The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
PITUITARY GLAND REMOVAL
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, later this afternoon I will be introducing an amendment to the Coroners Act.
This is a brief amendment but it will be of enormous importance and benefit to between 100 and 200 Ontario children who suffer from a deficiency of the growth hormone. The amendment will clear the way to enabling these children to overcome this deficiency and lead normal lives.
Mr. Breaugh: That’s the bill proposed by the member for Cambridge (Mr. M. Davidson). We’re pleased to hear the government accepts his bill.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The hormone deficiency results in a form of dwarfism. The effects of both the deficiency and the waiting period before treatment can he very tragic for both the children and their families. The deficiency can be successfully treated through injections of an extract made from pituitary glands.
This amendment would permit a pathologist to remove the pituitary gland in the course of a coroner’s autopsy and to retain it for use in assisting these children. Under this amendment, this procedure would be followed except in cases where the pathologist is aware that the deceased person would have objected or where there is an objection from a member of the family of the deceased.
The pituitary gland, which is approximately the size of a small fingernail, is routinely removed and studied as part of the post mortem examination. This amendment would enable its retention following the autopsy for use in treating children with the deficiency. It is estimated that about 10,000 pituitary glands are needed for this purpose annually in Ontario. At the present time, about half the number needed are available through donation.
The magnitude of the problem is the same today as it was five years ago, when this matter was last reviewed. We are convinced it will almost certainly be the same five years from now unless this significant initiative is taken.
As you know, Mr. Speaker, the member for Cambridge has placed before the Legislature Bill 149 which is designed to meet this pressing need. I congratulate him for that action but I must say the government’s amendment differs in one substantial sense. The government is opposed to the mandatory or compulsory removal of pituitary glands under any circumstances. Our bill prohibits the removal of the gland where the deceased or the deceased’s family has expressed an objection. We would, however, authorize the preservation and retention of the gland following the coroner’s autopsy where no objection is made.
I want also to pay tribute in this regard to the work of Basil and Penney Rodomar of Dunbar Road in Toronto. Their seven-year-old son Tim suffers from this deficiency. Mr. and Mrs. Rodomar brought this situation to my personal attention. They have also focused attention on it through the media, and as a result I believe there is broad public support for this reasonable measure.
As members know, 1979 is the International Year of the Child and I am hopeful this legislation will be in place by then with the support of both opposition parties. I feel the children like Tim Rodomar who suffer from this deficiency should be given this chance for growth.
Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege, I would like to congratulate the Solicitor General for having brought forward this statement today. I would like to point out to him that I personally was prepared to move, had the bill gone to committee, a very similar amendment to what he has placed in there and that is that had an objection been raised then the coroner would have had the right not to remove the pituitary gland.
The minister has given credit to Mr. and Mrs. Basil Rodomar. I personally would like to offer my congratulations to Mrs. Linda Geiger and her son Brett Watson, who have done an equal amount of work in my area on behalf of children suffering from growth hormone deficiency.
OIL AND GAS PRICES
Mr. Nixon: I have a question of the Minister of Energy, Mr. Speaker. Since the federal government still is of the opinion that the energy pricing agreement among the provinces does not call for an increase of $1 a barrel in January 1979, is there any procedure whereby Ontario, and specifically the Minister of Energy, could either modify or withdraw his support of the Alberta contention that such an increase of $1 a barrel is necessary? It is understood that unless there is a change in position by Ontario, the increase will go forward.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I guess for, some say, the umpteenth time, may I again say that Ontario does not agree with an increase in oil and/or gas prices?
Mr. MacDonald: But it has done nothing about it.
