The House resumed at 8 p.m.
TENANT PROTECTION (CONCLUDED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on government notice of motion 11 with reference to sessional paper 13, the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations’ report on the policy options for continuing tenant protection, to the standing committee on general government.
Mr. Worton: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of a quorum, do you not believe we should ring the bells?
Clerk of the House: There is not a quorum present, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker called for the quorum bells.
Mr. Speaker: Before I recognize the hon. member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, I would like to remind hon. members that the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) raised a matter concerning the portion of the motion dealing with coverage by Hansard.
I undertook to consider the matter further but I have not changed my position which I stated on Friday. That is, there is no impediment to the House ordering in a specific motion the coverage of any meeting in any manner in which the collective House sees fit.
I now recognize the hon. member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr. Warner: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is obvious that earlier the members were not aware that I would be speaking at 8 o’clock, but that’s been --
An hon. member: That’s precisely why they weren’t here.
Mr. Epp: Why would you misrepresent the House so quickly?
Mr. Warner: You will recall, Mr. Speaker, when we broke off last, the minister of corporate protection entered into a debate with myself --
Mr. Cureatz: We are trying to forget.
Mr. Warner: -- over the original terms of reference, which really underlies the basic reason why we should not be accepting this resolution that’s put in front of us. I had made the point earlier that it is temporary legislation and that the government is engaged in withdrawing tenant protection and the minister made the point that we had talked about temporary legislation.
He is absolutely correct; we had both spoken about temporary legislation. But there is a difference. We spoke of temporary legislation in terms of the housing needs in the province of Ontario. We said tenants need rent protection so long as there is an inadequate supply of rental accommodation in the province. Such obviously continues to be the case.
The government on the other hand clearly identified in its introductory paragraph of its red/green paper, and I quote: “Ontario’s current rent review program was conceived as a temporary program complementary to the federal government’s anti-inflation program.”
But it isn’t just in their paper. If we refer back to the introduction of rent review on November 6, 1975, we will find that the statement in the rent review document given to us is entirely consistent with the statement made by the minister at that time, the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes): “It should also be viewed in the context of the federal government’s anti-inflation measures, which it is designed to complement.”
From the outset it was determined that the rent review program would be temporary and that it would be in connection with the anti-inflation program of the federal government, but really there was no commitment in here that rent review should be in terms of rental accommodation or the supply of adequate housing. There is no reference to that in the statement by the then minister.
In fact, what is interesting is that that minister went on and made a commitment on behalf of the government in that statement of November 1975. He said: “Hopefully we will be able to interest builders in our homing programs in the new federal housing initiative, so that notwithstanding the controls a better supply of accommodation of all types will become available in these communities.” That, of course, has not happened.
I think that all members of the House, and certainly the opposition members, can at this time appreciate that there is a very great difference between the interests of the government with respect to the rent review program and the interests of at least this party.
That is that the government wished to have a program -- and they did -- of rent review designed to coincide with the anti-inflation program; we wanted a program of tenant protection, temporary, but in terms of the housing supply. We don’t have that adequate supply of housing in Ontario. We don’t have any better supply now than we did in 1975; in fact, it’s worse.
So from the very outset, the terms of reference mean that the government and ourselves could not possible agree on the purpose of the program. And that’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that the government never made a commitment that rent review was necessary for the protection of tenants and that it should be connected with an adequate supply of affordable housing. It’s quite obvious for us here in this party that we must oppose the measures that have been put forward by the government. What the official opposition, as opposed to the real opposition, is prepared to do is entirely its choice, but it seems inappropriate to me that it could continue to support a government program, which outlines at the outset that the rent review program should be in connection with the anti-inflation program and not in connection with the supply of housing.
Further to that, there isn’t a single suggestion in this document which could not already have been carried out by the appropriate ministries of the government. There isn’t one suggestion in here that could not already be in place or for which we could not see the appropriate legislation. The document talks about added tenant protection. We’ve waited at least two years and longer for the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to bring in legislation that would toughen up the Landlord and Tenant Act. It hasn’t happened. He’s had all of the information provided to him. He knows what has to be done but it hasn’t been done.
In there it talks about a supply of housing. There is nothing to have precluded the government from having done that before now. The Ministry of Housing, if it wasn’t so interested in simply disassembling itself, would have introduced some housing programs that would have met the very serious housing problem we have in the province. It hasn’t been done. We don’t need a red/green paper to tell us there are housing problems. What is sadly lacking from the document, as a matter of fact, is any serious discussion of non-profit or co-operative housing. Yet, at this point, that is probably the most viable option for the government to have pursued. They have the ways and means to do it but they choose not to; they’ve always chosen not to.
There isn’t anything in here that couldn’t have been done and that shouldn’t have been done. There’s a very real reason why this document is in front of us. The government wants the three parties to do its work for it because it seems to have forgotten the very basic principle of our system, that is that governments introduce legislation and oppositions vote against legislation or support it depending on its merits. That’s the way the system normally works. But the government has derogated from that system.
In my view, that’s absolutely wrong. Give us some legislation. We’ll debate it and we’ll either vote for or against it, but don’t let them start asking us to do their work for them, that’s wrong.
If that’s not the real reason then, since they normally do understand the principles of the parliamentary system and the way in which it should work, there must be some other reason. There is a reason, a very solid one; that is that the government wants to get out of the rent review system.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Right on.
Mr. Warner: Yes, we have an admission. Do you want to admit it? You said right.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I can’t imagine the member knows how to say the word “right.”
Mr. Warner: In fact, every time I look at you I know how to say the word “right,” to the right.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You are so far left, for crying out loud, you don’t know where to stand.
Mr. Warner: The government wants to get out of the rent review program and it’s trying to find a way to do it; hopefully by co-opting the opposition, that’s what it’s all about. I wish someone over there would just have courage enough to stand in his place and say that’s what this government’s about. That would make it a lot more simpler; it would certainly make it a lot more honest approach to the tenants in the province.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Resign.
Mr. Warner: In conclusion, I cannot do anything else except vote against this resolution because it is a part of a co-opting system.
Mr. Hodgson: That would be the alternative.
Mr. Warner: There is that choice, but the people in Scarborough-Ellesmere would be very disappointed.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Then stand up and give your speech.
Mr. Warner: I am standing up; and the minister embarrasses the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations when he says that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Not when I am standing next to you.
Mr. Warner: I sense from previous speakers that the Liberal Party is prepared to co-opt itself into this process.
Mr. Mancini: Oh don’t be so silly. He’s right off his rocker.
An hon. member: What else is new?
Mr. Warner: I certainly wouldn’t apologize for having woken up that member.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, it’s also evident that we do have a commitment to the tenants of this province, so I will be there in the committee to help defend the more than one million tenants who live in Metro Toronto and try to fight for some real protection for tenants.
Mr. Turner: Oh, get off it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Sock it to him.
Mr. Warner: The minister knows I will, doesn’t he?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: But you won’t hit him with that. You’ll stab him.
Mr. Warner: It’s unfortunate, as we will probably wind up the debate tonight, that the Liberal Party could not see fit to make a very clear stand on behalf of tenants and say that this document is wrong.
Mr. Mancini: You have been reading Michael Cassidy’s memos.
Mr. Warner: What is needed instead is an extension of the rent review program with some needed improvements. The minister has talked about the improvements. He knows as well as I do that the rent review program isn’t perfect, that it’s loaded on the side of the landlord and that it needs some improvements --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You guys put the thing together.
Mr. Warner: Let the minister introduce the legislation; we will debate it and we can amend it. But he should stop trying to co-opt people into a process whose ultimate design is to do away with the rent review protection that tenants in this province deserve.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Did your leader send you another memo on this one?
Mr. Mancini: David, how could you do that with a straight face?
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise and speak on behalf of the Liberal caucus in support of the proposal of the government to review the rent program and the accommodation --
An hon. member: We’re going to have some class now.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Fine lad.
Mr. Samis: You’re in trouble now.
Mr. Warner: You should be more choosy about your friends.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I feel very strongly that we do have to protect and provide housing for our citizens, but it’s a peculiar thing that only last June 9 the government went to the people of Ontario on the basis of a slight difference of opinion, using the excuse that the rent controls were the real election issue. But the people of Ontario turned against them and didn’t support the government; they re-elected a minority government.
I want to say, as a member of this caucus, that we want to be constructive. I am certainly glad to see members of the government making statements that they want to co-operate, but when we discussed OHIP and health costs, they indicated they wanted to work together at one point in time and then, on the other hand, they don’t want to provide the information, as was clearly pointed out today when we discussed OHIP and health costs. I just hope they will work along with all members of the House so we can come up with accommodation that is so necessary.
Because of these facts, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say briefly that we will support this proposal; we will work along with other members and try to be constructive to come up with some alternatives by which we can protect the average citizen.
Mr. Charlton: I won’t be too long in my comments, Mr. Speaker, but I have a number of comments that I would like to make.
Mr. Mancini: You’re a rare one.
Mr. Warner: Wisdom hurts the member for Essex South.
Mr. Charlton: One of the first points I would like to make is that it’s unfortunate for all the members in this House that so many of the memories around here are so short. One of the things we all seem to forget, as the government proclaims that its intention for rent review was to be complementary to the federal program of wage and price controls, is that this party at some point -- I don’t know exactly when they started talking about it, but during the election campaign of 1975 the Liberal party and the government of this province all talked about rent review. The government during the campaign, through the Premier (Mr. Davis), agreed that they would consider some form of rent review.
That was all before the guidelines were ever announced in Ottawa, before we had to consider restricted wages. The problem of increases in rent that did not suit the economic circumstances were already there. All three parties in this House talked about that problem before the guidelines were ever announced. It is unfortunate that memories are so short; it is unfortunate that we forget that the phenomenal increases that were going on were going on even without the guidelines.
The second thing I would like to talk about is the average increases that we have had under rent review since its inception. Landlords have asked for average increases of around 20 per cent. Rent review boards in the province have granted increases on the average of 13 per cent. I would like to point out to this House, and especially to the government members across the way and to our friends in the Liberal Party down here, that the 13 per cent, any way you look at it, is considerably above the guideline as set out in the rent review legislation.
What in effect has happened under rent review is that for the most part landlords who could justify increases above the guidelines based on increased costs have got that extra increase because they could justify it. It was not because it was frivolous, but because they could justify it. If they couldn’t justify 20 per cent they were rolled back, but they got an increase that they could justify. Some of those increases that I have seen perhaps were even over what they could legitimately justify, because tenants were not there with sufficient expertise to oppose those rent increases in an effective way. But for the most part, landlords got all or the better portion of what they wanted over and above the guideline whenever they felt it was necessary.
The polls in Ontario are fairly clear in terms of what the people of this province feel, especially the tenants; that rent review is a necessary thing, and that rent review has to continue. It is obvious to us in this party that the objective of the green paper is to get the government out of the rent review program with as much grace as possible and with as little political fuss as possible.
In the last year-and-a-half at my old job, working in the assessment division in the Ministry of Revenue, I spent a year working on apartments. I talked to literally hundreds of landlords. I think that some of the people on the opposite side of the House should take a look at a rather strange circumstance in Hamilton; because all of the discussion we have heard about rent review and the cost push in the rental sector has inhibited the production of or building of additional rental units.
The vacancy rate in the city of Hamilton right now is something over five per cent. It has actually increased from something in the middle three per cent range at the time of the inception of rent review. Over that year in Hamilton, in talking to both landlords who were experiencing the high vacancy rates and the landlords who were not -- and it is significant to note the high vacancy rates for the most part occurred in two specific sections of the city, not right across the entire city -- in talking to the landlords who were experiencing the high vacancy rate, it was significant to note that their complaint was very much the one that we are hearing here, that the cost situation was affecting their operation and the rent review was hurting it even more.
The comments from the landlords whose rents were lower than those landlords experiencing the high vacancy rates and the comments of those landlords who were not experiencing the high vacancy rates at all -- in fact, in most cases their units were filled 100 per cent almost all of the time -- were that the problem with those boys in the east-end is that they would rather push up their rents to cover vacancies than they would spend the time to keep their buildings filled at a lower rate of rent.
