31st Parliament, 1st Session

L050 - Tue 15 Nov 1977 / Mar 15 nov 1977

The House met at 2 p.m.



Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I wish to rise on a point of personal privilege regarding an article that appeared in the York-Durham section of the Toronto Star yesterday wherein a member of this Legislature misled the press.

The article contained remarks attributed to a member of this Legislature, and I spoke with the reporter yesterday who confirmed that the statement contained in the article was, in fact, made by the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong). I am sorry he is not in his seat today. He was notified by my office that I would be rising on this point of privilege.

The article reads in part: “Al Stong, MPP York Centre, who sits on the Justice committee, said in an interview that the private bill regarding Georgina is being sponsored by Bill Hodgson, MPP York North. Stong said that he is concerned about whether or not the bill should proceed when a court action is pending and said that the MPP for the area, Bill Newman, MPP Durham-York, should be called by the committee. Stong said ‘Newman is not presenting the bill because I suspect he wanted to stay away from it because it is so controversial. Although Newman is the Agriculture minister, he could still present a private member’s bill like any other MPP’, Stong said.”

Mr. Speaker, I further checked again with the Clerk’s office and, as members of this House know, as a cabinet minister I am not permitted to introduce a private bill. The member for York Centre, who is also a member of the bar and a member of the Justice committee, might have checked his facts before providing the reporter with misleading and incorrect information. Not only did he provide incorrect information, he took it upon himself to present what he thought was my position. In doing so, he has cast aspersions on my character.

Mr. Deans: Oh, sit down for heaven’s sake.

Mr. Martel: You will go up in the eyes of everyone, Bill.

Mr. Deans: This is an abuse of our time. Boy, are you getting thin-skinned in your old age.

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have been inundated by calls from my constituents and the press requesting a clarification, and I have tried to set the record straight. Unfortunately, this article has already appeared and it would be virtually impossible to have it corrected before the private member’s bill is heard this Thursday, as the weekly papers have already gone to press.

I would ask that the member for York Centre produce an apology for saying what he said in the York-Durham section of the Toronto Star, which was incorrect.

Mr. Nixon: Are you supporting the bill or not? What is your position?



Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, today I’m tabling the final report of the Ontario Trails Council. Earlier today I arranged for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Smith) and the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Lewis) to receive copies shortly after the report was presented to me.

The Ontario Trails Council report is the result of an order in council two years ago which created a citizens’ advisory committee to look into the issues surrounding recreational trails and to make recommendations to my ministry for an Ontario trails program, including research requirements for the program, legislative changes required, a policy framework and an implementation program which would describe the roles of all levels of government, conservation authorities, trail clubs and other interested groups.

The report presents 90 recommendations which call for some form of government action. The public responded very well to the efforts of this council. Over 300 written briefs were presented by interested groups and individuals at the 13 public meetings of the Trails Council. I understand that more than 2,000 requests have been received for a copy of this report.

I want to compliment the members of the Ontario Trails Council and the council chairman, Mr. William Coates of Guelph, who is present in our gallery this afternoon, for a job well done. Their report has not only posed some interesting questions for the government, but provides a wealth of knowledge on the issues of trail use and trail users within the province.

My ministry will be reviewing the report and co-ordinating the government’s response.



Mr. S. Smith: A question to the Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Speaker. Can the minister confirm reports that the Reed Paper proposal is now a dead issue, that the Reed company has decided not to go ahead with the building of its proposed plant, irrespective of the findings of the Hartt inquiry? Can he, in commenting on this, tell us, if that is a fact, whether he has any proposal for some other plant, or whether he will make the timber available in that area for other existing plants? Exactly what are his proposals with regard to that 19,000 square miles or so of timber?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I have not been told by the Reed corporation that it does not intend to proceed. I have read, as I’m sure others have, a copy of a statement made yesterday by its senior vice-president before the Hartt commission. I have no inside information. I have talked to the president of the company and I have not been told by the president of the company that it does not intend to go ahead.

Mr. Lewis: Which president?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. MacIver. I want to tell the member I am allowed, as anyone else here is allowed, to read a statement of that kind and come to my own conclusions. That statement said it did not think the project was economically viable today. I assume that means the company may not wish to proceed.

Mr. Martel: Sounds like blackmail.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Since we had at least two or three years of hearings under the Hartt commission, we had the Environmental Assessment Act, if applicable, to consider, and most certainly we had environmental matters to consider, design and a whole series of things, I would say that even if that company were proceeding today with its intent, as it was originally supposed to do, it would be several years before anything would actually be started. Markets change dramatically. We are going to do our homework in this ministry as agreed.

Mr. Lewis: Good.

Hon. F. S. Miller: We will do the forest inventory. We will have the information available. Mr. Hartt will be proceeding with his study. When all those things terminate, if there is a willing person or company and the conditions are right, I certainly will be looking for a person to do it.

Mr. Lewis: Pity we didn’t start that way from the outset, isn’t it?

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: While the minister is looking at this proposal afresh, given these developments, will he be talking to the owners of existing mills and those who might be interested in smaller-sized, more manageable contracts, rather than one contract for the entire area of timber? Will he be able to report to the House at some point on the feasibility of developing that resource, but doing so with great care for proper management, as might be maximized in having smaller areas rather than the whole 19,000-square-mile site?

Mr. Lewis: That is what the Hartt commission is doing.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I spent a good part of this morning talking to the mill operators of this province. My immediate problem is to keep them in business with their existing mills. Let us not lose track of the fact that the world is overproducing pulp and paper at this present time. We have lumber mills in Ontario closing down in some places today simply because they can’t dispose of the chips that are being produced as pulp production is down. So we have an immediate short-term problem very similar to that in the metals business. In the long run, I can only tell the hon. member that it is unlikely any new pulp mill could survive on less than the product of the entire range.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Did it cross the minister’s mind in any way, shape or form, that the statement by Reed and the campaign that seems to be escalating in the newspapers with regard to the tough times the pulp and paper industry is facing is part of a pressure game to persuade the ministry to cut back on proper forest management?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, luckily I don’t have a Machiavellian mind like my colleague opposite. I honestly do believe the pulp and paper industries are in trouble today because of world oversupply.

Mr. S. Smith: Of course they are.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I honestly do realize that Reed Paper is losing $20 million this year.

Mr. Foulds: How much did they make in 1973?

Hon. F. S. Miller: It’s always “What did they make before?”

Mr. S. Smith: Socialist paranoia.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I do not believe that this is a negotiating move by the company to force our hand.


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Energy, if I might: Can the minister explain how it was that Ontario Hydro authorized commencement of work for Bruce heavy water plant D on January 16, 1974, and work was carried on since January 1974. In view of the fact that the then Minister of Energy’s (Mr. McKeough) policy statement of July 1974, some six months after work began, stated, and I quote, “The government has deferred decisions regarding the Bruce heavy water plant D pending further recommendations of the Ontario Energy Board expected later this year,” and in view of a statement in the Legislature in April 1975 by the previous minister (Mr. Timbrell) stating that the government was “committing construction on the plant now” -- there was an announcement of construction at that time, how do things get started and how are they approved between Hydro and the Energy ministry?

Hon. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition asked a series of questions. The chairman of Hydro has now responded to those questions in writing and they have been delivered to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. S. Smith: Yes, that’s a fact. It’s because of the fact that I have these that I’m asking a supplementary question: Since I am told by the chairman of Hydro very clearly that Bruce heavy water plant D was authorized for commencement of work on January 16, 1974, and yet the former Minister of Energy (Mr. McKeough) announced deferring of that decision five or six months later and then the previous minister (Mr. Timbrell) issued an announcement in 1975 of the beginning of that plant, how come all these announcements are being made afterwards when work started in January 1974?

Hon. J. A. Taylor: I think that’s a matter that the Leader of the Opposition discussed with the chairman of Ontario Hydro.

Mr. Nixon: You are supposed to be in charge of policy.

Mr. Kerrio: Why don’t you say you can’t answer the question?

Hon. J. A. Taylor: If there is further detail or explanation that he requires in addition to those conversations and in addition to the very lengthy response to the -- I believe it was 12 questions --

Mr. Deans: Why don’t you just say you don’t know?

Hon. J. A. Taylor: -- then I’m sure that he’d be happy to supply that. If the hon. member wishes me to pursue that or if the Leader of the Opposition wants higher profile in connection with this matter and wishes to take it up with the select committee, I’m sure he can do that as well.

Mr. Deans: But you should know.

Mr. Roy: It is obvious that you don’t want to answer.

Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: Who has the senior political status in this province around matters dealing with energy? Is it the chairman of Hydro or is it the minister?


Mr. Warner: Hydro runs the show.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Speaker I think that the leader of the third party should not confuse energy matters with --

Mr. Lewis: With Hydro, I know that.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: -- a specific corporation dealing only with the area --

Mr. Sargent: Answer the question.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: -- of electrical energy which has its powers and its duties --

Mr. Warner: Why don’t you do us all a favour? You don’t know what you’re doing -- you should resign.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: -- explicitly expressed in an Act of this Legislature.

Mr. Lewis: To whom does the chairman of Hydro report?

Mr. Foulds: The minister doesn’t seem to know.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: The member should know that. Of course he reports to the Minister of Energy in this House as always, absolutely.

Mr. Lewis: He reports to the minister?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The supplementary has been asked and answered.

Mr. Reed: Supplementary: Does the minister not feel that the people of Ontario deserve an answer? That’s why this question was asked in this House.

Mr. Warner: The chairman of Hydro isn’t here.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: If the member is suggesting that his curiosity manifests the curiosity of the people of Ontario then --

Mr. Reed: If you don’t know, then say you don’t know.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: What do you mean?

Mr. Speaker: Does the member want an answer to the question?

Hon. J. A. Taylor: I wish the member would get together with his leader. If he got together with his leader and reviewed all of that material, including the two contracts and the answers to the questions, he wouldn’t be asking these questions today in the Legislature. He has all of that information.

Mr. Lewis: I have a question related to this. Does the minister not realize that in the succession of questions and answers, what is emerging is not so much what happened at site B or at site D but who has the final authority to determine energy policy in this province? Does he not realize that by his answers he seems to be surrendering to the chairman of Hydro an authority which vests in the Legislature and in the minister himself?

Mr. Warner: Right on, he runs the show.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, the leader of the third party is obviously confusing the overall energy policy of this province --

Mr. Lewis: No, I’m not.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: -- with the matter of two contracts at Bruce.

Mr. Makarchuk: Are you taking mind-diminishing drugs?

Mr. Warner: We are going to buy the minister an electric chair.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: There’s no question about that. It’s not a question of surrendering energy policy and the member knows it.

Mr. S. Smith: I have a final supplementary. Regarding this contract for heavy water plant D, can the minister explain why it took until November 3 of this year to sign that contract, when in point of fact it differs in almost no way -- only in the fee and the schedule -- from the actual contract signed over two years ago for B? Why the delay? What has been the resistance in getting this contract signed? Why has it taken over a year and a half to actually get this contract for D signed when, in fact, it differs in no detail at all from B?

Mr. Deans: Bette, you’d better start helping him again. He is getting in trouble.

Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh, I doubt that.

Mr. Lewis: You weren’t told.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: Again, Mr. Speaker, this is precisely the question that the Leader of the Opposition asked the chairman of Hydro.

Mr. Deans: You don’t know.

Mrs. Campbell: Why don’t you get the chairman of Hydro in and ask him?

Hon. J. A. Taylor: He explained the process. As a matter of fact, he explained the history --

Mr. S. Smith: I asked that question of the chairman.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: -- the commercial practice in terms of going from A, which the same company built, to B, which is precisely the same type of plant, and then on to D.

Mr. S. Smith: I know the answer to that.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: If the member is looking for publicity and high profile why doesn’t he --

Mrs. Campbell: Don’t you start.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This line of questioning is getting us nowhere.

Mr. S. Smith: That’s for sure.

Mr. Deans: The line of answering is getting us nowhere.


Mr. Lewis: May I ask a question of the Minister of Health? In view of the quite remarkable response within the Windsor community of disappointment, frustration and anger to the precipitate closing of the OHIP office, will he reconsider his decision?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, it is not a total closing and, no, I’m afraid I will not reconsider.

Mr. Bounsall: Supplementary: How can he possibly, in the name of saving dollars, close down that Windsor OHIP office and shift the claims processing to London when in the year 1976-77 the Windsor office processed 40,000 claims per employee and the London office processed only 27,000 claims per employee, and particularly inasmuch as the field services for both Lambton and Kent were done out of the Windsor office in addition?

Mr. Peterson: Stop picking on London, right now.

Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I could set the record straight: In 1976-77 the Windsor office processed two million claims with a staff of 51. The London office processed 4,800,000 claims with a staff of 128. That does not work out to be a difference of 27,000 to 40,000. The Windsor office has a slight edge but it is just that -- a slight edge.

Mr. Ruston: It is more efficient.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Given the savings of $500,000 that will accrue in the move to London, the staff in London will be able to handle the volume very well for that entire part of southwestern Ontario.

Mr. B. Newman: If the minister is going to use such an argument, why doesn’t he close up other offices in the province, concentrate all of his facilities, all of his claims here in the Toronto area, and save a lot more money?

Mr. Deans: Don’t suggest that. He will.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I will be pleased to take that suggestion from the official opposition as notice.

Mr. Deans: That wasn’t very clever.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We don’t think that it would work, though. As you know, we are trying to decentralize out of Toronto.

Mr. S. Smith: It’s a logical extension of what you are doing in Windsor.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Consistency and inconsistency, from the member’s point of view, depends upon what he wants to do with it.

Mr. Speaker: Just ignore the interjections and answer the supplementary.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I would be pleased to, Mr. Speaker. Thank you. We are going to move the head office of OHIP out of Toronto. This is not a centralization. It will still be decentralized away from Toronto but, for southwestern Ontario, effecting some savings. As I recall, during debates that were going on during the month of May leading up to the election on June 9, the points coming from the Liberal Party were that we should be looking at every aspect of government for possible economies. This we are doing and this is one of them.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, now that the Minister of Health has closed Riverview hospital in Windsor and now the OHIP office, does he have any plans to close anything else down in Windsor?

An hon. member: What have you got against Windsor?

Hon. B. Stephenson: How about Windsor itself?

Mr. Lewis: Did you hear that? “How about Windsor itself,” said the Minister of Labour while the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) nodded.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You have been broadcasting too long.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have a suggestion that we close about four riding offices there.

An hon. member: Call Tory headquarters.

An hon. member: Don’t tempt us.


Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I reiterate that it is not a total closing of the OHIP office. It will still be maintained for inquiries from the public and from practitioners. The background to the Riverview unit of the Windsor Western Hospital -- and Riverview is not a hospital -- is a matter we have discussed many times.

Mr. Bounsall: Has the minister any idea --

An hon. member: No, he hasn’t.

Mr. Bounsall: I must wait until he finishes his reading, Mr. Speaker. Has the minister any idea of the number of claims that come from Windsor area residents for treatment in Detroit because of the specialized treatment and facilities in that city, claims which they personally bring in to that Windsor office for processing? It’s a situation which does not arise in the London office and a situation that’s very important to the delivery of the OHIP services and doctors’ payments in the city of Windsor. Finally, is he aware --

Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.

Mr. Bounsall: -- that there is now, with the planned consolidation of his OHIP office space in London, a shortage of space for those employees already there, let alone those he plans to offer to shift from Windsor?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, just to answer the last point first: The indications from my staff in OHIP are that there is sufficient space and sufficient machinery and so forth in London to pick up the extra load.

As regards the first point -- no, I am not aware of the volume but I am sure that of the two million claims processed by that office, I doubt if that kind of claim would account for more than a small fraction of one per cent. You certainly wouldn’t use that as the basis of a decision not to go to London, and because of that not save $500,000 a year. I understand there is a postal system in Windsor which also connects with London, and those claims can be mailed to London.


Mr. Lewis: A question of the Treasurer: Do I take it the Treasurer noticed that the single largest component, I believe, of the announced increase today in the consumer price index was property taxes for the first time in a very long time? In the circumstances would the Treasurer reconsider altering his present position on the Edmonton commitment, which he appeared to repudiate?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the second part of the question is no. The answer to the first part of the question is that I had noticed that. I don’t quite understand, since these are Canadian figures, why property taxes come into the Statistics Canada figures at this point in time. Tax bills in Ontario generally had been known, and many of them would have been paid, much earlier in the year. Whether this increase is the influence of other parts of Canada or whether they bring them all in during this month, I simply don’t know.

Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, surely the Treasurer recognizes that this is an accelerating problem in Ontario as the municipalities bear the burden of the provincial financing. And since it is now hitting the home owners so dramatically that it figures in the cost of living, is there not some way in which the Treasurer can cushion the burden by way of supplementary estimates or supplementary contributions to the municipalities?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to find out that the leader of the third party recognizes that taxes are part of the cost of living --

Mr. Lewis: Oh, terrific!

Mr. Warner: The Treasurer is causing them to rise.

Mr. Lewis: They are now identified.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- that whether they are personal income taxes, whether they are sales taxes, or whether they are property taxes, they are a part of the cost of living. That’s a tremendous leap forward on his part.

Mr. Lewis: Thanks so much. By way of supplementary, has it occurred to the Treasurer that if he had saved some of the money he squandered on Haldimand-Norfolk, Edwardsburgh and Minaki, he would be able to give the municipalities of Ontario what he originally committed himself to?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, when I go to bed at night, I sometimes worry about some of the things that the member has mentioned --

Mr. Sargent: I’ll bet you do.

Mr. Warner: You should.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- but inevitably I get down on my knees and thank God that the people of Ontario haven’t listened to all his hare-brained schemes.

Mr. Lewis: I am glad the Treasurer gets down on his knees to someone -- anyone.

Mr. Speaker: Order. A supplementary by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Lewis: Let the Treasurer name one.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Nationalizing Inco.

Mr. Lewis: Oh, don’t be so silly. You’ve destroyed the province of Ontario and now we’re paying for it.

Mr. Foulds: The Tories nationalized Minaki Lodge.

Mr. Martel: Look at Hydro.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, does the Treasurer not accept that by putting the burden of growth on to the property tax --

Mr. Speaker: Will the member for Sudbury East and the member for Port Arthur just try to restrain themselves?

Mr. Lewis: Have you seen what the member for Sudbury East is wearing?

Mr. Speaker: He looks like a chairman of the board; I wish he would act like one.

Mr. Lewis: He is a Deans supporter, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Foulds: And he is going to Winston’s tonight.

Mr. S. Smith: Does the Treasurer not accept that municipal finance at this time in Ontario is in serious difficulty, and that by putting the burden of additional expenditures largely on to property tax, we are actually getting to the point where we are beginning to interfere with some of the fundamental social aims of the province -- some that I know he shares; such as home ownership and allowing some of the elderly people to stay in their own homes.

Would the Treasurer not undertake to give a commitment that means something, rather than the Edmonton commitment, to the municipalities of Ontario so that he can put some firm lid on the property tax increases and give them a share of other revenues in a way that they can count on from year to year and so that we don’t lose track of some of the fundamental social policies which I suspect that even he in his heart shares with the rest of us on this side?


Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I don’t accept the premise on which the question was asked and if the member would consult with any number of tables, he would find that property taxes as a percentage of household disposable income in this province have been dropping rather dramatically over the last 10 years, and that the facts as the member would have us believe them are simply not so.

Mr. Cassidy: They were, but they’re going up now.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Not the percentage.


Mrs. Campbell: My question is addressed to the Attorney General. Having in mind that the chief law officer of this province is concerned about the intellectual quality of legal education, has the Attorney General read the report in the Globe and Mail of this morning? Has he any comment on the awful scene at the bar admission course? What does he propose to do about it?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker; I have no knowledge of the article to which the hon. member has referred.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Haven’t you read the Globe this morning?

Mrs. Campbell: Then, Mr. Speaker, I would invite the Attorney General, who I think is probably the only one who hasn’t read it, to read it and perhaps comment as to whether or not he would like to see intellectual excellence rather than a sexist bias on behalf of the instructors in the bar admission course.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Without reading the article, I can agree to that, Mr. Speaker.

Mrs. Campbell: The Attorney General agrees there shouldn’t be hockey violence. What does he agree should be done about this kind of sexist education? What is he going to do about it? Or does he care?

Hon. W. Newman: They would take you off the ice.

Mr. Warner: Supplementary: I wonder, while the Attorney General is taking this serious matter under consideration, if he would give us a report on the admission course, the kinds of instructors that are there, the types of textbooks that are being used. I wonder if he has some comments on the particular textbooks that are being used, that were called by the paper “sexist oriented.” Perhaps he could tell us what he intends to do after having investigated those textbooks and the instructors who are used at the course.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have not agreed to investigate, as the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere states, the bar admission course. If he has any specific concerns in relation to textbooks that he really feels should concern the Attorney General of this province, then I’ll be happy if he brings them to my attention.


Mr. Breaugh: I’d like to ask a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. There have been a number of reports in the media lately concerning day care provided in private home situations with, in some instances, rather large numbers of children in a private apartment. Is the ministry aware of that and is the minister considering any steps that might regulate that?

Hon. Mr. Norton: The present legislation already provides for the regulation of day-care services where more than four unrelated children are present on the premises.

It has been brought to my attention through the media that there have been reports of incidents where apparently there has been service provided in breach of the legislation. I have instructed members of my staff to investigate. In fact, in one case they have been in contact with the person from whom the story originated, but were unable to get substantiating information. That does not mean the matter has been placed to rest. We have laid charges against persons operating an illegal day nursery and that matter is now proceeding.

Especially if these operations exist in a setting such as an apartment building, it’s sometimes difficult to detect that. But wherever we hear any indication of it, we follow up on it immediately.

Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. I know he wouldn’t agree to this last week, Mr. Speaker, but I wonder if he would agree this week, that as long as he is going to restrain the growth in a necessary service like day care he is going to have bootleg operations.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that, even this week. I would point out to the hon. member that within the province of Ontario at the present time, and I think our ratio is probably better than elsewhere in the country, we provide daycare service --

Ms. Gigantes: On what grounds do you say that?

Mr. Warner: Ridiculous.

Hon. Mr. Norton: -- to about 15 per cent of the children of working parents. But the bulk of the service provided in day care, care for children in this province, is provided by the parents making private arrangements with friends, neighbours or family.

Ms. Gigantes: Totally inadequate.

Hon. Mr. Norton: You may think that it is inadequate. I happen to believe there is still room for parents to make certain decisions with respect to the care of their children.

Hon. B. Stephenson: It is not inadequate. I used it for years and it is not.

Mr. McClellan: Spoken like a true bachelor.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I would think it presumptuous of me as the minister in this portfolio to assume that I could make the kind of rash statements that the hon. member has made, that children whose parents may be working are necessarily at risk. I disagree with that. I think parents in most cases are quite competent to make decisions with respect to the care of their children.

Mr. Foulds: Why not give them an option?

Hon. Mr. Norton: I would point out that in many instances there is a choice available.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You take care of your own kids.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Although we are not in a position to provide publicly supported day care services for all of the children of working parents, I would go so far as to say I don’t even think that is a desirable objective. Our first priority is to help those people who are in need.

Ms. Gigantes: Two hundred and fifteen spaces this year.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Look at the total number available in the province.


Mr. Hennessy: I would like to ask the Minister of Natural Resources about a statement that was made yesterday by Mr. Justice Patrick Hartt. He said he intends to move the inquiry down to the southern part of Ontario; it was a northern inquiry as far as I am concerned. The statement made was that there is more political influence in the south, and that the south should take care of the problems that exist in the north. This I disagree with very strongly, being a member from the north.

I would like to know why Mr. Hartt is moving his inquiry down to the southern part of Ontario when the whole inquiry concerns the northern part of Ontario. I don’t think any inquiries from the south are moved up to the north.

Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Let me assure the member that Mr. Justice Patrick Hartt is not taking any direction from me, nor should he.

Mr. Roy: You are not going to call him up?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I can only say that if, in his wisdom, he feels he needs to talk to people in southern Ontario who may wish to express opinions about the north, he is certainly free to do so.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Can the minister tell us how the royal commission is being funded, as we found out last night it was not being funded through the Attorney General’s department?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I think I need to have somebody in the legal department of government, or the Chairman of Management Board answer that question rather than me.

Mr. Sargent: Only $2 million? Let it go.

Mr. Foulds: Can I redirect the question?

Mr. Speaker: If there is a minister prepared to answer.

Mr. Foulds: The Chairman of Management Board?

Hon. Mr. Auld: The question that was asked a moment ago?

Mr. Lewis: Who pays for the Hartt commission?

Mr. Foulds: Yes, funding for the Hartt commission.

Hon. Mr. Auld: The amount will be shown in the estimates of the Ministry of the Environment.


Mr. Reed: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Correctional Services: This is a three-part question. Is the minister employing female guards in all-male prisons, and is he employing male guards in all-female prisons? If the answer to either is yes would he not consider that some of the duties these guards are asked to perform are not an infringement of the personal privacy of the inmates?

Mr. Roy: It is tailor-made for you, Frank.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, firstly, I am very proud of the fact that we have more than 125 female correctional officers dealing in what I think would reasonably be regarded as all-male institutions, and doing a remarkable job. We have a unisex ministry.

Secondly, for many years, ever since the opening of the Vanier Institute for Women, there have been male staff there. There is a difference between what generally would be regarded as an all-male and an all-female institution --

Mr. Roy: You are right again, Frank.

Hon. Mr. Drea: -- in that a female correctional officer can work three shifts in an all-male institution, whereas a male officer is not allowed to work the third shift, or the sleeping shift, in a female institution.

An hon. member: That’s sexist.

Hon. Mr. Drea: To the second part of the question, Mr. Speaker, the only comment I would make is that the same deterrent that the hon. member is trying to put in front of female correctional officers in male institutions applied when Florence Nightingale tried to bring nursing into the twentieth century.

Mr. Lewis: You are not doing too badly, fellow. Not badly at all.

Mr. Reed: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While appreciating the minister’s quest for equality, first of all does he not recognize that the differences in functions in male and female prisons are an obvious recognition of discrimination? Would he not consider that some of the functions that these female officers are asked to perform are not an infringement of the personal privacy of the inmates?

Mr. Foulds: Like what?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Such as?

Mr. Reed: Such as guarding them while they are performing their personal ablutions?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, obviously there is a difference between males and females.

Mr. Martel: Right on Frank, right on.

Mr. Philip: When did you find out, Frank?

Mr. Lewis: Thank God the school children are here.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I regard females who are specifically trained for an occupation in the year 1977 to be professional people. I regard them in exactly the same capacity as I would female doctors. We don’t preclude female doctors from administering to male patients. We do not preclude the vast majority of our nursing staff, which traditionally over the years are female, from ministering to male patients. As a matter of fact, most of the male patients are profoundly grateful that they are there.

Mr. S. Smith: Why don’t males work the third shift? They are professionals.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Certainly in no way, shape or form am I going to turn back the clock and say that we are not going to employ females as on-line correctional officers. We are the only ones in Canada who do so. We are going to employ more. I will tell the House in terms of guarding the inmates’ privacy, there are certain functions that are not performed by female guards, such as the original skin search when a person is admitted. But in terms of being on line -- and they are on line, even on the midnight shift in places as tough as Millbrook -- there is no difference between the functions they perform and the professional manner they carry them out, and in what a psychiatric nurse in Penetang does.

Mr. Lewis: Well done.

Mr. Conway: There really is a future leader over there.

Mr. Lewis: Now, if the Attorney General handled the bar admission course question the way the Minister of Correctional Services handles institutions.


Mr. Davidson: Supplementary: Would the minister not agree that the present system as it is practised today is far more beneficial than detrimental to the system? And will he tell us when he plans to hire more female guards in order to look after the needs of the institutions that exist in the province -- be they male or female?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, if I could just appeal to you for a moment, for about the fourth time, I would appreciate it if correctional officers were referred to here as correctional officers rather than guards, which is a very outdated title.

Two things have happened upon the introduction in the past year of female on-line correctional officers. The reason I say “on-line” is that I want to differentiate between the female correctional officer and the female person who is watching over a female inmate. The first thing that happened was that the language has improved enormously inside. Two, the personal hygiene among males has improved enormously with the introduction of female correctional officers. Three, in general the rowdiness in the cell corridors has diminished remarkably.

As a matter of fact if you want to go back in history in this province, Mr. Speaker, they have had the same impact upon the jail system as the integration of the beverage room -- they cleaned up the act.

Mr. Foulds: Let’s not carry that parallel too far.

Mr. Roy: How would you know that, Frank?

Mr. Reed: Being an expert on both.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I never drank beer.

Mr. Martel: Tonic water, Frank?

Hon. Mr. Drea: The hiring practices in a ministry are a matter of talent, a matter of experience, a matter of qualifications, and we have unisex hiring as we have unisex work performance.

Mr. Reed: With all of this equality that is now before us, why are male correctional officers not allowed to work the third shift?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I believe it has been traditional. It probably came when the Vanier Institution was opened some years ago. The mere presence of males in a female institution was regarded as somewhat radical. I think falsely, but necessarily, there is a concern that during the third shift, at which time the inmates would be asleep, there might be some attempt at a violation of their personal integrity. I regard that as absolutely no threat, but the public and a great many people who are associated with female institutions do.

The present system at Vanier is no hardship. Most of the male officers are in administrative capacities anyway and they just simply don’t work the third shift. The female staff who are in the preponderance there do work the third shift. I think it’s something that has to be looked at in the future, but I personally see no harm in it. I think that males in that atmosphere can be just as professional as females when they are on the line between midnight and the dawn rising hour.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health -- is he not still there?

Mr. Roy: Sure he is.

Mr. Cassidy: He’s hiding.

In view of the reports that are now circulating --

Mr. Roy: You’re not going to make much of a leader if you can’t see.

Mr. Breaugh: You should know, Albert.

Mr. Cassidy: He’s a retiring type.

In view of the reports which are now circulating in Brockville and in Kingston, is the government considering a closure of the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital? Is it also considering giving the OHIP headquarters to the Chairman of the Management Board’s riding rather than the Minister of Community and Social Services’ when this headquarters is transferred to eastern Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Neither rumour is in any way founded in fact.

Hon. Mr. Norton: He knew that when he said it on the radio in Kingston.

Mr. Lewis: Until it happens.

Mr. Cassidy: Since 16 casual employees have been laid off in Brockville and since 27 more are being given on-call notice after January 7, can the minister say what is the fate of 200 further employees who it is said will be laid off at the end of the fiscal year?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I don’t know by whom it is said, but I don’t have any such plans. The member knows last week we did terminate the employment of a number of contract staff in five or six of the psychiatric hospitals. But I repeat, and I suspect the member knew this -- it’s certainly been made very clear by the local member for Leeds (Mr. Auld) -- there are no plans to close the Brockville Psychiatric Hospital. The plans to move OHIP to Kingston are going ahead.


Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Attorney General: Would he advise why his ministry, through the director of public prosecutions, overruled a decision of a local Crown attorney and laid a criminal charge against an individual for what is basically a civil dispute?

Mr. Roy: Good question.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Wait till you hear the answer. Here is a good answer.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I assume that the question relates to a matter that the hon. member spoke to me about recently. I requested that he forward me a copy of the summons so that I could identify the matter about which he was concerned. Today he has delivered me a copy of the summons and, Mr. Speaker, through you, I wish to assure him that I will attempt to obtain particulars of the matter about which he is concerned.

Mr. Roy: Could I ask a supplementary?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Sure.

Mr. Roy: Oh, does the hon. member for Huron-Bruce want to go first? I don’t want to cut off my friend.

Mr. Speaker: That’s awfully decent of the member for Ottawa East.

Mr. Foulds: That’s why you didn’t make it as a leader, Albert.

An hon. member: Alphonse and Gaston.

Mr. Gaunt: May I ask the Attorney General if he would consider that a landlord who cuts off the hydro and water because the rent isn’t paid is deserving of a criminal charge?

Mr. Roy: Yes, as a matter of policy, let’s have it.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think I should be more acquainted with more of the facts before I respond to that question.

Mr. Breaugh: That’s never stopped you before.


Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Government Services: What steps is his ministry taking to rectify the disaster of a provincial courthouse that he got lumbered with in Thunder Bay which has, after three years, a leaking roof, an artesian stream running through the nine cell blocks in the basement, and three inches of water as usual condition in that courthouse?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Good, a built-in swimming pool.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Is that fresh water?

Mr. Roy: Move it to Ottawa. It would be an improvement there.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I believe that we are making improvements to the building and charging them against the lease.

Mr. Deans: What do you do about the stream?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Swim in it.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Could the minister find out whether the building is salvageable, or whether it might not be better to terminate the lease --

Hon. B. Stephenson: You have no imagination. That is what is that matter with you.

