31st Parliament, 2nd Session

L040 - Tue 18 Apr 1978 / Mar 18 avr 1978

The House met at 2:04 p.m.



Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I have here a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor signed by her own hand.

Mr. Speaker: By her own hand, P. M. McGibbon, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1979, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, April 18, 1978.



Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: With regard to the mailer of the sales tax proposal in the recent federal budget and some of the constitutional questions which are being raised, I wonder if the Treasurer could share with us, Mr. Speaker, given the importance of this issue, whether there were any discussions that he knows of between himself and the Minister of Finance of Quebec or at the official level, or that he knows of that may have taken place between the federal and provincial authorities, either here or in Quebec or both, regarding anything resembling the proposal put forward by Mr. Parizeau, in other words the idea that the sales taxes might be dealt with on a selective basis according to each provincial policy. Were there any conversations of this kind? Did such a proposal ever surface, to the Treasurer’s knowledge, before the federal budget, either in Ontario, from your point of view, or Quebec; and what was his position if such a proposal ever did surface before then?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I think a quick answer would be, to the best of my knowledge -- and I can only speak for Ontario and Ontario’s officials -- to the best of my knowledge the answer to that question would be no.

I would qualify it to this extent, that certainly the proposal was advanced as a way of stimulating last September. If you wanted to stimulate, following I think the suggestions of the Howe Institute at that time, and some discussions at the Ministers of Finance meeting, one way to make the reduction less expensive would have been on a more selective basis, and that was discussed. I think internally we may have discussed it, and I may have discussed it very briefly with Mr. Chretien, but as something which we would have dismissed very quickly, and he agreed, as being a viable option, because obviously the things which we might want to stimulate would not be the same as some would want to have stimulated in nine other provinces, and vice versa.

So I think a quick answer would be no, but there may have been a phrase or two.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: Given the dilemma which this poses, inasmuch as from purely constitutional grounds a sales tax is seen as a provincial responsibility and, I suppose, well within the authority of a given province to manipulate as it sees fit, and yet from a more national perspective of stimulating the economy these selective sales tax cuts are a kind of interprovincial tariff in a sense, which one really doesn’t want to see happen in this country -- given this dilemma, has the Treasurer at any time pronounced himself on one side or the other of this problem which faces the federal and provincial governments and, I guess, faces us as well? Has he had any ongoing discussions with Mr. Parizeau or Mr. Chretien? And has Ontario taken a position on what is admittedly a very difficult problem, where the constitution is balanced against the need to stimulate the economy in a national rather than a provincial way?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I would regard this as something to be sorted out between the government of Canada and the government of Quebec, or Mr. Chretien and Mr. Parizeau. I have indicated to the press and to Mr. Chretien that I was not aware at any time that a selective tax cut would be contemplated. I didn’t think that was part of the proposals which were put forward either to me or, to my knowledge, to other provinces or to the officials when they met together. But I would prefer to leave it as something which should be sorted out in another place.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the government is not now proceeding at the same rate as it intended to with the sales tax legislation, which had been promised for this week, can the Treasurer say whether the government is now reconsidering its commitment to that sales tax from last week or whether there is now a new tax mix which is being proposed within the government and will be coming forward to us within a few days?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: The answer to both questions is no.

Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. Leader of the Opposition have a supplementary?

Mr. S. Smith: Yes; and the Treasurer may feel, for obvious reasons, that he doesn’t want to answer it, but I’d like to ask it anyway.

If there have been any discussions with regard to the possibility of the federal government allowing the Quebec government to use a selective method, has the Treasurer at any time indicated that Ontario would object to this or that Ontario itself would want to use a selective method? Is the Treasurer prepared to answer that kind of question now, or have there been any such discussions?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I think it would be fair to say there has not been any such discussion. As to what my attitude would be, frankly I think very simply the government of Quebec is not doing the best of service to either its consumers or some segments of its industry. They do have car manufacturers. They do have automobile parts plants. They do have appliance plants.

For that matter, it should be pointed out that we have in this province -- it’s sometimes forgotten; we tend to think that the textile industry, the shoe industry and even the furniture industry are concentrated in Quebec. There is a concentration there, but in numbers of people employed, we do very well in this province. I would not want to be an appliance dealer in the city of Hull at this moment. I would express that view, but I don’t know that I would go very much further.

Mr. Breaugh: I think it’s an excellent idea.

Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: Has the Treasurer’s staff done any research to indicate what the relative benefits would be to the province of selective sales tax cuts, in view of the fact that such a large proportion of our manufactured goods is imported; and, if so what have those studies shown? Is he in the process of having any of those studies done at the present time?


Hon. Mr. McKeough: We have the studies which were done by the Institute of Qualitative Analysis at the University of Toronto following the cuts in 1975, which I’m sure the member has seen, and which we have made available to other provinces and tabled, and we have not done any updated studies. I think there is no question that reduction in sales taxes at the retail level will provide some stimulus to imports; on the other hand, and counter balanced against that, the depreciation of the Canadian dollar is, I think, a very powerful force at the moment, reducing the level of import sales. I haven’t got up-to-date figures here, but certainly imports are not as strong as they were a year ago in relative terms; exports, of course, are much stronger.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for Ottawa East.

Mr. Martel: Albert’s back. Court must be out.

Mr. Roy: Thank you, Mr. Speaker: You see that? They missed me. That’s very comforting.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Some missed you.

Mr. Roy: In response to the Premier, I was keeping an eye on the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry). Where is he, that man?

Hon. Mr. Davis: He was back a day earlier than you.

Mr. Roy: The Treasurer raised an issue that was of concern to me, coming as I do from the Ottawa-Hull area. He talked about the position of certain merchants in relation to appliances in the Hull area. In view of Quebec’s approach, has he made a study of what effect that selective tax will have on merchandising? There will be a problem, of course, with Quebec merchants. They are raising all sorts of fuss with their government about certain items. How will it affect merchants in the Ottawa area, for instance in certain areas such as clothing, shoes and things of this nature where the tax is completely removed on the Quebec side? Has the Treasurer looked at that situation?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: No, we haven’t as yet done any studies. I don’t know just how we would do them, but we would be taking a look at the situation.


Mr. S. Smith: A question for the minister of Health: Can the minister comment on the matter of the Krever inquiry and can he confirm whether Judge Krever has asked for some clarification of or extension of the terms of reference for his inquiry? If so, can the minister assure the House that the inquiry will be given all the powers it requires in order to be able to question the individual who is suspected of having been selling certain information from medical flies and so on? If I have understood the article correctly, it would appear there is a certain individual who has challenged the matter, and he is alleged to have been providing information to insurance companies and so on. Could the minister comment and assure the House that the terms of reference will be strengthened if necessary; and give us his view of the matter?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yesterday I received from Mr. Justice Krever a letter along with a proposal for what amounts to a clarification of the terms of reference of his inquiry. I will be presenting this matter to the cabinet tomorrow with a recommendation to clarify those terms of reference. As the member knows, if he looks back over the comments of both myself and my colleague the Attorney General, it has been the view -- certainly of both of us and of the entire government -- that the subject is so important, it is so vital that the inquiry get to the root of whatever problem they come across, that the terms should be -- I think my words in the House in December were -- “as broad as possible.” So, certainly, I will be recommending to cabinet that they be clarified.

Mr. Breithaupt: Then will the minister be making a statement in the House on Thursday with respect to any changes so that they are fully known to the members of the House and to the public at large?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I think, Mr. Speaker -- and I mean this with no disrespect to the House -- because His Lordship has adjourned the inquiry until Thursday morning and the House doesn’t sit until two, if in fact I get cabinet approval -- and I don’t anticipate any difficulty in that -- I will probably announce it tomorrow so that he can resume the inquiry Thursday morning. I hope that will be satisfactory to the House.


Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Labour which relates to the expansion of Rio Algom’s mine up at Elliot Lake from 4,990 tons a day to approaching 7,000 tons a day, a subject which was raised with the Minister of Energy (Mr. Baetz) a day or so ago. Given the fact that the greatest danger of exposure to excess radiation comes when a new mine area is being opened up, and usually that is when adequate ventilation is not available, what discussions has the ministry had with the company and with the workers to ensure that before Rio Algom’s plant expansion goes ahead the ventilation systems meet the requirements for dilution of radon daughters and protection from dust?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, there have been very preliminary discussions with the trade union involved and some with the employers in this area as well, but I would remind the hon. member that our jurisdiction in this area is somewhat complicated by the federal assumption that uranium mining is a matter of national interest, and because there has been no clear definition of the responsibilities thus far as a result of the introduction of the new atomic energy bill in the federal House, we have some difficulties with it. We are attempting to ensure that there is as much concern as there possibly can be about this matter and that, indeed, whatever help and guidance we can provide will be provided.

Mr. Laughren: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that the Ministry of Labour is still doing some testing and monitoring the levels in the mine, is the minister satisfied that the comparison between her ministry’s monitoring results and Rio Algom’s monitoring results are such that monitoring is being done properly?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have had a number of meetings about this matter, as I’m sure the hon. member knows and, indeed, the results that have been developed do have a relationship which I think is reasonable and I think is acceptable to us. I think it is important to remember that the cumulative and quantitative results which are used in developing the figures for the workers in that area are those which are developed using the monitoring results which have been approved or at least agreed to as reasonable by the Ministry of Labour. There hasn’t been any problem in that area.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Given the fact that the federal government has apparently disregarded our Ministry of the Environment’s authority in the area and, from this minister’s comments, there’s some question as to whether it might or might not disregard the view of her ministry in this area, can she give us some guarantee that she will stand up as strongly as possible for the health branch of her ministry? Also, does she not agree, if this is really in question, that that’s a further evidence as to why we should be pressing very hard for uranium to be declared a provincial resource?

Hon. B. Stephenson: My suggestion to the hon. Leader of the Opposition was that he inquire of his federal colleague in Hamilton how his ears are right at the moment, because we have been somewhat direct and perhaps a little noisy about the concerns in this area.

Mr. S. Smith: Is that Lorne Alexander the minister is talking about?

Hon. B. Stephenson: I am talking about John Munro, as the hon. member well knows.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Harold Ballard’s friend.

Mr. Sweeney: He hasn’t got any.

Mr. Laughren: In view of the fact that the workers at Rio Algom are still not satisfied because of the lack of consultation with them by both the ministry and by the company, what is the minister doing to ensure that the workers are consulted hilly on the whole question of ventilation procedures and the requirements for ventilation which the ministry is laying down to the company? What is the minister doing to ensure that they are kept fully informed, unlike as in the past?

Hon. B. Stephenson: I am surprised if the hon. member’s statement is correct that the union members are still dissatisfied. When I consider the number of meetings and consultations we have had in the area of Rio Algom mine over the last several months and the amount of information which has been shared and the degree of candour which has occurred at all of those meetings, I am absolutely astonished that the membership of the union does not reflect the apparent satisfaction of the leadership of the union with this situation at the moment. We are continuing those kinds of conversations on a regular basis in Elliot Lake and we hope that this will resolve the problems.

Mr. Cassidy: That is not what we are hearing.

Mr. Laughren: Tell them about the need for ventilation there.

An hon. member: The union will hear about that.


Mr. Cassidy: My second question is of the Minister of the Environment. In view of the fact that the disposal site in Metropolitan Toronto for liquid industrial waste is being closed effective the end of this month and has been opened only on an emergency basis for the last four months, and in view of the fact that facilities both in the US and in Canada for the safe disposal of PCBs are also being closed off, thanks to a US government order and the lack of facilities here, can the minister make a statement about what the government intends to be done about disposal of these two types of very toxic substances?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, as far as the PCBs, that is the Canadian materials, are concerned, we would intend for some period of time to store them in containers that were approved by the Ministry of the Environment.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister answer the question about the disposal of liquid waste as well, particularly in view of the fact that the ministry has been promising action on the disposal of liquid waste since 1970 and in view of the minister’s comments, in which he has been blaming industry for not taking action rather than providing leadership from the Ministry of the Environment itself?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I think we are providing leadership --

Mr. Warner: People on Beare Road wouldn’t say that.

Hon. Mr. McCague: -- and I don’t think that there’s a statement in which I blame industry. I do say that industry has a certain responsibility in this matter, and we are working with them and working with municipalities. As the member knows, we feel you can safely burn PCBs at places such as St. Lawrence Cement. We are burning some liquid wastes at Tricil in Mississauga. We hope to have a deep well in Sarnia a little later. There is the matter of solidification which is being developed and several others.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, can the minister say, given an option as to whether to put these in a deep well or carry on experimentation to dispose of them through the high temperature route, what the consensus is now as to the best future of disposal? Is it to put them in the deep wells or is it best to pursue the areas of high temperature disposal?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Both, Mr. Speaker.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that his predecessor in 1970 said that the problem of industrial waste was a matter that rated top priority? Has he received the brief from the Rouge Hills ratepayers’ association on liquid industrial waste and the Beare Road landfill site, with a number of recommendations of methods that could be investigated? Is he prepared to follow up on all of those methods that are suggested in the brief?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to assess all the points that are mentioned in that brief.

Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. S. Smith: The member for Wentworth was on his feet. Let Wentworth have it, go ahead.

Mr. Deans: Thank you very much. It’s very kind of the member; I will do the same for him some day.

An hon. member: That’s your consolation prize.

Mr. Deans: I wonder, when the minister speaks of the responsibility of industry if he would look into the comments reported to have been made by a Mr. Alexander Thomas of Thomas Waste Removal in Mississauga? He stated recently, as I understand, that certificates to truck liquid industrial waste can be received with a phone call. He said the industry is in chaos as far as the trucking of liquid industrial waste is concerned, and that there are truckers who are moving industrial waste improperly and without adequate safeguards.

Would the minister meet with Mr. Thomas, investigate the validity of those statements and take whatever action is necessary to put an end to it?

Hon. Mr. McCague: I would be very pleased to meet with him.


Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Health: Has the minister received a copy of the Essex County District Health Council report that recommends the closing of the obstetric division of Windsor’s longest established hospital run by the religious hospitalers of St. Joseph?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes.


Mr. B. Newman: Is the minister aware that the obstetric unit at Hotel Dieu is the longest established obstetric unit in the city of Windsor; some 77 years in service? And is the minister also not concerned for those who, for religious convictions, will have no facility in the city of Windsor to go to in case of the closing of this obstetrical unit? Will the minister allay the concerns of the 103,515 Roman Catholics now in the city of Windsor and state that he will not accept the recommendation of the district health council and tell them to reconsider their decision?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The report to which the hon. member refers, along with I might add, a dissenting report which supports the keeping in operation of the Hotel Dieu unit -- I am not sure whether it specifies which of the other two units, the Metropolitan or Salvation Army Grace should close or not; it may -- but the reports just arrived yesterday; I haven’t had time to read them. I can assure the member in the strongest possible terms that in arriving at a decision the religious and moral convictions of a very significant portion of the population of that area will very definitely be taken into account.

As the member knows, the report of the district health council covers a great many subjects, including the question of the Windsor Western Riverview unit, and we will not make any precipitate decisions that in any way would offend these very legitimate concerns.

Mr. Bounsall: On a supplementary to the minister: Since the initial report of the committee studying the obstetrics and gynecology rationalization in Windsor and Essex county recommended that all three obstetrical units remain open, would the minister not reconsider his attitude to the rationalization in the area and allow all three hospitals to remain open, as well as provide the funds for the very badly needed neo-natal services in the community?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There has been a great deal of discussion, review and comment and reports over the last couple of years, certainly in my time as minister. As I recall the task force on obstetrics that reported to the council, and I’ll check this, commented on retaining three. The council -- and again all this is subject to confirmation against the printed record -- concluded that really only two in the city of Windsor could be supported, and that is in the report of the district health council to me dated April 15, 1977. That report didn’t specify which one.

On September 6 or 7 last year I accepted the comments of the district health council, but threw the question back to them as to which of the three obstetrics units should be closed. I think if the member traces it through he will find that the council had in fact suggested that there only be two. That is based on a number of factors -- utilization, as well as certain objective standards which are common in North America as to the number of live births per year in a unit -- that one should really follow to decide whether to establish or maintain a unit.

Mr. Cooke: I would like to ask the Minister of Health what he thinks of the district health councils, especially the one in Windsor, when they make these decisions, discuss these matters in private meetings behind closed doors, and then call a press conference to make the announcement. Does he not feel that these meetings should be more open, reported by the press? We are talking about public funds in a public body.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Well, we are discussing public funds in this public body. I think it is very difficult for some of these organizations, after there has been a lot of discussion -- and let’s grant that in the last year there has been a great deal of discussion in Windsor in the media and in various public meetings. Obviously at some point, just as when the members arrive at their conclusions as a caucus, they have to sit down in camera and arrive at their final conclusions in a perhaps less heated atmosphere.

