The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.
House in committee of the whole.
LAND SPECULATION TAX REPEAL ACT (CONTINUED FROM NOVEMBER 7, 1978)
Resumption of the adjourned consideration of Bill 151, An Act to repeal the Land Speculation Tax Act, 1974.
On section 1:
Mr. Chairman: All members will recall that when this bill was before the committee a week ago, the member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) proposed an amendment to section 1 of the bill, and the amendment read as follows:
“That section 1 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
“(2) Notwithstanding subsection 1, the tax imposed by the statutes repealed by subsection 1 is payable in respect of the disposition of designated land referred to in Ontario Regulation 340/76 and the said regulation is repealed and shall be deemed never to have come into force.
“(3) The minister shall forthwith take steps to collect the amount of tax payable under subsection 2 together with an additional amount constituting interest on the amount of tax payable calculated at the rate of nine per cent per annum from and inclusive of April 15, 1976.”
The Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) rose on a point of order, suggesting the amendment contravenes standing order 86, saying that the amendment would have the effect of imposing a tax, which measure can only be brought before the House with the recommendation of the crown and upon the motion of a minister of the crown. A lengthy debate on the point of order ensued, and I reserved my decision until this time.
First, may I thank those members who participated in the debate. Their points were most helpful in reaching a decision. The bill before the committee which has been approved in principle by the House repeals the Land Speculation Tax Act, 1974, effective October 24, 1978. The bill is not a money bill. It does not propose the expenditure of any moneys and, more important, does not propose the imposition of any taxes.
Returning to the amendment proposed by the member for Brantford, the proposed subsection 2 would repeal Ontario Regulation 340/76, which is a regulation made under the Land Speculation Tax Act, 1974, and exempts Ronto Development Company from tax imposed by the 1974 act. The clear intent of the amendment and the effect of the amendment were made clear in the debate on the point of order.
As I stated earlier, members were most helpful in allowing me to reach a decision on this matter. The member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) said at page 2040-2 of the Instant Hansard: “My colleague is really just doing this ex abundanti cautela, because he realizes that the minister is likely to overlook his obligation to collect this tax unless this House specifically says in the bill that they’d better bloody well collect it.”
Mr. Rotenberg: Did he say that too?
Mr. Renwick: That was also Latin.
Mr. Breithaupt: Do you see what you missed by not knowing Latin?
Mr. Chairman: And further: “We want to point out to you, the minister of the crown responsible for the protection of the Treasury, that you as minister have a responsibility to collect this particular tax.” Again on page 2045-1: “This amendment in substance says you are to collect that tax.”
The member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) at page 2045-2, says: “Impose your tax; that is what it is saying.” And, finally, the member for Brantford himself, at page 2030-2, says: “If the tax is collected, the funds will then go into consolidated revenue and the crown then has the free right to allocate the funds as is its prerogative to do so.”
The member for Brantford quoted two passages from the 19th edition of May, which I must respectfully suggest do not apply to the question at hand since both passages deal with procedure on money bills and expenditures. I must respectfully point out that Bill 151 is not a money bill. Underlying much of the argument put forth by the member for Brantford is the supposition that the crown’s recommendation on the original bill establishing the land speculation tax somehow carries over into the statute.
The bill now before us, Bill 151, is dealing with the statute law, which was passed in a previous parliament. The bill which permitted the enactment of the present statute is in no way before us and the financial recommendation for that bill in the prior parliament is similarly not before us.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) suggested that because committees of the House had discussed the subject matter proposed in the amendment, this somehow would make the amendment admissible. Unfortunately, the fact that a committee has studied the question does not in any way affect the requirement that amendments to bills must comply with the rules.
In summary then, I find the amendment to be out of order and contrary to standing order 86 because it will have the effect of levying a tax which is not yet payable by virtue of an exemption provided by regulation. It is clear that “any bill, resolution, motion or address, the passage of which would impose a tax ... may not be passed by the House unless recommended by a message from the Lieutenant Governor and may only be proposed by a minister of the crown.”
Unless the member for Brantford has such a recommendation, I am not obliged to rule that the amendment cannot be placed before the committee. I therefore rule the amendment out of order.
Mr. Worton: Put a lien on it.
Ms. Makarchuk: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have to challenge the ruling because I certainly do not agree with the ruling on the basis that the government’s own --
Mr. Chairman: I understand the member for Brantford has challenged the ruling of the chair. There is no debate. I shall put the question: Shall the ruling of the Chairman be upheld?
The committee divided on the Chairman’s ruling, which was upheld on the following vote:
Ayes 48; nays 21.
Mr. Chairman: Are there any further comments on section 1 of the bill?
Mr. Makarchuk: I wish to speak to section 1(b) of the bill. Although you ruled the amendment was not in order, I wish to point out to the Chairman and to the House that in effect the government’s own information bulletin from the Ministry of Revenue said all land dispositions registered up to midnight, October 23, 1978, are still subject to the land speculation tax. I’d like to say to the Minister of Revenue the fact that this transaction is subject to land speculation tax is something you are going to be reminded of on a regular basis -- and more frequently the closer we get to an election.
Mr. Sterling: No kidding.
Hon. Mr. Walker: What you are talking about is a one-track record.
Mr. Makarchuk: This tax was brought into force to stop speculation in land. The tax was not required to be paid when a parcel of land --
Mr. Kennedy: And it did.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- was brought up to a level of development at which the person who purchased that land could go to the building department of a municipality and take out a building permit and proceed to build on that land.
Hon. Mr. Walker: You are destroying the spirit of the act. You don’t understand the spirit of the act.
Mr. Makarchuk: In this case what happened was you had an automobile dealer from Chatham, a Treasurer who was from Chatham, a lawyer who was closely connected with the Tory party, and you had other principals who had a habit of throwing dinners --
Mr. Kennedy: Great town.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- for the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman). When you put that combination together and you have a purchase of a parcel of land for about $1.5 million and you sell it for $12 million, it seems to me that somewhere, somebody should be paying some tax to the province.
I want to put on record the fact that on this particular parcel of land there was not a registered plan of subdivision in effect at the time the transaction was put in. There were absolutely no services whatsoever on that property: there were no sewers, there were no roads, there was no wiring; there was nothing done to the land, there was absolutely no work done to the land whatsoever. All there was on the land was corn and crabgrass. Because of the intercession, in my opinion, of certain people who were part of the government, the land speculation tax was lifted from this property.
One of the most important things about a democratic system is that you treat people equally; it is not whether they have friends in Treasury, not whether they have lawyers associated with the Tory party, you treat everybody equally.
Mr. Martel: Way to go, Mac.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Sit down.
Mr. Makarchuk: If you’re going to remove the levy from one person you remove the levy from all people. What we tried to do with this amendment, Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Cureatz: Let’s hear from the former member for Scarborough West (Mr. Lewis).
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- was to ensure the tax the provincial auditor said was payable and should be collected --
Mr. Swart: You can’t trust that gang over there.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Makarchuk: It wasn’t what we said, it wasn’t what somebody else said, it was the provincial auditor. If you cannot trust the provincial auditor to ascertain the proper tax, then whom do you trust in this government? Because you certainly can’t trust that gang over there.
Mr. Turner: You really don’t believe that, Mac.
Mr. Charlton: I would like to make a few comments under section 1 of the bill.
The minister, when he ended the debate on second reading, quoted us a number of figures about what had happened to land speculation and housing prices in the province over the last three or four years. His figures, most likely, are quite accurate. They reflect what I think we all know, that residential housing prices, for all intents and purposes, have not risen in Ontario since 1975. He’s using that as a rationale in the repeal of this land speculation tax. He says that, in fact, the problem no longer exists.
