The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have just a very brief statement. I am pleased to inform the Legislature that Panasonic of Canada is announcing today its decision to proceed with two building projects that will cost several millions of dollars and provide new job opportunities. I am personally pleased that Mr. Lew Shoskes, vice-president of Panasonic of Canada, has stated in his announcement today that our investment and trade mission to Japan last fall was influential in bringing about the expansion program. It was my pleasure to meet with officials of the parent company when we were in Japan last fall, at which time we emphasized our confidence in the Canadian economy and the many benefits offered by our own province.
Panasonic has purchased a 10-acre site in Mississauga -- I thought it might have been Brampton but it’s Mississauga -- where the company will build a new Canadian headquarters. Completion of the headquarters and adjoining warehouse, estimated to cost about $3 million, is expected late this year or early in 1979. Company officials suggest that further expansion could double the facilities that are being announced today.
In addition to the new headquarters, Panasonic Industries Canada, the Etobicoke manufacturing operation, has just completed an addition to its plant and is now considering an additional 50,000-foot expansion. In addition to the many jobs these undertakings will provide to the construction industry, Panasonic is hopeful that it can expand its own work force in the near future.
I believe Panasonic’s announcement today is a reminder to all of us that Ontario has reason for its confidence in our ability to maintain and attract investment that will stimulate our overall economy and provide employment opportunities. I believe it also shows the type of benefit we have come to expect from our investment in trade and tourism missions.
It is difficult to put a price tag on the value of these missions but we know they have resulted in many millions of dollars in investment and sales which can only help our employment situation. For example, from a mission to Iran last year, an Ontario company dealing in forest products catalogued sales of $2 million with a further estimated order of $3.5 million for 1979. On that same mission, a manufacturing company reported sales of $1.5 million. On a similar type of mission covering Brazil and Argentina, another company reported initial orders of over $1 million.
During our mission last fall, members of the Ontario group met with executives of the Japan Automotive Parts Industry Association and, as a direct result of this, the association sent to Ontario a delegation of 63 members who are currently exploring the possibility of working relationships with Canadian automotive parts manufacturers.
We are already aware of more than $14 million in sales made by companies who sent representatives on the various trade missions during 1977 alone. We have every reason to believe these business relationships will continue, and indeed increase, in the future. That has certainly been the trend since we began these missions some years ago. We are very proud of our successes, as they show very clearly the reason for our optimism and confidence in this province and in the capacity of its people to compete in the world marketplace.
COUNCIL FOR TROUBLED CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, since this really is the answer to a question, but assumes the proportions of a statement, I will give it now with your approval.
Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) asked me a question about a Mr. Peter Wiseman and the Council for Troubled Youth and Children. I would like to reply and tell him that when the children’s services division of the Ministry of Community and Social Services was established last July, this section assumed many of the functions handled during the previous two years by the Council for Troubled Children and Youth.
This council had served its purpose extremely well. However, once the consolidation of children’s services had been completed, there was no longer a necessity for it to continue in the form in which it had been constituted. The council was disbanded last September, and Mr. Peter Wiseman, who had been seconded to the Social Development secretariat as chairman of the council, returned to the special education branch of the Ministry of Education.
Following the formation of the children’s services branch, we were most anxious to establish a close working relationship between the division and the Ministry of Education, Because of the valuable experience and the wealth of knowledge he had gained in his work with the council, and at the request of the officials in the children’s services branch, Mr. Wiseman was immediately assigned the role of liaison officer between the new division and my ministry. In addition, he is also continuing to co-ordinate our ministry activities with respect to educational agreements between school boards and government-approved care and treatment facilities for troubled children.
During the past few months, some issues have arisen in the area of children’s services which involve more than two ministries. It became apparent that there was still a need for some form of continuing mechanism to ensure interministerial co-operation and liaison. In response to this need, an interministerial committee on children’s services was appointed in December 1977. In view of his previous experience on the council, Mr. Wiseman was asked to chair the committee this year on a part-time basis in addition to the other responsibilities that he has, which I have already mentioned. During 1978, Mr. Wiseman and the members of the committee will report directly to the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch).
In addition to the chairman, the committee includes regular membership at the senior staff level from the Ministry of Education in the person of Dr. Gordon Bergman; from the Ministry of Community and Social Services by Mr. John Anderson and Dr. Clive Chamberlain, and from the Ministry of Health by Mr. Don Treasdale. Other members have been assigned on an ad hoc basis from the ministries of the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, Correctional Services, Colleges and Universities, and the Justice and Social Development secretariats.
The principal terms of reference for the next year include the following: 1. To undertake specific tasks related to children’s services, at the direction of the Provincial Secretary for Social Development and cabinet committees; 2. To promote conjoint planning and to provide a focal point at the provincial level for co-ordination and liaison among all ministries in matters pertaining to policies for children’s services; 3. To provide an inter- ministerial forum for information sharing and discussion of plans and proposals of each ministry as they relate to children’s services; 4. To consider the interface effects of policy and program proposals designed by individual ministries and to make recommendations regarding a co-ordinated approach to their implementation; 5. To encourage effective coordination and co-operation in the delivery of the total spectrum of children’s services at the community level.
I would like further to assure the Leader of the Opposition that all the information gathered and the records made by the council during the past two years have been made available or given to Judge George Thomson and his staff in the children’s services division.
With regard to the questionnaire referred to yesterday, it was developed two years ago as a means of gathering information requested by the members of the council concerning the variety of programs and services available to emotionally disturbed children. The data were collected and made available as a reference document for the use of the council members only. In a few cases, respondents requested that some of the information remain confidential. The data collected were not destroyed but in fact were made available to the children’s services division. However, it is information that this division will of necessity need to update regularly. I understand they are involved at the present time in developing a comprehensive update survey for this purpose,
I might also add that some of the data from the original council survey were released in the form of a directory of facilities for troubled children and youth, which I’m sure my friend has seen; it has been a public document. The children’s services division has taken over the responsibility for maintaining an inventory of these facilities and the production of further editions of the directory,
That forms my answer to the questions which the Leader of the Opposition raised and, in checking Hansard, I find that it conforms almost completely to the way I answered him yesterday in regard to this question.
Mr. S. Smith: Absolutely not.
COUNCIL FOR TROUBLED CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Education: In view of the fact that in his answer he says the council was wound up in September 1977, as I indicated, can he explain why the gentleman in question, Mr. Wiseman, is still listed in the 1978 directory as chairman of that precise council? More importantly, can he answer the question I asked yesterday as to why we have not seen a report from that council since July 1976 --
Mr. Lewis: Why is he in the telephone book? Why is he in the telephone book at all?
Mr. Renwick: He should ask the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson).
Mr. S. Smith: -- and with regard to the matter of the information from the questionnaire of all the children’s services, which he says is in the hands of ComSoc, will he admit that apart from the directory with the address and so on, which is a public document, all the other information he claims needs to be confidential is not, in fact, being shown to members of this House and, furthermore, does not at present exist?
Hon. Mr. Wells: First of all, dealing with the last question, the other information does exist and it is available and in the hands of Judge Thomson and the members in Community and Social Services. My friend should know the answers to all this. I think it should be very clearly stated that one researcher -- I think a Miss Opper -- has talked to Mr. Wiseman and he has informed her of all these things. Why the member persists in twisting these things around in this House, I do not know. But she has talked to Mr. Wiseman personally. Indeed, yesterday or at some past time, he informed her of all the information that I have indicated today in the House. Why my friend will not believe what Mr. Wiseman tells to his people, I don’t know.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: To make sure we can all believe that those data exist, why will the minister not table them in this House -- the data from the survey of children’s facilities, taken under that council, which we have reason to believe are not, in fact, available and in the hands of certain people in ComSoc? If he has them, why doesn’t he let us see them? What’s so confidential about them?
Hon. Mr. Wells: As I recall yesterday, one of the member’s colleagues was talking about the confidentiality of other government information concerning student loans.
Mr. Reid: That’s income tax.
Mr. S. Smith: Income tax.
Hon. Mr. Wells: This information that was collected impinges, in some cases, upon children and the records of institutions concerned with them --
Mr. S. Smith: That’s really nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and was given to us on the basis that it was confidential. I can assure my friend that the information exists. It was taken and collected on the basis that it would be for the use of the council for troubled children and there is really no useful purpose that can be served by tabling it in the House. I suggest that my friend ask my colleague, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton), if he, in fact, has the in- formation.
Mr. Roy: He’s not here.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The vital part of the in- formation --
Mr. S. Smith: No, that’s not the vital part.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- for this part and for the public is this document which will be updated and continue to be updated. If my friend has any particular part of the information that he would like to know about, if he would specifically ask me about it I would perhaps see if it’s possible to get that information. But the total document was collected on the basis that it would not be made public. Some of the information was given to us from the institutions on the basis that it would remain confidential. I think he, above all, he who’s always talking about protecting the confidentiality of personal information, would understand and respect that.
Mr. Conway: You sound like Tom Cossitt.
Mrs. Campbell: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the Premier yesterday made such a plea for our trust in government, would the minister at least trust the rest of the members of the Legislature and perhaps let us see the questionnaire; or is it confidential too?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am sure a copy of the questionnaire that was used two years ago could be provided to the member. I think more pertinent perhaps would be the fact that she would want to talk to the Minister of Community and Social Services, who is now engaged in an updating process with a much more involved questionnaire in the same particular area in the ongoing work of the children’s services branch.
My friends don’t seem to understand that this whole process has led to very significant developments on this side in the provision of services to children.
Mr. Mancini: The minister doesn’t understand.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Rather than harping away and nitpicking at this, they should be concerned about the total process.
Mrs. Campbell: The minister doesn’t give us any information.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the Premier. In view of the fact that changes in legislation affecting polling subdivisions would have to be known in the very near future in order to be applied for as far as a municipal election in Metro Toronto would be concerned later this year, which I guess is scheduled for November 13, can the Premier tell us when his government’s policy on the Robarts report will be made known before this House?
Mr. Nixon: The present mayor will be available to run, I understand.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I understand the present mayor probably by that time will be sitting in a cabinet position in Ottawa, and I am only presuming that.
Mr. Conway: The Premier said the same about Pierre Benoit.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I said the same thing about a number of people for many years.
Mr. Foulds: The kiss of death.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have said the same thing about people opposite for a number of years, and it has proved to be correct.
Mr. O’Neil: You should hear what we say about you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know what you say about me in public. I also know what you say in private.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the Premier address himself to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I certainly will, Mr. Speaker. I will address myself to the question immediately.
Mr. Makarchuk: What is it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: We will have a statement on this matter at the appropriate time.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since the Premier and his Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) are already on record as rejecting the boundary proposals made by the Robarts royal commission on Metro Toronto, can we assume that certain other major recommendations are still being seriously considered? Can the Premier give us some indication of when we can expect a statement regarding the rest of the Robarts report so that it can, if necessary, be implemented for the coming election with enough lead time for people to prepare their campaigns, their financing and their decisions as to whether they are going to run? What is the point in delaying at least on that aspect of the Robarts report?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The Leader of the Opposition has indicated that I, along with the Treasurer, have made a decision. In fact, it was a cabinet decision with respect to boundaries, which has been made public. I would gather from the question, it is a decision with which he perhaps disagrees and his caucus really would prefer to have seen some boundaries.
Mr. S. Smith: The Premier knows we agree with it. Don’t be funny.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Then why doesn’t the Leader of the Opposition say he agrees with it?
Mr. S. Smith: We have already agreed with it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There are a number of other important recommendations in that report.
Mr. Nixon: The Premier is the one who has been announcing he is not implementing the recommendations of Mr. Robarts.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Some of them are really quite complex in nature and require a great deal of assessment by the government, and this assessment is taking place. As I said in answer to the first question, we will have some statement of policy on this matter at the appropriate time.
Mr. Conway: After the next election.
Mr. Warner: Supplementary in two parts: First of all, can the Premier explain what it is that takes him so long and the government so long to come forward with the necessary legislation? Secondly, in line with the budget that we are going to see tonight, would it not make good sense to bring forward that recommendation from the report that calls for the 75 per cent level of funding for the public health units in Metro Toronto, so that it would be in keeping with the budget and the people in Metro Toronto public health units would know what kind of funding to expect?
Mr. Havrot: Resign.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the people of Metropolitan Toronto already know what level of funding they are to expect on the one issue.
With respect to the first part of the two questions the hon. member asked, we received the report some time ago. I am sure the hon. member would be the first one to say, if we introduced legislation that didn’t really suit his own state of mind, that we hadn’t spent long enough at it.
Mr. Nixon: He thinks you should resign.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We just want to make sure that when we bring a policy or possible legislation before this House it will be so thoroughly done that the members opposite will vote unanimously in favour of it. They want us to do it the right way, and we are attempting to do that.
Mr. Foulds: Like your own unanimity over the cottage lot sales.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: I’m not used to this.
LAYOFF OF NICKEL WORKERS
Mr. Martel: A question of the Premier: Because the government announced its intention not to act on the first report of the select committee considering the Inco and Falconbridge layoffs within hours of that report being tabled, can the Premier indicate which recommendations his government intends to accept from the second report, all of which recommendations deal with a long-term solution for a one-industry community? Which of those is his government going to accept?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, that report is being very carefully assessed now by the appropriate ministries.
I should explain -- without infringing on the rules of the House but so the members of the gallery who are visiting us today would understand that enthusiastic outburst of applause from all members of this House -- that I think this is the first time the hon. member has asked a question as House leader for his party. We not only recognize that, we recognize the three-piece blue suit and the fact that he probably wishes he had been a leadership candidate in view of the performance to date.
Mr. Martel: I might say that the opportunity presented itself to be a candidate and I bypassed it. My ego wasn’t that big.
Mr. Ruston: Oh, I don’t know about that.
Mr. S. Smith: What does that say about the other three?
Mr. Lawlor: I don’t know if that was a good thing to say or not
Mr. Martel: It was a good thing to say. It reflects on what --
Mr. Lewis: I think I am going to take over now!
Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. member have a supplementary?
Mr. Martel: There are those who need leadership, Mr. Speaker; it does them good.
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you just ask your question?
Mr. Lewis: Yes, get to it.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary: Is the government prepared by the way of grants, loans or tax incentives to encourage or assist in the establishment of a mining equipment manufacturing industry in Sudbury, because we have a debt in Canada of about $750 million a year, I think, because of imports of that kind, an expanded mining and research development at Laurentian related to a mining equipment manufacturing industry, and an auto parts plant in Sudbury which is being discussed at the federal level at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Davis: There are a number of recommendations in the report. The hon. member has referred to three ideas that he is presenting. We have looked at the whole question of import replacement for a period of time. It is something of a mystery to me why a province or a country that is so involved in the mining industry does not have a greater share in terms of the production of equipment for those particular operations.
Mr. Lewis: Bad government.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But, to answer in a specific way about those suggestions, I am sure the hon. member understands it is not as simplistic as saying ‘yes’. They have to be assessed carefully and we are in the process of doing it.
Mr. Martel: A final supplementary in view of the fact that the government is considering all these things: In the report we made mention of the government’s failure to respond somewhat earlier. Is the Premier aware that a document was prepared for the cabinet which stated, “Unless the markets improve rapidly in the near future, it is difficult to see how cuts in the Sudbury mine output can be avoided”? What action did the government take, when that action was presented to cabinet a year ago, to alleviate the crisis that has now struck the Sudbury area?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t recall any formal document. I’m not saying there wasn’t one. We get a lot of documents.
Mr. Martel: Here it is.
Mr. Wildman: From MNR.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It was certainly known, because the hon. member was one of those, along with two or three of his colleagues, who asked questions during that period of time about the possibility of the market situation being such that it might lead to the situation that has developed. So I think it is fair to state that while we had no specific knowledge, we certainly shared the same concern about the possibility.
I don’t think the situation then was any different from now in terms of that particular industry. This government has no control over the international marketplace, and the solution as suggested by the members opposite of the nationalization of that particular industry will not affect that situation.
What we’re looking for, as I’m sure the hon. member is, are other policies or concepts for the Sudbury basin. I spent some time yesterday discussing this matter with some people. The hon. member knows very well about the conference that is being convened in Sudbury in the early part of April. I told them I thought this was one of the more encouraging initiatives that had come forward for that community. It was my hope that my timetable would allow it, and I think it will. This would be on a very nonpartisan basis and that, I understand, is also the ground rule for the member for Sudbury East -- that he also will be a participant at that particular conference.
