, 1978. That’s a step in the right direction and we will support it in principle. But I would hope that the minister will pay serious attention to the comments that have been levied about the present statute and the comments that have been made about the present administration and will try to introduce into this statute, before it gets too much further, appropriate amendments to take care of some of the most serious and obvious defects that the statute now has.

Ms. Gigantes: I would like to make a few comments in the course of this debate about the biggest landlord in North America and the worst landlord without a doubt in the province of Ontario. That’s the Ontario Housing Corporation. When we go back and look over the history of rent review legislation in Ontario, there’s one very very sad part to the history.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I believe this bill hasn’t anything to do with the rental accommodation owned by Ontario Housing. Am I mistaken about that? No, it has not. It’s not part of the bill.

Ms. Gigantes: It’s precisely this lack I would like to bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I beg your pardon.

Ms. Gigantes: I would like to bring to your attention the fact that hundreds of thousands of people who live in Ontario Housing Corporation houses in the province of Ontario, run by the government of Ontario, do not have any protection under this Act. They were offered protection in the previous Act when it was first introduced.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That has nothing to do with the principle of this bill.

Ms. Gigantes: I believe it has.

Mr. Speaker: Irrespective of what is lacking, all the hon. member can do is bring in her own bill if she wants to promote that.

An hon. member: There are students, nurses and all sorts of people in public housing.

Mr. Martel: You can speak to what’s missing in a bill.

Mr. Grande: The principle of the bill is rental accommodation and she should be allowed to speak!

Mr. Speaker: You can bring that up at other times or introduce your own bill. You can speak about it at the budget debate, it has been suggested. But it is not part of the principle of this bill and therefore it is out of order for any discussion at this time.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, with your indulgence, what we’re looking at now is a continuation -- a bill to continue the legislation of rent review under which we’ve operated in Ontario since the last election. The original bill which was passed by this House included those hundreds of thousands of tenants who are tenants of Ontario Housing Corporation --

Mr. Speaker: I point out to the hon. member, and I’m sure she’s quite aware, that that was omitted by a later amendment and, therefore, it is not part of this bill or the existing legislation. Therefore, it’s out of order to discuss that particular matter at this time. There are other opportunities to present your viewpoint -- I appreciate that. Just discuss this bill.

Ms. Gigantes: If I may then, I would like to talk about the administration of the previous bill which this bill does not follow up in all its measures. The administration of the previous bill went as follows: It covered Ontario Housing Corporation tenants --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That bill is no longer a bill, it’s no longer legislation, therefore it is not proper to discuss it, I point out again. Will the hon. member please respect that?

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I’m trying to address myself to what I feel is a lack in this bill.

Mr. Speaker: It’s not debatable at this time. There’s opportunity to --

Mr. Makarchuk: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That is the order, and every hon. member knows that. The second reading is a discussion of the principle of this bill and has nothing to do with Ontario Housing Corporation. It’s not amending that previous bill. I remember an original bill did include it; it was changed and, therefore, it is not existing legislation. This bill is amending the existing legislation -- not what was originally introduced some many months ago. This is a proper interpretation of it, therefore it’s out of order to discuss the matter of Ontario Housing rentals at this time. That’s the last time I hope it’s necessary to say that. You may present your viewpoints along those lines on another occasion, but not in discussing this bill, please.

Mr. Grande: I think you should insist.

Mr. Roy: Are we next?

Mr. Speaker: Are there further comments you wish to make on the principle of the bill?

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I’m somewhat baffled by your interpretation and --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The ruling is not debatable. I have repeated it three or four times and I’m sure that it’s a correct ruling and, therefore, you are not allowed to discuss the matter of Ontario Housing.

Ms. Gigantes: I have to bow to your judgement, Mr. Speaker, and I regret that missed opportunity in which I hoped to be able to tell you about my feelings about the lack of coverage for the largest --

Mr. Speaker: I can’t help it. Surely, I don’t have to repeat myself again. You either discuss this bill or we’ll have to call on the next speaker. If you wish to discuss this bill you may, but not something that’s not before us.

The member for St. George may continue.

Mrs. Campbell: I too am pleased to join in this debate. I am very pleased, of course, that the government has seen fit to bow to the will of the opposition in this House, to extend the operation of this bill.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: You are reading Mike Cassidy.