That is one of the reasons we got into the problem in the first place and the situation hasn’t changed under rent review. The vacancy rate in the east end of Hamilton is still extremely high. It’s still extremely high because even under rent review the landlords have been able to justify rent increases --
Mr. Mancini: How high?
Mr. Charlton: How high? Over five per cent. The landlords have still been able to justify rent increases. The thing that caused the vacancy rate in the east end has still not been caught up with. Those higher rents are still higher than in the rest of the city. For us to be sitting here in this Legislature and talking about going into a committee to find a way to get out of rent review just does not make sense. We haven’t dealt with the overall problem for the province of Ontario, which is the supply of rental accommodation.
With that I’ll leave it. The problem hasn’t been solved and for us to be trying to get out of what is a partial solution until the problem is solved is just ludicrous at this point.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Essex South.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: An easy act to follow.
Mr. Mancini: I am pleased to rise and speak on the proposal of the government to refer this matter of rent control to an all-party committee of this Legislature. We all know why we have had rent control in this province since 1975. The fact of the matter is that at that particular point in time many tenants were being pushed to the limit with very high and very expensive rent increases, in the neighbourhood of anywhere from 20 to 30 to 40 per cent; and I’m sure in cases that I’ve not heard of possibly even higher.
To many of the people who are in this Legislature, and possibly to most of them on the other side of the House who say that we do not need rent control at all, I say we have it because the marketplace has shown us, and we’ve had experience now, that the matter of rent can get out of hand and this Legislature must be prepared and must be ready to take action to protect tenants when the matter calls for it to be done.
We know that this rent control program is going to end on December 31, 1978. I believe we are going to this all-party committee not to find a way to weasel out of protecting the tenants, as one of my colleagues from the far left has said, but so that we, as legislators, can put before ourselves what alternatives there are to rent control, what action we can take to protect tenants from high rent increases that they cannot afford to pay and what alternatives we can find to ensure that landlords get a fair return. And let us not forget that there are average people who are landlords. There are people who own small units, as the leader of the third party used to own one. We know that these people need a fair return on their investment.
So our job should be two-fold: First, to ensure that the landlord gets a fair return; and, second, to ensure that what happened in 1975 and prior to that never happens again.
Over the past two years rent control has been a volatile issue and surely the blame for this lies directly on the shoulders of the government. Rent control, Mr. Speaker, should have never been an issue in June 1977. It should never have been an issue at all. It was stated prior to then by the government that this program would be tied in to the Anti-Inflation Board until the expiration of the Anti-Inflation Board. That fact alone should have shown the government that it should never have been a campaign issue in 1977.
I think possibly -- and I do not say this to be offensive -- the government was looking for reason to call an election, no matter how poor the reason was -- very, very poor.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Where did you dream that up?
Mr. Mancini: And to tell the people of Ontario in principle alone that their wages but not their rent had to be held down to six per cent, is very poor judgement indeed. It is not only poor judgement, may I tell the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, but also very unfair and very unjust.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It’s six per cent now.
Mr. Mancini: Yes, that’s right, six per cent now, but we had to have a $25 million election.
Mr. Hodgson: Who voted for an election?
Mrs. Campbell: You did.
Mr. Mancini: So I take it that this party, and I hope the party to the left -- I hear now that they are coming; I wasn’t sure if they were going to join us in the committee, but I hear now that they are coming.
Mr. Swart: We hate to leave everything to you guys.
Mr. Mancini: I hope we go into the committee with the idea that we are not going to abolish the protection of tenants. That is not the idea that I am going to go into committee with. We are going to go into committee because the government program is expiring this December and we must have something to put in its place that is fair and equitable.
Hon. W. Newman: That’s the best speech you have made in a long time.
Mr. Mancini: That is because you are never here to listen.
Mr. Breaugh: I just want to briefly enter the debate because I think it speaks to some of the difficulties we are having in a minority government.
I would support the motion if I were assured that when we go to committee what the committee says in fact becomes law; that the things that are discussed in the committee and the motions that are passed come back to the House intact and then become matters that this government is prepared to consider seriously.
I think one of the very serious problems we are having is the credibility of this particular House in a minority situation. We have seen again and again where opposition members attempt to provide a service to the Parliament in the committee stage; they attempt to debate, to provide amendments. Then, oddly enough, when it does come back to the House we see that it is subject to another review. It is subject to whether or not the government chooses to proceed with that particular amendment or that particular item under discussion in that form; and very often we have seen that the government does not want to do that.
So, in fact, what opposition members attempt to do in the committee stage, which is to perform a function of the House which is quite parliamentary, quite acceptable, doesn’t really happen. That is the reason for my personal reluctance -- it is, I think, the reason for the reluctance of this party -- in accepting this particular proposal. We are not terribly convinced that the government is all of that sincere about proceeding in this way.
If we thought that this recommendation would go to committee, would come back and the feelings of the committee would hold forth, we would be quite happy with this arrangement. But it doesn’t seem to be likely.
In terms of the item under discussion, we have seen that this government doesn’t have very much ambition to make our own rent review program work. In fact the government went into a rent review program not very much of its own volition, but in the midst of a great deal of political pressure.
The paper the government has presented on the rent review process and subsequent ideas is really kind of an amalgam or a dog’s breakfast of various concepts that have been expressed by a large group of people over rent review and tenants’ rights, and the Landlord and Tenant Act, and various other concepts or problems that people who are tenants run into.
What I would like to see is some serious commitment on the part of the government to follow through with some of those things. My hope is frankly that in the committee stage, and when it comes back, that tenants in the province will see some of their rights reinforced in law. I wish I sincerely felt that that would actually happen. I really don’t. I feel that what will happen in the committee stage is that some concessions will be made; that’s true, that almost invariably happens. But I don’t sense a substantial change on the part of this government in reversing the roles of housing.
We as a party look at housing as a right. People have a basic right to have a decent roof over their head and some fairly decent houses to go with it. On the other hand, I get the distinct feeling that this government deals with housing from an entirely different perspective. They look at it as an investment, it is something upon which money can be made, it is a stimulus to the economy; it is a great many things but it isn’t that basic right that we, as New Democrats, see people have to have in terms of housing.
I read with great interest the propositions that the government put forward in their position on this. I think that we really couldn’t take too much exception with a number of the ideas that are proposed, except the source that is proposing them. That poses us some problems. What has this government done before this point, as a minority government, in terms of providing opposition members with an opportunity to substantially change the policies of the government? In theory I could look at this opportunity and say here is a government seriously telling members from all parties to begin to establish a new policy. It is telling them to establish something that is different, that will be unique, that will be substantively altered from the previous course of the government. I really have a hard time believing that that is true.
I have a difficult time believing that this government is prepared to take into account that tenants have a right to a decent place to live, or that they have a right to negotiate what is a decent payment at the end of each month for their accommodation. I have some difficulty understanding the concept that this government is now prepared, where it previously was not prepared, to say that tenants have a right to argue about small matters, about whether the place gets decorated, whether or not it has decent services provided; because that would be substantive change from what this government has done in the past.
So I am looking to two things. I am looking at the right of a tenant to have a decent place to live and to pay a decent amount of money in terms of rent for a month’s accommodation; and I am looking at the track record of this government. The two don’t match at all; there are great discrepancies. This government has never really provided the tenants of the province with either a decent place to live or with the right as a tenant to say that we are not here at someone’s pleasure, that we are here because housing is a right, and should have some efficient mechanisms that will say that our rights will be protected.
For example, one of the two things that are being discussed at this time is rent review. I would have a difficult time stating, from anyone’s perspective, that the current rent review process in Ontario is efficient or works well. In fact, I would go the opposite way. I would say that it is an awkward process. It has worked with reasonable amounts of efficiency in a very general way but not in a very specific way.
From the second point of view, in terms of the tenant’s rights, I would say that the rights are somewhat there, but they are extremely difficult to enforce. Where do you go if you feel that your rights have been violated under the Landlord and Tenant Act? That’s a little hard for tenants to understand in the first instance. It’s a little difficult for them to find an appeal court in the second instance. If they know the law, their rights can be ensured; but how do they go about getting those rights enforced? That’s difficult. Do you go through an office? There isn’t one. Do you go to court? In fact you do.
So there are great difficulties that are involved in accepting this discussion paper as being a valid document that is going to really help any tenant in the province to have either a decent level of their income deducted as part of their rent for a decent place to live, or to say that any other rights they might have as tenants will be actively enforced. There’s hardly a member in this House who doesn’t still have, as a regular occurrence, tenants calling him saying, “I’ve been served with a notice of eviction.” But the notice does not come from any official source; rather, it comes from a landlord in the form of a letter. They’re not aware of their rights, nor are they really aware where they can appeal if they think their rights have been transgressed.
There are problems with the Landlord and Tenant Act and with rent review, and this discussion paper purports at least to put all of those things together. It touches on some things I would agree with. There are a number of things, in fact, that I would agree with. But the minister is asking me, as a member of this House, to accept as an article of faith that this government is prepared to do a turnaround on that. I don’t think it is.
I would have to put the case that my own credibility as a member of this House has been stretched beyond endurance. I don’t expect this government to change substantially from anything it’s ever done. I think you would have to forgive me, Mr. Speaker, for saying I was the member of this House who posed some amendments to the current rent review Act last year. I saw the letters that came from the government House leader (Mr. Welch) saying these things would be matters of confidence, whereas previously they had never been dealt with in that way.
I think you would also forgive me for saying I was the same member who proposed the actual formal amendments to say that the guideline would be six per cent. I listened to the government benches tell me that would ruin the economy, would destroy all housing in the province of Ontario and would not work.
I was the same private member who sat here and listened to a member of the government stand up in November of last year and say that, in fact, the guideline would be six per cent. All of that came after we had spent $20 million or so, after we had all gone through a provincial election and after we had dealt with this thing as a matter of confidence in this government.
Mr. Davidson: It’s a matter of fact, Larry, and you know it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: And slipped to third place. I can understand why you’re unhappy.
Mr. Breaugh: In fact, Mr. Speaker, you are asking me as a private member of this House to believe this government. I find that very difficult to do in any circumstances, and on this particular item I’m afraid I can’t believe it.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to enter into this debate. I have to share with the House something of the dilemma in which I find myself.
Having perused the document, one of the interesting gaps as far as I’m concerned is that this government, with all of the things it says in that paper, for some reason doesn’t address itself to the one issue which I think has to be of primary concern if this committee is going to work. That is the simple question of affordability. That is not spelled out in the paper in a way that I should like to see and in a way that I can really give full credence to this thrust of government.
That is borne out by the fact that the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) is not interested enough to be here for this debate.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What about your leader? Isn’t he interested?
Mr. Davidson: Never mind that. She’s absolutely right, Larry. That’s pretty cheap.
Mrs. Campbell: I have not commented on the absence of the Premier (Mr. Davis).
Hon. Mr. Grossman: All right. I’ll take the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt). Who will you take?
Mrs. Campbell: I assume that the Premier does have other functions. But the Minister of Housing, in my view, should be concerned with the desire to provide affordable housing --
Mr. Hall: That’s right. He should be here.
Mrs. Campbell: -- and that is the difference between whether my leader is here, whether the leader of the third party is here or who is here.
Mr. Hall: The former Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) is here.
Mrs. Campbell: I would like the minister who in essence is responsible for this debate to advise this House whether he would be prepared, as this committee is going into session, to try to give assurances to this House that there will be two ministers there discussing the two sides of this question.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: How about the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) too, because we’ll need money? How about the Attorney General for the Landlord and Tenant Act. How about the Premier for the ultimate decision?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Campbell: It’s interesting that this government loves to push off on to municipalities their responsibility. I would say that the city of Toronto has taken some pretty forward steps in trying to fill the gaps on which this government has so faltered.
Mrs. Campbell: That kind of response is the very thing that gives me a lack of confidence in this committee. If the minister really means what he is saying, he would want this committee to look at all sides of the question. He would want this committee to be able to say to the Minister of Housing that he has to be involved in the solution, because we have to consider the question of the affordability of housing.
The reason I have been prepared to support the committee --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Is that you have been whipped.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, if that pipsqueak over there could keep his mouth closed, he wouldn’t be braying like the proverbial animal.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Smile when you say that.