Hon. Mr. Auld: What Ontario did say was we felt it was improper for the federal government to abrogate unilaterally an agreement it had made with Alberta. They are two separate issues.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: The term of the agreement has to do with the price of Canadian crude getting above that of American crude, based on a formula. The federal government believes that section of the agreement, which I understand Ontario insisted upon originally, would prohibit an increase if the provinces agreed. Why is it the province of Ontario insists on taking the stand of the government of Alberta? Could it be that our minister, meeting with the Alberta minister before the official meeting with the federal minister, had been persuaded to take such a stand, which is unreasonable for our consumers?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, again, we are talking about the sanctity of an agreement. The honourable member will recall in the press release I made in August when Mr. Chretien announced the federal action, I said at that time we did not believe there would be an increase under the Chicago formula. I said last week in the House that a lot depends on what the dollar will be on December 31 or January 1. Mr. Gillespie has said that if the dollar is at a certain figure, there will not be an increase under that agreement; if it is at a different figure, there will be.
As far as the question is concerned as to whether we or any of the other provinces or all the provinces together can change that agreement, I would say the answer is no. Those provinces were not parties to the agreement in the first place. Ontario protested at the time the agreement was made, saying we did not agree with the agreement. I do not see how we or any of the provinces can change it. I understand discussions have been going on and Mr. Gillespie said there would be discussions between the federal government and Alberta. We may hear more about that in the next two or three days.
Mr. Cassidy: Since the minister is not prepared to defend the Ontario consumer on the basis of the economic needs of this province at this time but only on the basis of what the figures show --
Mr. Rotenberg: Nonsense.
Mr. Cassidy: -- about a Canadian price compared to the Chicago price, will the minister table in the House the calculations he had before him at the time of the energy ministers’ meeting?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Point of order, Mr. Speaker: I did not say the province of Ontario is not prepared to defend the consumers in Ontario.
Mr. Cassidy: I just say the record shows that in Quebec City, Ontario was not prepared to stand up on behalf of the consumers.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, the record did not show that.
Mr. Cassidy: Will the minister table for the House the calculations that were prepared by his ministry for the minister when he went to Quebec City, to show exactly what would be the impact of the prices in Canada and in Chicago, depending on different exchange rates for the Canadian dollar as of December 31 of this year?
Hon. Mr. Auld: We did not prepare a series of calculations which would indicate what the price would be depending on various values of the Canadian dollar, any changes in transportation and the other factors that go into the formula. But it is very simple to do that and I will be delighted to prepare and table in the House a series of calculations, looking at the various alternatives and guessing at what the dollar and other factors might be on January 1.
Mr. Nixon: Am I to understand the minister correctly when he said there are further negotiations, aside from the agreement, at the behest of the federal government, to persuade the government of Alberta not to insist on this extra dollar? If that is the case, can the minister use his undoubted good offices with the government of Alberta to assist in these negotiations so that the consumers of Ontario are not going to be faced with the extra $1 increase in January?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I believe the Premier (Mr. Davis) said on Friday be would be delighted to take part and assist if we were asked to by the two participants. Mr. Gillespie has been quoted in the press as saying that as well, at the meeting in Quebec City, he proposed to meet and negotiate with Alberta.
Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary: Since we had a dollar in the range of 85 to 86 cents in August and will probably have a dollar in that same range at the end of December, can the minister explain why it was that in August he felt the formula would be such that no price rise would be justified effective the end of the year, hut when he went to Quebec City a week and a half ago he thought otherwise and therefore was not prepared to protect the Ontario consumers?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I did not say in August that the formula was such that there would not be --
Mr. Cassidy: The minister did not expect an increase.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I said that looking at the world situation at that time, because OPEC prices have a part to play in this, along with the dollar and the assumption, having read federal predictions, that the dollar was going to go back up again, it looked as though there probably would not be an increase.
AGENCIES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
Mr. Nixon: I have a question I’d like to direct to the Minister without Portfolio from Lanark having to do with his special responsibilities to reduce the numbers of agencies, boards and commissions. Has he anything to report to the Legislature on the success he might have achieved in reducing the 700 of these agencies, boards and commissions, all of which add to the cost that must be appropriated by the Legislature?