Mr. Martel: I hope the Premier brings a bagful of money when he comes to Sudbury. We could use it.
Mr. Havrot: We’ve had enough of that.
Mr. S. Smith: Is Kelly going too?
Mr. Roy: Bill Kelly has not finished his champagne yet.
Mr. Martel: To the Minister of Labour: The report on the status of women Crown employees, 1975-76, was tabled on October 29, 1976. Can the minister indicate when we can anticipate a followup report -- the 1976-77 report -- on the status of women Crown employees?
Hon. B. Stephenson: During the discussion of our estimates, the director in charge of that branch informed not only myself but also the committee that this report was in the process of being developed. I had anticipated it would be ready in January, Mr. Speaker. I gather it is not ready as yet, but I will try to find out a reasonably precise date so that I can inform the hon. member.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary: Is the delay in tabling the 1976-77 report due probably to the conclusions in the first one which probably haven’t changed some 18 months later? The first one stated: “The overall profile of men’s and women’s salaries has not changed substantially from 1975 ... When average salaries by sex and ministry are compared, men’s salaries exceed women’s salaries in every case, and the status quo situation on salaries was the same for occupational distribution using the service-wide statistics ... There was no significant change in the overall occupation distribution of these women in 1974-75 and 1975-76.”
Is the delay not occasioned because nothing has changed?
Hon. B. Stephenson: That certainly is not any valid reason for delay and I am sure it is not the reason for the delay. The information I have is that there are certain aspects of this report which show very marked improvement. It is my wish and hope that the hon. members will be somewhat pleased with what has happened in the intervening year.
Mr. McClellan: You have the report, do you?
Mr. Martel: Final supplementary: Can the minister indicate then, whether the gaps between wages for men and women in the ministries of Energy and Industry and Tourism have come somewhat closer together? That’s where the greatest gap was in the salary ranges.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I can’t give that factual information today because I don’t know, but it will be available to the hon. member as soon as the report is available.
Mr. Mancini: You should give back part of your minister’s salary.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh, I would be glad to. Give me yours as well.
Mr. Nixon: I have a question of the Minister of Health: Is he considering establishing a review of the Public Hospitals Act and the continuing problem of staff privileges for doctors as recommended by the Ombudsman in his letter to the minister in connection with the complaint by Dr. Claude MacDonald?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: No, Mr. Speaker, not at this time.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, is the minister prepared to comment on the Ombudsman’s letter, in which I understand the phrase “improper discrimination” was used in reference to the possibility of the actions of the appeal board that was established by this House? Is he not aware, also, of the fact that the Law Reform Commission, by letter to the minister, has indicated that it too feels it is a matter of importance and that it was suggesting a referral to it?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I haven’t seen the material from the Law Reform Commission, Mr. Speaker. I believe the letter from the Ombudsman just arrived in the last little while, but I will take a look at that in connection with the earlier letter.
Mr. Nixon: With your permission, Mr. Speaker, the minister is no doubt aware that the matter has been written up in the public press, which is where the information was made available to me. Does he recall, in this connection, as a member of the North York council some years ago, signing a report, to the Grange committee I believe, that was looking into this some years ago, calling for a policy with regard to open public hospitals, thus easing what has become a problem of staff appointments?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It depends when it was, but I don’t recall personally signing such a report. If the member is talking about such a report being signed by the clerk of the council of which I was a member, that’s a possibility, but --
Mr. Nixon: No, the minister voted in favour of it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I’d be glad to look at that too. That’s a long time ago.
Mr. di Santo: I have a question of the Premier. On November 17 the House passed a resolution calling for the exemption of a portion of property taxes for senior citizens and disabled persons; is the government now prepared to introduce the legislation to implement that resolution?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I recall the discussion, and I would just remind the hon. member of the commitment of the government, which is that we plan progressively to relieve our senior citizens of this province from the burden of real property taxation where there is need. I would remind the hon. member that, looking at averages, we have, in fact, through the tax credit system, relieved our senior citizens of a good portion of their real property tax. One can use varying percentages, but it is probably close to 50 per cent of their property tax at the present time. As a government we are committed to extending this beyond that, and we will continue to do so.
I must say, Mr. Speaker, we don’t intend to introduce a bill at this precise moment, but that is the policy to which this government is committed.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The resolution that we passed, and it was approved unanimously by this House, called for the elimination of the property taxes, the portion of the property taxes of education, for senior citizens and disabled people, and that was also a real promise in the Bramalea charter. Is the Premier saying he is dissociating himself from the vote that he made on that resolution?
Hon. Mr. Davis: All I am saying, very simply, is that it takes a period of time to accomplish these things. We set an objective --
Mr. Makarchuk: It started with George Drew.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and I would say, with respect to the educational portion, if one were to assume that roughly 50 per cent of the tax bill on residential property is for education, if one were to apply, as I think one could fairly --
Mr. Warner: Slowly, slowly; turtles climb trees faster.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- the amount now being paid to the tax credit system, that a good portion of the educational part of the senior citizens’ tax load is now being absorbed through the tax credit system.
Mr. Warner: We pass a resolution and then we back off.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary, to the Premier: Does he not realize that because the property tax credits have not been increased now for three years that in fact the increase in property taxation to senior citizens, those in the relatively low income group, has in fact increased more, percentage-wise, than to any other group in our society? Does he not think, because of this, that there should be some special concessions given to the senior citizens on the property tax?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Long before the hon. member became a member of this House the government recognized that with the introduction of the tax credit systems. It introduced property tax credits for our senior citizens, and my rough guess is that 68 per cent of our senior citizens are in fact receiving, by way of the property tax credit --
Mr. McClellan: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- an amount in excess of what they pay for the educational portion. Mr. Speaker, this government is committed and will move further than that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, the hon. member had better check his figures very carefully.
Mr. Swart: I have. The Premier should check his.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We are moving ahead with it and will continue to move ahead with it.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Given that the textile industry in Ontario now employs 60,000 people and 38,000 of these work in the primary textile industry which is crucial to eastern Ontario’s economy, and given that this industry is already suffering from serious problems in declining investments, low profit margins and the fact that Canada imported 60 per cent of its textiles and clothing in 1976 --
Mr. Hall: Question?
Mr. Sterling: -- and given that any cut in the tariff protection would further harm the industry and aggravate the unemployment situation in eastern Ontario --
Ms. Gigantes: What are you going to do?
Mr. Sterling: -- would the minister please indicate whether he will urge the federal government to press for exemption of the textile industry, both in the primary and secondary areas, from the current round of GATT negotiations?
Mr. Cunningham: I predict the answer is yes.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the ministry has been in continuing negotiations and discussions with the federal government as it relates to the negotiations involving the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and certainly one of the areas of concern has been the effect any changes would have on the textile industry. I might tell the hon. member and members of the House that tomorrow I will be in Ottawa to meet with four federal ministers, all of whom will be having some involvement in the GATT discussions, and that is one of the subjects we will be discussing with them, as to what sort of position they will be taking when the discussions get going again in Geneva.
Mr. Deans: Ottawa is having enough trouble, John, without you going down.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the Premier just announced today that Sanyo, or whoever it is, is putting up a warehousing operation in Bramalea or Mississauga which will provide employment for university graduates to load trucks, what is the minister going to do about ensuring that there are jobs in Canada in the electronics industry?
Mr. Speaker: That’s not a supplementary.
Mr. Martel: It’s a good question though.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I used to drive a truck.
Mr. Martel: What Saturday was that?
Hon. Mr. Davis: All summer.
PAPER MILL CONTROL ORDERS
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, in response to the questions of the hon. member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt) regarding the status of the ministry’s orders on the pulp and paper mills of Domtar Packaging Limited of Red Lake and Great Lakes Paper Company of Thunder Bay, I wish to advise that Great Lakes Paper Company has submitted a letter to the ministry prior to the March 1, 1978, deadline, in which it states that the closed cycle system on the new kraft mill has, in its opinion, been sufficiently successful to warrant proceeding with plans to install this system in the old kraft mill.
At present, the closed cycle system has not been totally closed because of technical problems still to be overcome. However, the information provided by the company suggests that, even at the present stage of incomplete closure, the effluent which might be expected from the two mills with this system installed would be at least equivalent to that which could be achieved in similar conventional mills with conventional secondary effluent treatment.
This information is being reviewed to ensure that the company’s achievement, in fact, demonstrates essential compliance with the terms of the requirement and direction. If ministry staff determines the company is not in compliance, then the order indicates the company would have to provide biological treatment for both A and B mills.
With regard to the order on Domtar Limited to install a mill sanitary sewage collection system and connect it to the municipal systems by March 1, 1978, this system has been installed and the connection to the municipal system was made on February 28, 1978. However, because of delays in constructing the municipal system, it has not been possible to make final internal connections which will cause the sewage to flow through the mill system into the municipal system. The municipality has advised the company that as soon as its consultant has the municipal treatment plant operating to its satisfaction, anticipated to be about March 15, it may start to complete the required internal mill connections.
Under the circumstances, the company is being required to complete all but two minor lateral connections within three weeks of advice from the municipality to proceed. The two minor lateral connections represent less than five per cent of the total wastes. These connections require outside excavations and permission has been given to delay them until ground conditions are more suitable, but not later than January 15, 1978. Domtar Packaging is in compliance with the requirement and direction.
Mr. Gaunt: I have a supplementary with respect to Great Lakes Paper in Thunder Bay. They were asked to submit a written report demonstrating that the Rapson-Reeves closed cycle water system would substantially free their discharge of any contaminants that would harm or would be likely to harm the quality of the receiving water. I presume from what the minister has said that they haven’t done that. All they’ve said is that the effluent is no worse than it would be with conventional systems.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Gaunt: What further steps beyond what the minister has said is the ministry going to take to make sure that this system does comply with the order?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, there is one paragraph here which says: “If the ministry staff determine that Great Lakes Paper Company Limited are not in compliance, then the order indicates that the company would have to provide biological treatment for both A and B mills.”
Mr. Foulds: With regard to the answer to the question raised about the Great Lakes mill, could the minister indicate exactly what technical difficulties the company has in meeting the requirements? Can he give us an assurance that we will not have our annual pollutant fish-kill on the Kaministikwia River this summer?
Hon. Mr. McCague: I can’t guarantee the second part of the question at this point. As far as the first part of the question is concerned I’ll get the technical data for the member at a later date.
Mr. Gaunt: I was wondering, Mr. Speaker, does this mean that the Rapson-Reeves system is not as effective in controlling pollution as was once thought?
An hon. member: He’ll check into it.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the staff are investigating this matter and will be checking on the compliance.
CABINET COMMITTEE ON CONFEDERATION
Mr. Roy: I have a question of the member for Cochrane North who is, as I read it here, the minister in charge of bilingualism in Ontario and in charge of chairing the cabinet committee on Confederation.
I would like to ask the minister, first of all, whether he is prepared to accept the suggestion made by my leader on this side of the House regarding establishing a select committee in this area? I think he heard his speech on this.
Mr. Hodgson: Not another one.
Mr. Roy: I’m sorry. I apologize if I woke up somebody over there. I didn’t want to do that.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s all right, Albert. We enjoy having you once a week.
Mr. Roy: Secondly, might the minister take us into his confidence and tell us what his cabinet committee on Confederation does, or what it has done so far?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: In answer to the first question, I think the hon. member will agree that presently we have several select committees and there’s quite a problem in select committees meeting when the House is sitting.
Mr. Conway: Land drainage is more important.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: I think the exchange of members going to Quebec is a very good one and I’m sure this should be encouraged. I don’t think much could be served by a select committee at this time.
Mr. Roy: You don’t?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: With reference to the second part of the member’s question, the cabinet committee met this morning with the Pepin-Robarts commission. That committee is very active. There has been, for instance, the Destiny Canada conference last June, that the hon. member is familiar with. That’s an example. There have been many initiatives taken by the cabinet committee in conjunction with the advisory committee.
Mr. Roy: May I ask the minister a supplementary, Mr. Speaker? How does he rate it in order of priority that he does not see fit to have a select committee of this nature at this time? How does he rate his priorities over there? Secondly, regarding the cabinet committee on Confederation, is he going to make statements occasionally to the House about what it’s doing, so that we on this side of the House can have some input in its discussions with other provinces so that we can be of assistance to the committee on this?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: In due course of time there will be a report on the cabinet committee.
Mr. Conway: Supplementary: has the cabinet committee on Confederation considered the remarks ascribed to the former Premier in yesterday’s Toronto Star, in which Mr. Robarts indicated that, like it or not, Ontario and presumably the Ontario government, under new arrangements within Confederation, will have to accept a markedly reduced role within the brokerage of Confederation politics? Has the minister seen those reports and has his committee considered them perhaps as late as this morning in conversations with the Pepin-Robarts group?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: I haven’t seen those reports.
OPP ROLE IN STRIKE
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Labour: Does she think it appropriate that the Ontario Provincial Police should be used by a private company to undermine and destroy the collective bargaining system?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would think that is what most of my legal friends would call a very leading question. I would really like to know the circumstances of the case which the hon. member is describing.
Mr. Lewis: Answer the question.
Mr. Deans: Can I assume the answer to that was yes?
Hon. B. Stephenson: No, the member can’t.
Mr. Deans: Now I will go on with a supplementary. Then does the minister think it appropriate that a private company, whether the name is Fleck or otherwise, should be allowed to use plain-clothes Provincial Police to come in to lecture the workers, who are attempting to get a first contract prior to their going on strike, about the possible consequences of their actions on the picket lines? What, if anything, will constitute illegality in the minds of the police?
Secondly, does she think that that company was acting in good faith when at 7 o’clock on the first morning of the strike it brought a busload of scabs across the picket line? Does she think it appropriate that the police should arrest the union representative who was attempting to speak to the bus driver and does she think it appropriate that the justice of the peace should refuse to give that union rep bail unless he signed an agreement to stay out of the township?
Hon. B. Stephenson: These are very interesting and intriguing allegations which I have not heard before. I shall be very pleased to investigate the matter and shall report to the House.
Mr. Lewis: She is just the Minister of Labour. Why should she have heard?
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr. Lewis: Why final?
Mr. Deans: Final supplementary: Can I ask the minister whether she believes --
Hon. B. Stephenson: I do not know whether what the member is saying is factual.
Mr. Deans: The minister wants to find out if it’s factual? Let me tell her it’s factual. At Fleck Manufacturing in the London area in Stephen township yesterday, plain-clothes Provincial Police arrested a staff rep who was speaking to a bus driver. How does the minister pretend to represent organized labour? She is a disgrace.
Mr. Makarchuk: It’s the deep South.
Hon. B. Stephenson: The hon. member is certainly entitled to his opinion about almost anything, including his opinion of me. I have not been informed of the so-called or alleged facts of this case. I should like to be so informed. Then I shall be very pleased to comment upon the situation.
An hon. member: The minister has no communication with her staff.
Mr. Pope: The member didn’t care to inform her.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s right
An hon. member: It is not up to us.
Mr. Lewis: Would you allow a supplementary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister has already indicated --
Mr. Deans: I want to find out what’s going on in this matter. Using plain-clothes policemen --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. minister has indicated she knows nothing about the allegation.
Mr. Speaker: She has taken the question as notice and perhaps when she replies that would be the appropriate time for supplementaries.
Mr. Lewis: I have a question which relates to this.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the hon. member for Scarborough West.
Mr. Lewis: I would like to ask the minister, can she explain to the Legislature, when an important international representative of a well-respected union in this province is arrested on a picket line at a plant in the province of Ontario and denied bail by a justice of the peace, and when the Ontario Provincial Police are involved in a series of incidents which are at best questionable, how it is humanly possible within her ministry that she as Minister of Labour wouldn’t know about it? What does it say about her ministry and its staff?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I think one of the major features of the Ministry of Labour is the good, wholesome and complete communication between the staff and the minister.
An hon. member: You’re too busy trying to run down Bill 70.
Hon. B. Stephenson: This is one of the areas in which I think the Ministry of Labour has exceeded what perhaps has been expected of governments in other jurisdictions.
I have to confess that I have not been personally informed of this. When I have, I shall be very pleased to respond.
Mr. Lewis: That’s unbelievable -- incredible. What’s more, he is a lovely staff rep, but it makes no sense at all. Al Seymour is one of the nicest union reps around.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
OHIP CLAIMS PROCEDURE
Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health in reference to the minister’s much appreciated statement in the House last week about the problems of a Dr. Takahashi, with OHIP and some of his patients.