Mr. Martel: They don’t want our support.
Mrs. Campbell: I believe I am getting to him.
Mr. Martel: It’s not you; it’s me that has got to him.
Mrs. Campbell: I think I am getting to him because he hasn’t the courtesy to listen to what is really a very serious point that is being made.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Smile and I’ll listen all night.
Mrs. Campbell: If affordability is not going to be part of the discussion of the committee, then let’s not have the committee at all.
Mr. Martel: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You’ve got another vote. She is voting with you, there is no doubt about it.
Mr. Martel: Bring in the legislation.
Mrs. Campbell: I can wait for the braying to subside, Mr. Speaker, but couldn’t you do something about the minister to let me proceed? Could we have some order?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Campbell: One of the things that has to be looked at is a matter of ways and means to try to prevail upon the private market as well as the government to provide housing. It is interesting to me that everybody says, all the experts, particularly from the government side, that we have had a dearth of new housing because of rent review. You could fool me and the riding of St. George, because ever since I have been in this House, I have had at least one or two or three new towers every election time, and that will be no exception when the next election rolls round.
However, there is no doubt that in other parts of the province new building has come to a halt. For that reason, it seems to me that we as responsible people have to look and to understand what might be done to stir that industry. When you have a municipality like the one we are in, where we now find that a family of four is living at the poverty level with $12,000 a year, then the government, if it is concerned at all, must face that reality in the provision of affordable housing.
I don’t suppose that I have added anything much to this debate; I regret that I wasn’t here for the start of it. But I do insist, for myself at least, that if we can’t change the guidelines, if we can’t make it absolutely clear that affordability is one of the main features of the discussion of the committee, then I would have to say that we are wasting our time.
I would look forward to listening, with courtesy not accorded to me by the minister, to his response to my suggestion that both of these ministers sit with the committee as we try to find solutions, not on any stance of government but for the people of this province who look to us for some kind of solution to problems which are rapidly becoming, in their eyes at least, almost insoluble. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie.
Mr. Samis: The sergeant-at-arms.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I had joined my colleagues in the Legislature tonight to hear what I hoped would be an intelligent discussion --
Hon. W. Newman: Glad to hear it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- on the proposal before the House.
Mr. Makarchuk: He welcomed you in, did you hear that?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: However, I find that some of the comments being made -- and I’m sorry that two of the hon. members who spoke earlier made their pitch and decided to leave, but perhaps it was just as well.
Mr. Makarchuk: They’re listening.
Mr. Martel: They are having coffee.
Mr. Makarchuk: They are listening outside.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I listened to the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere who stood in the House a few moments ago and commented upon the rent review legislation as it now exists. His comment was, of course, that the legislation was loaded in favour of the landlord and biased against the tenant.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s why you wouldn’t enforce it, right?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I would draw to your attention that in the fall of 1975, the original bill that was brought in --
Mr. Martel: With much protest.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- was discussed at that time by the then minister with the Leader of the Opposition --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The then leader.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The then Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis), and the then leader of the third party; we sat and discussed the contents of the legislation as proposed and both of them at that time said that legislation was fair and it was what they were looking for and they would like to see it introduced in the House. And it was.
Ms. Gigantes: And you said you wanted to get out of it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: After it was introduced in the House, the third party in this House, led by the then Housing critic and now leader of that party, tore that legislation to pieces.
Ms. Gigantes: What did you say?
Mr. Swart: Made it workable.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: He tore it to pieces; amended it, changed it, and now that member for Scarborough-Ellesmere has the nerve to stand in this House and say the legislation is loaded in favour of the landlord.
Ms. Gigantes: What did you say about the legislation?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: If that’s the case, the architects of the Act at that time were the members of the New Democratic Party led by their then leader and the then Housing critic. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
Ms. Gigantes: And what did you say? Let’s hear what you said.
Mr. Martel: That’s absolute distortion.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Warner: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Mancini: You are always up on privileges.
Mr. Warner: I certainly didn’t realize in 1975 when the legislation came in that they were going to appoint a whole raft of Tory real estate agents to run the rent review program.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Sault Ste. Marie.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Of course, we could have carried out the request of the then Housing critic and now leader of the third party. He wanted to have --
Mr. Makarchuk: A few tenants’ rights.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- investigators dressed in tights and a cloak, and leaping out of a balcony like Rental Storm Troopers to carry on the investigation.
Mr. Martel: A Ku Klux outfit.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: But I want to comment briefly, Mr. Speaker, on the comments made by the member for Oshawa who stood in the House -- and I have respect for the member for Oshawa. He was the Housing critic and he was a good Housing critic. He did his job and he did his homework. But he stood in the House a few moments ago and was concerned about his credibility. He said that he really was concerned about his credibility as a member of the Legislature. I don’t blame him.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That’s understandable.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I think he should be concerned about his credibility, because the NDP have sanctimoniously stood and talked about how great has been their protection of the tenants of the province of Ontario --
Ms. Gigantes: Did he lean on you? What did you say about the legislation?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- how they have been there fighting. They’re doing their job.
Ms. Gigantes: What did you say? What did you say?
Mr. Martel: That’s absolute distortion.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Let me read this to you --
An hon. member: You just admitted it.
Ms. Gigantes: You said you wouldn’t administer a program. You wouldn’t touch it.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, could I have some order? Could I have some respect shown to me, as was shown to the member for St. George, by the braying animal who sits on the other side?
An hon. member: You only get what you deserve.
Mr. Swart: We are showing the same kind of respect.
Mr. Martel: You earn that, John; you earn respect.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker --
Ms. Gigantes: Why didn’t you administer it? Why did you wash your hands?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Oshawa is so concerned about his credibility -- and concerned he should be. It was in November of 1976 -- I think this is common knowledge but I want it on the record -- that a memo went to the NDP caucus from our friend, the present leader, then the Housing critic, and it says: “We must be seen to be initiating the pressure to extend rent review.”
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Read that again.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: “If the Tories eventually agree, as it is likely they will, we still then win the credit. If the Tories don’t agree, then we stand alone as the party which works for tenants. If we can make the Liberals make a clear anti-tenant vote along the way -- ”
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: “ -- so much the better.”
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Holier than thou.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Now there’s a real sanctimonious document.
Ms. Gigantes: Why wouldn’t you administer it? Why would you wash your hands of it?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Credibility? I have to believe that he needs help with his credibility.
Ms. Gigantes: Why didn’t you want to administer it?
Mr. Warner: Why didn’t it take much to satisfy you?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: His credibility and that of his whole party went right down the drain with that memo.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, order. I wonder if the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie could return to the principle of the resolution?
Mr. Martel: Return to it? He was never there.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I tell you I would be quite happy to do so. I only wish you would have said exactly the same thing to the previous speakers. But in order to abide by your ruling, sir, I will return and say this. The fact that we are asking this House to form a committee made up of all members of this Legislature and all three parties to go through this green paper and to give the people of the province an opportunity to be heard on the issues --
Ms. Gigantes: Why did you put it on Syd Handleman? Why did you do that to him?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- that are included in here is certainly not --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Makarchuk: Well he is not answering the question.
Ms. Gigantes: A patriotic question, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, would you inform the hon. member from somewhere down near Ottawa that this is not question period? If she would get off her hands during question period and ask the questions, I would be delighted to answer them then.
Ms. Gigantes: Well, if he would stick to his ministry I would be glad to ask him.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Of if she can find time to join us in the Legislature a little more often --
An hon. member: Pick on someone your own size.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, order. The hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie has the --
An hon. member: What are we debating?
Ms. Gigantes: Here comes Jack.
Mr. Makarchuk: Okay, here is where the conductor throws the policeman out.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Good night, Evelyn.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see you back in the chair, sir, because I know that we all have a mutual respect for you. Even those people opposite have respect for you.
Mrs. Campbell: We have respect for him too.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That’s right, I said opposite. Oh, him? Yes indeed. But they don’t only respect him, they fear him.
Mr. Speaker, taking this to a committee is not the wrong thing to do. It’s not a question of trying to slough off responsibility. Goodness knows that you people have stood in this House on more than one occasion and wanted a committee on everything. You would like to run government by committee. You are asking for royal commissions and all these various things. This committee is going to be going in depth into the proposals --
Ms. Gigantes: Why did you hand it off to Sidney? Poor Sidney.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- in depth. I don’t understand why you people, who are always in favour of having public participation, public input, public involvement -- this is your opportunity to have that public involvement --
Ms. Gigantes: For you to say that, shame.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- that you base your whole being on. Well, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps the hon. minister might find it easier if he addressed his remarks to the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, Mr. Speaker, not only easier but probably to one who would more properly understand and appreciate it.
It’s gratifying to know that the members of the Liberal Party at least see the worth of being able to take this particular matter before the committee of the Legislature --
Ms. Gigantes: Why didn’t you stick to being a Liberal? Why didn’t you stay with the Liberals?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- and listen to the input, not necessarily the New Democratic Party, who doesn’t seem to understand that there is such a thing as people being involved in the decisions that are made.
Mr. Swart: I rise to speak on this because I share with my colleagues around me in this section of the House, the realization that this resolution, referring this red paper, whatever it is, to the committee, is the wrong approach for protection of tenants.
What we really should be debating in this House, Mr. Speaker, are amendments, if some are needed, and there are some needed, to the Rent Review Act. There can be no question that this is the method by which the government intends to abandon rent review and abandon tenant protection. They have made this clear all along, that they intended to abandon it; they lost their last Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) because they wouldn’t abandon it at the time they said they would, and I am sure that this minister took it only on the condition that he could abandon it at the end of this year.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Wrong, wrong again.
Mr. Martel: The Tory party opposed it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You were doing better on coffee.
Mr. Swart: Certainly from his speeches to the investment people one can understand how he would be on the side of the landlords. Of course, when he says that about the coffee, you know that the coffee processors in this country wouldn’t lie to him --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The tenants wouldn’t lie to me either.
Mr. Swart: -- we know where his friends are and they are not the tenants of this province.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We’re going to put you under control?
Mr. Swart: There is no doubt in my mind that this resolution is part of the general thrust of your government which --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Ours.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Our government.
Mr. Swart: Your government, not my government. It’s part of the general thrust of the government to do two things: To reprivatize the economy; and by shifting tax burdens and other measures to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots, the wealthy and those less wealthy in our society. Some of us remember, about two- and-a-half years ago, when they tabled a document called the special program review. For those in all parts of the House who haven’t looked at that document recently --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Back to the resolution.
Mr. Swart: I would suggest that they should look at it, because it points in the same direction as the resolution we have before us tonight, the attempt to abandon rent control.
The OHIP premium increase is an example of this general thrust of the government; as well as the breaking of the Edmonton commitment; the raising of parks fees; the refusal to do anything for the unemployed in this province; the failure of the government to keep up workmen’s compensation payments and family benefits, in line even with the cost of living.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: And the date for municipal elections and coffee beans.
Mr. Swart: This is another measure on the part of the government to reprivatize and to widen the gap.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Building the bridge over the Elora Gorge.
Mr. Swart: It’s a part of their general return to what they like to think of as a rugged private enterprise system.
But of course they have to do this very subtly, because the polls show, as one of my colleagues said in today’s paper, that the majority of Metro residents continue to favour rent controls. They found that 80 per cent, this poll shows 80 per cent of the people in Metropolitan Toronto still favour rent controls.
Mr. Warner: Eighty per cent.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That’s why Cassidy wrote that memo.
Mr. Swart: So they have to do it pretty subtly. Of course you realize that; and that’s the reason we have this motion before us tonight, Mr. Speaker. As my colleague from Scarborough-Ellesmere said, if you can co-opt the whole Legislature and make it look as if you are considering other things at the same time, then you may be able to get away with it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: They all gave the same speech so far.
Mr. Swart: I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the people on the other side of the House, because I suspect they haven’t had a great deal to do with actually seeing rent control in operation; that rent review, even with its faults, has served an extremely useful purpose, in spite of the fact that the government never wanted it and therefore didn’t administer it anything like as well as it could have been administered.