I really don’t see anything improper in the way they’ve carried this out. I would say to you that the Essex County District Health Council is one of the best health councils in the province.


Mr. Mackenzie: To the Minister of Labour: Could the minister explain to the House the delay in reaching agreement with local 767 CUPE for employees of Ontario Housing; and why has a new agreement not been reached where the old contract expired back on December 31, 1976?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I cannot at this point, but I shall investigate and report to the House.

Mr. Warner: Almost a year and a half.

Mr. Mackenzie: As a supplementary, would the minister not ascertain as to whether or not it is simply a question of implementing an arbitration award, which as I understand it under the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act is binding?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, I shall ascertain that

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Provincial Secretary for Resources Development has the answer to a question asked previously.


Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, I was asked a question last Friday by the hon. member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) on the Whitewater Wilderness Lodge. This project has been supported by our government to assist native people to develop and to operate a tourist resort which will in turn provide training and employment for native people. The lodge can accommodate about 30 persons, was constructed by native residents of Collins, with approximately 75 per cent funding from the federal government and 25 per cent from this government.

The lodge was not open during the 1977 tourist season for a number of reasons, primarily because of insufficient lead time for essential advertising and marketing. In the interest of assuring the maximum opportunity for a successful opening season in 1978, a private consulting firm was commissioned to assess the economic viability of the lodge as a tourist facility and to make recommendation to promote the successful operation of the lodge. I have tabled the report on the Whitewater Wilderness Lodge prepared by Dunwoody and Associates Limited, management consultants in Thunder Bay, and copies are being sent to the Leader of the Opposition, to the leader of the NDP and to the hon. member for Victoria-Haliburton.

In the opinion of the consultants, the lodge is a first-rate tourist facility, particularly enhanced by its magnificent wilderness setting. It offers modern accommodation conveniences, with good fishing and other recreational activities which can be successfully marketed. The recommendations provided by the consultants were reviewed carefully by senior officials of all ministries related to the development of this project, and by officers of the Ogoki River Guides Limited. Contrary to the recommendation of the consultants’ report regarding the necessity of government participation on the management liaison committee to oversee the operation of the lodge, there was general consensus among senior government officials and the interested native people that the lodge --

Mr. Martel: It’s like Minaki, is it?

Hon. Mr. Brunelle: -- would be much more efficiently managed without the interference of government, leaving the native people themselves to manage the lodge.

In keeping with the intent to foster the independence of the native persons who are committed to the successful operation of the lodge, and to end government’s continued involvement in this project as quickly as possible, it was decided that the native corporation, Ogoki River Guides, which I’m told comprises the local community and which conceived the lodge project initially and acted as its developer, should be given full control of the lodge. We’re very optimistic that it will be a very successful operation.

Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary: Would the minister agree that it’s premature, before the lodge has been in operation at all, not to leave the alternative that if it doesn’t get first-class management there’s something the government can do about it? Wouldn’t he agree that there has been significantly too much money spent in this one area, that the money would have been better spent in four or five locations to put more people to work and build a lodge that would more ably have people of middle and lower incomes visit the lodge? Would he agree that the kind of money required to spend any time at that lodge is very prohibitive?

Hon. Mr. Brunelle: I would say there was considerable discussion and consultation with the federal government and the provincial government, between federal ARDA and provincial ARDA, a few years ago. It was then decided that the lodge should be built. It’s quite true that at that time the costs were not as high as has been anticipated. Nevertheless, I’m told it’s a beautiful lodge in a very wilderness setting. There will be a lease signed between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ogoki River Guides. There will be some operating funding given to them initially, on a declining basis for three years. It is based on the occupancy.

I do believe we really should try to encourage the native people to try to assist themselves. This will provide training as well as employment. I think that the decision has been carefully arrived at. There has been a lot of discussion, and that is why we thought it would be best to turn it over to them, and every assistance will be given to them if they require it.

Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary: Would the minister not agree that there should be some option open to the government to make certain that there is good management and that we do have some decision-making in the management aspect of it? I’m not concerned; I’m very hopeful that the government is going to turn it over and that it is going to be successful, but what if it is not?

Hon. Mr. Brunelle: As I indicated, the occupancy will be closely monitored. There will also be assistance and guidance given. We have indicated that to the management and the new owners.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: I think that we agree with the objectives of the minister’s outline. What steps can he take to ensure that the management will be efficient? Has the government taken any equity in the lodge for the capital expenditure involved or in the agreement with the federal government? Can the minister give us a little detail on those arrangements?

Hon. Mr. Brunelle: It will be a 99-year lease. The conditions in the lease are that the lodge be operated for the objectives that have been set for it, for the employment and training of native people. If those conditions are not met then the lodge would revert back to the Crown.


Mr. Cunningham: I have a question for the Solicitor General, in his capacity as the Provincial Secretary for Justice, relating to the existence of a quota system for the administration of the Public Commercial Vehicles Act. Is the minister aware of an account in the London Free Press where the current Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) says there should be a quota system? Would the Solicitor General be prepared to comment not only on the legality of that particular statement, but whether it reflects government policy at this time?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: I did not hear the first part of the hon. member’s question. I should have a little more background.

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps if all members would keep their private conversations down it would be much easier to hear.

Mr. Cunningham: To repeat it, it relates to an account in the London Free Press where the Minister of Transportation and Communications indicates he feels there should be a quota system for administration of the PCV Act. Would the minister comment on the legality of this for us, and whether or not that reflects his government’s policy?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: I am not exactly sure how that affects my ministry. The question of a quota system and PCV licences has been around this government for a number of years. I am sure the hon. member knows that in order to obtain a licence of that sort an application is made to the Ontario Highway Transport Board and only certain licences and certain types of licences are issued in certain areas. I just can’t see the connection for example, between the policing of a policy of that kind and, frankly, any injustice involved in a policy of that kind.

Mr. Cunningham: Perhaps the minister didn’t understand.

Hon. Mr. Snow: On a point of privilege, I would like to correct what the hon. member for Wentworth North has put on the record in quoting the London Free Press, because at no time did I say, inside this House or outside the House, that there should be a quota on charges or convictions under the Public Commercial Vehicles Act. I did agree that I thought it was proper there should be targets established by management within my ministry for productivity levels of our employees; but at no time did I agree that there should be quotas.


Mr. Cunningham: Before I direct my supplementary to the Solicitor General, in reply to the minister’s point of privilege: it says here in the London Free Press, “As far as I am concerned, there is no quota system,” which is contrary to what the memo said originally; but the minister does say here there should be, so I guess the London Free Press is in error then and not the minister.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Regardless of what the London Free Press may have printed, I am just stating what I said.

Mr. Cunningham: A supplementary to the Solicitor General: In view of the memorandum dated February 8, signed by M. M. McIntyre, an acting district supervisor for district 31, which is in fact London, Ontario, wherein Mr. McIntyre suggested that there would be a necessity for increased production, that there would be 10 reports tabled per week and from those reports there would in fact be seven charges --

Mr. Speaker: Question.

Mr. Cunningham: -- would the Solicitor General undertake it as his responsibility to see such an insidious practice is stopped?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: If the hon. member is talking about a quota of charges that are to be laid by the police, if the member had only said that in the question in the first place --

Mr. Cunningham: I did say it. The minister wasn’t listening.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: I agree with the hon. member that the police do not work on a quota in respect to laying of charges in any district.

Mr. Roy: Not officially.


Mr. Makarchuk: I have a question of the Minister of Health. The hospitals in the Brantford and Hamilton areas were paying 12 cents to 16 cents a pound for their laundry, and after the minister forced them into a reprivatization and put the laundry out to a private firm they are now paying anywhere from 24 cents to 28 cents a pound for the same laundry. Can the minister explain the rationale for his ministry indulging in such silly practices?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I’ll be glad to check on the figures that the hon. member has put forward. In particular I would like to know if he is talking year over year, or is he talking four years ago to the present year, in which case that can make all the difference, of course. The figures he has rhymed off this afternoon would indicate a 50 per cent increase.

Mr. Foulds: One hundred per cent.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I doubt very much that that would be a year over a year and there are bound to be some other considerations -- startup costs, capitalization, and so forth. I will be glad to take it as notice and get all of the figures for that laundry operation because our experience, province-wide, has been that through consolidation we have been able to effect economies in the laundry operations. Granted that from time to time you will have a one- or two-year initial startup cost that will on the face of it raise the cost, but in the long run our experience has been universally good.

Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the figures are current and the hospitals are experiencing budgetary problems --


Mr. Makarchuk: -- because of the cutbacks on them, is the minister prepared to increase the allotment to the hospitals --


Mr. Makarchuk: -- because the problem is not of their doing, but it is of his doing?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The direction to all the hospitals about the 1918-19 budgets is clear. First of all, there is no more money.

Ms. Gigantes: Let them do their own laundry then.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Second, we will only make adjustments for arithmetic errors.

Third, they must come back to us when they have developed what they consider to be the extent of their problem, if they feel they have to cut services, so that we through our area teams can review their proposals and ensure that we have an input as well so if the hospitals propose to cut one thing and we think there are other things they can cut, perhaps in administration or purchasing or whatever, we can say so. The ultimate decision is that of the community boards of the hospitals.

To the best of my knowledge -- and I have been busy the last two weeks with other activities --

Mr. Laughren: Name one.

Mr. Wildman: You have been busy washing your laundry in public.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: -- I don’t recall seeing anything in my mail from those hospitals. And while I am checking the member’s figures to see whether we are talking one year over a subsequent year, or whether we are talking about one year over four years later, I will see if the hospitals have made contact with the area team for them to come in and review their figures and so the hospitals get the advice of these very expert people as to other ways in which economies can be effected.

Mr. Makarchuk: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister has taken it as notice and there will be --

Mr. Makarchuk: Could I have one final supplementary?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister has taken it as notice and you will have an opportunity --

Mr. Makarchuk: I don’t think he has taken it as anything.


Mr. Mancini: I have a question of the Minister of Health. I would like to ask the minister if he has now had an opportunity to review the 19 recommendations which have been made by the Windsor and Essex County District Health Council concerning the ambulance service of the area, and if he now realizes that one of the recommendations concerning the central dispatch service will cause the abolition of the Amherstburg, Anderdon and Malden volunteer service, which we have had in our area for the last 16 years.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that I have been rather preoccupied the last couple of weeks with another activity.

Mr. Mancini: This is important too.

Mr. Warner: It’s not our fault.

Hon. Mr. Norton: You should resign, David, for making a stupid statement like that.

Mr. Warner: You’re the ones who upped the tax.

Mr. Turner: Don’t be so sanctimonious.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As I indicated in the House last week, I have certainly seen the report. It is out to the staff for comment. Again, it may be in the material which is backed up in my office that I haven’t had time to get to. But I don’t believe it has come back from staff with comments.

As I recall, in the report they discuss five districts within the county for ambulance services plus central dispatch, plus, plus, plus -- adding up to the 19 recommendations. No decisions have been made. I haven’t even had a chance to give it a lot of thought, let alone have the comments of my staff on it, let alone go through the normal processes of making such a decision.

Mr. Mancini: I have a supplementary; I’ll try to make it short, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that the district health council has sent out a letter saying it has accepted these 19 recommendations in principle and probably will adopt them a week from Thursday, I believe, would the minister be willing to interfere if one of these recommendations, such as the one for a central dispatch service, would put into jeopardy the volunteer service in the Amherstburg area? Would the minister be willing to interfere?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: First of all, whatever the health council will come up with will be a set of recommendations. They are, for the purposes of health planning, my advisers in the county of Essex.

Secondly, the council, I am sure, and certainly the ministry, will take into account the primary goal, which is to ensure that the best possible ambulance service that we can afford is maintained. That is obviously the goal of evaluating the ambulance services in Essex county. So I would say, let the council finish their work and forward their recommendations to us. The ultimate decision must be that of the ministry.


Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, my question is of the Treasurer in his capacity as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. In view of the now obvious tremendous increase in welfare payments paid out by municipalities this year -- may I inform him that the region of Niagara will be $185,000 over their projection for the first quarter and more than $1 million over their projection for the year -- is the minister going to provide some special subsidy for those municipalities hardest hit or, better still, provide additional funding for needed municipal projects?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, perhaps that question should be redirected to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton).

Mr. McClellan: No, it’s your money; you control the purse-strings. He’s just a cipher.

Mr. Cassidy: They all dance to your tune.

Mr. Martel: Clerk. Clerk number one.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, by way of reiteration of the first question, may I ask a supplementary? Does the Treasurer not think that it’s his responsibility to provide the transfers to municipal government, especially for additional work projects?

Is he not aware that his Premier promoted funds for work in Ontario instead of unemployment insurance at the first ministers’ conference and, by letter of March 21 to the Prime Minister of Canada, said: “I am sure that many in the labour force who are now drawing unemployment benefits would prefer to be employed on projects,” then again: “Better that than drawing benefits for doing nothing and suffering the demoralizing effects of being without work”?

Doesn’t the Treasurer think the same principle should apply between his government and the local municipalities and that he should be looking at funding useful municipal work projects instead of the huge sums the federal government, this government, and particularly municipalities, are spending on welfare, or is that statement by the Premier just the normal political window dressing?

Mr. Makarchuk: It’s window dressing.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I am sure that if the Minister of Community and Social Services felt that additional funds were needed to supplement those amounts which are being made --

Mr. McClellan: What does he know about it? He doesn’t know anything about it.

Mr. Makarchuk: Have you guys been taking lessons from Taylor?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: He would in the normal course of events come to his colleagues in Management Board and the cabinet, and that’s why the question should be directed to him. I have no idea what he is contemplating at the moment.

Mr. Wildman: What about work projects?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: With respect to the second part of the program, I would suggest that the hon. member direct that question to the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) who has been trying to extract -- and that is not too strong a word -- something out of the federal government by way of using some of the unemployment insurance funds. The Premier has written the letter, which the hon. member has read. We believe in that principle.

Mr. Swart: That has nothing to do with my question. I asked if the Treasurer is going to apply the same principle.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: We don’t control the unemployment insurance fund. Perhaps the hon. member should get a basic lesson in the constitution of this country.

Mr. Makarchuk: It’s the James Taylor syndrome.

Mr. Swart: Does the minister mean he’s absolving himself from the responsibility of transfer payments to municipalities? Is he saying it’s no longer his concern?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: It was only several weeks ago that the member was on his feet, or other members were, complaining about the level of grants to school boards -- which by the way seem not to be doing too badly -- or to municipalities generally, which also seem to be doing not too badly. I don’t decide the level of these grants, speak to the individual ministers.

Mr. Swart: The Treasurer, not responsible for work projects?


Mr. Stong: I have a question of the Solicitor General concerning the recent fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Indian reserve resident at Longlac by OPP officers. Has the minister conducted an investigation into the matter and has he satisfied himself that the police procedure used is proper? That procedure, in disarming this youth of an unloaded gun, seemed to be two shots over the head and one into the stomach.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I have a report on that unfortunate incident. There will be an inquest. It has been scheduled.

The information I have is that the man -- I believe his name was Bouchard -- was drunk and very high on drugs. His wife had called the OPP detachment at least three times and the third call indicated he had a rifle and he was using it to smash windows and he was also threatening her. As a result of that, two officers attended the home, parked their car a little away from the home and Bouchard walked down the street with the rifle and pointed it at the police officers. The police officers continuously asked Bouchard to drop the rifle and he refused to do so. He also threatened, I believe, a woman who was a relative of his, told her to get off the street or he would shoot her. The officers, of course, did not know that the rifle was not loaded; and after repeated requests to drop it, which Bouchard did not do, the officers fired three shots. Unfortunately, the third shot was fatal.

Mr. Stong: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: What does the Solicitor General intend to do with respect to the request by Indian Band 58 for an inquiry into why the police didn’t take a different procedure and try to talk this man, whom they knew was drunk, into dropping the rifle?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: It’s always easy to second- guess an incident of that kind. I notice a reference by the band’s welfare administrator saying, just as the hon. member has said, that the officers should have tried harder. But if you are facing the barrel of a shotgun and you don’t, of course, know that it’s not loaded, you have to react in the way the circumstances would warrant. I don’t want to second-guess the police officers in this incident; I think all that information, of course, will come out at an inquest.

