The House met at 2:00 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
COMMUNITY SERVICE ORDER PROJECTS
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, last October the designation of six areas for the establishment of community service order pilot projects was announced by my colleague, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), and myself. At that time we indicated that at least one additional project was to be operated by and for native persons.
I am pleased to announce today that two projects will be established, one to serve the Kenora area and the other to operate in the London area.
The selection of the native projects was made in consultation with the Ontario Native Council for Justice, which contacted its member organizations, and over a period of seven months has held a series of meetings with Ms. Priscilla Reeve, the provincial co-ordinator of the community service order projects.
It was essential that the native people should have an opportunity to fully understand the concept and to make their own decisions about whether or not they wished to participate in the program, and which areas should be selected for the pilot projects.
I am also appreciative of the co-operation of my colleagues, the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Brunelle) and co-ordinator for native affairs and the Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier).
The Ne-Chee Friendship Centre will sponsor the project to serve Kenora and the reserves in that area, including Rat Portage, McKenzie Portage, Whitedog and Grassy Narrows. A co-ordinator for this project is expected to be named within the next few days.
As members will be aware, my ministry has operated a probation-parole program for native people in the remote northwest part of the province for the past four years. The area operates with two full-time native workers plus a number of volunteers supportive to the regular probation program.
Each volunteer is paid a regular retainer plus a fee for each client supervised. There are currently 14 part-time native volunteer workers. The area served covers more than half the province. The volunteers provide supervision on 62 reserves and settlements, 20 of which are fly-in locations.
Recently a similar arrangement for service has been developed in the northeastern part of the province where part-time native workers are active, two in Moosonee and one each in Moose Factory, Fort Albany and Attawapiskat.
The full-time and part-time workers and the ministry’s probation-parole staff will provide the necessary support for the community service order project.
I may also say, Mr. Speaker, that in the Thunder Bay area, no longer are native female offenders sent south. Instead they are kept in the Thunder Bay area in a community resource centre operated by the Native Women’s Council and Mrs. Edith McLeod.
The N’Amerind Friendship Centre will sponsor the community service order project to serve London and the surrounding area. A project co-ordinator has already been named. She is Ms. Diane Hill, a Mohawk Indian from the Six Nations Reserve.
N’Amerind is actively involved with various community agencies. There are three reserves within a 20-mile radius of London, and within a 60- to 70-mile radius there are another five reserves.
These two projects, as well as the six which were announced last fall, were selected from submissions received from communities where there was interest and support from the judiciary and community agencies. The selections were made to provide a variety of operational models in both rural and urban settings. The two native projects add to the diversity of the program, which will be subject to ongoing evaluation over the next two years. As I have indicated, the success of community service orders is largely dependent upon the interest and support of the judiciary, local agencies and the probation-parole staff of this ministry.
We are very pleased with the innovative use of community service orders which has already been made by the judiciary. We also appreciate the positive response by community agencies and our probation-parole staff to the new demands and challenges which they are meeting in order to ensure the establishment of this program on a solid basis.
The results thus far have proven that community service orders are a viable and positive alternative to incarceration for persons convicted of non-violent offences. I hope within the next few weeks to announce the establishment of another community service order project which will add a new dimension to this diverse and innovative program.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to report to the House that the honourable minister’s pronunciation of northern geographic entities is impeccable.
Mr. S. Smith: He should work for the CBC.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I wish to give a short statement regarding the very unfortunate incident that took place yesterday at the Travelers building on University Avenue involving the Metropolitan Toronto police and members of the Union of Injured Workers.
At about 10:45 a.m. yesterday, approximately 200 members of the union gathered at the Travelers building, 400 University Avenue, to demonstrate against the Workmen’s Compensation Board and the Ontario Ministry of Labour which have office space in this building. Sergeant John Jamieson and five police constables from the area foot patrol were assigned to cover the demonstration.
At about 11 a.m., the crowd was addressed by members of the Legislature and labour movement, and at about 11:20 a.m. by the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson). The Minister of Labour was not listened to, but was shouted down by the crowd and she left for the legislative building. At about 11:45 a.m. the demonstration went into the lobby and began shouting and threatening to take over the offices of the Labour ministry on the 14th floor. Police reinforcements were called in at that time.
The demonstrators were calmed down, and some of the additional constables were returned to regular patrol with approximately 15 police constables and one sergeant remaining to augment the area foot patrol. The situation remained static for the next hour with sporadic outbursts of noise. Mr. Phillip Biggin, the president of the Union of Injured Workers, was advised that the Labour minister was not in the building, but he would not believe it. He refused to send a small delegation up to verify this.
At about 1:15 p.m. Mr. Biggin addressed the demonstrators over a loud hailer to the effect that if the Labour minister wouldn’t come down to speak to them, they would form a picket line and would not allow anyone to enter or leave the building. He instructed them to link arms and form a semicircle in front of the elevator corridor, which they did.
The sergeant instructed his men to see the public through this line, and police constables went to the north and south of the elevator corridor to carry out these instructions. Constables Donald Wrigglesworth and David Keefer were performing this duty when two unknown women blocked off the pathway. PC Keefer instructed these women to move several times, which they refused to do. He then took hold of the arms of one of the women to move her, when he was attacked by one of the demonstrators who ran out of the crowd and struck PC Keefer on the back with a cane. PC Wrigglesworth went to assist and was also struck twice with the cane. The demonstrator was restrained and arrested.
At this time, the demonstrators attacked the police with their placard sticks and with canes. One man was observed by Sergeant Jamieson swinging a placard stick and striking police officers with it. Sergeant Jamieson went to this man and took the stick from him, and was immediately grabbed from behind by two unknown men by the throat and arms. The demonstrator struck Sergeant Jamieson with his fist three times in the chest, and then removed Sergeant Jamieson’s revolver from his holster and pointed the revolver at him. Sergeant Jamieson managed to free his right arm and got hold of the demonstrator’s arm with the gun. Sergeant Maywood saw this happening and rushed to assist Sergeant Jamieson. He grabbed the demonstrator’s arm and wrestled the gun out of his hand. While he was doing this, Sergeant Maywood was kicked in the face and stomach by unknown assailants.
The demonstrator was being escorted behind the police line when someone swung a stick at Sergeant Jamieson’s head. He ducked and the stick struck the demonstrator in the head, causing a wound which required six stitches to close.
This is a very unfortunate incident. A total of seven people have been arrested.
Mr. Speaker: Before we get to oral questions, I would like to remind members of the House that in the Speaker’s gallery we have His Excellency, Dr. Tarter, the ambassador from Austria, and Mrs. Tarter, along with the consul general. Would you please welcome them to our Legislature.
Mr. Mackenzie: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: Yesterday, in response to a question from my colleague the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande) concerning the job searches for WCB cases, the Minister of Labour -- and I’m reading a quote exactly from the Instant Hansard -- stated: “The response to that question was submitted to the member for Hamilton East with the request that he distribute it to all members of the caucus.”
First off, I want to say that I never asked the question, period. The question was asked some five weeks before this letter was sent to my office. The one-paragraph letter from the minister states as follows: “Dear Mr. Mackenzie: As requested by you and members of your caucus I am enclosing a copy of a memorandum issued in early April to all rehabilitation and counselling staff of the Workmen’s Compensation Board and dealing with claimants who are seeking job opportunities and who qualified for additional payments under section 42(5) of the Workmen’s Compensation Act. I believe you will find this memorandum self-explanatory.” This does not begin to totally answer the question that was asked. I never asked the question, and related it in no way to the minister’s answer.
I’m wondering how long, if the minister is not misleading this House, we can have this kind of confusion? Why is it directed to me and not to the member who asked the question? Just what is going on? When is the minister going to get her act together? I’m wondering if that’s what happened to some of my questions to which I’ve never had answers.
Mr. Breaugh: Apologize.
An hon. member: Wrong again.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of courtesy to the Labour critic of the New Democratic Party, the document which was requested by a number of members of caucus was submitted to him with the feeling that as the Labour critic he would be responsible for distributing it.
Mr. Nixon: The minister would almost think so.
Mr. Martel: You might suggest that the minister look up the word truth in the dictionary.
Mr. Pope: You guys are getting unreal over there.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Is the member for Oakwood speaking to the point of privilege?
Mr. Grande: I have a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker. On top of what the member for Hamilton East has just said, in that letter which the Minister of Labour mailed on May 12, 1978, there is no indication whatsoever to the member for Hamilton East that this is an answer to the question that I had asked in this Legislature.
A second point is this: Since when is a question that is asked from a public platform in this House answered by any ministry through mail and not directly in this House?
Mr. Martel: And to another member?
Mr. Grande: I have asked this before and I would like your assistance and determination on this particular issue, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I don’t know that what the honourable member raises is a point of privilege. The ministry has a responsibility, if it so choose, to answer a question. It need not be answered verbally in the House. The information can be transmitted in any way the ministry chooses.
Mr. Martel: But only to the member who asked the question.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Oakwood got the information through his colleague, the member for Hamilton East, and it’s not up to the chair to decide the manner in which a minister should answer a particular question.
Mr. Pope: It must be tough to be logical.
Hon. Mr. Davis: When I use the words “personal privilege,” I don’t want it misunderstood. I would like, on behalf of all members of the House, to congratulate the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett), and more importantly his wife, in doing their part to deal with the issue of deteriorating school enrolment.
The Minister of Housing will now have to expand his own facilities to accommodate a young lady who arrived sometime yesterday -- seven pounds and X number of ounces. On behalf of all members of the House, I extend our congratulations to him, but more importantly to his wife, Deborah.
Mr. Martel: They didn’t call her Bill, did they?
Mr. S. Smith: Speaking to this point of privilege, I want to associate myself with the Premier in offering heartiest congratulations to the minister and his wife. I believe his wife had the ambition of being married to the Premier. Now at least she may end up as the mother of the first, or perhaps one of many, lady Premiers. Instead of being married to the Premier, perhaps she will settle for that.
Mr. T. P. Reid: But Claude, these are House of Lords cigars.
Mr. S. Smith: Don’t they have a House of Commons brand?
OHIP BENEFITS SCHEDULE
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health. Can the minister confirm that the new OHIP schedule of benefits increases the doctor’s fee for minor assessments by the princely sum of 15 cents? Given the fact that the minister has stated, and many of us have also stated, that one of the real problems in terms of doctors’ incomes today is that the general practitioner has been falling behind, while certain specialists have perhaps kept up reasonably well, does the minister not feel that a 15 cent increase in that particular item, even with the creation of a new so-called intermediate category, is more insulting than helpful?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am glad the honourable member read the second paragraph of the Hamilton Spectator article of last evening, because in the negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association it was the position of the association, with which we concurred, that the introduction of an intermediate assessment category at a significantly higher fee than a general assessment would be in the interests of the general practitioner. I indicated back in April when announcing this settlement that the average settlement is six and a quarter per cent.
The member will see when we have published the full schedule of benefits from OHIP that the one part of medicine which benefits the most -- in fact, it’s close to eight per cent -- is general practice. All of this was run through our computers at the time of the negotiations and confirmed. One of the significant points of the entire exercise is to improve the lot of the general practitioner.
Mr. Breithaupt: The minister is looking more like John Robarts every day.
Mr. S. Smith: I thought the minister had been drinking chocolate milk.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I heard the caterpillars are back this year, but this is ridiculous.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have more hair on my lip than you have on your forehead.
Mr. S. Smith: You’ve got me there; that’s for sure. By way of supplementary, can the minister explain what is the delay in this particular OHIP schedule? Why are we now to be treated to a so-called interim scale? Why has the cabinet not passed the OHIP schedule of benefits? Can we get the show on the road with an officially passed schedule of benefits in time for the doctors to get paid and to understand on what basis they are billing reasonably? What’s the reason for the delay? The ministry certainly has had enough time.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: There is a very simple reason. Normally, the negotiations would have been concluded in February or early March, which would have left sufficient time to prepare the regulations and to print the schedule. This year the negotiations concluded, I think on April 6, a mere six or seven weeks ago, during which time we had to finalize the calculations, run everything though the computers and confirm that what had been agreed upon with the OMA did match up with the overall increase of six and a quarter per cent.
That’s been done. The regulation has gone to cabinet. I believe it is on the cabinet agenda for tomorrow and we will be able to get it out very quickly. It’s simply because the negotiations concluded at a much later point in the year than is normal.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Has the ministry prepared a comparison between the new OHIP fee schedule and the new OMA fee schedule? Will the minister also ensure that that is published in the early future, so that the public as well as people who are watching health policy can see by just how much doctors will be exceeding what people will get from their OHIP benefits if doctors charge the OMA schedule?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Any doctors who opt out -- and that is the group of doctors to which the member is referring -- can charge, really, whatever they want, once they tell their patients beforehand that they are, in fact, opted out. That could be $1 above the particular item in the schedule of benefits
-- I draw to his attention that OHIP has a schedule of benefits; the medical association has a schedule of fees -- or they could charge double, whatever, but they must inform their patients beforehand.
Since opted-out physicians might have adopted a schedule of fees for their services that is anywhere between the two, it would really be a waste of money for us to print a separate document to compare the two documents. We will publish our schedule of benefits and the medical association will publish its schedule of fees.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, can the minister tell us what estimate he has, or does he accept the OMA estimate that 40 per cent of assessments will now be called intermediate as opposed to minor assessments? Does the minister have any basis for reaching this conclusion? Is he going to monitor it in some way, given the fact that the difference between the two assessments in terms of patients with more than one symptom would seem to be almost a trivial difference, since virtually every patient has more than one symptom?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I don’t know that I can accept the latter part. Neither of us being a general practitioner I don’t know that either of us could substantiate that one way or the other. In the negotiations at the Clawson committee there were certain positions advanced by the profession which were discussed in the ministry. It was felt that, generally speaking, they were probably good estimates of what is likely to occur. Certainly we will, through the year, be watching carefully the effect of this, because it is our sincere intent and hope that this will mean to the family practitioner, the general practitioner, a significant improvement relative to the rest of the profession.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: In view of the fact that most doctors bill at the end of the month, and the end of the month is here and they have no schedule available to them, can the minister indicate to the medical profession when they might expect to get the schedule so that they will know how to handle their billing?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: A bulletin was sent to all physicians in the province about four or five weeks ago, indicating the reasons for the delay and indicating that we would make adjustments in subsequent cheques to reflect the changes in the schedule of benefits.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARDS
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Colleges and Universities: Can the minister explain his recent decision to deny student representation on community college boards, colleges of applied arts and technology? Is he correctly quoted as stating:
“You couldn’t just add students alone to the board. Faculty and support staff, and representatives of the community might also have to be added”? Can I ask him what would he so terribly bad about that? Surely this situation exists at Ryerson and at the University of Toronto, just to name a couple? Why is he refusing to accept the recommendation at the community college level?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: The only part of the quotation that was incorrect was the community representation. That is obviously done at present by the way the boards are formed. I think it’s fairly obvious that four appointments are made by municipalities in the catchment area of each college.
It was a decision we arrived at after considerable discussion within the cabinet committee, and there are various reasons. I think the present boards are working well and that decision was made for a variety of reasons. In the final analysis we either do or do not change the size of the boards. The decision at this time was to leave the boards as they were proposed in the original act.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, has the minister even bothered to talk to the people at Ryerson to ask them the experience they have had with students? Does he realize that they are very satisfied with it and feel that a good many potential divisive and explosive issues were well dealt with because the students were represented on the board, albeit in smallish numbers? Why is the minister taking such a step backwards and, in fact, overturning the recommendation voted -- admittedly by only one vote -- by the Council of Regents? Why is he taking this step to deny representation when surely the thrust in our society ought to be to have more involvement by those who ought to be participating in the institutions in which they have a significant role?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’m afraid the leader of the Liberal Party does not give full credit to the amount of participation in the student body now. There are presidents’ committees, there are academic committees, there are all kinds of committees in which the student representative is very vocal, and rightly so.
It isn’t as though the avenues are blocked for student participation in their college boards.
Mr. Warner: They can’t vote.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’ve said many times that I think our college system and our university system are quite different and this is an area where, indeed, we are saying they are different. We’ve always said they’re equal, but different.
In this instance, you may wish to compare the universities and the colleges; that, of course, is your right, but we’ve decided to leave the boards as they are. I think it’s interesting to note that in the last few years the colleges have come in for a great deal of praise and they have done so with the boards constituted as they are.
Mr. Cooke: I have a supplementary to the minister. I’d like to ask the minister, would he not agree that this decision he announced yesterday treats college students as second-class post-secondary school students? He still hasn’t given us his reasons today and he didn’t in committee. Why did he make this decision? Why has he decided to treat college students as second-class citizens?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I guess it’s your right to make the statement we’re insinuating that they’re second-class students. I want to assure the member that there’s --
Mr. Warner: That’s what you’re doing.
Ms. Gigantes: So what are your reasons?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: -- no validity in that statement whatsoever.