Mr. Foulds: -- with John H. McCormick and Group Building Systems Limited, inasmuch as the company has never lived up to the terms of the contract, and has never paid the subcontractors, and has delivered a shoddy piece of workmanship that is just not usable?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Yes.

Mr. Foulds: A final supplementary: Can we find out how much the ministry is currently paying per month?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Yes.

Mr. Deans: The inquiry is already on stream.


Mr. Roy: I have a question of the Minister of Housing, having to do with the long-standing dispute between his ministry and the city of Ottawa over the city of Ottawa non-profit housing: Can the minister advise the House whether he intends in the very near future to bring this dispute to a conclusion and subsidize to some measure the city of Ottawa non-profit housing, which is this year, as the minister knows, facing a deficit of half a million dollars? If the minister will not subsidize it, does he realize that some of the rents for some of these tenants, mostly senior citizens, are increasing to the tune of between 100, 150 and 170 per cent and, in fact, some of these people will be paying 30 per cent of their revenue for rent?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I have already communicated with the mayor of Ottawa. We’ve had ongoing discussions and an exchange of correspondence concerning this matter. I think, as the hon. member is aware, the particular problem is shared with Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation and we have discussed with it how we could go about being of extra assistance to the non-profit housing units in Ottawa.

I have communicated with the mayor of Ottawa as to what the formula would be. That has been agreed to by Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation in order to be of assistance. Quite frankly, I was under the impression that what we had submitted was acceptable and that it would be worked out to handle most of the problem that the member has just mentioned.

Mr. Roy: I have a supplementary. In view of the fact that this matter, at least according to the city of Ottawa, has been a long-standing dispute with his ministry over three, four or five years, when does the minister plan to make an announcement that there has been a solution?

Secondly, how much money are we talking about? What solution has the minister proposed to help subsidize this deficit faced by the city of Ottawa?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I don’t believe that I should discuss the contents of the proposal I have made to the mayor until such time as he has responded and has accepted that as a solution to his problem.

I think the hon. member is well aware that the situation we’re facing in Ottawa is one where, quite frankly -- and I’m not attempting to be difficult about this at all -- part of that problem, if not all of it, has been created by the inability of the management of the units in Ottawa to keep up with the times.

What we are trying to do now is to make sure that these units do not become totally subsidized as public housing but that the tenants in them will receive the assistance they need according to their incomes. I believe it was at the recommendation of the city of Ottawa -- I’m sorry; not the city of Ottawa, but the housing management company --

Mr. Roy: The city of Ottawa non-profit housing authority.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I wanted to draw the distinction between city council as opposed to this group. They themselves were looking very seriously at increasing the percentage of income in those units to 30 per cent. When the mayor responds to the proposal we’ve made and, I emphasize again, it has been agreed to by Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, we’ll get on with the arrangements and make the announcement.

Mr. Roy: Could I ask one final supplementary?

Mr. Speaker: The final supplementary.

Mr. Roy: Would the minister undertake to press this matter with the mayor and with Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation since some of these tenants are facing this increase as of January 1, 1978?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member is quite correct. I’m aware of that and I think that since this matter has come to my attention -- and I’m not aware that it’s gone on for four or five years --

Mr. Roy: It has.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- but since it’s come to my attention, I think we’ve made considerable progress. Understandably the mayor of Ottawa, quite properly on behalf of his community, grabbed for the whole ring. I must say to you, sir, with all respect to the mayor, he didn’t get the whole ring. But I think we’ve worked out something that is satisfactory and will be settled, I hope, well before that deadline.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary?

Mr. Speaker: No, that’s enough supplementaries.


Mr. Philip: I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is the minister aware that the licensing and legislation committee of Metro Toronto council is meeting today to deal with the proposal to license tow trucks? If so, would the minister care to make known his initiatives at the provincial level in this area?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t aware of that particular meeting of the Metropolitan Toronto Licensing Commission to consider the licensing of tow trucks within Metropolitan Toronto. I would have to say that is a position I would support and I’m very pleased to hear they are taking this initiative. I hope they follow through with it because I’ve given serious consideration to the possible provincial licensing of tow trucks.

The needs vary so greatly within the province of Ontario that it is my opinion, and I believe the opinion of the government, that the licensing of tow trucks should be carried out at the municipal level where it is deemed by that municipality to be necessary.

Mr. Philip: By way of a supplementary, is the minister aware that the two associations of tow truck operators, namely the Automobile Trades Association and the new Association of Independent Tow Truck Operators, favour provincial rather than municipal licensing? In the light of the possible Metro initiatives, would the minister care to tell us which of the seven recommendations regarding tow truck licensing found in chapter six of the report of the select committee on the highway transportation of goods, he is prepared to implement, and when?


Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the select committee on transportation of goods, there are some 300 recommendations -- or some very large number of recommendations. Since we received the committee report, the ministry has been actively reviewing and preparing information with regard to the implementation of many of the recommendations in that particular report. I will be bringing forward amendments, changes and implementation procedures for many of those recommendations in due course, but I am not prepared to say at this moment exactly what our response is going to be to those seven specific recommendations.

Mr. Cunningham: Supplementary: Would the minister not agree, given that the tow trucks in question leave the various regions and travel quite freely throughout the province, that it would be more appropriate to consider provincial control rather than municipal control in this matter?

Hon. Mr. Snow: No, that is not my opinion certainly at this time. I realize there is some degree of long-distance tow truck service, but I hesitate to suggest that tow trucks should be licensed by the Highway Transport Board and that there should be the necessary proven public need and necessity. In most cases a tow truck gives a local service. In larger municipalities, I think the tow truck industry should be regulated municipally as are taxis and there should be some minimum licensing requirements in the licensing, but not just a case of licensing for the sake of licensing. I have asked my ministry to do some work on preparing a sample bylaw that would be available to municipalities as a guide if they wish to regulate tow trucks in their municipality.

Mr. Philip: In coming to these conclusions, has the minister met with the two trade associations involved and has he sought their opinions beforehand?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I have certainly met with one of the associations the hon. member mentions. At that meeting, I found those in attendance were very much not necessarily of the same opinion. I believe there is some difference of opinion in the industry.


Mr. Sargent: I have a question of the Minister of Energy. Is the minister aware of a very concerted effort on the part of Hydro to recover a large sum of money, in the area of $240 million, from the Ministry of Government Services?

Mr. Worton: It’s not much if you say it quickly.

Hon. J. A. Taylor: No.

Mr. Sargent: Could I ask a supplementary then to the Treasurer? Is he aware of the fact that there is $240 million between Government Services and Hydro and that there is a very concerted effort to recover this money? Is the Government borrowing money from Hydro?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: No.

Mr. Sargent: As the Treasurer, the minister then says he doesn’t know about a $240 million advance from Hydro to Government Services?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: No.

Mr. Sargent: Supplementary to the Minister of Government Services: Is he aware that his ministry owes Hydro $240 million?

Mr. Makarchuk: Try the Minister of Correctional Services. He’ll give you an answer.

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, could I have the member repeat the question, please?

Mr. Sargent: Is the minister aware of Hydro’s effort to recover $240 million from his ministry?

Hon. Mr. McCague: No.


Mr. Deans: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Can the Minister of Health produce the analysis and the studies which his ministry must obviously have done into the efficiency and the patient-staff ratio and also the staff functions at the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, which brought the ministry to the conclusion that it could afford to have a drastically reduced number of staff available in order to meet the needs of the patient population, both now and in the future?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, as I hope the hon. member knows, the reductions which were recently announced in the psychiatric hospitals are all in the contract area, and basically all in services.

Mr. Deans: It doesn’t matter.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The direction that was given to staff in reviewing the program was that direct patient care was not to be affected and this is certainly the case.

Mr. Deans: A supplementary question: How can the minister claim that when, in the case of the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital at least, there will be two doctors who will not be continued on staff or on a consultancy basis and --

Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.

Mr. Deans: Oh, has it? Well that does pose a problem. Can the minister produce the analysis and the studies that brought him to the realization that he could do without these people?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As the hon. member knows, the estimates of my ministry are presently before the social development committee. If he would like to appear there, I would be glad to discuss it with him and involve the staff who are doing the analysis for me.

Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.

Before we get to the orders, I think the hon. House leader would like to make an announcement.


Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I thought I might take advantage of the attendance at the moment to draw the House’s attention to the visit on Thursday afternoon to the Legislature of His Excellency Guilio Andreotti, President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic.

The President will be here and a guest in the Speaker’s gallery at about 3 p.m. Thursday, following which the Premier (Mr. Davis) is having a reception for the President in the Lieutenant Governor’s music room to which all members of the Legislature will be invited, in order to meet with the President.

I thought that since the House will not be in session tomorrow, we should draw attention to the fact that His Excellency will be here at about 3 p.m., near the end of the question period. I hope most members of the House will be here to greet him.

Mr. Nixon: I would also want to draw to your attention, sir, that an old friend of ours is in the gallery this afternoon, the former member for Sault Ste. Marie and Attorney General, Arthur Wishart. I often think how desperately he tried to keep Green Stamps from Ontario, and as soon as he left we had Wintario which is now paying us $80 million a year.


Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, I wish to give notice under section 27(g) of the standing orders that I am not satisfied with the response of the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) to my questions asked today and intend to raise the subject matter on the adjournment of the House tonight.

Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to give notice under standing order 27(g) that I am dissatisfied with the answer the Minister of Health gave to my supplementary question, and I would like to discuss it this evening.



Mr. Gaunt from the standing general government committee reported the following resolution:

Resolved: That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Revenue be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year during March 31, 1978:

Ministry of Revenue:

Ministry administration program.........$ 4,974,000

Administration of taxes program..........23,736,000

Guaranteed income and tax credit program..............121,152,000

Municipal assessment program........51,712,000


Mr. Villeneuve from the standing social development committee reported the following resolution:

Resolved: That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Community and Social Services be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1978:

Ministry of Community and Social Services:

Ministry administration program.....$ 14,517,000

Social resources program.....853,278,000

Developmental resources program.....209,403,000

And that supply in the following supplementary amount and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Community and Social Services be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1978:

Ministry of Community and Social Services;

Children’s services program......$3,665,500

Also, that there be granted to Her Majesty, for the services of the fiscal year ending March 31, 1978, the following sums:

Ministry of the Attorney General:






$ 2,722,000

Ministry of Correctional Services:



$ 115,100































Ministry of Health
































Mr. Breaugh 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 application for a private Act and finds the notices, as published, sufficient:

City of Chatham.

Mr. Breaugh also presented the committee’s resolution which was read as follows and adopted:

That since the present session has been so brief, it has not afforded the House sufficient opportunity to assess provisional standing orders. The committee therefore recommends that the experimental period be extended for another whole session.

On motion by Mr. Breaugh the debate was adjourned.


Hon. Mr. Welch moved that on the standing social development committee Mr. Van Horne be substituted for Mrs. Campbell.

Motion agreed to.



Hon. W. Newman moved first reading of Bill 102, An Act to amend the Farm Products Marketing Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. W. Newman: The purpose and intent of this bill, of course, is to make amendments to the Farm Products Marketing Act as a result of certain problems that arose out of recent court decisions that were handed down.


Hon. W. Neman moved first reading of Bill 103, An Act to amend the Milk Act.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the reason for introducing this bill is exactly the same reason for introducing the Farm Products Marketing Amendment Act.


Mr. Williams moved first reading of Bill 104, An Act to amend the Public Hospitals Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, the bill establishes several requirements relating to the composition of the boards of public hospitals. The bill further provides that the number of appointed directors who have a vote shall not exceed one quarter of the elected directors.

In addition, the bill establishes certain criteria for membership in a hospital corporation and guarantees a member’s right to vote in the hospital corporation.



Mr. Cunningham moved first reading of Bill 105, An Act to establish the Ontario Commission on Waste Management and Resource Recovery Systems.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, the bill establishes the Ontario Commission on Waste Management and Resource Recovery Systems to have the authority in matters concerning disposal, reclamation and recycling of waste materials and to provide aid to local governments that desire to develop waste disposal systems on their own.


Mr. Bradley, on behalf of Mr. McGuigan, moved first reading of Bill Pr30, An Act respecting the City of Chatham.

Motion agreed to.



Mr. G. E. Smith moved second reading of Bill Pr1, An Act respecting the Township of Tay.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. G. E. Smith, on behalf of Mr. G. Taylor, moved second reading of Bill Pr19, An Act respecting Circle R Boys Ranch

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Maeck, on behalf of Mr. McCaffrey, moved second reading of Bill Pr21, An Act respecting Fuller-Austin of Canada Limited.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Maeck, on behalf of Mr. Leluk, moved second reading of Bill Pr22, An Act respecting the Borough of Etobicoke.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Maeck, on behalf of Mr. McCaffrey, moved second reading of Bill Pr23, An Act respecting Matol Holdings Limited.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Ruston, on behalf of Mr. Kerrio, moved second reading of Bill Pr24, An Act respecting Niagara Institute for International Studies.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Maeck, on behalf of Mr. Johnson, moved second reading of Bill Pr31, An Act respecting Garnet Holdings Limited.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Cureatz moved second reading of Bill Pr32, An Act respecting Stanley Starr Limited.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Mr. Mackenzie moved second reading of Bill Pr33, An Act respecting Kedna Enterprises Limited.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Hon. Mr. Grossman moved second reading of Bill 99, An Act to regulate the Discounting of Income Tax Refunds.

Mr. Nixon: There’s been considerable concern for the last five years that a number of these discounters in Ontario have been charging inordinately high rates of interest and frankly I am very glad indeed the minister has decided to take action to bring these under control.

I suppose it might have been at least a consideration that the practice simply be outlawed. But the provision of this bill requiring the discounter to pay 95 per cent of the value of the income tax rebate to the applicant means there would be an interest rate of five per cent on the amount, which certainly is not inordinate. I would also think it would effectively drive the discounters out of that business, which is something I believe is to be desired.

I suppose there are some individuals who might not find it convenient or even possible to get loans on the basis of an expected income tax rebate from normal sources. But it’s difficult really to think of the circumstances where, if they had a receipt or a statement based on their income tax return indicating a payment was coming, they could not get a loan based on that from some legitimate source. So for that reason we intend to support the bill.

Mr. Davison: I intend to deal with second reading of Bill 99 at some greater length than my colleague from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, although I also rise on behalf of my party to say we will support the bill.

Bill 99 represents very badly needed legislation to protect consumers in Ontario. If I didn’t know better I’d wonder why someone hadn’t thought of introducing this bill before. Knowing better though, I must say I’m very impressed, if not with the current minister’s position, and if not with the details and specifics of the bill itself then by the very speed with which the bill has been brought before the House: first reading last Tuesday; second reading; committee; probably third reading today.

It took the current minister’s predecessor several months to say, “No, it’s impossible.” It's taken this minister only a week to bring the bill into the House and probably get it through. It now appears that what was last winter and last spring impossible, unconstitutional -- what have you -- was in fact merely inconvenient for the government at the time. For our friends opposite, politics remains the art of the minimum. Not until they’re pressed into the corner will we get legislation to protect consumers.

I first had this matter brought to my attention last February when a number of constituents came to my constituency office to complain about these practices. After looking into the matter, talking to people from municipal, federal and provincial levels, I was rather surprised to find out there wasn’t any legislation. I think perhaps it would be a useful exercise if members of the House understood exactly what these rather sophisticated loan sharks are doing.

It’s not a very nice activity they’re involved in. These businesses take an individual’s income tax information and then provide a hasty and at times, inaccurate, estimate of what the client’s rebate will be. The client may then sell the full return for a portion of the refund. That portion is usually received in immediate cash, although there are cases where that isn’t true. Power of attorney is then signed over to the service and the individual never sees the actual amount reimbursed by the government. Any error, unintentional or otherwise, could add a substantial windfall profit to the discounter without the knowledge of the client.

There’s no standard fee taken by these firms. It most often, though, is in excess of 40 per cent of the refund, depending on the amount of money involved and depending on the degree of risk as determined by the service. If we would choose to look at those fees as interest rates, compounded annually, then it’s quite possible to conclude some of these fees amount to interest rates as high as 2,000 per cent. Indeed, the government should be congratulated for moving to stop this practice.

When I brought the matter to the current minister’s predecessor’s attention in February 1977 I pointed all of this out. I also pointed out to him that the people most vulnerable to these services are those in such dire financial straits that immediate cash is necessary. I felt what these businesses were doing was an inexcusable exploitation of a rather desperate and economically desperate segment of our community.