With respect to the last part of that statement, the minister assured hon. members that as soon as the doctor in question submits his claims cards the patients will be reimbursed accordingly. Since it is very clear that there is little or no likelihood that there will be receipts, records or any material to allow for the proper processing of those cards and, therefore, according to this statement, there is no normal way to help those patients, several of whom are out of pocket now to the extent of several hundreds of dollars, is the minister contemplating any means by which those people -- assuming that does turn out to be the case -- might be reimbursed for their out-of-pocket loss?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Under the law, Mr. Speaker, we cannot make a payment from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan without substantiating material to support such a claim.
I am not as pessimistic as my friend would appear to be about the outcome of this. The matter goes before the college on March 13. A number of the patients have been in touch with my office and have indicated that in their view they don’t think the doctor in question is being malicious in any way but that perhaps it is just a case -- I don’t know how his office is organized or how he organizes himself, but the prognosis is a positive one.
At this point, I will wait for the results of the College of Physicians and Surgeons’ hearing in the anticipation that at some point in the not-too-distant future we will have substantiating material with which to justify processing the claims and to waive the normal six-month period.
Mr. Conway: Supplementary: In recognition of the serious time difficulties that have faced patients out of money -- out-of-pocket money in this case -- and going by the minister’s statement that in April 1977 this matter first came to the ministry’s attention, can the minister explain, to the best of his knowledge, what “the procedural problem” was that rendered the February 6 hearing essentially null and void. Does he know what that procedural problem was?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: To the best of my recollection, it had to do with the giving of notice; the proper time required for the giving of notice was not given and as a result it had to be put forward.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Labour: Is the minister aware of a situation at the A. G. Simpson plant in Scarborough, a heavy-metal stamping plant, where the ministry people conducted tests? They found the noise levels too high and ordered earphones for the workers as well as moving in mobile hearing testing equipment, but a good number of the employees, who happened to be provided by the overload company, have been refused the earphones for use in the plant. Why would the ministry people not insist -- inasmuch as they are working there, even though on a contract basis -- that they be covered under the same situation?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, any individual who is working in an area where the noise level is above that which is permitted, is supposed to be provided with the protective equipment, whether he or she is a contract person or full-time person.
Mr. Mackenzie: Would the minister then look into this particular situation and find out why they are being denied this kind of coverage? It is bad enough that people are used to circumvent full-time employment under this method, but they should certainly have the coverage in that situation.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE NEGOTIATIONS
Mr. Sweeney: A question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities having to do with the current negotiations with the community college teaching staff. Would the minister not agree that the 6,000 community college teachers who have not had a contract since August 1977 have a reasonable cause to be concerned by the action of the council of regents to introduce changes in the ground rules respecting workload and sick leave plans?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I would have to remind the member that the negotiations are strictly between the council of regents and the faculty association bargaining union, and I think the Act very clearly spells out that if anyone should comment -- particularly if he happens to be the Minister of Colleges and Universities -- on how those negotiations are going that, indeed, he would be in violation of the intent of the Act, if not the exact wording of the Act.
I recall once in Sudbury when I made what I thought a rather brief and not too heavy comment about those negotiations that I was severely criticized for doing so. With that background and that history, I think it would be wrong for me to indicate in a public forum how I feel or do not feel about how the negotiations are proceeding and whether or not the two sides are acting in the way the member suggests. I think, to put it very briefly, I guess, there is really no comment that’s appropriate for me to make at this time on those negotiations.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: Would the minister at least be prepared to support the call for an independent arbitrator on these two issues, hopefully to avoid a province-wide strike?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: The only thing I’d be prepared to support at this time is that the negotiations proceed precisely as the Act calls for them to proceed.
Mr. Bounsall: Supplementary: If my information is correct, of the five people on the council of regents negotiating committee two of them are from the ministry. Would the minister ensure that through those two officials at least and his influence with the other three members on that negotiating committee, a conclusion is reached in the negotiations as soon as possible, so that one is not ever contemplating in this province a strike of our community college teachers?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: No, I cannot assure the hon. member of a positive answer to his question.
Mr. Warner: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: That was the final supplementary.
Mr. Warner: I thought it was the first final supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: No, it was the final supplementary. The hon. member for Windsor-Sandwich with a new question.
Mr. Bounsall: A question of the Minister of the Environment: I might say at this time that I appreciate the minister’s communication that he sent to me indicating that Governor Milliken of Michigan will not relax the sulphur in fuel requirements or make any change on the transboundary pollution without involving the authorities of the Ministry of the Environment here in Ontario in public hearings. But is the minister aware of the International Joint Commission report released last week for the Windsor area, showing that there were increases in the maximum levels of certain air pollutants in Windsor as well as increases in the number of incidents of pollution in 1976, and that if the trend continues they can’t possibly meet the requirements and objectives set for the end of this year? Will the minister make sure that all requirements on standards are stringently enforced and that there will be in no way any relaxation of surveillance in the Windsor area?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Martel: That’s short. You don’t take much time, George.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary: In view of the IJC report that stated the quality of air in the Windsor area had decreased, could the minister explain why he said, in a letter that he sent to me dated March 1, 1978: “With respect to the area of Windsor opposite Zug Island, I believe it is important to recognize the very significant reductions in emissions realized in recent years by US industrial sources located on or near Zug Island. This reduction in emissions has been reflected in the air quality of west Windsor area, as monitored by my ministry’s monitoring network.”
In other words, he is saying that the quality of air has improved according to his government’s monitoring.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Cooke: I am asking why the IJC is saying one thing and his ministry is saying another thing?
Hon. Mr. Davis: IJC can be wrong.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea why IJC is saying what they are saying. I believe that our report is correct.
Mr. Martel: They have been known to be wrong before.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the Minister of Labour can inform the House, if the employment standards branch is going to continue to give out overtime permits in this time of high unemployment?
Secondly, has the employment standards branch done any surveys which could be given to the House and which would tell members how many more new jobs could be created if the overtime permits were curtailed somewhat?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, we have looked very carefully at overtime permits, and I would have to report that the granting of overtime permits relates specifically to those operations in which there is a seasonal or periodical demand for the products. Rather than hiring new staff to accommodate that seasonal change or the periodic change the employees in those establishments are given the option to work overtime.
It is not done, as the hon. member knows, without the agreement of the employees; they must agree to work overtime. No employee can be made to work overtime if he does not wish to.
We have looked at the possibility of reducing overtime in certain operations; I don’t know whether I can give the member factual information about those specific operations, but if we have I will be very glad to provide it.
Mr. Mancini: Supplementary question: Doesn’t the minister feel that at this time we need this type of factual information? Is the minister prepared to have the employment standards branch do a study so that we as legislators will know how many thousand new jobs could be created by curtailment of overtime? Doesn’t the minister think that is necessary now?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think there is probably sufficient information on hand to give a fairly reasonable estimate of the number of jobs which might be created under certain circumstances.
Mr. Mackenzie: This is a supplementary. Would the minister tell this House whether or not her answer applies to the situation at the Ford Motor Company plant in Oakville -- which we raised with her in the last session, and on which I am still awaiting a response to a couple of questions?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had responded to the hon. member’s questions. If I have not, I apologize. That information I shall provide for him.
Mr. B. Newman: A supplementary of the minister: Would the minister consider suggesting to the employer that he use, wherever possible, laid-off employees rather than giving the overtime to employees who are presently working the full week?
An hon. member: Why don’t you just do what they did at Inco?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would be very happy to suggest this strongly to employers, yes. I do not know whether they would accept my suggestion or not.
Mr. MacDonald: Don’t give them the overtime permit.
Mr. Philip: A question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Is the minister now prepared to admit what he refused to admit in response to my questions on December 5, that there has been a conflict between the policies of deregulation advocated by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), and those of regulation advocated by the minister himself and by the select committee on the highway transportation of goods? Would the minister now admit that Bill 21 is a clear indication that the policies of deregulation have won out in his cabinet; and would the minister take the honourable course of action, now that his policies have been repudiated by his cabinet and resign?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Philip: By way of supplementary, can the minister tell us how he can set up a select committee, with all of the expense that goes into that, and then go deliberately against the major thrust of that select committee’s recommendations, as he has done in Bill 21?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Are you all going to resign because your party said you shouldn’t raise the drinking age?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think we have gone at all against the major thrust of that report. The major recommendation of the select committee report confirms the necessity for a regulated trucking industry in the province of Ontario --
An hon. member: Except in the north.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- and I accept that recommendation and endorse it heartily. I do think, however, that there is some room for improvement in the regulating system that would allow some greater degree of flexibility in the industry, a greater opportunity for backhauls and the saving of empty movements and the saving of energy.
Mr. Philip: One last supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary.
Mr. Philip: Can the minister therefore assure the House that the deregulation advocated in Bill 21 is the last of the deregulations that his ministry will be advocating?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is certainly all the deregulation that I have in mind at this time -- or in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Martel: They are your regulations; we didn’t bring them in.
Hon. B. Stephenson: We’ve taken them out.
Mr. Martel: You’ve regulated everything to death.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I cannot, of course, give the hon. member a commitment that sometime in the distant future some other minister who may follow me won’t decide there should be more deregulation.
I would like to say also, Mr. Speaker that within the next few days I expect to be introducing further amendments to the Public Commercial Vehicles Act. I stated when I introduced Bill 21 that there would be a further package of amendments coming forward dealing with the enforcement recommendations of the report. I think when that is introduced it will reinforce the government’s intention to maintain regulation and to have a much more effective enforcement of the regulations.
Mr. Ruston: I have a brief question of the Premier. Since the leader of the Premier’s party in Ottawa has said if he is elected Prime Minister of Canada he would allow the opposition the right to review at least one or two departments of government each year and would allow the opposition to either increase or decrease that spending, would the Premier consider giving the opposition here the same privilege?
Hon. Mr. Davis: In technical terms the members opposite always have the option to reduce the expenditure of any ministry in government if they see fit --
Mr. S. Smith: Is that all Joe Clark meant?
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and if they are prepared to suffer the consequences that would emerge from such a decision.
Hon. Mr. Davis: However, Mr. Speaker, I think it’s fair to state, when you assess the procedures of the federal House and the procedures here, that in fact our ministries probably come in for a more intensive review -- far more open, with far more opportunities for questions and meaningful answers.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Four hundred and twenty hours.
Mr. S. Smith: And secret surveys of children’s services.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I recognize the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) doesn’t agree with that. I know of her great experience with the federal House and how the system works there, but my perception is that we have a much more open system here and a much greater opportunity for asking questions and really in assisting the ministers in the discharge of their responsibilities.
Mr. S. Smith: When you take over from Clark will he come here and take over from you?
Mr. Ruston: Supplementary to the Premier: I take it then he does not in fact believe in many of the things his leader in Ottawa says.
An hon. member: He didn’t say that.
Mr. S. Smith: He doesn’t think there is a leader in Ottawa.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, as I listen to some of the members opposite, I think that I am in greater support of our federal leader than those people want to be of theirs, depending on what the polls show from day to day.
Mr. Roy: Clark said the federal-provincial caucus was a bust, the Premier said it was great.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Ms. Gigantes: A question of the Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister table in the Legislature the analysis that led him to claim that 12 per cent of Ontario kids are involved in special education programs? In other words, will he tell us how many children are receiving --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I wish the hon. member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) would please be quiet and extend the same courtesy to other members that they extend to him when he is asking a question.
Ms. Gigantes: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In other words, I’d like the minister to tell us how many children are receiving how many minutes per week of special education programs, what kind of special education programs, and under the jurisdiction of which boards in Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I can tell the hon. member that about 248,000 students in this province are receiving some kind of program apart from what would be termed the normal school program. As for the other parts of her question I’ll be happy to get the answer. If she’d like it in a formal manner, it probably should be put on the order paper, but it will take a while to assemble that information.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: Is the minister suggesting to us that everything that is not included in what is called “the normal school program” constitutes special education?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’ll be happy to give the hon. member a breakdown on that.
Mr. Reid: I think she has had one already. I don’t think she needs any help.
Hon. Mr. Davis: She’s not alone.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Stuart will help her to recover from it anyway.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think most of the programs that vary from what would be termed “the normal school program” would be classified as special education. Certainly that includes exceptionalities of all descriptions, including programs for the gifted.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order before the orders of the day. On November 15, 1977, I tabled a question concerning the numbers of public relations and information officers in the Ontario government and Ontario Hydro, and the budget of each department engaged in information activities. On November 29, I was informed through an interim answer that the requested information would be available within 28 calendar days of that date.
The information concerning the government was only made available after I made several phone calls to the Chairman of Management Board’s office. I have not yet received the information concerning Ontario Hydro and neither answer has been tabled in this House. I would ask, Mr. Speaker, if you could give direction that the government follow the rules of the House.
Mr. Speaker: There’s nothing on the notice paper.
Mr. Reid: It was in the previous session.
Mr. Speaker: It wasn’t carried over into this session. Perhaps the member should avail himself of the opportunity of putting it on again.
Mr. Reid: I appreciate that advice, Mr. Speaker. Am I to understand then that questions that were on the order paper and were partially answered die automatically at the end of the session and all the government has to do is wait us out?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I think that’s an unfair comment. Certainly the answer to the first part of the question is, naturally, yes, but --
Mr. Reid: Why didn’t you just answer?
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- the rules with respect to the questions and the period of time during which there must be either interim or full answers still apply. The hon. member can only be actually making a comment about questions that must have been put on the order paper very late in that particular session, or else they would have been covered by the rule which provides for a specified period of time during which the answers must be tabled.
Mr. Reid: Why didn’t you just answer?
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the hon. House leader might confer with the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. Auld) and see whether he’s prepared to give the rest of that answer?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Yes.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Ms. Gigantes: I have a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker. As a member of the majority group in Ontario, I’d like to take this opportunity, seeing as how we won’t be sitting tomorrow in this Legislature, of wishing the members and guests in our galleries a happy International Women’s Day.
ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 and the interim answers to questions 1 and 6 standing on the notice paper.
Mr. Lewis: Not enough.
Mr. Breithaupt: Moving right along.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
INCOME TAX DISCOUNTERS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved second reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Discounting of Income Tax Refunds Act, 1977.
Mr. Breithaupt: I am pleased to rise in support of the second reading of this particular piece of legislation. The members had the benefit of the statement given by the hon. minister on February 28, at which time he outlined certain problems that have led to the necessity of this continuing legislation. In Bill 99, which we had before us in November 1977, I recall that some eight members of both opposition parties spoke in favour of the bill. The sentiments of the House, I think, were clear at that time that the particular problem which has existed and does at present exist was something that we as legislators felt was not in the best interests of the people of Ontario.
We are informed that the average discounting that has occurred is in the nature of some 40 per cent. In the statement the minister has made he has set out certain problems that I hope he will address himself to when he responds to the comments which members have made on second reading.
The first circumstance dealt with the matter of the Ottawa-Hull situation and I would appreciate hearing from the minister whether he believes he is going to be able to resolve that problem and just what recommendations had been made to the responsible federal ministers. He also has commented upon the Borrowers and Depositors Protection Act as a piece of proposed federal legislation. I would hope he would take the opportunity of advising not only his opposite number in Ottawa in the ministry but also the opposition leaders that we in Ontario would look forward to their co-operation to ensure that that legislation is passed, in the same manner we are working together in this Legislature to protect the people of the province.
Surely we have an opportunity to deal with the responsible officials there on both sides of the House of Commons so that their inability to proceed, or their inactivity for one reason or another, is clearly shown as something which we in this Legislature have no sympathy with.
The minister has said that the federal government should move to deal with this matter and we on this side of the House certainly agree with him.
You will be interested to know, Mr. Speaker, that even in the city of Kitchener this problem has arisen. It’s not only current in Metropolitan Toronto and in the downtown part of this city where we see the various signs up in shop windows and in areas that have been rented only for a few months. We have had the problem as well in the community, part of which I represent.
There was a lengthy interview and newspaper article in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record on March 2, dealing with a particular concern which had arisen. In this circumstance, a reporter went to one of these operations and was informed that he would be given about 50 per cent of the amount which would be coming back to him based upon a pro forma suggestion as to what he as an individual would be receiving as an income tax rebate.
When contacted the manager of that operation apparently denied that that was a practice. Of course, we could say that there might just have been some confusion in the circumstance and perhaps the person at the desk or in the shop was not fully aware of what the law was. However, I think all of us in the House would find that kind of explanation somewhat far-fetched.