Is he aware that a spokesman for Management Board of Cabinet, in appearing before the committee of the Legislature dealing with this, said: “The vast majority of advisory committees spend under $10,000 a year. It may be crass to say this but a $10,000 expenditure to management board, when it’s looking in the final analysis at $15 billion as a total expenditure and so on, is not big chicken, so to speak”?
Does the minister feel, as the official of management board does, that these 700 agencies boards and commissions are not -- and I quote -- “big chicken” as far as our budget is concerned?
Mr. Breithaupt: Some of them are large turkeys.
Mr. Nixon: Or is he trying to reduce these expenditures by reducing the boards?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: On Thursday of this week we will be releasing our report. I think the members will be pleased not only with the reductions in the number of boards, agencies and commissions, but also the cost-saving that will be derived because of the recommendations we’re bringing forward.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Since there have been 31 new boards and commissions established in the last 20 to 24 months, can the minister assure us he is cutting them back at least as fast as the government is creating them? Will he agree with the recommendation from the standing committee that there should be a freeze on the creation of these boards and commissions until somebody in the government gets them under control?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Who recommends them?
Mr. Kerrio: What are you going to do with all your old defeated candidates?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: I say again, when the members see the report on Thursday they will see what number we have reviewed and the percentage with which we’re doing something by amalgamating or dissolving, or so on. Also, in the second phase of our report we’ll be looking at just what the member has mentioned, reviewing existing agencies and the mechanism for setting up new agencies.
Mr. Breaugh: Supplementary: In his deliberations, was the minister able to establish what the Management Board employees were not able to establish, that is, how many of these agencies there actually are and exactly how much money is spent, because in their submission to the procedural affairs committee they frankly admitted they did not know how many agencies were in existence and how much money was spent?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: We were looking at a figure of about 352 agencies, boards and commissions. We don’t have a total figure on what all of those are costing, but we do know for the ones we looked at and we do know the savings that will be derived out of our recommendations.
Mr. MacDonald: That is about half of them.
Mr. Breaugh: So the minister doesn’t know either.
Mr. Nixon: Management Board of Cabinet says there are 700.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary: Since there seems to be some confusion as to the numbers of groups totally involved in this listing, will thus statement that the minister is going to make actually include what the total numbers are and list them?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: We’re looking at about 352 agencies, boards and commissions, I believe.
Mr. McClellan: That is about half.
Mr. Breaugh: The minister doesn’t know how many there are.
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: In the case of conservation authorities, there may be a dozen or two of those, but we only consider them as one. If one added all those together and other groups like that, one would probably come up with a figure higher than 352 or 354.
Mr. Nixon: Did the minister count all the conservation agencies as one?
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Is the minister going to include some suggestion for an ongoing review, recognizing the fact that in this particular instance the government bowed to opposition pressure to get some kind of review going on the existing agencies? Will he recommend an ongoing review, realizing that probably he’s just scratched the surface in this particular area and it needs constant culling out and constant work?
Hon. Mr. Wiseman: Rather than answer that at this time, I’d ask the member to wait until Thursday to see the report and perhaps he would want to ask a question at that time.
Mr. Peterson: I’m too excited. I can’t wait.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations relating to the question of beef prices, which I first raised in this House lust over a month ago. Now the minister has had more than a month to consider the report of the Anti-Inflation Board, which indicated retail margins on beef in Toronto had increased by 30 cents a pound from about 11 cents to 41 cents and were a major cause of the overall increase in beef prices to consumers over the course of the past year, could the minister state what action the government intends to take in order to protect consumers who are being hit by these major increases in beef margins?
Mr. Nixon: Push pork this month.
Mr. Peterson: The NDP are hoarding turkeys.