Mr. Martel: Do you remember Donald Irvine? “We don’t understand.” You fought it in the middle of the election.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I remember you bringing the landlords down and telling me to do something for them, you donkey.
Mr. Martel: No, I made an appointment for them; that’s all. I didn’t bring them down.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You brought them down.
Mr. Martel: I didn’t bring them down.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Right here. Right here in the lobby.
Mr. Martel: No, no. Don’t mislead the House. I set up a meeting for them in your office.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: My apologies.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I have been involved on the side of the tenants, acting as their agent in five hearings before rent review officers, all of them rather major apartments. You will recognize that in the Welland-Thorold area there are not a great many apartments and this therefore is the majority of them.
In one of those cases the notice by the landlord was for a 28 per cent increase.
The rent review officer ordered 19 per cent. In another instance the request was for 22 per cent increase and the rent review officer ordered nine per cent. In another one of those cases the notice to the tenants was for a 19 per cent increase and the rent review officer allowed nine per cent. Another one was for a 16 per cent increase and the rent review officer allowed an eight per cent increase. In one that we handled just a month or two ago the request was for a 12 per cent increase and the rent review officer ended up allowing a three per cent increase.
I have been involved in two appeals to the rent review board -- appeals by landlords, incidentally. In one of those the board upheld the decision of the rent review officer and in the other one, because of new evidence and the time lapse, permitted an increase of nine to 13.5 per cent.
I point these out because there is little doubt that if we had not had rent review those original notices would have been the rents those people were paying. There’s no question about that. Those same kinds of increases are going to take place if rent review is abolished after the end of this year or is weakened substantially.
I think it’s fair to say that the rent review Act, in spite of its shortcomings, has made a more civilized society, along with the Landlord and Tenant Act. People now can’t arbitrarily be put out of what may have been their home for years and where they have a real stake. It’s something like the Labour Relations Act, and I suggest the government has been driven into this as they were driven into the Labour Relations Act many decades ago, when the employer felt it was his business so he could hire and fire as he liked and tell the employees exactly what they could do and what they ought to do. That same sort of philosophy with regard to landlords rests on the other side of this chamber. I suggest it will be a real step backwards if we abolish or dramatically weaken the rent review.
Abolishing the rent review will not only permit unreasonable rent increases, it will destroy the affordability that the member for St. George was talking about, and it will destroy the Landlord and Tenant Act, because they are a package. The landlord now cannot evict without justification; one of those is non-payment of rent. But if we abolish rent review, and the landlord can set the rent at anything he likes, it’ll be a very effective way of getting rid of the tenant and will, in fact, destroy the security they have under the Landlord and Tenant Act,
As has been pointed out by other members of this House, the need for the extension of rent review lies at the door of the government, because the great bulk of people in this province, as was pointed out by the member for St. George, cannot afford to purchase and own a home of their own. Yet the government over these last few years, when the escalation in the price of houses has been so great, has not done a thing to stop the land speculation, which is one of the major causes of increases in the price of housing. They have done little with regard to public housing and they have done nothing with regard to providing a capital fund for the purchase of housing at reasonable rates.
The resolution we have before us on the surface sounds great, and that is the intent of the government. When the government says it is going to refer something to the standing committee for consideration of such matters as the implications of rent control, the need for adequate quantity and quality of rental housing, the affordability of rental accommodation, methods and procedures for the resolution of landlord and tenant disputes, tenants’ need for security of tenure and the rights and obligations between landlord and tenant, it all sounds very great.
Anybody like myself who has been around this House for just two and a half years -- even those who came here in the last election -- know that that is a subterfuge for the abandonment of rent review.
Mrs. Campbell: No way.
Mr. Swart: This is the reason why I and my party are vigorously opposed to this resolution.
Mr. Haggerty: You should have been here eight years ago.
Mr. Makarchuk: I wasn’t really going to get involved in the development of the debate, but, however, I have decided to inflict myself upon this House.
Mr. Makarchuk: I was actually particularly provoked by the past Minister of Housing who unfortunately is not in the House at the moment.
Mrs. Campbell: He was provoked too and disappeared.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: So did you.
Mrs. Campbell: But I am back.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He’ll be back.
Mr. Makarchuk: If the Minister of Housing, the last one and the ones before him, had done their job or tried to do their job, we would not be involved in this debate at this time, and rents and rent controls would not be a problem in the province of Ontario.
The fact of the matter is that the previous Minister of Housing’s total function in the housing field was to act as the pawnbroker for the Treasurer and to go around and help to dispose of any parcels of land that the province of Ontario had acquired earlier. Instead of building housing, he got involved in the speculative process and proceeded to try to dispose of the properties, which he did to a certain extent
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Did you see the figures in the book about public assistance starts?
Mr. Makarchuk: Yes, I saw the book.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Then you know he built houses.
Mr. Makarchuk: You should have printed it on stitched rolls. The mythology we have to recognize in this whole matter of rents and the mythology that persists at this time is that if we had no rent controls builders would proceed to build houses --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Read the front of the book.
Mr. Speaker: Does the minister not know it is discourteous to interrupt the hon. member continually?
Mr. Makarchuk: -- and rents will therefore decline. Something that should be recognized is the fact that under the present legislation new rental units are not under rent control. Initially, the owners of those units, the landlords, have the right to set the rents at the economic rates which would bring about the returns they want. That option is available to them.
Removing rent controls is not going to change the problem. The problem, basically, is that people do not have an adequate amount of money to pay the rents that some landlords are going to charge them in the future. No matter what the government does at this time, no matter how many buildings are put up and no matter what effort the government makes in the future, it will have to recognize that in order to make residences available to all of the people it will have to have some type of controls on the cost of housing in the province of Ontario.
People have to have a place to live, and the only way the government is going to ensure they have a place to live is to ensure that it uses the various means that are available to the governments to provide housing at prices that people can afford. We don’t have a shortage of apartments these days. We don’t have a shortage of housing. What we have is a shortage of affordable apartments and a shortage of affordable housing. You can buy all the housing you want in Ontario if you have $65,000 or $70,000 kicking around. Unfortunately, most people in Ontario don’t have anywhere near the amount of money required to be able to buy a house.
The reason we have this debate, and the reason we have this problem about housing right now, is the fact that the government actually failed, and failed miserably, in the whole project of housing. The reason this resolution should be opposed is the fact that the government is not looking at the housing problem. It is not looking at the land cost, which is the major component of housing cost; it not dealing with it, it is not investigating the speculation, the profits that were made on it; it is not looking into the ownership of the land; it is not looking into the control of the land. It is not doing anything. It is not even involving the Ministry of Housing in the process; and it wants to do something about housing, and it wants to do something about rents?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Read the front of the book.
Mr. Makarchuk: It doesn’t involve the ministry.
Mr. Warner: Ah, look at what the ministry has done.
Mr. Makarchuk: The government makes a little side issue in that piece of paper, towards the whole unit and totally ignores the rest.
Mr. Warner: The Ministry of Housing is dismantling it.
Mr. Swart: Like the food guidelines.
Mr. Makarchuk: The concern of the government, Mr. Speaker, is more for the speculators than it is --
Mr. Warner: That’s right.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- about housing for people in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Warner: Right on.
Mr. Swart: Read the speech the minister made to the investors.
Mr. Makarchuk: There is a common mythology, that is fostered by the Urban Development Institute, aided and abetted by the government and on occasion aided by the Liberals as well.
Let me read a couple of items out of the Kitchener paper on the matter of land costs; and this is out of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, August 18, 1976. It’s an article by Frank Etherington, date -- marked Guelph. It says: “Housing lot prices here are soaring towards the $30,000 mark because four developers” --
Mr. Haggerty: Sounds like Saskatchewan.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- “are managing how many lots come on the market, planning director Ken Perry said Tuesday. Mr. Perry was commenting on complaints made by a Kitchener builder-developer interested in building homes on Guelph lots. The builder, Harold Freure, said at times when builders are dropping house prices in a depressed market, lot prices were continuing to climb.”
Here is another article out of the same paper. The dateline is August 19, 1976, and it is the Kitchener-Waterloo Record again. It is dealing with a name that is not unknown in this House, and it says: “Twin city politicians and planners said Wednesday before-tax profits in excess of 500 per cent promised to local investors gambling on housing land are sickening and shocking. Commenting on profits made on speculative land deals and those predicted in the prospectus sent to Kitchener-Waterloo investors, the politicians urged higher levels of government to move quickly to correct the problem.”
And it says: “Waterloo mayor, Herb Epp” -- a name, as I said, not unknown in this House -- “called for a provincial royal commission to pinpoint reasons why housing land is continuing to cost more and to make recommendations of what has been to correct the situation.”
It is strange that in this particular time his party decides to support a resolution that in no way is going to deal with this problem.
Out of the same article, it says: “Bill Thomson, chief planner for Waterloo region, said the profits were sickening and immoral when they are made at the expense of people needing houses. Mr. Thomson said he favours the region and other municipalities getting into land-banking for housing or working in financial partnership with legitimate builder-developers to beat speculators and buy long-range developable land for housing purposes.”
Let me give you a specific example, again to throw away some of this mythology that the reason housing is so expensive and the reason the costs are so high is that the land costs are high. The assumption there is that there is no land available to build houses or build apartments, and if we have to have the land we have to pay a lot for it, therefore that drives up the cost of housing; and the reason the land is so high is because it takes such a long time to process and there is no plan of subdivision available or no land available for zoning.
In Brantford, when I was involved in a housing project in 1974 and 1975, there was space for 3,316 units of housing available and that in no way affected the price of housing. Let me tell you that at that time, when we made a request to Ontario Housing to get involved in the housing situation, to try to lower the cost of housing, the reply we received from them was, “Oh, we can’t do it. This is going to affect the market.” In other words, they were more interested in protecting the speculators than they were in providing housing for the people of the province of Ontario.
There’s no question that on occasion there are delays in the process of plans of subdivision. In many cases we have to realize that that is not a fault of the ministry. I’m not in the habit of defending the Ministry of Housing or their planning department, but’s it’s not the fault of the ministry.
In many cases a developer who has a certain number of lots available puts them on the market at a rate that will provide him with a reasonable cash flow. Then what he has left he proceeds to barter with the Ministry of Housing in order to try and get on to this land as many units as possible. The result of this, of course, is that it depreciates the value of the adjoining housing. And you can’t blame the people in adjoining housing for getting up-tight about the problem, because they have a lot of their assets, a lot of what might be described as their total commitment for life -- total financial commitment -- tied up --
Mr. Rotenberg: What does this have to do with the resolution?
Mr. Swart: It has a lot to do with it.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- tied up in the housing that they have, and they have to protect it.
The point is that the government got them into this situation and then afterwards, of course, it blames them because they squawk or they get annoyed at the municipality if high-density housing is built next door.
No matter how the government likes to slice it or no matter how it likes to deal with it, the point is that it does depreciate the value of housing, and one can’t blame the people for trying to protect what they’ve got because they have a great deal invested in it.
The other point we have to touch on is really what the government is doing by putting the price of housing where it is, what it has done in terms of the economy. The money people pay on their mortgages is money that is not spent in buying the goods to furnish their homes; it’s not spent in buying fridges or stoves or furniture and it’s not providing jobs. In many cases, we have examples of money made by landlords, by major companies, that is moving out of Canada into the United States -- it’s moving into Chile, it’s moving into South Africa. In effect, the government is helping the export of capital out of this country. It is also part of the problem that’s causing the run on the Canadian dollar at this time.
The government should also try to understand -- because it has driven the cost of housing where it is -- the reason that workers demand larger settlements is because they have to meet commitments and payments on their mortgages, which again is something with which the government is not going to deal in this resolution.
This resolution basically is an effort on the part of the government to get off the hook on rent control. It has absolutely no solutions to the problem the way it is now. It is not involving, again, the people who possibly can provide the solutions.
The committee is not prepared to deal with the financing of housing. It is not prepared to deal with developers. It is not prepared to deal with the plans administration of the Ministry of Housing. It is not prepared to deal with the Ministry of Housing. It is not looking at the land holdings to see who holds the land in the various communities in Ontario or by how many people is it controlled. It is not looking at anything really that’s relevant to the whole housing process.