It’s clear that there have been practices which have allowed persons to flourish in tax discount business. There have been clearly abuses of the intention of the legislation. It is certainly with all the support that we can muster that we are pleased to support the minister as he prepares to close these particular loopholes.
We understand, of course, that there are some persons who may require certain funds earlier than the tax machinery can provide them, as they have rebates which are forthcoming. However, to have a group of persons living off those requirements and discounting up to a 50 per cent figure is most distasteful. Indeed, I am pleased to see it is unacceptable not only to the minister and his colleagues but to, I hope, all members of the Legislature.
We are prepared to support this bill. I hope that it can be dealt with in all stages this afternoon, and as a result the procedures which have taken place can be stopped immediately. I hope that the bill when proclaimed can deal with this problem and avoid any further difficulties which many citizens are having as the current tax rebate time draws to a close.
We certainly will support the bill and we appreciate the opportunity that the minister has given to bring this legislation in quickly and to have it proceeded with promptly.
Mr. Davison: We in the New Democratic Party will be supporting this Bill 10, An Act to amend the Discounting of Income Tax Refunds Act. The minister will recall that for some long time, for some 14 months before the introduction of this legislation, our party asked the government, over and over, time and time again, to introduce such legislation. When November 8 brought about the minister’s introduction of the original Bill 99, we thanked the minister at that time and supported his efforts to bring this situation under some kind of control.
At many times during the last 14 months, my colleagues in the NDP have put forward reason after reason, case after case, and example after example, of why this kind of legislation is needed in Ontario and why these kind of practices had to be put under some kind of control. Anybody who is terribly interested can take the time and look back in Hansard and they will find it all on the record of this House on many, many occasions. The minister will be happy to know that I won’t put them all back on the record again this afternoon. I just want to speak briefly on the bill.
Mr. Foulds: Don’t encourage us.
Mr. Davison: Bill 10 simply, and I hope effectively, closes the major loophole that few of us -- certainly not I and the minister -- perceived at the time of the introduction and passing of Bill 99. That was the fact that many of these companies continue along their course of ripping off the consumers, this time by using the route of the promissory note, and they have done so quite effectively.
There are two cases in my riding which have come to my attention. In one, the individual’s tax return was calculated to be $350 but the company offered only $72 in what we call instant cash. The remainder of the money was taken up either by a promissory note or by the charges for filling up the income tax form. Another example I have is for a return of $300 where the person was offered $200 in instant cash.
This amendment will close that hole and for that we should be thankful. It may be that in the next months or next year, the companies will find new ways of circumventing the principle of the legislation that this House has put forward. If that’s so then we will simply have to adjust the Bill once more to meet that new reality. Hopefully it won’t happen; hopefully we will have closed the loopholes today when this bill is given third reading. But if it does, we will have to adjust the bill to meet that new reality or perhaps to consider at some point in time finding the way to outlaw this practice as we now know it.
In any event, while I find that it took some long time to convince the government of the need to bring about this kind of legislation, once we had done so the government moved quickly and effectively through the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and with very good consultation with the opposition members in the House to bring about this legislation. I would like to offer my personal thanks to both the government and to the minister for their actions in that regard.
Mr. B. Newman: I rise to support Bill 10, An Act to amend the Discounting of Income Tax Refunds Act. The minister, in his visit to the city of Windsor on February 17, did make mention to the assembled gathering that he had contemplated introducing this legislation. We were very pleased when, shortly after his promise, legislation was actually introduced.
One of the things that does worry me is that this may not stop the practice. Living as we do in a border community, I just wonder if some of the unscrupulous income tax individuals would not simply transfer their operations to the city of Detroit and be able to carry on that same type of operation from the city of Detroit. There would be no problem for them in bringing the mail over to Windsor and then sending it through to Ottawa for the income tax refund and then having the refund sent to some postal box in the city of Windsor. I’m just wondering if there is some way of preventing an operation like that from ever taking hold.
Mr. Renwick: I want to speak very briefly on the bill. I was not in the assembly at the time Bill 99 was debated and passed, but I do feel, on the initiative made by my colleague, that the government did move to close up this particular fraudulent operation that’s been carried on.
I do want to say to the minister that if he watches the kind of bill that is before us now, he’s going to see, over a period of time, a constant battle between the administration and those who are misusing this method of carrying on a financial business; and there will always be loopholes. There is no way in which he can close this kind of operation because it operates at a level at which it is not possible for the ministry ever to cope with the administrative problems of enforcement. This kind of so-called white-collar fraudulent operation which is legitimized by Bill 99 is a trap into which the government has walked because it believed there was a social need for this kind of discounting operation.
I want to say to the minister that I think he should be engaged in drafting legislation to outlaw, in the province of Ontario, this particular kind of operation.
I want to make a suggestion; I did make it in a short note to the minister a few days ago: There is a kind of a fundamental principle of constitutional law that all institutions in Ontario, regardless of their origin -- federal, provincial or extraterritorial -- must comply with laws of general application. I think, therefore, it would be possible to outlaw -- except through recognized financial institutions -- such a practice by any citizen who has a liquidated claim in money against the government or who has money or a debt owing by the government, which, in fact, is a liquidated claim; that all those transactions cannot be discounted by anybody in the province except through a recognized financial institution.
When you select 95 per cent, Mr. Speaker, you can be certain that the void in the law which permitted this operation to take place was not gauged upon making that kind of minimal financial reward out of the system which has evolved. But I do think it is quite possible, through the good offices of the government, to persuade the chartered banks that they can, in fact engage in this kind of discounting operation if for no other reason than to provide an additional banking service to people who require this kind of assistance. We also know that it may well be that we would see an operation through the banks which would be of some value. I don’t know whether or not the loan and trust corporations would be able to engage in it, nor do I know whether or not the finance companies would be able to engage in it as a legitimate operation; but it is not beyond the wit of this government to devise legislation to outlaw this kind of operation and to provide for it being carried on only through recognized financial institutions.
I want to speak to one other point only. I listened to the minister’s statement when he introduced Bill 10. I was particularly interested in the comment he made with respect to the border problem. He used, as an example, the border between the province of Ontario and Quebec. The member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) has referred to the border between Ontario and the state of Michigan.
It does seem to me, certainly, so far as the province of Quebec is concerned, that it would be possible for the minister to deal directly with his counterpart in the government of Quebec -- perhaps with the co-operation of the federal government if that’s necessary, but in any event on a mutual basis with his counterpart in Quebec -- to work out a reciprocal enforcement operation that would be effective in preventing the kind of across-the-river operation that I understand the minister referred to in his statement to the House.
Perhaps the same kind of reciprocal arrangements could be made with the state of Michigan, which is an alert state, and certainly with some other states, such as the state of New York bordering on the province of Ontario, because I am quite certain that the same social problem exists in all of those jurisdictions.
I do not think it is beyond the wit of the ministry both to devise a bill to outlaw this form of transaction and, by co-operation with the adjoining states and with the adjoining provinces, to make the enforcement effective.
If the minister is going to pursue this route, the route set out in Bill 99, I cannot criticize the bill, and the amendment to close this particular gap is one method of doing it. But I would say to the minister that if there continue to be gaps appearing, and ways to circumvent, and difficulties in enforcement of the intention of this bill, he should be prepared, without any undue delay, to move to outlaw them. If they want to hire constitutional lawyers to argue the case, that’s fine. The minister can always find his own lawyers to counter it or he can refer its constitutionality under the Constitutional Questions Act and find out whether or not, in fact, he can outlaw it.
Mr. Breithaupt: In his reply could the minister also perhaps enlighten the House as to what publicity he intends to give so that the people of the province will know that this legislation is clearly going to be in place and that the 95 per cent figure is a common expectation throughout the province?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the member for Kitchener has raised some direct questions which I would like to deal with directly in view of the fact that I will be visiting his fair city this Thursday.
Mr. Haggerty: Don’t spoil it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I am not going to check on the tax discounters there -- and I now have their address in front of me, I might add -- but to do other good works in that fair city. I would like to address immediately the efforts on the BDPA. Already I have used the occasion of a dinner meeting I arranged with Mr. Allmand to impress upon him our desire that the BDPA either go forward or die so that the various provinces will know whether we have to move into some of those voids or that the voids will be filled immediately.
I would be happy to express, certainly to the leaders of the two opposition parties in Ottawa, our desire to see that that bill comes forward quickly, although I suspect Mr. Allmand and others have other plans in the meantime which may prohibit the BDPA from coming on stream certainly for this tax season.
I think it’s fair to anticipate that the new government next fall will proceed with the BDPA with our encouragement. It may be a better Act, in fact.
In any case, we have impressed that urgency on them. In fact, next week I will have the privilege of attending my first federal-provincial meeting of consumer ministers. At that time the matter of both the standing of the BDPA -- is it going forward, is it dying and what changes are being made? -- will be discussed, I might add, at our initiative.
Secondly, we will have some informal talks with Mr. Allmand once again about some other ways in which we may grapple with the Ottawa-Hull situation in the meantime. As well, I will avail myself of that opportunity to discuss with my counterpart from Quebec the very matters that the member for Riverdale raised with regard to seeing if some joint co-operation can’t be worked out with Quebec. All that will be done literally nine days from today when we all assemble in the great city of Victoria to chat about consumer matters for a couple of days.
Mr. Haggerty: The Victoria charter.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Hamilton Centre has quite properly noted the haste with which we moved last fall, for which we don’t apologize. I suppose I am not a clever enough lawyer to have anticipated all the devious moves that the tax discounters have thought of to circumvent the legislation that was passed with the co-operation of all parties last fall. Perhaps if the member for Riverdale had been with us at that time, he would have been clever enough to have spotted them.
I might add that obviously the member for Riverdale did miss a couple of matters when he went over Hansard last fall --
Mr. Foulds: Not many.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- or else he would have realized that the initiative came from this government, not from his colleague from Hamilton Centre. However, in the interests of time we won’t cover that territory.
Mr. Foulds: That’s uncalled for.
Mr. Warner: It was pressure here, and the minister knows it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We’ll discuss it when I’m back with the next series of amendments.
Mr. Bounsall: You sounded like your father.
Mr. Warner: He may not be complimented.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. In any case, actually, I don’t terribly disagree with the remarks made by the member for Riverdale. I do have some very real concern that I am either going to have to come back here and find a way to constitutionally outlaw the tax discounters, or I’m going to be back here regularly closing some more loopholes that they have found. I am quite aware of that problem.
I would hope that federal legislation would solve the problem in such a fashion that that might not be necessary. Unless they go the route of outlawing them, then I might be back here at a later time with such legislation. I have some hope, however. The tax discounters are in business in other provinces. In fact, the head office of the major operator is in Alberta. If we can just make it difficult enough for them to operate in Ontario, perhaps they will pack up and go somewhere else without our having to outlaw them. They have hired a very fancy, excellent constitutional lawyer. They have put us on notice --
Mr. Renwick: He used to be with the government.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is correct.
Mr. Kerrio: Who’s the fancy lawyer?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It shows how excellent his credentials are, and we will no doubt be hearing from him in the next period of time. I think we should be fair to the House, however. As the lawyers here will attest, passing this today does not mean they are going to close up tomorrow. As soon as we go out and start laying the charges, the people are going to presume themselves innocent, as they ought to and as they are entitled to do under our laws, and continue to operate through this tax season until the trials and appeals that are certainly going to occur are finished. They are going to be in business through this tax season, unfortunately.
What we are going to do -- and this addresses some of the remarks made latterly by the member for Kitchener -- is immediately upon passage of this bill to get out in the field and make sure we cover each and every tax discounter that is in the field. Where we catch the slightest violation of our legislation, we are going to lay charges immediately.
I would hope the laying of those charges will go a long way towards alerting the public of this province to the existence of the legislation. I also would have hoped some of the sections of Bill 99, which we passed last fall, would at least have been followed by the tax discounters who were staying in business and which required some notices to be posted -- I believe it is in section 8 of that legislation -- in the offices of the tax discounters. They didn’t obey that.
In any case, prior to spending any great amount of government funds on advertisements in newspapers and so on, we are going to go the route of laying charges immediately, pressing them rather severely and hoping the ultimate publicity does it.
Mr. Nixon: You are not going to go into all the weeklies?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: A few, on special request. Where we have closed an LCBO outlet, we will advertise in that local weekly.
Mr. Nixon: Good. You have got to keep up that flow of money.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In any case, I want to express my appreciation to the members of the assembly for their support of this initiative. I can in turn assure the members of the assembly we are going to prosecute immediately and quickly. If there are new loopholes developed, we are going to be back here. I hope it doesn’t happen, but we are going to chase them and chase them until effectively they are going to stick to the 95 per cent requirement or they are go- to get out of this province.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
FAMILY LAW REFORM ACT
House in committee of the whole on Bill 59, An Act to reform the Law respecting Property Rights and Support Obligations between Married Persons and in other Family Relationships.
Hon. Mr. Welch: If it would be in order, perhaps the committee could record some agreement with respect to how we would handle the consideration and final determination of proposed amendments under the bill. It was hoped that, indeed, following the detailed discussion in committee we could stack all the necessary votes with respect to amendments and have a vote on these amendments at the end of the consideration of the bill.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that following the detailed discussion in committee all the necessary votes with respect to amendments be stacked and a vote be taken on these amendments at the end of the consideration of the bill.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Are there any comments or amendments on this bill?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Chairman, before proceeding to amendments, let me just congratulate the chairman of the justice committee and the members -- all parties -- who worked so hard in committee on this legislation, and record my appreciation for their efforts and the extent to which we in the Ministry of the Attorney General benefited from their efforts.
On section 1:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Ms. Gigantes moves that section 1, clause f, be amended by adding thereto the following subclause: “(iv) is a widower or a widow.”
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Chairman, as you will recall, this Legislature in the fall dealt with two other bills in the family law reform package which the government has introduced. The amendment I am making is an amendment that changes Bill 59 so as to permit a widow or a widower to receive the same treatment under the legislation now before us as would a separated person or a divorced person. As Bill 59 now stands, this is not true. In effect, there is an element of discrimination within the bill because of that.
It is my feeling that Bill 60, which was the bill which we considered and passed earlier in this session, does not adequately cover the situation of a widow or a widower, either in the intestate or the testate situation. I will attempt to explain that, Mr. Chairman. In Bill 60, section 46, there were provisions that a widow or widower, where a will was for an amount less than $75,000, would be eligible for the total amount of the will; a property of $75,000. Where a property was more than $75,000, the widow or widower would be eligible to receive $75,000 plus a fraction -- depending on the number of children -- of the value of the rest of the property.
Our feeling is that in Bill 59 the person who is a widow or a widower is being discriminated against if the value of the property involved in the will is more, for example, in the assets section, than $150,000, If, for example, 20 years ago a couple purchased a home which has increased in value until the year 1978 when the home is now worth more than $150,000, under this bill the surviving spouse would not be automatically eligible to the matrimonial home, if this bill is taken in conjunction with Bill 60. We feel this must be changed and this is one reason for the amendment.
This is the case without a will, the first case I mentioned. In the second case, where there is a will, the surviving spouse can apply for support under the terms of Bill 59, but there is no right under Bill 59 for a sharing of assets in the case of a widow or a widower. This discrimination leaves us in the kind of insane situation where Bill 59 would provide more protection to a spouse who has separated or divorced than it would provide to a widow or a widower.
We will be dealing later with a second amendment to section 4 which follows very much from the same kind of principle as is being introduced in this amendment. We feel strongly that this clause added to section 1 is necessary if we wish to remove discrimination against married people whose marriage is terminated due to death.
Mrs. Campbell: I would like to join in the debate with reference to this proposed amendment. I have to say that from the start it has given me one of my greatest problems with this legislation. There is no doubt that the bill which is referred to as the succession law reform bill carries out a completely different approach to the marriage and to the property rights from the theme of the bill which is before us now.
The problem that I have, of course, is if we add this particular clause to this bill, what is the effect then on the scheme of the other legislation which is also already in law? I have a very real concern that in the succession law reform bill we have faltered along, and I, as much as anyone, am responsible because I was in this House when it passed. We did falter along with the old principle basically of the Dependants’ Relief Act. We haven’t really changed the principle.
It is true that under this particular legislation, on an application, a judge may award a division of property -- he may do, or she may do, many things -- but nevertheless it would have to be by way of an application for support, as I say, in the philosophy of the Dependants’ Relief Act. I would have hoped that someone in the ministry could have seen the difficulties with these two bills, and the different approach. It seems to me that the economic partnership to which we address ourselves in the bill before us is a matter which arises ab initio and not at the end of a marriage broken by death.