Mr. Warner: There’s no validity in your statement, either. Give them the right to vote.
Mr. Havrot: Oh, resign.
Mr. Warner: Not on your life.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: We have always considered the students of our community colleges to be most responsible. We always have, we always will. I’m rather sorry that you should cast it in those words; it’s totally incorrect and unfair.
Mr. Warner: Give them the right to vote.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary:
How can the minister say he is treating these students as anything other than second class, when he has just said that what is good enough for university students and for Ryerson Polytechnical students is somehow not good enough for the community college?
How can he say that they have a lot of participation when in October 1976 his own ministry prepared a summary showing that 13 colleges had student observers at the board, five allowed student attendance only by invitation from time to time, and four had no student representation? George Brown College, for instance, invites students to observe only parts of meetings, and even this on a campus rotation system, which means that the same student can only attend possibly every few months so that there’s no continuity.
Why have you singled out the students here, in opposition to the very recommendation made by the council of regents; and why have you refused a reasonable participation to the students at the community colleges, a participation which you grant to the polytechnic and to the university sector?
Mr. Warner: The minister has no answer.
Mr. Laughren: Is the minister aware of the precedent that was set at Cambrian College in Sudbury when a member of the faculty did, indeed, serve on the board of governors, with very positive results?
Mr. Warner: Ask for his resignation.
Mr. Laughren: Has the minister checked with Cambrian College to determine that?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: We have no objection if the community should decide to have someone represent the community in one of the four positions that are open to nomination by the community. If they wish to nominate a member of faculty or a student, that would be perfectly all right by ns, there is no reason why they couldn’t.
Mr. Cassidy: You guys cop out all the time.
Mr. Warner: You really should resign.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Does the minister remember, as member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick, speaking out strongly in favour of the renewal of the current rent review program in his nomination speech on March 14 last year, saying specifically that: “We must require that the scheme continue until there have been 12 consecutive months during which the vacancy rate of a particular municipality has been in excess of 3.5 per cent”? If the minister remembers that particular speech, can he say why he told the House last week that he will not consider even a simple extension in which he characterized as a very short-term program, particularly since the vacancy rate in Metro has dropped to 0.9 per cent in the last 12 months and has also been dropping in most other major cities of the province?
Mr. Breaugh: It’s no wonder you got that nomination, Larry.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: So long as the member sticks to reading my speeches and doesn’t get involved in gross distortions, as he did on CBC radio this morning, then we can talk accurately about Hansard and my speeches a year ago.
Mr. Warner: Try answering the question.
Hon. B. Stephenson: You’re totally confused with the facts, David. Resign.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Shame.
Mr. Foulds: Be nice and they’ll make you an enumerator, Larry.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The point I made was that this government is and always has been pledged -- boy, the tenants’ issue really does something to you guys.
Mr. Warner: Yes, we’re concerned about it.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s not concern it’s paranoia.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The point I was making at that time, of course, was that the rent review program had to be renewed.
Mr. Wildman: Same as beer in the ballpark.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That’s what I said in 1977, and we were talking about the renewal of that particular program. It was renewed until the end of 1978.
Mr. Wildman: What about the vacancy rate?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: At no time did I or this government ever indicate that that particular program, with all its problems, was the only program that would work for the tenants of this province.
I understand how attractive it is for members opposite to grasp on to the super sensational headlines which indicate that only they are in favour of protecting tenants. What we have said consistently over here is that tenants will and can be protected, but that they can be protected by something other than a simple cost passthrough mechanism. I also indicated at that time that I think tenants’ rents do have to be protected until the vacancy rate climbs to a reasonable level. Only in the last week or two, I presume as a result of some members opposite sitting on that committee which they refused to serve on or support --
Mr. Foulds: What kind of a Grossman distortion is that?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- have I heard the slightest whimper of some sort of acknowledgement that maybe the rent review program should end when there is a sufficient and adequate supply of housing. Only now is the third party shifting back to that position.
Mr. Martel: When will that be?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Indeed, if we were to do what they want us to do, and that is keep the current rent control program forever and ever, then sooner or later we would have to go for what I know that party finds terribly attractive, and that is total public housing and no private housing.
An hon. member: That’s baloney.
Mr. Martel: Why don’t you get on a chair and yell?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We over here believe that the crux of the problem is protection of tenants’ rents until the private sector is able to provide enough accommodation above that vacancy rate level that I referred to in that speech a year and a half ago. That was precisely the position then; there is no change in that position.
Mr. Sargent: Why don’t you sit down?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Careful, Eddie, you’ll be sorry.
Mr. Speaker: The question has been answered.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You’re right.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Can the minister perhaps explain what it is about becoming a minister that has gone to his head and has created the flip-flop which he’s enunciating in the House right now?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member ought to know!
Mr. Cassidy: Why is it that a year ago the minister was saying that no one could argue that the rent review board has inhibited the construction of new apartment units? Why is it that a year ago the minister was looking at other alternatives to the present rent review program and was rejecting them? Why is it that a year ago the minister was indicating that he felt that tenants should continue to be protected along he current lines, and now he has backed off that position completely?
Hon. W. Newman: Nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Perhaps I’ve had or taken the opportunity of educating myself a little bit more on the issue, which the member hasn’t taken advantage of himself.
Mr. Mattel: The minister is a slow learner then.
An hon. member: That’s a great education. Hon. Mr. Grossman: I’m not at all shy about saying that in the past period of time, not only have I had the opportunity to learn a lot more about rental problems, but also I have used the duration of the program --
Mr. Martel: You mean you were shooting your mouth off for nothing before?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- to now study the effects of the program.
Mr. Yakabuski: Why don’t members opposite attend the committee meetings?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In May of 1977 -- no, I think that was in March.
Mr. di Santo: You were not the minister then.
Mr. Mattel: Yes, it was the eve of an election.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to answer the question, but the opposition will have to listen.
March of 1977 was some 14 months ago, and on this side of the House anyway we do have the habit of watching and studying and listening and learning over those 14 months. Members opposite haven’t adopted that, their position hasn’t moved one twit in that period of time.
Mr. McClellan: Learn not to go into your own riding.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We don’t mind saying that we’ve watched the progress of that scheme very carefully. We also don’t mind saying -- and listen carefully -- that a lot of tenants are being badly treated by the current rent review program.
Mr. Warner: You have never studied it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We think that for the sake of those tenants, as well as those landlords who are being badly treated by the current program, that it is incumbent upon this government to find a better scheme for tenant protection than the scheme that the members opposite want to cling to for ever and ever.
We will discharge that responsibility and not cling to the politics of the issue, which in the long run, and indeed now in the short run, will operate to the detriment of those tenants that the members opposite want to stand up and be great defenders for.
Mr. Mackenzie: Boy, are you ever sensitive today.
Mr. Laughren: Distortion.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister explain what has happened in the rental market between 14 months ago and today to have led him to this complete reversal of his particular stand? Can be also say who are the tenants whom he maintains are being badly treated under the present program? I think he should name them.
Mr. Pope: Are you a landlord or a tenant?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Now the honourable member will stand up and name all of those who have benefited. The point that the honourable member was making was that in my remarks, a year and some months ago, I indicated that rent review did not cause the vacancy rate to decline. The member hasn’t beard anything from me that indicated that was the sole cause -- anything different, rather --
Mr. Mackenzie: Who’s playing politics now?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I believe that was not the sole cause. I have been entirely consistent in that.
Mr. Warner: Do you know what you’re doing?
Mr. Cassidy: What is it that this --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Why doesn’t the member sit there and listen? I believe then and I believe now that rent review obviously was not the cause of the decline in the vacancy rate. I said that then. I said it during the debate to send this matter to the committee -- which the members across the way opposed. I am saying it today. I have said it time and again.
Ms. Gigantes: It was a snow job.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I said it in front of the London landlords’ association, and I said it out in Thorncliffe to the member for York East’s (Mr. Elgie) tenants’ association. I have said that time and again.
Mr. McClellan: You can’t even yet your contradictions straight.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The point we are making is that, if we want to get out of this problem, it is time to realize that there are a lot of factors which are now inhibiting the new construction of apartment suites.
Mr. Foulds: You’re one of them.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We think that’s a solution to this problem and that rent review continues to be one of the inhibiting factors to new construction.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I know that the honourable member does not want to listen carefully to that, nor do his members want to listen carefully on the rent review committee while they cling to this foolish press release --
Mr. Martel: Don’t lecture us. You are starting to sound like the Premier.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Specifically, I want to say that is not a change from a year and --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order. The question was, would the minister care to name those who would not be well served. The minister had had three or four minutes; he hasn’t responded to that. I am going to recognize the member for Ottawa Centre with his second question.
Mr. MacDonald: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: No, no more questions. This is a matter that is before a committee of the House; there is ample opportunity to discuss it there.
Mr. MacDonald: I have a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: What is your point of order? Mr. MacDonald: I don’t know what you or anybody else can do about it, Mr. Speaker, but when a minister gets up and ludicrously and grotesquely distorts the reality --
Mr. MacDonald: -- and says the policy of this party is in favour of public ownership of all housing, that is simply inaccurate.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That is not a point of order.
Mr. Martel: How about another election, Larry?
EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a second question, to the Minister of Labour. In view of the minister’s statement two weeks ago that she has committed the government to prior consultation before the development of any legislation in relation to workers’ health and safety, can the minister inform us exactly to which groups she has made that commitment, what meetings have taken place with those groups to date, and precisely what future meetings are already scheduled to take place, with whom and when?
Mr. Bradley: Check with the member for Hamilton East.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the commitment originally was made specifically to the agricultural community. During the debate on Bill 70 it was most certainly made to other groups which had the potential to be covered by occupational health and safety legislation.
To date, I believe that the ministry staff have met with all but two of the groups I mentioned. They have not as yet met, I think, with the groups representing college and university teachers, school teachers, school boards and the association of principals, but they have met with the Ontario Nurses Association, the Ontario Hospital Association and at least a portion of the policing group of the province.
Mr. Bradley: Did they meet with success?
Hon. B. Stephenson: They will be meeting with both employers and employees in all areas: firefighters, police, hospital workers, psychiatric institutions, correctional services institutions and agricultural workers.
Mr. Mackenzie: Would you listen to anyone but management?
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I should have said, if I may, that I believe the initial consultation should be completed by the end of June.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In placing this supplementary, I want to express grave concern at the fact that every time the minister mentions this the number of groups that are talked to --
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Cassidy: -- as opposing coverage gets larger.
Mr. Speaker: Question?
Mr. Cassidy: Can the minister say why she is giving any of these groups an opportunity to express that they should not be covered under the bill? Why does she not instead solely concentrate on how these groups are to be covered, and how the regulations provided for under the bill will be written to apply specifically to their needs?
An hon. member: It is called demodulation.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the leader of the third party does not recognize the truth when it is in front of his face.
Mr. Foulds: Of all the ministers you are the real one.
Hon. B. Stephenson: But the consultative process is precisely what that word means.
Mr. McClellan: You believe you are the only --
Hon. B. Stephenson: We are consulting with both the employers and the employees about the appropriate way of developing the right kind of coverage for each of those groups --
Mr. Warner: You are backpedalling.
Mr. Laughren: The historic stall.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and that group has not increased in size since the committee hearings on Bill 70.
Mr. Breaugh: What was the committee for?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is exactly the same group and exactly the same size.
Mr. O’Neil: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: As far as planning is concerned then, would it be the minister’s understanding that Bill 70 will not be brought before this Legislature until the fall session?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is my understanding at this point that it would not be possible to complete all of the consultations before the end of June.
Some hon. members: Shame.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Therefore, I believe that it certainly would be inaccurate for me to say that it will be brought in before the end of June.
Mr. Bounsall: Supplementary: Is the minister not really concerned that further delaying the introduction of this bill cuts off automatically all those groups who could easily establish health and safety committees across this province, and that we would miss the entire summer period in terms of the operation and use of those committees? Surely she sees an advantage in introducing the bill as soon as possible for that reason.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it does worry me a great deal that those groups of workers for whom Bill 70 was designed --
Mr. McClellan: Everything worries you. Hon. B. Stephenson: -- are going to be denied access to that bill --
Mr. Laughren: It is your decision. You are doing it.
Mr. Martel: They could have gone to the committee.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- until the consultative process, which is absolutely essential, is carried out. That process has been required specifically by the amendments introduced by the opposition parties. The delay of the bill is their responsibility, not anyone else’s.
Mr. Renwick: It is your fault.
Mr. Warner: You are the government.
Mr. Lewis: Now that’s chutzpah.
Hon. W. Newman: It is right.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would hasten to add that the delay in no way inhibits or impinges upon the development of health and safety committees in all work areas. The voluntary mechanism is there; the ministry will be pleased to assist any employer --
Mr. Conway: We are glad you ran for the Tories, Bette.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- or any group of employees who wish to establish a health and safety committee. We stand ready to do that at any time; and indeed it is happening in large measure throughout the province.
Mr. Martel: That’s why you haven’t created one committee yet.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I have a further supplementary to my previous question: I believe I did ask the minister, not whether the bill would be introduced before the end of June but whether she would introduce this bill in the fall session of the Legislature.
Mr. Hodgson: He is the worst offender.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I shall be very pleased to make a full report to this Legislature as soon as the consultative process has been completed and I can make a prediction about the probable date upon which it can be introduced.
Mr. Cassidy: You are backing down some more, you are backing down again.
Mr. Warner: You make the Titanic look like a success story.
Mr. M. Davidson: Supplementary: Is not the real truth of the matter the fact that all the people the minister has just mentioned had the opportunity to consult with the committee? Was not the date of December 31 built into the bill by the committee after the minister had given assurance that the consultative process could have been completed by that time? Why can the minister not bring that bill forward now for debate in this Legislature and still go on with the consulting processes that are built right into that bill?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the consultative mechanism, which I think is essential in the drafting of any bill, is the opportunity for those who have the responsibility for drafting and administering the bill to hear first hand from both groups of employers and groups of employees in all of the areas concerned.
Mr. Lewis: Like pension increases.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That is the mechanism which we have followed for all of the other groups in industry, construction and mining. It is my intention that precisely the same kind of opportunity will be granted to the other groups to whom that kind of protection should be extended.
Mr. Martel: To the injured workers too.
Mr. Mackenzie: What a bunch of garbage.
Mr. Martel: You are a disgrace.
Mr. S. Smith: Why does the minister insist on speaking of delays introduced by the opposition, when she knows full well that all she is doing is demonstrating her fear of the democratic process operating in this House, and when the appropriate thing for her to do is to bring in the bill as amended, present what further amendments she may in her wisdom think need to be presented and permit others to present what further amendments they might, as a consequence of further consideration, be willing to present?
Mr. Sterling: The Leader of the Opposition wants to retract, he wants to change his position.
Mr. Nixon: That’s the way it’s supposed to work here.
Mr. S. Smith: Why is the minister afraid of the normal democratic process? Why is she flouting the will of the House by sidetracking a bill which should be right in front of us here for debate and for possible amendment?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Unlike the members opposite, I do not believe that all of the wisdom on earth regarding occupational health and safety resides within the Ministry of Labour nor within government; nor do I believe that it resides within this House.
Mr. Cassidy: You are a disaster.
Mr. Martel: You are a doctor?
Mr. Cassidy: A doctor of mismanagement.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I believe the wisdom and the expertise which are necessary to attempt to draft the appropriate legislation in order to provide protection must be garnered from all available sources. That is precisely what we intend to do.
Mr. Lewis: The Ministry of Labour has never been in such a shambles as it has been in the last couple of months.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Isn’t that a pity? I’m so sorry that you’re so upset about it. I really feel for the member.
Mr. Lewis: What is going on over there?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s working extremely well.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McCague: On Friday the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) asked me a question regarding the status of two reports being compiled by my ministry. I wish to advise that the Thunder Bay report is in final draft form and will go to the printer this week: Printing usually takes one week or less, therefore, the report will be made available by June 12. The second report on Terrace Bay is in the first draft form and will be sent to the regional office for local comments by the end of this week. It should be released June 23.
The member asked about a possible conflict between our regional staff and the researchers in my ministry who are compiling the report. I would advise the member that --
Hon. Mr. McCague: -- would the minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations please he quiet?
I would advise the member that it is normal procedure for the special studies air quality reports to be sent to the regional office for agreement on the interpretations in the report, particularly where they reflect local knowledge. For instance, the scientists from the air resources branch in Toronto were only in the area for two to three weeks at a time and may have the wrong impression or an incorrect knowledge of the composition of the various industrial plants. They therefore rely on regional staff who live in the area and who are more familiar with the industrial plants to correct these impressions.