Unfortunately the minister, in his hurry to justify the repeal of this tax, missed the whole point of the figures I was raising in the second reading debate. I raised the fact that I was only talking about land figures. Just for the information of this House, I would like to point out that in the province of Ontario housing prices for average new housing -- not the whole spectrum of housing, not land prices, I’m talking about housing prices as the minister suggested I should -- average prices for average housing in the province of Ontario today, compared to the ability of the people to buy that housing, or as compared to average wages, is the highest in Canada.
The people in this province have the least ability in this nation to afford housing. That’s what I was talking about two weeks ago during the debate on second reading.
Mr. Chairman: Order. I’ve been listening very carefully.
Mr. Ashe: Nothing to do with the bill.
Mr. Chairman: The honourable member is referring to the principle of the bill. I wish he’d stick strictly to section 1(b).
Mr. Laughren: He is right on.
Mr. Sterling: We heard that same speech last week.
Ms. Gigantes: It wouldn’t do you any harm to hear it again.
Mr. Laughren: You weren’t here.
Mr. Sterling: Unfortunately I was.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that the principle of this section 1 is the repeal of the tax, and that’s what I think I’m speaking to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We have debated the principle. The House has carried the bill on principle.
Mr. Yakabuski: Tell us about one of your gang making $90,000 -- tell us about that.
Mr. Ashe: He just retired.
Mr. Chairman: Would the honourable member speak to section 1(b)?
Mr. Charlton: It was my understanding, Mr. Chairman, that when we stood the matter down we stood down section 1. That’s what I thought we were dealing with at this point, section 1 of the bill. The principle of section 1 of the bill is the repeal of the tax and that’s what I was attempting to speak to.
Mr. Chairman: The principle has been debated. I understood when you got up you were going to talk to the second part of the first section.
Mr. Charlton: No, I was talking to the first section. I understood that the first section of the bill was stood down last Tuesday night; and that’s what I was speaking to, section 1 of the bill, --
Mr. J. Reed: The socialists are always confused.
Mr. Charlton: -- not specifically part (b) of section 1 but section 1.
Mr. Chairman: Well continue and I’ll listen very carefully.
Mr. Charlton: The point I was trying to make is that section 1 deals specifically with the repeal of the tax, and I was referring to the minister’s and the government’s rationale for repealing this tax. I was attempting to point out to the House and to the minister that housing prices, compared to people’s ability to buy the housing in the province of Ontario, are the worst in the nation.
Mr. Ashe: Give us your figures.
Mr. Charlton: The figures, is that what you’d like? That’s what I’m just preparing to give you.
Mr. Laughren: Glad you asked.
Mr. Charlton: In Canada the price of the average home in the nation is just over three and a half times the average annual salary.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Unaffordable.
Mr. Charlton: In Ontario the price of the average house is four times the average annual salary.
Mr. Breithaupt: What has that got to do with this section?
Mr. Charlton: In those provinces in this nation where housing prices and land prices have been effectively controlled, specifically in the province of Quebec and the province of Saskatchewan, the average price of the average home is only about 3.2 times, perhaps almost 3.3 times, the average annual salary.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, that’s the principle; it’s not this section.
Mr. Charlton: In Ontario it’s still four times. What these figures effectively represent is that the people of this province have the least ability of all of the people in this nation to afford average housing.
Mr. Gregory: Are you saying the people of this province are below average? Is that what you are saying?
Mr. Charlton: As I have suggested, the figures I have used don’t even include any expensive housing. How this government can justify saying that because there have been no major increases in housing prices in the province of Ontario for three years the tax should be repealed because the problem has gone away, is just beyond me. We had the worst speculation in Canada in the early 1970s, we had the worst speculation by far, and the wages in this province just have not had any opportunity to catch up with the massive inflation we have had. That’s the major reason this party is opposing this bill to repeal the tax. This is the major reason, although we don’t feel it’s the most effective method that could have been used; we feel this tax should be left in place until such time as the wage earners of this province have had the opportunity to catch up with the price of housing in this province, and at least to gain an equal relationship with the rest of this nation.
Mr. Roy: I would like to comment on section 1 of Bill 151. May I say to you prior to that, Mr. Chairman -- and I am sure you will communicate this to your colleague who sits in the chair (Mr. Edighoffer) that we on this side, who like to judge rulings on their merits on every occasion before we vote on them, despite the fact we were most sympathetic to the amendment brought forward by the member for Brantford --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You are irrelevant again.
Mr. Hennessy: You are wrong again.
Mr. Roy: -- the ruling was so judicious and in such depth on standing order 86 that we were compelled --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: What section of the bill are you on?
Mr. Makarchuk: You were upheld by your loyalty to the speculators.
Mr. Roy: -- to support the ruling of the chair. I just want to say that as long as the chair keeps making judicious and equitable rulings, as has been exhibited by your colleague, it will get full support by the people on this side.
One reason we are in support of section 1 of the bill is that the conditions existing then, in the 1970s, are no longer existing now and that is why the law is no longer necessary.
The other compelling reason we are fully in support of section 1 is that by taking away the act, at least we are taking away as well the discretion on the part of the government to grant exemptions to their friends.
Mr. Makarchuk: You agree that they were giving them to their friends but you support them.
Mr. Roy: We fully support the member for Brantford. We said in committee at the time that it was studied that we felt the discretion exercised by the government and the then minister in relation to the Ronto situation was unjustified, and we say it again.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You don’t have to repeat it.
Mr. Roy: Had it not been for the judicial ruling of the chair, we would have supported the amendment from the member for Brantford, but we were compelled to support the chair.
Mr. Makarchuk: That is known as sitting on the fence.
Mr. Roy: It is clear that we on this side, especially my colleague the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), along with the member for Brantford and other of my colleagues, were leading the opposition to the exemption given under the statute to Ronto.
We felt that the minister, at the hearing, did not justify and did not give us equitable reasons why the discretion was exercised and the tax was not collected.
Mr. Handleman: This is out of order.
Mr. Roy: No, I am not out of order. It displeases my colleagues across the way, to have salt rubbed into the wound because they know the government was wrong. They knew it at the time and they know it now. The best evidence of that is the yapping that is going on right now because they are concerned.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You are debating the chair’s ruling.
Mr. Roy: They are concerned about that. I want to say again that at least we on this side feel that the tax is now no longer necessary. The second point is by taking away this tax the government will no longer have this discretion to grant exemptions on whatever basis, and we never understood the basis for the Ronto decision.
On that basis, we on this side have no trouble whatsoever supporting section 1, the principle of section 1, of this bill. I would hope that if the government in the future is passing other taxing legislation, that prior to exercising discretion --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You are out of order.
Mr. Roy: -- it will at least exercise that discretion on merit and not on the basis of some intangible. We can only conclude that the government exercises its discretion on the basis of some form of favouritism towards friends or otherwise, there is no other reason for it. Members of the government should be ashamed of themselves for having given that exemption.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, we are dealing with the section of Bill 151 which repeals the Land Speculation Tax Act, 1974, but the people who read the information bulletins of the ministry may think we are wasting our time because they have been informed that the act has already been repealed. I quote from the information bulletin number 6/78, dated October 1978, which says: “The act was repealed effective 12.01 am., October 24, 1978. A copy of the act to repeal the Land Speculation Tax Act, 1974, is included for your information.”
Both of those statements were false statements at the time that bulletin was sent out. The act has not been repealed and had not been at the time that statement was printed; the act which the bulletin says is being sent out is not an act at the moment; it is only a bill and all that was sent was the first reading version of Bill 151. I would like to register a protest at the contempt for the Legislature which this kind of bulletin indicates. I think the ministry could have dealt with the situation through more judicious choice of words to indicate what is actually happening in the case of this repeal.
Mr. Grande: The divine right of the Tories to rule, they still suffer from it.