I personally would ask the Attorney General if he would look at this particularly strange combination. I would, I must confess, rather see him make a commitment to this House to bring forward an amendment to the Succession Law Reform Act which would bring it into the economic partnership philosophy of this bill, because I really don’t know what effect this amendment would have, particularly in the face of an intestacy.
I want to accept the amendment, I really do. But I am at a loss as to how that can achieve anything other than confusion and chaos as it relates to the Succession Law Reform Act. I suppose at this point, and having in mind that we will be voting later, I would like to hear from the Attorney General. I am sure he would acknowledge that there are two basic things which have a certain dichotomy as they relate to the economic partnership ideology of this bill. Therefore, at this point I am simply going to ask him to comment and then I can make my decisions at a later time.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the amendment because I think it is very important that we do establish this principle that a survivor of a marriage should be on the same basis as a person who is involved in a marriage breakup. The legislation as it is before us clearly discriminates against spouses whose marriage is dissolved by death and it puts them in a worse position in some cases than under the existing law, since dower is abolished --
Mrs. Campbell: Oh, don’t mention dower.
Ms. Bryden: -- and also puts them in a worse position than people who suffer a marriage breakup.
There seems to be a feeling abroad that this failure to have the present law apply in the case of death was possibly an oversight on the part of the government. But it is really quite clear, if you look at the original pamphlet which the government brought out at the time it brought out its position paper on the legislation, that it never at any time intended to cover the case of death.
The pamphlet states, “The family asset system would apply only as long as both husband and wife are living and only when their marriage breaks down.” Also, the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General, in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen replying to some other letters written on the legislation, stated quite clearly -- the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) -- that, “It was never intended that the Family Law Reform Act deal with the disposal of assets on death.”
I don’t know what the motivation of the government was in not including dissolution on death in order to avoid the discriminatory situation that has arisen. It must be that they thought that Bill 60, which is now law, the Succession Law Reform Act, covered the situation adequately, but we have discovered that it does not in any sense of the word cover the situation adequately or provide equality between people who suffer marriage breakup and people whose marriage ends on death.
Therefore, I think we must amend one or the other Act and I really think that the suggestion of the member for St. George that we amend the Succession Law Reform Act is incorrect in that it is really replacing the old Dependants’ Relief Act and providing for the situation where there is intestacy and things of that sort. What it provides is not equivalent to what is provided under Bill 59, and therefore it seems to me that Bill is the bill that must be amended to produce this equality.
It is true that spouses who feel they have not got their equal share of the assets can go to court, but I submit that they should not have to go to court to establish that, because under Bill 59 it is provided that in cases of marriage breakup the equal sharing of assets is automatic unless it is set aside by a court or by a marriage contract. We all know the expense of going to court, the long delays and the fact that in most cases it is the women who will be affected by this lack of provision in the law and that they will be expected then to use up some of their slim resources when they are the survivors of marriages in trying to establish what should be their right.
The preamble to Bill 59 says that this legislation recognizes that marriage is a partnership and recognizes the equality of the spouses. It seems to me that a marriage which ends in death must have that recognition attached to it if this government is going to indicate to the women of this province that it really believes in those principles in the preamble. It seems to me the failure to put in this clause that we are recommending will mean it does not really believe that marriage is a partnership and does not really believe the spouses should be treated as equals.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, if I may be permitted to concur with the Attorney General in his earlier comments about the work that’s been put into this legislation, for a period of two years now we’ve been discussing the bill and we’ve had submissions from a variety of groups. I think basically my comments are directed to the ministry and to all my colleagues on all sides of the House who have deliberately attempted to try to make the bill as workable and as balanced as possible. I think we’ve approached this basically on a non-partisan basis and hopefully this debate here in the House can continue in that fashion.
The proposed amendment arises because of the technicalities of the legislation that was part of the family law package. We passed legislation here in that package dealing with marriage. We passed legislation dealing with children. We passed legislation dealing with Bill 60, An Act to reform the Law respecting Succession to the Estates of Deceased Persons. As in each of these areas, this legislation was intended to deal with specific problems within a specific field.
I think my colleague from St. George has expressed our concern and our sympathy for the amendment but it is difficult to see how, if we are going to have a workable piece of legislation, we can possibly accept this amendment to this legislation. We must clear up what Bill 59 is about. I would say to the member for Carleton East, as I read it -- and somebody may correct me here -- even the question of spouse did not deal with people who are divorced.
In fact, spouse is intended to deal with people who are separated. That is the definition of spouse. This bill was intended to deal with a situation where there is a breakup and the parties are not divorced. It was not intended to deal with disposition on death as well. So that aspect of it certainly has to be cleared up.
As my colleague from St. George said, there is no objection surely to doing away with dowries. Britain, where dower originated, did away with dower back in 1925. Dower was a word that was used to give women in this province some expectation of having something, but when one got down to brass tacks and dollars and cents, in many cases dower didn’t mean very much. What is one-third of a life interest worth when one gets down to calculate it?
Mrs. Campbell: There is a mortgage.
Mr. Roy: Yes, and all the complications of that. But there can’t be any objection to that. I understand the purpose of the amendment but I look at Bill 60 and I ask the Attorney General whether it is not possible in section 69, of that bill, where the court is asked to look at various things, that one of the things the court could look at is the provision of the rights and obligations under Bill 59. An amendment might be included in the estates legislation. That’s where the amendment should go.
I put that to the Attorney General and maybe we could discuss that. I have sympathy with the fact that we have decided to proceed on a basis of the partnership of marriage and that one of the spouses could do by will indirectly what he or she could not do directly during the period of marriage. I was wondering whether that would be too offensive to the principles, and I understand one of the principles of devolution and of wills is that there must be freedom given through a will.
My concern basically is in the area where there is a will, by the way, not where there is an intestacy because the estates bill sufficiently deals with that. I wonder whether it is not possible to put in the estates Act some provision where the court looks at a variety of things. I am looking at section 69 which deals with all sorts of criteria that the court can look at. One of the things the court could look at could be the provisions of Bill 59 and the intentions that we have in that bill.
Even with as much sympathy as we have for the amendment, I would say to the previous speaker, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, that my colleague from St. George is right on when she says it would be difficult for us to deal with that particular amendment in this legislation. We have to look elsewhere.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I say at the outset that I am quite in sympathy with the motive behind the proposed amendment but, repeating what my friend, the member for Ottawa East has said, I agree with the member for St. George that this would not be the appropriate legislation in which to introduce such an amendment. In fact, if that were to be the case, it would require fundamental rewriting of the Succession Law Reform Act.
At the same time, I should hasten to add that the matter is much more complicated than what has been suggested. As members know, the freedom of testation is a very basic right and a basic principle in this province. We have to bear in mind that we are not only considering the surviving spouse; we’re considering the children and other beneficiaries.
For example, if I might present an example to indicate that the matter is somewhat more complicated than has been suggested: Last night I was speaking in Mississauga and there was some interest in relation to our deliberations today. A woman, a widow, approached me; she was very concerned about our legislation because when her husband died she inherited the home -- quite a valuable home in this particular case -- and she is very concerned with what risk she is undertaking in remarrying. What’s going to happen to that home if the marriage doesn’t work out? To what extent are her rights in relation to that home going to be affected?
As she quite properly pointed out, there are probably many more widows in the province living in similar circumstances, living in the matrimonial home, and who are concerned about the extent to which their property rights will be affected by this bill as well as the rights of the children and perhaps the children of the first marriage.
I only mention this illustration to indicate that one should not lightly support a principle that leads to a substantial interference with the testator’s rights, because there are going to be perhaps many other people adversely concerned.
Furthermore, I wonder to what extent there is a problem in this particular case. Obviously the issue is different when it arises as a result of a marriage breakdown as opposed to a death. For example, certain studies have been done in the judicial district of York in relation to matters related to the Dependants’ Relief Act. I can state the happy fact is that where spouses lived together until death has parted them, it’s in something less than one per cent of the cases that any issue has arisen in relation to Dependants’ Relief Act applications. Those happen to be the hard statistics that are available, at least in the largest county in the province.
I suggest that in this particular matter we are dealing with somewhat of a non-problem. The extent to which children, for example, could be adversely affected by this, and the concerns of the widow who spoke to me last night, I think must be given considerable weight in such a matter.
I would like to correct the member for Beaches-Woodbine and point out that the Dependants’ Relief Act does not necessarily require an application to court. In a case where a widow is deprived of any right in the house by reason of the will, and if an application went to court, the likelihood in those very small percentages of cases where this is a factor is that that the court would order that she at least have possession of the premises during her lifetime. But it need not go to court. As a matter of fact, the executors could settle the matter and it’s quite likely that that would be the result.
Although I am in great sympathy with the spirit behind the proposed amendment, I reiterate what has been stated: This is not the appropriate legislation. While I am quite prepared to consider any useful amendments to the Succession Law Reform Act in order to enshrine in that legislation the basic principle, that is supported on all sides of the House, namely the economic partnership of the marriage, I will do so, but at the same time I say to my friends across the aisle that we have worked very usefully together in the interests of the public and one has to be cautious about the extent to which we interfere with the testator’s right. In any event, that may be the subject for further discussion, but for the reasons I stated, it would be most unwise and not in the public interest to accept such an amendment.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if I might have some clarification. Does the Attorney General realize that in the Succession Law Reform Act there is a provision, which to me seems very sinister or capable of being sinister, and that is the right of a court to take into consideration not just the will, but any statement of the testator -- and I’m using that as the masculine term -- that may be made by way of a reason or explanation? Does the Attorney General really feel that that gives balance to this? The court has a unilateral statement which is not the subject of any cross-examination and this could have a very adverse effect on the right of the widow to bring forward any proposition of an economic partnership. Could the Attorney General comment on that provision?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m not sure that this is a place to comment on Bill 60.
Mrs. Campbell: Indeed it is.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I think the section that deals with including any statement in writing signed by the deceased --
Mrs. Campbell: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes. Obviously the deceased is not in a position to --
Mrs. Campbell: To be cross-examined.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, he’s not in the position to give evidence whereas the applicant is, so the court is faced with a written statement of the deceased, and the court can give that statement whatever weight it might choose to, which may be very little weight, and the rights of the deceased are really very limited just by reason of his or her absence, whereas the applicant is there and obviously that evidence is going to be given greater weight simply by reason of all the circumstances. But as I read all of the many subsections in relation to section 69, I think the court is invited to take in all possible circumstances that will assist the court in arriving at a just result.
Again, I did not come here today prepared to debate that particular section of the Succession Law Reform Act but I’d be quite prepared to discuss it with the hon. member opposite as we consider whether or not any amendments should be made to this legislation. That’s the best explanation that I can give at this point.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, may I ask one more thing? Does the Attorney General not appreciate that the woman in this case may be placed in the position of trying to prove how many people didn’t get killed because we had crosswalks? Just analyse what you’re asking of her.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’d like to make the point, Mr. Chairman, that I don’t know that it’s always necessarily going to be the woman who is the applicant.
Mrs. Campbell: I quite agree, but the concern at the moment is that.
Mr. Bounsall: I agree with the Attorney General in his remarks about how many people worked so long and so hard on this bill, and it’s obvious some of the work is still just starting, to get family law reform properly in this province.
Your sympathy is not quite a replacement for some action in this area or some commitment to fix up -- if you can do it in other Acts: the Succession Law Reform Act and Estates Act and what have you -- the sections which should be cleared up that this amendment speaks to. If the Attorney General does not want to have this loose end unravelling forever -- and I will agree it perhaps affects only one per cent of the marriages in this province, according to your statistics, in which a spouse becomes deceased -- what is he prepared to do about it?
Are you prepared to let that unravel forever? Or are you, in this Act, going to do the very simple thing as far as property and asset portions of estates go, and ensure that the surviving spouse gets no lesser rights than a person involved in a divorce, or is separated with no contemplation of divorce, or involved in a nullified marriage, would get under this Act, where that person has been willed less?
That is what this amendment is all about and the Attorney General has not made any other sound apart from being sympathetic. That’s all very well but how long do we wait for the sympathetic response from the Attorney General to become some sort of concrete legislation? We have the route here to do it, which does not in any material way affect Bill 60 or Bill 59 at all. You have not covered it properly in Bill 60 or 59 for those persons who would receive in a will, with the death of a spouse, less than what they would receive if they commenced a divorce action the day before the death of that spouse.
Would you as the Attorney General or in your capacity as a practising lawyer, to which you may hopefully soon return, or as an MPP, advise a female constituent, to be really safe, knowing that her husband has a will but not knowing exactly what’s in the will, the day before her sick husband’s death to institute a divorce action? That’s the only way you could really be assured of the same sort of equity that occurs -- where it does occur -- in this bill.
Certainly in looking through what we would normally call the support sections of Bill 60, it is very clearly and carefully tied down, in that a spouse can receive support from the estate. That’s done very nicely in Bill 60. What you didn’t tie down was the situation, as this amendment speaks to, where they are left in a disadvantaged position by a will as it relates to property and assets.
Certainly if there is no will and if the estate does not exceed $150,000, then again the woman finds herself in no particular disadvantaged situation. But in estates of more than $150,000, where it’s a single widow only and no will, again an amendment of the type in this bill would be very useful.
I don’t need to remind the Attorney General of the provisions of Bill 60 when there is no will. I am sure he has them firmly engraved upon his mind. But if there is no will and the estate is $75,000 or less, then she gets what is there. if it is over $75,000, she gets $75,000. The only way under that Act that she would be in the comparable situation of a divorced person under this Act would be if the estate then exceeded $150,000. But if it does exceed $150,000, then a single person -- the spouse having died -- would be in a disadvantaged position in that bill, relative to this one, if he or she had entered an action for divorce the day before.
That is very definitely a loose end, which I think the Attorney General should make a commitment to fix up, and not leave it to be unravelled throughout the rest of time in this province. As I have said, sympathy is no substitute for action.
Mr. Lawlor: Surely, the point has been well made. It can’t be denied that, despite the somewhat prolonged gestation of this legislation, that nub issue was not, with respect, given sufficient surveillance. The only bodies that directed their remarks to it, as I recall, were law societies and law groups; and there weren’t many of them. The major brief came from the Law Society itself, and we didn’t spend all that much time on it.
It is probably correct that Bill 59 is not quite the proper place; but I would like to extract from the Attorney General some kind of commitment to review Bill 60, in that very narrow dimension. We have some myth abroad that this kind of legislation, generally, has some kind of Egyptian rigidity; that when it comes into being it will remain for time memorial -- if not immemorial. And it is not. Here it is; we have hardly got it passed, and we can see a defect in it.
One area of defect lies on the testacy side. On the intestacy, we can argue ad nauseam among ourselves as to the numbers game, as to whether the preferred share of $75,000, is adequate or inadequate; should it be $125,000, should it be $250,000; and do we bring it into line with the succession duty of the inter-spousal relationship? Who knows? As the Attorney General points out, there has to be some space left for other heirs, etc. In one instance, the wife would share the remaining half of the estate, or in some instances, the third. That basic setup wasn’t profoundly argued, nor would I be prepared at this time to profoundly argue it.
But on the side of wills, on the side of exclusions, a weakness has appeared. Unless what can be derived through what was the Dependants’ Relief Act, commensurate with the benefits that are derivable in other circumstances, then that balance must be rectified and made plain. I would ask you to give good consideration, coming into the fall, to introducing legislation precisely to do that.
Ms. Gigantes: I would like to comment on a few of the remarks that have been made around the House as we have discussed this amendment. It seems to me that we are clear now, that what we are talking about is the principle involved. Let me read to you a section of the introduction to the bill. This bill begins, “Whereas it is desirable to encourage and strengthen the role of the family in society, and whereas for that purpose it is necessary to recognize the equal position of spouses as individuals within marriage and to recognize marriage as a form of partnership -- ” how can we support those principles in a bill that says in principle that a widow or a widower doesn’t have the same right to a share of assets that a divorced or a separated spouse has?