The data collected on these field trips are not negotiable, but the meaning of the data can only be correctly interpreted with the more detailed local knowledge of the resident regional staff. Corrections of this nature to the first draft of the report do not represent a conflict between the members of the ministry staff, as has been implied.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Can the minister indicate to the House, when there is a disagreement, between say a regional office and the central office, in light of the minister’s answer, whether the regional attitude is the one that prevails in the drafting of the final report? Further, can he indicate why it has been that these two reports have taken so long in the writing and drafting process, when over six weeks ago it was indicated in the ministry estimates that the report would be completed and presumably printed within a month? It will be two months by the time it is finished.
Hon. Mr. McCague: One of my staff did say during estimates that the report should be available, in four weeks I think it was at that time. It’s taken longer, I really don’t know why.
As for the conflicts the member mentioned, there is no conflict in the actual data that is taken.
Mr. Foulds: Final supplementary, if I might: Is the minister indicating, however, that there are disagreements and conflicts about interpretation? Would he not agree that the interpretation of a report presented by the ministry is extremely important, particularly a ministry that should be there to protect the public, as the public may not have the expertise to interpret the raw data, and surely it is important --
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Mr. Ruston: Tell him to keep quiet.
Mr. Foulds: -- that it be done as objectively as possible?
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is being as objective as possible and in the interest of all the people.
OHIP FRAUD CHARGES
Mr. Van Horne: A question to the Minister of Health: In the light of the charge laid against Dr. Anthony Corrigan being that of fraud, a charge that was dropped eight months after it was made, can the minister tell us why it took the OHIP office in Toronto nearly three months to provide the claims in question?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Offhand, no. I’ll look into the matter and get the information to the member.
Mr. Van Horne: Supplementary: I would like to know if there are any other peculiar circumstances around this case which would demand that it he delayed for eight months before it was, in fact, dropped. Would the minister find that out for us too?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As the honourable member will know, this particular case and two others associated with it were the cause of some sensational headlines about eight months ago and it has been a rather unfortunate series of events. I will get as much information as possible relative to the member’s question.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Since the minister is undertaking to report back to the House on this matter with full and complete circumstances, when he does that, would he report back on who was responsible for the laying of those charges in the original instance? If he doesn’t know and his ministry doesn’t know, would he undertake to talk to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) about this matter, which has caused such very serious hardship for this particular individual?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes.
OWEN SOUND HOSPITAL TRANSFER
Mr. Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of Health. It is our understanding regarding the transfer of MacKinnon Phillips psychiatric hospital in Owen Sound that the agreement of transfer included the condition that no existing programs would be discontinued or altered without consultation with the Ministry of Health. In the light of that, is the minister aware that the department of psychiatry at the Owen Sound General and Marine Hospital plans to or has already discontinued the free drug program for psychiatric outpatients, and did the hospital consult with the ministry before making this change?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have had no such indication of a change in program at the Owen Sound General and Marine. I will check with our officials in the psychiatric hospitals branch in the institutional services division to see if there has been any indication from that hospital that it wants to change the program. I am sure that any changes they might wish to bring about would certainly be in the interests of the patients as well as the overall program of the hospital.
Mr. Charlton: Supplementary: When the minister is checking that out, would he also check out whether they have changed the program without consultation, and will he talk to his ministry staff about whether they still consider that program a valid program in the treatment of psychiatric outpatients?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I think my answer to the earlier question answers that.
Mr. Stong: I have a question of the Premier. Bearing in mind the severe hardships suffered over the past five and a half years by property owners within the parkway belt west, including the loss of their right to obtain mortgages, renew mortgages, borrow from traditional lending institutions and their right under the Expropriations Act, when will the government respond to the many requests -- the latest of which was from the York Region Real Estate Board asking for financial assistance, particularly with respect to the purchase of those lands by the government at prices far below the normal market value?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I must confess I don’t recall a letter from the real estate board; that doesn’t mean I didn’t receive one. I don’t think there has ever been any discussion that the government was going to acquire all of the land within the parkway belt west. In that a part of that pathway belt goes through an area which I know better than the area where the honourable member resides, I think some of the conditions he describes are probably not quite accurate. If a person resides within the parkway belt in a residential home there is nothing to preclude that person continuing to live there in perpetuity. There is nothing to preclude that person in terms of refinancing if it is a mortgage arrangement or if there is any existing enterprise, and this would apply to those who are in the agricultural industry. There are a number, although in a good portion of the parkway belt in the area I know best -- I think it’s reasonably representative -- where there have been some difficulties in terms of people who invested in that land in hopes of some increased land use and as a result they may be having some difficulty in terms of refinance. But I think in terms of --
Mr. S. Smith: With the right lawyer they might get an exemption.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The Leader of the Opposition can intervene all he wants. It’s about time the Liberal Party in the province of Ontario made some determination as to where they stand with respect to the preservation and proper planning of some of the urban centres in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Mackenzie: On anything.
Hon. Mr. Davis: If those people want to say, “Do away with the parkway belt,” let them have the intestinal fortitude to say so. Why don’t they say so? Why don’t they make this a policy?
Mr. S. Smith: That is a hydro corridor.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They want to write off the total escarpment, now they want to write off the parkway belt.
Mr. Peterson: We just want to write you off.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They want asphalt from here to 61 Main Street South.
An hon. member: Always ready with a lecture.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The last remarks made by the Premier were as a result of an interjection.
The member for York Centre with a supplementary.
Mr. Stong: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are not asking for --
Mr. Bradley: Same old gang.
Mr. Stong: -- are not asking that the parkway belt be abolished. We are asking for fair treatment for the owners within the parkway belt. That’s what we are asking for.
Mr. Bradley: Same old bunch.
Mr. Stong: And I might say, by way of supplementary --
Mr. Conway: Does the Premier know what the word means?
Mr. Stong: -- is the Premier not aware that the province is offering prices for that property far below the market value? People within the parkway belt have no other choice but to sell to the government under any circumstances.
Hon. Mr. Davis: With great respect, Mr. Speaker, that is not accurate. In cases of distress, where there is no obligation on the government of this province to acquire, the policy of the government has been in some instances, in matters of distress, to accommodate some owners in terms of their acquisition. As a matter of fact in those distress cases the province has not been offering prices well below market value. With great respect to the honourable member who asked the question, who has I am sure some knowledge of these particular situations, we could debate here all afternoon his definition and my definition of market value.
If he is going to say that market value within the parkway belt relates to the potential uses that some people anticipated for land they acquired and which in some areas
-- perhaps not the member’s but in my own -- was pure speculation in the proper sense of the word because it was zoned agricultural at the time it was acquired, then I say to the honourable member that is not market value. There is no way the taxpaying public of this province should be under any responsibility to pay for potential use when the land was already zoned as agricultural.
While there are some complexities in the parkway belt, and there have been some cases of individual hardship, by and large existing owners, if they are residential or business owners, have bad the opportunity to refinance. The areas where there have been some difficulty, and I perhaps may even know of one or two in the honourable member’s riding, are where on occasion certain syndicates have moved in to purchase the land for the potential value and they have had difficulty in refinancing. I can’t resolve that particular problem.
Mr. Sargent: Such as Hydro.
Mr. J. Reed: Supplementary: Is the Premier not aware that the Ministry of Government Services is at present negotiating expropriation in the parkway belt on behalf of Ontario Hydro at prices very much below the 1973 market value of that property? Is he not aware also that the Ombudsman is investigating those purchases? Is he not aware that the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson) has admitted in this House that it is an iniquitous situation? I don’t know whether be used that word, iniquitous --
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t want to get into a lengthy debate. I would only say to the honourable member with respect he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
Hon. Mr. Davis: He doesn’t. Mr. Speaker, with great respect, you can’t negotiate an expropriation. The member’s colleague was asking about those cases where, on occasion, the property was being acquired by the province where there were matters of distress. If the government, or Ministry of Government Services, is acquiring property for Ontario Hydro, and the person who owns that property is not content with the evaluation, because the land then can be expropriated, they can go to the Land Compensation Board.
Mr. Sargent: It was rerouted.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There is no problem in terms of arriving at an equitable value.
Mr. Sargent: It was rerouted by Cadillac Fairview.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But that kind of owner is totally different from the kind of owner that the member’s colleague was referring to. You don’t negotiate an expropriation, Mr. Speaker. If there is an expropriation that constituent of the member’s -- and if he happens to have some he should give them a little advice -- if he is not content with the offer from the Ministry of Government Services, or Ontario Hydro, suggest to his solicitor that ha go to the Land Compensation Board where equity will be done if he or she is not satisfied with the offer that has been made.
Mr. J. Reed: Can the Premier assure the House?
OTTAWA HOUSING AUTHORITY
Ms. Gigantes: I have a question of the Minister of Housing. I hate to overtax him on a day when he’s been carrying around cigars, but I wonder if he could give us a short and clear outline of the policy basis on which his government has, first, left a vacancy on the Ottawa Housing Authority for a year in spite of the fact that the mayor of Ottawa submitted the name of Aline Akeson as nominee, roughly a year ago? And, second, why and on what policy basis has the government finally rejected the mayor’s nomination of Mine Akeson, although his government declared that the city has a right to make a nomination?
Mr. Bounsall: And a very fine person she is.
Mr. Conway: And Reuben likes her.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It’s absolutely correct that the municipality has the right to nominate an individual to the Minister of Housing to fill a vacancy on a housing authority, as has the Minister of Housing for Canada, through CMHC, the right to nominate people to fill the federal position at the whim or the pleasure of the minister.
The name was submitted some time ago by the city of Ottawa to fill a vacancy on that hoard, and it has been through some investigations and inquiries that the nominee came to my attention. We’ve had several discussions and I’ve talked to the mayor about this individual in question.
As a result of the investigation, which clearly indicated that with the applicant, who was a tenant in the housing portfolio of the Ottawa Housing Authority, there were some failures to disclose income on her application to acquire a public housing unit in the city of Ottawa. Those failures to disclose income obviously had a great bearing to play on the fact that her rent was less than it should have been and that this province and the municipality continued to pick up a larger portion of the subsidy than they should have. On that basis and for that reason I rejected the nomination and so advised the mayor.
Ms. Gigantes: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is it not normal policy, if there is a real breach of an agreement between the tenant and the housing authority, for that breach to be followed up with charges? And when there were none in this case, on what grounds does the minister make such statements? Furthermore, is he judging the mayor of the city of Ottawa to be incompetent in supporting that nomination?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Far be it from me to judge any member of the Ottawa city council incompetent -- the mayor, the board of control or aldermen.
Mr. Warner: They judge the Minister of Housing to be incompetent.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: With their knowledge and understanding, they make recommendations or nominations to fill vacancies on the board.
Ms. Gigantes: They know everything you know and more.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, as a result of the nomination -- and I understand prior to the nomination coming to the Minister of Housing of that particular date -- there was a clear indication to the minister’s office that there were infractions in the particular application and for this particular party. The individual who was nominated has met with the legal counsel of the Ottawa Housing Authority and has had an opportunity to place her case very clearly before the attorney and her attorney.
Ms. Gigantes: Why didn’t the ministry prosecute? Why was there no prosecution? Because the accusations were groundless.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I say to the member, in conclusion, obviously the tenant realized that she would be in contravention of the requirements of application --
Ms. Gigantes: They were groundless accusations.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- and the right to be in the housing unit; and with the idea that she was more than likely going to be asked to leave the project, she left on her own.
Ms. Gigantes: They hassled her out.
Mr. Bounsall: She did too good a job, that’s all.
Mr. Speaker: One final supplementary; the member for Ottawa East.
Mr. Roy: May I ask the minister, in view of his answer --
Mr. Cassidy: You’re really vindictive to tenants, aren’t you?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Oh, come on.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s true.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s why public housing has been resisted by this government.
Mr. Sargent: You’re a very unruly bunch over there.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Eddie is here. It’s his monthly visit.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order. There’s very little time left in the question period. The member for Ottawa Centre has had his share of the question period time. Perhaps he’d allow the member for Ottawa East to place a supplementary.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, whatever happened? I woke up.
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Nice to see you here, Albert.
Mr. Roy: To the minister, by way of supplementary: In view of the fact of his earlier answer to the member for Carleton East, would he advise the House why it would take close to a year to make that decision?
Ms. Gigantes: To hassle her out.
Mr. Roy: As I understand it, the mayor had made the recommendation last June. Before deciding not to appoint Mrs. or Ms. Aline Akeson to the position, did the minister have a conversation with the member for Ottawa West, the Minister of Energy (Mr. Baetz), who described this lady as “an articulate spokesman for the tenant and a very forthright person”?
Ms. Gigantes: That’s right.
Mr. Sargent: She wasn’t a Tory.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all to the member for Ottawa East, I am not quite sure how long the application had been under study, although I realized the former Minister of Housing had the application. For a number of reasons it was under review.
Ms. Gigantes: Under review because you didn’t like her.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: What the member for Ottawa West has said in relation to the nominee is probably perfectly correct. But I do not find that a failure to disclose income has much to do with one’s ability to be articulate.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s not true.
Mr. Foulds: What proof do you have?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Maybe she could have been a little more articulate in this ease.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I heard the word vindictive. Far be it. I have spoken to the nominee myself. I have had talks with the mayor. And I can only say to the leader of the third party --
Mr. McClellan: Bring back the barber.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- that his kind of response on the open-line program in Ottawa this morning is typical of the way he’s handling must issues around here without knowing what the facts are before he starts shouting.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Health has the answer to a question previously asked.
Mrs. Campbell: Will the Minister of Health stand up?
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Health: Do you have the answer to a question previously asked?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes, if I may.
An hon. member: Okay, teacher.
Mr. Laughren: Wake up, Dennis.
An hon. member: About the chocolate milk.
Mrs. Campbell: You were so involved, you didn’t hear it.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, there have been several recent questions regarding the numbers of opted-in and opted-out physicians in Ontario. In response, I would like to briefly review the recent history of this aspect of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and to bring the members up to date on its present status.
Since a physician has six months after the date of service in which to forward claims, the exact statistics relating to the numbers of opted-in and opted-out physicians are prepared seven to eight months after services are rendered to ensure that all claims have in fact been received and processed. An examination of this data indicates that in January 1973, when statistics first became available, the total number of physicians billing the plan was 9,981. Opted-out physicians totalled 1,343 or 13.46 per cent. In the most recent month for which these statistics are available, September 1977, the percentage had dropped to 10.85 per cent or 1,243 out of the 11,452 physicians billing the plan.
A manual check of the number of physicians’ letters concerning option changes received since October 1977 indicates a probable net increase in opted-out physicians of about 150 by August of this year. Of that 150, 68 have given notice since May 1. I should point out that these numbers are constantly changing because option changes are frequently rescinded either just prior to their effective date or after a month or two under the new option. For instance, I am informed that during the past two weeks five physicians rescinded earlier requests to opt out.
As the members are no doubt aware, under section 20, subsection 4 of the Health Insurance Act, physicians are required to notify the general manager of OHIP three months prior to opting out. Only one month’s notice is required to opt in. Physicians are also required to notify their patients that they have opted out so they will know that they are to be billed directly.
At the present time the number of opted-out physicians is approximately 12 per cent of the total number of physicians who are hilling the plan. This is still significantly lower than the percentage of opted-out physicians in January 1973. Our review to date has not shown that any of the current option changes will significantly affect the availability of choice of physicians for the citizens of Ontario.
DURHAM REGISTRY OFFICE
Mr. McKessock: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. In view of the announced closing of the Durham registry office, the minister has supplied me with certain information, which I thank him for. There is some other information that I think would be of value to the members of this House and also the people of Ontario. That would be the list of the 25 registry offices in Ontario that it is proposed to close, according to the minister’s staff announcement at a recent meeting in Durham. Could the minister supply us with this list of municipalities that would be affected?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes. Immediately upon a decision being taken to close any or all of those offices, I will inform the House directly.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Supplementary: Could the minister tell the House whether or not he will meet with the County of Grey Law Association to discuss an impact study they have done, because the minister didn’t do one, that shows that while the proposed move by this government will save 75 cents per registration, it will cost the people of the area $37.42 per visit to the office? Will the minister meet with that association and discuss their brief and, in the light of their brief, reconsider his position?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: As I am sure the member knows, I have met with any and all people from the Durham and Grey region who have wanted to meet with me, including the delegation brought in by the member for Grey last week, among which I believe were representatives of all the elected councils of municipalities in the area. As I think I have already informed the County of Grey Law Association, I would be happy to meet with them as well to hear everything they have to say.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary: Since the minister’s estimates are not likely to come before the committee for review of this or other matters until the fall and since this office will be closed by then, will the minister assure the House that before the House adjourns later in June he will have a statement as to his plans with respect to these other offices so they will not be closed without the opportunity of having the matter fully discussed during the minister’s estimates?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I believe we are now at the stage of giving active consideration, but have no final plans, with regard to one or two offices only.
Mr. Conway: There’ll be a lot of Tories looking for work.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They are non-political appointments.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: If any decision is taken with regard to those or two other offices before the House rises, I will follow the procedure the member has laid out. Other than that, I would think that by the time my estimates come on we will be able to discuss it more fully. But no further closures, other than those I disclose to the House and provide details for, will occur before the House rises this spring.