The minister replied to me that month, saying he was aware of the problem and, wholly unsolicited by me, then launched into some rather bizarre comments about Quebec and about the whole question of federal-provincial jurisdictions. The response of the minister does not form part of the record of this House, Mr. Speaker. I would like, with your indulgence, to make it a part of the record of this House. I think it reflects the real attitude of this government and should be on the record. I’m quoting from a letter dated February 21, 1977, over the signature of the former minister, the member for Carleton (Mr. Handleman):

“You may not be aware that the whole field of interest is exclusively a federal jurisdiction. It is in fact so exclusively federal that not even the province of Quebec challenges the clear jurisdiction of the federal government to regulate interest rates. Because of that situation, the provinces have for the past two years been urging the federal government to enact legislation to control this kind of abuse as well as loan sharking and government cheque discounting.


“In response to the province’s urging and as a result of their own research, the federal government has introduced the Borrowers’ and Depositors’ Protection Act which is currently being studied by a parliamentary committee in Ottawa. The measures contained in that Act may very well completely curtail the activities of these companies which concern you and us.

“We did try, about a year ago, to claim jurisdiction but we were told in no uncertain terms by our legal advisers that we could not because of our limited jurisdictional capacity.

“We have examined the transactions in terms of the Business Practices Act and have concluded that we have no authority under that legislation to proceed against these companies.”

He goes on, at some length, to consider the possibility of actions being taken under that most famous of Acts, that modem Act, the Unconscionable Transactions Act. If hon. members will recall, this was his initial solution to the problem of rent control.

I don’t intend to raise it further, but I might make a footnote with the current minister that while he’s on this current crusade, he might also consider the question of those people who discount government cheques. I think perhaps the minister can make a note of that and perhaps next week introduce legislation that we can pass the week after, to prevent that kind of practice.

I was not totally satisfied with the minister’s response at that time but, in all good faith, I accepted it. It wasn’t until I did some further research in the matter that I found out that several provinces in Canada had enacted legislation to prevent this same kind of abuse. I wrote back to the minister in March a very strongly-worded letter in which I wanted to know from him exactly why he had put that forward in such a fashion to me. I just couldn’t believe that it had been a deliberate attempt on his part, or his staff’s part, to mislead me. I wondered about the competence of some of his senior staff in not keeping themselves abreast of what was happening across the country.

The minister penned another of his odd responses to me, this one on April 5, in which he pointed out that he was deeply disturbed. At the time I agreed with him. However, he then was able to find another argument why the provincial government shouldn’t move into this field, and that was again by going back to the Borrowers’ and Depositors’ Protection Act. At this time, I was pressing him very strongly because I was concerned that we get legislation in Ontario before the April 30 deadline so we could have stopped the needless suffering that went on during the last tax period. The minister replied to me and I quote from his April 5 letter:

“We are all aware that there is now far too much legislative and administrative overlap between the two senior levels of government. Federal-provincial roles must be re-examined and rationalized. The case of the discounters is as clearcut a starting point as we will find. We have asked for, and the federal government is enacting, a law that will deal with them. It flies in the face of all reason for the province to take concurrent, constitutionally questionable, prohibitory action just as the federal legislation is coming into place.”

As the minister knows, as I know and as many members of the House know, you can very well wait a long time for legislation of any kind to come from the federal government so that it wasn’t a very reasonable argument at that time.

I raised the question of the constitutionality on other occasions with the minister. On March 31 I raised it in the House along with my colleague from Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis) and my colleague from Riverdale (Mr. Renwick). Again, the minister insisted that it was totally unconstitutional, that his staff assured him it was totally unconstitutional.

I hope that the minister will allay our fears by telling us in the debate today that he’s talked with the Attorney General, or he’s got another opinion from his staff or an outside legal opinion. Because we wouldn’t, of course, want to do anything that was unconstitutional.

There are a couple of aspects that aren’t really dealt with in this bill that I would like to draw to the minister’s attention. One is that the experience in Manitoba has shown us that bringing forth this kind of legislation should force about 80 per cent of the discounters out of business, leaving around 20 per cent. However, it’s quite conceivable that in Ontario, as has happened in other provinces, we will force them all out of business.

These discounters, shady and shoddy as they may be, do in fact provide a service that some people demand, some people require. I think it’s incumbent upon us, as legislators in Ontario, to understand that. While what I am about to suggest doesn’t require legislation, I hope the minister will pay some attention to it. I have talked to him privately about it before. What I suggest is the possibility of Ontario following the example of the Hon. Saul Miller, the former minister in charge of this matter in Manitoba, when he established, within his ministry and within the regional offices of the ministry, an individual who was identified as being available for counselling in this matter and who could sit down with a person in need -- in desperate need of this money immediately -- and recommend an approach whereby that person could, with the government, go to the credit unions of Manitoba and apply for a loan.

While we are also on the figure of five per cent; five per cent is, of course, in fact 20 per cent when you consider that the average length of time for a return is three months. At 20 per cent these discounters will be making considerably more than a credit union or a bank, or God forbid even Avco and other finance companies. So I think there would be room in Ontario for the ministry to actively encourage a counselling system that would put the needy person in contact, through the auspices of the ministry, with a credit union or another financial institution from which -- I beg your pardon?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Five per cent isn’t the interest rate.

Mr. Davison: Okay, I will explain it again for the benefit of my colleague.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: It is a discount, it isn’t an interest rate.

Mr. Davison: Five per cent is to be considered as five per cent of the refund. If the company only lends you that money over the average period, which is three months, you then have to multiply by four to find the interest rate. It’s the principle of short-term borrowing, so in most cases you can consider the five per cent fee to be a 20 per cent interest rate.

I hope the minister will take that suggestion seriously and do something to be of assistance to those in our province who aren’t in as good a financial position as the minister or I or his fellow members may be in.

Another matter I would like to raise with the minister, to which the bill doesn’t address itself but for which there is certainly a need, is the question of the way in which these companies operate in terms of business practices. I think there are some areas that perhaps don’t properly belong in this Bill 99 that have to be looked at.

One that has concerned me is the question of the power of attorney agreements the discounters extract from their victims. I have before me a copy of an agreement with Shield Tax Services Limited, which is another name for Instant Tax Services, and it’s on the prescribed government form for power of attorney. The particular constituent who brought this to my attention was, I admit, not the most sophisticated of people. He told me, after he saw a copy of it, it was a different agreement to the one he signed. There was in fact no date on the agreement. Be that as it may, if the date was put on by the company later or if the date was on when the person signed it, the point of concern is that this individual signed the agreement on February 28, 1977. We would assume that under normal circumstances the information would go off to the tax department and National Revenue and that within three months or so the refund would appear and everything would be settled.

There was really no need for the power of attorney to extend from February to past June or July. This document I have -- and if the minister is interested I could give him a copy as long as he would keep the name confidential -- had a date of December 31, 1978. The spectre that raises is that having once signed that, not really understanding it and not being fully aware of what it meant, you may never see your income tax again for another two years. I hope the minister will take that into consideration.

There are a number of other points I want to raise. Specifically I want to talk about the provisions in the bill found in sections 4 and 11. Although I will deal with them at some length, I think perhaps it would be most appropriate if I dealt with them during the committee stage.

Let me say in conclusion it is very nice to see this bill because I know if we pass it we will at least in some way give the consumers of Ontario the kind of protection they need. It just would have been a great deal nicer if we could have seen this bill several months ago.


Mr. Deputy Speaker: Before recognizing another member en this particular legislation, I want to inform the members that, pursuant to standing order 28, the members for Downsview (Mr. di Santo) and Oakwood (Mr. Grande) have filed the required notice of their dissatisfaction with the answers to questions posed to the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) on November 10 concerning the heritage language program. The member for Downsview will be called at 10:30 and the member for Oakwood will be called at 10:40. Further to this, the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall) will debate his question with the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell).


Mr. Blundy: I have read over this bill and I am prepared to speak in support of it.

I would like to mention a rather interesting happening. On November 8 I was going to ask the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations what he was going to do about this injustice that was happening in the province of Ontario. On that very day the minister stood up and said he was going to introduce legislation to correct these injustices. At that time, obviously the minister and I were thinking along the same lines as far as this particular matter is concerned.

I want to say that I think the situation should have been corrected some time ago. I know it is a custom that has been going on for some time in the province, particularly in the Metro Toronto area, I am informed. Even though it is a little late, it is good legislation, I believe. Many of the people who have used the services of one of these discounting firms are people who are most in need of protection in the province of Ontario. This bill is going to provide them that protection, at least to some extent.

Most people who have an income tax refund coming to them and receive notice of it can go through the conventional borrowing institutions and get money if they wish. Many of the people who perhaps are not as aware of this or who are not as prepared to go to the conventional lending institutions have gone to these discounters and have been really ripped off as far as interest rates and service charges are concerned.

So I believe the bill is going to correct this situation and I will support the bill in all three readings.

Ms. Bryden: I also welcome this legislation but wonder why it took so long. I think I can see three reasons for the delay which is typical of the kind of activity we get in the consumer protection field from this government.

The first reason for the delay was an attempt at the usual Tory response of buck-passing to Ottawa -- “Let’s see what they’ll do” -- even though people continue to be ripped off during the period while the long negotiations go on, rather than putting a stop to it and later on seeing if negotiations could bring in a federal Act on this problem.

The second event that appeared to push the legislation along was the explosion of activity this year in the field of instant tax refunds. A great many of the operators in the western provinces moved east when the western provinces put a stop to their exploiting activities. So in Ontario we had, I understand according to some newspaper stories, about 40 of these instant tax offices open. There were an estimated 62 across the country and last year the Department of National Revenue estimated $8 million of refunds were cycled through the instant tax offices and about 50 per cent of this was sheer profit.

So that when you get a situation as glaring as that, the government appears to listen a bit more to the requests for some regulation of this particular abuse.

The third thing that happened was we had a change of minister and I think there must be some significance to that, perhaps, because the previous one --

Mr. Grande: Slightly, slightly.

Ms. Bryden: -- was convinced such legislation was unconstitutional, even though none of the Acts in the other provinces have been challenged.

Mr. Foulds: He is just a short, thin Sidney Handleman, that’s all.

Ms. Bryden: It seems to me if you always retreat behind the constitutional argument you seldom get any action. But anyway, after these three events occurred, we finally have got some legislation. I welcome it at this late date.

I don’t think there’s any doubt about the need. There have been stories in the paper of the kind of people who apply for such refunds. Generally, they are people who either have difficulty obtaining credit or are uninformed of other places where they could get credit. They are often in very dire financial circumstances, are desperate for instant cash and so are very vulnerable to this kind of exploitation. For that reason they need protection and they need protection fast, because last year, according to a survey done by the Toronto Star, there was an average of 300 per cent charged on these refunds. The Star reporter went to six shops. He had a $500 refund coming to him; they offered him figures varying from $250 to $350, but the average was about $300, which was 60 per cent of the refund coming to him. But that is just an average. Certainly across Canada there have been instances where a much higher percentage was taken.

There is no doubt of the need for protection for the rather vulnerable group that needs instant cash and tends to go to these kind of loan sharks who are posing as tax-return preparers.

As was stated by my colleague, the member for Hamilton Centre, we do need more counselling services from the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations to let people know about alternative credit sources. We also need more community banks of the kind that the Royal Bank is operating in the east end of Toronto. There is one community bank there that is attempting to provide credit for people of modest income. We need more of that kind of credit service and that kind of information available to people.

Generally we need a regulation of the whole tax-return preparing service industry. I notice the minister in his bill is attempting to plug a possible loophole which these services might resort to; that is, instead of taking a large discount on the refund, they will put in a large fee on the service. He says no “unreasonable charge” may be made by the service. The bill is rather indefinite as to what is a reasonable or unreasonable charge, and I find the legislation a little murky in this field.

I would like the minister to clarify what happens if a person thinks there is an unreasonable charge. For instance, can he complain to the minister? Or does he have to institute a prosecution and the judge will decide whether the charge is unreasonable? Also, if he complains to the minister, can the minister order a reduction in the charge and a refund to the taxpayer? Or does that have to be done through a court order, with a judge making the order for a refund of the amount charged?

I notice that section 10(2) allows a judge to order a refund of any amount owing to the taxpayer, but it is not clear whether that is just the amount of the refund that comes in after the event when the refund was more than was anticipated, or whether that would also allow a judge to order payment of what he considered the unreasonable part of the charge.

Another area that is a little murky is the question of how the taxpayer collects the excess when the refund is larger than was anticipated. The legislation provides that excess, of course, must go to the taxpayer, but it is not clear whether the taxpayer has to go through small claims court to get it. In many instances it could involve fairly small amounts and probably would not be worth going through small claims court.

I wonder if the minister should not consider licensing tax return services so that in the event they do not pay these small amounts to the taxpayer, their licence could be cancelled or suspended until such payments are made.

The same licensing could also be used to enforce the question of what is reasonable and unreasonable if that is to be decided at the discretion of the minister.

Those are two areas that I would like the minister to clarify and possibly to consider whether the Act should be amended to make them clearer.

Those are the only points I wanted to raise. I only add that I hope this piece of legislation is not a single swallow that makes a spring but that we will see more consumer protection legislation of this sort.

Mr. B. Newman: I would like to make a few comments concerning Bill 99, An Act to regulate the Discounting of Income Tax Refunds. In my humble opinion, the bill’s title is misleading because it does not solely cover income tax refunds. When we look under section 1, we see that in addition to income tax refunds, there are unemployment insurance refunds available, Canada Pension refunds, and refunds under any Act of Canada, Ontario or any other province. An individual may not realize that he has the opportunity of using this piece of legislation in an attempt to get refunds, whether it is solely income tax or not.

I would appreciate a reply from the minister to my comments concerning the title of the bill. I also think that in view of the fact that the services did mushroom in the previous year, as a result of limiting the amount that the individual could collect to five per cent of the overpayment, the numbers that may go into this type of a business will be extremely limited. I think that even though they may be limited, there are so many other areas of refunds that an individual could be entitled to that a good approach might be the licensing, as has been mentioned by the previous speaker, of the persons who are going to engage in this type of business.

There are other comments I could make, but many of them have been made by previous speakers. I would like to bring to the minister’s attention that the constitutionality of this type of legislation was a great concern to his predecessor. One of the reasons why he refused to act was that he claimed we had no authority on the provincial level to act or to pass legislation.

The local newspaper was so concerned that they even editorialized; they would like to know who is actually correct. Is the minister correct? Or was his predecessor correct? They mention on -- I think it’s November 9, 1977; “Sidney Handleman, the Consumer Relations minister at that time, agreed that discounters’ activities were” -- and I am quoting -- “almost a criminal offence, but rejected any steps to curb them on the grounds that any regulatory Act would have been completely unconstitutional.”

So it is kind of strange now that the minister’s predecessor thought it was unconstitutional and yet the minister maintains it is not unconstitutional. We certainly think and hope he is correct in his assumption, because we would like to see this legislation passed and become effective quite quickly.

Mr. Grande: I rise to support this legislation and, as many other speakers prior to my standing up have said, certainly it is long overdue. It has been, as a matter of fact, for two or three years. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations has had ample evidence in his hands sent by me and many other members of this Legislature saying to him: You need legislation to curb these fly-by-night type of outfits that really take unsuspecting people and make them pay a tremendous amount of interest for a service that will perhaps only cost, at the highest, about $5.

I really don’t understand why ministers of the Crown, when they have all this evidence at their disposal, keep on stalling, and do nothing in terms of alleviating the problem. I want to say to the minister that perhaps the reason why he finally did bring in this legislation is because, well, he fumbled the coffee prices. Clearly the minister says in his own words, on radio, on television, all over the place, that he’s the minister who is going to come down like a ton of bricks to protect the consumers. In terms of coffee prices, the bricks have fallen and certainly have crumbled.


Mr. Warner: A ton of feathers.

Mr. Grande: Let me say to the minister through you, Mr. Speaker, that I’m willing to put one little tiny piece of Humpty Dumpty together again, in terms of this legislation. If he will continue to bring in legislation which addresses itself to a need that has been evident for years, then I will certainly do my part to glue another piece of Humpty Dumpty.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: You’re a good guy.

Mr. Grande: I want to read some communications between myself and the previous Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations regarding this particular problem. The first communication was on May 7, 1976.