Ms. Bryden: I know that quite often measures affecting taxes are made effective on the day of the announcement, and when the revenue measure is passed it is made retroactive to the date of the announcement. I don’t quarrel with that practice in the case of many revenue measures because it is often desirable to have certainty about the date on which the revenue measure takes effect. What I am objecting to is the cavalier way in which the ministry seems to have assumed that the Legislature would pass this bill; has taken for granted that it would be passed and has worded its statement in a way that is patently false. I think the ministry should take that under advisement and in future choose more judicious words.
Section 1 agreed to.
Sections 2 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.
Bill 151 reported.
CHILD WELFARE ACT (CONTINUED FROM OCTOBER 26, 1978)
Resumption of the adjourned consideration of Bill 114, An Act to revise the Child Welfare Act.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, before we proceed with further amendments, which might lead to substantial debate, I wonder if I might ask for the consent of the House to reopen some earlier sections, on which we have amendments which were not introduced earlier. I have informed members opposite and I don’t believe they have any objection.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Would you indicate the sections you wish to return to?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, sections 37, 43 and 74.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Is it agreed that we reopen these three sections?
On section 37:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Norton moves that section 37(2)(d)(ii) of the bill be amended by inserting after the word “under” in the first line, “subsection 1 of.”
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, this particular amendment is to provide that the time in which a child may be receiving care under a special needs agreement -- that is a special needs agreement as opposed to care by agreement -- is not to be counted in determining the length of a society wardship order.
The honourable members will recall that there is a provision in the act that where a child has been in care under an agreement for care, that is to be calculated on the maximum time of two years in which a child may be in temporary wardship of the society. We make a distinction here between care by agreement and special needs agreement because in most cases where there is a special needs agreement a child would remain in the care of its own family but would be receiving special assistance, because of a particular handicap or special problem, in their own home. We feel it is inappropriate that that be calculated as part of the same time, which would run up to the maximum of two years, if at some point following that a child, for whatever reason, did have to come into the care of the society.
Mr. Blundy: I do not have any trouble at all with the amendment as now proposed and I will support it.
Mr. McClellan: I don’t have any trouble with the amendment either, but I want to make sure that I understand --
Mr. McClellan: If you could control the orang-utans on the government back bench we could proceed quickly through this debate, Mr. Chairman.
I want to make sure that I understand special needs agreements. I would like the minister to verify that I am correct in my understanding that it is not necessary to bring a child into care or custody in order to negotiate a voluntary special needs agreement. That being the case, I have no difficulty at all with the amendment being proposed. Maybe the minister just briefly could verify that my understanding is correct.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, that is correct. That is why we are drawing the distinction between care by agreement and a special needs agreement.
Motion agreed to.
Section 37, as amended, agreed to.
On section 43:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Norton moves that section 43(1) of the bill be amended by adding at the end thereof: “by
“(a) a parent or other person in whose charge the child may have been at the time of the child’s apprehension;
“(b) a director or local director; or
“(c) a next friend on behalf of the child.”
Mr. Blundy: I believe it looks all right, Mr. Chairman. I would like to ask the minister to fill us in a little bit more fully on clause (c), “a next friend on behalf of the child.” If that explanation could be made more fully, it would help me to understand it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The term “a next friend” is a term that is in common use in law. It refers to a person who would be designated to act in the place of a child in bringing an action on behalf of the child.
In this case it relates to the question of appeal of a protection order in the court. It would provide, in section (a), for example, that a parent or someone who had charge of the child at the time of apprehension could appeal that order. Secondly, the director or the local director could appeal that order; or someone acting in the child’s place could appeal the order.
For example, legal counsel, perhaps acting on behalf of the child as next friend, could bring an application if it was felt that it was not in the best interest of the child as it had been disposed.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: The child is too young to bring an action himself.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The child would not, himself or herself, perhaps be of age to have status before the courts, so someone acting in the child’s place, in the place of a minor in this case, would be able to bring the action on behalf of the child.
Mr. Sweeney: Could it be anyone?
Hon. Mr. Norton: It could, for example, be a relative I suppose; but it would more likely be counsel who had been appointed to act in the interests of the child. It’s a very common practice in the courts in cases where minors are party to an action. In civil suits, for example, a child may sue by his or her next friend. It’s not an uncommon procedure at all. In fact originally we intended, and thought it was going to be possible, to include these provisions in the rules of practice that are being developed. After further consultation of the subcommittee of the rules committee of the Supreme Court, they recommended that we include this wording in the statute.
Motion agreed to.
Section 43, as amended, agreed to.
On section 74:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Norton moves that section 74 of the bill be amended by renumbering subsections 2 to 4 as 3 to 5, and by adding thereto the following subsection: “(2) An adoption order shall not be made where the court has made a decision under subsection 7 of section 69, granting or refusing the dispensing of the requirement of the giving of consent until
“(a) an appeal under subsection 3 of section 83 in respect of the decision has been disposed of; or
“(b) the time for commencing an appeal under subsection 5 of section 83 in respect of the decision has expired,
“whichever is the later.”
Any discussion of the amendment?
Mr. McClellan: I’ve had the opportunity to have some discussion with ministry legal counsel on this amendment and am in agreement with it.
Again I want to make sure that I’m absolutely clear with respect to one important point. The concern that I have is that children not be placed for adoption while there is a possibility of litigation proceeding, because of the possibility that the litigation on behalf of the original parents, the birth parents, may in fact be successful and the adoption therefore would be nullified. The child who had been placed would have to be taken out of the adoption placement and that would be just tremendously damaging, both to the child and to the parents.
I am assured by the ministry that this is not possible, but I would like the minister to address himself to that and put on the record how the ministry intends to deal with that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That is the intention of this provision. It is in fact a companion or complementary amendment to an amendment which I’ll be introducing later to section 83, which would hold off, in the case of this particular amendment, the adoption until such time as a person whose consent had been dispensed with had either appealed that dispensation or until such time as the prescribed appeal period had expired. It would eliminate the danger that the child might be placed for adoption, and in fact the order be made, and subsequently someone could come forward, a parent for example, and appeal on the basis that they were not aware their consent had been dispensed with and create the disruptive situation the honourable member is concerned about.
Mr. McClellan: Again, you talk about adoption: I’m not talking about the adoption order I’m talking about the placement of the child in an adoptive home. There is a trial period, as we all know, before the adoption order is made final. My concern is that placement should not take place, even for the trial period, while there is a possibility of litigation.
I don’t know what percentage, but I’m sure in the vast majority of cases the placement is successful and legal adoption simply takes place as a matter of course, but we need to be absolutely clear that children’s aid societies are not placing children in adoptive homes while there is a possibility that litigation could be initiated and the child then removed from the home once they had been placed there but before the provisionary period had expired and the adoption order had taken hold.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is the intention, Mr. Chairman, that the child would not be placed until any proceedings relating to the dispensing of this consent order had been completed.
Mr. McClellan: That’s the assurance I was looking for. Thank you.
Section 74, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: We’ll move now to section 80.
Mr. McClellan: I have an amendment to section 80 that is contingent on the passage of an amendment to section 81. It would make sense, I think, to stand down section 80 until we see what happens to the amendment to section 81.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Tell us what your amendment is.
Mr. Hennessy: By the time you finish we will be 80 years old.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: It is suggested that we deal with section 81 before 80. Is that agreed?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Let’s hear what the amendment is.
Mr. Hennessy: Yes, I’d like to hear it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: We’ll go to section 81 at this point.
On section 81:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that the bill be amended by renumbering sections 81 to 97 as sections 82 to 98, and by adding thereto the following section:
“81 -- (1) In this section “director” means an employee of the ministry appointed by the minister for the purpose of this section.
“(2) An adopted child who is 18 or more years of age and a person who is a parent of an adopted child at the time of the child’s birth where the adoption took place in Ontario, in each instance may apply to a society to be registered in a voluntary disclosure registry which shall be maintained by the director.