QUEBEC POLICY ON CONSTRUCTION HIRING
Mr. Samis: I have a question of the Premier regarding last week’s tête-a-tête with Mr. Levesque. In the absence of any concrete agreement last week regarding the problem with Quebec over Ontario construction workers and in the absence of any stated intention by Premier Levesque to modify the regulations coming into effect on July 1, could the Premier tell the House what realistic hopes he has in regard to reaching a concrete and meaningful settlement before July 1? In answering, could the Premier keep in mind that negotiations on this general topic have been going on for at least six or seven years and that the people of eastern Ontario are fed up with promises and lack of action?
Mr. Conway: Make the member for Carleton (Mr. Handleman) ambassador.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is hard to measure one’s degrees of optimism. However, I was encouraged, if I can phrase it that way, with --
Mr. Conway: Sidney’s speech.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- Mr. Levesque’s response and the public communique that was issued after our informal discussion, where he supported the principle of the mobility of construction workers as between the province of Quebec and the province of Ontario. Premier Levesque is fully aware that their regulation comes into effect on July 1 and we also are fully aware of it.
During the course of our meetings he had discussions with his own Minister of Labour. I have his assurance that his Minister of Labour, Dr. Johnson, will he meeting with the very excellent Minister of Labour from the province of Ontario (B. Stephenson) --
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and I am relatively optimistic that some form of solution can he found. While some of this had been going on, perhaps the actual implication of this arose -- I’m sure the honourable member is aware -- from the Cliche commission report. I’m in no way defending the effect of the regulation. It was done by the government of Quebec, as explained by the Premier, to rationalize the construction industry within that province. It has had the effect, but it was not intended, of discriminating against construction workers from this province. Of that fact, I have his assurance.
The government is quite aware as to the deadline of July 1. I will report to the House, or the Minister of Labour will, as to the progress that is being made in our discussions. Hopefully we will have some form of resolution before the effect of that regulation takes place.
Mr. McClellan: I beg leave to introduce a petition which is signed by 325 persons who had the misfortune to buy homes from Pastoria Holdings Limited or associated companies.
The petition reads as follows: To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly:
Whereas all efforts to obtain justice have been rebuffed by Ontario government officials, including Premier Davis, we, the undersigned, petition as follows:
1. That a committee of this assembly consider whether those of us experiencing problems have been justly treated, and redress our grievance or, alternatively, refer the matter to the Ombudsman for investigation and recommendations;
2. That the HUDAC home warranty program be revised so that companies convicted of false or misleading advertising are automatically deregistered from the HUDAC scheme;
3. That section 81 of Bill 94/76 be enforced to exclude companies with a public record of substandard construction practices;
4. That the number of provincial appointees to the board of directors of the HUDAC home warranty program be increased to a majority of the members;
5. That the Ombudsman Act be amended to bring the HUDAC home warranty program within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the time for consideration of the estimates of the Solicitor General be increased by two hours.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
PROGRAM COST DISCLOSURE ACT
Mr. Van Horne moved first reading of Bill 101, An Act to provide for the Disclosure of Information Relating to the Cost of Government Programs.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Van Horne: The purpose of this bill is to provide for the public disclosure of the cost information upon which the decisions to undertake certain government programs are based.
The bill requires that the estimated total cost of each program be disclosed and provides for additional scrutiny of program operations if the estimated cost is exceeded.
RETAIL BUSINESS HOURS ACT
Mr. Ziemba moved first reading of Bill 102, An Act to regulate Hours of Operation of Retail Businesses.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Ziemba: Mr. Speaker, this bill complements the Retail Business Holidays Act, which was passed in 1975. The purpose of this bill is to provide for maximum hours of operation of retail businesses in Ontario. It would remove hours of operation as an advertising tool.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I wish to table the answers to questions 54, 55 and 59 standing on the notice paper. (See appendix page 2977.)
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: Perhaps I might just take this opportunity to say that, although the order of business was indicated last Thursday, I hope it’s still understood that no matter where we are at 6 o’clock, when we break for supper, at 8 o’clock we will do Bills 85 and 95 first and then return to where we have left off at 6 o’clock with respect to the other legislation.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
CROWN TIMBER AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. F. S. Miller moved second reading of Bill 35, An Act to amend the Crown Timber Act.
Mr. Speaker: Does the minister have an opening statement?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Yes, Mr. Speaker, a very brief one. I did read a statement the day the bill was given first reading. That statement still stands. I do, however, have two amendments to the bill, and I believe these have been given to the opposition for their consideration. We will be moving, with their permission, to committee of the whole House after the debate in principle.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I was somewhat surprised when I arrived at my office this morning -- well before 8 o’clock, of course -- to find the amendments that will be moved in committee. I thought I’d get that on the record. The rest is downhill.
I was surprised and happy to see the amendment which will allow the minister “to enter into agreements with a licensee for the promotion and maintenance of the productivity of the licensed area by establishing, regenerating and tending forests and employing silvicultural cutting systems to regenerate forests.” I think this is as important as, if not more important than, what is in the original bill without this amendment.
I intend to address myself primarily, I suppose, to that aspect of the bill. I presume, Mr. Speaker, that would not be out of line or out of order at this time. The Speaker nods that it is not.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Even if it were not, you would have.
Mr. T. P. Reid: The Deputy Speaker, who is now in the Chair, has quite a woodlot of his own.
There are two major thrusts in Bill 35, An Act to amend the Crown Timber Act. One deals with the changes in the collection of revenues from the timber industry in regard to crown dues and what the minister in his bill now euphemistically calls “area charges.” The second, of course, which I have just read into the record and did so deliberately so that we would all have the benefit of that, is the ability of the minister to transfer the responsibility of managing the forests, including the important aspect of regeneration, which allows the minister to male agreements with the various timber companies in the province to do so.
This particular aspect is rather significant because, in the history of Ontario, the responsibility for regenerating the province’s timber lands has bounced back and forth between the crown or the Department of Lands and Forests, now the Ministry of Natural Resources, and private industry and the act was last changed in 1962 I believe, the minister nods yes, to give the responsibility for the regeneration of crown timber in the province of Ontario back to the crown.
Now we see a good liberal approach to the whole matter, not saying bluntly that the whole industry must look after regeneration because obviously there will be some companies that do not have the expertise or the desire to do so, but allowing the minister to make agreements with various companies to go ahead and do their regeneration, I would presume, under the guidance or at least the watchful eye of the minister. It should be on the record that about 12 large companies control at least 75 or 80 per cent of the crown timber of the province.
As usual, the bill is not specific as to how these things will be arrived at. No doubt, we will have a slew of regulations which will lay these matters out, and which we will find years hence did not answer the questions we may have put.
It is a continual bugbear with me that we debate legislation in which a lot of what we are doing here, particularly the most important aspects, often turns up in regulation which does not come before the House. In any case, we applaud the move to allow the minister to make agreements with the companies for the regeneration and tendering and management of the forest.
There have been some experiments going on and if the truth were known, which hopefully it will be this afternoon, the minister has de facto if not de jure --
Mr. Nixon: Got that Frank? Which are you?
Mr. T. F. Reid: With that bow tie on, it is hard to tell.
The minister has been operating along these lines. I understand he has had some agreements, or there has been some closer collaboration between his ministry and the timber companies around Thunder Bay for instance, in carrying out agreements for regeneration and general crown management.
I have a question. I am concerned about the aspects of how this will be done, who will be involved. It is obvious from the wording of the amendment this is something that is not mandatory. It is -- what is the word, Robert, if it allows something to happen? -- permissive legislation rather than mandatory.
Hon. F. S. Miller: It is beyond your vocabulary.
Mr. T. F. Reid: That’s true, it has more than two syllables in it. This is permissive legislation and I wonder how much of the crown land in the province is going to be served in this manner. We went into this during the minister’s estimates to some degree, but I would like the know the amounts and volumes of regeneration that will be done.
I have argued with various Ministers of Natural Resources over the years that we have a backlog of something like two million acres which is, if I may use another word over which I will stumble, a conservative figure.
Mr. Nixon: Anyone would stumble over that.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That is based on the allowable cut we have had for the last 10 years and it has not been regenerated.
Mr. Wildman: True, blue conservative.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Consider that between 1970 and 1975 we had such large and extensive forest fires that we probably lost another million to a million and a half acres. The figure we are behind in regenerating probably falls in the range of four and five million acres. I wonder if the minister could indicate today the scope of the program and whether or not we have arrived only at the stage where he requires the authority to enter into agreements with individual companies.
I would like to speak about the second matter arising in Bill 35, that dealing with the crown dues and the area charge as it is now called. It is pointed out that the area charge will now take under its umbrella the fire charge and the management charge, which have been two separate items, but which came to about $27 per square mile in charges.
On top of that, of course, the timber industry has to pay stumpage dues, which also includes their bid and bonus costs. I have a question on that, if I may ask the minister at this time, because we won’t have another opportunity.
If one looks at the timber revenue distribution for the fiscal year 1972 through 1976-77, the tenure charges of $26.60 per productive square mile of timber ranged from $2,071,000 in the year 1972-73, increasing in 1973 and 1974 to $2,597,000 in 1975. And yet in 1976-77, according to the annual report of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the tenure charges were $1,884,000; which is the only year in those five years that those tenure charges fell.
I wonder if the minister can give us an explanation why that should be, particularly when the stumpage charges show an increase from $15,803,000 in 1972-73 through 1973, 1974 and 1975 to $26,788,000 in 1976-77? There seems to be an anomaly there that the stumpage, which is based on the actual timber cut, should have increased fairly dramatically, especially between 1975-76 and 1976-77, while the tenure charges dropped rather dramatically in that same period of time.
We have no quarrel with -- in fact, we will support the idea -- the area charges; that certainly makes sense. The Ontario Forest Industries Association response to the report of the timber revenue task force indicated they thought these costs were expensive. If I recall correctly, the minister plans on increasing the area charges. As of April 1 of this year they will be $41.40, increasing at an approximate average of 10 per cent per year for the next four years. I presume that approximate 10 per cent is to bring the charges to the $56 plus that was recommended, I believe, in the revenue task force report.
I see nothing drastically wrong in that, particularly in view of the fact that the cost of managing the forests by the ministry and the cost of fire protection is rather heavy. If we follow through the Treasurer’s concept of the user pays, I think it is a charge that should rightly fall on the industry.
However, I do wonder about the moving average in regard to the stumpage cost that is going to be based on the commodity index of the product that is being made out of the timber. You are talking about a three-month moving average over a five-year period. Now the forest industry association has pointed out in its brief its concern that while looking at the gross revenue figures based on the commodity price index, the concomitant costs of labour, transportation, fuel, energy, and the whole business might very well have risen more drastically in that period of time than could be dealt with on a reasonable basis by this sliding average.
It seems to me that we can’t do everything for the timber industry. I think I would agree with Ken Armson and his report that the best we can do for the timber industry, and the thrust we should be making, is to give them as much stability in their industry as possible in that they should know in advance what their costs are going to be. Because the revenue coming into provincial coffers is only a matter of maybe six or eight per cent of the total cost to the industry, it’s not going to be that much of a gross distortion on their figures in a five-year plan; nor would I think, because it is one of their smaller costs, that is it going to change that much. In fact, they are going to have the foreknowledge they want so that they can make their plans.
As I say, we’re in favour of what is in both sections of this bill. There are some other minor amendments that we’ll talk about when we’re discussing the bill in committee. I am surprised, however, as I said, that on my desk this morning should be the amendment relating to the ability of the minister to eater into agreements in regard to management and regeneration with the various companies. I had hoped that the minister might have come to the Legislature with a much fuller and complete bill in the first place, because I would presume, based on some of the very excellent reports he’s had in the last few years, he is going to come to us again, probably within a six or nine-month period, with some more rather substantial amendments to the Crown Timber Act. The minister shakes his head.
I appreciate that he wants to get these into effect by April 1 or as close thereto as possible so that he can conform with what is already in the bill and get it on the road. I would have hoped that we might have had a more comprehensive bill in terms of dealing with the many problems besetting the industry today. I would have hoped there might have been something in the bill, perhaps discussing at some greater length land tenure for timber companies and so on. I would have hoped there might have been some amendments to that section dealing with section 19 of the present act dealing with wastage in our forest resources and so on.
However, we will support the bill. We see it as a step forward in the forest industry in the province.
Mr. Foulds: We have just come through a lengthy discussion in the estimates of this ministry with regard to reforestation and regeneration generally. I don’t think I need to get into that in detail. However, I wanted to make this one observation and repeat it. I would hope that the minister would have had an amendment to this act that would have committed him to a sustained yield objective, and have that embodied in legislation. I know he is working towards that within his ministry, but I think it would be a powerful incentive to the minister, the ministry and to whomever would follow him if that were actually embodied in the legislation.
I don’t think that it guarantees such an objective. You cannot by a piece of legislation automatically ensure that we are going to achieve a sustained yield. I think that in a parallel situation mandatory special education being a powerful incentive to that becoming a reality in the province, a legislative commitment to sustain yields in our most precious renewable resource, our forests, would be a powerful incentive to obtain that objective.
The bill before us presents the New Democratic Party with somewhat of a dilemma. We are in agreement with what the minister is doing in the bill and in the amendment, which amounted to a new bill, in fact, that we received this morning.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That’s right.
Mr. Foulds: We are in agreement with what he is trying to achieve. We think the objectives, the aims and objectives are valid.
However, we do disagree with what was referred to briefly by the member for Rainy River and that is the method by which the fees, the levies, whatever you have, are eternally assessed by regulation. I will be speaking to that point in a few minutes.
I think that no one really would object to the amalgamation of the management charge and the forest protection charge. I think in principle forest protection is really part of a management plan of an area. In fact, the reverse, the technique of prescribed burn, is part of a management plan for an area. So I don’t think anyone really objects to the amalgamation of the fees, although it is kind of interesting that the proportion is so disparate. The management fee, which one would think would be the larger fee if one were to manage our forest resources properly, is the smaller fee. At the present time it is $2 and the forest protection charge is $25.60.
I think if we were to emphasize the management unit and the unit forester, the management charge might be somewhat more and the forest protection charge somewhat less. Perhaps proper management, i.e. the culling of overmature trees at the right time could lead to a lessening of the requirements for fire protection. I could be wrong there. I know that you always have to spend more to put out a fire, to meet a crisis situation, than you do on day to day management. It would seem to me that in planning ahead, the management charge would be worthy of a little bit more than the $2.50 I believe it is now going to be.
Anyway, the amalgamated fee is a good idea and it would, I gather therefore, allow some flexibility and proportioning of the expenditure of those.
Secondly, we in the New Democratic Party approve of the increase the minister mentioned in his statement when he introduced the bill on first reading. It amounts to a fairly sizeable increase in one fell swoop -- 50 per cent -- an increase from $27.60 per square mile of productive forest land to $41.40 per square mile. We feel, and obviously the minister and his people feel, that is a legitimate level to be requiring of the companies who benefit from the timber to return to the people of Ontario.
Thirdly, we agree with the minister’s stated aim of increasing that at approximately 10 per cent per year for a four-year period.
Fourthly, we agree that there should be, as is indicated in the bill, a one per cent per month compounded interest charge on overdue invoices for crown charges.
Finally, we think it makes good sense to establish a system of crown charges that have some flexibility so that it can be responsive to the market and to the cyclical nature of the forest industry. Therefore, we agree with the idea that those charges should be tied or indexed to the selling indices of the products from the timber.
We are supporting the bill on second reading, because what the minister wants to achieve is laudable and worthwhile as it pertains to the Crown Timber Act. However, we have very serious reservations about all of this being done through regulation. Some time ago, we fought a tremendous battle in this Legislature over other fees -- taxes if you like -- that were assessed by regulation. Those were the OHIP fee increases. I can only say we feel, in principle, that far too much of the revenue accruing to the province, to the crown, is done through regulation; and the amount is increasing.
I placed a question on the order paper some time ago and the Treasurer answered the question. The question was that the ministry list the amount of revenue received in fees, premiums, royalties, taxes, et cetera, that are established by regulation. The legislated revenue sources represented 9.7 per cent in consolidated revenue in 1974-75, 10 per cent in 1975-76, 11.4 per cent in 1976-77 and 11.6 per cent in 1977-78. You will see that it is steadily increasing and that one-tenth of our budget now comes in this way.
Lest you think that I’m straying from the principle of the bill, Mr. Speaker, I draw to your attention that the most fundamental section of the bill is section 4. Section 4 strikes from the original act three clauses in section 51, the section that allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations. So, in many ways, the basic principle of this bill is not what the minister is frying to achieve but how he is trying to achieve it.