Specifically, this resolution does not provide the committee with any opportunity to try and find ways and means of providing affordable housing for the people of Ontario. I may point out to the minister that a municipality like Brantford was able, on its own, to build single-family homes and sell them at $32,000 without any subsidy from any taxpayer, and yet the mighty province of Ontario, with all the minions that it has -- the millions and the minions that it has working in the Ministry of Housing -- has yet to build one single-family home at that price.
At the same time, we should have been able to build multi-family units, row housing, at prices of about $16,000 to $18,000. That means that people could have possessed homes and could have been paying about $160 to $180 a month for principal and interest, which is a lot less than they are paying on rent anywhere in Ontario these days. I am not seeing these things, and that is why this resolution just does not deserve support because it does not deal with the problem we face in the province in terms of rent, rent controls or housing at prices that people can afford.
Mr. Deans: I just have a word or two to say on this, simply because over the last 10-plus years the matter of tenants has come before this Legislature so frequently. I have taken part in much of the debate surrounding the problems of tenants all the way from the acceptance of the lease that currently exists within the province to the point where we arrived at some protection for tenants over and against the gouging that certain landlords were engaged in. I want to go back a moment and begin this where I think the fatal flaw is.
The government has ceased to govern. This government seems to think that there is now government by consensus in Ontario. They have adopted the Liberal leader’s view that there is some sort of shared power operation in the province. Sometimes the power is shared with other parties in the Legislature; sometimes the power is to be shared with select groups out in the community. But the government no longer puts forward clear directions, it no longer leads in the province, it no longer puts out for the public to see where the government stands with regard to crucial matters that deal directly with the day-to-day lives of the people in the province. That’s the fundamental flaw with what the government has asked us to do. It is wrong to suggest to us that we should now enter into some co-opting process that requires the other parties in the Legislature and people out there to somehow come together to suggest to the government how to deal with and which priority it ought to assign the various difficult issues that confront it as it has to go about dealing with tenants in the province. It is wrong.
The first thing is the government has established, under its chapter five, the evaluation of overall approaches. It has set out the criteria for the future of rent review.
It says, first of all, that it can choose from among four choices: It can continue the program more or less as it is. That’s certainly pretty obvious. Or it can alter the program with the basic changes aimed at relaxing the controls. That’s pretty obvious too. Or it can alter the program with increased exemptions of various categories. I don’t think one would have to be some kind of a genius to appreciate that that might be one of the options. Or, finally, the government can terminate the program. I think that that is obvious to all of us. One of the minister’s predecessors, the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Handleman), would have been very interested in terminating the program before it was begun.
Mr. Warner: That’s what they are after.
Mr. Deans: I think that’s fair to say. There are those among the government supporters who would believe that the program was wrong-headed from the very beginning and should never have been implemented. In fact, the hon. member for Carleton offered to resign. Maybe offered isn’t strong enough -- threatened to resign -- over this very program. So no doubt there are pressures within the government to scrap it.
Ms. Gigantes: Let’s be fair. The former Minister of Housing wouldn’t touch it.
Mr. Deans: I want to go back a moment because I can remember some of the Housing ministers, all the way back to Stanley Randall. Do you remember Stanley Randall, Mr. Speaker? If Stanley had looked at this he would have used one of his most oft-used phrases: “The answer is as clear as a yellow wheel on a hearse.” Remember Stanley used that often in the House. The answer to this is just that clear.
The pressure that is being exerted on this government is forcing it to backtrack. The pressure that is being exerted on this government is forcing it to abandon the tenants in Ontario. What’s happening is that because the government doesn’t have the guts to stand up and propose what it really believes ought to be done it now wants to try to find some others in the community who are prepared to support its position.
The government won’t have any difficulty finding people to support its position. Already HUDAC supports the government’s position. They supported its position before the government brought it in. They supported the abolition of rent controls before the government had rent controls in place.
Ms. Gigantes: They are very sympathetic.
Mr. Deans: The landlords of the province in the main were not in support of the introduction of rent controls, and so they will be delighted to come forward and explain to the government what is wrong with the rent control procedures and how this is wreaking havoc on their business and their opportunities to make money.
When rent controls were brought in, it was clearly evident in most of the province that the majority of people in the middle- and low-income groups required protection. They required protection because there was not a sufficient number of housing units for rent in the province at a price they could afford and because there were certain landlords in the province who, without any consideration for the economic hardship that was inflicted upon those people and their families, were raising rents outrageously.
What we needed then were more rental housing units within the ability of the average individual in the middle- and low-income groups, to afford them. Nothing has changed. If anything, on a per capita basis we have fewer rental housing units now than we had at the time rent review was brought in. In fact, we’re now faced with a situation where there are now fewer rental accommodations available to the people of Ontario in the middle- and low-income groups; and now the minister tells us that somehow or other it is possible to modify the rent review procedures to accommodate those people. It isn’t possible. The only time it will be possible is when this government gets up off its butt and builds apartments and provides some decent accommodation in all areas of the province to meet the needs of the people who do not now earn sufficient to get into the private sector.
That’s not only my attitude. That’s the attitude that has been voiced over and over again by the representatives of HUDAC. They say, without any shame or consideration, they cannot possibly meet the needs of the low- and middle-income groups within the general capacity of their members to build accommodation in Ontario. I listened to them saying it on the CBC morning program not a month ago. The representative of HUDAC said very carefully that he conceded that he and his colleagues, who make up the organization, could not possibly provide for those people under the current and normal building situation. In fact, they said that somehow or other the government was going to have to take up that slack, and that if the government didn’t take it up, they felt sorry for the people -- my God that’s great consolation; they felt sorry for them -- but there was nothing they could do for them.
A strange kind of situation arises. At the time it became apparent that the government was going to look seriously at the elimination of or the drastic tampering with the protection afforded to tenants in Ontario under the Act which is now in existence, HUDAC said: “Yes, there’s no doubt about it. Rental accommodation in the Metropolitan Toronto area is at a premium. There are very low vacancy rates.” And why? Because of rent controls.
I’ll be damned, because that very same day the representative of the Metropolitan Hamilton Apartment Owners Association was saying in Hamilton: “Yes, we need rid of the rent controls because we have a high vacancy rate and it’s been brought about by the rent control procedures.” They can’t have it both ways. They can’t have HUDAC, on the one hand, saying that the reason we have a low vacancy rate is the rent controls and also have the Metropolitan Hamilton Apartment Owners Association saying on the other hand on behalf of their members the reason why we have a high vacancy rate is because of the rent controls.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Don’t tell me. Tell the landlords.
Mr. Deans: Yes, but I am telling the minister because what he is now doing is opening up a forum for those who can afford to come in order to express their own particular vested position in order to try to influence the government. And I want the minister to know, without any hesitation, that the better-funded of the two sides are the apartment owners.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: So do you want no forum? So let’s have no forum.
Mr. Turner: He doesn’t know what he wants.
Mr. Deans: The better funded of the two sides are the apartment owners. What I am saying to the minister is that if he believes his party is fit to govern in the province of Ontario, then put before us what the government wants to see done.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Let’s not have the public input. Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Turner: Don’t you want the public to speak?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We want public input.
Mr. Deans: Where was the public input when the minister’s colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), was deciding to raise the OHIP rates?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That’s the way budgets have always been done and you know it.
Mr. Deans: That’s the way budgets are done, yes.
Where was the public input when the minister’s colleague in charge of housing was selling off the mortgages of the province of Ontario? Where was the public input when the minister’s colleague in charge of housing was determining that they were getting out of the house building business?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Now which approach do you like?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Deans: Where was the public input? You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Which way do you want it?
Mr. Deans: You can’t have it both ways. Do you want consultation or not? You tell me what you think should be done.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr. Deans: I am sorry, I thought I had the floor.
Mrs. Campbell: You couldn’t have with him yelling.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: It seems to be very difficult for the members to hear the member for Wentworth. I wonder if the hon. member would address his remarks to the Chair.
Mr. Deans: I certainly will. I didn’t realize that you were responsible for this. I will address my remarks to you.
What I am saying is that I become a little perturbed, Mr. Speaker, when I look at this government and they pick and they choose, always to their advantage, to have public input. Boy, will they have public input, because they know the public input will substantiate the position that they want to take. And when it’s to their disadvantage, will they have public input? You couldn’t drag them to public input. You couldn’t beg them to have public input, Mr. Speaker.
You suggest to them that there is a need in the province of Ontario for the OHIP premiums to be dealt with in the Legislature. Now surely that’s public input.
Mrs. Campbell: Oh, no.
Mr. Deans: But no, no, we can’t have public input on that. No, no, no, we can’t do that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You are going to be sorry you said this, Ian.
Mr. Deans: I am not going to be sorry. I am not going to be sorry, because what I am telling you is this, Mr. Speaker. If you would like to build houses in the provinces of Ontario under the auspices of the Minister of Housing; if you would like to embark, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Consumer Relations or whatever he’s called --
Mr. Warner: Corporate protection.
Mr. Deans: If the government would like to begin a program of 100,000 units a year for the next three years and then come back to us and say that there are now a sufficient number of rental accommodation units all over the province of Ontario that we can now sit down without the pressure and look seriously at whether or not it is now necessary to maintain the rent control procedures we have put in place, we will then be happy to sit and talk to the government about it. We would be happy to.
But, Mr. Speaker, please don’t ask us to go, in the current situation, given what we know about the --
Mr. Martel: Bail you out.
Mr. Deans: -- difficulties that people are having in finding accommodation as it now stands, please don’t ask us to take part in the process simply for the purpose of making it easier for you to come to a decision.
This Legislature is the place where government policy should be debated. This Legislature is the place for the discussion of what the government of the day would like to see happen. There should be before us, not a series of options but the government’s choice, the government’s direction, in the areas that it has set out --
Ms. Gigantes: Bite the bullet.
Mr. Deans: -- and then the substantiating documentation, which shows all of the studies that were conducted. Then we should debate the relative merits of the position which the government has taken. That, my friends, is the parliamentary process.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s your job.
Mr. Deans: That’s how the parliamentary process is intended to work. This is not the parliamentary process. This consultative nonsense the government has embarked on, which is sell-serving at the heat of times, is intolerable.
Let me look at the government’s options. I find it interesting to read your criteria. “Criteria will be considered in the same order as given in the table: Landlord’s operations financial viability.” There is already within the current rent review procedure an opportunity to consider the financial viability of the landlord’s operation. We can stroke that out. We don’t have to consider it now. It’s already there. We can consider it now within the current legislation. We can look at the costs, we can look at the increase in costs and we can look at the rate of return. Then, having looked at all those things, we can set a rate that is compatible with the needs of the landlord in terms of his financial viability.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What rate of return is that?
Mr. Deans: The rate of return that was agreed upon was the rate of return which was in existence prior to the implementation of the Act.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What rate of return? Give me a figure.
Mr. Deans: That was the rate of return.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What if he was losing money?
Mr. Handleman: He stays there.
Mr. Deans: He can’t lose money -- in response to the interjection if I may. It is not possible to lose money because the Act itself allows for a pass-through of all reasonable fair costs, so he can’t lose money.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What’s the rate of return base you are talking about?
Mr. Deans: The second is the affordability of rental housing.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No answer.
Mr. Deans: I’m telling the minister right now that he doesn’t need it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We don’t need to act?
Mr. Deans: He doesn’t need to study this. There is already provision for dealing with that in the existing Act.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What about when they are losing money? They are entitled to break even.
Mr. Deans: I’ll tell the minister what to do. If he would like to come on in and stand up there and list for me the ones that are losing money, we’ll consider whether or not there ought to be a change.
Ms. Gigantes: Just cite one.
Mr. Deans: Come in and show us. Where is the consideration?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Deans: Would you please ask the minister to let me speak?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I’d like to remind the members of the House that we are discussing the resolution whether or not this matter be sent to the committee. I wish that the members would confine their remarks to the resolution.
Mr. Deans: I agree with you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.
Mr. Renwick: My colleague has the benefit of the cut and there’s no thrust from the other side.