“(3) Every society that receives an application under subsection 2 shall forthwith forward a copy of the application to the director who shall enter the applicant’s name in the voluntary disclosure registry.
“(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other act, no person shall inspect, remove, disclose, transmit or alter, or permit the inspection, removal, disclosure, transmission or alteration of, information maintained in the voluntary disclosure registry established under subsection 2 except with the written permission of the director.
“(5) The director shall upon entering an applicant’s name in the voluntary disclosure registry, examine the registry to determine,
“(a) where the applicant is an adopted child if the person who was the child’s parent at the time of the child’s birth is named in the registry; or
“(b) where the applicant is a person who was the parent of a child at the time of the child’s birth if the adopted child is named in the registry.
“(6) Where the director determines that both an adopted child and the person who was the child’s parent at the time of the child’s birth are named in the voluntary disclosure registry, the director shall forthwith forward to the appropriate society the information contained in,
“(a) the documents referred to in section 80(1); and
“(b) the voluntary disclosure registry with respect to the adopted child and the person who is the child’s parent,
“and the society shall provide the information to the adopted child and the person who was the child’s parent.
“(7) Every society shall provide guidance and counselling to persons who may be registered in the voluntary disclosure registry referred to in subsection 2.”
Mr. McClellan: I believe it’s important that we move, no matter how short a distance, away from the present policy with respect to adoption disclosure. This is a very modest proposal, make no mistake about it. It proposes the ministry establish a voluntary disclosure registry on which both adult adoptees and a birth parent who has given a child up for adoption can be enrolled, solely on a voluntary basis.
The ministry will search the records that are contained in the sealed files and when the ministry determines there is a match between a birth parent and the birth parent’s own child -- now an adult adoptee -- then the minister is empowered to release the identifying information, both from the voluntary disclosure registry and from the sealed adoption records, to both parties.
In order that the provision of identifying information takes place in a counselling environment -- I think that has to be an essential feature of any adoption disclosure proposal -- the amendment requires that the transaction be handled by a children’s aid society. If a person were to apply voluntarily, either a birth parent or an adult adoptee, either of whom are eligible to apply on a voluntary basis to have their name inscribed on the registry, they would apply through a local children’s aid society. If the ministry determined there was a match between a birth parent and an adult adoptee the ministry would forward the information contained in the sealed records and on the voluntary disclosure records to the local children’s aid society. The local children’s aid society would provide the information to the birth parent and to the adult adoptee.
This is a voluntary disclosure system that is based on mutual consent, freely given in advance. I stress that -- mutual consent, freely given in advance.
The arguments put forward by the government side with respect to the previous adoption disclosure amendment do not apply to this proposal. The government spokesmen argued there had been a social contract established between birth parents and society that could not be violated, even to the extent of requesting permission of a birth parent to conduct a search. I don’t accept that argument, but I don’t propose to debate it again, that debate is concluded.
This proposal does not violate what the government members were referring to as the social contract. As a matter of fact, your opposition to this amendment would be a violation of the right of people to make their own decisions. If a birth parent on the basis of an independent, voluntary decision, wishes to indicate to the government that she has no objection to the disclosure of information with respect to her identity to her child given up for adoption, the government has no right to veto that. That is a real violation of --
Mr. Hennessy: What’s the amendment Mr. Chairman?
Mr. McClellan: -- a person’s basic rights which is, I believe, totally unjustifiable.
You should keep in mind that this proposal is infinitely more modest, more cautious than the proposal put forward by the Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto. It is considerably more modest and cautious than the proposal put forward by the minister’s own task force on adoption record disclosure to adoptees. Both of those proposals would permit a measure of search. They would be, in a sense, a modified but nevertheless active adoption disclosure system. There would be a search undertaken under both of those systems, regardless of whether people had indicated prior consent or not.
Under the amendment I’m proposing, it is totally based on prior consent. I cannot conceive of objections to this. I’m willing and happy to listen to more debate on this subject, but I simply cannot anticipate objections to this proposal.
I don’t want to repeat arguments that have been made on two or three previous occasions. I think that we’ve had, over the course of the life of the amended Child Welfare Act, full and complete debate on the issue of adoption disclosure.
I want to stress again tonight that the pressure for reform of Ontario’s adoption disclosure procedures is real. It’s not something that I’m dreaming up in isolation. It’s not some peculiar little hobby horse that McClellan is riding. The pressure for reform of Ontario’s adoption disclosure practices -- and the minister knows this full well -- is coming from Ontario’s children’s aid societies, which are having to deal with the issues every day in their practice.
Adoption professionals, working in our children’s aid societies, are saying to you that your attitudes on adoption disclosures are obsolete and in conflict with modern thinking about what constitutes sound adoption practice. It is adoption professionals who are urging you to change, to move, to budge, even if only an inch. And you know that’s true, and you know that children’s aid societies are confronted with this issue all of the time in their adoption work.
You know as well, because your own inter-ministerial report told you, that there is enormous variation across this province between children’s aid societies with respect to how they implement the policy with respect to adoption disclosure. Some societies have an almost open adoption disclosure policy and will conduct active searches, some societies refuse to have anything to do with adoption disclosure, and other societies are somewhere in between. It depends where you live and which children’s aid society you go to, if you’re an adult adoptee, whether your request for help in finding about who you are is assisted by a children’s aid society. There is no consistency in the application of the present policy. Again, the minister knows this is true.
The other source of pressure for a change in your obsolete policy is coming from the thousands and thousands of adult adoptees who are asking to know who they are. We heard in committee from the ministry itself that between November 1976 and November 1977 there were in the order of 2,000 requests made of the ministry by adult adoptees who were seeking information about their birth identity, 2,000 in the space of one 12-month period for which the ministry was kind enough to provide us the data.
Those two pressures are real and they should not be ignored. There is, of course, another source of pressure within the minister’s own ministry, but I won’t deal with that, mercifully for him.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Go ahead.
Mr. Foulds: Inflict it on him
Mr. McClellan: He knows there are people working within the government, and not just within his ministry, who understand that thinking about proper adoption practice has changed in the area of adoption disclosure and professionals want to see that change. I am anxious that there be some change, no matter how small, if only to force the ministry to deal with the problem instead of trying to hold it off, trying to keep it at arm's length.
Maybe they hope it will go away, the minister and the government. It won’t go away; it’s real, it’s there. It’s being dealt with inadequately in each of the 50 children’s aid societies across the province. The government can’t pretend it isn’t there, the ministry has to deal with it.
The largest, and I think the best children’s aid society in this province, Metro CAS, has put forward its own proposal for an adoption disclosure registry which goes far beyond anything I have proposed in this amendment or in previous amendments. I would ask the minister again to accept this amendment, simply accept the amendment. It is workable, it is relatively simple. It doesn’t violate the concerns that the minister raised in the last debate about the social contract; it is based on mutual consent freely given in advance.
How can members opposite as a government say to anybody that they have the right to veto a free decision, given voluntarily as a matter of choice --
Mr. Bounsall: By both parties.
Mr. McClellan: -- by both parties, in advance? What right does the minister have to play Big Brother? What right does the government have to veto that? I don’t think it has that right. I suspect there are many members in the government ranks and in the ranks of the cabinet who share that view.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: What about the third party?
Ms. Gigantes: What third party?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: There are three involved.
Mr. Warner: That’s why it’s called voluntary.
Mr. Foulds: You haven’t been listening, Bette. Go back to your reading.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Yes, I have.
Mr. McClellan: We are talking about relationships between adults. We’re not talking about relationships between children, we’re talking about decisions made by adults and about relationships between adults. I don’t think the government should continue to be so intransigent on this issue. I think it ought to move a little bit. I think the pressures are real and it knows they’re real. This is an unobjectionable proposal and the minister should support it.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, I want to applaud the member for Bellwoods for his tenacity --
Mr. Warner: To say nothing of wisdom.