We feel very strongly that wherever possible the taxation that is levied in the province whether it is against the private sector, against individuals, or against companies, should be up and above-board, and that we in this Legislature should have a chance to speak to that. We see no reason why these charges, as proposed in the minister’s statement as a result of this bill, should not be set by legislation annually as part of the economic strategy that the Treasurer lays out in his budget. Therefore, we intend to support everything that the minister is proposing, hut we are requesting that it be done through legislation.
In other words, we approve of what the minister is doing and we are therefore supporting the bill on second reading. However, we disagree with the increasing tendency to administer the fundamental economic affairs of the province through regulation. It is time, in our view, to open up the province’s economic books to the people of the province. Therefore, we will be proposing -- and I have circulated this to the other two parties -- a proposed amendment to section 4 of the bill which we will introduce at the appropriate time.
I won’t read all of that amendment at the present time. What we have done is take the wording from section 4 in the present bill and we have said that clauses (c), (d) and (e) of section 51 of the act are repealed and subsequent clauses numbered appropriately and the following substituted therefor:
“The minister shall immediately following the annual presentation of the Treasurer’s budget, introduce legislation (a) fixing the amount of area charge” and so on, and then simply repeating what is in the bill that he is hoping to do by regulation.
It may well be that I have not nearly hit upon the exact way of doing what the minister hopes to do. There may be the necessity to compromise on one or two areas if there are genuine economic administrative difficulties with what I am proposing. However, I think that the argument has to be more powerful than merely saying it’s more convenient to administer through regulation. I think the argument has to be that it is impossible, and if the minister can make some proof of argument that it is impossible to achieve what he wants to achieve through legislation, maybe we can come to a compromise of part regulation and part legislation.
But I would certainly feel very strongly that if there is any adjustment in the fee other than the indexing, that it come to the Legislature. This may be one of those rare chances that we actually have to regain through the Legislature the taxation authority that the Legislature in fact should have -- the approval for that taxation authority. So much of it has been alienated during 30 years of majority government that in fact the Legislature has often forgotten that it’s there as the ultimate responsibility for approval or disapproval of fiscal policies; and so many of our fiscal policies, whether it’s through OHIP fees or through pricing at the LCBO or through crown timber fees or tenure charges, we have lost entire control of in this Legislature. It seems to me that we should make every effort as legislators to regain that through the Legislature. We have an opportunity to do that with this bill. Therefore we will, of course, be delighted to have the bill sent to committee.
My understanding was that we wouldn’t be going to committee immediately upon completion of second reading but at some future time. We would be delighted to have the give and take with the minister to get some genuine answers to the concerns that he may have about attitudes, and vice versa. In committee stage, in fact, the opposition can answer questions -- unlike question period -- and that might be a most enjoyable participation.
However, basically, we feel that democracy will be better served. We feel that the Legislature will be better served. We feel that the people of Ontario will be better served by having this particular revenue which is simply another kind of tax, if you like, another kind of royalty or fee or whatever you want to call it, opened up for annual review by the legislative process; and in that regard, I note that there is only one member of the Liberal Party in the House at the present time. Two, sorry, I apologize. But the spokesman for that party indicated they had objections to the regulations.
Mr. J. Reed: It will help to raise the quality of the debate.
Mr. Foulds: The quality of the present sitting Liberal member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed) is unquestioned. It makes up for the absence of all of his colleagues.
Mr. J. Reed: You have made my day.
Mr. Foulds: Now, that’s only on a relative or comparative basis, Mr. Speaker. I don’t want it to go to his head.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Now, back to the bill.
Mr. Foulds: But, in fact, the leadoff speaker for the Liberal Party, the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid), had indicated their concern about the administering of these charges through regulation. I would, therefore, plead with the Liberal Party -- they have had copies circulated to them of the amendments I’m proposing -- to support our amendment so that we can regain in the Legislature the authority over taxation that we are in danger time and time again of losing through regulation.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I understand my mike hasn’t been on. It’s an indication of the quality of the debate for the last five minutes.
Mr. Foulds: Can I get up on a point of privilege on that?
Hon. F. S. Miller: It’s what one could call a soporific talk.
I appreciate the willingness of the two opposition parties to permit my amendment, the one dealing with the right to enter into an agreement with licensees. I quite honestly admit it did not follow the principles of the bill when first introduced. They could have challenged it and claimed I should have to introduce it as a separate bill.
Admittedly, it changes the basic act. We had reached a point is our negotiations with a number of companies where that kind of power was needed quite quickly.
Mr. T. P. Reid: When the minister does something reasonable, we support it.
Hon. F. S. Miller: That is why I found both members speaking in agreement with my bill today. How could I be anything but reasonable?
Mr. Foulds: The minister has tried so hard to succeed very often.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I hope to have changes in the bill itself as time goes on, such as has been suggested. Because we were dealing with one limited aspect this year, we felt we should just bring in those amendments that are before the House. After we’ve had some chance to respond to the Thunder Bay conference and the thoughts that came up there, we may have changes, such as the one suggested by the member for Port Arthur, where he mentioned putting sustained yield into legislation.
It’s my objective to have sustained yield and, if signalling it in legislation gives both the program and the people preparing and carrying out the program the necessary incentive, then I’ll be delighted.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It would be part of the agreement between the ministry and the company.
Hon. F. S. Miller: The member for Rainy River pointed out that the part in the extra amendment I’m proposing talks about permissiveness. The agreements are permissive. I would point out that the terms that will be used will probably be spelled out in contracts with the companies, not necessarily in large volumes of regulations. This would allow me to enter into agreements with the companies.
Mr. T. P. Reid: I thought so. It might as well be between friends at table.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Rainy River has already I had his chance to speak. This is not question period.
Hon. F. S. Miller: What I like is a firm, impartial Speaker.
The charges we addressed in the first form of the bill, particularly the area charges, really haven’t been changed since 1968. Therefore, the 50 per cent increase, a large figure in relative terms, has to be taken in perspective. Since 1968, one could easily argue we could have justified a doubling of the charge. I’d like to point out that the area charge is important as a distinct part of the revenue because I hope it will have an effect upon companies which might be holding in licensed form lands in excess of their needs. They simply can’t hold on to them without some cost.
The breakdown between management and fire costs is purely academic. Last year we had $21 million in the basic budget for our enhancement program for fire protection. I believe we spent extra money in addition to that. Yet, as you point out, the revenues are in the range of $2 million from the area charge so one can easily see they are by no means the true costs of management and fire. In fact, I think we discussed in the estimates that direct revenues don’t equal direct costs. We recognize that, too.
I couldn’t answer the questions the member for Rainy River has addressed to me concerning the variations in the area charge since those charges have remained constant. I will try to get [the acreages or square miles for which we made charges and give them to him while we’re in committee, so I could explain that.
I do believe the owners of the resource have the right to participate in the increased value of the resource. Therefore, I felt the indexing was justified, just as I feel that if things get tough, there is every reason to have an automatic clause to lower our costs.
While our share is between, I think he said, six and eight per cent of the costs, that's usually of the cost of the wood at the mill, not of the manufactured product leaving the mill. In fact, in the pulp industry I’m told that the crown dues are probably closer to one and a half per cent, or thereabouts, of the total value of the manufactured product. I think one would have to look at that and say, therefore, an increase of something under five per cent, which we’re estimating, in crown dues this year will not materially affect their competitiveness.
However, it will leave us with a varying charge, one not subject to a 15-year or a 10-year variation. If one looks back across our history of making discreet changes, it is one of prolonged lapses in between, going back to 1917 when the charges were introduced.
I will save my comments on the question of regulations versus statutes, because we will have time to debate that when we’re in committee, save to say perhaps one should look at tradition and see the type of amendment you have proposed doesn’t fit in with the principles of our bills in the past. I will, I hope, have some data to back that up when I’m in committee, but my legal counsel assures me that it has not been traditional to introduce the kind of automatic requirement to produce legislation annually following the Treasurer’s budget.
Secondly, while it is true many things are relegated to regulation, when one looks at the time of this House and the problems of getting through even the legislation it is faced with in today’s complex world, I wonder where, in committee or in the House in the whole, we would ever have the time to deal with the many, many volumes of things coming through in the regulatory sense.
Mr. Foulds: We have a committee.
Mr. Nixon: We do legislation two hours a week.
Hon. F. S. Miller: We would be glad to discuss that with you.
Mr. Foulds: So would we.
Mr. Nixon: What is the big backlog? You’ve got nothing on the order paper here that is pushing at all. What kind of an argument is that?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Nixon: Boy, this government hasn’t got a legislative program at all. Sorry, go ahead, but don’t give us the impression we’re jammed up with legislation.
Mr. Foulds: We bring in every tax bill with the budget.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Would the honourable minister continue?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I had a whole series of thoughts flowing through my head, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Nixon: Now they are gone.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Unfortunately they get stopped in your mouth.
Hon. F. S. Miller: They’ve gone down the river of time, bubbling along, but it’s one of those few days that my common sense overruled my tongue. It doesn’t in my dress.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That is almost daily.
Mr. Foulds: That was just your how tie that got in the way.
Hon. F. S. Miller: To say to the member for Port Arthur that is would be impossible to accept his procedures from an administrative point of view would not be true. Costly in terms of time and perhaps in dollars, yes. I have to argue that in the British system of government the responsibility does rest with the government overall. We feel we should retain that system and keep the amendments brought before the House to those needed to reflect principles rather than detail.
That’s all, Mr. Speaker. I would like to --
Mr. Foulds: No taxation without legislation.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Can I ask a question of the minister?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: It really isn’t the appropriate time.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I always try to be reasonable.
Ms. T. P. Reid: I appreciate that. Is it the minister’s intention to table the contracts he enters into with various timber companies fur a regeneration and management contract in the House when they are signed and completed?
Hon. F. S. Miller: No, my thinking hasn’t gone that far. I have no objection to tabling them providing I am nut offering competitive information to other members of the industry. I don’t think I would be and therefore off the top of my head, I would have no objection. But if in fact we enter into agreements which are, like many contracts, of a confidential nature, I might have some difficulty. I could get some advice at that time as to whether or not I would be breaching the confidentiality of one company versus another.
However, the amendment you are giving us permission to introduce would come a long way towards allowing us to sign certain agreements, particularly on things like modified harvest methods and so on.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
ONTARIO STUDENT HOUSING CORPORATION ACT
Hon. Mr. Bennett moved second reading of Bill 90, An Act respecting the Ontario Student Housing Corporation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does the honourable minister have an opening statement?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: No, Mr. Speaker I think all the remarks in relationship to the necessity of the bill were made at the time of its introduction back on May 18. This clearly outlined the number of units at present under the student housing corporation; there are 2,700 single or for married couples, and 9,500 bed units supplied by the Ontario Student Housing Corporation. I might only add that at this moment the same members of the Ontario Housing Corporation also constitute the board of the Ontario Student Housing Corporation. So we are putting it together to clear up one agency.
Mr. Hall: The hill seems to be just a tidying-up affair as far as I’m concerned. I have been given to understand there have been no new units built since 1974 and primarily it is an attempt to consolidate a relatively static organization under the umbrella of a relatively identical organization. At any rate, our research people have checked with the Ontario Federation of Students and were given to understand that so long as the shift would have no adverse effect on students currently living in OSHC units, they are not aware of any problems that might be created.
I would only ask the minister, if he has not already checked on this matter, to make certain and commit to the House there would be no adverse effects on those already occupying the units. Other than that, we can support this minor housekeeping change.
Mr. Dukszta: The NDP does not so much support the bill, as not oppose it. It may be a play on words but how can we oppose the bill and how can we oppose transferring a corporation like OSHC to OHC, since that particular group has done absolutely nothing in the last three years?
The need for student housing has not changed, hut as Mr. Hall has pointed out no new units have been built since 1974. There has not been a report since 1976. There is only a group in the ministry which in the past has attempted to co-operate with the universities in terms of development, in producing some kind of a program for building housing. The whole idea of the last three years has been an absurdity. An absurdity because the government has in fact moved to remove themselves from any intervention needed in student housing.
If you move that non-existent group, which already has been consigned to oblivion, to another group like OHC which is, according to all information, consigned to oblivion by the government, we accomplish absolutely nothing. I hope Mr. Hall is quite right and that the minister will think seriously in terms of the need for student buildings. However, I don’t believe that it will he accomplished in the Ontario Housing Corporation, because we have had all those intimations that they are not going to do any more building and haven’t done any much-needed building for people generally in Ontario, to start with. What can I say, except that I agree: we go from nothing to nothing. As they say in Poland, “Z pustego w prózne”; from empty into a void.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask a question: I would like to know, if this transfer takes place, will it then automatically become in Metro Toronto, for example, part of the package, which is moving to Metro?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I’d make it very clear to the member for Lincoln that there will be no adverse effects on the student population --
Mr. McClellan: Will there be any beneficial effects?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- and there will be no adverse effects on those who are currently employed in the maintenance and management of those structures. It is a matter of transferring the assets over to the Ontario Housing Corporation.
To answer the question of the member for St. George, that will be part of the discussion that will take place at some later date with the Toronto people as to how the overall housing package in this community, particularly in Toronto, will be handled. It is one of the areas that will come under rather close scrutiny in the next several months with the social planning committee in Metropolitan Toronto and indeed with my meetings with the chairman of Metro to see how they wish this portion of it handled.
The member for Parkdale couldn’t oppose the bill -- I am not saying he is supporting it -- and he went on to say that we have not been providing housing for students since 1974; which is absolutely correct. The fact is that Ontario Housing and the Ontario Student Housing Corporation have responded to requests for housing by universities or com munities. Since there have been no requests from universities or communities for further student housing, it wouldn’t seem very logical that the Ontario Student Housing Corporation should impose itself upon a community which has a responsibility to pick up a portion of the loss factor in the operation of the structures. Clearly, with the student population going down, it would also seem to indicate to us that the need for more student housing accommodation does not exist at this time.
In closing, I say the bill will tidy up the situation and will put all the assets and management control in the hands of the Ontario Housing Corporation. To answer once again the member for St. George’s point, at some later date it could very well see it transferred into the package of the housing authorities across Ontario, including Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
BUILDING CODE AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Pope, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Grossman, moved second reading of Bill 91, An Act to amend the Building Code Act, 1974.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Does the parliamentary assistant have an opening statement?
Mr. Pope: No, Mr. Speaker.
Mrs. Campbell: Doesn’t anybody know anything about the bill?
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, the only item in this bill that is of particular interest to me is with respect to the matter of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and the comment made that any builder defined under that act and who is not registered under that act would no longer be able to receive a building permit. I presume, from the notes in the explanation, that should have had added to it the following words “on a new home.” In other words, the whole permit structure is one that allows for a variety of permits for a variety of purposes. I would expect then that only a new home is the area in which this requirement for definition actually relates.
The other items deal with some particular changes concerning the activities and opportunities for decision to be made by the chief official or the inspector, however that person is defined in the various communities. It would seem to me that the other items are really of a housekeeping nature.
If the parliamentary assistant is able to explain this point I have raised concerning the warranty plan situation with respect to a builder I would think that we can deal with the bill quite promptly and we would support it.
Mr. M. N. Davison: It’s perhaps unfortunate that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Grossman) isn’t able to be with us today.
Mr. McClellan: He’s at the ball park, drinking beer.
Mr. M. N. Davison: That’s meant as no adverse comment on his fine parliamentary assistant. I say that because there are some very difficult matters related to this bill and some sections that are less than clear to which we have to address ourselves.
By and large, the bill meets with the approval of the New Democratic caucus. We will, therefore, be supporting it on second reading.
We do, however, have some very serious reservations about a couple of aspects of the bill. If the parliamentary assistant, in the absence of the minister, is not able to respond to those concerns it would appear that it will be necessary for our party, during committee stage, to move amendments to the legislation to seek the clarification we require.
I understand that an arrangement has been made that this bill will not proceed to the committee stage today. So if it does become necessary for my party to offer amendments to this bill there will be some time for us to circulate those proposed amendments to the minister or the parliamentary assistant and to the critic from the official opposition, and we will do so.
A number of the amendments proposed in the bill are quite simply housekeeping measures, and as far as those are concerned we have no great difficulty with any of them. There are four major changes. Of the four we find ourselves quite able and willing to support two of them.
The first is the question of the fines levied upon conviction being paid to the municipality concerned, not to the provincial Treasurer -- that is meant as no reflection on the way in which the Treasurer spends his money -- and we think that’s a worthwhile approach. We can also agree with the other major amendment which provides for the building official to designate certain areas of buildings which must be kept open until inspection. If he should arrive at the scene and find that those sections of the building are closed, he can order them opened up again at the builder’s expense. That also meets with our approval.
The other two major changes present something of a problem. The third major change is the extension of the time for which charges for contravention can be laid under the act. That has been extended from six months to one year. We realize that is the appropriate direction to take, but we really can’t see a very good reason why we couldn’t extend that period longer. Perhaps two years would be a more suitable length of time. Unless the parliamentary assistant has a fairly clear, reasonable and sensible argument to make for one year as opposed to two years, I would suspect our caucus will put forward an amendment to extend that period further than the one suggested by this bill.