Some of my constituents approached me and said, “We’re paying a tremendous amount of money to get our income tax filled out and they’re asking us for 30, 40 and 50 per cent on our returns.” At that time I sent a very nice letter to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and I said, in essence, “This has been brought to my attention; look into it; investigate it” -- it was a particular company on Yonge Street, Instantax, I think it was. I said, “Investigate it.” As a matter of fact, I ended very nicely by saying, “I would appreciate it if your ministry could look into this matter at your convenience.”

Certainly, he did -- at his convenience. He did answer the letter though, perhaps rather quickly, on March 31. I want to read that letter in totality because the different reasons why the minister stalled in this particular legislation are certainly outlined in that letter.

It says: “The ministry is aware of this and similar operations. Officials visited the 592 Yonge Street location prior to its opening and have been observing it since that time. Although certain aspects of the company’s activities are morally distasteful, investigators have found no evidence that any legislation has been contravened.

“The organization previously operated in Vancouver where it was studied by the British Columbia department of consumer services and ministry officials have been in contact with our BC counterparts as an aid to our investigation. As you may be aware, federal and provincial authorities are currently discussing a new bill tentatively called the borrowers’ protection Act. Our experience with companies such as Instantax will provide additional input with regard to controls on lending.

“I trust this sheds some light on the situation. If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to call on me.”

I did call on him again because the letter he wrote was totally unacceptable to me. If a minister of the Crown tells me that certain activities are morally distasteful and is not willing to bring in any kind of legislation to rectify that situation then I say to that minister, “What on earth are you doing in the government?”

This letter did get me a little angered, so I wrote back to the minister saying: “Your answer has raised many questions in my mind”. This letter was written June 15. “You say that your ministry officials have visited the outfit and have been making observations since prior to its opening. I wonder, Mr. Minister, if you could provide me with a report of the observations your officials have made?” By the way, I never received any report of that. “You say in your letter that you find certain aspects of a company’s activities morally distasteful, but no legislation is being contravened. Then clearly this situation calls for some type of new legislation to stop this legal loan sharking.”

I continued with explaining my constituent’s problem, and said “to his credit my constituent did not make use of the services of Instantax. But how many people did make use of Instantax? How many people have been exploited by this fly-by-night outfit?”

I ended the letter by saying, “Mr. Minister, I urge you to look more seriously into the problem, do a thorough investigation and bring in legislation as soon as possible in order to prevent the exploitation of poor working people in this province by this and any other outfit that might crop up next year at income tax time.”

Nothing took place other than the minister being interviewed by, I guess, the Toronto Star. The story read: “Sidney Handleman, Ontario Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, has been pressing the federal government to make such operations illegal.” He was quoted as saying, “They’ll give you 80 per cent of your refund,’ he said in an interview, but if you figure it out, it comes to 500 or 600 per cent interest per annum’.” Now, he had all this information. He had all the information before him, but clearly he did not act.

Mr. Lewis: It takes the young Grossman to act.

Mr. Grande: Suddenly, the last letter --

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The older one might have too.

Mr. Lewis: Must be nice to be your father’s son. I’ve never had that experience myself.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: How do you like it? It’s better to start over here though.

Mr. Grande: The last communication I had with the minister was on June 28, when he said -- and he injected his own opinion, I suppose, rather than that of his officials: “It must be borne in mind legislation cannot be introduced to control every aspect of human life.” I never asked him to introduce legislation to control every aspect of human life, Mr. Speaker. All I was asking him to do was address himself to a real problem that exists, and the minister continued to refuse. Now comes the new Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations -- and I use the analogy of Humpty Dumpty who, once he had fallen, in order to set himself upright, introduces this kind of legislation and good for him. I hope, with the fears expressed on this side of the House that this legislation is legal, the minister has looked into it and he has assurances from the Attorney General the legislation is indeed legal.

Mr. Samis: Don’t use him as a source.

Mr. Foulds: His record is not too good.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Ottawa East.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: If he agrees with me, I’m in trouble.

Mr. Samis: That’s right.

Mr. Roy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to make a few comments about this Bill 99, in support of the bill and in support of my colleague, the member for Sarnia, who made certain comments. I was interested as well in the comments made by the member for Beaches-Woodbine.

I’ve got to tell you, Mr. Speaker, as I see all this legislation coming in at this level and at the federal level, both the federal ministry and this ministry in charge of the protection of the consumer, there is a prime example of sometimes how the constitution, the Confederation, of this country doesn’t work, the conflicts that exist and the total and absolute confusion for the poor citizen down there who can’t understand the difference in jurisdiction from one level to another.

First of all, the minister’s predecessor was probably right on the constitutionality of this type of legislation.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am okay then.

Mr. Roy: And of course, for political reasons, a minister comes in and says, “I’m going to bring on new vim and vigour to the ministry. I’m going to bring something forward.”

Mr. Lewis: Just trying to resuscitate the family name, that’s all.

Mr. Roy: Yes. “We’re going to bring something in and the way we’re going to get around the constitutionality, because matters concerning interest are federal jurisdiction, we’re not going to mention the word ‘interest’ in this bill and we’re going to talk about” -- as the minister does in this bill -- “95 per cent of the amount without the word ‘interest’.” I may be wrong, but I don’t see the word interest mentioned at all in this legislation.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Clever, eh? Clever.

Mr. Roy: I see some of the minister’s officials there smiling and shaking their heads in agreement.

It’s unfortunate we have to bring forward legislation in this fashion because there’s no doubt in my mind this type of legislation dealing with this subject matter, especially when the whole sphere of activity we’re trying to control is basically within the income tax field, is in federal jurisdiction. There’s no doubt in my mind the legislation, which is necessary, and I think all of us can agree on this, should have emanated from the federal level. I really don’t think there is any doubt about that.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: As always.

Mr. Roy: It’s unfortunate the initiative was not taken at the federal level because then we would have a uniform law right across the country setting out and dealing directly and specifically with the problem instead of proceeding in the fashion we are. I don’t want to be unduly critical of the people who were involved in the drafting of the legislation. They’re trying to do their best basically in a bad situation. They’re trying to draft a piece of legislation which will serve the purpose the minister has in mind without looking down the road and seeing their legislation challenged in the courts. That’s basically what they’re trying to do.

Often in the process we are coming forward with legislation which is more or less not acceptable. I shouldn’t say not acceptable -- confusing to the public. I suppose it can’t be helped because, especially during the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was great competition on the part of various levels of government to move into the field. The municipal government was involved in this as well. In municipal elections promises were made to do certain things and municipalities brought forward bylaws. Then provincial government pressures were brought on, especially in the consumer field.

This ministry was created in 1967 and the federal ministry was created some time earlier. We have competing fields of jurisdiction moving in trying to solve a particular problem. Unfortunately, because of political pressures or because pressures are being felt more at one level than at the other, one level of jurisdiction moves in and sometimes or very often it’s not the right level. We have confusion in that field. I have no reservations in saying it would have been a lot better if we’d had federal legislation right across the country dealing with the question of interest, which is the federal field and dealing with the question of income tax, which is basically the problem and which again is in the federal field.

I can only suggest that the new Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations seems like a very adaptable individual. He’s one who is very flexible.

Mr. Samis: And ambitious.

Mr. Roy: The new federal Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, as they call it -- heck, one has to be a lawyer just to be able to understand the right names in the ministries -- Warren Allmand, should be a fellow with whom this minister can get along.

Mr. Samis: Let’s see how long he lasts.

Mr. Roy: Get the act together to deal with the problem so that there are no conflicting jurisdictions. I can mention others. For instance, consumer protection legislation is questionable as well. There is also the question of the Combines Act dealing with advertising and trying to control the professions to some degree.

Another problem is that the consumer field is relatively high profile. Unfortunately, what has happened -- and I can say this again without reservation -- is at the federal level many promises have been made about specific legislation which was supposed to come forward to deal with a particular problem. They’ve had such a switch of ministries at the federal level and at the provincial level as well. This minister is probably the fourth or fifth since 1967 in that ministry.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Number eight.

Mr. Roy: He says he’s number eight. One can see it’s tough to get the act together, if during that same period of time at the federal level there were probably eight as well. It’s very difficult to co-ordinate matters when we have changes in ministries.


I can understand to some degree why the minister has to move in with this as other provinces have with their own legislation. I don’t know of any cases where, in fact, their legislation has been challenged. I don’t know if this legislation was patterned after that of any other province. For the consumer, and I am trying to speak here for the consumer, all levels of government should attempt to have something that is neat and cohesive, and represents their jurisdiction within their field. I hope in the future this will happen.

I understand the problems. I sit here in the opposition and I ask “Why don’t you get your act together?” That’s my job. I am here to point out these matters. I do so with a certain amount of frustration when I see competing fields of jurisdiction moving into one area and not moving into another area. The whole process is extremely confusing to the consumer.

Heck, if the members think it’s confusing to the consumer, it’s confusing even for the courts. It’s confusing for the courts. The courts are saying they are overburdened with different cases and different pieces of legislation. I think some day the whole system will topple over. All those law books, all those statutes, all are going to fail on and hurt somebody. You know, the system is all going to come down. We are legislating ourselves into wild abandon. I just feel, unfortunately, it is because various levels of government are not prepared to accept their responsibility.

In the process of drafting this legislation, as has been pointed out by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, your section 4 is a section that leaves a lot to be desired. I say respectfully, and I don’t want to be unduly critical again of the people who helped draft this legislation, it goes on to talk about what is an unreasonable charge. I would just like to ask the minister and possibly he could respond, how does one get any satisfaction if there has been an unreasonable charge? Is one charged under this section if their charge has been unreasonable? Is one charged under the section when he in fact charges more than 95 per cent? It is far from being clear how one proceeds.

I thought possibly the minister was going to correct this by way of regulation, but then again, let’s not have too many regulations. That’s the other field, Mr. Speaker, where we are being somewhat overburdened. Just all those big blue books we see in the province, all those regulations which we never hear about but which exist and which confuse the issue overburden us. I am not sure the minister can even go ahead with his regulations to say how one complains. Does he complain to the minister? Is that how he gets back what he considers to be an unreasonable charge?

I don’t know whether it was open to the minister and whether his advisers told him maybe it might have been open for him to set out what a reasonable charge is. When you are talking about “consideration shall be given to the time spent” and “the complexity of the return” and all of this, I suppose we could have talked about a fee for service on the basis of hours, so much per hour. I don’t know whether it was open to the minister.

What I am trying to say is if we are passing legislation we should attempt to try to make the role of the courts, or the people and the judge who is going to try to interpret this, as simple as possible. In other words, we shouldn’t try to hide our intention behind certain words or ideas which aren’t all that clear. I say to you, section 4 is not clear, first of all, as to how you apply it and how the taxpayer under that section is able to get any remedy.

The other section which I find helpful is the fact that every discounter must give notice. I say, okay, it’s important that you put up a notice but frankly, I hope with this type of legislation there won’t be any discounters around to put up any notices. If any of them can operate under this section, he’s going to back off once he reads section 10, subsection 4, where the minister shifts the onus of proof. I could make a very emotional speech about the rights of the individual and the fact that under this section we are saying to a person, “It is going to be up to you to prove that you did not authorize, permit or acquiesce to this contravention.” That is quite a heavy burden we are placing on an individual.

I don’t have any particular sympathy for the people who are in that field. In fact, I can say with great satisfaction that because of the June 9 election I had the opportunity of moving one of these people out of his premises; I took it over for a headquarters, which is great.

Mr. Samis: Better than a body rub parlour in Vanier, Albert.

Mr. Foulds: They couldn’t tell the difference, before and after.

Mr. Roy: That’s right. Any time you want to be critical, just look at the percentages in Ottawa East. There was a change for the better in the riding of Ottawa East once their sign came down and mine went up.

Having made these few comments -- and I do so with a certain amount of reservation about the process that I am observing -- I think back to the comments of certain of our newly appointed chief judges in this province, who are saying to the Legislatures and to the federal Parliament and to the municipalities, “Please, you are sending enough legislation our way.” Their job is tough enough, not in the sense that we don’t have the right to do what we are doing, but somehow in this country if we could get all our acts together and have something that was more cohesive and within the respective field of jurisdiction, I think the person who would really benefit would be the consumer, who, in fact, we are trying to protect.

Mr. Samis: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few remarks on this bill. First of all, I must say I was interested and somewhat amused by the comments of my colleague from Ottawa East on the bill. He says we should place reliance on the federal authority for legislation of this sort. That is an authority, I think as we have just discussed, that has gone through umpteen consumer ministers -- it’s a cabinet post that has been relegated to the political limbo, I think, of Science and Technology, and is for recent washouts in the cabinet. It’s a cabinet portfolio that can’t even bring in a competition bill in this country. They have been trying for six years or so to bring in a competition bill, supposedly to regulate or at least control monopolies, cartels, and provide some degree of healthy competition in the economy. They can’t do it. So there is no sense placing any reliance on them, because they obviously can’t come across.

Mr. Roy: I didn’t place reliance on them; I said they should have done it.

Mr. Samis: I wouldn’t look to them either, whether it is reliance or looking to them.

Secondly, I must say I don’t share the ambivalence or the legalese concern, I would classify it as, that the minister has for intervening in this area of the marketplace. There are certain times when the minister must intervene to protect the consumer, period, because the inherent nature of the operation is unacceptable, and this is one. I wholeheartedly support the intervention, not with the idea of having total control over the marketplace, not with the idea of wanting to regulate or strangulate every small entrepreneur, but to protect the rights of the consumer from unconscionable profits and exploitation.

I welcome the bill and I will support the bill wholeheartedly. I have mixed feelings about the timing of the bill. In my deeper, darker moments I would ascribe to the minister the anguish that he probably had to overcome from his coffee fiasco, the political credibility he had to restore brought this bill at a very opportune time for his ministry and, obviously, to suit his ambitions. Regardless of that, I am glad to support it and I hope this is an indication of things to come from the minister.

I recall reading his speech to the Better Business Bureau where I think he volunteered to summarize in one word his philosophy towards the ministry; he used the word “activist,” which I would wholeheartedly welcome in contrast to his predecessor. Although I hope he doesn’t conceive of activist as merely being a referee as he is described in a football game. I don’t consider that to be very activist, but that’s beyond the scope of this bill.

I welcome this bill because it represents such a drastic contrast to his predecessor who was an absolute laissez-faire Neanderthal when it came to the question of consumer rights. In fact, my colleague from Hamilton Centre gave me a copy of a letter that outlined some of the views of the former minister, and I will just read into the record one paragraph in reply to a query from my colleague.

He says, and I quote: “Despite the low volume of complaints, the unconscionably high discount and related ‘tricks of the trade’ are unacceptable to us.” This sentence I would really emphasize: “In our view they ought to be prohibited and not merely regulated, even though some other provinces are attempting the regulatory approach. We doubt that the regulatory legislation will be of any practical value in Ontario’s metropolitan areas.” That is obviously the political epitaph of one Sidney Handleman, and one that we can do without, and one that none of us lament on this side.

I want to pay particular praise to the member for Hamilton East for his efforts in raising this in the Legislature. I would think that if he didn’t make a public issue of it and if he didn’t help to build up public pressure and focus on the injustice and the exploitation in this field, that we may never have had this bill in the first place. So I want to put on record my degree of recognition for the work done by the member for Hamilton East on behalf of the consumers, not only of his riding, but of the whole province.

It’s the member for Hamilton Centre, I’m sorry. It’s such a large party now, we have trouble remembering.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: They can both send it out to their constituents.

Mr. Samis: My own personal attitude towards the actual business being affected by this legislation is that for a couple of years this was, I suspect, a problem essentially in the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Hamilton and some of the other larger cities.

But I noticed for example, in my own riding last year that we had the active burgeoning of one of these operations and I suspect if you went around Ontario to smaller, medium-sized, communities, these tax discounters have now wormed their way into virtually every community where they figure there is a profit.

My attitude is that these people are essentially exploiting the misery and weakness of some of our citizens and that frequently their profits are unconscionable. I hope when this bill is passed -- and I would support speedy passage of the bill without any major delays -- the consumers of Ontario will be informed of their rights.

I’ll tell the minister one piece of legislation I thought was a fairly progressive piece of legislation by one of his many predecessors -- the Business Practices Act, which did a lot to improve consumer affairs in this province. I dare say if you went outside this Legislature and stopped 100 people, Mr. Speaker, you would be lucky if you found two at the very most who had ever heard of it and one who even knew what his rights were under such legislation. And I would say that for this government, for this political party -- that it is an extremely progressive piece of legislation. But what good is it if nobody knows what their rights are in the first place?