Mr. Kerrio: We’ve got you working in the right direction, now we have to keep you going there.

Mr. Roy: Do you want us to quote your press clippings again, where you are going to resign?

Mrs. Campbell: It shows the value of a concerned opposition in our legislative process.

I am concerned that the date is a fixed date. I had hoped that with all of the ingenuity and all of the expertise of government we might have related the end of this legislation to a vacancy rate. A vacancy rate has been accepted in this country for many years and for many purposes, and I feel it is very sad that the minister can’t relate to a vacancy rate -- or that he doesn’t apparently understand a vacancy rate. However, the extension, as I say, is of vital importance to a great many people.

We have heard a discussion about the proposed eight per cent. So far as I am concerned, if the principle of this bill as the government has introduced it is to relate to the AIB, then of course we would, I assume, be following the guidelines of the AIB in their entirety, but I am a little puzzled that the government which cannot find a way to deal with vacancy rates -- which would then tie it into AIB -- doesn’t follow the full procedure of tying it in completely to the AIB guidelines.

Mr. Reid: No co-ordination. They all operate in a vacuum.

Mrs. Campbell: Another thing that disturbs me is that in the principle of the total bills on rent review, we did see the government take a position which I applauded at the time -- that was to relate the rent to the unit and not to the individual tenant. Yet there has been nothing here to protect the tenants from any kind of illegality which may arise, particularly in major cities, where tenants in a building do not tend to know one another very well. When one tenant moves out, a new tenant coming in is not able to ascertain the rent which was charged to the previous tenant. So, the principle of unit determination falls in part, because of the lack of any kind of system of registration of rent.

It does seem to me that if we are really anxious to avoid illegality, this is certainly one of the areas where there is a gap large enough to drive a truck through. In my view, we should have a registration system whereby a tenant may ascertain what the previous rent was.

I hear such plaintive notes from the other side. But if they’re that plaintive, may I say that it makes one wonder as to just how real the concern is to ensure that there is no illegal increase once a tenant has moved out.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: He just has to ask the rent review officer a simple question.

An hon. member: They haven’t got their heart in the bill.

Mrs. Campbell: Well, I know they don’t.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for St. George has the floor.

Mrs. Campbell: I’m not, as my friend from Scarborough-Ellesmere suggested, unaware of their lack of real commitment. I am saying that even if the government only wants to make it appear that it has a commitment, that is the kind of gap that has to be plugged.

You know, there is this other thing. I’ve written a letter to the minister; I don’t know whether he has received it yet. But I would like to point out the kinds of things that are happening today in the riding of St. George. I wrote to him about some limited dividend housing. There is no doubt that there are very real problems for the tenants in coming to grips with the accounting system.


Hon. Mr. Handleman: CMHC.

Mrs. Campbell: I don’t know if the minister made an interjection; if he did, I didn’t catch it.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: I just say it is the CMHC accounting system.

Mrs. Campbell: No, no, Mr. Speaker. The limited dividend housing is under rent review. What we’re having to see is that these tenants, first of all, in an unaccountable fashion, although the tenants wish to appear as a group, are being denied this opportunity. They are meeting in small groups with rent review and of course they’re immediately at a disadvantage. Because the landlord is there for each of these hearings. He has continuity for each of these hearings, the tenants do not. And without assistance to them in the accounting system they are really facing an intolerable onus in the preparation of their case.

What makes it even worse in this particular case -- if you can envisage an area which is known locally as St. James Town. Here you have one developer who owns massive apartments which are conventional apartments -- he owns the two limited dividend properties, and he manages the Ontario Housing operation. As I pointed out to the minister, I did get a rough accounting which was presented to the people and right off the surface it was clearly indicated to me, and I am not an accountant, that the amounts indicated for landscaping, for example, must have been a sheer waste of money since there never was any landscaping.

It is quite possible in this sort of an operation for a mingling of accounts in such a way that the tenants are unable to really get through, without greater expertise than I have or than they have. In a case such as that, surely if one is committed to assist these tenants there should be available to them accountancy services in order that they may do a careful analysis of the different accounts.

I would like to say in fairness to the minister here that I also made that plea to Ottawa some time ago when the Hon. Mr. Danson was the minister. I pointed out that I felt it was an injustice to these people not to have that kind of assistance where you have one owner owning such a vast project of very different kinds of accommodation and managing Ontario Housing as well.