Mr. Wildman: I agree with the minister on not second-guessing the officers. Could the minister indicate why it took three calls from the man’s family before there was a response; and could he indicate whether or not there is a band constable program on Reserve 58? If there isn’t can he say when he anticipates that kind of program might be set up to involve band members more in the enforcement of law on the reserve?


Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I believe there is a band constable program involving this particular reserve. Certainly there is some sort of fly-in service to the reserve. However, I will get the information as to the number of men deployed there. The facts I have don’t indicate why it took three calls. The officers may have had to come some distance. Situations of this kind are fairly numerous on the reservation. They had some indication that the deceased was armed and dangerous and I suppose it was felt that it would require two constables on the scene.

Mr. Foulds: Could the minister table for us the full report of the information he has at the present time, in view of the fact that I believe he was erroneous in his comments about the band constable program? Also, could he indicate to the House whether or not there is a procedure in which the OPP are trained for such situations -- to aim for, say the leg when it is felt necessary to actually shoot other than a warning shot, so that it might not be fatal.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: I think that is the practice of a police officer in a situation like that. It’s only as a last resort that they would shoot; I suppose to make sure that their own lives are not in danger.

But as I say, I don’t have sufficient number of facts. I think these are the sort of things that would be brought out at an inquest involving a number of witnesses. Apparently there were a number of witnesses on the scene who saw what happened. The information I have indicates, as I have said, that the police officers have acted in a very reasonable manner. It was the third shot that was the fatal shot, unfortunately; but I have no reason to criticize the police action or to feel they didn’t act in a responsible manner.


Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister of the Environment. With regard to the environmental health bulletin just issued by the ministry containing alarming findings about levels of Mirex and PCBs in rainbow smelts in Lake Ontario, and since we are just coming into the smelt season, what steps is the minister taking to publicize these findings? All residents in the area should be aware that the smelts should not be eaten by pregnant women or young children, and only occasionally by others, because of the unacceptable levels of these highly toxic substances in the smelts?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I believe that was put out in the form of a press release.

Ms. Bryden: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister planning to do anything beyond just issuing a press release, such as asking radio and TV stations to carry public service announcements, or perhaps undertaking an advertising campaign in the Lake Ontario area?

Hon. Mr. McCague: I am not sure whether that is envisaged or not, but I will find out and report to the member.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Would the minister comment on the question raised by the member in regard to Mirex, and generally in regard to the recent report of the IJC which has come out? The IJC was quite dissatisfied with the rate of progress in cleaning up the Great Lakes generally -- not just Mirex but solid waste and industrial waste. Has the ministry taken any position with the federal government and the American government with regard to cleaning up the Great Lakes?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t had any direct consultation with them myself, but there are ongoing meetings on the matter.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Is the minister satisfied himself with the progress that’s been made in cleaning up the Great Lakes?

Hon. Mr. McCague: It would be fine if this could go more quickly, but I feel we are doing the best we can.


Mr. Bradley: My question is of the Minister of Education. Since the federal Justice department is, according to media reports, studying a possible change in the Criminal Code of Canada to remove the right of teachers and parents to use force in disciplining children, does the minister or someone from his ministry intend to make representations to the Justice department to ensure that this right is not removed and that discipline is maintained in our school system?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I support the retention of the present section that is in the Act. I haven’t considered making representations to Ottawa, I must say, because in reading the news stories I saw that it came up as a result of some civil servant mentioning that this was under consideration. I think that if and when it does come forward in the form of an amendment in the House I will certainly write and indicate my displeasure with any intentions to remove that section.

Mr. Bradley: As a supplementary, and recognizing that I’m not necessarily dealing specifically in the minister’s area, I understand that representations have been made by Dr. Herbert Sohn, head of Ontario’s program on child abuse, indicating that section 43 should be removed from the Criminal Code. In the light of the fact that he has made this representation fairly early in the game would the minister give consideration to making these representations at a very early point, because sometimes, ultimately when they come forward, federal departments are often reluctant to back down at a late point whereas if we get to them early they sometimes are able to understand one’s reasoning?

Hon. Mr. Wells: In answer to the hon. member’s question, I’d be happy to look into and find out the representations made by someone else in the government who obviously, for probably his own good reasons, felt that they were legitimate reasons to either amend or remove that section, but certainly from our point of view and certainly from the school system’s point of view, I think it would be regrettable if that section were removed. I just want to preface this, not that I in any way am a supporter of corporal punishment, but I think the removal of the section might have a very detrimental effect on the whole idea of discipline in the school system. Therefore, we’ll look into it in our Social Development policy field and see what can be done.



Hon. Mr. Baetz moved first reading of Bill 66, An Act to provide for Municipal Hydro-Electric Service in the Regional Municipality of York.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Subtitled “Let there be light.”

Mr. Speaker: In Armstrong.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. G. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, as a point of information, I’d like to introduce to the House an ex-colleague of this House, Mr. Arthur Evans, who had the seat of Simcoe Centre for 17 illustrious years and who is in the gallery.


Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I feel I owe the House some explanation with respect to the rearrangement of our business for today.

An hon. member: You certainly do.

Hon. Mr. Welch: There have been a number of changes which have been occasioned in order to accommodate the travel plans of those who, in fact, were relying on the order that was announced last Thursday. So there has been a series of changes -- and, indeed, up until a few minutes ago we didn’t know just exactly how it was finalized -- but in the usual co-operative way, we’ve arrived at the agreed order which I would share with the House at this time so that people might know the order.

We thought we would start with government motion 9 and then go to Bills 31, 26, 28, 49 and 50. Then, if there was some time, we might go back to the budget debate. I do thank the House for bearing with us as we make these rearrangements.



Hon. Mr. Welch moved resolution 9:

That notwithstanding the application of standing order 8 or any other order of the House, when the House is in committee to consider bills, a minister or parliamentary assistant having charge of a bill may occupy a seat in the front row of the House and may have up to three of the ministry’s staff seated in front of him to supply information to the minister or parliamentary assistant when so required.

Mr. Worton: In speaking to this resolution, I believe it is fair to say that the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) and I have had the opportunity to witness a great many changes in the operation of this Legislature. Unfortunately, for one reason or other, we have always had the opportunity to witness it from this side of the House.

One of the things that my mind has always marvelled at is when the minister during the legislation that is to be brought before the Legislature from time to time either has to make signals or send across notes to his legislative staff in order to get some technical point or some legal point clarified. In fact, I recall a few years ago, after a minister got the note, he said: “Unfortunately, I can’t read the writing now,” and he had to get further clarification.

I think the purpose of us being here is to do our utmost to make sure that with the contribution from all three sides we get the best legislation possible for the citizens of this province, and to iron out matters at the time we make the amendments or adjustments to a bill so that there won’t be any challenges by the courts, such as we have had in the past year, of one or two pieces of legislation. I believe if this is given a chance to operate -- and it’s on a trial basis for a year -- that it will be for the betterment of the people of Ontario.

I must say that all ministers can’t be solicitors and most of them in the cabinet from time to time have to be lay people. I feel this would be a much easier route, not that I want to see ministers who are not competent. If so, I imagine the House leader (Mr. Welch) or the Premier (Mr. Davis) will certainly take note of those ministers who can’t handle themselves well, even with their staff in front of the desk, as is being established in this resolution.

But it is my desire to make it as simple as possible for us to get proper legislation in a proper manner, as I have repeated on two occasions now, for the betterment of the people of this province.

Mr. Deans: I am taking a slightly different position from the position put by the member for Wellington South. Obviously, one of the purposes of dealing with legislation in committee of the whole is to attempt to come up with the best possible legislation. I concur in that. I think that’s an important aspect of dealing with legislation or with anything else in the Legislature. We hope we will arrive at legislation or expenditures that are in keeping with the best interests of the people of Ontario.

The second important aspect of this place is a political aspect. Quite frequently, we shy away from discussion of the politics of the Legislature. The Legislature is by its very nature a political place. It’s a place where partisan views are not only shared but frequently screened. The end result of that is that one measures the competency and capacity of people on the basis of their proven ability to rise in their place to deal with legislation and to deal with other aspects of the day-to-day work of the Legislature.

There is a considerable difference between dealing with bills and dealing with estimates in the House, where the minister could hardly be expected to know all the ramifications and all the inside operations of the ministry to the point where he or she might be able to stand up and to deal right off the cuff with every single question that might be asked. So it is important during those considerations that the civil service be available to the minister in order to give guidance and advice from time to time on mailers which one could hardly expect the minister to be able to answer off the cuff.


Legislation is different. In dealing with legislation one assumes that if the minister brings forward legislation, he or she does so after having given consideration to the importance of it, the applicability of it, and the appropriateness of it. One assumes that having gone through the various cabinet stages, in order to gain the approval and acceptance of the cabinet before the legislation comes forward, the minister will be sufficiently well versed in that legislation to be able to argue in the House on the political merits of that legislation, and to accept and to understand and to come to grips with the technical aspects of the legislation as it affects the law of the province of Ontario.

The opposition doesn’t have available to it the opportunity to have ranged in front of its critic all of the research people whom we might from time to time think it would be useful to have. For example, in dealing with the estimates we can’t have our research people sitting in front of us in order that we can get the little note passed up that says, “Hey, you should ask about this now.” We have to prepare -- prepare to ask the questions and prepare to deal with the matter.

The same holds true for legislation. In legislation we on the opposition benches have to be able to speak to that legislation and to put forward our amendments. The amendments under the current rules have to be made available to the government considerably in advance of the day on which they will be dealt with. So it is not as if a member is going to spring something on the minister at the last minute by way of an amendment; the amendments are known to the minister in advance, and that minister should have been able to ascertain the appropriateness of them or the acceptance of them in advance.

In addition to that there is the opportunity, in the event that the legislation is complex and difficult, to send it out to one of the standing committees where there are provisions made for staff to be available to deal with and to assist the minister in his or her deliberations.

What is being asked is in my opinion not appropriate for the chamber. I think we have altered the methods of dealing in this chamber considerably over the last 10 years.

We now have parliamentary assistants handling legislation in the minister’s absence. And, incidentally, that has been a problem from time to time, because quite frequently parliamentary assistants did not and do not have the power to accept changes in legislation where ministers do, in fact, have the power and can make judgements about whether a change is acceptable or otherwise.

I think even that has been a backward step, as I look at it now. To be able to deal with the person that has the political responsibility is surely the function of politicians. If we want to deal with the staff, and if as I say it is a particularly difficult bill, then we can send the bill to one of the standing committees and the staff can be there to bring forward all of their information.

I want to suggest it is not appropriate to approve this resolution now. If I were to be asked what I would like to see I probably would like to see us go back a step from where we now are, and to make it the responsibility of the minister, and not the parliamentary assistant, to be in the House to deal with the legislation as it goes through. I am not running down any particular parliamentary assistant, but frankly I just think that at this point in time it is a ministerial responsibility and perhaps the minister should be the only person who has the carriage of legislation.

I therefore suggest to the House that they reconsider this; that they consider the position they are going to take; that they consider -- I don’t want to use words that are inappropriate -- but they consider whether or not it is in keeping with the best traditions and whether or not it is a practice that should be followed and pursued to open this chamber up any further than it has already been opened. We may have opened it too far already.

We should recognize that when a member is elected and then appointed to the cabinet, he assumes responsibilities for his actions and those responsibilities carry with them the obligation to come into the House properly prepared to deal with legislation which he believes is going to serve the people of the province of Ontario. If by some happenstance he doesn’t have the answer right at hand, he sends a little note along and one of the lovely people who sit under the gallery, who are always faceless and nameless, can send a note back.

There’s a certain embarrassment about that. There’s that momentary pause when the minister is asked that extremely interesting and simple question and he doesn’t know the answer, and he has to send over to get it. When those things happen two or three times we see ministers departing and they sit in the corner of the second row, rather than in the front row or some other row.

I just don’t think it’s appropriate, and I would like to suggest we not do it, but that we continue with the practice we have always followed. If the bills require more careful deliberation and assistance than can be given in the chamber, send them out to committee by all means, but in this chamber we reserve the chamber for the members, and the members are the only people who are given the opportunity to sit in and deal in the chamber. We should take a look at the practices we follow at present to make sure they’re consistent with that principle.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, in speaking to this particular motion, I was interested first of all in the comments made by the member for Wellington South, who was interested in receiving more full information and a more immediate response in the resolution of particular concerns, as he has viewed the operation of this chamber over his distinguished career of some 23 years.

As is usual, of course, the member for Wellington South was somewhat reticent in reminding the House as to where this idea had come from. I believe it was his idea, one that in his experience was useful in working towards the benefit of the members as they discussed a particular aspect of the work which we do in this chamber.

I’ve heard with interest the comments of the member for Wentworth, who had been a former House leader of his party, as I have been a former House leader of my party.

Mr. Foulds: But not much the same. He was much better than you.

Mr. Breithaupt: Over these years we have seen particular changes that have developed in the operation of the Legislature. I need not remind you, sir, that of course the rules with which this House is governed are still referred to as provisional orders of the House. The ones which we have used in the previous Legislature have been reconfirmed and are now in place on a provisional basis, until we see whether those rules, as changed, fit the practice of this House, which is changing and developing, particularly as a result of concerns that come before us through the operation of minority government.

The member for Wentworth is correct when he says that the operation of bills is somewhat different from the operation of estimates and that if a bill is particularly involved it could be sent out of the House. We see an example there in the present securities legislation which is, of course, complicated, but one which, because it is going out of the House, is going to have the opportunity for experts in the public arena as well as within the ministry to deal with the particular involvements as they come before that committee. I, however, feel this motion should be supported for the sole reason that we are in a provisional situation and we have the opportunity to see if this additional step is of use.

The member for Wentworth has said that perhaps he would revert to the former circumstances whereby parliamentary assistants did not answer for legislation and pilot that legislation through the House. I don’t know whether that would be a useful return. I would rather try this new procedure of having a parliamentary assistant or a minister move to the front row, thereby having the opportunity to have a fuller discussion and questions answered more immediately, than necessarily to balance that with the momentary embarrassment a minister might undergo by having to send out a small note to get an answer to a question.

I believe a time period will develop whereby we will see whether this is a useful procedure or not. Once we get to the stage of a formal redoing of the rules and an addition of the various provisional rules into the standard rules which we have had, then we will be able to deal with this procedure. I think it is appropriate to try this procedure because the manner of dealing with the bills can be very easily phased into the procedure we have for estimates at the present time.

We are dealing with something that will go for a period of time and may be of use to the operation within the chamber. I don’t believe it is necessary to view the idea of dealing with bills as something quite separate than dealing with estimates, because surely the matter of responsibility continues whether a minister has the answer immediately or obtains one or whether a minister is seen not to be knowledgeable over the operations of the ministry or the contents of a bill.

I don’t draw that distinction. I think we have an opportunity to look at this procedure, to accept it for the time being. As a result, I would favour the carriage of this motion as an addition to the provisional orders for the time being and as something which will build experience until we formally adopt a set of orders at some time, one would hope in the near future.

Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to acceptance of the motion standing in the name of the government House leader, which would erode the power as contained in standing order 8, which I suspect probably has been in standing orders since the beginning of time and probably is going back to Westminster.

So far as I am concerned, it is an ancient and respected tradition that those people who seek political office should be responsible for their actions. It is what is called political responsibility, responsible government and all those terms we have heard down through the years. Those people who choose to do the public business should be competent, capable and willing to do the government business in a public fashion so that people can then measure and test whether in fact they are what they said they were when they held themselves out for office.

I suspect this move, which will put three experts from his ministry in front of a cabinet minister or a parliamentary assistant, will be another one of the gradual moves which in my mind have eroded the political process, over the past 15 years that I have participated, at all three levels of government.

Mr. Laughren: Get that, Mr. Speaker? Three levels.

Mr. Germa: I have seen that at the municipal level, and I was alarmed that the people who were elected as aldermen and controllers just did not exercise their own judgement in making decisions. They were constantly calling for expert study and opinion from some expert who supposedly came from 50 miles away and, therefore, must have known more than the people in power. I always objected even at that level.

If I saw fit to put myself up for office, then I would make decisions and I would stand or fall on my decisions. That is the nature of the political process.


I do not want a cabinet minister who doesn’t understand a piece of legislation being protected by three civil servants. They are forced now to read their legislation and understand legislation in order to defend it. I suspect when they have this extra crutch sitting in front of them then it would lead to erosion to the point where the minister will come in relying totally on the advice of thee non-elected, non-responsible people. To my mind there is only one way to get responsible government and that is for those people accepting the post to accept the responsibility.