Mr. Deans: Having decided that the first of the criteria is already taken into account in the existing legislation, we go to the second. The second is the affordability of rental housing. Let me take members back to when we brought the bill in. It was clearly evident that the price of rental accommodation had reached the point where it was no longer affordable for I would say the majority. That allows it to be 50 per cent plus of the renters in the province of Ontario.
We had decided that that was the case. We had decided that we had to have legislation in order to attempt to maintain it within their capacity to pay. Nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed since then has been that there has been severe restriction placed on income by an act of the federal government, concurred in by the provincial government. There was no opportunity in that, incidentally, for a pass-through of legitimate costs.
What we did was we said that there should be, concurrent with that, legislation in the province of Ontario which took into account the fact that people’s incomes were severely restricted as the result of the arrangement between the federal and provincial governments, and that, therefore, it was appropriate --
Mr. Martel: And you set up a phony election over it.
Mr. Deans: -- to hold rents down to a level that would be within reach of the people’s new income levels. We even went further and said that if the landlord found the costs rose at a rate faster than that allowed under the prices and wages review board he or she could pass the increase on to the tenant. We took into account the possibility that perhaps certain costs would rise at a rate that would exceed the limits set by the Act. We afforded the landlord the opportunity to get that return in addition to what we had calculated would be a reasonable and fair return under normal circumstances. So therefore we don’t have to study that at the moment, because in fact nothing has changed; the situation remains as it was at the time we brought the Act in, and it was fully debated, voted on and passed.
Then there’s the adequate quantity and quality of rental housing. One doesn’t have to be a genius to look at the fact as it exists. The government has opted out of building rental accommodation in the province of Ontario, virtually opted out. The government has decided it doesn’t want to be in the housing business any more.
The private sector tells us, and it is right, that it is not building as many partments as it was before; but that slowdown was already in operation prior to the implementation of this legislation. There has been nothing that has happened in Ontario to improve the availability, quality and quantity of rental accommodation -- nothing; no action by the government; no action by the private sector.
So if one were to look at it objectively you have to come to the conclusion, Mr. Speaker, that in that particular situation, with regard to quality and quantity of affordable rental housing, if anything the conditions now have deteriorated since the day we passed the original Act. There is no more available; there certainly may well be considerably less available. So we don’t really have to go into that in the committee, because the answer to that is self-evident.
We then come to the resolution of landlord and tenant disputes. I want to tell the government, Mr. Speaker, through you, if it believes there are problems with the Landlord and Tenant Act, let it bring in the amendments. If it believes there are problems, let it bring in its amendments.
It doesn’t require study. We all have had put before us the grievances of one faction or another, and so if the government believes honestly that there are problems with the Landlord and Tenant Act, let’s not go through the charade, just bring the amendments in. We’ll debate them; we may send them out to committee for consideration, and at that time, if there is any public input, as we did before we can invite the public then to come and pass judgement on the validity of the amendments. Show some intestinal fortitude.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: But you told me only the landlords would come.
Mr. Deans: I’m just saying to the minister the landlords would be primarily the people who would come, but do it in the right way. If the minister believes -- don’t play games with me --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You are playing the games.
Mr. Deans: If the minister believes there is something wrong with the Landlord and Tenant Act, then let him come on back to us with it and show us what changes he’d like to make and we will debate them with him. If he would like to send them out to the standing committee, we will of course agree to send them to the standing committee and they can be considered by the standing committee. If the standing committee, in its wisdom, believes there’s need to allow for public representation, then of course that can be undertaken.
But we don’t send the Landlord and Tenant Act out to be massacred. If the minister wants to change it, change it. His father would have changed it; he was a tougher man than the minister though.
Mr. Warner: He would have told it like it was.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Aren’t you glad you have a soft-hearted person like me?
Mr. Deans: He wouldn’t have hidden -- boy, do I remember him! He wouldn’t even have discussed it, never mind hidden.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: And I run an open operation.
Mr. Deans: Then we come to what perhaps is the crux of the whole thing, the final of the criteria -- government financial restraint. In there lies the answer to what’s wrong, that’s where the problem lies; because this government does not have, as one of its priorities, the provision of affordable housing for people. It doesn’t have that, has never had that -- all the way back to the days of Stanley Randall and his hearse. I’m telling you, I can remember him standing -- he used to sit away over there, a very imposing fellow with his silver gray hair.
Mr. Martel: Selling washing machines.
Mr. Deans: He would stand up there, and in an hour or more he would tell us nothing.
Mr. Martel: But rant about the socialists.
Mr Deans: I remember the discussions.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: See how things have changed.
Mr. Deans: I remember the discussions. How we tried to implant on his mind --
Mr. Van Horne: Is this the socialist version of Scientology?
Mr. Deans: How we tried to implant upon his mind the problems that were beginning to emerge in the housing field; how the government was complicit in the rapidly-rising land costs; how those land costs were detrimentally affecting the price of housing, and how the price of housing was rapidly getting out of the reach of the average individual. He did nothing.
Mr. Martel: He said it wasn’t true. And the minister’s predecessor told us we didn’t understand.
Mr. Deans: Then he passed it over to a fellow called Grossman Senior.
Mr. Deans: I’m going to tell the minister, I would applaud --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Tell your colleagues.
Mr. Deans: He handed it over to Allan Grossman. In all fairness, judging by the minister’s performance I am surprised that he is a relative.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Who are you insulting? Him or me?
Mr. Martel: Both.
Mr. Deans: It is up to you.
Mr. Martel: Take your pick.
Mr. Deans: In any event, I remember him as the minister in charge of housing. He, too, couldn’t see how the government was involved in the deterioration of the market, which was then inflicting upon people rapidly rising prices that well outstripped their ability to earn.
Then we moved to the member for Brock (Mr. Welch). He just passed through, in fact; he barely had time to open his briefcase before he was moved on.
Mr. Martel: He only got his sandwiches out.
Mr. Deans: Then, as I recall, we went to --
Mr. Martel: The member for Carleton (Mr.
Mr. Deans: No, I don’t think so. I think it was to the Hon. Donald Irvine.
Mr. Martel: No, it was the member for Carleton.
Mr. Deans: Was he next? Well, it just shows what an impact he had; I didn’t remember.
Then there was Donald Irvine.
Mr. Martel: “You don’t understand.”
Mr. Deans: I remember him well. We went out together to look at the housing the government was building at the time. Boy, was that a disaster. If there was shoddy workmanship, the government would hire the man who would undertake the shoddy workmanship.
Ms. Gigantes: They still do.
Mr Turner: Oh, come on.
Mr. Deans: If there was substandard materials to be used, the government would find the person who would use them.
Mr. Warner: Remember Bramalea.
Mr. Martel: Ross Shouldice.
An hon. member: How would you know?
Mr. Deans: I went and looked at them, time after time. I pointed out to the minister on numerous occasions the problems we were encountering in this province with certain builders who were not adhering even to the minimum standards. I kept telling the minister they were taking advantage of an unwary public and foisting upon the public a substandard product. But the minister kept letting them have the contracts, over and over. Gradually they moved out of business. The minister went to his home warranty program -- it took so long to materialize; we tried for years to get it -- but when it finally materialized, again he left it in the hands of the private corporations --
Ms. Gigantes: And they are the same people.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It’s working very well. Don’t you think it is working well?
Mr. Martel: Come to Sudbury.
Mr. Deans: -- and, once again, they turned around and gave immunity to all -- those shysters. They were allowed to operate for yet another year while they got around to licensing them.
Ms. Gigantes: And they are still operating. You are still giving them low-interest loans.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Turner: Oh, that’s nonsense.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Warner: A bunch of greedy corporate creeps ripping off the public.
Mr. Martel: Do you remember Irvine’s favourite line? “You don’t understand.”
Mr. Deans: I understood; he moved on.
Mr. Martel: He packed up his sandwiches too.
Mr. Deans: Then we went from there to the current minister. No, it wasn’t --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You’ve got the wrong --
Mr. Deans: I am just coming to him; I forgot he had been moved. We went to the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie. He was to rule over the elimination of the Ministry of Housing. It was his job to dismantle it, and dismantle it he did. At least when we started out we had some houses being built, now we have hardly any houses being built.
Then he passed it on to the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett).
Mr. Martel: That was the final crowning glory.
Mr. Deans: Enough said. Anyway, all I am telling the minister is that we know the problem in Ontario. We do not require to study it. If the government wants to build houses and to get them on the market, if it wants to provide rental accommodation in sufficient quantity all across Ontario at a price people can afford, and then comes back and tells us that it would like to eliminate or drastically alter the rent review procedures that we now have in place, then we will take part in the government’s game. We will play with the government, because then it becomes viable and sensible.
Ms. Gigantes: It’s real.
Mr. Deans: If the government wants to come back and tell us that it has a program in Ontario for building houses within the range of what is established and calculated by most as the need in the province of Ontario --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The charter says 100,000 a year.
Mr. Deans: It says 100,000 a year? Fair enough. Then show me the 100,000 a year and show me the houses that are in the market for those who are at low- and middle-income in the province of Ontario and I will say to you, fair ball, we are ready now to look at the rent review Act. At that point in time it makes some sense. In the meantime, if the government wants to alter the Landlord and Tenant Act, because it believes there are some injustices being perpetrated, then bring in amendments.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We’ll have them.
Mr. Deans: Bring in your amendments. But please don’t ask us to play a game which can do nothing but be hurtful to the people who are not getting the benefit of decent accommodation at a price they can afford, the people who have been neglected for at least the 10 years that I have been here, and for probably longer than that, although I have no direct knowledge of that period of time prior to then.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That never stopped you before.
Mr. Deans: At the end of all the development processes, if the government wants to make some changes, then that is fine. But this isn’t the way, Larry. This isn’t how it is done.
Mrs. Campbell: His name isn’t Larry. That’s unparliamentary.
Mr. Deans: I am just using “Larry” as one would use “Joe” or “Sam.”
Mrs. Campbell: Harry, Tom or Dick.
Mr. Deans: Yes.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Deans: It is important because we’ve got to draw the distinction at some point. There can be no further co-opting in this Legislature. It has gone far enough. This is not the process that this Legislature was set up for. It was never intended to be a place where we would get together as chums and chat about a number of options. It was a place where governments governed and provided leadership, where oppositions put forward alternatives and where the final vote determined how those matters would be dealt with.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It is the same thing.
Mr. Deans: Then bring it in in its proper form and we will be happy to deal with it.
Mr. Rotenberg: I am just a little surprised that the debate has taken us two full sessions on a simple reference of a report to a committee for discussion. The present rent review legislation runs out at the end of the calendar year 1978. Before we continue it, replace it or do something with it, it seems to me incumbent upon all members of this House to have some discussion, to have some input and to find out what we are going to do.
The report we have before us gives some policy options. These aren’t the only policy options. There may be other policy options. In fact, I hope there are some other policy options. I don’t know why we shouldn’t hear them. I am surprised at the NDP being against public discussion of these problems, against hearing from the people and against public input to get their thoughs on the problem.
Ms. Gigantes: Hang in there.
Mr. Makarchuk: Discussion never built houses.
Mr. Rotenberg: I want to know what are they afraid of?
Mr. Turner: Public discussion.
An hon. member: They don’t want to take a position.
Ms. Gigantes: We will give you $6,000 and you go out and look for a house.
Mr. Rotenberg: The NDP says that rent control is just fine as it is.
Mr. Martel: We didn’t say that
Mr. Rotenberg: But it is not just rent control we are talking about.
Mr. Warner: We didn’t say that.
Mr. Rotenberg: It’s the whole Landlord and Tenant Act.
Ms. Gigantes: Rent review.
Mr. Makarchuk: How come you are not talking about the speculators?
Mr. Rotenberg: They talk about the speculators and the land developers and so on. There are problems. One of the problems is that in order to get new affordable housing we have to have development. And when one wants to get development and when developments go before municipal councils who is it who is always opposing new developments? It’s the same NDP supporters.
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s nonsense and you know it.
Mr. Warner: That’s absolute nonsense and you know it.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Warner: There are over 5,000 serviced lots sitting in Scarborough and what doesn’t bring them on stream? Land costs.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rotenberg: Sure, land costs are part of the problem.
Mr. Makarchuk: You are playing the game. You are expressing the mythology.