I’m not terribly impressed. I’m sure it would have been nice for us to see ahead when we were dealing with Bill 60 and to bring in whatever motion would have been necessary to amend Bill 60 so that it would have fallen in line with the operations of Bill 59, as it’s now before us, and the methodology that Bill 59 uses to ensure that these principles I’ve just spoken about, just read from the first part of the bill, are brought into effect in marriages in Ontario, but that did not happen. That did not happen, and it is not a difficult thing right now to make sure within the terms of this bill -- totally appropriate within the terms of this bill -- to say quite simply that all the rights that are given concerning the sharing of property in Bill 59 to separated or divorced spouses shall also be given to widows and widowers.
The Attorney General talks about the testator’s right. How can we talk about a testator’s right that is in defiance of the basic principle enunciated in this bill and spelled out as carefully as we can over two years of work that there shall be a sharing of the assets of the marriage? How can we talk about the right of a testator that goes beyond that? Surely this is the very principle that all these reforms relate to? We want to say that above all else what we’re looking for in this package of reforms, and particularly in this bill, is an equality of sharing of those assets built up over the lifetime of the marriage.
I think this is our opportunity quite simply to make sure that that principle applies to a spouse whose marriage breaks up because of the death of the other spouse. It’s that simple. There’s nothing complicated about it. I think we should move on it now.
Mr. Sterling: I see no problem with the concept involved here. I fully support the idea that a widow would have the same rights as she would have on a separation, but I think we’re dealing with two different types of situations.
Mr. Warner: Here comes the “but.”
Mr. Sterling: When we’re talking about settlement on a separation we’re talking about a situation where there are two people --
Mr. Lupusella: We have been trying to believe you.
Mr. Sterling: -- and children to take into account. When we’re talking about succession law reform we’re talking about a situation where one spouse is no longer there to take care of.
Ms. Gigantes: It is just a minimum guarantee.
Mr. Sterling: The other problem that is not taken into account is the fact that this does have a very deep effect on the rest of the Act. If you change this particular section, basically you’re saying, “Rip the whole Act open again, and start from scratch.”
Mr. Bounsall: No, we’re not.
Mr. Sterling: “Section 4 must be amended.”
Mr. Bounsall: We have the amendment.
Ms. Gigantes: It’s simple, relax.
Mr. Sterling: You have to go through the whole thing to provide for all of the other sections and deal with them.
Mr. Bounsall: We have. There are three in total. There are three other sections.
Mr. Roy: Listen to the legal experts here.
Mr. Sterling: I also might indicate that on the death of one spouse, if we were to put the amendment in, what would the court look at? Would it look at this particular bill or the other bill in determining what the court was going to award to the widow or the widower? If we had a situation where we have an estate of $15,000, fine, it may reach an equitable solution; but what about the normal couple in our society who don’t have those kinds of assets? Will the court interpret the situation such that they are to be given the discretion to give less than they would be entitled under the present Succession Law Reform Act?
I go back to the original situation. We are dealing with two different problems. In one we are dealing with succession law reform and in the other we are dealing with a matrimonial dispute. Therefore, I think we should keep them separate and apart from each other.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, despite the rather vaunted objective of the government in this legislation to bring equality to the spouses, it would appear that what the legislation now says, without the adoption of this amendment, is that marriage is a partnership only if it breaks up. It is not a partnership in any other sense in the eyes of the government if it refuses to accept this amendment
The relief that is under Bill 60 for a spouse who feels a will has deprived her of the support she needs is a different kind of relief. She has to go on hands and knees to the court and say, “I have needs, and my spouse has willed away the family home or any other assets that are sharable. Please give me back some of these -- whatever my needs require.”
Under Bill 59, she is entitled by right to 50 per cent of the sharable assets. The principle is that she has made a contribution during the marriage to the acquisition of those assets in whatever form her contribution may have been made, either in being the person who stayed in the home and ran the home and looked after the children or in contributing work or money -- in any way she has contributed to those assets -- and therefore has a right to an equal sharing of them.
Bill 60 does not allow for that kind of consideration to be taken in the assessing of her needs. Therefore, it is not an answer to the question of whether or not she is receiving her share under the partnership concept.
The Attorney General mentioned that the possessory right to the matrimonial home would not have to be contested in the courts; if the will said the home which was in the deceased spouse’s name were to go to some other person, she would still have her possessory right. I would concede that is probably true, but she would not have a right to 50 per cent of the value of that home which, under Bill 59, would be her right if the marriage had broken up. I would ask the Attorney General if I am correct in that assumption?
As far as the sacred rights of the testator are concerned, it seems to me that when dower rights were established they restricted the sacred rights of the testator to cut his wife out of the family home completely. It seems to me that was done as a matter of public policy and that this is what is being asked in this amendment, that as a matter of public policy the sacred rights of the testator should be restricted to recognize the principle that is enunciated in this bill, namely that we “recognize the equal position of spouses as individuals within marriage ... ” That is in the preamble to the bill, and I would ask the Attorney General how he can adopt that principle and not adopt this amendment.
Mr. Bounsall: I would like to make a brief comment to the parliamentary assistant. He mentioned that the whole bill needed to be rewritten. It may well need to be rewritten for other reasons, but for this reason there are only three other clauses that need amendment. The legislative counsel has gone through the clauses carefully; two of them, a senior and a junior I understand, looked at it in this regard. The only other section that needs amendment is, of course, the main one, section 4; but, in order to affect section 4, that is why this one is in section 1, and in sections 41 and 45 of this bill.
So it is no problem if that is the only disadvantage which the parliamentary assistant has in his mind in terms of building this appropriate concept into this bill at this time. If he has thought of a few more appropriate amendments that would put this into effect even more we on this side would accept gladly the amendments as proposed by him.
Mr. Sterling: I would only respond to the hon. member that my basic objection is that I believe it should be in the Succession Law Reform Act. I have said it would present problems within this particular Act, in other sections.
Mr. Bounsall: It’s too bad the Attorney General wouldn’t make that commitment to someone like yourself who is interested in everything being done properly -- as a fellow engineer.
Mrs. Campbell: Since everybody is speaking two or three times to each section, Mr. Chairman, I think it is incumbent upon me, since I was the one who invited the Attorney General to give consideration to a commitment to us with reference to the Succession Law Reform Act, to recognize, ab initio -- and I think this is where the Attorney General, if I may say so with respect, is perhaps in error because the incident of the marriage surely takes effect ab initio. You don’t wander through a marriage to find out at what point you have an economic partnership.
I think that since the Attorney General has been prepared to accept that in family law legislation it would be very sad indeed if he were to take the position now that a testator would have the right to do whatever he liked. I don’t think that is the case today even. I don’t think we should be involved in that sort of dialogue. I would ask the Attorney General to give his assurances that the dichotomies between these two bills will, in fact, be corrected.
Mr. Renwick: I was hoping the Attorney General would comment on what has been said. I understand he has already spoken about it but I need some clarification.
Wherever the dividing line between the two bills may fall, it can be done just as easily in this bill without having to deal through the succession bill. I may be quite wrong and it is with some temerity at this point that I enter the technicalities of this debate, but it does seem to me that what we are trying to say by this amendment is that it prohibits a testator or a testatrix from, by testamentary disposition or under the law of intestate succession, going below the floor that would be established by this bill. In a very real sense all that the amendment proposes is that that is the floor level below which no one would fall with respect to the disposition being made to the surviving spouse.
It does seem to me that we often have that kind of problem. I don’t know whether it’s the correct term but I am going to use it whether it is correct or not, it is always necessary to have notch provisions in situations such as this. The fact that while it may appear of relatively late date that the problem has been raised, I can see no reason, unless you can raise a specific insurmountable technical reason, why the change cannot be made in this bill without awaiting some undertaking from the ministry as to whether or not they will change the succession bill.
I think it is extremely important, altogether apart from this particular amendment, that the other bills that have already been passed in the package be left alone for a while and not be subject to amendment from time to time. It would appear to me -- again, subject to being told that there’s an insurmountable legislative drafting problem involved in it -- that the amendment should be accepted and whatever notch provision is required to relate this Act to the Succession Law Reform Act should be done in this Act.
I would ask the minister to seriously consider accepting the amendment, as I would ask our colleagues in the Liberal Party.
Mr. Chairman: The hon. minister? Are there any further comments?
Mr. Bounsall: If the Attorney General is not responding --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t really wish to respond and have to hear from the member for Windsor-Sandwich on six further subsequent occasions. I’m quite prepared to respond, but since we have heard from the member for Windsor-Sandwich -- I think this is the seventh time -- I thought he should have another five times before I would demonstrate sufficient temerity to respond.
Mr. Bounsall: I would just like to ask the Attorney General one question. It makes me uncomfortable, it puts me in an uncomfortable spot. I’m interested to know if it puts the Attorney General in an uncomfortable spot when, giving his best advice to whoever comes to see him in whatever capacity they come, he is required to respond to them with: “In the absence of knowing what is in a will which is written, I advise you with your spouse being ill and nigh unto death to institute a commencement for divorce as provided for under subsection 3 of section 4 of this Act.”
Doesn’t bother you eh?
Mr. Chairman: Are there any further comments?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Well, I’m not going to respond to foolish questions from the member for Windsor-Sandwich.
Mr. G. Taylor: It’s because he’s an engineer.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I want to make it very clear, Mr. Chairman, that at no time do we suggest that there’s anything sacred about the rights of a testator. I think the dependant relief provisions as now written in the succession law reform legislation make is quite clear that there is no such sacred right. I have been requested by my good friends and colleagues, the justice critics of the official opposition and the New Democratic Party, to review Bill 60 in this context; I have been asked to give them a commitment and in view of the fact that the request has come from these two distinguished members of the Legislature, I will, of course, accede to their request and make such a commitment, because I personally believe there are many factors to be considered, particularly as I believe that any amendment should be to Bill 60, if it’s required, and not to Bill 59.
Further, although I have great respect for the views expressed by the member for Riverdale, I’m not at this point prepared to accede to his suggestion that the proposed amendment makes it clear that only a “floor,” to quote him, is intended. I think it could be said, for example, that Bills 59 and 60 would be considered cumulative. I think there would be considerable problems which might arise in relation to that, quite apart from what, in my view, would be a substantial change in the law with respect to testation. I might say that I think this conclusion was recognized by the former government of Manitoba, because it’s often said to me, particularly from members of the New Democratic Party, that the bill that was proposed and passed by that government was legislation to be looked to in this area.
I think it may be of interest to remind the members of the New Democratic Party that even in that Manitoba legislation it was not suggested that this sharing as set out in the bill should take place after death. That government in its wisdom otherwise decided there were very different principles involved. The Canadian Bar Association through the family law and wills and trusts subsections -- and I don’t suggest they should have the last word or be considered to be the last word -- at no time has ever suggested that it was necessary to provide for a fixed share in death.
Those who practise in this area from day to day just didn’t see the problem that has been suggested. Notwithstanding these remarks, I repeat my undertaking to the justice critics of the official opposition and the New Democratic Party that I would like to sit down with them and review again Bill 60 with a view to seeing whether or not we can improve that legislation in the direction that has been suggested, notwithstanding the fact that the ink is barely dry on it.
Mr. Renwick: I don’t know whether there is any point, in view of the comment made by the Attorney General, in pursuing the matter further. I don’t know quite what that undertaking was. It certainly was not acceptance of the basic principle that was involved in the proposed amendment. It was very far from it.
I can well understand a specified concern to want to understand the ramifications of the proposed amendment, but that is quite a different matter than to say you will reconsider it in the light of all of the principles, without indicating that you are prepared to work out on the basis of an acceptance of the principle involved in this amendment a reconciliation between it and the other bill because the other Act may well be a more appropriate Act in which to have the recognition expressed. I would like some clarification from the Attorney General about that.
I know that perhaps I am not speaking exactly consistently with my colleague, the member for Lakeshore, but in spirit we are united in what we are attempting to achieve. If I am incorrect, I am certain that other proponents of this amendment will correct me about it, but I do believe we are talking about a floor and not a cumulated assessment. It has always been very clear law in the law of inheritance that a widow had an opportunity to choose under the Dower Act or another one. She had an election which could be made. “Do I take under one or do I take under the other?”
It would be quite reasonable for the surviving spouse to be in a position where the surviving spouse could make a choice on the basis of equality and say: “I will take under the one provision simply on the mathematical calculation of value rather than under the other.” If that is the choice which is going to be made, then I suggest that my conception of what the amendment proposes with respect to the interface, if I can use that dreadful term, between the two bills is a floor and, therefore, a requirement that there be a choice. You either take under this or you take under the succession law and you make up your mind on the mathematical calculations which are involved in it.
That last point is simply a comment. If in fact there’s some cumulative concern I don’t think there is a problem in solving it, unless I have missed the essential point of it. I had no idea whether or not the Attorney General in his commitment to undertake a reconsideration of Bill 60, insofar as it relates to this point, was saying he accepts the principle but simply wants to work out the legislative technique to accomplish it. His words didn’t mean that to me.
Mr. Lawlor: I think the understanding or commitment that I understand us to have -- and I would like the Attorney General to affirm it -- is simply that the two bills, Bill 59 and 60 be brought into accord, and that in my friend’s sense of the term it is a floor we’re after, that under Bill 60 at time of death at least as much is receivable is held as would be under the terms of this legislation. I think as things stand there is not only a possible discrepancy but as I see it a real, existing discrepancy and that the two things should be brought into accord. The sooner we sit down and close the gap there and give that basis and sufficiency, the better it will be for the logicalities of the legislation.
Mr. Chairman: If there is no further discussion, I will put the amendment to the committee.
Ms. Gigantes moves that clause (f) of section 1 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subclause:
“(iv) is a widower or a widow.”
Shall the amendment carry?
Those in favour will please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
This amendment will be stacked.
Mr. Warner: Dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century.
Mr. Chairman: Is there any discussion on section 2?
Section 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Bounsall: I have an amendment, which you may have in front of you -- I’ll certainly be sending it down right away -- that deals with a replacement for, in essence, the first paragraph in section 3(b). It does not get into, of course, the subclauses (i) to (iv) as they appear in the bill.
Shall I move it?
Mr. Chairman: I see we have three amendments to the same section. It could create a little difficulty in stacking the votes.
Mr. Bounsall: We may have to vote upon them separately, but if the Chairman would look at it this amendment is the amendment that would occur to the paragraph part right at the beginning of section 3 subsection (b) and does not touch upon the section of 3(b) over the page which deals with the small roman numerals sections.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Bounsall moves that clause b) of section 3 be deleted and the following substituted therefor: “‘Family assets’ means all property and assets including commercial assets acquired during the marriage or in contemplation of the marriage and the accrued appreciation of all property and assets owned by the spouses prior to the marriage. but does not include any damage award, insurance claim, insurance benefit, gift, inheritance or trust benefit conferred upon the spouse with the expressed or implied intention of benefiting that spouse exclusively, or the accrued appreciation of same.”
Mr. Bounsall: I must admit that, on this point, I do agree with the Attorney General. I’m getting tired of making the same speech.
Mr. Roy: We’re getting tired of listening to it.
Mr. Bounsall: Sometimes I wonder whether my friend ever listens. I’m sure the Attorney General does from time to time and has his disagreement in principle with the things stated.
Mr. Lupusella: He disagrees with most principles.
Mr. Bounsall: This is the section of the bill, as I’m sure the Attorney General and the parliamentary assistant know, that I feel most strongly about. I feel we have exactly the wrong approach in the division of assets in the bill as presented by the government.
We do not recognize that marriage is an equal partnership unless we say that in that partnership all assets acquired will be split in the unfortunate occurrence of a divorce or a separation without a prospect of a divorce or a nullity: and that it is not fair to take into account in an asset split, as proposed in the government bill, possibly an asset which one spouse brought into the marriage. Again, it’s fair that the normal appreciation on assets owned jointly before marriage should be considered part of that asset split.
That’s the philosophical reason that I support this particular amendment to this bill and would like to see this view of family assets accepted. Anything else is unfair to one or both of the spouses in an asset division.
The mechanistic reason that I am very much in favour of this approach to asset split -- and, believe me, in my mind it’s much less important than my feeling that what we have is unfair -- is that it’s a very simple, clean way of arriving at the solution. You simply put your property and assets to the evaluation of an accountant, and he arrives at the figure; and there’s nothing complicated, arithmetically, let alone mathematically, about the work the account has to do.
Mr. Warner: Even the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) can figure it out.
Mr. Bounsall: Yes, the Treasurer can do a little bit more than divide by two.
Mr. Foulds: He can subtract.
Mr. Bounsall: Yes, if you can add, subtract and divide by two, you’ve got it; and I’m sure the Treasurer can do more than that --
Mr. Swart: Mostly subtracting.