The members in the opposition accept that responsibility. We are willing to stand here alone and without advice and put our opinions on the line, and vote and debate the legislation. So if we can take that risk I see no reason why the government side cannot, especially the cabinet ministers, and they are all of high intellect. They have been chosen because of that. They all have a high IQ. They were chosen because of that. They are superior people to us.

Mr. Warner: Not necessarily.

Mr. Germa: We know that because they are sitting in the front bench.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: What are you after, Bud?

Mr. Germa: They have a high rate of pay because they are superior to us, and I would suggest they should have to start earning their pay. They should have to stand alone, defend their decisions and their actions, just as the opposition members put their positions.

Mr. Wildman: We don’t ask for our researchers to be there.

Mr. Germa: Consequently, I am surprised and a little disturbed that there isn’t violent outcry from more members in this House at this erosion of political power.

The democratic elective process, I think, is a good process provided we do not allow those people elected to escape their responsibility. The people have a right to have the opinions and decisions of their elected people and to have them making those decisions so that they can therefore judge them the next time around. The people have a right, of course, to make mistakes; they did make a mistake at the last election, but that is part of the democratic process, that the people have the right to be wrong any time they want. By putting these experts in front of them to prove to the people that they were in fact wrong by voting this government in, I think is not going to serve any purpose.

Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support my colleague from Sudbury except for his comments about the superior intellect of the cabinet opposite. I have a few problems there. I think they are there for strictly geographical reasons and none other.

An hon. member: You are being facetious.

Mr. Laughren: In other words, the part of the province that they represent.

I am worried about that erosion my colleague talked about as well. I have served on a number of select committees and the habit now is for select committees to hire high-priced consultants, to hire high-priced legal assistants to help them in their deliberations. In the end, very often the select committee comes up with a composite of what the elected members on the committee think and what the experts who have been retained by the committee tell them is appropriate. That is an erosion that bothers me a great deal as well.

I understand, of course, that a minister cannot be aware of all of the intricacies of the legislation, cannot be aware of everything that goes on in his or her ministry. I can imagine, for example, the dilemma of the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck) who gets appointed as Minister of Revenue. Astute though he is, I can imagine how difficult it must be to have an almost instantaneous grasp of the taxation legislation for which the Minister of Revenue is responsible, particularly when you consider the fact that he had nothing to do with the legislation, that it was just foisted upon him by the freewheeling Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) of this province. I can imagine how difficult that must be.

On the other hand, the ministers of the Crown have a lot of expertise at their disposal and they can be very well briefed by their staff. I couldn’t help but think of myself standing here and debating legislation and having three experts from our research department here in front of me as I am questioning the minister during estimates or on a bill. I wondered whether or not it was the intention of the House leader for the government to make that the next step, to have experts for the opposition sitting in front of us in the front row who could help us out in questioning. If that’s true, then the next step is the committee stage of legislation or of estimates where you would also have expert assistance for the opposition there as well.

I wonder to what extent the Treasurer is trying to weigh the scales in favour of the government at the expense of the opposition. As the House leader knows full well, because we’ve suggested there’s a need for increased research assistance for opposition parties, the deck is already stacked in favour of the government. The opposition has some difficulty in ferreting out the information that is necessary to do a creditable job as opposition and make government perform better and give better government to the people of Ontario.

I’m opposed to this resolution standing in the name of the government House leader because I feel very strongly that just as we stand here and get by on our wits, so should the minister.

Ms. Bryden: They don’t have them.

Mr. Mackenzie: That would make them half-wits.

Mr. Laughren: That would put some ministers in real jeopardy, I understand that, but the same could be said for the opposition. So I’m opposed to this resolution, and I very much hope that the government House leader will reconsider and withdraw the resolution.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I found this discussion very interesting and very helpful. I appreciate very much the fact that the member for Kitchener has indicated where the suggestion came from. I think it’s important we recognize that the member for Wellington South pointed this out in discussions we have on a regular basis. At the time, he indicated it was merely an extension of the practice which is now quite traditional in committee of supply to be extended to committee of the whole. Whether a minister actually takes advantage of the opportunity will be somewhat at the discretion, I think, of the minister.

Mr. Laughren: I can imagine.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Provisional order 8 is fairly specific as to who has access to the floor. To talk as the member for Wentworth did about sending complicated bills out to standing committee, which is the usual practice as well -- the hon. members don’t overlook the fact, I hope, that when the bills come back from standing committee, they come back into the House into committee of the whole. They have to go through committee of the whole anyway after they’ve come back from standing committee.

Mr. Wildman: Surely he would understand it by then.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Although that may not be always the case, in many cases that happens, certainly with the more complicated bills. It is obvious that some members might want to attempt to do in committee of the whole what they weren’t successful in doing in standing committee.

But be that as it may, we’ve had some examples in some discussions, as the member for Wellington South pointed out, with the family law bill and others, where having some technical advice available certainly seemed to facilitate the work of the House. To try to suggest that members of the executive council were attempting to avoid their responsibilities or indeed their accountability is just a shade exaggerative on the part of those who have made their contributions to this debate.

Mr. Mackenzie: To cover their deficiencies.

Hon. Mr. Welch: The hon. member for Nickel Belt talked in terms of the advisers that committees have. Certainly it hasn’t escaped his attention that committees chaired by members of that party --

Mr. Laughren: All parties.

Hon. Mr. Welch: -- certainly have made their requests as far as having advice is concerned. In the operation of government we get advice from as many places as we can get it. Ultimately, the hon. member and I, who are two of the 125 members of this House, have to make some decision, and we stand accountable for that decision.

I think this whole question of political accountability doesn’t have any particular relevance to the discussion which is here. What we’re really talking about, as suggested by the member for Wellington South and as finally enshrined in the words of this resolution, is finding some way to facilitate the consideration of legislation, particularly in its technical aspects with respect to amendments and perhaps some legal interpretation.

So I think in this way, as the member for Kitchener has pointed out, we have an opportunity to see how it works.

Mr. Laughren: The beginning of the end of parliamentary democracy.

Hon. Mr. Welch: But I do want to pay tribute to the member for Wellington South who made the suggestion. We felt that there would be some point in inviting the House to authorize the practice.

Mr. Wildman: Will opposition experts be able to sit on the floor?

Hon. Mr. Welch: We are simply extending what is now the practice of the committee of supply into committee of the whole. I would hope that members of the House would support this motion and see how it works.

Mr. Laughren: We recognize what you are doing and we are very bitter about it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The resolution before the House is government motion 9.

Those in favour will please say “aye.”

Those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion the ayes have it.

I declare the motion carried.


Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 31, An Act to amend the Ministry of Government Services Act, 1973.

Mr. Warner: They are rescuing you again. Mr. Speaker, I know that you were waiting breathlessly for me to continue my remarks which I began a week or 10 days ago. I was concerned by a couple of sections of the bill, two in particular.

From the way I read section 1, it means that Government Services still has jurisdiction over portions of the building in terms of furnishings and renovations. I raised the matter when we last met that this may conflict with what the Speaker sees proper and fitting for those portions of this building which come under his jurisdiction.

Since we began the discussion on the bill, a couple of things have taken place. There has been a private member’s bill introduced that would bring the entire building under the jurisdiction of the Speaker. There is a motion that has been tabled in the members’ services committee that accomplishes the same end. I think both of those acts indicate that there is considerable concern about the jurisdiction of this building. There are quite a few of us who are anxious that the entire building should come under the jurisdiction of the Speaker instead of Government Services being able to meddle with the affairs of the members.

Mr. Wildman: Simply the same as Mr. Speaker Jerome.

Mr. Warner: I believe it is section 1(2) of the bill, if I am not mistaken. I would very much appreciate some comments from the minister, because when we met last time I believe I heard him say he was concerned about the allocation of space to the members. Very clearly under the Legislative Assembly Act, the actual allocation of space to the members of the assembly belongs with the Speaker. The government, through the Ministry of Government Services, may have jurisdiction over areas of the building. The actual designation of the offices of the members of this assembly belongs to the Speaker, yet that distinction doesn’t seem apparent to the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson).

Section 1(2)(a) refers to the ministry having the power “to design, construct, renovate, service, maintain, repair, furnish, equip, manage and administer premises, buildings, structures that are public works.” The section of this building, which comes under the definition of public works then, could be altered, furnished, repaired, constructed or renovated in whatever way Government Services saw fit. That might not be in keeping with the designs put forward by the Speaker, who has a responsibility towards all members of the assembly and obviously not just the government.


I’m very concerned about that section. What the minister may want to do, if this bill goes to committee, is to amend that section to exempt the legislative building from (a) of subsection 2 of section 1. He may want to exempt the legislative building so that any renovations which are thought to be necessary in the legislative buildings will, in fact, come under the Speaker. I would ask the minister if he would consider amending subsection 2(a) to exempt the legislative buildings.

The other thing which has been brought to his attention -- and I have a concern about it as well -- is section 2 of the bill. There is a very real concern by members about what has commonly and loosely been called “patronage.” Obviously, some would like to say that it’s not rampant throughout the province of Ontario. I’m not sure it’s reached the stampede stage, but it’s there and it’s real, in my view, and unless I’ve misread section 2 it sounds to me as though it makes it much easier --

Hon. Mr. Welch: Would you like some staff?

Mr. Warner: -- in regional offices and various offices throughout the province of Ontario for ordinary clerks in those offices to get contracts awarded to close associates of theirs.

Mr. Foulds: It takes the power away from the minister.

An hon. member: I have mixed feelings about that.

Mr. Warner: And I would assume that those associates would not be members of the New Democratic Party, or indeed of the Liberal Party; that concerns me.

I would like an explanation -- perhaps some definition from the minister -- of officers, clerks and servants of the ministry. Does that mean, for example, they have to be full-time employees? Are they contract people? What kind of employees are we talking about? Does that really mean -- and I can’t believe that it would be true -- that someone whose sole function is to answer a telephone and take messages would, in fact, be legally entitled to enter into contracts or agreements between the government and some other company? It’s pretty astounding, if it’s true.

I assume that that is not the purpose but I go on the wording that’s presented to me in section 2. It reads quite clearly that officers, clerks and servants may enter into contracts or agreements. I’m quite astounded by that. If that’s the case I think we need some further explanation as to whether or not this is in keeping with the contract agreement between OPSEU and the government of Ontario. Has the minister checked it out to see that this section is not in violation with the contract agreement between OPSEU and the government? I’d like some explanation about that.

Section 2 is a pretty wide-ranging power, and before I, as a member of this assembly, would want to agree to that kind of power I want a pretty good explanation from the minister responsible because, otherwise, it would seem pretty evident that that section has to be amended. It’s too vague in terms of who is going to have power and it certainly appears to be too wide-ranging.

Other than that, Mr. Speaker, I don’t have any other comments. I don’t know whether it’s the wish of the minister to respond directly to my two areas of concern now, or to reserve his comments for later. I’ll certainly wait around anxiously for his response, as he has waited anxiously for me to speak.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Are there any other members wishing to participate in the debate? The member for Port Arthur.

Mr. Foulds: I have a number of concerns rising out of the bill. In one way as I read the bill I favour it, because it does appear to diminish the power of the minister and if there is anything that can diminish the power of this minister, basically I would be in favour of it.

Mr. Warner: Hear, hear. To the point of zero.

Mr. Foulds: However, when I come down to it, I must resort to some of the thinking and some of the arguments that were put by members of my party in the debate a few moments ago on motion 9, and that is the responsibility for responsible government lies with the ministers of the Crown. I understand the thinking behind the bill, because as I understand it the bill simply legitimizes a procedure that has been happening in the past in the ministry in any event, and it spells it out in clear and explicit detail in the legislation.

That gives me cause to hesitate, to have some reservations. Does that mean that a number of the contracts that have been entered into by this government in the past have been illegally entered into? I think that that is a very serious matter if it has happened and the minister must respond and must respond clearly and unequivocally without any weasel words.

Why do we have this piece of legislation before ns now at this time? There are three specific areas of concern to me. One is of course the whole question that has been raised by many members of the Legislature; the question of the jurisdiction of this building. There is no doubt in my mind that this bill that is before us would or could devolve the responsibility for the jurisdiction to this building to a clerk in the Ministry of Government Services and I don’t think that that is acceptable, Mr. Speaker.

I occasionally watch the debates from the House of Commons on the late night show provided by TV Ontario. I have been astounded that those men and women up there are no better and no worse than we are. But one of the things that is kind of thrilling when you watch the close of the show when the credits come on, is the zeroing in on the Peace Tower and the understanding that is embedded in the consciousness of Canadians that that building is the legislators’ building; that is the House of Commons; that is the building in which the Speaker has control, the Speaker having been selected by his peers and those peers, the members of Parliament, having been selected by the electorate.

We have no such imagery here in Toronto. That to me is a great shame and a great pity, because the legislative traditions of this province pre-date the legislative traditions of the country. Our antecedents go back further in the history of the country and they go back to Westminster. It is a shame that this building, whatever one can say about its architecture -- and I have heard both snide and complimentary comments about it -- somehow is not a symbol of the power of the elected representatives, as they represent the common people of the province. I think we should move in that direction and that we should, in fact, have this entire building and its environs in the control of the Speaker, not as this bill could be interpreted, partially within the control of the Minister of Government Services, or one of his officers, clerks or servants.

I think it is important that the private member’s bill that was alluded to by my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) and which was introduced by my colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) is paid attention to and accepted by this House. I think that if the Speaker, and through the Speaker the members, had the control of this building it would not be in the state of disrepair and inconvenience that it now is for a large number of members.

This building has very many natural attributes. This chamber, I think, is one of the most attractive chambers that a Legislature could sit in. It is, in fact, a very worthwhile space. As a person who has had some experience and some concern about the impact of space on the psychological reception by an audience, I think this chamber has a fine sense of a parliament about it, a fine sense of theatre about it; and both those things are important. Sometimes the theatre is farce, sometimes it is comedy, sometimes it is charged with melodrama, sometimes with high seriousness. It is my feeling that if it were clear that not only this chamber but the adjuncts of this chamber and this building were clearly within the purview of the Speaker and of the members, it would be service more to those ends and to the ends of parliament.

Secondly, I want to speak on second reading and give the minister some indication that during the clause-by-clause debate I hope to have some clearer answers about two particular contracts that the ministry has been involved in in the past. They are contracts that trouble me, contracts about which I have no clear perception of wrongdoing but contracts that I feel a great unease about; contracts that I think somehow have been mishandled or have gone awry within the ministry.

The reason I raise them on this bill is that I wonder whether the reason that I have the feeling of unease about them is because the practice that is enshrined in this legislation, or legalized in this legislation, has been used in the past in the awarding of the contracts; or whether the decisions about the contracts that I am going to refer to were taken at the very highest level, that is by the minister. In any event, it does seem to me that the objectivity with which contracts by the government should be handled was not there in these two cases.


One of them has to do with a security contract in Thunder Bay; and I have some correspondence with previous ministers about it. I don’t honestly know the rights and the wrongs of the situation, but it seems to me the correspondence I have had and the contacts that I’ve had about it have raised certain questions that should be answered.

It seems to me, whether this bill passes or not, the principle must always be that taxpayers’ money that is used for government contracts must have a very rigid tendering system, one that cannot be rigged, one that cannot be subverted and one that gets the best value for the taxpayers -- and not necessarily the cheapest value. This is a very difficult thing, because sometimes the cheapest value -- and this will come up in the second contract I refer to, the government courthouse lease-back arrangement in Fort William or Thunder Bay South -- may not be the best value to the taxpayers. That’s why, I think, in all government contracts there is the stipulation that the lowest tender will not necessarily be accepted.

Whether we like it or not, this ministry does have the most potential for patronage; and that must be guarded against at all times. The first contract I want to mention is one that I raised with the minister. It is one that had to do with a security contract in Thunder Bay which was job number GS77-THB-3. It was a two-year security patrol contract for government buildings in Thunder Bay at the following locations: Ministry of the Attorney General, District Courthouse, 277 Cameron Street, Thunder Bay P; Ministry of the Attorney General, Provincial Courthouse, 1805 Arthur Street, Thunder Bay F; Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Land Registry Office, 29 Royston Court, Thunder Bay P; Ministry of the Environment, Regional Laboratory, 429 James Street, Thunder Bay F; Ministry of Government Services, Ontario Government Building, 1825 Arthur Street, Thunder Bay F.