Mr. Sweeney: -- and for his wisdom. Anything else?
Mr. Laughren: And brilliance.
Mr. J. Reed: Let’s not get carried away.
Mr. Sweeney: -- in trying once again. It is on the record that I approved the last attempt and collaborated with the member for Bellwoods in bringing in an amendment that I thought at that point in time was acceptable. We found out otherwise. I believe this next attempt is certainly most acceptable, with a couple of minor changes.
I would reiterate a point that was raised the last time, especially for the members opposite. In the existing act there is that statement which says that disclosure can take place upon the order of the court or the written direction of a director. I make that observation only to remind the members opposite that we do not have a total non-disclosure principle in this province. We do have disclosure under certain circumstances; let’s recognize that.
The difficulty, however, is no one has any way of knowing what the criteria are. We don’t know what the court bases its decision on. We don’t know what a director bases his decision or her decision on. It is obviously left to the discretion of these particular persons.
The amendment that was proposed the last time and the amendment which is being proposed this time put a little bit of commonality into the situation. At least it is out in the open. The cards are on the table, everybody knows what the rules of the game are. The rules apply to everyone equally. That is why I would have to support this amendment in principle.
I have two observations to make, however. I guess what they amount to -- and I am addressing the member for Bellwoods -- are two minor amendments. He will remember that the last time the motion was introduced I tried to suggest that we are dealing with a balance of rights -- the rights of the adoptive adult, the rights of the birth parent and the rights of the adopting parents.
I know there are those in this House and those outside of the House who question that balance. Unfortunately, I cannot. I think they are all equally important.
Therefore, the first amendment I would make, which I am suggesting to the members and also to the minister, is that in subsection 2, in the fourth line, after the words “child’s birth”, that we add “and adopting parents”. That is my first concern.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: What subsection is that?
Mr. Sweeney: Subsection 2. I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, I must make an apology here. I am sure through no fault of the member I just received this amendment this evening and I haven’t had a chance to go over it as carefully as I would like to, but wherever else it applies I would obviously have to suggest that the change be made; that is the intent of my change.
The second point I would have to bring up is the timing of the registering. I can see a situation where a 14-year-old or a 15-year-old-girl has a child and for any number of reasons agrees to put her name on that registry. Eighteen years later, when she is 32 or 33, she may for any number of reasons change her mind. I would have to ask the member and the minister to say somewhere in this amendment that that registration would have to be reinstated or would have to have taken place once again, when the child is 18.
Whether that means that a second registration takes place or that is the only time the registration takes place I leave to the discretion of the two of them. Those would be my two concerns. If those two amendments were acceptable to the member and to the minister, then I, and I think I can safely say a number of my caucus colleagues, would be prepared to support this amendment.
An hon. member: How many? Give us the number.
Mr. Sweeney: We believe very strongly that the rights of adult adoptees must be considered in this province. We believe the present law is in some ways discriminatory, is in some way open to misuse and to discretion over which they have no control and that this amendment is a better statement of that principle than what we have in the law at the present time.
If those two amendments are acceptable to the member and to the minister, we will support it.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment. I would --
Mr. Foulds: Bring back Keith Norton.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Just a moment --
Mr. Foulds: Bring back Keith Norton. He was a better Minister of Community and Social Services.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I would remind --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: All right. You are here to make the judgement; you have and others have --
Mr. Foulds: I think the Premier (Mr. Davis) made that judgement too.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: -- but I remember very well a situation in the Niagara area where the local children’s aid society was giving out information I thought was sensitive and should not go forth until there was a complete study of this whole issue of adoption. I happened at that time to be in a position to make some determination. I learned subsequently it wasn’t very much; we don’t have much clout here, as you know.
Mr. Grande: What are you confessing now?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: In any event there was time for a study and I asked first of all that there be a study. In the meantime I asked for a moratorium. I directed that children’s aid society not to release any information until we had a study throughout this province --
Mr. McClellan: Why should you issue directives? Who do you think you are?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: -- to determine the merits of the whole issue. As you know there followed a series of meetings, one right here in the Macdonald building. There were others throughout the province. A committee had been set up to hear representations from the triangle -- that is from the children who happened to be adopted, from the parents who had adopted the child and from the natural parents. That committee heard from all those people. In many cases it was a most traumatic experience. I appreciate that it’s not a simple problem, but what troubled me was that in dealing with the generality of the matter, given the sensitivity of the matter we had to be most careful.
The recommendation coming out of those hearings was that there be a central registry. All of this adoption information would go to that central registry and it would be only on consent of the parties that the information would flow from that registry.
Again what troubles me is what troubles you in regard to other matters of confidence, not only within this government but in other provinces and at the federal level. How confidential is confidential? I point to the OHIP records. There are other matters where we think we are divulging information and pouring forth confidences as we would to our mentors, as we would to our physicians, only to find that information going out into other places.
It is all very well to say it’s your rolls but I can tell you that when you have a central depository of information and while you have people governed by mortals, you will find leaks and abuses; and I can assure you that troubles me very much.
I can appreciate the problems that have tormented people -- the adopted child who wonders about his heritage, where he came from, whether he was ever cared for; and I can think, often, of the very young natural parent of that child who wonders what happened to the child, reconsidering whether she should have kept the child or whether she should have given that child out for adoption, maybe tortured the rest of her life by wondering whether that child has been looked after as she in later years would have liked to have seen it looked after. And then I have heard from the adopting parents, the people who have not, in many cases, been able to have children of their own and who have taken the child in infancy; who have reared that child as though it was their own flesh and blood; who have not distinguished in terms of whether that child is natural to the parents or not. Again the troubled minds of adopting parents as to “have we got someone competing for the affections of that child, for the loyalty of that child; is some influence going to intercede now to disrupt a normal life?”
It is not an easy question. I think we have to be most careful. Frankly, I was most reluctant to see a common repository of information that really wasn’t impenetrable in the sense that it was confidential.
Mr. McClellan: Have you read the amendment?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You see paper doesn’t mean as much to me -- maybe I’m older than the member for Bellwoods, maybe I don’t have the confidence that he has, because things are reduced to paper --
Mr. McClellan: I know the problem you had.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: -- but we deal with a system and with human beings and with the frailties of human beings. I can assure the member that I am troubled that we would set up a system now, even on a voluntary basis, that might discharge or emit information that could do more harm and be more emotionally disruptive and tormenting than would be the case in leaving it the way it is. I don’t presume to have that knowledge but it certainly troubles me.
The member for Bellwoods seems to say, “Look, we have the experts, we have the professionals.” And he used the word “professionals.”
Mr. McClellan: I know how much you dislike them.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I appreciate his background and involvement at one time as a civil servant in the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Mr. Hennessy: And a good one, too.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: And I’m sure he was well-intentioned.
Mr. McClellan: You would drag that in.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I appreciate that, but sometimes I wonder; I often discovered that the greatest obstacle to reform in the whole field of social welfare was the professional.
At one time charity was from the heart; we did things for people because we felt we were a part of the human race and we wanted to contribute something to our fellow man, we didn’t look for payment. I’ve seen the evolution of that system. It was something that I wasn’t content with, and you may condemn me for that, but I wasn’t content with the institutionalization of charity. Charity became a crown corporation, I’ve said this before, and the good Samaritan became a civil servant. The true humanitarian was relegated to the role of selling tickets to raise money --
Mr. Warner: It’s fun to have the poor people around, isn’t it? It provided you with something to do.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: -- for something he wanted to accomplish in the community. This is what we have seen. We have seen more and more people who were giving from their heart to help their fellow men become merely fund raisers in what has become a charitable institution with the professionals taking over.
Mr. Grande: Is this your last speech, Jim?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: No, it is not my last speech. That might very well offend you and disappoint you, but no, it is not my last speech.