Mr. Rotenberg: Building costs are part of the problem. Building costs are part of the problem. Municipal regulations are part of the problem. Labour costs are part of the problem. There are a lot of problems.
Mr. Martel: What about speculation?
Mr. Rotenberg: One method of getting rid of some of the land problems is that if you have more and more developable land, serviced land, available land, buildable land, zoned land, you are going to bring down the cost of land.
Ms. Gigantes: Pray for it.
Mr. Rotenberg: Speaking in this debate on Friday, the member for Parkdale (Mr. Dukszta) expressed “complete satisfaction with landlord-tenant law in Ontario as it now stands.” That is what he said. Then be went on to make a number of suggestions for changes in rent review. I have looked over some of the suggestions. Some of them have merit. I hope when this matter goes to committee some of these suggestions will be discussed by the committee and by the public. We have to discuss landlord and tenant rights. I know some people in this House think that the tenants are always correct and landlords are always wrong. But I think landlords do have a little bit of right.
Ms. Gigantes: Who said that?
Mr. Rotenberg: Landlords have rights.
Ms. Gigantes: Who said that?
Mr. Rotenberg: Landlords have rights to come before a committee. We have to listen to both sides. We have to assess what they want to say, not necessarily decide that one side or the other is right. But we shouldn’t be setting up this artificial confrontation between landlords and tenants that some people in this House want to set up. We can hear both sides. Not always, but sometimes landlords and tenants agree on what should be done. We can solve some of these problems by co-operation and discussion, not by confrontation, because both landlords and tenants want changes.
When I talk about landlords, I’m not talking about Cadillac and Meridian. I’m talking about the people who own three units, who own triplexes, who own 10-suite-ers, the people who are on fixed incomes, the people on low incomes who happen to be owners instead of tenants, who live in one suite and rent the other two in their triplex. These people have to be heard from because these are the people who have problems.
Ms. Gigantes: You are going to call them before the committee?
Mr. Rotenberg: Cadillac and Meridian can look after themselves but some of these small landlords should be heard from who have problems.
Ms. Gigantes: Who are these small landlords going to be before your committee? Who’s going to speak for them? You?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Makarchuk.
Mr. Rotenberg: A few weeks ago, by a funny coincidence, on the same day I got two calls in my riding, one from a landlord and one from a tenant, both complaining about basically the same thing. The tenant complained he moved in, the stove didn’t work, the landlord didn’t clean up, the place was a mess. He couldn’t get the landlord to do what he wanted him to do and what had to be done, what he agreed to do, and he really didn’t want to go to court. He couldn’t afford to take the landlord to court.
Mr. Warner: Did you fight for him?
Mr. Rotenberg: The same day I got a call from a landlord --
Ms. Gigantes: A small landlord.
Mr. Rotenberg: A small landlord, about four foot two. A small landlord.
Mr. Warner: Stop picking on short people.
Mr. Rotenberg: A landlord of a small building.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Warner: You’re embarrassing Larry. Stop picking on short people.
Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I’d be glad to take the member for Carleton East out for a drink after and we’ll discuss this.
Ms. Gigantes: You try it. I’m busy.
Mr. Rotenberg: And then the landlord complained that a tenant moved in --
Mr. Warner: You’re in trouble now.
Mr. Rotenberg: -- and the tenant was keeping the place dirty and had, over a period of a month vandalized the fridge three times and under the Act the landlord had to fix the fridge. The landlord said, “What do I do? I can’t afford to go to court. How do I take this tenant to court? How do I get my rights looked after?”
So we have to look at the Landlord and Tenant Act. We have to get input from landlords, from tenants, from everyone. We should talk about it.
Mr. Martel: Why don’t we leave that with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry)?
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s not part of the resolution.
Mr. Rotenberg: The NDP may be happy about the present Act, but I am not.
Mr. Warner: You didn’t hear my speech.
Mr. Rotenberg: The resolution suggests that we send this report to the committee and look over both rent review and the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Ms. Gigantes: Bring out your policy, come on.
Mr. Rotenberg: The member for Parkdale spoke the other day and he indicated that all the tenants in his riding were happy with the present rent review situation.
Mr. Warner: Who said that?
Mr. Rotenberg: The member for Parkdale. He’s happy. The tenants in my riding, and there are many of them, are not happy with the present rent review procedure.
Mr. Warner: Because it is loaded on the side of the landlord.
Mr. Rotenberg: They have complained to me and they want some changes. They are tenants who are fighting their landlords and they aren’t happy with the procedure. I think we have to review it. I want those tenants in my riding -- if the member for Parkdale doesn’t want his tenants to come forward, that’s fine --
Mr. Warner: Oh, nonsense.
Mr. Rotenberg: -- I want the tenants in my riding to be able to come to a committee to put forward their objections, to tell the members, all members, how they would like the rent review procedure changed.
Mr. Makarchuk: Time.
Mr. Rotenberg: The other day I got a call from a little old -- an elderly female in my ward. She owns one piece of property. That’s all she has in the world.
Ms. Gigantes: “Little old lady” you were going to say. Why don’t you just say it?
Mr. Turner: He didn’t say that.
Mr. Rotenberg: She’s an elderly woman.
Ms. Gigantes: Where are your guts?
Mr. Makarchuk: Sexist.
Mr. Rotenberg: There are elderly couples. There are elderly men. But this just happened to be one elderly woman who called me. She owns a store with an apartment above it and she has problems with her tenants. When she went to her tenant, the tenant said, “Don’t bother me. You’re no longer the boss. I’m the boss.”
Ms. Gigantes: Who is going to represent her before the committee? Are you going to represent her before the committee? Or will you let Meridian speak for her?
Mr. Warner: And you didn’t understand the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Ms. Gigantes: Will you let Meridian speak for her?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rotenberg: I would very much hope, because I keep a record of the calls of people who call me --
Mrs. Campbell: He has had three calls.
Mr. Rotenberg: -- and I have people who have said they’d like to come here and speak to a committee and tell their problems. I would like to see some of these landlords of small buildings come before a committee. As I said, Meridian and Cadillac can look after themselves. I’m not concerned about them. Maybe the members opposite are.
Ms. Gigantes: They won’t be there, right?
Mr. Warner: You don’t care. They can do what they please.
Ms. Gigantes: You guarantee that? They won’t be there?
Mr. Makarchuk: You’ve got four minutes.
Mr. Rotenberg: The other party has spoken -- it’s had the floor for the last hour, Mr. Speaker. I’d like a few minutes.
Mr. Turner: The last two hours.
Mr. Rotenberg: There’s another problem I think we should look at and that is the problem of the non-payers. There aren’t that many of them but there are enough of them to be a problem. Again, you get a landlord who may have a six-suiter or a six-plex, or a three-plex, and someone comes and pays the first and second month’s rent and then doesn’t pay rent.
Mr. Warner: That’s in the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Mr. Rotenberg: And the landlord, after a month of default, goes to court. The tenant gets a deferral.
Ms. Gigantes: What about rent review.
Mr. Rotenberg: Then the tenant puts in a list of things he thinks the landlord should have done and he gets another adjournment in court. Five months later, when it finally gets to court, the tenant packs up and disappears and the landlord is out five months rent. Now, you all know this happens, from time to time.
Mr. Warner: Go get a decent lawyer.
Mr. Rotenberg: It happens to people like Cadillac and Meridian.
Mr. Makarchuk: The sheriff refuses to serve summonses.
Mr. Rotenberg: It happens to people like Cadillac and Meridian and they simply pass the loss on to the other tenants. They don’t pay for it. But when it happens to some of these smaller landlords, sometimes it is financial disaster.
This is something the committee should review and get input on. Maybe we should be looking at a system that where a tenant withholds his rent, possibly for good reasons, possibly not for good reasons -- and a tenant should have the right to withhold rent if the landlord isn’t doing what he should do, or isn’t fulfilling the responsibilities -- but when a tenant withholds rent and it becomes a court case, maybe we should look at the possibility of the rent being paid into court, so that if the judgement at the end of the day comes down on the tenant’s side the tenant gets things done because the money is there to do it, and if the judgement comes down on the landlord’s side, the landlord gets his rent. You wouldn’t then, Mr. Speaker, have the problem of many of these landlords of small buildings who suddenly are out a number of months’ rent because the tenant --
Mrs. Campbell: If you have all the answers, why don’t you bring in the legislation?
Mr. Rotenberg: I am saying we should have a look at some of these things.
Ms. Gigantes: You have all the time in the world.
Mr. Makarchuk: You’re to blame.
Mr. Rotenberg: I am wondering why some members of this House want to opt out of public discussion.
Mr. Hall: You know better than that, Larry.
Mr. Rotenberg: I don’t think any member should restrict the input of ideas. Now the minister is honest; he said he doesn’t have all the answers, he would like to hear from the public before bringing in legislation.
Mrs. Campbell: We know that. He didn’t need to tell us.
Mr. Rotenberg: We would like to have all-party input. There has been some --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr. Makarchuk: Since when did he not have any answers?
Mr. Rotenberg: Oh my.
Mr. Cassidy: You are abusing the minority government.
Mr. Rotenberg: In two days’ debate some interesting ideas have come forth from all sides of the House. There are a lot of people out there, tenants and landlords, who want to bring in some ideas. As I say, the minister doesn’t say he has all the answers, so on a co-operative basis let’s send this to a committee. Have it studied. Have the people bring in what they think should be done, because my ideas or the minister’s ideas or the opposition’s ideas may not all be correct.
Let’s hear from the people. Let’s talk about it and then the government will bring in legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I suggest we support the motion and send this matter to committee for study.
Mr. Dukszta: Mr. Speaker, a point of personal privilege.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Parkdale on a point of personal privilege.
Mr. Dukszta: The member for Wilson Heights quoted me as saying that I was completely satisfied with landlord-tenant law in Ontario as it now stands. The exact phrase, is “Our opposition to the resolution is not based on complete satisfaction ... ” May I correct the member?
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, the issue that is before us in this motion is an important one in the area which I represent and in neighbouring areas. In the city of Ottawa, which is the major centre in eastern Ontario, the majority of people are renters. In fact, that’s one of the reasons the new leader of the NDP was elected first in 1971, because he understood the issue of housing and how important it was to people in eastern Ontario and especially in the boom town in eastern Ontario called Ottawa
It is not only in the city of Ottawa where the issue of housing is a very important issue. As a matter of interest, because I am a curious, open-minded person, as most of the people who sit in this section of the House are, I put out a question in a riding report about a year ago, asking the people whom I represent in Carleton East whether they supported rent review.
Rent review -- with all the foibles, with all the problems that the Conservative government has foisted upon Ontario since 1975; even that miserable kind of rent review, did they support it? And, Mr. Speaker, over a thousand people replied to that questionnaire. Most of those people, and I asked the question in the questionnaire, were homeowners, most of the people were homeowners. Carleton East is an area where most of the new housing that’s been coming in has been condominium housing. Even among that group of people, the support for rent review, even as miserable as it has been since 1975 under the Conservative government, was overwhelming. I think that speaks to the kind of feeling that people in Ontario have about the issue of affordable housing.
Watch the member for Carleton (Mr. Handleman) this evening; he knows exactly the kind of area that I’m talking about.
Mr. Conway: Is this a new alliance?
Ms. Gigantes: This is a major growth area -- Gloucester township -- which is the major part of Carleton East, very much like the riding he represents. Those two areas have been in the major growth areas in the country of Canada over the last few years, and he knows exactly how important the issue of affordable housing has been. He and I have both watched in that boom town, in that growth centre, what working families have gone through to get affordable housing.
I watched him sit with his head on his hands, and I know he understands that the kind of issue that we’re talking about here tonight is a very grave one, that concerns families in Ontario at a very profound level. It affects the circumstances of their lives.
He knows because he has gone through the long list that has been our Ministry of Housing list over the last several years. He’s been one of them. He has attempted, as a representative of the Conservative government of Ontario, to come to grips with the issue of affordable housing. He knows how this government has failed.
I’m not an expert in government and I’m not an expert in housing, but the hon. member for Carleton, as I have, has watched the list of Conservatives sacrificed to the portfolio of Housing. Some of them have been very decent, able people; him among them.