I think it’s quite possible that the accounting is not something that any person can undertake unless that person is highly expert. So I have that appeal to the minister -- that at least in those situations we might make a start in trying to assist tenants in these problems.

Mr. Speaker, I’m aware that there are others who wish to speak. I will conclude at this point. I would love to talk much longer on this bill. Thank you.

Mr. Mackenzie: My remarks on this bill and the amendments are going to be very brief, but they do, I think, speak to the bill and to some of the shortcomings of the amendments in it that bother me a bit.

One of the things that we found to our dismay in the Hamilton area is that the rents that were originally claimed by the landlords -- and they ran I guess on an average close to 20, 22 per cent, 25 per cent in some cases; I think the highest I got involved with was about 35 per cent -- were rolled back in almost every case to the 10 to 12 per cent range.

I said at the time we were debating this bill previously that the problem, apart from the lack of housing which we all recognize, was a handful of the landlords in my city. I can almost name them to you. Half a dozen -- unfortunately two or three of them major ones -- that we are going to have the trouble with. It is surprising how often there is a relation to the trouble we have with the rents they are charging and the appeal processes that we have had and the number of calls we have had at the same time with the local inspectors or health boards. In one case we have a file about three feet long of problems in a series of four buildings.

One of the things that bothered me, and I got it to the appeal stage too, was the use made of the vacancy rate in some of these units. I could never understand it -- it is one of the things that the rent review officers seem to jump on and cut back. But what happened with all of the sharpies, and I use the quote literally, was that they did appeal. Where they appealed the people, having had the original rent increase rolled back, were paying what it was rolled back to. We waited in many cases almost a year -- eight or nine months was not uncommon -- for the appeal boards. And what I found at the appeal boards was that the arguments that took place at the original hearing did not seem to carry any weight whatsoever -- as a matter of fact they were ignored -- and we ended up with the rents being rolled back up, in almost every case, within one or two dollars of the original amount.

I don’t see the protection also that says that having waited eight, nine or 10 months especially where they paid what they thought was going to be close to the figure -- the rent review officer’s decision -- why then when the appeal board raised it and they found they were behind a good chunk of money, these same people get a letter immediately ordering them to “pay up or we will give you notice to get out.” Certainly I don’t see that kind of protection in the few amendments that are here, and I think it is one of the things that should have been in this particular bill.

I don’t know how, as I said before, they could use the argument of the high vacancy rates on the cost side of it. I don’t know what you’d do with this, Mr. Speaker, and I don’t know how the minister will respond to it. My basic worry now is that I don’t see in his amendments where once they went to the appeal -- and it is not the tenants, it is the landlords in every case -- there was no appeal to that decision. I did go along with my colleague from Wentworth (Mr. Deans) and talked to the appeals board chairman. He listened and I think gave us a reasonable hearing, although no satisfaction. But one of the arguments that we got from him was that it was “too bad I didn’t really know that you were having these problems in advance.” In many cases we didn’t hear about the decisions until the tenants came to us following the appeals.

There is simply in this bill no protection for tenants in this kind of a situation. We did get a 35 per cent increase in the Jerome Court Apartments. We got up to 20 per cent in the whole Granville Delawanna complex, and there is not a lousier situation in Hamilton than in some of those apartments.

Mr. Shore: Who is we?

Mr. Mackenzie: I am talking about the people.

Mr. Shore: Oh I see.

Mr. Mackenzie: I try to represent them, Marvin, I didn’t make my money on bankruptcies either.

I am really upset, Mr. Speaker, that the minister hasn’t seen fit to take a look at this particular area of the bill. Certainly there should not be more than a six per cent increase. In most of those apartments there shouldn’t be any increase at all. We should be setting a set figure and not allowing the eight per cent or above that on the appeal stage; I think we are beyond that stage now.

Mr. Speaker, I do wish, just on the basis of consideration of the tenants in these buildings, that the minister would take a look at this omission in his particular amendments to this bill.

Mr. Speaker: Do any other hon. members wish to speak to this bill?