Mr. Hennessy: No, no; keep on, keep going.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I want you to know there is more to people and to kindness and to sensitivity than to reducing something to paper in a statute which might very well be abused in practice. That’s what really troubles me, that’s why I say that I can’t emotionally or mentally commit myself to this particular amendment that could be the subject matter of abuse and that could cause maybe more frustration and more mental anguish than leaving the situation the way it was.
I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t be reform. I’ve never been opposed to change and to keeping pace with what is. I appreciate our lifestyle today, but I really am troubled by institutionalizing --
Mr. Sweeney: How would you do it, then?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I don’t know. I confess that I don’t know. I saw that report and I studied that report.
Mr. Handleman: If you don’t know where you are going you stay still.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I just feel that until we have something better that we would be better to leave it.
Mr. Roy: That’s not leadership, if you can’t make a decision on it.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You’d be better to leave it as it is. It’s not leadership to change for the sake of change.
Mr. Cooke: That’s your definition of reform -- leave it as it is.
Mr. Sweeney: This is a small step.
Mr. Roy: You respond to a problem, to a need.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Remember this, too, when I point this out to you. In government we tend to respond -- and the member for Ottawa East says, “Yes, there’s a need, we respond,” -- but we have today so much institutionalization. We’re focusing on issues and we do that through more institutionalization; so we have high profile, vociferous minorities who run the majority. They’re not doing it for the betterment of the majority and government tends to respond to those minorities.
Mr. Hennessy: That’s right.
Mr. McClellan: Like the children’s aid society, for example.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I say talk to the people. You talk to the voices that I heard.
Mr. Hennessy: Give the shop away.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Most people are not content to come here to Queen’s Park and to picket and to make a lot of noise. I don’t think we should respond to the organized, vociferous minorities.
Ms. Gigantes: You’ve been an organized, vociferous minority.
Mr. Hennessy: You’re out of order.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You’re the spokesman for them. You can enumerate them.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Who said they’re organized? Name names.
Mr. Warner: You’re disorganized.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, I rise to maybe defend the status quo because I’m quite concerned as to what might happen if we open this up. Then, of course, we go the whole way, which is the way of the member for Bellwoods, which would be --
Mr. McClellan: It’s not the whole way. It’s an infinitesimal step. You haven’t even read the amendment before you. It’s a step of about a centimetre.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I appreciate your interim step.
Mr. Hennessy: Give the building away.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: The member for Bellwoods is a revisionist.
Mr. Hennessy: That’s right, he’s from Russia!
Mr. McClellan: A revisionist? I confess, I confess!
Mr. J. A. Taylor: He’s proposing this amendment now in order to make a foothold.
Mr. Hennessy: That’s right, divide and conquer.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Then, of course, he’ll go the whole way of the central registry which would include all information. Until we know what we’re doing and where we’re going I would sincerely suggest that we not endorse the amendment from the member for Bellwoods.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Chairman, I want to discuss this amendment by the member for Bellwoods in a quiet and rational way.
Mr. Hennessy: That is the way.
Mr. Warner: That will be a nice change.
Mr. Blundy: I thought it would be a pleasant change, yes.
Mr. Ashe: You people don’t know what that’s about over there.
Mr. Blundy: When this matter was before this House before, I spoke against disclosure to adoptees and I voted against it. When I spoke at that time I pointed out that there were three groups of people, all of whom had to be protected, whose interests had to be thought about before any change was made.
On the one hand we have the adult adoptee; then we have the birth parent or parents, and we have the adoptive parents. The term “social contract” has been used in this House this evening and in the previous debate. I say to you, Mr. Chairman, there is a very true and real social contract made between the adoptive parents and the adopted child. That contract has gone on through the life of the child; those adoptive parents have come to learn to know and love that child as they would their own flesh and blood, it’s not just a passing incident in their lives. So they have to be protected as well.
The motion that is being proposed by the member for Bellwoods seems like a logical motion from the standpoint of the adopted child. When he is an adult he could then go to the registry and voluntarily place his name; nobody is going to force him to do it. It’s a good amendment from the standpoint of the birth mother to a certain extent, but not all the way.
Let me put forth an example: A young girl of 12 or 13 or 14 gives birth to a baby out of wedlock. Naturally she’s going to be very emotionally upset, this must be a very trying time for her. I can see a very zealous social worker saying, “Okay, the best thing to do is put the child out for adoption immediately; and to ensure everything is well for him in the future voluntarily put your name in as the birth mother.”
This young girl will be very emotionally upset; she will be pleased to do anything that she thinks will get her out of that emotional situation, she will go along with it. Let’s then assume that 16 or 17 years later she is married and in another social contract situation which she does not wish to have disturbed, but she has behind her what she did when she was young. The point my colleague the member for Kitchener-Wilmot was making is very important. If the amendment is further amended to include, first that the adoptive parents must voluntarily submit their names to the voluntary disclosure registry, as well as the adult adoptee; and if there is a further precaution that at some time -- a period which I am not really prepared to state now, it might be when the adopted child is 18 or it perhaps could be when the birth parent is 18 -- but at some time fixed in this amendment there must be a time when, voluntarily, the birth mother could go to the voluntary disclosure registry and say one of two things: First, I did voluntarily give my name to the disclosure registry, but it was at an emotional time when I was under duress and I was urged to do so by so-and-so, who probably with the very best of intentions suggested she do it; or she is able to go to the disclosure registry and have her name removed when she becomes 18, or when she is 20 or when she is going to marry.
This is the only way that protection can be provided to the three people we are talking about. This will provide complete protection, yet it will provide to those adult adoptees a way of learning who their parents were and what their heritage is, as has been made so clearly in debates in this House, and by the mailings and the telephone calls we have been getting. I would go along with this amendment if it is amended again in the two respects, as suggested by my colleague, the member for Kitchener-Wilmot.
Mr. McClellan: I am revisionist to the nth degree on this issue. I am determined to get an amendment that is acceptable to a majority of the members of this House.
I think I have a version of the amendment which will take care of the two concerns raised by both the member for Kitchener-Wilmot and the member for Sarnia.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Raised by me with the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, and by he with the member for Sarnia.
Mr. Roy: You figure he couldn’t raise it on his own initiative, that the initiative’s got to come from you?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I didn’t say that.
Mr. Roy: That member’s got a lot of initiative on his own.
Mr. McClellan: If I may, I’ll move an amendment to my amendment that subsection 6 of the amendment be struck and the following substituted; this is a new subsection 6 to my amendment.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. McClellan moves that subsection 6 be struck and the following be substituted therefor:
“Where the director determines (i) that both an adopted child and a person who was the child’s parent at the time of the child’s birth are named in the voluntary disclosure registry; and (ii) the director has obtained the consent of any living person who is the parent or the applicant after the adoption order is made; and (iii) the director has verified that both parties referred to in subsection 5 consent to the disclosure of information pursuant to this subsection and subsection 4, the director shall forthwith forward to the appropriate society the information contained in
“(a) the documents referred to in subsection 1 of section 80; and
“(b) the voluntary disclosure registry with respect to the adopted child and the person who was the child’s parent;
“and the society shall provide the information to the adopted child and the person who was the child’s parent.”
Hon. Mr. Norton: Would it be possible, Mr. Chairman, to get a copy of that? I’ve been trying to follow it as you went along but it’s rather difficult.
Mrs. Campbell: It is complicated.
Mr. McClellan: It would take me 20 minutes to write it out by hand. If there was a way for the chair to Xerox that.
Mr. Roy: Some of us understand it.
Mr. McClellan: Let me try to explain. very simply, what that complicated sounding amendment does.
Mr. Chairman: The chair will have some copies made and the member for Bellwoods can continue with his explanation.
Mr. McClellan: Thank you very kindly, Mr. Chairman.