The other area is the question of the municipal chief official being empowered to refuse the issuance of a building permit where a builder of a residence is not registered under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. That was the matter that was referred to earlier in this debate by the critic for the official opposition. The concern I have deals by and large with those people who would find themselves unable to purchase a new home because of the incapacity of this government to provide affordable housing for its citizens who are then forced to build their own home in an effort to obtain such accommodation for their families.
As I understand the intent of this change to the act -- and I really hope I’m wrong -- it implies that while an individual would still be a builder by the definition of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, that is “a person who undertakes the performance of all the work and the supply of all the materials necessary to construct a completed home whether for the purpose of sale by himself or under a contract with a vendor or owner,” that individual by my understanding would be placed in a position where the chief municipal officer could quite rightly refuse him or her a permit to build a home.
Frankly, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me that a person should have to be a member of HUDAC, or be specially considered or recommended by HUDAC, before being permitted to build a home.
Obviously, there are certain protections under the building code. People are not allowed to go out and build shacks that are going to cave in the next day -- although when you see some of the homes that are built by supposedly reputable builders you wonder about how strictly the code is considered by some builders. I think that people who have built their own home have put very special effort into it and have by and large probably built better homes than they could buy on the market from some of the people we allow to build homes.
I would like very much to have the parliamentary assistant clear that matter up so we are not putting people in this province in the position where they will be denied building permits when they try to build their own home as a means of putting a roof over the family’s head since the government, through the Ministry of Housing and in other ways, has made it so difficult for them that they have no other alternative.
Finally, there are two other matters I would like to raise with the parliamentary assistant at this point in time. One of them concerns what we are going to define as a building. I understand that certain municipalities have enacted their own bylaws which have the effect of defining an excavated hole with the beginning of a basement in it as something that needs to have a fence around it. But I’m not sure that we’ve really picked up on that quickly enough with the building code to make it incumbent on people to recognize the danger to public safety caused by those kinds of partial buildings. I hope that the parliamentary assistant will know whether or not be thinks the legislation does in fact do that.
The other matter I am curious about is the effect that the change in legislation would have in the ease of the holder of a building permit found by the inspector or chief official to be in contravention of the building code. Would it allow a party to the dispute to apply to the building code commission for a hearing and determination of the question? Could the parliamentary assistant tell me whether it would require construction to be halted until the building code commission arrived at a conclusion or would the person be allowed to continue building, finish the building before he got to the building code commission and then find out that he shouldn’t have been building the budding anyway? That’s a question I would like to have clarified before we proceed much further.
Mr. Speaker, I won’t continue. There are a number of my colleagues who have very serious concerns about areas of this legislation and I suspect they will address themselves to that. I hope the parliamentary assistant will remember the questions I’ve raised and offer me some responses when he concludes the debate on this bill.
Mr. McClellan: I wanted to take the opportunity to make a few remarks about one of the main things this bill does. In section 3, it excludes builders who are not registered under the HUDAC home warranties program from the possibility of obtaining a building permit.
At the conclusion of questions today I introduced a petition on behalf of 325 people who had purchased homes from Pastoria Holdings. Some of the members who have been here longer than I have will remember Pastoria Holdings and Rembrandt Homes as perhaps the most exotic of the construction industry Tipoff artists. It was probably the excesses of Pastoria Holdings and its associated companies that really led to the pressure which resulted in the government having to bring in a home warranty program of sorts. This bill purports then to extend home warranty protection even further. But I’m not sure how much protection the people of this province can expect from the HUDAC scheme. We’re in the crazy position of having no recourse but to support the bill and the provision that extends the inclusionary powers of the HUDAC scheme, but we have doubts about how much protection it actually offers to anybody.
If I could take a little trip down memory lane, I have a quote from the Globe and Mail in April 1975 which describes some houses built by Pastoria Holdings Limited. I’m quoting: “Owners of the houses showed him” -- “him” is Frank Drea, Mr. Speaker -- “leaking roofs and crooked floors and said they’d been unable to get repairs from I the builder. Mr. Drea, who walked around the houses poking holes in concrete floors and muttering such things as ‘Jesus’ said he hoped the new provincial legislation would prevent a repetition of this kind. Mr. Drea was shown cracks in the walls and floors, doors that would not close, floors that were not level, nails coming through the ceiling, leaks around the windows and through the roofs.”
The Globe and Mail in April 1976 describes the wonderful product of this marvellous company. The owners, members of the Rembrandt Home Owners’ Association, banded together some four or five years ago to try to obtain redress from the shoddy and disgraceful violation of normal business ethics I to which they’d been subjected. “They complained of faulty roofs, poor insulation, faulty ceilings against the ingress of water, the use of a wooden beam or steel was specified, sagging floors an off-centre pillar and a concrete basement floor in which a dog could dig holes.”
What’s so interesting is that Pastoria Holdings is registered under the HUDAC home warranty scheme today. It was registered when the scheme was brought in and if Pastoria Holdings -- as I said, the ripoff artists of all time -- can be registered under the HUDAC home warranty program, what protection does the extension of the HUDAC program give to anybody?
What use is the section in this bill that extends a home warranty program that can cover a company like Pastoria Holdings? Pastoria Holdings’ little episodes don’t end with the fact that 325 people are again petitioning the Legislature today for redress of the grievance that they have been stuck with a shoddy house.
In August 1977, we find Pastoria Holdings hauled in front of county court, charged and convicted on two counts of violation of the Combines Investigation Act. After their convictions, they remained registered under the HUDAC home warranty program.
We have raised this matter in the past. What good is this kind of home warranty program to anybody? I really don’t know and I don’t know what good the extension of this kind of a home warranty program does for anybody. The principle of the bill in the extract is certainly sensible, that building permits should only be issued to commercial builders who are registered or enrolled in some kind of a viable consumer protection warranty scheme. Unfortunately we don’t have that in Ontario. It would be nice if we got it some day. So far we don’t have it.
The parliamentary assistant who is sending a blizzard of notes to his officials off in the wings, clearly doesn’t have the slightest idea what this bill is about. It’s a shame the minister has taken a powder for the afternoon --
Mr. Makarchuk: He wouldn’t have any idea what it’s about either.
Mr. McClellan: -- but I am sure that the blizzard of notes will --
Mr. Nixon: I think that’s unfair. Mr. McClellan: -- come back and increase the knowledge of the parliamentary assistant a thousand-fold --
Mr. J. Reed: Cast your bread upon the water.
Mr. McClellan: -- and then he can answer some of the questions that we are putting to him on both sides.
Mr. Nixon: The only snow job we are getting is from the honourable member.
Mr. McClellan: The honourable former leader of the Liberal Party should recall that it was his colleague from Armourdale who was the champion of the Rembrandt Home Owners’ Association whose cause I alluded to only seconds ago.
Mr. Nixon: Are you referring to a well-known judge?
Mr. McClellan: The very one, yes, the very judge himself.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Would the member please address himself to the bill?
Mr. McClellan: Indeed I will. I want to know whether section 3 has the effect of forcing a person who is building his own home or doing a job on his own home himself into the HUDAC scheme. I doubt if that is intended by the ministry but we are not clear whether the legislation as it’s written forces the do-it-yourself builder to be enrolled in the HUDAC scheme. If that’s the case, I am sure the ministry would want to make the necessary amendments.
Mr. Makarchuk: There are a few matters of concern to me which have been brought to my attention by municipal officials who pointed out that the bill is half baked perhaps, in some of its approaches as compared to what it could do. It seems to me if the minister is going to introduce legislation, he should have consulted with the municipal people in the province --
Mr. M. N. Davison: It’s likely that he did.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- and then brought in a more adequate bill. One of the problems pointed out to me is the fact that the bill does not provide any means for dealing with buildings that are partially constructed and then abandoned.
As an example, and this is a situation that has developed in my community, a builder can obtain mortgage funds, put in basements, in this case 45 basements or holes have been dug and cement has been poured, and then depart, leaving the mess to sit there. As a result, the basements have become filled. There’s about three or four feet of water in many cases. The children in the neighbourhood are congregating and there have been two or three near-drownings. If the parents aren’t alert and the children aren’t warned off, there could be a drowning.
The municipality, in an effort to try and do something about it, found they have no legislation to enforce any kind of action on the part of the existing owner, who has departed but who still owns the property, to remedy the situation. They’ve exhausted every legal means.
The definition of the building in section 6(4) of the bill should probably be expanded to include that a startup or any kind of act on the part of the construction firm would be considered as part of the building, giving the official an opportunity to deal with the problems I have outlined.
Also of concern is section 9 which says, “No proceeding under this section shall be commenced more than one year after the time when the subject matter of the proceedings arose.” This is too short a time.
It takes most people some time to understand what is going on when they get settled into a home. It takes time for buildings to settle, and they do settle. It takes time for faults to appear in buildings, and they do appear. It takes time for people even to discover the fact that most of the walls or the ceiling have only partial insulation. These are the kinds of things people who have just bought their first home are not aware of. As a result, they are in a difficult position at this time, even with the HUDAC warranty, to take any kind of action.
As my colleague pointed out, HUDAC is not working. They have no way of getting back at the builder. They could probably go through some lengthy legal case which would involve a great deal of money, but it’s difficult to get at the original builder. In many eases he may have operated under one corporate shell; he put the houses up, the corporate shell was dissolved, he proceeded to acquire another corporate shell and away he went on another project. The people are left holding the bag.
This bill should have provided some protection. It could have been an opportunity for the minister to provide better protection for people who are acquiring homes. It also could have given the municipalities more power. The reason I’m advocating more power for the municipalities in this case is the fact that the HUDAC plan isn’t working. It’s not working as it should or in the way it was envisaged.
Hopefully, the people on the municipal level will then have the power to enforce new standards to get back at the builders. If necessary, take some action against the builders who may want to continue building in the municipality by withholding their building permit until such time as they have remedied a previous situation. This is just one of the means available.
In general, we intend to support the bill. But I hope the parliamentary assistant can explain to us what he intends to do about the matters raised. If not, we will be introducing amendments to the bill to bring it more in line with what we think are legitimate reasons or legitimate complaints or concerns on our part.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to debate Bill 91? If not, the member for Cochrane South.
Mr. Pope: I regret the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) isn’t present. Having offered the opinion I didn’t know what the bill was about, he proceeded to leave the Legislature.
With respect to the problem of excavations, I would have to know the specific municipality concerned. I would say that this government has been attempting to encourage municipalities to pass maintenance and occupancy bylaws primarily by attaching them to the Neighbourhood Improvement Program. I think an examination of the standard maintenance and occupancy bylaw that was provided to most municipalities would cover the kind of situation they are referring to.
Mr. Makarchuk: They have the bylaw and it doesn’t touch it.
Mr. Pope: It has been dealt with in that manner in other municipalities. I would also reply to the question concerning the time period for proceedings under the act. The six-month limitation arose from the fact that there was reference made to the Summary Convictions Act. Prior to the reference to the Summary Convictions Act there was a one-year limitation on prosecution. It was felt at the request of the municipalities themselves that the one-year time period should be reintroduced.
I must emphasize that there has been extensive consultation with the municipalities, the various building inspectors and their organizations throughout the province of Ontario. As the minister mentioned in his opening statement in the Legislature when he introduced this bill for first reading, it is the result of their requests and the substantial number of meetings that have been held since this legislation was first passed in 1974 that these proposed amendments have been brought forward.
There are ongoing consultations with the construction industry, the building inspectors and the municipalities. When specific problems arise, the government has shown its willingness to bring forth legislation to attempt to resolve these problems. I don’t think it’s fair to say that there has been no consultation because the record will show that there has been extensive consultation and there is ongoing consultation.
The primary problem that has been raised by the honourable members relates to section 3(1) of the bill. It states: “Subsection 1 of section 6 of the said act is amended by striking out ‘or’ at the end of clause (a) and by adding thereto the following clause (aa) the applicant is a builder as defined in the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, 1976 and is not registered under that act’.”
That act defines “builder” as follows:
“Builder means a person who undertakes the performance of all the work and supply of all the materials necessary to construct a completed home whether a vendor or owner.” It’s my interpretation, and I think the interpretation of the ministry concerned, that that does not include an individual who is building his own home for occupancy by himself.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Does that then mean he can’t sell a house, once he’s built it?
Mr. Pope: Again, I suppose, we get into an argument, under the Act to provide certain Protections for Purchasers of New Homes as to when the triggering-in period would be. Quite frankly, I’m not here to debate the HUDAC program with the different complaints that have been made about various companies operating under that program or the definition of that act. I just would say that if the home is being built by an individual for occupancy by himself -- and I assume there would be some test involved -- then he is not caught by that act.
Mr. M. N. Davison: It’s going to have to be clearer because that means that if you build your own house you can’t sell it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. This is not a question-and-answer period. It’s second reading of Bill 91.
Mr. Makarchuk: We’re just suggesting.
Mr. M. N. Davison: We’re trying to help the parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Pope: I understand that the members are trying to help the parliamentary assistant. All I can tell them is that as interpreted the act would not apply to individuals who are budding their own homes. I assumed that was the problem being raised here, not the problem of someone trying to circumvent the HUDAC program by building homes for themselves ostensibly and then at some subsequent time turning it over. I thought the concern was, on the other hand, that members were concerned about an individual who’s building a home for himself perhaps being restricted from obtaining the necessary building permit because he was not registered.
What I am saying is that that is covered because the interpretation that has been given to the definition of builder in the act does not include someone who is building a home for himself. Therefore, that problem has been met.
The problem was not raised in the comments by the honourable members as to someone circumventing the act. That is another issue. I think that answers the problem of the individual builder. I would also say [that there are two separate and distinct tests that have been proposed as a result of this amendment. I would refer to them.
Section 6(1) of the act says: “The chief official shall issue a permit except where the proposed building or the proposed construction or demolition will not comply with this act or the building code or will contravene any other applicable law.” There is another section with another test. The applicant as a builder is defined in the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, 1976 and is not registered under that act.
Even if the HUDAC plan would apply to the builder, he would also have to adhere to the provisions of the building code. When he files his plans and specifications for the construction project itself, that would be something that the chief official could refuse to issue his building permit for. I believe that that might answer some of the problems with respect to repair because I would remind the honourable members that the definition of construction in section 1(e) of the act is fairly broad to include repairs.
I would say that with these two tests in section 6 and, in addition, the filing of the drawings, plans and specifications there is adequate safeguard and adequate tests set out for the chief official to exercise his discretion for the protection of a prospective purchaser of a new home, namely, that the building permit has been issued after the chief official has been satisfied that the provisions of the building code, as passed by regulation and as amended from time to time by consultation with the chief officials, with the building inspectors and with the various organizations in the construction associations, have been complied with. I believe that the building code itself contains safeguards for new homes and that they are being enforced in this province.
Getting back for a moment towards the extension of time period, I think there has to be some cutoff date for prosecutions under this act and that at some point in time the maintenance and occupancy bylaws have to be triggered and prosecutions take place under that act. We are also talking in some instances about failure to obey orders to comply or stop-work orders. If there has been a failure to obey a stop-work order, application could he made to the courts to compel work to stop. There is also a provision for a fine under the act for failure to obey that order. In that instance, the past practice, from my own knowledge, has been that a court order will be issued compelling the builder to stop work on the project. There hasn’t been a history of a delay problem where there has been a refusal by a builder to obey a stop-work order.
With respect to orders for compliances there has not been a history of any problem that might take the time period beyond the one-year limitation period. Orders for compliance have a different role from the stop-work order. I think we are talking about major problems in construction where it is normal for a stop-work order to he issued. If that is disobeyed, then there are other procedures that are regularly taken in order to force the contractor to stop building.
There is a legitimate concern that work might be carried on when there has been a breach of the building code, but I think in practice it has been taken care of by the procedures set out in the Building Code Act and by other remedies that are available to the municipalities and others who might seek redress. I think that the one year limitation has been suggested to the ministry by the municipalities and by the other associations and organizations concerned with the enforcement of this act. It is in response to their suggestions that this solution has been arrived at of reverting back to the one year limit program.
I hope I have answered the concerns of the members. I’m sorry I wasn’t aware there had been arrangements not to refer this to committee today, but I am advised that it is so. We will proceed, if there are no further questions, to second reading and deal in perhaps a little more detailed way with these matters in committee.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
MUNICIPAL AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 80, An Act to amend the Municipal Act.
Mr. Ashe: As the honourable members know, these amendments to the Municipal Act, the principal components thereof, are to recognize the recent changes in the Municipal Elections Act, These brought about the change in the election date, the change in the commencement date of the term of office; many of the amendments contained within Bill 80, in effect are a followup of that.
There is also an amendment that will enable the council to assign responsibility to a committee of the council for holding public hearings. This came as a response to requests from numerous municipalities throughout the province.