This is obviously not an Act that affects nearly as many people, but I would hope that the minister would take some initiative to publicize, for anyone who wants to continue dealing with the remaining discounters, what their rights are as a result of this bill. Because we can pass all the bills and all the laws we want, but if people don’t know and realize and understand what their rights are, they will frequently be exploited and taken advantage of regardless.

So the tougher the minister gets with these birds the better it will be for all of society, and I would fully support the principle of the bill and its speedy passage and implementation.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I don’t think it would be very useful for the House -- although it may be instructive for some of you -- if I engaged in a long dissertation explaining and defending my predecessor. However, I think the remarks of the last speaker, the member for Cornwall, make a good point in referring to the very progressive Business Practices Act we have in this province, which, he neglected to say, was brought in and passed by my predecessor, the member for Carleton. That speaks volumes, it seems to me, about his contribution in the field of consumerism in Ontario.

Mr. Samis: It was the then member for Niagara Falls. It was John Clement.

Mr. Foulds: John Clement. Come on, get your ministers straight, Larry.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: With regard to the particulars of the Act before us, I think we should look at the circumstances surrounding last year’s discussion. Of course, the Legislature didn’t sit for very long last year -- sorry, this current year, but the last tax year.

Mr. Samis: I wonder why.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think we came back at the end of March and we sat for a week or two, didn’t we?

Mr. Foulds: You’re the government.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: This was the same period of time during which the letters were being exchanged between the members of the opposition and my predecessor. My predecessor was making some very good points at that time, points made by the member for Ottawa East this afternoon.

One of the differences, of course, is the fact that we have had some more time this year, since that exchange, to look at some different approaches which may alleviate or eliminate the constitutional difficulties that were foreseen last year.


We have, we think, come up with something that we didn’t have last spring, and that was a bill which we believe will stand up constitutionally. That is a major difference. This government doesn’t believe in passing pieces of legislation which can be clearly and willy-nilly overthrown by the courts. Legislation of that sort is legislation which does nothing but clutter up the law hooks.

Now we have something we think will work. That is a big difference, and that opened the door for us to bring forward today’s legislation. As well, much talk has gone on today about the Borrowers’ and Depositors’ Protection Act, the long promised Act by the federal government. I do want to say that it has become very clear, just in the middle of this year, what with the change in ministers and the obvious shift of that bill to the back burners at the federal level, that indeed we can’t wait any longer, that indeed the Act isn’t going to be coming forward. So when we find ourselves at the stage at which we have a bill we think will work and is constitutional, and where we see the federal government is still not moving into the field, the conclusion was arrived at that the government must bring in the legislation. I should point out it is substantially the same government as was in office last year, when a different conclusion was reached on the basis of the constitutional difficulties we faced at that time.

A lot of the points raised by some of the speakers today will more properly be dealt with in committee. I understand the member for Ottawa East and some others don’t plan to be around later tonight for committee stage, so they wanted to deal with it clause by clause at this stage. However, I would like to make a couple of points.

The member for Hamilton Centre talks about the matter of discounting all other government cheques and why don’t we move into that field. I would point out to him firstly that most of the other government cheques he is talking about are indeed immediately cashable. They are totally liquid. There is no reason to discount them. They can be taken to a bank and cashed for face value. You only run into this situation where you have a clearly defined, vested amount of money owed to you by government, and therefore it becomes a potential discount item. That isn’t the case with most other government cheques.

Secondly, and in any event, section 1(c)(v) says that a refund means “the amount which an individual is entitled to receive as a grant or refund under an Act of Canada, Ontario, or any other province.” So even if there were a market for these other governmental cheques, we think they are covered by this Act.

He also raised the matter of counselling. Our ministry, he suggests, should be more available for counselling people throughout the province. We are always anxious to move into areas where we feel more consumer counselling is required. While I will have another run-through at the availability of the various services available, I think I should point out that there are very many counselling services now available. Firstly, through the referees in the small claims courts throughout the province. Secondly, through the federal bankruptcy offices throughout the country. Thirdly, through the credit counselling branch of the Ministry of Community and Social Services which liaises with municipal welfare offices to provide these services.

That seems to me to be a fairly wide range of credit counselling facilities. I suspect, in fairness, they may face some of the problems that my ministry faces and which I face in a lot of consumer areas -- that is, getting people who may require counselling to be aware of the service and to come forward and ask for it and utilize it.

However, I think it is fair. I will have a look-through and satisfy myself with regard to the availability of those services and just see what we can do to increase consumer protection in that specific area.

I can’t leave the comments of the member for Hamilton Centre without saying I would have hoped that last year, when he exchanged communications with my predecessor, he would have been a little more restrained in his remarks. He commented that he thought “either a deliberate attempt has been made to mislead the member for Hamilton Centre, or your staff is ignorant of what is happening in the other provinces to such an extent that it suggests an unbelievable lack of competence.”

I think any intelligent analysis of the constitutional problems surrounding legislation in this area would leave one, even one who is not a lawyer, open to understand that there are substantial matters of constitutional disagreement on this subject.

Mr. Swart: We only got it now because of pressure by the member for Hamilton Centre.

Mr. Makarchuk: There has been no change in the constitution.

Mr. Davison: He wasn’t aware.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Look, I’ll tell the hon. member opposite what has changed; we have had some more time to work on it in more detail and come up with a bill that approaches it a little differently.

Mr. Makarchuk: Because you didn’t work on it in the first place.

Mr. Swart: We should have had the bill nine months ago.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Even today the hon. members have heard the member for Ottawa East, who I suppose is a lawyer of some repute --

Mr. Samis: And fallible too.

Mr. Foulds: Of what kind of repute?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- and there are plenty of other lawyers who still take the view today that there are constitutional difficulties. I don’t happen to agree with them. I clearly don’t agree with them; I wouldn’t bring this forward if I did agree with them. But the fact is that there is a substantial body of opinion that says it is unconstitutional.

Mr. Davison: The fact is that it is in place in five provinces and has never been challenged.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: The fact is that there is a legitimate and substantial disagreement on this subject in terms of its constitutionality.

Mr. Makarchuk: The fact is that you’re hiding behind the constitutional skirt.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: For any particular person to suggest that a conclusion reached by any lawyer, on one side or the other -- and I’ll tell my friends opposite that I have a fairly substantial brief in front of me from a firm of solicitors, arguing at quite some length that the bill, as I and my staff have drawn it, is still unconstitutional.

My point is that I don’t think it would be any more proper for the member for Hamilton East or anyone else to call that firm of lawyers incompetent or ignorant than it is to say the same of any of the lawyers who have reached the same conclusions as my staff and I have at this time.

Mr. Davison: I simply referred to their lack of awareness of legislation in the other provinces.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think members of this assembly ought to show a little bit more respect for those who are doing their best to provide legal opinions for the government and for the people of this province than to suggest, when the members of this assembly disagree with the conclusions they have drawn on difficult constitutional matters, that they are ignorant or incompetent.

Mr. Makarchuk: Probably both.

Mr. Foulds: Lack of knowledge is not necessarily a slur.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: As to the question of power of attorney, which was raised by the member for Hamilton Centre. I want to say that if he knows of instances in which there was no date on the agreement and other matters were left out of the original documentation, then it may amount to a fraud; it may be a crime -- and appropriate remedies are there -- or in fact, if there is any defacing on the face of the document, anything that indicates that it is irregular, then indeed the bank which is being asked to cash the cheque pursuant to the power of attorney would not and should not be cashing that cheque pursuant to the power of attorney. Those instances, one at a time or individually, should be dealt with either through the criminal courts or by the people accepting those cheques.

One would think that that particular abuse, which is open not only in this area of course but everyone who has power of attorney, isn’t really that wide. I might say that I certainly don’t defend people who take it for a longer period of time as in the case cited by the member for Hamilton Centre -- some 22 months -- but the fact is that if the power of attorney refers to the specific refund coming at that time for the return filed in March 1977, then presumably the power of attorney would affect the refund coming for that particular year --

Mr. Davison: That is not the case.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- because, in fact, the cheque would not come from the federal government for the following tax year, the one we are coming to, unless the person had gone back and signed a new direction to the income tax department to send the 1978 cheque back to the same tax discounter, at which time the tax discounter could use the same power of attorney.

My point is that they can sign it for as long as they want. It is only useful for the particular purpose outlined on the face of the power of attorney. If a cheque comes in to him that he can use in that fashion, if the member’s constituent doesn’t want to use the service again, even if we didn’t succeed in getting this legislation into place, or if the tax discounter stays in business, then the constituent simply need not direct that the cheque go to that discounter, in which case the power of attorney will be useless in the hands of the discounter.

I should correct the record. In no way, as the House can tell, do I have any sympathy for the tax discounters. The member for Beaches-Woodbine however suggests that 50 per cent of all the money coming out last year from the federal government was sheer profit. In fact, all the information we have is that the average discount was 40 per cent; therefore even if it all was clear profit the maximum would be 40 per cent. But I would hope that she’d get the figures in order so that there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding about the extent of the problem and the lengths we’re going to to correct it.

The member for Beaches-Woodbine also made some comments with regard to section 4, and I would invite her to pursue that with me in committee at a later time. That member and one or two other members referred us to the approach of licensing. That’s an approach which, I have made quite clear, I shy away from -- in this and other fields. Licensing brings with it a lot of government bureaucracy. In the end result we would have more people on the public payroll. I’m not sure it would be any more effective; in most cases I think it would be less effective.

Indeed the consumer would be out on the streets looking for people who had been licensed and therefore had some sort of apparent certificate from government to carry on business, which may give them more authenticity. The average person walking down the street, wondering whether he should take this step, would find the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations had indeed issued a licence to the tax discounter. That gives me severe problems and it is something I don’t want to do, quite frankly.

Even if we have that sort of licensing legislation in place, sooner or later we would have to flesh that in by saying, “This is what you can do, you people who have registered with us pursuant to our new Act, and this is what you can’t do.” We’re going to have to end up coming back here and setting out the types of rules and regulations we’re setting out here today.

If the response we hear from the streets is any indication, the problem will be entirely resolved when this Act passes, in that they’ll go out of business to a large extent. Those that stay in business will not constitute any sort of a public menace, in my opinion, thus obviating the need for any licensing or registration scheme.

The member for Ottawa East has raised a very legitimate point -- that is, that various levels of government are moving into the same area and enacting certain pieces of legislation which sooner or later overlap. He was suggesting that perhaps there is potential for duplication -- too many laws and so on. We share that concern. That’s a very real concern. I should mention to the members present that I will be discussing this very matter with the federal minister at some stage over the next few months. I think it’s an important concern.

If the federal Act had been in place we wouldn’t be bringing this one on. If the federal Act does show up sooner or later and is sufficiently tough, as ours is, then we would come back to this assembly and ask for the repeal of this legislation. I for one do not want to have legislation standing on the books in the name of my ministry which is not needed and is no longer exercised. I don’t plan to have any legislation with reams of regulations, also referred to by the member for Ottawa East, which is not used or enforced. The House may have my assurance that I’ll be pursuing some of those concerns outlined by the member for Ottawa East this afternoon.

Finally, I should refer the members to what I think is a key part of our Act. That is the fact that we have built into this legislation something that I will be looking at more and more as time goes on, and that is the right of the courts to order restitution in the event of a prosecution. I think that’s very important. It’s in section 10(2) and that sort of thing, it seems to me, is one of the keystones of good consumer legislation where practical. We’ll be looking at all pieces of legislation in this way. We think that’s a very important highlight of this piece and I would hope the members would especially agree with us on that section.


I appreciate some of the comments made by the members today in this debate. The Act does conform to my ministry’s general desire to deal with consumer matters and shift a little bit to make sure our emphasis in consumer matters is taking in that area of consumers most in need of protection and yet often the least capable of acquiring legal assistance because of financial problems to solve their problems on their own. We hope to protect those who are less well off, those who are sometimes a little more desperate for money than one would expect. We are going to make sure our legislation, whether it deals with tax discounters or whether it deals with products, is pointed towards that particular group so that those people who can least afford to protect themselves and are least able to protect themselves are protected by this government.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.


Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 98,

An Act to revise the Municipal Elections Act, 1972.

Mr. Ashe: I’ll be very brief in my remarks on Bill 98 at this stage. This bill embodies the further recommendations of the joint election committee of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario for amendments to municipal election procedures, as well as the recommendations of approximately 200 municipalities responding to Bill 49, the predecessor bill, over the summer and into the fall.

Many changes and new proposals have been incorporated in this new hill. The most significant is the change in the municipal election date to the second Monday in November with the December 1 commencement date for municipal councils. With the assistance of the joint election committee, we have been able to adapt the election process to the earlier date without any deleterious effect on essential procedures. We believe this time change is the earliest possible within the constraints posed by these procedures.

Two innovations in the bill include an amendment to dispose of the use of a poll book at municipal elections. A less time-consuming process has been devised which will be particularly beneficial where vote recorders or voting machines are being used. Secondly, the requirement that the preliminary lists be posted in each polling subdivision has been replaced by the provision that at least two copies of the complete preliminary list will be posted in conspicuous public places in the municipality.

A further amendment I’d like to mention deals with handicapped electors. The legislation has been amended to permit any handicapped elector to have a friend assist him in voting. Also the language of these sections has been modernized. Several other changes are procedural adjustments designed to complement the change in the election date.

The remaining changes depart from proposals in Bill 49 and return to the existing provisions in the Municipal Elections Act. The latter reflect strong municipal opinion favouring some of the existing procedures regarding such matters as the polling hours, advanced polls and recount procedures. As we get into further clause-by-clause discussion, I’ll be referring more specifically to those last few items.

I am confident that the bill now before the Legislature represents to the greatest possible extent the consensus on appropriate and workable municipal election procedures.

Mr. Epp: I rise to speak to Bill 98, formerly known as Bill 49, which is an Act to revise the Municipal Elections Act, 1972. The amendments proposed are significant because they help clear up problems evidenced for some years now, particularly in most recent years, with respect to municipal elections.

These are problems which municipalities encountered throughout the province of Ontario and for which they ask clarification. Maybe it’s just as well in the case of Bill 98, the government did consult with municipalities, particularly the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario which jointly presented briefs to the government with many recommendations, of which a number have been accepted.

We commend this change in posture considering the lack of consultation the province had with the Edmonton commitment, and the fact now, with Bill 98, they have had a considerable amount of consultation. We also commend the new direction the government is taking with respect to consulting with municipalities.

We know the government didn’t honour the Edmonton commitment when it announced its transfer payments for 1978. This change is welcomed by this side of the House.

I’m optimistic the government will benefit, and indeed, everyone in Ontario will benefit by this new consultation procedure. Let me say my party will support this bill in principle. We believe it has merit. We believe it is a step in the right direction and we believe the government of today has tried to deal with some of the problems municipalities so well articulated and drew to the attention of the government, particularly to the members on the other side of the House.

I also want to express my thanks, at this time, to the members of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario. This group met jointly on numerous occasions and gave a number of the recommendations to the government. In addition to that, the parliamentary assistant has mentioned over 200 or so briefs were presented to the government, representations made from municipalities. I believe this input is going to be reflected in the kind of bill that comes out after its debate in this House.

There are a number of other items to which I want to speak this time. We believe the election date should be moved ahead as has been indicated. We feel the government is moving in the right direction by having the second Monday in November as the election date.

Mr. Foulds: It’s still not early enough.

Mr. Epp: Unfortunately, the technical aspects of preparing for the election date are such they can’t move further ahead at this time. However, we welcome a change in the election date to an earlier date if this can be proved workable.

I think particularly now of 1974 when we had a snowstorm in Windsor and the election date was the first Monday in December. They had numerous problems which they had difficulty overcoming --

Mr. Foulds: My heart bleeds.

Mr. Epp: -- and there was great consternation at that time with the inability of the municipal officials --

Mr. Foulds: We had a blizzard in Thunder Bay last Thursday.

Mr. Epp: -- to deal with that kind of situation. I also welcome the emergency powers designed to be given to the clerks of the various municipalities so they can deal more adequately with and during an emergency situation.

There are a number of other items in this bill. I don’t want to speak to all of them because we’re going to have an opportunity to speak during the clause by clause discussion. However, I want to say of one of the amendments that is going to be introduced with respect to the three consecutive hours for voting, I believe this is a welcome change because in both the federal and provincial elections people have a chance to have time off from their jobs for at least three consecutive hours. I believe if we are to encourage the people of this province to vote in municipal elections, then this should have also been included in this Act. I regret that it wasn’t. My party will support that amendment when it comes forward.