What concerns me? Perhaps the easiest way to explain is to read into the record the first letter I wrote to the minister about the matter on September 30, 1977. It was addressed to the Minister of Government Services (Mr. McCague):

“Dear Mr. Minister:

“I have been contacted by Les Raine of United Security with regard to a contract tendered by your ministry in Thunder Bay. The contract was” -- and the letter simply outlines what I have just outlined, identifying the contract.

“Mr. Raine of United Security has been supplying this service to the ministry for the last two years here in Thunder Bay. In fact, you have extended the service since the expiry of the contract. What disturbs Mr. Raine and, frankly, very much disturbs me is that United Security made a firm bid for this contract at $82,800 for a two-year period. In other words, this firm met all the terms and specifications of the contract.

“A competitive bid was, I understand, submitted by Metropolitan Security for $40,615, but was for only one year. In other words, Metropolitan’s bid did not meet the specifications as outlined in your ministry’s requirements.

“Now it appears your ministry wants to change the rules in midstream and is in the process of asking for new tenders and calling once again for submissions.

“If I may say so, I strongly suggest to you that this is a very sloppy and dubious way to do business.

“Surely if you have a firm such as United Security that has supplied service to you over two years with no complaints from any of the ministries involved, which has submitted itself to the tender process and has submitted a bill that is reasonable with a firm price for a two-year period that will protect the government from unseen inflationary costs in the second year of the contract, it only makes sense to proceed and accept that firm’s bid.

“I would appreciate it if you could inform me why the government has retendered the contract and I would appreciate very much your attention to this matter at your earliest convenience.”

As I say, I don’t know the rightness or wrongness of either of the bids, but it strikes me as peculiar that when the tender calls for a two-year bid, one of the firms that submitted a bid, bid only a one-year bid, and the ministry retendered the contract.

The reply that I got from the minister, dated November 1, 1977, said:

“Dear Mr. Foulds.

“With reference to your letter of September 13” -- sorry, I think he had his date wrong; I think my letter was actually dated September 30 -- “on behalf of Mr. L. Raine of the United Security Company concerning security services contracted for a number of buildings in the Thunder Bay area, I’m advised that it is our intention to retender this work.”

And this is what I find interesting and disturbing: “I am also advised that the information put forward by yourself is essentially correct, but that a review of the specifications in head office indicated certain ambiguities which required correction so that the contractor clearly understood its responsibilities and this ministry was protected with regard to the standard of service to be provided.

“Under the circumstances, I believe that you will agree that it is the responsibility of the ministry to ensure that both parties to a contract are equally protected and for this reason the specifications are being revised and this work will be retendered.”

Well, I would agree with the last paragraph. I certainly think that it is important that both parties are equally protected. A contract will only work if both parties know and understand the terms and can live with the terms of that contract.

I may be wrong, but I am told that the only change was in fact to get it to one year instead of two, which of course favoured one firm in this case when the tender was put out again. It favoured the firm that submitted a bid that did not meet the original specification. I think there also might have been some clear clause in the specifications about the requirement for punch clocks being the responsibility of the contractor.

I don’t honestly know at this stage what the results of the retendering were; who ultimately got the contract. I don’t know that at this stage. I haven’t followed the issue. I would like to get that information from the minister on the record. But it does disturb me that that kind of change of procedure occurred during the tendering process, that the rules seem to have been changed in midstream. I would like to see if the minister knows whether those rules were changed by the minister, the head office here in Toronto, or one of the officers, clerks or servants of the ministry who are referred to in this bill.

The second contract that I want to refer to is one on which I have had a running exchange of information in the House and in the Legislature and in correspondence. It is over the Thunder Bay Provincial Courthouse.

Mr. Speaker, the minister was good enough to table a full engineering report on the Thunder Bay courthouse and from all the information in the report I am able to interpret -- I am not a professional engineer, so there may be occasionally a phrase or two that escapes me -- the engineering report itself was quite a good report and I think that comes through pretty clearly.

What does bother me to some extent is that to this day we still have not been able to ascertain certain fundamental information about that issue. We haven’t been able to ascertain why the particular site that was selected was selected in the first place. I would like very much a clear statement from the minister on that, because there was another site, an Intercity site, that was favoured by the city of Thunder Bay at the time and would have allowed not only for the courthouse but for the government office building to be located next to it at a more convenient location in the heart of the city of Thunder Bay.

I would like to know who made the final decision to put it on the piece of land that has caused the problem with the building. I would like the minister to table the soil tests that were done on the Balmoral Street site and the site that the building is presently on.

Thirdly, I would like the minister, if he would be so kind, to indicate what soil tests were done by this consulting firm in evaluating the present status of the building, because as I read through the report -- and I could be wrong, as I say, because I am not a professional engineer -- I thought it said to me pretty clearly that only visual tests of the soil conditions were made. Therefore, what the minister said in his statement, that “no particular evidence of artesian conditions have been found,” I think is right; no particular evidence has been found. But it may not have been found because there hasn’t been a thorough enough investigation, because surely that would involve some soil tests.

Technically I don’t know how that is done when you already have the building on the site, but presumably some kind of drill core could be taken. I would like the ministry to undertake that, or have someone undertake it, so that when the repairs are done they are well and truly and properly done. I would concede to the minister that if we can repair the building, and be assured of a lifespan for the building of 30 or 40 years, then that of course is preferable to scrapping the building as I suggested, perhaps in the heat of battle, three or four months ago.

However, I want to be assured that if we are going to spend a quarter of a million dollars in repairs to the building -- and the minister does not say this in his statement but it has been reported -- to bring the courthouse up to the standard that is acceptable to the ministry, as I understand it, that money will be valuably and well spent.


I think it is important when considering this bill for the Legislature to know whether the kinds of situations that I have outlined with regard to the Thunder Bay courthouse, with regard to that security contract, will be avoided or whether the possibility of them being repeated is increased. I think it is important, for example, with the Thunder Bay courthouse, that some policy decision must be made by the Ministry of Government Services about the lease-back arrangement that was used in that case with a builder that certainly left some of the subcontractors high and dry for many years. I don’t know whether that is close to resolution through the courts or whether there has been agreement outside.

That has left a bad taste, if you like, in the mouth of the legal profession in Thunder Bay. They had to use an inadequate building. The pity and the shame is that the community did get a new courthouse which was badly needed, it got new office space and new chambers that were badly needed, but with leaks in the roof and flooding in the basement. There’s been a very bad impression left in the community’s mind about the integrity of the ministry and that should be avoided at all costs.

It seems to me that we have to decide, if we approve this bill or not, whether situations like those two can be rigorously corrected and be seen to be corrected. There must, it seems to me, be no dilution of the concept of ministerial responsibility. There must be, it seems to me, an acceptance that decisions taken are the decisions of the government. It seems to me that we must at all costs, with this ministry in particular, be objective and it must be seen that the contracts are awarded on their merits, that public buildings are kept up to a standard that may not necessarily be luxurious -- in fact probably should not be particularly luxurious -- but they should be buildings of which the people of Ontario can be proud and take a pride in, whether we’re talking about this Legislature or whether we’re talking about the courthouse in Thunder Bay.

It must be seen that contracts that are let for services like security are contracts that serve the people of the province, that give us the best possible service, that give the people of Ontario confidence that the services they need are carried out well and truly and accurately.

I would hope that the minister would be able to respond to the many concerns that have been expressed on a number of matters by members in this House. I hope he would be able to respond to the three concerns that I have put in particular. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your forbearance in allowing me to speak at some length about these matters. I think it would probably be necessary to go into committee stage at some point on this bill to get explicit answers to a number of questions that members have raised on second reading.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very much the fact that you are permitting some breadth of discussion on this bill. Although it is not a narrow bill it doesn’t deal directly with the provision of services for members or the disposition of this building. But I do feel that it is advisable, sir, with your permission, to discuss some of these matters since they occupy the attention of members just at this time.

I have always felt that this building did very much embody the concept of provincial government, not just because it appears in outline on the cheques sent out to farmers to assist them year by year with their tax payments, which are unduly onerous, but it’s an old building and one which has been criticized to some extent as a mishmash, a melange of architectural styles, but as far as I am concerned, I believe it does embody the concept of the people that here is the centre of provincial responsibility and administration and there is, I suppose, a good deal of sentimental admiration for the building and I hope to some extent for its contents.

It has changed a good deal in its services for members, even over the brief period of time since I first became a member here. On first being elected I can remember of course, being very much disappointed that there was not an office. There wasn’t a place, other than perhaps the library or the washroom, where you could talk in any privacy to a constituent or anybody else.

As a matter of fact, if one wanted to make a phone call the pay phone was the handiest way to do it -- and it only cost a nickel in those days. Mind you, the indemnity was only $5,000 and there weren’t these other special funds to assist the member in meeting all of his responsibilities as far as the expenses of living in Toronto and so on were concerned.

I don’t know whether you would find it interesting or not, Mr. Speaker, but I believe you would, that the opposition members’ facilities were all located in the lobby which is just behind where I am standing at the present time. The lobby is now used by members of all parties, but mostly opposition parties, if they want to remove themselves from the pressure and tension of this chamber and perhaps have a cup of coffee and discuss things in a social way with their colleagues. When I first came in here, it had temporary partitions built along it so there was a narrow alleyway simply running up alongside the doors and there were two or three offices that were available to the Leader of the Opposition.

We didn’t really think we were too badly done by. There was one common room, more or less, which had no windows at all. It was called the bull pen because that was before the election of the hon. member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell). I don’t know what we would have called it if she had been there.

Hon. Mr. Auld: Nobody committed suicide?

Mr. Nixon: No.

We did have a private washroom, Mr. Speaker, of which we were very proud -- and jealous, as far as that’s concerned. When members from other parties would want to use those facilities, of course, we would not allow them to because it was the only private facility that we had.

Mr. MacBeth: You were mean -- mean.

Mr. Nixon: However, that’s another matter. I can remember at the time that the basic -- well, I don’t know what the Tories did, but I can remember at the time the words of Leslie Frost were often put to us. When we said, “My God, why haven’t we got a desk where at least we can sit down and use the telephone to do business?” he said, “Well, you’ve got a desk. It’s in the Legislature. And we have given you a pen and all the paper you can use to write.” And I certainly did my correspondence in longhand. It wasn’t very onerous then and frankly it isn’t now, but it was possible to carry out our duties.

One of the pleasant sidelights is that we could berate the government for the benighted approach to the democratic process and with the advent of John Robarts --

Hon. Mr. Auld: We weren’t allowed to.

Mr. Nixon: Berate the government? Well, the member for Leeds never suffered very much around here as I recall and he is not suffering now other than he has to sit in the Legislature. Is this his day to serve?

An hon. member: Penance.

Hon. Mr. Auld: Three offices and a filing cabinet. One drawer each.

Mr. Nixon: Well. The hon. member, Mr. Speaker, is saying that the Conservative caucus was reduced to three offices and a filing cabinet, but they did have that charming old room called the government members’ caucus and, on special occasions, the opposition members were permitted to just sneak in the back and watch the television during a hockey playoffs. But at no other time were we allowed near the place.

Hon. Mr. Auld: We have never had a reciprocal arrangement.

Mr. Nixon: We would have given the member a ticket to use our washroom if he had asked.

Mr. Acting Speaker: There has been a lot of latitude on this bill but you are wandering considerably from the principle of the bill.

Mr. Nixon: But we’re talking about the facilities, and they were completely under the control of the then Minister of Public Works, Ray Connell, who was completely under the control of the then Premier. So it was really within the gift and largesse of the Premier as to what we had.

I always felt that John Robarts was extremely sensitive to the fact that he should provide and wanted to provide more facilities. When I finally achieved that august eminence of being Leader of the Opposition and the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) and myself had to deal with Mr. Robarts each year on what the budget would be, I certainly found him extremely generous, thoughtful and in no way reticent about doing what he felt he could in order that all members would have better service. Compared with what we have now, I would not say he was generous, but things are always relative and, certainly, I have no hesitation in saying that I felt that he approached it in a very healthy way indeed.

That was before the concept was advanced of the whole building being turned over, Mr. Speaker, to your jurisdiction, a concept which I think is an extremely good one. I hope it is going to be fulfilled in the very near future. I know that the present minister is very broadminded and generous as well, just like John Robarts, and probably is looking forward to following in those august footsteps in completing the transition of this building so that it does become fully a legislative building. Any administrative processes here should be directly associated with Mr. Speaker’s responsibility or those of the Premier, who I agree should have his facilities here as well.

I don’t want to occupy too much of our valuable time. One can see the intense interest in this whole subject here this afternoon. But I thought that you, Mr. Speaker, would be interested in knowing that from a position where we had no office at all, one of the greatest breakthroughs was the provision of two fairly large offices for the expanding membership. I believe that under redistribution we’ve gone -- I forget the numbers, but I guess to about 125 members; it doesn’t make any difference -- and, of course, the Liberal caucus was growing by leaps and bounds --

Mr. Handleman: Small leaps and small bounds.

Mr. Nixon: -- everything is relative -- and we had our members in these two rooms, and it was sort of like -- I think they call them boiler-shops downtown, where they have a whole lot of desks and a whole lot of phones and people are madly phoning people all over the world trying to sell moose pasture stock or something like that.

Mr. Laughren: Bucket shops.

Mr. Nixon: We were not engaged in that particular process but any time you went into these offices there would be 10 or a dozen members, each one doing business with a constituent or phoning in the course of their duties. They were extremely busy places indeed.

The next step was that we forced the savings office to vacate their great old premises on the first floor in the east end and we actually had that large office partially divided by partitions that went up maybe four to five feet. You could look over them Not that privacy was in any way essential, you understand, but there was at least a certain division with probably two members in each cubicle. Then, from that point, we now have private offices, a secretary, a telephone and we are working very hard on providing desk lamps. This seems to be one of the most difficult hurdles for the Board of Internal Economy to come to grips with.

Mr. Foulds: Not floor lamps? Trilight lamps?

Mr. Nixon: No, no. Nothing more than $16. I’m standing pat on that. But the facilities really have come a long way and while not all of the offices are as attractive as we would hope, most members are reasonably well satisfied.


I don’t blame a member for objecting to the fact that his office may be a cubicle away from access to any window or any ordinary ventilation. The air-conditioning or the fan system is puffing and huffing away all the time and you think -- well, compared with an office almost anywhere else, it’s not particularly luxurious. However, I do believe that with reasonable care, the Speaker, with the assistance of the Office of the Assembly and of the Minister of Government Services, can probably solve those problems.

The Premier’s office has expanded even more rapidly in the size of its requirements than the individual member’s. I asked the Premier the other day if he would even consider having some of his lesser functionaries have facilities perhaps in a nearby building. It might be that the Premier would not have to have immediate and constant access to all of his staff which is becoming well, large, but he was not prepared to accept that, although I felt that at least there might be room for some negotiation.

There are other offices that are necessary in this building. The Hansard office is growing very large as well, Mr. Speaker, and by a report that you put to us yesterday it will be required to grow even more since it is now in the offing that all of the meetings of our committees will be at least taped with the possibility of transcription, if the appropriate committee feels that is something that would be valuable.

I have heard quite a bit of criticism of the minister and his predecessor for not moving more rapidly in turning over the building wholly to the jurisdiction of Mr. Speaker and his office. I cannot really join in that criticism to the extent that I have heard it in this debate. I know that the minister is aware of the importance and tradition of his office which is to provide facilities for the government and for the members and it’s very difficult for any minister to give up what he very rightly considers to be, if not an important responsibility in relation to his total budget, a responsibility of special importance in being the minister of the Crown whose responsibility it is to serve us as elected members, with the appropriate facilities that we should have.

The building itself is rather difficult to work with, with the huge, massive bearing walls that even modern science and architecture and engineering simply cannot do without. The place will not levitate itself and so for that reason you can’t go into one large section and assume that you can very easily have standard-sized offices. They are not going to be the same size and somebody perforce is going to have a bigger office than somebody else and this is always a great problem. At least, that’s been my experience.

The building itself, of course -- and I say again I think it is an absolutely beautiful building which embodies everything important about the centre of the provincial administration of this province. When Oliver Mowat built it -- I think it was completed about 1891 or something like that -- the taxpayers were aghast that it had cost something about $1 million and they said that “Ollie” and his government would never fill it.

The people who criticize governments for things like that are almost always right at the time and almost always wrong in the light of history, but we have certainly filled this building and several million dollars worth of other buildings. Mowat of course was a sort of visionary and he decided that instead of just building it according to the custom of the time he would have an international competition and in order to give that competition some strength and importance, he imported the judge all the way from Buffalo.