Mr. Samis: I’ll see if I can wrap up my remarks in the very brief amount of time allotted. May I say, first of all, I wholeheartedly support the introduction of this legislation. Frankly, I don’t see where the government had any real choice in the matter, with the AIB being continued. I recall quite vividly -- in 1975, I think it was -- how this government embraced the introduction of the AIB; the way they supported it sort of reminded me of the fervour of Moose Dupont in the frenzy of a head-hunt in front of the Maple Leafs net.

When this legislation is passed by this House, and as expeditiously as possible, I would hope this minister would make a commitment to both the tenants and the landlords of this province that he won’t go around the province bad-mouthing the bill or saying it can’t work or saying it just doesn’t solve the problem that we are trying to cope with.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: It doesn’t.

Mr. Samis: I hope he will keep quiet and try to make the best of the bill we have until its date of expiration, instead of continually saying, as the minister responsible, this doesn’t really solve the problem. We all know it is a temporary measure, but I think it is incumbent upon him as a minister of the Crown administering this legislation, to make it work as well as possible, and not to go around demeaning its merits.

My colleague from Scarborough-Ellesmere has already questioned the fervour and the enthusiasm that the minister has for the bill, and I think it is pretty obvious how little he does have. But the minister should support what the Legislature does pass; and I assume this will have support from all three parties. I think he is obliged to uphold the consent and the virtually unanimous support that this bill will get in the Legislature.

I don’t see rent review as the final or ultimate solution to the overall problem of the shortage of rental accommodation, and that essentially is the problem. When the controls disappear, obviously we will have to confront it in a more basic form, namely the supply available.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Now.

Mr. Samis: The government has made an initial step, and that obviously deserves support. But I don’t agree, within the purely federal Liberal context that John Turner always used to argue, that all you had to do was build more houses and that would solve the problem, because it obviously goes much deeper than that. The step the government took yesterday was one initiative. It won’t solve the problem, but it is an initiative beyond just the freeze; and I would support that. I would say there are other initiatives that are needed to cope with the problem before 1978, when the controls come off.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Right. That’s what the speech said.

Mr. Samis: One thing I personally would give serious consideration to is that when the controls do come off, there should be some form of lasting mechanism -- not rent control, maybe not rent review --

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Right. Tenant protection.

Mr. Samis: There will be a danger of some people exploiting the complete absence of controls, and I would suggest the minister give some consideration to the Quebec system of the rental commission.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Come on over here.

Mr. Samis: No, no; I wouldn’t go that far. It’s too drastic a step.

Mr. Shore: They may kick you out.

Mr. Samis: The rental commission does give a third agency that someone can refer to if they think they are being grossly exploited. I know the Tories have some philosophical objections, but I don’t think we should go from rent review to complete laissez-faire. I would trust that this ministry would support some other form of legislation, when this bill expires, to protect those cases where there will be gouging. I think we both agree there will be some cases of that.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: You’d better have a talk with them; you are making sense.

Mr. Shore: You better watch it; you are making sense.

Mr. Samis: I put no percentage on it. All I say, as the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Singer) said, is that those people --

Mr. Moffatt: We recognize the sense.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Cornwall will continue.

Mr. Samis: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In terms of percentages, with the AIB being so rigid and specifying an exact percentage, I would gladly support the amendment put forward by my colleague from Perth. Frankly, it surprises me a little bit. I know the Perth County Conspiracy is well known across this country, but I never thought the member for Perth would advocate such a rigid, statistical AIB definition of his party’s policy.

Mr. Edighoffer: Are you qualified?

Mr. Samis: I am really pleased to see how specific the member has made his particular party’s policy.

One thing that does concern me, Mr. Speaker, in the very brief amount of time left, is that regardless of the form of the legislation -- I speak from the cases in my own particular riding -- it disturbs me that there are still people in this province, regardless of the final form of this bill, who won’t receive the benefits because they are intimidated by landlords. The landlord will say, “I am raising this percentage. Do what you want. But I am throwing you out if you go to rent review.” These people are so easily intimidated, I think it’s a matter of serious concern.

In wrapping up, Mr. Speaker, with the witching hour approaching, may I say I support the bill and I will gladly support the amendment offered by the member for Perth.

Mr. Speaker: Are there any other hon. members who wish to speak to the bill?

Mr. Moffatt: Yes.

Mr. Speaker: All right. It being 6 o’clock, perhaps you might move the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. Moffatt moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to.

The House recessed at 6 p.m.