Another item that’s going to be discussed and at which we are going to be looking very closely, is voting hours. I know that a number of municipalities would like to see longer hours afforded to the voters. There are other municipalities that would like to keep the hours from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. We will indicate our support for one of these measures later on in the debate.

We will support Bill 98 in principle. We will, however, introduce one amendment which we believe is essential for the sake of fairness and equality. We hope to get the support from both sides of the House on this amendment. I am, of course, alluding to sections 12 and 13 of the proposed bill. There are no other countries in the world that give preferential citizenship to certain immigrants when they come into the country. We believe this assembly should be consistent with that kind of outlook. As you know, the federal government has enacted certain changes in its legislation to accommodate Canadian citizenship as the only criterion for voting in a federal election. We believe this is the proper attitude to take.

That’s all I want to say at this time except that we keep our options open on discussions of the various clauses when they are discussed in the committee of the whole.

Mr. Swart: We in this party think this bill is an extremely important bill, or it ought to be an important bill. It’s a very major piece of legislation. We attach real significance to it. I don’t share all the views of the member for Waterloo North in the consultation the government had relative to this bill. I will go into that a little more fully in a few minutes.

At this time I must say that although we consider this bill a very important piece of legislation it doesn’t appear to be true of the Treasurer of this province. For over two years, he has never appeared in this House when a municipal bill was before this House. I suggest that if this bill doesn’t warrant his appearance what municipal bill could?

Mr. Warner: Where is the Treasurer? Where is he hiding?

Mr. Swart: This is no reflection on the member for Durham West. I just think maybe it should be that if a Treasurer can’t be bothered --

Mr. Warner: Just cowering in the corner.

Mr. Swart: -- dealing with municipal matters, then perhaps the government should have a Minister of Municipal Affairs. Surely, Mr. Speaker, if there is any place that the Treasurer should be, the most important place where municipal matters can possibly be discussed is in this House. Yet he is never here.

This is a whole new Act with some 127 sections that we have before us. It takes up some 63 pages and it is the first major change in the Municipal Elections Act since 1972. In addition, the Treasurer had, or could have had, the assistance of a very able municipal group, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of this province, which was re-established in June, 1976, really for the very purpose of this bill. He had, or could have had, excellent advice on it.


I say at the outset that this bill fails as a bill of real reform because of three things. Firstly, the Treasurer, because of his economic views, couldn’t break with the outmoded policies and procedures of the past. He is firmly rooted in the past of 30 or 40 years ago; if he had not been, there could have been very substantial changes made in this bill.

Let me read into the record what the editor of Municipal World had to say a year ago on the subject of municipal election reform in this province. I think everyone in this House recognizes that Michael Smither, the editor of Municipal World, is at least as competent as any other person in this province on municipal matters. He said this:

“To understand the delay in reaching a solution to the procedural problems of a date change it is necessary to first recognize the existence of a historical philosophy developed in the earliest election procedures in this province and continued in the latest statute enacted in 1972. Simply stated it is a projection of the orderly manner of conducting life in an agrarian society with its sow, grow, reap methodology, which requires each step in a procedure to be fully completed before commencing with the next step.

“The second major obstacle” -- I am still quoting from this article from Municipal World, September, 1976 -- “to be overcome is the apparent continuance in the new legislation of the village pump technique of communication, long since disregarded by the public generally, yet still adhered to lovingly by draftsmen of municipal legislation. However, if these sacred cows of municipal legislation are consigned to the Queen’s Park legislative abattoir then an opportunity arises to approach the problem from a totally different perspective. The procedures can then be examined with the realization, first, each step in the procedural process does not necessarily have to be completed before the next one is commenced; and, secondly, by making full use of modern communication techniques steps of questionable value can be eliminated.”

I suggest that in the amendments that we will be putting forth, we are endeavouring to assign those sacred cows to the Queen’s Park abattoir. I say to you the minister still puts his faith in those sacred cows.

I also want to say that the minister cannot break either with his deep-seated view that municipal government, and thus municipal elections, are not nearly as important as provincial or federal. He may pay lip service to the theory that municipalities are equal partners, but he has never, ever, shown in his actions that they are.

This shows up in a number of ways. For instance, today it has already been mentioned by the member for Waterloo North the minister has never bothered incorporating into legislation a clause which would require that a person voting in a municipal election should have time off. He proposes in this legislation, as has been the case in the past, that the hours for voting in a municipal election shall be shorter than in the provincial or federal elections. He has held them all these years at the time of the year you wouldn’t normally hold provincial or federal elections. Of course, there is no election expenses Act or disclosure Act, as is the case both provincially and federally.

Certainly to him, municipalities and municipal elections rate second to those of the province and of the federal government.

The member for Waterloo North stated he’s glad to see the change in posture and the consultation of the government with the municipalities. I suggest to him that if he examines the facts of the situation, including those leading up to Bill 98 and Bill 49 he would find any greater degree of consultation and faith with the municipalities is largely a myth.

In fact, the lack of consultation and the action of the Treasurer of this province was almost insulting in the procedures leading up to this bill.

I have a statement before me which was given by the Treasurer of Ontario on April 15, 1977. I won’t read it all, but it says: “At the PMLC meeting on March 11, I indicated that cabinet would be considering a paper outlining some of the major issues concerning a rewriting of all or part of the Municipal Elections Act. Cabinet has now concluded its discussion and consideration on some of these major issues and I am now able to report to you cabinet’s decisions on the following proposals: Election date -- ”

They intend to change it from the first Monday of December to the third Monday of November. They talk about the mandatory second advanced poll. The provisions with regard to when the newly elected councils take office, was to remain the same. One item after another pertaining to the forthcoming Municipal Elections Act had been determined.

The significance of this, Mr. Speaker, is this document was released on April 15, but the report of AMO-AMCTO, the committee which was set up to study and make recommendations to the government, was not released until some time in July. Before that committee had a chance to finish its deliberations, the Minister of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs brought in a white paper to state what was going to be done with regard to municipal elections. I say that isn’t exactly playing the game with the municipalities in this province.

Let me read what they said in that report pertaining to this. This is the report which is dated July 1977, “Final Municipal Elections Report” prepared by a joint AMO-AMCTO committee on municipal elections. I might point out there was no preliminary report to this one either which he could have based his decision on, although I will say, of course, there were members of TEIGA on that particular committee and therefore he had an idea of what was going on.

But this is what it said, and I’m quoting from this committee report: “Before the committee could present its recommendation, however, the Hon. W. D. McKeough announced the following proposal to the April 15, 1977, meeting of PMLC.”

Then it gives a table with all of the dates for all of the procedures that are going to take place in the municipal elections for next year. Then right under that table -- this I quote again from this report: “The joint committee feels it is unfortunate that the ministry did not wait as had been previously indicated for the recommendations of the committee before announcing the above time table.” Shades, I say, of the breaking of the Edmonton commitment and breaking faith once again with the municipalities. I have here the document called “Background” for September 1977. Let me quote from that about the feeling of this committee. It says that Ellen Kerr, a chairman of this committee, which was investigating the Municipal Elections Act and was to make reports, “expressed disappointment about the proposed change in election date; that the announcement was made prior to the ministry receiving the committee’s report and was disappointed, too, by the lack of consultation with regard to Bill 49.”

She advised that AMO would be submitting a further report on the terms of office. Mrs. Kerr highlighted the major points of AMO-AMTCO report and noted that the committee had considered the following item, but had not made recommendations.

In case there is any doubt left in anybody’s mind about this consultative process, let me quote once again from the response of the joint AMO-AMCTO committee on municipal elections to Bill 49, an Act respecting Municipal Elections. This is dated August 1977 and contains this comment: “The committee is concerned, however, that the provincial government did not consult with the committee prior to the introduction of the bill.”

That is a statement from the committee that was appointed to consider the Municipal Elections Act. You know why this was done? I am sure the members on this side of the House know why the Treasurer released his statement on April 15. It was because two weeks later they were going to announce an election and he wanted to show the people of this province, particularly municipal people, that he was going to do something in this field -- at least, led them to believe so. He was willing to upstage the committee and bring in a report, subsequently a bill, without having the advice of the committee which was a major committee in this province to deal with the matter of municipal elections.

I say that is a shameful way to treat the municipalities and their organizations in this province. The facts are, of course, that that committee was composed largely of staff people in the municipalities. Once he had presented them with a fait accompli, their main objective then was somehow or other to make this work rather than openly explore other avenues and that is one of the reasons that we have an insufficient bill before this House today.

The improvements that appear in Bill 98 over Bill 49 were made only after the Treasurer was badgered by AMO and the PMLC; this is all on record. Bill 49 took a number of backward steps. They have moved back to the position where the clerk had to make the casting vote in case of a tie in an election. In 1972 they decided it was good policy and the municipal people agreed with him that it should be done by law, but they moved backwards in Bill 49. In Bill 49, they increased the lame duck period of council between election time and the time that they assumed office.

They had a provision there where the poll clerk had to be moved up to be the DRO, if for any reason the DRO could not act on election day. After badgering by the municipal associations, they changed some of these provisions in Bill 98 which we have before us.


The Treasurer even admits in one crucial area in his speech to AMO last August 23: “Since the change in the municipal election date to the third Monday of November was announced, I’ve been getting two clear messages from individuals and municipalities alike. Either a change of two to three weeks is not enough, or there should be no change in the election date because it increases the lame duck period between election day and the time at which a newly elected council assumes office.” If he hadn’t proceeded without the advice of the AMO-AMCTO committee, he wouldn’t have found himself in that kind of position.

We are going to support Bill 98 on second reading, firstly because it does make some small measure of improvement in some areas. But more important, because we want to get it to committee stage where we may hope to make some major reforms. I say here very sincerely, very frankly, it is our hope the government and the official opposition will give thoughtful consideration to our proposals.

We believe any new Municipal Elections Act should accomplish three things in principle. It should maximize the opportunity of everyone to vote. It should maximize the opportunity for persons to be candidates, to campaign, to have a quality of opportunity of election. And it should maximize the efficiency in elections; and the timing of the election and assumption of office should optimize the functioning of council. I doubt if anybody would disagree with those principles, but I ask all members of this House to consider the amendments that come before this House in light of those three principles.

For instance, if we want to maximize the opportunity to vote, we have it at a time of the year when the weather is reasonably good. It’s easy to say people should go out and vote in the cold weather. They’re not as apt to. Not quite as many will go out if the weather is bad than if it’s good. Certainly in the middle of October the weather is much better than it is in the middle of November or in the first part of December.

We maximize the opportunity of getting people to vote if we make it easy for them to get on the voter’s list. Again having hours and procedures on election day which accommodate the voters to the maximum degree maximizes the opportunity to vote. I believe the two-year term being continued, which we will support in the bill, again gives a greater accountability to the public and therefore is beneficial in the democratic system. Certainly we maximize the opportunity of people to vote if they have time off, by law, to exercise their franchise, and we will be proposing these kinds of things.

We maximize the opportunity for persons to be candidates and to campaign and to have equality of opportunity of election where we have nomination procedures which make it easy for them to become a candidate. It’s why we oppose, and I think it’s true perhaps of all parties in this House, the deposit system, where people have to put up $100 or $200 or whatever the case might be.

The time of year again affects the campaign and earlier in the year, in October, is a much better time to campaign than later.

I’m sure many people in this House have had some experience in campaigning in bad weather. Yon knock on the door. Somebody opens the door. It’s cold there, it’s just opened a crack and they make it very clear they don’t want you to stand there letting in that cold, damp air. So it is much easier to campaign in the good weather.

The length of the campaign also has a bearing and we think the three weeks proposed by the government and carried on is a reasonable length of time. We also say with very real force there should be a limitation on expenses and there should be disclosure, if there’s going to be any form of equality between candidates, even candidates with equal merit, if they are going to have some equal chance of being elected.

We suggest the maximum efficiency in elections, in the timing of elections and the acceptance of office, can be accomplished by the 45-day election period which is much better than the 63 to 70 days as proposed by the government.

Assuming office quickly after the election and well prior to the project planning and budgetary rush of January, February and March, will help toward the efficient operation of local government.

So, in all, we say our amendments will maximize opportunities to vote, for persons to be candidates, and maximize the efficiency of municipal operation as far as voting time and procedures can go in that area.

We therefore ask for very serious consideration of our proposals, particularly, and I say this to our friends on the right, because we’ve got a whole bill before us now, not just an amending bill, and we may not have this opportunity again for two or three or five or even 10 years. We should grasp the opportunity to make the major beneficial changes we can at the present time. By judicially mixing the procedures of the old Municipal Act and the provincial Election Act we can make vast improvements over and above what we have in Bill 98 before us now.

I want to deal in general terms with some of the particular proposals which are necessary to carry out the foregoing principles. I think everyone would agree the election date is central to reform. A close second is the early assumption of office. As was mentioned by the member for Waterloo North, this bill is probably before us because of the storm on election day and the day previous to election in December 1974. That provided the incentive for the government and for the municipal organizations to start examining election dates and other election procedures. I think I can rightly say there is as yet, no consensus as to what the election date should be but our examination, and it has been done in some depth, indicates, firstly, Thursday is the best day of the week; secondly, mid-October is the best time of the year; thirdly, council should assume office on November 1; and fourthly, the fiscal year should remain as it is, from January 1 to December 31.

Let me deal briefly with why we think Thursday is the best election day. First of all, it conforms to the provincial date of the election. I want to point out that there was a committee that sat in this House which made recommendations on the provincial Election Act and they picked Thursday. If you look at the reasons for picking Thursday, they are as valid for municipal elections as they are for provincial elections.

They said: “Days on the weekend are not advisable because many people go away and, more and more, Monday is also becoming part of a long weekend for too many people. Therefore, they should stay away from the weekends.”

I won’t go into all of the reasons but they recommended Thursday. By law now, provincial elections must be held on Thursday. Not just for the purposes of conformity but because of the sound reasons that determine that date for provincial elections, we think that municipal elections should also be held on a Thursday.

It gives working days for both election officials and candidates immediately prior to election date. At present you have two dead days, Saturday and Sunday, before Monday’s election day. If a candidate wants to get in touch with the clerk or an election official, they can’t do so. There are always things that come up and as a person who has participated in 16 municipal elections, or something of that nature, I can tell you that it always happens. On Thursday you have the opportunity of dates prior to that to iron out any problems, get any information that may be required for the efficient conduct of the election.

I’ve already mentioned that it gets away from Monday. That’s not just because sometimes it’s a long weekend but also because sometimes Monday is a holiday. Inevitably, election day under the procedures in Bill 98 will fall on Armistice Day, and I’m sure the members would agree that will happen that the second Monday in November is someday going to be Armistice Day. Then you have to move that date, with all the confusion that it entails, if the government makes it Thursday it does not have to shift that day around to other days. So, for these reasons, we suggest that Thursday is the best day of the week for an election. I would just point out to my colleagues on the other side this was also determined by the Conservative government of this province, when they were dealing with the matter of provincial elections.

We have also looked very closely at election procedures, and the desirable time of the year to hold the municipal elections. We have decided it should be 45 days after Labour Day. Some members may note that this is slightly different to the press release which I put out early this fall, which called for the election day to be on the Thursday following the second Monday. There are three reasons why I changed that very slightly.

First, it gives a better opportunity for university students and others in post-secondary education to get on the normal voters’ list enabling them to vote in the municipal elections.

Second, it gets away from some of the procedures which otherwise would have fallen on Thanksgiving Day.

Third, and most important, it gives a uniform time from the period when the procedures start, which is Labour Day, to election day. It gives a constant 45 days to set up procedures, which can be followed consistently from one year to the next. The proposals in Bill 98, of course, will cause a variation of 63 to 70 days and they cannot follow from one year to the next with the same consistency that you could if it were a regular period of time.


The middle of October is a good time of the year first of all, because weather-wise it will not inhibit the election. I suggest this is important, particularly to the northern municipalities in this province. The members may say there’s not much difference in southern Ontario between the second Monday in November and October 16 to 22. Those of them who have had some experience in the north, and I haven’t had as much as many of my colleagues here, will know that by the second Monday in November we can have pretty bitter weather that can inhibit the turnout of people at an election.

Mr. Roy: Speak for your area. In Ottawa, it is always nice. It is just like Camelot.

Mr. Foulds: But chances are better there.

Mr. Swart: It’s rather significant that the provincial government, the government of this province, in the last 50 years has only called one election which was later than the end of October. Only one election and that was on November 22.

Mr. Ruston: Last week you wanted one December 24.

Mr. Warner: That was a matter of principle.