The judge who came over here was not an architect himself, I am told, but an extremely successful plumber. He had become well-to-do actually, like certain politicians in the House, you know, in that buying cheap and selling dear in almost any commodity often leads to high profit and influence. In this instance, the judge had come over to look at the plans that had come in from all over the world. The story is that the judge -- and I should know his name but I can’t recall it -- sat down with the Premier and his committee and said: “Premier, I have looked over all these plans and I must tell you in my official capacity that none of them will do. But,” he said, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.” And you can imagine what his suggestion was. It was that although none of those plans was adequate, he the judge himself, would undertake the responsibility of planning and building.

He was not an architect; he was a plumber. I think that probably accounts for the rather mishmash style. However, I understand that the original plumbing still works very well indeed.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Not his personal plumbing.

Mr. Nixon: Even this chamber never fails to impress me. Maybe I am unduly impressionable but I think it is a very fine chamber. I am not particularly impressed with the new public address system which we paid for twice, I understand. It is still third-rate, if that. But we can’t help that.

I can remember my father, who was the member for Brant before me, being very upset when his successor as Premier of Ontario, Mr. Drew, decided that the arrangements in this chamber should be changed. Up until 1943, the seats were arranged in a semicircle, and my dad always felt that you were much closer to the people taking part in debate and no amplification was necessary. It gave a great advantage to certain of the members, such as our former leader and friend, Farquhar Oliver, or Cliff Pilkey, or people like that. But, in fact, with the arrangement in a semi-circle, it seemed to be that members could take part in the debate much more readily.

Mr. Drew, being much more struck with the British connection and the British example, wanted to arrange the seats this way, where it was much clearer who was the government and who was the opposition, and that’s what happened. I’ve always thought it would be nice to be in a position perhaps to revert, if not to the original configuration, at least to one which had served the province so well in the past.

I am not unduly concerned that the minister is asking for powers to delegate to his deputies and officials the right to enter into contracts on his behalf and to sign on behalf of the ministry. There was a time, I say again even in my time here in the Legislature, when under the law the minister’s signature, if not that of the Minister of Government Services, or Public Works as it then was, then other ministers’ signatures were required. The minister’s signature normally indicated that the minister himself had perused whatever the document was.

I know many members in the House would remember Wilf Spooner, who as Minister of Municipal Affairs had to give his approval and his signature to all sorts of changes in planning and requests for certain things from across the province. He was very regular in attending debates and effectively took part in them. He used to come in here and always had a mountain of these blooming documents. He would examine them carefully and, when he had affixed his signature, you knew it wasn’t just a pro forma signature but that it indicated the personal approval of the minister and there was no fooling about that.

It was one of his successors, who in response to the same law, had one of those rubber stamp signatures which was given to a functionary to affix. But still the personal responsibility was there. When it became apparent that the rubber stamp signature had been affixed perhaps injudiciously, if not illegally, the minister was forced to resign. That never could have happened with Spooner, who had a rather old-fashioned approach to the business of the province.

Things have grown. The budget that the minister is responsible for is enormous. I would hope that it would be possible for the minister to tell us in committee at least that for contracts above a certain value or certain levels of importance the minister’s signature itself would appear, so that the minister would be seen to be more directly responsible than he would be otherwise.

There is no doubt that in our democratic type of government and in accordance with the traditions in this House and this province, the minister bears all responsibility in any event, even though a signature and decision might be made without his direct knowledge. If such a signature and decision turns out to be incorrect or in any way subject to criticism, under our system the minister directly bears the criticism and under no circumstance is he enabled to pass it on as far as the public responsibility is concerned.

So even though there has been a considerable degree of interest in this debate, and there may be other members to speak -- I know my colleague from St. George, who was not able to be here today, wanted to express her views; the minister, I think, has already discussed these views with her at length and there may be many opportunities in the future for him to discuss them with her again, either in this House or in committee.

But in general terms I believe that the bill is supportable and I hope that in the very near future it will be possible for us as members to support you, Mr. Speaker, in taking over the direct responsibility of this whole building and making it clearly the legislative centre of government and nothing else.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Are there any other members wishing to participate in this debate?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the comments that have been made by the several speakers on this bill. Firstly, the member for Essex North was concerned with respect to the parking for the private members. Let me assure the members of this House that there is no intention of changing the present procedure.

Mr. Ruston: On a point of order, that was not what I was speaking about. I was speaking about parking in public buildings wherever they may be. It wasn’t the members’ parking I was speaking about.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Very good. I just wanted to clear that up.

It is the practice, as I am sure the members of this House realize, to offer parking at night by contract. The intention of this clause is that the minister can sign a contract with someone who wants to make use of the building at night so that he can authorize him to charge certain fees for parking at night.

The member for Essex North has brought up other items that have been raised by the other members. The member for Cambridge (Mr. M. Davidson) mentioned different items, but perhaps I should go on and answer some of the questions of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) and the most recent speaker, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon).

First, reference was made to the Legislative Assembly Act and suggestions were made that under this Act this building was under the Speaker. If I may quote from the Legislative Assembly Act:

“93 (1) Such part of the Legislative Building as may be designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council in addition to the Legislative Chamber shall be under the control of the Speaker and the order in council shall be laid before the Assembly.

“(2) The Speaker shall establish guidelines for the security of the Legislative Chamber and the other parts of the Legislative Building that are under his control.

“(3) The security of the parts of the Legislative Building designated to be under the control of the Speaker shall be enforced by the same personnel that enforce security in the other parts of the Legislative Building.”

“94. The Speaker may call upon any ministry or agency of the Crown to provide any service or commodity for or on behalf of the Assembly that the Speaker considers necessary and the ministry or agency shall provide such service or commodity upon such terms and conditions as the ministry or agency may require.”

I read the Act two or three weeks ago, and I believe those are the only two sections that refer to the particular subject we have been speaking about. Early last week, I went over in some detail the area that did come under the Speaker. As I think all members are aware, that followed the debate of a week ago. An order in council passed, I believe in January 1975 put in certain areas that are under the control of the Speaker. To make a quick guess, so I won’t take too much time, approximately one-half of the building is under control of the Speaker due to that order in council.


I might go on and make it quite clear at this time that this bill does not give particular authority to the minister or to the Speaker with respect to this particular building. It is the intention of the minister that the procedures that have been carried out in the past will not change with respect to the Ministry of Government Services.

This particular book, Policy and Procedure Manual, is the directive that goes to the different directors of departments. These are the instructions that the staff work under.

Mr. Haggerty: A lot of red tape.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes, you might call it red tape, but it pretty well ties the director down to the points whereby he must do certain things before he does any buying or ordering.

The hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk suggested that he would hope the minister would still sign all contracts. That is the intention. The minister will sign all contracts. He has and he will. I might say that I have signed all the contracts since I became minister. I’ll gladly answer questions on that but I would like to go on and answer the hon. member for Port Arthur with respect to the courthouse in Thunder Bay. With respect to his first question, the security contract in Thunder Bay, I don’t have that information here today, but I will see that the hon. member is supplied with that information at some future time within reasonable time. I just don’t have it with me today.

May I take a moment or two? The hon. member, I am sure, has studied the report on the courthouse in Thunder Bay fully. I know he has; he spoke quite knowledgeably about it. I would just add that tenders were called for the Thunder Bay provincial courthouse in October 1972. Fourteen tenders were received. The tender of Group Building Systems Limited, Burlington, offered the lowest gross annual rental over a 30-year term and was the most faithful to the outgoing specifications and drawings prepared by my ministry. Nevertheless, it was carefully scrutinized along with the next five lowest tenders submitted before the final decision was made to accept the tenders of Group Building Systems Limited. Subsequently, Group Building Systems Limited assigned the contract to the parent company, John H. McCormick Limited, and was retained as general contractor for the project.

I would like to enter a little bit farther here. At the time this particular building was done, the government entered into the lease-back contract but we did not supply the architecture for the building. Following this project the ministry changed its procedure. We now come in with the plan. We now advertise and get in the tender for the builder. We do all the architectural work now. We do all of the inspection. We didn’t on that building. We think we have corrected the problems that come about as a result of this building.

I don’t have to explain to the hon. member; I am sure he knows the soil conditions in Thunder Bay much better than the minister does, it is his home area. But I did visit this building. I visited there with the engineers concerned. It is my understanding that the soil condition beneath this particular building is somewhat similar to the soil condition over a very large area. There is possibly a depth of 24 feet of this type of soil before you get on what we would call a solid base.

The engineer who conducted the investigation of the building did not cut through the floor or go down and actually investigate. But from the estimation of an engineering firm that is highly respected, it was pointed out to me that the piers for the footings to this building should have been down to that 24 feet. Gravel should have been driven to the bottom of that 24 feet. That is the estimation of this engineer.

Mr. Laughren: Is his name Jessiman?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I don’t believe it was.

Mr. Eaton: Monteith, maybe?

Mr. Laughren: It doesn’t ring a bell, Lorne?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Not in connection with this building.

The engineer did point out to me that in his estimation these piers were possibly put down about two-thirds of the way. He is convinced that they are not down 24 feet. Had they been down 24 feet, he feels that there would have been no problems. And we are not happy; you are not happy; none of us are. in the main corridor there is a terrible looking floor.

Mr. Foulds: In the basement it is even worse.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes. I am suggesting to you that the piers may have gone down 16 feet. We didn’t run a soil test or anything; the engineer feels that that is about the depth. The hon. member for Thunder Bay fully realizes that this building did do considerable settling in the first year. Since that time it has settled considerably, but not nearly as much. The engineer estimates it might settle another inch over the next two decades.

Mr. Laughren: We know who settled it, too.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: The engineer stated that the building is structurally sound. I made the statement that it might cost a quarter of a million dollars. I could go on with my prepared report on this but I will skip a considerable amount of it.

We took the building over in the spring of 1974.

Mr. Laughren: I bet you a quarter you can’t read that with a straight face.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes, I can, actually. The only thing that would make me laugh would be the comics across the way.

Mr. Laughren: No, it will be what is written on the paper that will make you laugh, nothing else. Go ahead, try it.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: In October 1974, 20 subcontractors had registered mechanics’ liens and a number of creditors who did not qualify for liens had given notice of their claims. The total value of these claims was in excess of $400,000.

I am advised that John H. McCormick Limited has not received one cent of rent from this building to date. The monthly rent payments have been made to the Royal Trust and have been used to pay monthly mortgage payments, the annual insurance premiums for the building’s trustee fees and legal fees and municipal taxes. The trust company now has approximately $83,000 in its hands which is derived from rent paid to it prior to September 1, 1976. It also has in hand approximately $93,000 which is derived from hold-backs of $68,930.75 from the original mortgage advance.

It should be noted that John H. McCormick Limited has made an effort to reduce its indebtedness to the creditors and that at the present time the outstanding indebtedness is slightly greater than the total of $176,000. So the balance is just about balanced off at the moment.

The trial of the mechanics’ lien claims against the project was scheduled to begin in Thunder Bay on February 13, 1978. However, when the court opened the lawyer representing John H. McCormick Limited offered to meet with the lawyers representing the lien claimants in an effort to settle the matter without the need for a lengthy, expensive trial. I have been informed that day-long discussions and negotiations resulted in a settlement under which the creditors will accept payment in the sum of $210,000 on or before June 15, 1978 as full satisfaction of their claim, including interest and court costs.

I could go into great detail but I would just say to hon. members that this building was built back in 1973. If the cost of constructing the building today was compared to what it was then I am sure it would be approximately twice as much today, some five years later. But it is not a dear building by today’s standards and we would be very foolish if we don’t proceed to bring the building up to standard. I don’t like the floor. I don’t like several things -- I could go into it in detail but I am sure the hon. member has been through the building, as I have, and I am confident that it will still be a bargain for the government to proceed to fix the building and see that we have appropriate quarters for the courts.

Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. Any Minister of Government Services who can give that explanation for the location and condition of the courthouse deserves that my quarter be across the floor to him for doing it with a straight face. Would this page take it to the minister?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Thank you, it will be put to good use. Anything this party has is put to good use.

Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Freudian slip of the minister -- “this party,” instead of “this government” or “this ministry” -- subverts everything that he has previously said about the objectivity of his ministry.

Mr. Laughren: And let the record show that he now does not have a straight face.

Mr. Makarchuk: Is it going to the Kelly fund?

Mr. Warner: You may be forced to resign.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I am sure the record will show where this particular proposal came from.

Mr. Warner: You’ve lost your objectivity.

Mr. Laughren: Lorne, would you buy Jessiman a beer with that quarter?

Mr. Ziemba: He’s been bought off.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, no. I would spend much more than that.

Much has been said about the quarters for the private members during this debate. I am as interested in the quarters for the private members as anyone in this House --

Mr. Laughren: That’s why I sent you one.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: -- and I certainly want to see that they have adequate quarters.

Mr. Speaker, I believe I have answered most of the questions that have been asked.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.


Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 26, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I have a very short statement, Mr. Speaker. As I stated upon introduction for first reading of this bill, it is strictly administrative but it is necessary under the terms of the tax collection agreement which the province has entered into with the federal government.

Specifically, the aim of the bill is to legislate the provincial personal income tax rate for the 1978 calendar year, a rate which I might point out has always been tied to the basic federal agreement.

This bill will enact the Treasurer’s recent budget proposal to maintain the personal income tax rate for yet another year at 44 points of the basic federal tax. The remaining sections are intended to clarify certain of the administrative provisions of the Act.

It’s all yours.


Mr. Nixon: Year by year we have had this Act and similar Acts which were designed to implement the federal-provincial agreement on the collection of income tax. There has always been the rather attractive alternative of the province going forward with its own collection procedures and doing as they do in the province of Quebec, establishing that independence. It seems to me that as long as the two procedures are so closely linked, then it is rather difficult for the personal income tax to be used as an arm of government policy in the various provinces.

Naturally, I don’t stick with the attractiveness of it very long when I look at the cost of an independent administration of the personal income tax. Obviously it is much more convenient to have the federal administration, which is a very large one and, as a taxpayer myself, I would say quite an efficient one, look after this job. It simply means, however -- and this is the aspect that does concern me and I am always surprised that it doesn’t concern the government in Ottawa, whatever its political stripe -- that when people pay their income tax, the cheque is made out to the Receiver-General of Canada and is mailed to Ottawa. If by any chance they owe you money, you tear off something and put a special sticker at the bottom with the hope that the cheque will come back some time. If you were to talk to anybody in the street about the income tax, certainly it is in their minds a federal imposition and a federal tax.

I have always felt for that reason, when we look at the part of the provincial budget that is paid by the government in Ottawa, that in essence, as far as the political load is concerned, our share of the personal income tax should be viewed as a federal tax. The cheques go to Ottawa. They go into the federal Treasury and then the Minister of Finance writes out a nice cheque -- probably four or five of them over the year -- and it comes back here to the government of Ontario. I don’t know whether the Minister of Revenue gets his hooks on that cheque or not, but I suppose there is a piece of paper made out for several hundred millions of dollars. As long as it doesn’t get by chance into the portfolio of the Ministry of Government Services and go up into Lambton county or something, we’re probably still all right.

I don’t in any way want to impugn the uprightness of either minister, but simply to point out the fact that this is seen to be and in fact is a federal tax. The very fact that Bill 26 is called the Income Tax Act of the province of Ontario is really insignificant. We in this House know that under the constitution we have the right to levy direct taxation and this is probably the best direct taxation since it depends exclusively on the individual’s ability to pay.

There was a time in our economic history and political history when a good many thoughtful politicians felt there ought to be only one tax, that is, the income tax. We now know that a spectrum of taxation probably is fairer and more efficient or at least it raises more revenue than would be politically possible under a single tax, but this is in almost every respect a federal tax.

The government here in this province has been very careful not to raise that tax for a considerable length of time. We used to have the lowest, but other jurisdictions have now surpassed us in that regard. It is fair to say there has not been a significant increase in the personal income tax for quite a period of time. All of the initiatives in this regard are federal, I suppose it is fair to say. As the minister said, this is simply required under this agreement and for that reason we have no objection to it.

I suppose the basis of at least the modern agreement is the requirement during the Second World War that the government of Canada have the economic and taxation fiscal instruments under their direct control as it was necessary for them to have by far the largest revenue in order to properly prosecute the war effort.