Mr. Bounsall: Mostly subtracting, as the member for Welland-Thorold suggests.
There’s nothing complicated about it. What it does of course, is it prevents all the arguments that occur before a judge about whether or not this very narrow base of family assets as defined in the bill -- all of that narrow group so defined -- should be included in the split, because later in the section it’s allowed that the judge may consider even the very narrow definition of what are family assets in this government’s view of what are family assets.
It also, of course, has before the courts all of those other things not specifically defined as family assets, with all the arguments proceeding and the acceleration and continued rubbing of all the emotions involved before the courts of the province of Ontario.
I’m not particularly concerned that the lawyers will make a pile of money on this section. That depends upon how long the two spouses intend to argue; if they want to argue forever and ever then they should be expected to pay. But I think that’s a very, very inefficient use of our courts’ time.
Many legal arguments are going to be presented. A spouse who is less advantaged by the family asset definition in this bill will be trying to get a further family asset by arguing the case before the court, while the other one will be trying to remove from the family asset section in this bill some of the assets so defined here. These arguments are going to take place, where there is contention, ad nauseam before our courts.
As I said in the committee stage of this bill, I wouldn’t particularly want to be a judge in our courts in Ontario trying to make a decision on the arguments which would inevitably be placed before me with respect to property assets. I do not envy our judges the load which this bill has placed upon their wisdom and patience and arithmetic abilities. They are most certainly going to have to hire accountants, so the money is going to be spent anyway -- but out of the public purse rather than the private purses of those applying for the asset split. Accountants will be needed to help them determine, in some cases, what is going to be a fair split. I really don’t look forward with any great sense of enthusiasm to this section of the bill with the assets defined therein as we have them.
I could go on and on and make a whole host of appeals and emotional arguments as I have done on second readings of this bill in the past and as I have done to a lesser extent with my colleagues in the committee. But certainly if I had the immense bad luck to be appointed a judge in this province and have to deal with this part of the bill, it would be simple for me. I would simply take this approach.
Mr. Roy: They wouldn’t admit you to the bar.
Mr. Bounsall: Albert, you have been so supportive of the government’s position in this throughout, not wanting to change one jot or tittle, that as --
Mr. Roy: No, I have got some important amendments. I am not prepared to stand up and posture for the gathering.
Mr. Bounsall: -- you do not have to be admitted to the bar --
Mr. Bounsall: -- one really wonders what it is you are trying to get out of this bill.
Mr. Bounsall: You have your QC already --
Mr. Chairman: Order, order. Would the member return to the amendment.
Mr. Bounsall: Indeed I will, Mr. Chairman.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Chairman, he is casting aspersions et cetera on the motivations --
Mr. Mackenzie: The Liberals aren’t offering much anyhow.
Mr. Bounsall: These irrelevancies from that particular member --
Mr. Roy: We are not prepared to posture.
Mr. Bounsall: -- to retain only what the Attorney General wishes to have in the bill have always irritated me almost beyond belief. I would have wished he would have taken as open-minded a view as some of the rest of his colleagues with respect to this bill.
Mr. Bradley: Anybody who agrees with you is open-minded.
Mr. Bounsall: Certainly if I was a judge dealing with this bill, I would simply divide the assets of that couple appearing before me in accordance with the amendments I have suggested here. That would be my judicial decision in each case, because I have all the power, with other sections of the bill, to do precisely that. It allows me full discretion, if I were a judge, to vary what are family assets -- as narrowly defined in this bill as it is -- and to add other assets to family assets, and to make the splits in whatever way I deem to be fair, as a judge ruling in this particular case. So if I were a judge, this would be very simple for me. I wouldn’t probably even need the accountant’s help, although I may take some advice from time to time in arriving at what would be a final solution for all those unfortunate enough to come before me.
But to have it left a bill in which family assets are so very narrowly defined with everything in essence argued before the courts is basically a non-Conservative way of doing things. Historically this is a rather strange way for the Conservatives to be operating in this province as to what they expect from our courts and what they would see our courts doing. Not that they haven’t put trust in judges over the years, but they have usually had a much more organized view of society and how things should take place in our society. And to leave in this Act, by their definition, an incredible array all over the place, in every direction, of uncertainties -- no loose ends tied down at all -- is really not the history of the Conservative way of doing things in this province.
You are neglecting your traditions over there in this particular section of this legislation. Not necessarily, as has been said, in respect of their support of women; that’s not ever been that clear. You have always been a little too paternalistic in your view of society for that ever to be anything but evident in your dealing with women in our province. Nonetheless, you have had an organized view of society which you certainly move from with the fullest possible force in this assets-split section of this bill.
Unless further impelled by remarks made by other members in the House on this section, I am inclined to leave off at this point, at about a third of the length that I usually make in speeches with respect to the family assets section of this bill, and take my seat and listen to the heartfelt feelings of my colleagues in this particular party, virtually all of whom have some of those same thoughts.
But I feel that as it stands this bill is grossly unfair at this point. You have not come to grips with the mechanistic way of best dealing with this matter before the courts. It really in no way recognizes the equality of the spouses in that marriage partnership. In fact, it is here in the bill that you have the denial of that equal partnership which the preamble so grandly lulls us into thinking we have.
Mrs. Campbell: I’m rising to speak to this motion. When I sat on the committee last year -- I sat not as a member of it but I participated -- at that time I was very much of the opinion that we should be extending the family assets to include much broader categories than those which were in the bill at that time.
I suppose that what I felt about this particular section and the proposed amendment is really reflected in what I am proposing under section 8. What I am trying to do by that section is to enlarge the scope of the inquiry, if you like, by the court, to give guidelines to the judges without really destroying equality for women in the province; that really bothers me.
If I can explain something of my thinking: last year I had a telephone call from someone who purported to be calling me from the Bay -- the Hudson’s Bay Company -- asking me if I would like to have a charge account. I said I would listen to what they had to say, until I found that this person was putting me, or trying to put me, through the hoops -- give all the information about my husband: his occupation, his earnings in order that they might condescend to give me a charge account. Needless to say, they didn’t get the information and I was no longer interested in the charge account.
Why am I saying this now on this particular section? It occurred to me that I’ve been thinking about whether or not women are really viewing this in the old stereotype and not stopping to think about the new woman emerging in our society today. I see the Attorney General nodding. I trust no one will take it that I have been in any kind of cahoots with him in what I’m saying.
What I was looking at and what I see today, for instance, is that more and more women in the law are moving into partnership. If you have a situation -- and this may be the only one of its kind, but it’s the kind of thing that brought me up very short in looking at this amendment -- where you have two women engaged in the practice of law in partnership -- let’s say one is unmarried and one is married with a dependent spouse -- what bothers me is that with the kind of climate that we still have, there wouldn’t be a partnership unless there was some way of financing it, apart from the conventional system.
I guess my dream for women in this day and age is not to be limping along on something of this concept of attaching the commercial assets, but rather having the right and the opportunity, to stand up as free people and engage in commerce. It is this kind of concern I have. If we have this, as it is proposed in this amendment, I wonder what the climate in the commercial community is going to be when it comes to assisting women financially, if they wish to undertake some of these commitments in some of the circumstances that I foresee.
It was again basically because of my anxiety to try to reach some solutions which would seem to be more equitable that I looked to section 8 and had the guidance of some of the most forward-thinking people in this province in assisting me in looking at that section. I don’t know what the effect would be. I presume that over a period of time there would be some kind of working document that you would come to grips with to try to cover these cases. But I just am of the opinion that we have to somehow protect, say, a partnership from being destroyed suddenly or even a business which could be destroyed suddenly and have a very detrimental effect on the entire family and not just on the spouse.
I am very torn. I think most women perceive this bill as a bill which gives them roughly one-quarter and leaves the husband with three-quarters of the assets.
If you talk to almost any woman you meet -- I’m not sure on Yonge Street but on some other street -- you will find this is the concept which they have. It certainly is an inappropriate one if we believe in an economic partnership. I have a great concern about the possible destruction of perhaps a valuable commercial asset that can be used for the benefit of the family without totally winding it up.
So I would like to hear any further comments. I am certainly listening to what is being said by the third party, but I would ask them to look at my proposed amendment because I do think it gives a flexibility. I think it gives an opportunity to the court to make the kind of determination that is sought here without putting it right into a section, including the commercial assets, which I believe would have a very negative effect in the commercial community and I don’t think we want to do that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. G. Taylor: Mr Chairman, may I speak to this motion, but not in support of it? I agree wholeheartedly with the member for St. George -- and I seldom do.
Mrs. Campbell: Oh George; seldom?
Mr. Warner: You’d better rethink your position.
Mr. McClellan: Look at the company you are in.
Ms. Gigantes: That is what you get.
Mr. Warner: Fine company you keep.
Mr. G. Taylor: Once you include commercial assets you have gone a long way to disruption, possibly, of our economic unions. It is difficult enough to put together marriages, and sometimes difficult enough to separate those marriages and perform a dissolution of them on economic grounds without bringing in the commercial aspects of a situation. When the member for St. George talks of bringing about partnerships, that comes to mind so quickly; I can just visualize a situation as you bring in somebody in a partnership.
Mr. Warner: Marriage is a partnership.
Mr. G. Taylor: Particularly the member for Ottawa East -- if I were to discuss a partnership with him: “How would you like to come into partnership with me? How is your marriage?”
Mr. Roy: Don’t get personal.
Mr. G. Taylor: That is a great way to start a partnership because that is what you would be doing the day you put in commercial assets as an amendment. Every time you make a decision in that commercial vein -- every time you make a decision in the partnership, you bring in the wives or the husbands of your partners to discuss whether you make that decision because you might be watering down the commercial assets and possibly the wife’s future benefits if there happens to be a dissolution of that marriage.
So now you have not only an economic partnership within the marriage, you have an economic partnership within the entire commercial community that the spouse may be involved in.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s nuts.
Mr. G. Taylor: It has been difficult enough in the matrimonial actions I have been involved in over the years as a practising lawyer to disregard the commercial assets and just deal with the matrimonial assets that are presently within the bill. They become a difficult task. But it is just horrendous when you start getting into the commercial aspects.
When the member for St. George said: “What about bringing down a financial empire?” We had pieces of taxing legislation and pieces of corporate legislation --
Mr. Warner: We can make equity a prize.
Mr. G. Taylor: -- which required, in some situations where you had three shareholders -- and you get some situations where for tax advantages you put shares in a spouse or somebody else in the family. I have seen situations where they can be such a lever that they could have brought down some major corporations with privately held shares. It might have done away with those businesses. I can see even more concern that this would be a problem in the future should these be included.
Mr. Warner: If it was someone like Beckers it would be worthwhile.
Mr. G. Taylor: So, Mr Chairman, when they bring forth the commercial assets in here they insert far too much in a matrimonial situation
Then when you look at what is presently taking place, more and more in these situations where you have a dissolution of marriage, the spouse says: “I’ll take what I can get. I want to get rid of him. That is all I want from him.” If you are going to go upon the independence of spouses you have to be independent in all respects when you finish off with the dissolution of marriage, so each spouse goes his own way and you split up the assets that are there.
There will be some that say: “I answered the phone for him. I did the books for him at night.” That is taken care of in here and later sections by the judge making the decision on whether that should be included. But to include it as a general purpose under the heading “commercial assets,” I think such an amendment goes too far and would cause more grief than it would take care of.
It is going to be most difficult now when they say, “Oh isn’t this very interesting? An accountant can figure that out.” With the way we have this present legislation going, before you get married today you will sit down with your lawyer, your accountant, your tax expert, and anybody else who can give you advice, and those relationships will become far more economic, not even having love enter into it and companionship and other things that go along with a marriage. It will become a totally economic picture from day one to the time it ends. I am sure this Legislative Assembly is not in the field of economic unions from day one to the end.
Ms. Gigantes: How is your marriage anyhow? How is your marriage?
Mr. G. Taylor: There must be something more in a relationship than that. So, Mr. Chairman, I would not support this amendment and I hope my colleagues on this side of the House would not support such an amendment.
Mr. Warner: Shame!
Mr. Chairman, I am a bit disappointed that the member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) mentioned during her remarks that she would be interested in hearing further comments from members of the third party, and she then subsequently left the chamber.
Mr. Roy: Well, she is going to be right back. It is not as if she is missing words of wisdom.
Mr. Warner: Like her work in the committee, I suppose.
Mr. McClellan: She won’t be here for the vote either.
Mr. Roy: In fact, I should tell her to stay out while you are talking.
Mr. Warner: I think it’s very important that we realize a couple of things that we are about as we discuss this particular amendment that has been put forward. Not only does it pertain to the very essence of this bill but it is in effect an extremely important step in that very long, hard-fought battle for those women who throughout the centuries have been oppressed.
I choose that word very carefully, and I know you realize, Mr. Chairman, as I do and as do others in this chamber, that for a great long time women were denied the right to vote. Women could not hold public office. Yes, we have moved from that, and women now have the opportunity to vote and they can hold public office; but surely that is not the end of it. Surely what we have before us is something that is just a step, a historic step, a step in the process to actually bring about equality between men and women.
What bothers me very much when I hear comments such as the ones made by the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. Taylor) is that there seems to be an assumption that in most circumstances when a marriage dissolves, both of those people are somehow on an equal footing as to how they should proceed in their life from that point onwards. In the real world out there that is not the case, and everyone in this assembly should know that and know it full well.
Women do not receive the same level of income as men do. Women, in most cases when a family dissolution occurs, have the responsibility of raising the family but have inadequate day-care facilities and normally do not have the same academic standing as men --
Mrs. Campbell: Oh, come on.
Mr. Warner: -- but find it very difficult to obtain that kind of upgrading which they require because they don’t have the same opportunities in the colleges and universities. Women are placed under some very difficult and trying circumstances, more so than men in most cases, when a family dissolution occurs.
So it is too easy perhaps for some members to simply dismiss this amendment by saying we want to establish independence. Of course women want to feel they are independent, but in the real world in 1978 they don’t have the same opportunity for independence that men have. What we have is an opportunity to bring some measure of balance, some measure of protection for women who under many circumstances are left with next to nothing when a family relationship dissolves.
I think that at least the member for Simcoe Centre, and probably others, should understand that in many family situations where there is a business involved, the husband has been successful in his business endeavour because his wife took over the husband’s portion of that family responsibility of raising the children. She managed the family books; she got those kids to school on time and got them helped with their homework, and settled the squabbles with the other children on the street, and managed all of those affairs while he was off running his business. But upon the dissolution of the marriage she’s not going to be recompensed for all of that hard work in raising the family, because he will have the business assets.
To the Liberal member for Ottawa East --
Mr. Wildman: Is he still here? When is the plane leaving?
Mr. Philip: Tuesday.
Mr. Warner: -- I think that this amendment that’s before us right now, and I’ll put it very boldly, is the principle of the bill. That is the principle of this bill.
Mr. Roy: I missed it until now.
Mr. Warner: I would ask the member for Ottawa East, and others, to take a look at the second “whereas” in the preamble, which says: “It is necessary to recognize the equal position of spouses as individuals within marriage and to recognize marriage as a form of partnership.”
I ask the hon. members, then, to look very carefully at the amendment which my colleague, the hon. member for Windsor-Sandwich, has placed before the committee. That amendment is the principle of the bill. I don’t understand how we could possibly proceed with this bill without the inclusion of this amendment.
I urge all members of the House to take another very close look at the amendment and relate it back to the very principle of the bill, because without that we’re not really doing a service to the women of this province who are fighting desperately hard for some measure of equality in our society.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, my colleague the member for Riverdale was saying that this bill has me upset. It’s not the bill at all. We’ve been discussing it now for two years. I can say to my colleague my marriage is fine, thank you; no problem.
Mr. Renwick: Never take the unsupported evidence of one witness.
Mr. Roy: I don’t see any problem with the bill as regards any personal situation. I just wanted to clear that up. I didn’t hear the comment.
Mr. Bradley: It wasn’t worth hearing.
Mr. Foulds: He said, “Never take the unsupported evidence of one witness.”
Mr. Roy: But in any event, what I am somewhat confused about is that for the last two years we’ve been hearing submissions and we’ve discussed this bill, many aspects of the bill. We’ve had submissions from a variety of groups, people who felt the bill was going too far, other people who felt the bill was not going far enough. Throughout this we tried to arrive at some proper balance; as the members to my left have talked about, an equal partnership and some equilibrium in the legislation that we’re going to bring forth.