Hon. Mr. Drea: First of all, I undertook to look at that question some time ago, and my staff is still looking at it although they are coming very close to certain conclusions. At that time, all I committed myself to was to taking a look at it, seeing what an analysis of the AIB report would show in terms of beef prices and making a determination as to whether, indeed, there was anything the government could do or should be doing. The member’s report, a very complete analysis of it, will be done and tabled in this House within a few days. At that time, I will tell the member what I intend to do.
Mr. Cassidy: Since the minister promised to report back to the House, and I quote, “tomorrow or Monday,” and that was stated on October 26.
Hon. Mr. Drea: No, I didn’t; no air.
Mr. Cassidy: Since it is now a month later and since we have also learned that processors’ margins have widened and have been a major contributor to the 20-cent increase in the price of Christmas turkeys, does the minister not appreciate the urgency of the problem and the need to protect consumers rather than just simply --
Hon. Mr. Drea: Ask me; please ask; come on, ask.
Mr. Cassidy: -- deal with other questions and leave the price of food alone?
Mr. J. A. Taylor: What about the decrease in the price of NDP turkeys -- losing another one?
Hon. Mr. Drea: First of all, I would just like to correct the impression left by the leader of the New Democratic Party. At no time did I indicate the complete and rather exhaustive analysis of the AIB report on beef prices would be back in a couple of days. As a matter of fact, I told his House leader in reply to a question two weeks ago exactly the course we were taking and he seemed to approve of that.
I take it that the member is asking me as a supplementary, what do I intend to do about the price of turkey? Is that right?
Mr. Cassidy: Let’s talk about the price of beef and turkey.
Mr. Foulds: The margin in the meat industry.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Do you want to talk about the price of turkey?
Mr. Foulds: Beef up your turkey answer, Frank.
Hon. Mr. Drea: First of all, the price of turkey at the moment, in this pre-Christmas season, is abnormally high. Secondly, I think there is a cause for concern because the processors are not getting very much of the increase in the price. If memory serves me correctly, the processors, because of the declining consumption per capita in turkey in Canada, agreed to a very nominal increase. I think it is about three cents or three per cent. At the same time, the spread or the differential has gone abnormally high. It is my understanding it probably will go even higher because of the fact turkey, as a meat, lends itself to very easy storage and there is also an artificial market for it during the ensuing weeks.
Mr. McClellan: The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) is denying your statement.
Hon. Mr. Drea: It is my personal feeling, and as a matter of fact I can back it up --
Mr. McClellan: The Minister of Agriculture and Food doesn’t like your answer.
Hon. Mr. Drea: -- that the price of turkey now is way out of sight and it’s about time the consumers took direct action: Just don’t buy it and watch the price come down.
Mr. Deans: What do you think of that answer, Bill?
Hon. W. Newman: That’s what I told my wife: “Don’t buy it.”
Mr. Renwick: He is correct, you don’t give a damn about the consumer.
Mr. McKessock: Will the minister, in his report, make sure he specifies and makes it very clear that the consumers in Ontario and throughout Canada are paying less in percentage of disposable income now than they ever have been at any time in the past 20 years?
Mr. McClellan: What’s that got to do with retail ripoff?
Mr. Renwick: That’s not supplementary, it’s argumentative.
Mr. Makarchuk: Whose side is he on? It’s not supplementary.
Mr. McKessock: Will he also point out in this report that the percentage of disposable income the consumer is spending on beef is about two and a half per cent of his disposable income, which is no more than he has ever spent in the last 20 years?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to put that in. But there is something else that should be put in which has caused a great deal of the work to go on and that is the fact that notwithstanding the margins that have been mentioned by the leader of the New Democratic Party and subsequently by the House leader of the New Democratic Party, the margins today in Toronto, or at least the metropolitan area, are lower than they are in the rest of Canada, notwithstanding that increase. I’ll be very glad to put that in.
Mr. Kerrio: Whelan is taking credit for that. How do you guys figure in this?