In those days, in many respects, the provincial government became somewhat ineffectual, since the whole of the country had its eyes set on the war, as, if not our only political and financial necessity, certainly the one that transcended all others. At the end of the war I thought it was a very wise initiative by one of my lesser heroes, W. L. Mackenzie King and his successors, to negotiate with the provinces a continuation of this.

There was a time, as well, when some of the greatest economic and political thinkers were responding to a royal commission, the Rowell-Sirois commission, which had recommended that rather than do this by way of agreement that by constitutional amendment and by permanent statute the government of Canada have much more transcendental power as far as taxation was concerned and that the provinces, in that respect, would revert perhaps to the original concept of John A. Macdonald as being nothing much more than glorified county councils. The meetings between the Prime Minister and his economic advisers and the various Premiers were quite famous meetings, indeed, in which the Premier of Ontario, after expressing his displeasure -- and the Premier of the time, Mr. Hepburn, didn’t do those things in moderation -- stamped out of a meeting in Ottawa, indicating by that method and by others even clearer, we are told, that he was going to have nothing to do with that approach to the division of taxation responsibilities.

Yet, I suppose, in the long run the recommendations of that royal commission, at least in this regard, have largely been fulfilled, because personal income tax is and should be seen by every member of this House as essentially a federal tax. They do the work; the cheques are sent to them; they carry the political ashcans for levying this tax which digs into the pockets and paycheques of everybody, and we essentially get the benefit without any of the political drawbacks at all. It’s almost as if a rich uncle were to send us in this jurisdiction a cheque for $2.5 billion, something like that, which just comes like manna from heaven and it can then be spent on the payments for our many important provincial services.

As a matter of fact, if one were to add the income tax collected by the government of Canada to the many other programs that are paid by the government of Canada, by my estimation something over 40 per cent of our total provincial program is paid for by another jurisdiction by agreement, and I believe the agreements are fair. The only thing is that the taxpayers give them the money and the government here has the great opportunity to build the roads, open the schools, buy the parks and distribute the largesse which has, I would say, a somewhat dislocating political influence.

It hasn’t seemed to have hurt the people of Ottawa very much and it hasn’t seemed to have harmed the people in Ontario very much either. It would be lovely to say that the jurisdiction that provides the service should, under our democratic system, have the responsibility to levy the tax. That would be a simplification which I would devoutly hope would be possible to achieve.

Mr. Laughren: That’s right. It’s not nearly enough.

Mr. Nixon: I used to think it would be achievable, but it is not. Because the municipalities are in the same position with their restricted and constricted source of revenue, it is essential that they be supported by a very elaborate and rich grant program which comes from this Treasury. So we collect the tax here and the money goes to the municipality for its utilization. People I guess understand that but, once again, it is one aspect of the democratic process which does not lead to the kind of responsibility which we would wish.

I can think of no valid reason for opposing Bill 26. It’s in a long tradition of these enactments and we may have a few more before we have an opportunity to revise those figures downwards.

Mr. Charlton: As the minister has already mentioned, this bill is generally just a housekeeping bill. Section 1 of the bill, as the previous speaker mentioned, resets the rate of income tax in Ontario at 44 per cent of the basic federal rate. As the previous speaker also mentioned, this form of taxation in the province is part of the most progressive sector of the tax structure.

In some ways, I suppose, those of us in this party would like to have seen a small increase in this tax and perhaps in the corporations tax as opposed to some of the premiums and fee levies which were increased this year by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) in order to increase income. However, when I was discussing this bill with the minister and some of his staff, I asked why, instead of having to amend this section again this year reinstating the 44 per cent for 1978, they couldn’t just leave the year out altogether and change the 44 per cent if they ever decided they had to increase it.

The minister’s response was that the government’s attitude was that this tax was far too important. He said it should be dealt with by the Legislature each year. That’s a perfectly acceptable approach and response. I suppose now that I have thought about it, if the government had tried to take the re-enactment of the income tax rate away from the right of the Legislature to deal with every year, we in our caucus probably would have kicked and fussed and come back into the Legislature and opposed it. So I guess as the new critic in this area, I learn as I go.

I would however like to mention briefly one subject which we would like to have seen dealt with in this bill and which is not dealt with. That is the subject of notching, or the lack of it. The whole question here is the abrupt and substantial increase in the tax rate which can occur for just one dollar of extra income. We realize this is a difficult question to deal with, but we have raised it a number of times in the past -- at least, a number of my colleagues raised it before my time here. We would very much like to have seen the government --

Mr. Speaker: I hope they didn’t raise it in the context of a bill such as this because you are only entitled to speak about what is in the bill, not what is not in the bill.

Mr. Charlton: Very good, Mr. Speaker. I think the point is made anyway.

At any rate, section 2(1) of the bill deals with a restriction to $25 for the occupancy cost which will be allowed for those people claiming Ontario property tax credits and using that occupancy cost in the processing of that credit. The amendment in this section is to apply the $25 figure to everyone who lives in a subsidized student residence as opposed to just full-time students. It would seem to me that that’s probably a fair and equitable way to deal with all people who are living in subsidized student residences as opposed to just full-time students.

The only question this would raise for me is exactly how this was dealt with in the past. Obviously something has come up which twigged the ministry -- that there are people living in student residences who are not students and getting away with something. My question to the minister on this section would be how many people are in this kind of situation? How many dollars in tax credits have probably been lost over the past number of years through this type of thing not being covered?

Section 2(2) of the bill simply establishes the four-year limit for which Ontario residents can go back and claim Ontario tax credits for which they are due and which, for whatever reason, they did not claim or properly claim.


It is my understanding that this amendment is necessary because of the federal government’s present computer system; and, as the hon. member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk mentioned, the tax system in Ontario largely runs through the federal government. This is necessary, I understand, because the federal government can only go back four years in its computer system.

I suppose that makes it necessary, if the records just don’t exist to go back any further, but at times I, too, find it somewhat objectionable that we have to tailor all the things or most of the things we do in terms of this kind of equity for the taxpayers of Ontario to what the federal government can or cannot accomplish.

Section 3 of the bill deals with the application of a penalty. Perhaps the minister can enlighten us in his response later, but it would seem that this section is coming about because of an oversight in the past and is making sure that the penalty is not only applicable to those who understated their income but also to those who declared no taxable income at all. It would appear that’s an oversight and that somebody has got away with something in the past. Perhaps the minister can clarify that for us.

The remaining sections of the bill, I guess just deal with some corrections and typographical errors. We are going to support this bill on second reading, and perhaps the one or two questions I raised can be answered by the minister in his response.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I thought I would take this opportunity to follow up on some comments made by my colleague from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, because when we are discussing this type of legislation, it gives us an opportunity to make a few comments about the whole process of taxation and the way the tax is collected.

My colleague mentioned an extremely important principle. In the light of the way Confederation has evolved and the way the process involving the federal government, the provinces and the municipalities, has evolved, it is because of these transfer payments that we are in the unfortunate position where the people who spend the money are not the ones collecting it.

I am convinced that over the years, especially the good years -- as one who has had limited political experience I am talking about certainly the 1960s and early 1970s -- most jurisdictions dealt with various problems by throwing money at them. Basically, municipalities could turn to the provinces, and the provinces could turn to the federal government. My concern is that from year to year we just pass legislation saying that rate will be so many percentage points, say 44 per cent, when in fact the federal government is the one collecting the tax and is getting the abuse, while the province is getting the credit for spending the money on whatever its priorities happen to be. The same happens at the municipal level as well.

I know, as my colleague has said, that this is a most difficult problem. Because of the way Confederation has evolved, the federal government has had most of the taxing powers. What they have done basically is they have bought their way into provincial jurisdictions; and, in my opinion, this has caused some of the strain that exists today in our country, which is a difficult one to govern. We have a situation whereby -- and we’ve had an example just in the last federal budget -- the federal government basically has bought its way into provincial jurisdictions because it had the money and was prepared to spend that money.

I appreciate that to keep the country together, to keep some minimum standards in a country like ours, it’s necessary that the senior government has some sort of flexibility for transfer payments to encourage and enact certain programs. But when one looks back at the way the federal government has got involved in unemployment insurance, it has bought its way into that and into the area of health and education and now into the area of sales tax. The problem with that is that when the inferior level of government is involved, or can’t afford not to be involved, then the federal government changes the rules.

Speaking, I suppose, as a voice in the wilderness, I say we’ve got to get back, and I would hope that when we’re discussing -- and the process will be slow -- future rearrangements or maybe a new contract for the whole of this country we’ll keep in mind that if we’re serious about various levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal that there be that principle, that if they have certain responsibilities, at least they have the taxing power necessary to fulfil those responsibilities.

That’s the only way we’ll resolve the problem of having people accountable to the electorate. We have reached the point basically that we see in the voting patterns at the municipal level where nobody votes or a small percentage of people vote. The rate of voting is a bit higher at the provincial level and is much higher at the federal level. The public is aware of this. In some areas it really doesn’t matter that much because the Treasurer basically dictates what happens to the municipal governments, or the Finance minister federally can seriously affect the whole provisions and priorities of the provinces.

Hopefully, this is something we’ll keep in mind when we talk about new arrangements. If we’re seriously talking about responsible government at various levels -- and basically we’ve evolved into a situation where municipal, provincial and federal governments have a role to play then taxing powers and accountability will have to be some of the pillars of the standards that these governments will require.

Having said this, I add that obviously this is not something that can be changed overnight. It makes one awfully pessimistic to see that when it comes to changing certain things like powers, we haven’t even repatriated the constitution. We haven’t even agreed on that. I think some of us in public life have to speak out about its importance and how that should be a priority to be looked at. I think it’s a serious strain on the whole governmental process at all levels to be constantly into a situation where one doesn’t know if the senior government will affect one’s priorities from one year to the next. The elected representatives at these various levels are sometimes but a façade with no real powers. Those of us in public life at various levels must speak out on these things. I clearly have the feeling fairly often that the federal government feels that it’s sort of God Almighty in all of this and that it knows best.

Mr. Makarchuk: Just the leader.

Mr. Roy: This hasn’t started with the present leader. It’s existed for quite some time. I just look at the way the provinces were drawn into the hospital insurance program. They couldn’t afford not to go into it. Yet once they were all into it, then the rules of the game were changed. That seems patently unfair. These are some of the things that must concern us and I would hope that this province and this government would realize that, and that these would be some of the things that would make government at all levels more accountable and at least they would have the taxing powers and it would allow the powers to be shared by all levels of government equitably. I think it is absolutely ludicrous, for instance, to consider the services that are required at the municipal level their responsibility, considering they are so close to the people, and yet the provincial government has so little tax room or power to tax to fulfil its own responsibility.

Having made these comments, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that this is not a process that is going to happen overnight. Many of us must speak out on this issue. I find, frankly, that over the years the federal government has abused its taxing powers. In other words, it has used the taxing powers to get powers in various provincial areas which the constitution did not intend it to have. I am saying that over a period of time this creates serious strains.

At one time, Mr. Speaker, we felt that only the province of Quebec was taking serious objection to the encroachment on its powers by the federal government. We have seen, as the years evolved, that Québec is basically only a few years ahead of the other provinces, and that the other provinces are getting on the bandwagon and are taking serious objection to the encroachment of the federal government under the guise of good government. I am not criticizing all federal programs, because certainly, as I said before, we need minimum standards across this province. I think the good life of this country should be shared by all, but it seems to me that there has been an abuse in that area.

Mr. Laughren: I am sure the minister had no idea of the nature of the debate that this harmless-looking bill would stimulate. I must say that when this bill was introduced, I and my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) sought some advice from the officials in the ministry and I wish to indicate how helpful they were and how much we appreciated their assistance.

I think they gained from the experience too. They now have a socialist perspective they didn’t have before and I expect to see that perspective in all future legislation. We want the minister no more having any part, having anything to do with legislation which the Treasurer imposes upon him which is regressive in nature. We want his assurance on this. Otherwise we will not help his officials anymore, they will have to flounder on their own. I think that would make the minister’s job more difficult, being a new minister. I say that to him in a friendly kind of way as a fallow northerner, and I hope he will take my advice.

Mr. Bradley: A northerner for licence plates.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: A little more than that.

Mr. Walker: Beware, beware.

Mr. Laughren: This is not a Trojan horse. I am trying to do what I can to help the minister.

Mr. G. Taylor: Resign then.

Mr. Laughren: The member doesn’t know what would be in my place if I did.

Mr. G. Taylor: Anything would be an improvement.

Mr. Laughren: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk -- they should never have imposed that riding name on him -- referred to the desirability of an income tax which being the best kind of tax and how at one time people thought that should be the only taxation in the land, but he indicated that wasn’t practical. I have always wondered why it is not practical.

Mr. Nixon: It doesn’t raise enough revenue.

Mr. Laughren: I shouldn’t say -- well I’m not still wondering; I have learned over the years that by imposing different kinds of taxes you lay down a smoke-screen so that the regressivity of all other taxes is hidden. There is no question about that, that is the purpose of all taxes that are not geared to income. There can be no other purpose for them, unless of course --

Mr. Nixon: A wealth tax.

Mr. Laughren: Is the member actually suggesting a wealth tax?

Mr. Warner: Now you are talking.

Mr. Laughren: Good, good; I would have no trouble endorsing that.

Mr. Nixon: You people have been sitting pat with your money long enough.

Mr. Warner: Some of it is under your chair.

Mr. Nixon: It’s not what that is.

Mr. Laughren: There have been complaints that the federal government is interfering in provincial rights in terms of taxation. There is no doubt about that. We saw that with the most recent antics of the federal Minister of Finance.


I would say to the minister that I was struck by one part of the bill, at the very beginning, where it talks about coming back to the provision from last year and in which it reinstates the level at 44 per cent of the federal tax base. When I asked them about that, they said: “Well, it’s done every year.” I thought, “Isn’t it nice that the Minister of Revenue is so conscientious and so concerned about the principle of no taxation without legislation that he doesn’t just say that it is 44 per cent of the base tax rate and then, if there is a change, bring in legislation. Oh no, even if there is no change, he brings in a bill which reinstates it again for that year.

“My goodness,” I thought, “such a highly principled Minister of Revenue. I have never seen the like.” Then he allows the Minister of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs to impose an OHIP premium tax without coming to the Legislature at all.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I allowed it?

Mr. Laughren: Yes, the minister allowed it. He should have insisted --

Mr. Warner: You should have got tough with him.

Mr. Bradley: He’s your friend.

Mr. Laughren: The Minister of Revenue should have said to the Treasurer, “You are not going to do this to this government,” because he is terribly embarrassed at what the Treasurer has done to him.

Mr. Bradley: We know he is the boss, though. Marie Antoinette.

Mr. Laughren: He has laid down a doctrinaire, rigid, ideological tax position on this government, and the minister has to live with it. That is wrong.

About three weeks ago we were debating the taxes on cigarettes and tobacco, and I think the minister was surprised to find out that with expensive cigars there was actually a reduction in the amount of tax the people would pay as a result of the Treasurer’s budget.

Mr. Bradley: We know who smokes cigars.

Mr. Laughren: That is truly regressive legislation. I will tell the minister that, after our visit to talk to his officials, if that ever happens again the minister is in serious trouble and will get no further assistance from us. Don’t ever again let the Treasurer impose a regressive tax like that upon the people of Ontario.

We, of course, will support the bill, Mr. Speaker, because it does continue an income tax levy against the federal tax payable. We only wish that the Minister of Revenue would be consistent and ensure that all revenues that flow into the consolidated revenue fund of Ontario would come before this Legislature the way he insists the income tax does each year.

Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments on the Income Tax Amendment Act, the income tax in particular, and the taxation policies of this government in general.

We look at taxes as one of the instruments by which the government raises money, but it could also be a social instrument; it could be used in terms of trying to alleviate some of the problems and, shall we say, some of the great discrepancies that exist in our society in terms of the amount of income going to people.

If we look at the policies of both the federal government and this provincial government, we find that they haven’t done the job. If we look at the distribution of income in society today, either in Canada or in Ontario, we find that --

Mr. Haggerty: How about taxing people with yachts?

Mr. Makarchuk: -- the 20 per cent of the people at the bottom are getting about four per cent of the national pie and the people at the top are getting about 42 to 44 per cent of the national pie. The only difference, incidentally, is that the people at the top are getting slightly more than they have been getting for the last 35 years. If taxation was fair or reasonable or had some sort of social considerations in mind, we would find that there would be these kind of switches or changes happening in our society but, in effect, that isn’t happening.