Mr. Marcini: Name one.
Ms. Gigantes: I haven’t watched provincial politics for a very long time --
Mr. Mancini: Shame on you; that doesn’t sound like a New Democrat.
Ms. Gigantes: -- but with the interest I’ve devoted to it, even since 1973, Mr. Speaker --
Mr Mancini: It must be the new hairdo.
Ms. Gigantes: -- I’ve watched a total of six people passing through the Ministry of Housing; and we end up, two ministers ago, with a declaration by the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes), whose responsibility it was to look after affordable housing in this province, that he would not touch the rent review program and he foisted it off on the poor gentleman, the hon. member who represents Carleton --
Mr. Conway: The member for Carleton is not poor.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: But he’s still honourable.
Ms. Gigantes: -- who was honourably trying to carry out his responsibility as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The member for Sault Ste. Marie foisted off that responsibility. He said that he would not have anything to do with rent, administering a policy of rent review. And the poor member for Carleton, there he was.
Mr. Conway: Evelyn, he is not poor, get that on the record.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Time!
Ms. Gigantes: What was he to do? He didn’t believe in rent review. He didn’t believe in rent review in spite of all he knew about the crisis in affordable housing, having lived in a growth area --
Mr. Conway: Sidney, we didn’t know about this new alliance.
Ms. Gigantes: -- having watched, having suffered with the people he represents over the issue of affordable housing. He didn’t want to have to deal with it but it was foisted on him.
Mr. Handleman: I should have stayed home tonight.
Mr. Bradley: Who are your friends?
Mr. Conway: Sidney Handleman.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Time!
Ms. Gigantes: And he eventually had to quit the cabinet, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Time!
Ms. Gigantes: I can’t understand the kind of nonsense we’re being given from the government side of the House on this issue. I really can’t understand it. They talk about no rental housing coming on to the market. The fact is that any person who wants to build apartment units for rent --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mac, tell her it’s time.
Ms. Gigantes: -- in the province of Ontario ever since rent control has come in, has been able to do it without rent review, and has been able to do it recently with very large subsidies granted from the government.
There is no free lunch, they say; there is no free lunch, they tell us; but there is a semi-free lunch for a developer who wants to build apartments in Ontario. Still there are none being built, Mr. Speaker.
The only things that have been built over the last few years in Ontario, in terms of so-called affordable housing, which Conservatives call affordable housing, have been condominiums. The fact is that what’s happening in the housing market right now, if Ottawa, boom town Ottawa is any indication -- I suspect the same thing is true in Toronto, and we will document this, I am sure, during the discussion in the committee debate --
Mr. Conway: You are going to participate, are you?
Mr. Hall: Are you going to join in the debate?
Ms. Gigantes: -- we will find that what has been happening is that condominiums -- that great salvation for the lower-middle-income group in Ontario, that great answer to affordable housing in Ontario -- condominiums, on which this minister does not dare to bring in legislation yet --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It will be in by the end of the session.
Ms. Gigantes: -- let me point out, Mr. Speaker -- condominiums are now being rented wholesale in Ottawa to such an extent that the poor unfortunates who bought into condominium buildings within the last year or year-and-a-half, are sitting in buildings, perhaps 14 or 15 of them, with 100 units in the building, and those buildings have been sold to wholesalers who are now renting them and there’s a flood of apartment units coming on, which this government wishes to stop. The Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations talks about Alice in Wonderland; we are dealing with an Alice-in-Wonderland world.
Mr. Makarchuk: Read some of it into the record.
Ms. Gigantes: We are dealing with an Alice-in-Wonderland world on this issue.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Get to your point; you were going to be five minutes, stick to your deal.
Mr. Sterling: What’s your point?
Ms. Gigantes: We will, in this committee, discuss with the minister what is happening in the marketplace. In spite of what the government would tell us, in terms of the economics of this province and the magic of the budget and the mysteries of finance, the housing market is not a mystery, it is not a mystery at all. It is a question of who has the money and who has the power. What we are telling the government is we know who hasn’t got the power -- those people who are in desperate need of affordable housing. We are saying to this government, if it had any ideas, if it had anything to contribute --
Mr. Conway: Is Michael Cassidy an equal opportunity landlord?
Ms. Gigantes: -- in the way of policy, we would prefer, much prefer, to see a government worth its salt put out its legislation and its policy before us. Then we would discuss it with full heart. But if the government wants us to come into a committee to try to provide it with policy, we will come in and tell it the facts of life about affordable housing in the province of Ontario and how it has failed to provide it over the last five years.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, to wind up this debate after 12 readings of the same speech on the NDP side, won’t take very long.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Just the punctuation has been changed.
Mr. Renwick: Oh, come on.
Mr. Cassidy: You are as bad today as you were last week.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I wanted to refer the members of that party specifically to some of the parts of the earlier debates that perhaps they were out of the House for in 1975 and 1976.
Mr. Renwick: No we weren’t, we were right here. There wouldn’t be a rent review bill without us.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: They were talking, at that time, they were complaining about the Tories not giving enough notice. From Hansard, December 15, 1975, I quote: “I must say I would really appreciate it if, whenever we do another bill, he” -- that is the Minister of Housing -- “tries not --
Ms. Gigantes: Where’s the bill?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: “ -- to use the kamikaze approach to legislation.” That was Michael Cassidy, that was the member for Ottawa Centre --
Mr. Renwick: Where is the bill?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You were criticizing me for bringing it in.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- in 1975 complaining about our kamikaze approach.
Ms. Gigantes: Where’s your bill now?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Look, the member used more time than she promised to; now why doesn’t she sit there and show me some courtesy while I say my wrap-up remarks --
Mr. Conway: Larry, you are a chauvinist.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- in half the time her party promised me I would have? Now show some courtesy and just listen to the eight minutes I have, thanks to her over-going her time limit.
Mr. Renwick: How can we do it?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Secondly, that party goes on to tell us how they are afraid that open hearings are going to be tilted in favour of landlords; some approach to take.
The member for Wentworth went on. He didn’t want hearings, he liked the old system where we didn’t have open hearings, where we didn’t invite the public in. Well I like the new system. I like asking the public to come in and have input.
Ms. Gigantes: He didn’t say that.
Mr. Cassidy: You sit for two years and then you come and give the legislation two months.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Well, I am interested to hear the leader of the NDP say that.
Mr. Renwick: It’s not a new system and you know it You have never consulted the public on any issue before.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Because I ran his earlier remarks --
An hon. member: A new Cassidy approach.
Mr. Renwick: You never consulted the public on any issue before. Don’t give us that nonsense.
Ms. Gigantes: Where’s your bill?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I want to read from Hansard of December 3, 1976, in which the member for Ottawa Centre was talking about rent. “The matter could be referred to a standing or a select committee of the House to hold hearings” -- imagine that -- “and listen to tenants and landlords and the public during the month of January and early February.”
Mr. Renwick: That was after the bill was introduced. You put a bill into the House --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I wish the member for Wentworth were here. He goes on to say “to get their views and ensure that people across the province know what the continuation of the rent review process is going to be.”
Ms. Gigantes: On a bill.
Mr. Renwick: You are no longer a government.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: At that time the member for Ottawa Centre was begging this government to have a committee, a standing or select committee. It didn’t matter, but just let’s have one, to use his words. I quote directly the member for Ottawa Centre.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I don’t know how you could have a point of privilege, I couldn’t hear what was going on.
Mr. Cassidy: Could the minister read the page from which he is reading in Hansard, please?
Mr. Speaker: That’s not a point of privilege. If we are going to get through this item of business by 10:30, I hope all members will co-operate and allow the hon. minister to complete his remarks uninterrupted, please.
Mr. Renwick: If he’d just sit down, we could have the vote.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I don’t want the page number to get lost because I want them to work at it overnight and issue a press release tomorrow morning, explaining that they didn’t really mean it then or don’t really mean it now. It’s page 5367. All the researchers in the back there, go and get it so the press release maybe can even be out in the early Globe and Mail in the morning. In any case, what the heck! That was a year and a half ago. He wasn’t even the leader of the party then, and we ought not to refer back to it.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: A point of privilege.
Mr. Cassidy: I would like to bring to the minister’s attention, because he has misquoted me, that back in December 1976 I said that the government should put its proposals before a committee of this Legislature and that the committee of the Legislature look at its proposals. He is misrepresenting the position I took at that time.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, the words speak for themselves The member will have to live with the words he spoke a year and a half ago.
Mr. Eaton: All that talking you’ve done in Hansard is going to come back to haunt you, boy.
Mr. Cassidy: On a point of order.
Mr. Speaker: What is your point of order?
Mr. Cassidy: On page 5372 on December 3, 1976, I said and I quote: “We believe it is only fair to tenants and landlords that the government acts now and that it allow its proposals to go to public scrutiny and public hearings now or in January.” That’s what we said then, Mr. Speaker, and the minister should not misrepresent.
Ms. Gigantes: Where are the minister’s proposals?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If the member for Ottawa Centre had been here a few minutes ago, he would have heard the man he beat for the leadership, the member for Wentworth, say he didn’t want public hearings, that they would be dominated by landlords and that he was against the process. Compare those remarks with the remarks that I have just quoted, word for word, accurately. Live with them.
Finally, I sat here and listened among all the other silly remarks --
Mr. Makarchuk: It’s about time someone else got the flak besides the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough).
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- to the member for the coffee belt. He was up earlier, for the first time on something other than the Municipal Elections Act, quoting figures of rent review increases that have been allowed. He had no specifics. He gave us 12, 14, 19, 26, 28, 30 per cent, every figure that came to his mind --
Mr. Renwick: He is always accurate. Do you remember coffee prices or not?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- as though there was something wrong with those percentage increases.
Mr. Renwick: Do you remember your first failure as minister on the coffee prices?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I thought he would be interested in an interview that the member for Ottawa Centre had. Why don’t you sit and listen?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I am entitled to the last two or three minutes.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Riverdale will please come to order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I just want to read into the record a part of an interview between the member for Ottawa Centre and Elizabeth Gray on the CBO Morning Show. Get it, members of the NDP research. He went on to explain that a lot of the leases in Ottawa were two- or three-year leases, in which case perhaps a 19 per cent increase was suitable. How about it, folks?
An hon. member: That’s six per cent a year.
An hon. member: That’s over three years.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, the contradictions are all over the record.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: So they won’t have more contradictions they don’t want to go to this committee --
Mr. Warner: You spend your whole time twisting words.
An hon. member: Highly irresponsible.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- whose remarks will be recorded in transcripts. This is a watershed in the history of the NDP.
Ms. Gigantes: Can you divide by three?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: It’s the point at which someone said, “Hey, do you think you can play this ball game? Here’s the ball for a few minutes.” As soon as it was thrown, they said, “What? No, not me. I prefer to sit in the stands as a spectator. I prefer to condemn and criticize -- ”
Mr. Deans: No, we’d prefer not to destroy the process.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: “ -- but for heaven’s sake, don’t ask me to participate.” That’s why this is a watershed.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of this resolution.
Mr. Deans: Just because you are chicken.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, on a point of clarification.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: When I was addressing this assembly on this matter, I asked the minister if in his reply he would give to this House some commitment that the Housing minister would also be available at the committee. He has not replied. May I now ask if he is prepared to reply to that question?
Mr. Conway: It’s your chance to make poor Claude feel like a somebody.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, in spite of the rudeness of the member for St. George when she posed that question a few moments ago, I want to indicate to her that if I had the power to produce the Minister of Housing I would perhaps consider that request. However, if she has taken a moment to read the terms of reference instead of growling about the whole thing, she would have discovered --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- that the committee has all sorts of powers and the members may feel free to call whomever they wish and they may decide to take that step.
Mr. Warner: Unparliamentary language.
Mr. Speaker: Order please.
The House divided on government notice of motion 11, which was approved on the following vote:
Miller, G. I.
Yakabuski -- 57.
Ziemba -- 23.
Ayes 57; nays 23.
Resolution concurred in.
Mr. Speaker: I have been asked to announce that sessional paper 13 -- that’s what the debate was all about --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: -- will be referred to the general government committee at 10:30 tomorrow morning.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 10:40 p.m.