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If I can get a straight answer from the minister, is the minister prepared to intervene on behalf of consumers who are being hurt by very high prices for beef and for turkey, or is he some latter-day Marie-Antoinette whose only answer to Ontario’s food consumers is, “Let them eat cake.”
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, that kind of indicates the intelligence of the leader of the New Democratic Party. In terms of meat and meat margins, the prices in Ontario, according to that report and according to everything else since, are indeed lower than in the rest of Canada.
Mr. Foulds: What report?
Mr. Mackenzie: So you are happy with it.
Hon. Mr. Drea: One of the reasons for the very high cost of beef, and I will defer to my colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Food, is the fact that for some time, a shortage has been developing in terms of supply and demand. When the prices were low the farmers killed off their cattle. I can recall being in this House a year ago and listening to people from the farm community on two sides of the House warning exactly what was going to happen in terms of beef this year. Aggravating that is the fact that some Canadian beef on the hoof is far more attractive in the United States than it has ever been because of the declining dollar. Turkey is an entirely different commodity.
Mr. McClellan: Good for you. There is a difference.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Turkey lends itself to storage. There is obviously a rather determined effort by processors and distributors this year to try to recapture some of the margins that they lost in previous years. It is not the fault of the producer; the producer has gone far beyond what could be expected of him.
Unless the members opposite want me to set prices, and I don’t really think even they do, there is one alternative at the moment when most of the turkey is in cold storage, or is still on the farm awaiting the process. If they want to bring down the prices, let them just not buy it for the next two weeks and watch that price of $1.34 a pound start to drop.
I know of no other solution. The way the free market operates is extremely practical and I would think that is a solution that would lend itself to most people at the moment.
Mr. Handleman: Supply and demand.
Mr. Foulds: There isn’t a free market.
Mr. McClellan: Free market in food?
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Housing. Has the minister reviewed the findings of the 1977 Peel regional council interim housing policy which determined that it was costing $795 a month in carrying charges for an average new home in Mississauga and that 30 per cent of the selling price of a home in Mississauga was pure profit for the developers? If that review is complete, what action is the government intending to take to protect people who want to have homes of their own?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I don’t recall having reviewed that particular report in recent days, but I will be glad to have a look at it to see exactly what the facts are in the report. We have many reports coming in from municipalities and other organizations relating to cost of housing and market potential, hut I must say I don’t recall seeing this particular one recently.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that profit amounts to $22,936 on a $78,000 home and that it is so high it makes it impossible for families on moderate incomes to be able to afford a home in Mississauga, is the minister prepared to introduce legislation as the municipality of Peel has requested which would enable municipalities to enforce price agreements to prevent this kind of windfall profit being made on the sale of government-assisted housing units?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, at this time, since I have not had the opportunity of reading the report and reviewing it and I am not in a position to say whether the facts are correct or not, I would not be in any position to indicate to this House that I would introduce any kind of legislation that would relate to trying to reduce profits of a particular corporation or sections of corporations.
Mr. Foulds: Why not?
Mr. Speaker: New question.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable minister has undertaken to look at the report and then to respond to it once he has seen it.
Mr. Cassidy: Final supplementary, if I may, Mr. Speaker: Could the minister explain why, when this report was submitted 18 months ago with the recommendation I have cited, there has been no action and no response from the government? Why does the minister not even appear to be aware of a very important recommendation from an area where house prices are particularly important because it is a major growth area for citizens of Metropolitan Toronto?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, obviously, I was not the Minister of Housing 18 months ago. We have gone through a great number of reports, including the Greenspan report, which I trust the leader of the third party has looked at at some time or other, and which indicated clearly that the windfall profits didn’t all come as a result of land pricing. A great deal of it was set because of market conditions prevailing at the time. I think that would be as applicable to Peel as it was to Ottawa and as it was to other communities across Canada.