There is also an amendment proposed to broaden the municipal authority to establish their own form of remuneration, both directly and also for the reimbursement of expenses for members of council and local boards who are appointees of the respective councils. As a followup to that, there is a responsibility for the municipal treasurer to publicly table a document at the end of February of each year showing the actual expenses and remuneration paid to each member of council during the preceding calendar and fiscal year, and all members of boards appointed by that council.
There is also an amendment to allow the municipalities to clarify how and why municipalities could temporarily close roads. There is authority given to municipalities to establish bicycle paths and also to establish bicycle lanes. There is also a much sought-after allowance within the amendments proposed in Bill 80 to allow municipalities to insure municipal employees for liability in the carrying out of their duties. There is also an expansion of the definition of fire routes to include parking that has previously been known as “parking lot areas.”
There are also many other minor changes to remove imperial measurement units from the act. Rather than convert these units in the omnibus metric conversion bill, it is felt in many instances that the relevant imperial measurement units are really not necessary in any measurement form; therefore, they are being deleted.
Mr. Epp: I would like to speak to these bills. Although the parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer has not indicated that there are a series of hills here, as everyone knows in the next hour or so we are going to be dealing with Bills 80, 81, 82, 83 and 84, all of them essentially dealing with the same items but as they appear in different statutes or different acts which this Legislature has passed over the years. We are responding to the Municipal Elections Act which this Legislature passed last fall. It incorporated into it a number of important amendments, such as the change of the election date to November and also a number of other complementary amendments to that particular change.
At that time, this House didn’t see the wisdom of a few important amendments I made with respect to citizenship being the only qualification for being an elector at municipal elections or the lengthening Of the term for municipal candidates; but I presume in the not too distant future the House will see the wisdom cii those particular amendments and have an opportunity to adopt them.
With the passing of the Municipal Elections Act, 1977, a number of changes and therefore amendments are required, and my party is going to support those changes in principle.
Later on there may be one or two amendments suggested by the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), and we will listen very closely to what he has to say in support of those amendments to see whether or not they require our support.
I can appreciate that there have been a lot of amendments come forth over the last number of years, suggestions from the 835 municipalities across the province of Ontario. Some of the amendments or suggestions made by municipalities have been incorporated into the five bills before us.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the many other amendments recommended by the various municipalities, which have gone either directly to the government or to the government via the Association of Municipalities of Ontario or one of the other municipal associations.
There are probably other amendments or other suggestions made that warrant our support but the government has chosen at this time not to incorporate them in the act.
We see this bill essentially as a housekeeping bill. I was going to list some of the amendments. The parliamentary assistant to the Treasurer, has done an admirable job in listing some of the changes incorporated in Bill 80 and I am sure he will list some of those incorporated into the other bills coming before us.
With respect to Bill 83, which deals with Metropolitan Toronto, we could have an opportunity to change the election of the chairman of Metro Council. This could be a very important amendment in that it would limit the choice to the members of regional council at each election.
Only a few weeks ago our party took a very strong position that when the government brought its response to the Robarts report, brought in legislation based on the Robarts report, we would make an amendment to that act, and we hold to that commitment. As soon as the government sees fit to bring in that particular act we will move that the regional chairman he an elected person.
The way it now stands, the person could be a chairman of the regional municipality or Metro Toronto without ever holding an elected office. We feel that is somewhat inequitable. We feel it is shortsighted and the government has not indicated that they are going to change that. It is incumbent upon us to make that change and we feel at that time the government will see the wisdom of our suggestion and support us.
It is obvious that the chairman should be an elected person because, as we have seen in the past, in some instances the person didn’t even live within the municipality, as was the case in Sudbury. He was picked out of Toronto and made chairman in Sudbury; which I think was unfair to the people of the Sudbury municipality at that time. We think that particular principle should apply to Toronto as well as to other municipalities.
We will support this bill in principle as well as the others. I await the comments of the member for Welland-Thorold with respect to the few amendments he has to propose.
Mr. Swart: The debates on all of the bills this afternoon seem to have been rather harmonious and orderly, though they may have been a little critical now and then. Perhaps I can continue that harmony by saying that the bill which we have before us, Bill 80, is going to be supported by us. I think every clause in the bill makes an improvement in municipal operations.
Mind you, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that some of them may be long overdue. I have to say that some could be further improved and that some have been forced on the government by the changes in the Municipal Elections Act. Having said all of that, I would say they do make improvements and they all have some merit. I think it’s true to say in general it gives more authority and more autonomy to local municipalities.
The parliamentary assistant to the minister will know that I have submitted a number of amendments. In fact, it’s really only one amendment, which I’m sure he’ll find out. I apologize for not getting that to him and to the municipal affairs critic for the Liberal Party until noon today. When I heard in a previous debate that the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller) hadn’t got his amendment out in the time required I didn’t feel quite so guilty about not having done that.
As I say, we support this bill. The parliamentary assistant has outlined many of the provisions of the bill. Many of them are necessary to change the date of the first meeting of the municipal councils, whether they be local councils, county councils or regional councils. The qualifications for the candidates at municipal elections are also defined in this bill. I have to say I’m very pleased to see that at least the candidates in municipal elections are going to have to be qualified voters, even though the Municipal Elections Act permitted their nominators in some circumstances to be other than qualified voters. It’s nice to know that at least the people who are going to represent us on council have to be qualified voters.
I want to say that I, personally, and my party, strongly support sections 21 and 22 which give municipalities full authority on determining the remuneration and the amount of expenses that are going to be paid to municipal councils and to the local boards of the municipal councils. I’m particularly pleased that clause 389(d) provides for public disclosure of the amount of money and expenses paid to members of council and boards. There’s always difficulty in determining what may be legitimate expenditures because of differences in the necessary expenditures as between members of a council or between members of this provincial Legislature. All of us know that when the expense reports come out on members of the Legislature that the fact that one person has spent a lot more than another does a disservice to some of those members of the Legislature who may not have tie-lines to every area in the municipality and so on. In spite of that, it is terribly important that the public know what remuneration and what expense money their elected officials get, in spite of the dangers of there being some misinterpretation because all of the information cannot be given. That is accomplished in this bill.
I have listed here, as did both the parliamentary assistant and the member for Waterloo North (‘Mr. Epp), the changes that are going to be made by this act, but I am not going to enumerate those. I just want to say that the amendment which we will propose in second reading expresses some concern with the short limitations in this bill relative to the time in which a municipal council may pass bylaws to change the composition of council or to the minimum time prior to election, where ratepayers may petition the council, and the council may then submit that to the electors. The 10-day period prior to the posting of the notices of the candidates, I suggest is just not sufficient. Let me give one example to members of this House to show what it would mean.
A county council could pass a bylaw which would prohibit deputy reeves from sitting on county council. It has that authority. This act would provide that the council must pass that bylaw not later than 10 days prior to the posting of notices of the offices which will be up for election in the municipality in any given year. Those are posted seven days before the last nomination day. This means a county council could decide that it was going to remove all deputy reeves from the county council 17 days prior to the last day that a person could be nominated as a deputy reeve. You may say that’s adequate time for candidates to make up their minds as to whether they want to run for deputy reeve, but I suggest there is another aspect to this.
The other aspect is that if a county council decides to do this, there should be some time in there for input from the public to that county council. I am not suggesting that a great many county councils would do this -- perhaps none would do this -- but if we are going to set up these time limits, and we have not had them before, then I think they should be adequate for public input, to give people time for some thought to this. Surely to require that it be 30 days instead of 10 days is a reasonable proposal.
The same thing holds true of the people who wish to petition a council to change the composition of the council. They may no longer want wards, for instance. If they make a petition to that council, there may be a great many people there that evening -- and I have been through these kinds of things many times myself -- and the council will pass a bylaw. There may be others within the municipality, when it comes out that the council has passed that bylaw who want to have their input too. They will go to the next council meeting but it could well be too late, because the machinery will have already been under way to have the vote taken at the municipal election.
I hope the parliamentary assistant perhaps will agree to have this included. It seems reasonable to give more adequate time for public discussion before the actual changes are made or before the council passes a bylaw which can’t be reversed because the ballots are already being printed or something else of that nature. I admit, quite frankly, this doesn’t happen very often but, if we are going to put these time limits in, then I think the time limits should be reasonable.
Mr. Speaker, as I say, I think there are I six or seven amendments which all do exactly the same thing but they apply to different sections of the bill and in some instances they apply to counties, other cities, other towns, other villages and townships. With that one exception, we will be supporting the bill as it is presented here.
Mr. Ashe: I appreciate the support received from the members opposite. It’s refreshing to know that things are going to go so smoothly.
Mr. Foulds: Don’t tease the bear.
Mr. Ashe: The member for Waterloo North brought in some questions and comments relating actually to Bill 83. As the Speaker knows we are at the moment only speaking regarding Bill 80, albeit there’s no doubt that 80 to 84 do have some overlapping similar sections. We’ll leave the further comments and response relating to Bill 83 and the regional chairman until the appropriate time.
The member for Welland-Thorold spoke about some amendments and the fact that they came a little late. They sure have, because I still don’t have them, so obviously we can’t deal with them today. Through the medium of the telephone I have some idea of what they’re about I might make him feel a little better to say that based on the gist of what we got on the telephone, we probably don’t have any great problem with them.
On the time period of 10 days, relating to changes that might come about through the composition of the county council or other changes that come about because of petitions to council, the 10 days came about and we felt it was reasonable. As the honourable member has already acknowledged, it virtually never happens. We do have at least one situation that prompted the placing of a time period at all. That relates to a county council which, based on the old regulations, passed a bylaw in county council excluding deputy reeves following an election, a right they previously had. That was finally acknowledged even by that council to be somewhat unfair and they postponed the implementation of the decision for two years. That solved the problem.
That’s why :thee was a time period put in. If the honourable members feel that 30 days is better than 10 days, that’s fine. You could practically put in any time you want. As the member for Welland-Thorold already acknowledged, it virtually isn’t used anyway. We just felt some protection should be in there. I suppose it can just as legitimately be 30 days as 10 days.
With those few responses, I think it’s in order possibly to put the motion to second reading.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 81, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Regional Municipalities.
Mr. Ashe: Bill 81 does many of the things we spoke about in the Municipal Act. I think the primary consideration to do with the remaining bills, 81 through to 84, is that they in no way purport to be reactions on the implementation or otherwise of the majoring restructuring reports that have been tabled with the government. Those will be coming forward separately. They are not being overlooked. They were just not to be, and are not part of, these particular pieces of legislation.
In Bill 81 there are, as well certain parts of the planning sections of various region I al municipalities being clarified. Finally, there are some amendments in the bill to effect certain requested changes to a few of the regional municipalities in very specific terms.
Mr. Stong: In speaking to Bill 81, I have discussed this matter with our critic and we are supporting this bill in principle. How.. ever, there are two concerns arising with respect to the section as it deals with the regional municipality of York, and amendments will be offered by myself in committee stage. We will be asking that section 27 he amended because although I believe it arises out of a typographical error, it is short one council member to conform with what the town of Markham has already proposed and done. The total in section 27 should be 10 members rather than nine members; the mayor and 10 members rather than the mayor and nine members.
This was conveyed to the ministry by the town of Markham pursuant to a letter, and :the information I have received was that they were informed that is one amendment that will be offered in committee. Those are basically my remarks. We are in agreement in principle with what Bill 81 purports to do.
Mr. Swart: As we did with Bill 80, we are supporting this bill too. In fact, I have no amendment to this bill. By and large, the thought that has gone into this bill has been good. The method of determining that remuneration being paid to the regional council shall be exactly on the same basis of self-determination, and in fact incorporating the sections of the Municipal Act into this net is the sensible way to do it, rather than having two separate interpretations as was the case before between the Municipal Act and the acts of the regional municipalities.
I draw particular attention to that move, because the same policy wasn’t followed in the amendments to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act. I would like to see it, and when that comes up we’ll be moving the amendment to have it conform with the changes in all the other regional municipalities.
This bill removes the prohibition for paying regional council members on police commissions from the section, but doesn’t automatically provide that they shall be paid on that police commission. The determination is left up to the regional council. Having sat on a regional council for a number of years and having two members from there sitting on the police commission, I realize they had no heavier work load than the other members of regional council, because although they sat on the police commission they didn’t sit on the works committee or some other committee in regional council, so the work load was levelled off. Any regional council should be able to give this kind of consideration to whether members of council who are sifting on outside local boards should receive special remuneration because they sit on those boards.
This bill leaves that decision to the regional council and this is the way it should be.
I would ask the parliamentary assistant, I’m not sure whether he’s just stepped out, if he could comment on the matter raised by the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong), because I, too, was wondering exactly on what basis one additional member was added for Markham. The population figures seem to indicate Markham might be entitled to more than one additional member when their population has reached 60,000 which I guess, is close to being double of that of any other municipality in that region. Perhaps somebody will convey the question to him when he returns to his seat.
I would also like to ask the parliamentary assistant if the purpose for extending the time from April 1 to July 1 in the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton with regard to the red vision of municipalities into subdivisions is in anticipation of change in municipal boundaries because of a bill which may come in relative to carrying out the white paper proposals in the Ottawa-Carleton area, or is there some other reason of which I am not aware why this change is being made from April 1 to July 1? Those are all the questions I would like to ask and all the comments I should make on this bill that is before us.
Mr. Hodgson: I would like to speak on part III of this bill as it relates to the region of York. Though I am supporting the bill, I can’t say I am all that happy with the bill and I don’t think the regional council of the municipality of York is all that happy. Maybe the parliamentary assistant can answer a few questions.
Mr. Conway: It is just more of the Treasurer’s (Mr. McKeough) mixup.
Mr. Roy: Give him hell.
Mr. Hodgson: No, I am not going to give him hell. I just want a few answers. Did he have any correspondence or any indication from the region of York council on appointing an extra member from the town of Markham for regional council representation? What criteria did he use in regard to population when appointing an extra member to Markham? Back in 1970, the criteria was 10,000. If it was over 15,000, they were entitled to two representatives.
I am quite disappointed. The ministry had resolutions from the four smallest municipalities in the region of York, namely Whitchurch-Stouffville, King, Aurora and East Gwillimbury asking for consideration to allow the council to appoint a representative in the mayor’s place in case the mayor could not attend the regional council meeting. There are several council meetings in the region of York which the mayor is simply unable to attend: He could be doing some other duty or he could be sick or there could he several other reasons. Then that municipality has no representation at all.
Mr. Conway: You don’t like what they are giving the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong).
Mr. Hodgson: I would like to see a minimum of two representatives from every municipality. That has not been suggested, but it has been requested by those four municipalities that they be able to appoint a representative of the council of the local municipality to attend regional council meetings. Maybe when we go into committee on this bill, I might be bringing forward a resolution to that effect.
Mr. Stong: I won’t support anything against Markham.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Ottawa East.
Mr. Conway: The mayor of Vanier.
Mr. Roy: May I have some order in this place so that my comments can be registered fully and precisely on the record?
Mr. Speaker: Perhaps if you chased the honourable member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) back to his seat, it might be helpful.
Mr. Roy: I think it would be an excellent idea if he went back to his seat. In fact, I would support an order of that kind.
Mr. Cunningham: Back to Renfrew.
Mr. Roy: In view of the fact that Bill 81 deals with various regional municipalities along with the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, I felt compelled to make a few comments on the bill.
The section that I am concerned about is section 1(2). My concern is based on the fact that the government continues with its old policy of the election of the regional chairman. It seems to me, in view of the fact that the government has had suggestions over all these years about alternatives to how the chairmen should be elected, that it shouldn’t continue to have a clause which would allow a person not elected locally to be elected chairman.
In other words, we feel that on the basis of proper representation and following the normal democratic process by which all of us here are in this House, these people should be elected at one level or the other. There has been some dispute about whether the regional chairman should be elected at large or should be elected on a ward or district basis. We feel that his responsibility, whether it’s at large -- the former leader of our party is whispering something to me -- very inoffensively.
Mr Nixon: It wasn’t meant to be inoffensive.
Mr. Roy: We used to have a policy that the chairman should be elected at large; but whether he’s elected at large or in a district or ward, he is in any event responsible to the electorate. There should be some method whereby this individual, who is after all the most important politician in all of these regional areas, is subject to the will and whims of the electorate at one level or another. I’m very disappointed that the government has not found a way whereby this is done automatically. The way the legislation reads now, the chairman can be a member of regional council or any other person. It seems to me that should he changed.
The parliamentary assistant has indicated that other legislation will be forthcoming dealing with various regional areas, subject to the reports that have been brought forward in various of these areas, such as the Robarts report on Metro Toronto or the Mayo report on Ottawa-Carleton. I understand there were further reports on Niagara.