My only annoyance is the fact that some of these members who are bringing forward these amendments -- and in fact, the best evidence that I have that the NDP to my left is basically posturing and playing to whatever group is going to bring forward an amendment, is the fact that the NDP member for Windsor-Sandwich is the one proposing the amendment. It seems to me if they were serious, they would have their justice critic here and arguing and being in favour of this amendment; and of course he’s not. He’s followed the progress of this bill and he knows the pitfalls of the amendment as proposed by that member.
Mr. Foulds: So has the member for Windsor-Sandwich; far more than you or the member for St. George have.
Mr. Warner: Nonsense.
Mr. Wildman: That’s a specious argument.
Mr. Bradley: Back to sleep.
Mr. Roy: It seems to me that if they’re really serious about giving full recognition to the women of this province, they’re going to support the amendment as proposed by my colleague in section 8.
Mr. Foulds: That is a grandstand amendment if I ever saw one.
Mr. Roy: If I may say --
Mr. Wildman: Is she the justice critic?
Mr. Roy: If I may say, Mr. Chairman, first of all we tried to have a bill which would concern the majority of people in this province. For the majority of people in this province, their assets are basically what is defined in the family assets, basically the matrimonial home.
Mr. Wildman: The majority of people in the province are women.
Mr. Roy: It seems to me that by proceeding in the fashion they are doing they are going to be creating work for the lawyers. They are going to be driving the absconding or male chauvinists into lawyers’ offices to get involved in marriage contracts, and surely that’s not something we want to do with this legislation.
Ms. Gigantes: Why would they want to do that?
Mr. Roy: In attempting to achieve a particular solution, they are creating far more problems. They talk about equality. Does the amendment as proposed only share the assets? What about the liabilities? If the bill as amended by the member for Windsor-Sandwich was accepted, what about a failure on the business side? Could they come against the other spouse? These are all things that remain unanswered. Looking at all the NDP amendments which we had before the justice committee, I know some of them are going to be presented here. The members of the NDP have already voted against some of them but they are going to present them here again.
Mr. Foulds: Voted for.
Mr. Roy: They voted against some of those amendments and the NDP members are presenting them now. It seems to me that I don’t see in any of these amendments any changes in the support obligations. If we accept your amendment, are you going to change anything on the support obligation side? Are there going to be any assets to attach when you are talking about making payments for support? These are some of the things that are of concern to us.
It seems to me that the approach taken by my colleague from St. George, whose opinion I would accept about the rights, the desires and aspirations of women in this province much ahead of anybody’s to my left, is such that she has accepted that if we do want to give equality, the way to do it is under section 8. There should be some discretion and there should not be a straitjacket. If we are talking about giving women independence, that is not the way to do it.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you speak to the principle?
Mr. Roy: All I can say in closing, is that I have seen the posturing before. I have seen the amendments brought forward by the legal expert, the member for Windsor-Sandwich. He has no problem. Everything can be solved by accountants, by lawyers and others.
Mr. Mackenzie: Pretty weak.
Ms. Gigantes: Talk about posturing.
Mr. Kerrio: They ought to make him a judge.
Mr. Foulds: He’d be better than Phil Givens.
Mr. Roy: As a responsible opposition, we feel that we are going to put forward amendments. This is the reason that I agree with my colleague. I agree with the justice critic in our party that the way to achieve this independence and equality is to proceed under section 8 and not to have a holus-bolus section as has been proposed and which I am sure many members of that caucus would not even accept.
Mr. Bounsall: That’s not true.
Mr. Swart: I am pleased to rise to speak on this section of this bill because it seems to me, as my colleagues have said, that this is the key section to this bill. This is the section where we determine whether we really believe in family law reform. It is one of the most controversial sections because in our society it deals with assets and that sort of thing and not just human relations. It is obviously one of the most controversial and it is certainly the one most important to women.
I cannot help but mention that on the other side of the House there are two women members of this Legislature.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Three.
Mr. Swart: Okay, three. I would ask the Attorney General if they are staying away from this session because they disagree with the law reform bill or because are so indifferent they don’t think it warrants their time to be in the House.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: They have heard your nonsense before.
Mr. Swart: I think there is some significance that there is enough concern on this side of the House, and particularly in this caucus, that we have one of the largest turnouts, and right now they have it in that other caucus too, and that our two women members are here taking part in this debate --
Mr. Kerrio: One hundred per cent of our women are here.
Mr. Swart: -- and also the women in the caucus on the right. I think that attendance on the opposite side of the House gives some indication of the priority that is given to law reform by the government and the members over there.
I said this is a key section. I think we should recognize, as my colleague from Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) said, that a basic principle of the bill is established here. This section sets the basis or the principles on which the spouses can expect a settlement to be made. It sets out the general principle. Of course, it can be varied by the court to almost any degree, but the court has to start from this base and, therefore, this base is exceedingly important. The preamble has been read into the record here at least twice today. It purports to establish equality between the spouses and a partnership.
I say to you that if we pass this section as is we have legislated inequality and that, in fact, that inequality will largely be against the women in our society. If we want to talk about equality, just let me point out what this has left out in the division of assets. It leaves out any business assets, even though they may have been acquired after the marriage. It leaves out any farm; and you know most of the law reform in this nation was started because of a certain case by the name of Murdoch in western Canada where the woman was left out of the assets.
It could also mean that, on the basis of this section, every farm woman across this nation shall not have any right to the farm, regardless of what contribution she has made.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Read section 8.
Ms. Gigantes: It is not there as a matter of right.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Read section 8. Have you people read the bill?
Mr. Bounsall: Have you?
Mr. Swart: It’s not there as a matter of right, not as a basis from which they start to divide the assets.
Mr. Bounsall: The member for Welland-Thorold has been to the committee more than you have.
Mr. Swart: It leaves out all shares and bonds held by either spouse as the base from which you start for the division of the assets.
It leaves out any moneys other than the family bank account, including such things as term certificates, individual savings accounts and all this sort of thing. Those are left out of the base from which the division starts. And in most families now there isn’t a great deal of money kept in the individual chequing account because of the poor interest rate. It is kept in some other form of asset, in a private bank account or in renewable term certificates held by one or other of the spouses; those are left out.
Let me give you the example which might perhaps apply to many of us here who come from outside the city of Toronto and have a bank account with the Province of Ontario Savings Office. I suspect many other members have, as I do, an account here that is not a family account.
Mr. Roy: Would they share liability as well?
Mr. Swart: We keep those accounts because sometimes we need money. That would not be divided in case of a breakup of the family.
And it leaves out pension and retirement plans. The other two are familiar to the average family; they know those are part of the normal family assets. It is a concern of the man and wife that when they come to retirement age they’ll have enough in the way of a retirement plan on which to get by and live comfortably. They’ll often scrimp and save as a couple to put more money into that retirement plan and yet the basis of this division of assets and liability rules out even that. So I say that this bill legislates inequality.
I say to my friends on the right that their amendment to clause 8 is in no way an alternative to writing in the principle in this section. I guess it establishes a difference between us and them and between us and the members on the other side of the House.
Mrs. Campbell: Are you going to support it?
Mr. Roy: That’s the difference between reason and folly.
Mr. Swart: No, it’s the difference between equality and inequality in the spouses and usually the inequality is exercised against the wife. We say the principle should be established in this section that all assets acquired during marriage be divided equally and then variations can be made if there are special circumstances. After this section, the next nine clauses provide opportunities for the judge to vary this on the application of one party or the other, but the basic principle should be that the assets which are acquired after marriage should be divided equally. It’s a principle to which I subscribe and this party subscribes. Sure, variations can be made -- there will be circumstances -- but that principle should be established in this bill.
The government and the Liberals say, “Normally total assets will be divided unequally.” The principle of this bill says they will be divided unequally, but if there are special circumstances the court can determine that they should be divided equally, or maybe in some other manner. That is actually what this section of this bill says, and I say to you that in no way can I support this section of the bill which legislates inequality when that inequality will primarily be applied against the female partner of the marriage. That’s exactly what will take place.
We hear the statement, “Yes, we’re moving into a new society,” and, of course, we are in many ways, “where women will go into business.” The fact still remains that the great majority of those who will suffer from inequality in this bill are the female partners in the marriage. I would plead with our colleagues on the right that they give careful consideration to this amendment by my colleague from Windsor-Sandwich because it makes the only sense if we really believe in family law reform.
Mr. Roy: You are paternalistic towards females in this province.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Chairman, almost everything has been said in regard to this amendment.
Ms. Gigantes: No, not all.
Mr. McClellan: Not at all. Only by your party.
Mr. Kerrio: I think there may be one scenario that may be drawn here. I have the greatest respect for my two colleagues who have taken the lead for us in this particular bill, the member for St. George and the member for Ottawa East. I’d like to say that my concern is, if I were to draw a scenario that would very much concern me, it would have to do with a relationship where a family acquired assets over many years and later on in life one member or the other passes away. They have, through their whole existence -- and I think many of us are in that same category -- worked to one end, and that is to see their family proceed in a way that would make them better for having been here.
I would suggest that in a relationship where people are past middle age and one member of that relationship passes away, it would be the full intent of those two people to pass on to their children what they have acquired and worked for all their lives, and a marriage of convenience in later years for the association and companionship that it would have to offer certainly would jeopardize what the two original people in that matrimonial contract had expected of life. The children of that first marriage, to whom the two people had dedicated themselves and wished to pass on some of their lifetime’s work, certainly would be disadvantaged by such a bill as the one we have before us today.
I can’t by any stretch of my imagination support any such bill, and I don’t think good-thinking men and women anywhere in this province would support it either. As has been said already by our responsible people and by the people in the government, they will address themselves to a fair and equitable consideration of either spouse having contributed to that relationship by way of effort, money or in any other way where a judgement could be made that they should share beyond what is considered the family assets.
Today we have women who are very concerned and are addressing themselves to where their future lies. We don’t have to posture to the point where we are trying to tell them something that simply will not work because of the particular circumstance that has been described by those people who know a good deal more than I do as far as the law is concerned, and because of the kind of relationship that I suggest is occurring more frequently in the lifestyle we have today.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Chairman, a great deal has been said already and I was not planning on speaking on this bill at all. Being the chairman of the committee that dealt with the bill, I had remained as impartial as possible. But, listening to the arguments of the member for Simcoe Centre and of the member for St. George, I simply had to rise. I guess my conscience got the better of me, for the “Henny-Penny Ducky-Lucky” arguments that were used just don’t stand up. The sky is not falling down if this amendment is introduced.
Mr. Warner: The sky is falling on that side.
Mr. Philip: Over the holidays, while the House recessed, I was reading some interesting speeches by somebody whom I am sure the Liberals will be somewhat acquainted with -- a man by the name of Gladstone. Gladstone’s speeches that I was going through concerned home rule. It may have been a different kind of rule and a different kind of home than we were talking about today, but basically what Gladstone was dealing with was the whole problem of equality of a whole group of people.
It seemed to me that all of the arguments that the Tories used at that time against the prominent Liberal were the economic arguments -- arguments similar to those that the member for St. George and the Conservative member for Simcoe Centre seemed to be using in this particular case. Destruction of the commercial enterprise has always been used as an argument for creating inequality.
Mr. G. Taylor: It could kill quite a few jobs --
Mr. Philip: The fact is that the court still has great discretion even if this amendment is passed; and the fact is that if this amendment is not passed, it makes a lie of the bill and a lie of the preamble to the bill.
Mrs. Campbell: I hadn’t intended to speak twice on this section, Mr. Chairman, but I feel moved to do so because perhaps over a period of time you gain some experience. I think of a great debate which took place some years ago at the time when I was the president of the Women’s Law Association. We had been meeting with women who were demanding the privilege of serving on juries. We said then it was interesting that at the time men did not want to serve on juries, women were claiming it to be a privilege.
There is a kind of relationship here, because it is just at the time when women are taking a more prominent part. Granted a great many of them are not; but more and more women are stepping out and becoming executives, they are becoming involved in the higher echelons of the professions and of the commercial enterprises.
Ms. Gigantes: Hear, hear.
Mrs. Campbell: It is interesting that at this point in time, when they are gaining that stature, we have the proposal that we should knock 'em down. They’ve been hit badly enough in the past with the old family law tradition, and now you want to take them into the new position where they will be placed at a disadvantage under this bill as you propose it.
I don’t think that is appropriate --
Mr. Roy: We don’t understand that.
Mrs. Campbell: -- and for me to be told that I have supported this government and their arguments is just ludicrous. Let me say this: It goes back to those days when we were sitting debating the employment standards legislation during International Women’s Year. Where were the NDP and where were the unions -- ?
Mr. Bounsall: It was my amendment.
Mrs. Campbell: -- where was everybody?
Mr. Roy: Where was the NDP?
Mr. Bounsall: It was my amendment.
Mrs. Campbell: It was not your amendment, it was mine. I am a little tired of being told that as a woman I am not supporting the rights of women. I’ve been doing it for longer than any of you have.
Mr. Foulds: It’s too bad you are faltering in the clutch.
Mrs. Campbell: The fact is that I do understand something about the workings of our communities, of our country, of our province. I am not going to sit idly by while some Johnny-come-latelies -- and they are --
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege, I refuse to be called a Johnny-come-lately.
Mrs. Campbell: -- are trying to tell me that I am not as concerned about the rights of women as anybody in this Legislature.
Mr. Foulds: That’s a sexist remark. At least you could call the member for Carleton East a Jenny-come-lately.
Mr. Roy: You fought the Attorney General more than anyone else.
Mrs. Campbell: Yes, I was successful once. If only things had been different.
Mr. Williams: It is interesting to watch the scrapping going on between members of the so-called weaker sex in the House.
Mr. Foulds: Speak for yourself.
Ms. Gigantes: It is a whole new world isn’t it?
Mr. Williams: Obviously that is a misnomer and has been quite clearly disproved here this afternoon.
Mr. Kerrio: Where are you going to put the other foot, John?
Mr. Williams: Mr. Chairman, it may be that some people take an Alice-in-Wonderland approach to this matter, or choose to quote nursery rhymes to make their points about what the essential ingredients of this legislation should be. But I think we should by addressing the realities of the legislation --
Mr. G. Taylor: To you the whole world is a nursery rhyme, John.
Mr. Warner: No one expects you to enter the 20th century.
Mr. Williams: -- and considering it in its proper context and in a proper perspective. That is, of course, that we are indeed dealing with family law legislation and accordingly dealing with an equitable and proper distribution of family assets. It must be that common sense would dictate what the family assets should be, namely those normally associated with use in and about the matrimonial home, and not assets taken in the total universality approach --
Ms. Gigantes: Not in any of that male property.
Mr. McClellan: None of this real stuff.
Mr. Williams: What interested me during the debate earlier was the fact that so much skepticism was expressed by members, particularly of the New Democratic Party --
Mr. Wildman: You’d think if you really believed they were the weaker sex you’d want to protect them.
Mr. Williams: -- as to the wisdom that would be displayed by the judges of the courts in exercising the discretion that is given to them in this legislation.
Mr. Wildman: Exorcise?
Mr. Warner: History speaks for itself.
Mr. Williams: It is clearly spelled out that indeed wide discretionary powers do exist where the court has the right, in its opinion, to expand upon division of assets, even though they may be other than family assets as defined in this section.
Mr. Haggerty: John, did you read Chatelaine this month? You should read that article.
Mr. Williams: No, I didn’t. To now suggest that our court system isn’t sufficiently competent to handle this new type of legislation because there are such broad discretionary powers built into the legislation, I think is to some extent an offence to the judicial system we have in this province, which I consider to be of the highest calibre to be found anywhere.
Surely it’s much easier to work from a definition that clearly relates to the family situation and expand upon that, as the court in its wisdom sees fit, rather than to apply a universal definition from which one has to take away. So it is clearly appropriate that the definition should be as spelled out in the legislation, in that as far as exercise of discretionary powers goes, it’s clearly spelled out in the other sections of the Act, and will, I think, meet all of the objections that have been raised by the opposition.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I would point out to the member for Carleton East that we have about two more minutes. Do you wish to speak at this time?
Ms. Gigantes: I would seek your advice, Mr. Chairman, about whether I should begin because I have some rather lengthy remarks on this section.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: If you have some lengthy remarks it would be more appropriate to continue when this adjourned debate continues, which would be Thursday evening.
On motion by Hon. Mr. McMurtry, the committee of the whole House reported progress and asked for leave to sit again.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.