Another point that concerns me about the whole method of collecting taxes is the many loopholes that still exist in the taxation system. Maybe the federal government doesn’t want to move on these things -- that’s their business -- but certainly the province has the opportunity to move. The province can move on capital gains. It can move on succession duties. It can certainly eliminate some of the many loopholes that are available for people in terms of the stock options they take where the return on stocks and so on is non-taxable, or in terms of the credits, which can go anywhere from $17,000 or $18,000 to $40,000. This is the kind of income that should be taxed.

If we asked the fellow in the plant or anywhere else, or the civil servant who has a steady paycheque coming in and hasn’t been fired and is not on contract, his tax is deducted. He has to pay tax on his income and we feel that the same situation should apply to the people who get their money from investments.

This is a matter this government has refused to move on. Yet it’s available to the government to move into this area, and of course the federal government has this option. They, in their interest to protect their friends, are not prepared to move there and it’s quite obvious that the provincial Tories are not prepared to move in this area.

Another matter of concern is the evasion of taxation. The federal government indicates that there are hundreds of millions of dollars of uncollected taxes or taxes that have been evaded. They don’t know the exact figure. I think that the provincial government by and large depends on the federal government to do the collection and this government, in effect, takes a certain percentage of it. It seems to me that if they are failing to do the job at the senior level perhaps we should start moving in this area. Maybe we should look at some of these transactions and try to see that the taxes are collected.

It was only recently pointed out that after all the national accounts have been added -- the exports and the imports and the transfers and so on -- there is somewhat more than $3 billion of Canadian funds overseas. Somehow it got overseas and we can’t really account for that. It seems to me that out of this $3 billion there would be a possibility for a considerable amount of tax revenue that should accrue to the people of this province and the people of Canada. Somehow it slips this government’s system, it slips the federal system, the money gets out, it’s gone, and the government doesn’t have a chance to get its slice out of the thing.

The people who take advantage of this are the people who have to be paying the taxes -- who are able to pay the taxes, if we believe in the idea that taxation should be related to ability to pay.

Recently while I was slumming in the Bahamas I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of accountants I happened to meet on one of our sojourns.

Mr. Haggerty: I wonder how much left the country?

Mr. Makarchuk: They pointed out to me that the Bahamas had the second largest money-changing banking institution in the world, after London. It has more banks than New York has. They also pointed to the fact that a considerable amount of money travels to those countries or changes hands in those countries. This is something the minister should realize -- and he probably does realize it -- that the reason the money is there and the reason it changes hands in those countries is that it is a way to evade paying taxes. That’s the reason it is there.

Perhaps some of the money can be laundered, some may be whitewashed. But by and large it is an opportunity for people to evade paying taxes to their own countries. It seems to me eminently fair, Mr. Speaker, that if you earn your money in this country, if you take advantage of the resources and the people and everything else in this country, then the most moral thing you could do is ensure that you pay your share --

Mr. Haggerty: By vacationing here.

Mr. Makarchuk: -- of the taxes in the country.

I would like to see this ministry and the federal ministry -- and I have very little faith in them up there -- start to look very seriously at some of these major transactions that deal with Ontario firms, Ontario banks, Ontario trust companies. The minister should look at those firms that are dealing down in the Bahamas for purposes of tax evasion. I think that is an area the minister should try and move in in the very near future.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Are there any other hon. members wishing to participate in the debate? If not, the hon. minister.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to answer the members in sequence.

The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk seemed to be quite concerned about the fact that the province is not accepting its fair share of responsibility, or blame, for collecting income taxes -- that the federal people are accepting that responsibility.

Mr. Foulds: That was kind of a federalist speech.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: But in effect, we would need a very large bureaucracy in order to set up the machinery necessary to collect income tax for Ontario. By the same token, I don’t really believe that people in Ontario are not aware of the fact that they are paying provincial income tax because the forms explicitly put it on there.

Mr. Nixon: All they know is they get a provincial rebate.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: It is signed by someone in Ottawa by the way. That again goes against the member’s argument, the fact that they are getting a rebate and getting a cheque from Ottawa. I have many members of this House saying, “How is that happening? Why are we not getting the credit for those rebates?” The member is referring to the Ontario property tax rebate.

Mr. Nixon: What do you say to them? That it has something to do with the fact that they collect all the money.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: We are doing our very best to advise the people in Ontario that there are property tax rebates and that they are coming from the province. However, I do believe that there is enough information on the forms we are using today to indicate that the provincial income tax is figured separately and deducted from the federal income tax. It is there in plain print for everyone to see.

The member for Hamilton Mountain asked about the occupancy cost for genuine students. He wanted to know how many people are in the situation and how much money was lost over the years. We would estimate that the loss might be around $5,000. It is not a great figure, but it is a matter of principle that these people are living in residences that are subsidized by the taxpayers and getting the same property tax rebates as the rest of us who are paying taxes on a normal rent. We just feel that this is an unfair situation and we are moving to remove that situation without doing any harm at all to the students who also live in those units. There is no change as far as the Ontario tax credits and the students are concerned.

He also wanted to know whether the penalty was an oversight or not in the penalty section of this particular bill. The answer to that simply is that it parallels the federal legislation. It is not an oversight but is designed to eliminate certain potential abuses that have existed in the past. Formerly, the penalty only applied to unreported income and now it has been extended. I am sure the member for Brantford would be glad to hear that. He is in favour of penalties.

Mr. Makarchuk: You are always going after the crumbs, you never go after the big guys.

Mr. Foulds: You never go after the cake.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: By the way it has been up to now, taxes could be played around with the overreporting deductions. The amendment makes the penalty apply both ways.

Mr. Makarchuk: You hit the little guys, not the big guys.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: We’ll get around to all those people in the fullness of time.

Mr. Warner: If you live long enough.

Mr. Makarchuk: We don’t believe in immortality on this side.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: We are having a sort of a discussion across the floor here, Mr. Speaker.

We are in the process of putting on additional auditors and so on this year, in order to look after some of the concerns that the member for Brantford mentioned in his speech today. We are moving in that direction.

Mr. Warner: You are catching up with the member, are you?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member for Ottawa East essentially made the same point as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk.

Mr. Foulds: They are becoming federal apologists.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: My reply is basically the same. I must say that the member for Ottawa East seemed to imply there was an erosion of our tax powers by the federal government. I really can’t agree with that particular philosophy. There is a matter of good co-operation between the federal government and the province as far as income tax collectors are concerned. I don’t see us as losing any of our taxing authority by having the plan administered by the federal government. It saves the cost of setting up another bureaucracy to handle a very complicated system of taxation.

As I have said earlier, I see it as a matter of co-operation. I don’t see the federal government, in this particular field -- I’m talking now about income tax -- I don’t see the federal government as trying to take over any authority from us in that manner.


Mr. Roy: I didn’t say you were losing taxing powers. I say you are losing your jurisdiction to set your own priorities; that is what I said.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Of course, when it comes to income tax the money is sent back to the province and we set our own priorities as to how the money is spent.

Mr. Roy: But you don’t --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr. Laughren: And your priorities are perverted; they have mixed priorities.

Mr. Roy: You can’t do what you want in health; you can’t do what you want in education either.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: At the present time, we are dealing now with the Income Tax Act, and I say in this particular instance we can. I agree that there has been some problems with health, I agree there has been some problems with education, but that isn’t the matter of this particular debate.

I would like to say to the member for Nickel Belt that I thank him for recognizing the assistance my staff gave him. I hope they were helpful to him; I’m sure they were.

He again talked about OHIP premiums and related them to income tax, which I find rather difficult to do in this particular debate, so I’m not going to go any further than that on that particular submission.

Mr. Makarchuk: You are a part of the cabinet now, Lorne; you can’t evade the issue.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: I believe the member for Nickel Belt suggested that I had the power to direct the Treasurer as to how he should collect the taxes in this province.

Mr. Laughren: I wish you did, Lorne.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: You know, some days I would like to have that power, but I must inform the member that I really don’t have it.

Mr. Warner: It runs rampant.

Mr. Laughren: Assert yourself.

Mr. Foulds: We will introduce an amendment.

Mr. Laughren: Be more aggressive.

Mr. Warner: The Treasurer should be brought under public control.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member for Brantford has brought up the points that he has brought up many times in the House and in estimates. Some of them are good points, others I would have some disagreement with, because of our different philosophies in polities I guess. However, we are moving in the direction of enforcement. I should qualify that by saying that it’s not to scare people or to give any indication that there will be any harassment, but it will be done in a proper manner and we are prepared to do that.

Motion agreed to.

The bill was also given third reading on motion.


Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 28, An Act to amend the Corporations Tax Act, 1972.

Mr. Laughren: Does the minister have an opening statement?

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

Mr. Speaker: Shall the motion carry?

Mr. Makarchuk: Wait. He has an opening statement. Where do you think you are going tonight!

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, I have an opening statement.

This bill includes several important amendments, arising out of the 1978 Ontario budget again. Two important changes are being made to corporation taxes levied under the Corporations Tax Act, 1972, which will affect the capital taxes payable by loan and trust corporations and the premium taxes payable by insurance companies.

First, loan and trust companies which operate in Ontario will pay capital tax on the same basis as chartered banks. Significant changes are being made to the calculation of taxable capital. For example, secured and other indebtedness will be excluded from their taxable capital and allowance for investments held by these corporations will no longer be deductible.

The capital tax will be calculated at the same rate as banks, six-tenths of one per cent, this rate being twice the present rate payable by loan and trust corporations.

Secondly, the rate of premium tax payable by insurance corporations on life insurance, accident and sickness insurance will be reduced from three per cent to two per cent. The reduction of the tax rate will relieve the disadvantages suffered by Ontario-based insurance corporations which sell life insurance and sickness and accident insurance in the United States, caused by the 1976 increase in the rate of premium tax to the present three per cent.

This bill changes the method of calculation on the due dates of tax instalments payable by corporations whose estimated tax liabilities are $2,000 or more. The present treatment requiring the payment of taxes in six bi-monthly payments due on the 15th of the month, will be changed to 12 monthly payments due on the last day of each month. This change, which is effective for corporations whose fiscal year commences on or before July 1, 1978, adopts the treatment under the Income Tax Act of Canada.

The program of tax simplification which began last fall is continued in this bill. Several refinements are being made in this program. The foremost of these refinements is the paralleling of the federal income tax treatment of government assistance; for example, grants, subsidies, forgivable loans and tax credits received by corporations as incentives for purchasing depreciable and other capital assets, or for incurring deductible expenses such as scientific research and development expenses.

The deductions allowed for income tax purposes for the cost of depreciable and other capital assets acquired and for scientific research and development expenses incurred after March 7, 1978, will be calculated on a net cost basis. As a part of the tax simplification, this tax also parallels the federal changes in the taxation of insurance companies. In particular, Ontario is adopting the federal method for calculating policy reserves of insurance companies so that they will more realistically reflect the companies’ experience and is adopting rules which both simplify and refine the income tax calculation of multinational life insurance companies.

Mr. Nixon: Very good, Lorne, nice, just like you.

Hon. Mr. Maeck: Do you understand all that? The bill also parallels the federal changes in the taxation of income received by corporations as holders of life insurance policies. These corporations will be taxed on the investment income which has been earned on life insurance policies when these policies mature or are cancelled or when policy loans are received. The changes effecting life insurance companies will increase provincial revenues from that sector. These changes, which apply to taxation years of insurance corporations ending after 1977, will serve to bring Ontario’s corporations income tax even more closely into line with the income tax of Canada.

Mr. Haggerty: I would like to address myself to Bill 28, An Act to amend the Corporations Tax Act, 1972, and to support the bill in principle. The corporations tax is the third highest revenue-producing tax in Ontario. It follows the personal income tax and retail sales tax.

Many of the amendments proposed in the bill are either to clarify the application of certain sections of the Income Tax Act of Canada or to parallel provincial legislation with the recent amendments to the corresponding sections of the federal Income Tax Act. Ontario presently administers its own provincial corporation tax. Quebec is the only other province continuing in this practice. The remaining provinces permit the federal government to administer the corporate tax by applying a corporate rate legislated by each province.

A similar procedure is now being used as it relates to this province’s provincial income tax. This practice has been of benefit to the province by having one tax collector, which is the federal government. The tax portion collected through this agreement is returned to the province and as my colleague has mentioned, that reflects the responsibility upon the federal government in the sense that the province reaps the benefit but is not being criticized for the taxing policy.

The bill presently being debated and previous amendments to the province’s corporations tax follows the ministry’s new policy to parallel or align this corporations tax to the federal corporate income tax and we, as members in the opposition, support this principal tax change and the important move by the ministry in bringing forth these amendments.

Many small businessmen I have contacted concerning the government’s taxation policies are in agreement with any measures that will simplify the Corporations Tax Act and I can inform the minister that small and large corporations are looking for further significant simplification of the amending procedures. The present taxing policy requires some standardization or revised guidelines to assist the small business owners or operators in Ontario in the preparation of their tax assessment.

Too often the federal internal revenue officers do have independent views on the intent or the interpretation of the tax laws or the regulations, and a number of small business owners are informed that so-and-so procedure should be followed as it relates to the inventory of their business. The owner, along with the accountant, will accept the advice; he files his tax assessment upon this expert advice and is pleased that his tax assessment for that year has been approved. Some two years later, that small business operator has visitors from the federal revenue office informing him that an incorrect filing has occurred and his tax filing assessment is up for review. I can inform the ministry that in this circumstance the small business owner and accountant are going through a traumatic experience, and a time-consuming and costly experience, because of the interpretation of the regulations of the Corporations Tax Act.

Much of this fault can be related to the two taxing bodies. There still is some difficulty that small businesses or corporations have to contend with in their assessment, particularly in the area involving the corporation business tax, federally and provincially.

The amendments to this bill are significant, and the parties who have the most interest in the amendments no doubt are looking forward to the day when the Ontario government considers adopting fully the paralleling of provincial corporations tax in line with the federal corporate tax.

The minister has indicated there will be some major tax changes to hit certain business sectors in the province of Ontario; this relates to trust companies being taxed the same as the banks. I was wondering, in some of the tax changes that are proposed in the bill, what are the estimated benefits which will be derived from these tax changes? Just how much revenue can the province expect in these tax changes?

Mr. Charlton: I, too, rise to speak to Bill 28. I would think that on second reading we will support the principle of the bill, although we have some reservations about a couple of sections and some questions about a couple of others.

I would like to start out by perhaps correcting the member for Erie in saying that the Corporations Tax Act is not the third-highest revenue generator in this province anymore, and that in fact it falls fourth, behind OHIP.

Mr. Haggerty: Their highest source of tax; it’s a health tax.

Mr. Nixon: I’ve decided to agree that OHIP is not a health tax.

Mr. Charlton: Oh, it certainly is a health tax.

At any rate, the bill generally does three things on three different fronts. It deals with a number of oversights or omissions from Bill 88, which we dealt with last fall, which was intended to parallel the provincial legislation to the federal legislation, except where we specifically set out a difference.

Secondly, there are a number of sections of this bill which attempt to differ from federal legislation; and thirdly, we have the case of implementing budget policy.

Section 1 of the bill falls into the first category of clearing up oversights from Bill 88. Section 1(1) adds a reference to section 248 of the federal Act. I understand that the amendment to this section is necessary because the reference that was there previously to section 138 of the federal bill was a reference to a section of definitions that really weren’t very complete and really weren’t the appropriate definitions to refer to. So we had to add this section 248 so that we now in fact have some meaningful and relevant definitions. It is good that we can clean up these kinds of problems.

Section 1(2) changes the word “sections” to the word “provisions.” It broadens the scope of that particular section and includes sections and subsections and subdivisions and divisions. It seems to be a rather easy way of covering whatever one might happen to forget to specifically mention or amend from time to time.


Section 4 of the bill brings the provincial statutes into line with the federal statutes. This is the section the minister referred to where we’re bringing any governmental assistance in the form of tax credits and grants, et cetera, into a new perspective in the tax structure so they will be deducted from capital cost allowances and so on. Section 5 deals with the same thing in terms of capital gains.

It seems obvious to us, as a result of some of these changes it has made in some sections -- and the member for Erie referred to it -- the government must have some goal in mind, must have some plan and must have something that it hopes to accomplish. We would ask the minister if he could tell us what kinds of studies have been done, what’s the intended goal, how many dollars of additional taxes will these sections generate and what will be the overall effect of sections 4 and 5?

On motion by Mr. Charlton, the debate was adjourned.

The House recessed at 6:02 p.m.