The present subsection 6 of the amendment simply requires that when the director of child welfare has determined that a birth parent and an adult adoptee match up with each other then he will disclose the information, that’s the way the original amendment read. I’ve amended that to read so that three things have to happen before disclosure takes place.
Number one, the director has to determine that there is a match between a birth parent and that birth parent’s birth child.
Number two, the director has to obtain the consent of the adopting parents; that is the section that reads “consent of any living person who is the parent of the applicant after the adoption order is made,” that is an adopting parent in legal language.
Number three, to take care of the concern that was raised about a young mother who may have given her child up at an early age and has been pressured into enrolling her name --
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, I don’t mean to interrupt, I’m sorry, but it’s just that I’m finding it very difficult to even follow the explanation without the copy in front of me.
Mr. Ruston: Stand this down.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I was wondering if we might stand this section down for a few moments. I have a couple of other amendments that I think are non-controversial, which we might deal with and then come back to this when copies are available.
Mrs. Campbell: Famous last words.
Mr. Roy: If I may say, with respect, some of us have a few comments to make on this issue based on the member’s reading of the amendment. Possibly some of us may be allowed to make our comments, and when the amendment comes in we can look at it and then the minister or the member can explain it.
Mr. Chairman: That was suggested by the minister and if the committee would agree to stand down section 81 --
Mr. Roy: No, no; dealing with his subamendment that he’s bringing forward, some of us have comments to make on the principle of it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Why don’t we get the non-controversial stuff out of the way? We can carry on with this for a week.
Mr. Chairman: Whatever is the wish of the committee.
Mr. Ruston: Stand it down.
Mr. Chairman: Does the committee agree to stand down section 81 until copies are available?
There is agreement.
What further section does the minister wish to raise?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, the next section for which I have an amendment is section 83. Does the chair not have a copy of that amendment?
Mr. Chairman: No, I don’t see one.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It’s on its way at the moment, I apologize.
Mr. Roy: Stand that down. Let’s talk about the other one.
On section 83:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Norton moves that subsections 3 and 4 of section 83 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(3) An applicant for an adoption order, a director, or the local director, as the case may be, who has filed a statement pursuant to subsection 1 of section 75, a person who has given consent under subsection 2 of section 69, or a person with respect to whom a consent required under subsection 2 of section 69 has been dispensed with, may appeal to the county or district court of the county or district in which the decision was made from the decision of the court made pursuant to subsection 7 of section 69, granting or refusing the dispensing of the requirement of the giving of consent.
“(4) An appeal under subsection 1, 2 or 3 shall be heard in camera and notice of the appeal shall be served on the director.
“(5) A notice of appeal under subsection 1, 2 or 3 shall be served within 30 days of the making of the decision being appealed and no extension of the time for serving the notice or making the appeal shall be granted.”
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, as I indicated earlier, this section is a companion to the amendment to section 74. What it does is provide for an appeal from an order granting or refusing the dispensing of any consent required for an adoption. The only change from the existing section really is the inclusion of that provision.
In other words, if consent is unable to be obtained from the parent of a child, for example, in an adoption, there would be provision for dispensing with that consent. If the parent subsequently appeared and discovered that his or her consent has been dispensed with, he or she could appeal that decision or the decision could be appealed by any of the other persons indicated in subsection 3. It’s merely to provide the protection of an appeal within a specified period of time.
If you recall, in section 74 the reference was made to appeals from the decision dispensing with the consent and reference was made to section 83. At that time, I indicated there would be a companion amendment to section 83 which would provide for that appeal.
Motion agreed to.
Section 83, as amended, agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Subject to coming back to section 81, the last amendment I have is to section 88.
On section 88:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Norton moves that section 88(1)(4) of the bill be amended by striking out “prescribing the standard of services that societies shall provide and” in the first and second lines.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Chairman, this simply deletes the authority of the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe standards of service. As the honourable members who served on the social development committee will recall, there was an amendment during the committee hearings which made it mandatory that the minister would prescribe standards of service. Now that that has been mandated on the part of the minister, we are simply deleting what would be a redundant section placing the authority in the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Motion agreed to.
Section 88, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: I wonder if we could just tidy things up a bit. We have been jumping around. That leaves us with sections 82, 84, 85, 86 and 87. Can we carry those sections?
Sections 82, 84, 85, 86 and 87 agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: If all members have copies of the subamendment to 81, we will revert to 81.
On section 81:
Mr. McClellan: Let’s go through this again. The amendment to the amendment permits disclosure under three conditions. The first is that both the adopted child and the person who is the birth parent are enrolled in the voluntary disclosure registry and that there is a match between a birth parent and that birth parent’s birth child as indicated from the voluntary disclosure registry.
The second is that the director has obtained the consent of any living person who is the parent of the applicant after the adoption order is made, that is to say the adopting parent. The third is that the director before the actual disclosure takes place will verify that both parties referred to in subsection 5, that is, the birth parent and the adult adoptee who match, consent to the disclosure of information pursuant to this subsection.
If those three conditions are met -- that is to say that both parties are named in the registry, that this so-called third member of the adoption triangle, the adopting parent, gives consent and, thirdly, the birth parent and that birth parent’s birth child indicate to the director their current consent to proceed with disclosure, their consent as of the moment that the disclosure is about to take place -- then the disclosure will take place.
It may be a cumbersome amendment but I think it takes care of the objectives and the concerns that have been raised by members of the Liberal Party. I hope they will support it. I think it is very important to reach a consensus on the issue of how to handle adoption record disclosure in some way, no matter how small the way is.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: A lot of sweet-talking there.
Mr. Hennessy: A lot of gas.
Mr. McClellan: It is very important that the ministry be required to deal with this issue and not simply to stand back and pretend the issue doesn’t exist. It is a real issue and there are many thousands of people who are searching for their own identity. There are many very knowledgeable people in adoption agencies, in children’s aid societies and in ministries of this government, who understand this. I think it is very important for the two opposition parties to get together on this and pass an amendment that has our mutual agreement that will require the government to begin to deal with it and not to pretend that there is no problem.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Like Canada Packers, stamp your number on your backside.
Mr. McClellan: That is the purpose of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment. That is the purpose of all of the attempts to reach a consensus. I believe we have a consensus and I believe we are now in a position to go forward and vote this into the act.
Mrs. Campbell: Could I ask a question for clarification of the member proposing the amendment? Do I take it from this particular section of this amendment as put forward that we are dealing in this matter only with immaculate conception?
Mr. Hennessy: Very good.
Mr. Chairman: The member for Bellwoods.
Mr. Hennessy: He can’t talk now. You finished him. He’s kayoed.
Mr. McClellan: No, we obviously are not. I don’t think it is necessary to specify more than is specified. If that remains a problem, I am afraid it remains a problem. I understand the point you are making. I have thought about the point and discussed it with legal counsel and I don’t think it is necessary
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Chairman, I am concerned with a few items in this amendment. After listening to this debate tonight and being very concerned first of all about the possibilities of disclosure, very concerned about family impact and so on, I will be voting against it. But I want to delineate the reasons why.
Mr. Hennessy: You are wasting your time.
Mr. J. Reed: First of all, there is nothing in the amendment, at least at the present time, which precludes registry at the time of birth by the birth parents. It would be even more viable and more plausible if there were an 18-year separation. There would be no need for birth parents to make a voluntary contact before that time anyway because the adopted child could not, under the amendment, make that contact. So that’s the first concern.
The second concern is that if there were a birth parent matching with a child or offspring, the third contact would be made, according to this amendment, by the director. That in itself gives unequal status to the adopting parent. I feel there are three elements in this situation which have equal rights, if there are rights here, and also equal responsibility. They involve the adopting parents as well as the adopted child and the birth parents. It seems to me that all the mechanics could be properly delineated, this could actually be workable.