Mr. Swart: So there is some realization among the government itself that November and December are not good election months.

Mr. Haggerty: Tell us the date, Mel.

Mr. Swart: It should also be noted that among the other provinces in this nation, four of them have October dates, and six of them are October or earlier. Those four which have the October dates are Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Once again one can say in those three western provinces the weather gets pretty rotten in November and December. So it does in northern Ontario.

Mr. Roy: No, not at all.

Mr. Swart: We should give the same consideration to our northerners as the people of Manitoba and Saskatchewan and Alberta give to their residents in easing their getting to the polls on election day.

Mr. Foulds: Right on. Very sensible comment.

Mr. Swart: Secondly, by providing that election day --

Mr. Roy: And finally? No?

Mr. Swart: -- shall be held in October, again I point out, that will be between October 16 and 22, it gives the opportunity for a new council to get budget and project preparation done ahead of the fiscal year. As a person who has spent some 21 years on municipal council, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Roy: Who is that?

Mr. Haggerty: That is too long.

Mr. Pope: Resign.

Mr. Ruston: I think you should have stayed there, personally.

Mr. Swart: -- I am conscious of the value of that early planning both for projects and for budgets. But, Mr. Speaker you don’t need to take my word for it. This year there was tabled --

Mr. Ruston: Tried to get out of there.

Mr. Swart: -- a report of the royal commission on Metropolitan Toronto. Everyone knows who the commissioner there was, the former Premier of this province.

Mr. Havrot: Great man.

Mr. Swart: Let me quote what he says on this item: “The planning of the major expenditure programs of local public bodies begins well in advance of the beginning of the fiscal year. Ongoing expenditure programs continue, regardless of fiscal years or election dates, in municipalities the same way continuity prevails at federal and provincial levels during elections.

“In the present situation, it’s typical for budget discussions to continue into the new fiscal year and final mill rates are often not struck until May. As a result, the flexibility of councils in setting budgets is reduced because nearly half the money is spent before final budget allocations can be made.

“Provincial grant levels are a major element in this uncertainty because they have usually been announced in the provincial budget in April, four months into the municipal fiscal year. Early announcement of provincial grant levels relieved this problem in 1976 for 1977. But with the present municipal election date, date of assumption of office, and fiscal year end, it is inevitable that budgets and mill rates will not be established until well into the fiscal year that follows an election.”

Mr. Haggerty: What good is an October election, Mel?

Mr. Swart: It gives the opportunity of taking office on the first of November.

Mr. Havrot: Now that answered that question.

Mr. Pope: What about the enumerators?

Mr. Swart: “If the election date is changed to a time earlier in the autumn, the opportunity will exist to improve the capability of councils and school boards to make an earlier start on their budgets than is now possible in election years. This could be accomplished by changing the date of the assumption of office to two weeks after the new election date and leaving the fiscal year unchanged. Thus the elected representatives could be in office planning and budgeting for at least two months before the beginning of the fiscal year.”

And recommendation 53 states: “The date for municipal elections in Metropolitan Toronto be advanced to the second week of October with councils assuming office exactly two weeks later, the municipal fiscal year to remain unchanged.” I suggest that is very similar to what this party is proposing in the amendments which will come up some time this evening.

If we think that recommendation made by the former Premier of this province is an aberration then let me read the recommendation made by a former controller in the city of Toronto, Mr. William Archer, who did the report on the Niagara region. He says this: “There are more valid reasons than the weather, the proximity to the holidays and the separation of political advertisements from the pre-Christmas sale ads, for changing the election date. The commission recommends that the municipal election date should be changed to the first Thursday after the second Monday in October. The newly-elected council would take office on November 1 and hold its first council meeting in the subsequent week.

“The November 1 date for the new council to assume its responsibilities was selected to give this new council an opportunity to meet with the staff; form its committees; and begin the detailed preparation and examination of the financial budget and allocations for the following fiscal year.

“An additional advantage of having councils begin their terms on November 1 involves the regional councils.” And there is some significance in what he says here. “The important position of regional chairman would be determined by mid-November, not by mid-January. In mid-January 1977 three regional chairmen in Ontario were elected for the first time, necessitating other changes in the composition of the councils.

“The new council would thus be able to give the approvals for financing and the physical work to be undertaken during the following year and get the paperwork cleared away in time to take full advantage of good weather in the spring. This would achieve more benefit than a longer term of office.”

He says: “In Canada construction work is normally planned to start in the spring and to finish before the snow flies in the fall. In off-election years most of the budget work and planning is now done in November-December in order to get construction work started as soon as possible in the spring. Following an election, an earlier budget start would be a great advantage. Advance financial planning could be done every year.”

I won’t read the members the rest of it pertaining to that, except that he concludes by saying: “The whole object of the program recommended here is to facilitate the election process to make it easier for people to vote and to allow the new council to get down to real work as soon as possible after it is elected. At least two months are necessary to plan adequately for new programs in the new fiscal year.”

I suggest that the comments in both of those studies make very eminent sense.

Mr. Bradley: But not in other areas, do you agree?

Mr. Swart: It may come as a surprise to the member for St. Catharines and the member for Erie, but both of them live in regional Niagara.

Mr. Haggerty: You know what happened when you listened to Professor Mayo on regional government.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, order.

Mr. Roy: Let him finish.

Mr. Havrot: Be nice now. If you can’t say anything nice, be quiet.

Mr. Swart: Even the Treasurer has intimated all along that he would like to see an earlier date; that he is pushing for an earlier time.

Mr. Foulds: Where is the minister?

Mr. Swart: I am rather interested in the comments made by the parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer in his brief introductory remarks, and I would just like to quote almost identical ones from the Treasurer: “We have been able to adapt the election process to the earlier date without any deleterious effect on essential procedures. At this time, we believe this change is the earliest possible within the constraints posed by these procedures.”

We don’t simply accept that, and perhaps we can even go back a few years to prove that that statement really didn’t stand up. Back in 1972, when the Municipal Elections Act was being discussed at that time, my colleague from Ottawa Centre made a specific recommendation that the election date should be moved ahead substantially.

At that time Mr. Arthur Meen said this -- and I’m just giving his concluding remarks: “If you add up all these periods of time” -- for the various procedures leading up to election day -- “plus a time for advance poll, you wind up with the first Monday of December as the first practical time. So, if we do the enumeration, beginning in September, the only way in which we will be able to advance the date of polling, the actual election date, to a date earlier than the first Monday in December, say, for example, the first Monday in November, would be to start the enumeration process one month earlier.” Then he goes on to talk about disadvantages of doing the enumeration in the summertime.

I just say to my colleagues across the House that if this statement was taken for gospel at that time, and we find out now that it is fundamentally wrong, how can we not be equally sure that the statement he makes here is just as wrong as this statement was back in 1972? The facts are that it is. The election date can be moved ahead, and fairly easily.

I would also like to read what the joint committee on the Municipal Elections Act had to say about this in the report which was tabled in July. They say this: “The joint committee agreed that October has often been referred to as a preferable month in which to hold municipal elections but has, however, realized that there are timing problems which make November elections more practical ... The committee was agreed that the solution to these problems may be found if either the timing or method of enumerating were altered.” That’s exactly what we intend to do in our amendments.

I have already mentioned that we feel that a uniform time for the procedures to be carried out is preferable to the 63 to 70 days as is proposed by the Treasurer in Bill 98.

I should also point out that if we are concerned about keeping the interest of the electorate, and thus having them vote on election day, that a shorter election period does command greater interest. It is now so long between the time of enumeration, the time the candidates are nominated and the time they’re elected, that the people forget there’s tin election on. A shorter, snappier election certainly commands more interest. In the period we propose there is, of course, a much better period of campaigning for the candidates.

For all of these reasons we think the mid-October date for local elections, with assumption of office on November 1, is far superior to the second Monday in November as election day. It will certainly better meet the principles which I have outlined.

In fact there’s considerable support from municipalities for this mid-October date. They’ve been presented with a fait accompli by the government of this province. But if they had the opportunity to freely pass an opinion on the basis that elections were possible in mid-October, I suggest the majority of them would opt for October.


Many members will know that I sent out a letter and a press release about the New Democratic position on this matter. I got back a great number of letters, the majority of them in favour of the proposal. I am not suggesting for one moment this is a majority of municipalities in Ontario but the majority of the letters which I received, an amount of 30 to 40, did favour this proposal.

Let me read one or two. From the township of King: “Please find enclosed a copy of the resolution R13477.” I want to read the rest of that letter. “The council of the township of King does hereby support the proposal of the New Democratic Party for the municipal election date to be on the Thursday following the second Monday in October.” A copy of this resolution was sent to the Premier and the Treasurer of Ontario.

From the corporation of the town of Oakville: “We would advise that Oakville town council on October 3 endorsed the proposal contained in your circulated letter of September 20 dealing with the subject under reference,” which was the municipal election day.

From the town of Caledon: “Further to your directive of September 20, 1977, regarding the Municipal Elections Act and Bill 49, we wish to advise that the council for the corporation of the town of Caledon endorsed your stand with regard to amendments being made to the Municipal Elections Act.”

From Lion’s Head: “Your letter concerning the date for municipal elections was read to council at their October 13 meeting and they are in full support of your proposal for moving this date to the Thursday following the second Monday in October with the new council taking office November 1.

“The proposed date by Hon. Darcy McKeough of the second Monday in November could still prevent problems weather-wise, even in the southern part of the province and most certainly in the northern part, and the exercise of changing the date could be futile. In addition, the two-month period of a new council to get their toes wet, so to speak, before taking the plunge seems feasible.”

From the regional municipality of Durham by resolution: “that Mr. M. Swart, MPP, be advised that the regional municipality of Durham does not concur with the provincial government’s proposed change in the time of municipal elections and further have requested Hon. Darcy McKeough, Treasurer of Ontario, to amend section 11 of Bill 49 to advance polling date to an earlier date.”

Mr. Lewis: They should redraw the bill.

Mr. Swart: From the municipalities of Galway and Cavendish by motion: “that council support the amendments to the Municipal Act re municipal election dates as supported in an amendment proposal by Mr. Mel Swart calling for municipal elections to be held 37 days after Labour Day. Carried.”

Finally, I have a letter from the corporation of the township of Longlac. This is a rather significant one because it expresses a view which is held in the north. “Thank you for your letter of September 20 and the attached press release. Council of the township of Longlac has considered the contents of these documents and has directed me to write you in support of your proposal to move the election date as far forward as possible. In our area the weather difference between mid-October and mid-November is considerable and the former is certainly better for campaign and election conditions. This apparently, has not been taken into account by the government and it suggests that we have another example of legislation designed for southern Ontario on our hands. Our thanks for your concern in this matter and good wishes for success in your proposed amendment.”

Mr. Lewis: Where was that? Timmins?

Mr. Swart: That was the township of Longlac, northern Ontario.

Mr. Pope: Is that the only northern Ontario municipality that replied?

Mr. Swart: No, it is not.

Mr. Foulds: The member for Cochrane South had better get in touch with his riding.

Mr. Swart: I also have letters from the region of Niagara, Markham, Goderich and many others including others in northern Ontario, which I will show to you, Mr. Speaker. I suggest we do have a lot of support from municipalities. If they are given the opportunity of a free choice, they would go to that date.

Let me say one other thing here and I will endeavour to be through by the 8 o’clock deadline. I will promise to endeavour to be through by then.

Mr. Lewis: Don’t feel pressed. There is lots of time.

Mr. Swart: We will present in our amendment and speaking to our amendment a step-by-step procedure, which I don’t think anyone in this House can deny will be workable, for starting the enumeration the day after Labour Day in having the election between October 18 and October 22.

Mr. Lewis: Excellent.

Mr. Swart: In fact, I go so far as to say that the timing and the technique used in those proposals are substantially superior, less complex with less severe deadlines than what Bill 98 now proposes. I will be going through that procedure in the committee stage.

I just want to say the enumeration procedures we will be proposing will be what the Ontario government uses in the Election Act of Ontario. Re-enumeration, or special enumeration will enhance the ease of getting people on the voter’s list who may have been left off. We will be suggesting the posting of the preliminary voters’ list, which will be the enumerator’s list, by the Friday after the second Monday in September and it will be posted in these polling subdivisions, as it is done provincially, so people can see whether their names are, in fact, on the voters’ list and will have the opportunity of getting them on. We will be having re-enumeration and courts of revision up to 13 days before the polling day rather than the 17 days provided in Bill 98. The advance poll will be on Thursday, one week prior to election day, which is preferable to the Saturday proposed in the legislation.

All of us who went through the last provincial election know many people were going away and they did not vote in that advance poll because it was held on the Saturday and they were leaving on the Friday evening. It is much better to have the advance poll on a weekday rather than as a compulsory poll on the weekend.

We will be going along with the government in having nomination day three weeks prior to election day. We also think it’s necessary to continue the opportunity of depositing nomination papers in advance of the final nomination day. I know there have been some requests from some municipal people there only be the one day. We think it’s important there be other days, so they can deposit them ahead of time.

We will be supporting the continuation of elections every two years, because as I’ve already said it gives greater accountability. We will be supporting the proposal which you have changed, that the clerk will conduct a lot, if there is any equality of votes. We’ll also give equality in the final section to the French. I think there was a Freudian slip in there which indicates French is a secondary language and we will be moving a slight amendment to give that some form of equality. We’ll also be moving there be a supplementary nomination day. I can’t understand why the government didn’t pick that up. Municipalities now sometimes have to hold a full second election because they don’t get enough people nominated to fill the offices on the regulation nomination day.

Mr. Haggerty: Don’t have much faith in council.

Mr. Swart: They could very well have nomination day three days later and just carry on with the normal procedures saving all that cost to the municipalities and we will be so proposing.

We’ll also be proposing the polls be open from 9 am. to 11 a.m. and we will provide in our amendment for submissive legislation, limiting campaign expenditures and requiring disclosure. I say as forcefully as I can, we need this municipally even more than we do provincially or federally. There are no political parties to finance the candidates at the municipal level.

Mr. Lewis: Great pity.

Mr. Swart: I like it that way and I think most people here do. But when you have a large municipality like Toronto, where are the funds going to come from to pay the campaign expenses of a serious candidate?

Mr. Foulds: The Tories subsidize their candidates.

Mr. Swart: A person who has a private source, or who has the opportunity to get it, certainly has a much better chance of winning the election. Ultimately, we want to go much further with an election expenses Act.

This measure will encourage candidates and I personally know of several people in Thorold and Welland who decided not to run because of the cost of the municipal election -- quite a number of people over the years.

In conclusion let me say that we in this party are taking this bill seriously. Again I say it’s deplorable that the Minister of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs doesn’t take it seriously. He hasn’t even been here in more than two years when municipal matters have been before this House. It’s true to say that he considers municipal affairs in the order of his title: first Treasurer, then Minister of Economics, then Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. That ought to make him third but it doesn’t, because he gives priority to intergovernmental affairs between the province and the federal government. I say it’s time that there was somebody in this House giving more than their fourth-place attention to municipal affairs.

This bill can be a vehicle for enhancing democracy at the local level. With only 30 to 55 per cent of people voting, this Legislature must do what it can to increase participation.

Our proposed changes will, I believe, in some small measure accomplish this. Quite frankly, where we’ve had to weigh and balance ease of public involvement with some inconvenience to election officials, we have favoured the ease of public involvement. Without exception, our amendments will maximize opportunity to vote, to be serious candidates for office and to provide efficiency in carrying out responsibilities at the local government level.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I believe the member for Fort William is next. Do you need more than two minutes?

Mr. Hennessy: No, I think I can say in two minutes what he said in an hour.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Then I’ll recognize the member for Fort William.

Mr. Foulds: It took the member for Fort William more than two minutes to ask a question this afternoon.

Mr. Hennessy: It’s an excellent bill. I think, coming from the north, I would know just as much about the north as this gentleman, who’s probably never been there. All the municipalities up there were in favour of having the date moved up. The second week in November is very satisfactory.

An hon. member: No, it’s not.

Mr. Hennessy: I received a lot of requests from the municipalities in that area.

Mr. Warner: Prove it.

Mr. Hennessy: It would not be a lame duck council to some extent by getting elected and assuming office as soon as possible. Many times when you were elected and had to wait six to eight weeks nothing could be done and nothing could be voted on. Everybody took that as a crutch, more or less, not to do anything.

It was a tough decision to make. I firmly support the ministry’s request to move the date up and I think the gentleman showed a great courtesy for the next speaker.

The House recessed at 5:58 p.m.