The fact is that we in this party -- and I have discussed this matter with our critic who is a knowledgeable gentleman in his field -- look forward to this further legislation. At that time, hopefully, we will put across our views, that I must say I will fully support, that the regional chairman be elected at one level or the other; that the most important politician in all of these regional areas should be responsible to a group of people who elect him, and not only to the members of regional council.
Mr. Swart: On a point of order: although I may agree with what the member for Ottawa Centre is saying --
Mr. Roy: No, no, no. Your leader is from Ottawa Centre. Don’t confuse me, please.
Mr. Nixon: What a mistake! You should be ashamed.
Mr. Swart: That’s the greatest compliment you’ve been paid in this House. I rise on the point of order that there is nothing in the bill about the election of the chairman, therefore the speaker is out of order.
Mr. Speaker: There is really nothing out of order.
Mr. Nixon: Except the member.
Mr. Speaker: You may rise to correct the record, but there is really nothing out of order.
Mr. Swart: I am rising to say the speaker is not speaking to the bill. There is nothing in this bill about the election of the chairman, or non-election of the chairman, or how the chairman is going to be selected. I suggest the member is out of order.
Mr. Cunningham: Yes, there is.
Mr. Roy: With respect, Mr. Speaker, if I may, on the point of order: Possibly my friend from Welland-Thorold -- it wouldn’t be the first time he is confused, but it any event we are sympathetic and very charitable in this party.
I would read to him the section that I was talking about, that is section 1(2) where he will notice that on the right-hand side it refers to election of the chairman.
Mr. Nixon: Right Got that, Mel?
Mr. Roy: I have been accused sometimes of mish-mashing the English language and not understanding what is happening in that language --
Mr. Nixon: Hardly ever mish-mash.
Mr. Roy: -- but here we are, “election of chairman.” It talks about, “the regional council shall ... elect as chairman one of the members of the regional council, or any other person.” Is the member going to apologize?
Mr. Nixon: You didn’t get your QC for nothing.
Mr. Swart: I rise again on a point of order. The section he is speaking about refers to the timing of the election of the chairman. It has nothing to do with the procedures of the election of the chairman or whether the chairman should be elected or appointed or anything else of this nature. I just make the point once again that the speaker is out of order when he is talking about whether regional chairmen should be appointed or elected.
Mr. Nixon: Or “any other person.”
Mr. Speaker: The member for Ottawa East can continue.
Mr. Roy: Thank you. I might state that we in this party are very fortunate that our critic is not as confused as that. I’m sure the parliamentary assistant must appreciate that, at least, to get some suggestions that are in order.
To continue -- in fact, I was winding up, Mr. Speaker, when this happened --
Mr. Swart: There is a difference between winding up and winding down.
Mr. Roy: If I may state my position again, the bill calls for the election of the chairman, whether he is one of the members of regional council or any other person; when it talks about any other person, that is the part I object to. As I was saying, when the government finally brings forward legislation that will incorporate some of the suggestions of these various reports, I hope we will have an opportunity at that time to bring forward our views by way of amendment. At that time, when we bring forward our amendments and when we spend some time with the party to my left and their critic in explaining what the amendment is all about, maybe we will receive their support and then we would hope to be in a position to change that system and make the regional chairman responsible.
Mr. Swart: You have just been reading our speeches for a couple of years.
Mr. Roy: I look forward to this legislation, although I must say in relation to the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton there won’t be very much in that legislation that is coming forward, because we have spent $250,000 on that report and all the recommendations have been put aside and have not been accepted.
Mr. Nixon: Except for the school board one, which you are going to get.
Mr. Roy: Yes, but the Treasurer is not going --
Mr. Speaker: That is not part of this bill.
Mr. Roy: I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker. If I may wind up, we look forward to this other legislation --
Mr. Nixon: Then we will fix you.
Mr. Roy: -- we will stop this system and we will make the most important politician in the regional areas accountable to the people he represents.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak to the second reading of Bill 81?
Mr. Nixon: Nothing is left to be said. Well, hardly anything.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I too would like to indicate through you my concern about the ramifications of not having a regional chairman elected on a local basis. We in our area are now entering our fifth year, I guess of our regionalized structure. With no disrespect to the incumbent chairman, that individual has yet to be reaffirmed or ratified by the public. I suppose there is sometimes at least potentially a lack of accountability that may flow from that circumstance. Personally, I find it somewhat distressing.
We too have had a report in our area which was the subject of some discussion and controversy today outside the Legislature. I guess that would be an understatement. Notwithstanding the expense associated with that particular report, I do hope that it may be shelved; if that is the ease, I suppose the existing system may continue as it is.
I would like to indicate to the honourable parliamentary assistant that I personally regard the election of a chairman to be a very important matter. The functioning of our region, if it is going to exist as it is, I suppose, will exist largely at the pleasure or the existence of some leadership provided by that one individual, however he or she may be elected. Currently we have a lady who has had considerable experience at the city level and who certainly has carried herself, I must say, fairly objectively throughout her activities as a regional chairman. But whether that individual is going to be Mrs. Jones, as we have in our area, or whether it is going to be some other person, I think it is important that we take a very serious look at seeing that the individual serves in an elected capacity within the region that they serve.
It might also be a time for some serious consideration at least of the voluntary kind of aspect they used to approach when they were considering who would be a county warden. I am sure that the honourable parliamentary assistant, having had a great deal of municipal experience, is certainly well aware of that particular practice.
I am distressed, really, that the potential exists in my area, and in some of these other areas, for an individual not to be ratified by the public nor, in an elected way, be accountable to the public. I want to suggest that some serious consideration be given to seeing that these individuals are elected at some local basis.
I don’t think, in my own particular region, that the people, either in the city or the outlying areas, are so small or narrow in their approach to regional government that they would look at things in some parochial fashion. I think I could see people in the rural communities supporting somebody from the city if that individual was capable, and of course an elected individual. Likewise, I could see the city favouring the rural areas with that same kind of support for a capable individual. I think the basis of a person serving as chairman should be some elected qualification.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to speak briefly on that one part of this bill which deals with the matter of regional chairmen.
It’s been my feeling for some time that the chairman of something as big, as powerful and as awesome in spending terms as a regional government certainly ought to be someone who enjoys the support of the electorate. This bill does not do that. It causes me some anguish that it does not do that, because the matter has been discussed in a number of regions, particularly in my own region of Durham, where it has been the matter of considerable debate. Unfortunately, the precedent in regional government is rather destructive in the sense that regional chairmen are almost always appointed in the first instance. It’s some compromise person who is not a member of that council, and who from that point on leads the region through its business.
I’m concerned about several aspects of it, the first of which primarily concerns itself with democratic institutions. No one in such a powerful institution as the chairmanship of a region, no matter how wonderful a human being he or she might be, no matter what great administrative powers that person might have, he shouldn’t hold such an office unless at some time he had sought and received some form of a mandate from the electorate in that area. That still is not the case in virtually any of the regions that we have.
The tag on the end of that is that many of them -- I would guess most of them -- at one time or another held some elected office there. But at no time did they ever take a program, or a platform, or even a personal set of views out to the electorate and say this is the reason why you should or should not vote for me. I think that’s one of the basic problems that we have in all our regions. The people who --
Mr. Roy: He is out of order, I think.
Mr. Swart: If one person’s out they’re all out.
Mr. Nixon: The member for Welland-Thorold said that wasn’t in the bill.
Mr. Breaugh: I believe it’s in the bill. I accept a ruling from the Speaker in that Chair and not the speaker in this chair.
I think that it’s a cause of increasing concern because we do have people who function as regional chairmen, who exercise a great deal of jurisdiction over the council, over the programs and policies of that council; and they are supposed to represent the public.
As a compromise position -- it has been put forward by a number of people -- if they get elected as a regional councillor thereafter the regional council itself could choose that person. This bill proposes to do much the same -- it says that someone could be a member of the council and then be chosen as regional chairman, but not necessarily so.
I think that’s a part of our thinking on regional government in this province that is a fundamental flaw. In the first instance they were provincial appointees, and they have considerable expertise in the field I of dealing with the council thereafter, and that tends to make them a logical choice to be subsequent chairman of that particular region.
It was my experience and I think it’s shared in other regions, that very often the person who becomes regional chairman becomes one because he’s a compromise person. He doesn’t particularly have to believe in anything. As a matter of fact, it’s probably better if he doesn’t. He doesn’t have to propose any policies, or programs or new directions for the region to take. He simply has to find some kind of consensus or common ground among the council. I think that’s a dangerous precedent for us to have set and I think it’s a basic flaw in the way we set up that tier of government.
I don’t purport to be against the bill because it’s essentially a housekeeping bill. But I want to put on the record some concerns that I have had for some time on how people become chairman or chairlady of a region and how they carry out that office. It’s a basic fundamental flaw in our own democratic process that we put someone in a rather important and influential position without giving him the opportunity to seek a mandate from an electorate.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, a great many of the remarks were not out of order in the strictest sense of the word, but they were not really too relevant to Bill 81.
Mr. Nixon: That’s my friend, good old George.
Mr. Ashe: There’s no doubt the more appropriate time will be when subsequent legislation comes forward, but I appreciate on that particular subject --
Mr. Nixon: Everybody’s friend.
Mr. Ashe: I appreciate the various views on that, at the very least, controversial subject.
Mr. Conway: Appreciate it, George; support it.
Mr. Ashe: I personally don’t support it but I don’t want to give away all my arguments rights now.
There’s no doubt it’s a very personal thing. But let me react to the various points made by the honourable members. The member for York Centre brought forth a suggested amendment, and as we have discussed privately neither of us has received from the region the particular items referred to. We would be happy to look into it and be able to respond to the particular amendment at the appropriate time. The local council in effect changed the size of their body by bylaw, I assume within the past week or so, and I would suggest to you they really don’t have the right to assume it is a fait accompli. They can express their opinion and apply for an amendment to the legislation or they can apply to the Ontario Municipal Board. They may or may not get approval but we are quite prepared to look at this to be sure of exactly what they are attempting to do. We will be able to respond more specifically to that amendment at the appropriate time during committee consideration.
The member for Welland-Thorold brought up the particular point relating to the change in Ottawa-Carleton from April 1 to July 1. This is not in recognition of any other legislation or possible legislation relating to the Mayo report; in actual fact it’s recognizing a problem that exists this year in Ottawa-Carleton that will have to be remedied come what may. Ottawa-Carleton used the voting machine method in a past election and are changing their method.
Mr. Cunningham: I recall the Tory leadership convention. What a mess they got in after that.
Mr. Ashe: Yes, that’s where they borrowed the equipment to save the taxpayers money. But in any event, they wished to change the procedure for this year’s election. Unfortunately, they have passed the deadline relating to the relationship with the assessment department, namely April 1, and this recognizes a change in time for that particular purpose. It does not relate to any other possible changes that may or may not be coming forward; so it’s just recognizing a procedure they have to go through since they missed the last date, which previously was April 1. We are prepared to accommodate their predicament through the medium of this legislation.
The member for York North raised various questions relating to representation of the town of Markham on the York regional council. There was correspondence back and forth between the minister, the region and the town of Markham over a period of several years. The minister indicated on more than one occasion that he really did not want to become involved in suggesting changes to the representation on regional council and asked regional council to do so On at least two official occasions, they have declined the invitation of the town of Markham to review representation and have declined to look kindly upon the Treasurer’s request to look at that.
In a letter dated December of 1977 to the regional chairman, the Treasurer indicated that representation remain as presently consituated and that he intended to discuss with his colleagues in the legislative assembly and in the cabinet the possibility of amending the Regional Municipality of York Act to increase from three to four the number of members of the regional council elected from the town of Markham because the regional council had declined, hopefully, its right to do so. There’s no doubt we would much prefer that the regional council on its own volition would look at representation from time to time and come forward with some kind of consensus of its own to the government so that legislation can refine its views. When they don’t really want to take on that responsibility, then, unfortunately, I think, we must eventually net.
Mr. Stong: I had asked for that in the House as well.
Mr. Ashe: Good. Here are the criteria that have been used, to give a little statistics to the background in the problem. In 1971 Markham’s population, at just over 36,000, constituted 22 per cent of the region’s population, yet it elected just under 19 per cent of the members of regional council. Between 1971 and 1976 the region grew by nearly 41,000 people, approximately a 25 per cent increase. In that time, the Markham population grew by 20,000 people, which was an increase of something over 56 per cent of the total regional growth during that five-year period.
We’re not using 1977 figures which would show to a greater degree the imbalance of the representation from that particular municipality. By the end of 1976, the regional population had grown to something in the area of 200,000 residents, of whom approximately 56,000 came from the town of Markham. Although they had approximately 28 per cent of the regional population, they had less than 20 per cent of the voting rights on the regional council.
What this particular amendment is doing is increasing their representation and the total regional council size by one. In other words, it is not in any way taking away a seat or a vote from another area municipality. is is increasing the total by one. It still leaves the town of Markham with a proposed percentage of total regional council representation of 23.5 per cent, although it does have 28 per cent of the population. At least, it brings them back to some relationship of balance similar to what they had in 1971.
Another very valid point raised by the member for York North relates to a problem which is not only true in the region of York but is true in many regions throughout the province where a particular area municipality is represented only by one representative. it’s not as prevalent in the newer legislation as it was in some of the older. There’s no doubt it creates a problem. I’m not sure that [the answer is just to increase their representation by one each, because that further compounds the problem that already exists in trying to get any semblance of a relationship of representation to population.
Another alternative has been suggested, which we have been looking at and which was already mentioned by the member for York North. There is much reluctance to this, I might say, and great diversions of opinion even within councils and in particular regional councils. It is whether in the absence of the elected member, particularly in the instances where we’re talking about the mayor, there should be the option of having an alternative from the local municipality able to sit in place of and assume all the voting rights and responsibilities of the elected member.
As I mentioned, this is being looked at and will be looked at further. I think it’s a very valid argument. On the other side of the coin, there’s no doubt there are some great differences of opinion within the municipal sector as to whether they want somebody else who is not elected to that particular position to come on to the council to cast a vote. In the case of York, there are four municipalities that fall into that category of having only one person on the regional council.
The members for Ottawa East, Wentworth North and Oshawa spoke about the situation of the regional chairman. As I indicated, I think it’s probably more appropriate that we’re going to have what I’m sure will be a great debate on that particular subject at a later date. There is no doubt there are pros and cons to the argument of whether the regional chairman, first of all, is as powerful as some would believe. I personally don’t think so.
There is also the difference of opinion as to how you’re going to elect a chairman. There are, I suppose, three ways of doing it. One is to elect a chairman-at-large, which I think is unwieldy and expensive and therefore would narrow greatly the number of potential candidates.
The second is to go the route of the county council format where a person is elected as the chairman of the council and retains his or her local seat. I think that in most regions the regional chairman probably has more responsibilities than the wardens generally used to before restructuring took place. The third is to elect somebody from within the council and to fill the vacated seat by a by-election.
I suppose that in theory the third option is the most practical of the three methods. But I really think, having been an elected person in that kind of situation, that if a person declared himself or herself in advance as a candidate for regional chairman it’s quite conceivable that the local electorate would he turned off by the prospect of a possible by-election. Hence that person might lose the election just for giving advance notice of his or her intentions.
There are of course, two ,sides to the argument and I personally am looking forward with a degree of open-mindedness to the time when we will be debating that particular issue. All in all, I appreciate the support in principle of what has been put forth so far on Bill 81. We will require, of course, to go into the committee stage. We do have an amendment ourselves to section 63 that I understand both opposition parties are aware of. It’s an oversight type of thing, a typographical omission in the actual printing of the bill. As it is not a substantive change it can be left for consideration at the appropriate time.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY OF MUSKOKA AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Ashe, on behalf of Hon. Mr. McKeough, moved second reading of Bill 82, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Any opening comments?
Mr. Ashe: No, Mr. Speaker. There’s nothing new here. It’s exactly the same as we’ve been discussing in a general sense in the five pieces of legislation.
Mr. Epp: I agree with the member for Durham West. We have been discussing a number of these factors and my party will be supporting this bill on principle.
Mr. Swart: We concur, too, in this bill. There is not a thing in it that hasn’t been dealt with in the other bill. On the principle, I suppose I could use this opportunity to deal at great length --
Mr. Stong: Spare us.
Mr. Swart: -- with the matter of whether the regional chairman should be appointed or elected.
Mr. Breaugh: Go ahead.
Mr. Swart: I might just point out to this House that as long ago as 1966, in a report to the study commissioner in the Niagara region, I made strong representation that the regional chairman be elected; preferably from the whole region, but failing that, at least he must always hold some constituency from which he was elected within the region.
Mr. J. Reed: Do you know how much that would cost?
Mr. Swart: Everybody else has put this on record, so perhaps I should at this time. But we will not be asking for this bill to be ref erred to a committee of the whole House.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 82, An Act to amend the District Municipality of Muskoka Act.
Bill 90, An Act respecting the Ontario Student Housing Corporation.
The House recessed at 5:56 p.m.