But there’s one area that I don’t think can he accomplished under any kind of legislation. That is simply the change in relationship that would inevitably occur in some families if this possibility were opened up. I am thinking of an adopted teenaged youngster. I am the father of teenaged children and recognize some of the natural stresses and strains that take place. There might be some undue pressure placed on the adopting parents to register with the central registry and some undercurrent that would exist between the adopted child and the adopting parents that does not exist at the present time, if we set this up. I am not suggesting that it would happen in every case but it certainly would and could happen in some cases.
The member for Bellwoods suggested as well that there were thousands of people just waiting to find out who their birth parents were. But in truth, in actual practice where disclosure does exist, so far the statistics indicate that the interest level is about one per cent. One per cent does not in my mind indicate we should risk changing the basic relationship in a family in order to accommodate that. I still hope a means might be found whereby this kind of thing could take place, because I do feel there are rights on all three sides. But I don’t see that taking place in this amendment.
I was also impressed with the remarks of the member for Prince Edward-Lennox, who has some familiarity with the Ministry of Community and Social Services -- particularly where he suggested the ministry really could not guarantee permanent confidentiality. That is another reason I have to vote against this. While I agree deep down with the intent, I somehow can’t bring myself to be responsible for what I believe to be fundamental risks.
Mr. Bounsall: I will make no comment on the remarks of the member for Prince Edward-Lennox, except to say I certainly agree with him about the revisionist tendencies of the member for Bellwoods. He has revised and revised and revised these amendments until they are almost just a description of what is taking place in some of the children’s aid societies across our province today -- not, unfortunately, in all of them.
Having been both a foster parent and an adopting parent, having adopted one of the foster children in their adulthood, I appreciate the point made by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot. That has been incorporated in the revised amendment as proposed by the member for Bellwoods, so that the adopting parents would also have to give their consent.
But to those in the House who feel this would ever be a problem, I, as an adopting parent, can assure you -- certainly from my experience -- it is not and will not be a problem to obtain that consent. This is because of the relationship that exists between an adopting parent and a now-adult adoptee -- if that adult adoptee wishes to determine something about his or her natural parents, there should be no fear or any uncertainty on the part of the adopting parent to grant permission.
The adult adoptee has been brought up by an adopting parent, with all the love that has been bestowed upon him throughout his childhood; with all the discipline which has been administered to give him the best possible outlook on life; with all the delineations of behaviour the adopting parent puts on that child, all of which is no doubt later appreciated by the adoptee. There should be no problem, nor need there be any uncertainty or fear on the part of the adopting parent about the adult adoptee determining and making contact with the natural parent. This has been the case with each of the foster children who were within our family.
I might say to the ministry I can’t imagine why you would not accept this amendment, particularly as revised by the member for Bellwoods. It’s a far cry from what the Metro children’s aid society, in all its wisdom in dealing with these problems, has recommended and asked for. It’s a far cry from various of the other drafts. It’s no surprise to this House, having sat on the committee that dealt with this bill outside the House and from what I’ve said in this House when it’s come back, that I’m not very happy with the version that is in front of us. I feel there should be much more than the rights embodied in this amendment.
None the less, it’s a good amendment. What it does very simply and very clearly is say when the adult adoptee and the parents, both natural and adopting parents, voluntarily agree that this information can be disclosed, bearing in mind that the directorate of the society that’s going to be finally doing the disclosure, has determined that all parties are willing to have that disclosure made, the society is also, under section 7, to provide guidance and counselling to those persons who are involved. This amendment has virtually all bases covered in terms of concerns that anyone might have.
I will say to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot I think his contribution at this time in ensuring that the adopting parents do have a say is quite a positive one. As I outlined before, to me this never will be a problem, but it’s well to have it covered off.
I think his second point, which has been well covered again in the amendment, was one well made. That covers off the point of the director at the time, when he has determined -- and it may be a belated willingness on the part of one of those parties to have this information revealed -- when he finds that he has all that information he must first check with all of those parties before he makes that disclosure.
I can see the situation as not so much the birth parent giving consent at the time of the birth, but where a mother in her late 30s, for example, may well be interested in contacting a natural child she had put out for adoption and giving her name to the registry and that the adopted child might not wish to get in contact with the natural parent for another 10 years.
Ten years go by. That woman is now in her middle or late 40s and may have a completely changed circumstance than she had 10 years previously and she may not at that time, or even some few years later, be willing to renew that relationship. It’s a very positive amendment which allows for the state of mind of the natural parent fluctuating from time to time, depending on the particular circumstances.
I say again to the minister, I’d be most interested in hearing his comments. Perhaps this is an amendment which the minister may well like to think some more on before he opposes it, if that is his intent.
Mr. McClellan: He’s a revisionist too.
Mr. Bounsall: Perhaps he could look at what has been proposed here and have another crack at talking to his cabinet colleagues and his caucus to ensure that --
Mr. Foulds: It is his caucus that bothers him.
Mr. Bounsall: -- this amendment is accepted. It’s my feeling about the minister, without trying to embarrass him, that he would probably accept an amendment of this sort. Having a few more days with which to discuss this with his colleagues, this very reasonable amendment, which would take this extremely slight step forward in Ontario, that would be time very profitably awarded by this House and time very profitably spent by the minister.
I might say that with the amendment we have before us, in my view, all we have done is to take the first step towards regularizing procedures across this province for the children’s aid societies in the province. We have clearly said to them, “Look, it’s okay now, if information is received from the adopting parents, the natural parent, and the adult adoptee, for this information to be disclosed. It’s OK after you have made sure that that information is current and after you have ensured that the children’s aid society through which the information is going to be disclosed will do the counselling and guidance necessary to meet any problems which would be involved. That is now all right for you to so do.”
Certainly some children’s aid societies in this province will welcome this and from time to time may well go out and make a search of their own for the third person involved if they feel the circumstances warrant it and their budgets would allow for it.
On the other hand, those agencies which have always said strictly no are now in a position to say to an adult adoptee who comes to them, “Look, we don’t have a listing of your natural parent’s being willing and therefore we can do nothing. We will, however, record your name and should that come up at any time in the future, we will contact you.”
I don’t expect those children’s aid societies that have not been willing to assist with this in the past to go out and make any sort of a search, particularly with the budget constraints which they have. But it allows them to give a much more satisfactory emotional answer to the adult adoptees who come before them, rather than the ones which they so often hear which is “We advise you not to do anything about it. Away you go. Don’t stir up the pot,” or whatever kind of answer they give, which is very emotionally deflating for those adult adoptees who are so interested in determining and finding out their origins and in many cases, as far as I can see, the medical problems and histories which their natural parents have had. That is something which is of some vital concern in medical terms to adult adoptees and which they would have no way of finding out until that sort of contact is made.
I see this in the final analysis as just an amendment which will not be causing any sort of problem around Ontario, but simply allowing for the practices of the children’s aid society to be regularized and, the practice to be talked about at their annual conventions as to the best way of going about the matters as outlined in this particular amendment.
I can see as time goes by a fair degree of help being extended this way, but the three-cornered requirement that everybody be willing quite clearly must be a mandatory provision. I would hope that the director with whom this information resides across Ontario would be able to keep this information which he has confidential.
I am rather appalled to think, as stated by the member for Prince Edward-Lennox, that the Ministry of Community and Social Service and the director who would be involved in this are not in a position to keep this material confidential. I do not think that’s the situation that exists within the ministry or that there would be any problems. I’m appalled to think that that would be one of the main points made by the member for Prince Edward-Lennox, a former Minister of Community and Social Services, that he could not keep this information confidential.
I see, Mr. Chairman, that you’re drawing my attention to the time. Are you indicating that I should take my seat, the evening’s time being over?
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the committee of the whole House reported one bill without amendment.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Before moving adjournment of the House, may I remind the members that we will be back with legislation on Thursday evening and we’ll start on Thursday night where we left off with respect to Bill 114 and carry on with the business for today as indicated.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.