I have said clearly to the House that I will take this particular report and review it and try to analyse from exactly what point the individual who wrote the report felt there was an excessive profit being made. Some people think there is an excessive profit, but we do forget the odd time that there are excessive risks being taken by some people in investing in the marketplace and producing housing in Ontario and Canada.
Mr. Makarchuk: Name one.
Mr. Foulds: Not in Peel; not in Mississauga.
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, last week the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed) asked if I were aware of a rather far-reaching decision reported in the Globe and Mail concerning the hydro-electric commission of the township of Nepean versus Ontario Hydro.
I am now in the position to advise the House that Ontario Hydro has received the 45-page decision handed down by Mr. Justice Craig of the Supreme Court of Ontario and the corporation is carefully analysing it. Until I have been advised by Ontario Hydro of the results of its analysis, it would, of course, be inappropriate for me to comment any further on the effects of the judgement.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I would like to refer to reported cutbacks in his program for 1979. Would the minister tell us whether or not the position of a researcher at Vineland -- I’m speaking of Mr. Alex Hutchinson who, it has been reported to me, is going to retire next spring -- will be filled? This gentleman has made a great contribution in the matter of varieties of root stocks, especially for apple frees. Would the minister tell us whether or not a replacement will be sought for that position?
A related question is whether or not the ministry will continue the program of pest monitoring which has been so successful in reducing the amount of chemicals used. The cost-benefit for six crops has been estimated at about $3 million, with great benefits to consumers, producers and to the environment. Would the minister tell us whether or not that program will be carried out again in 1979?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I guess the easiest way to answer it all would be to say “yes,” but in order to answer that question more appropriately: yes, the apple research expert is retiring; and yes, we are still very interested in doing apple research. We would certainly hope there would be a specialist. I appreciate the great effort this man has put forward; I know he is retiring.
There are all kinds of rumours around. Yes, we will have cuts within the ministry. Yes, we will also be doing pest monitoring, although maybe not to the extent we would like to be doing it because of the cutbacks that have been called for in all ministry departments.
I realize the importance of the apple industry to Ontario and the great strides we have made in the last few years. I know we will continue to make them and we will have the appropriate people in place to make sure we do have a thriving apple industry in this province.
Mr. McKessock: Supplementary: Pertaining to these cutbacks, is the minister this year going to get further funds for tile drainage rather than the severe cutbacks we have had in the last few years? We have the NDP worrying about the price of food, and this is one area where it is very efficient for the farmer to tile his land, but in the past couple of years he has been unable to get the money needed for this program.
Mr. Speaker: That’s not supplementary to the original question.
Mr. McKessock: It’s pertaining to the cutbacks within the Agriculture and Food ministry.
Mr. Speaker: It has nothing to do with the original question. If the minister wants to answer it, I’ll permit it.
Hon. W. Newman: All I would say is we have had a budget for tile drainage. On this side of the House we are all aware of how important it is to the agriculture community. When the 1979-80 budget is announced in this House, the member will know exactly what is being allocated to tile drainage.
SERVICES TO HANDICAPPED
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Since last week was disability awareness week, I would have hoped the minister would have been sufficiently aware of the transportation needs of the physically handicapped, especially after a day-long symposium at city hall 10 days ago to publicize their needs, that he would now be ready to make an announcement on what he is going to do about ongoing funding to enable municipalities to provide transportation services to the handicapped.
Can the minister tell us if he is prepared to continue funding the five pilot projects which have been operating in five Ontario cities for the past two years and, now that they have demonstrated the need is even greater than is currently being met, is he ready to extend the service to enable them to provide weekend and evening services as well as to extend this service to other cities?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I will take a try at answering that question. First, I would like to say that my colleagues and I are very much aware of the need for transportation for the handicapped in Ontario. Unlike the honourable member, I am not happy with having five pilot projects. I want to have a uniform program for all the handicapped citizens of Ontario.
Mr. McClellan: Why don’t you bring one about?
Mr. Warner: All you do is talk about it.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I hope that in the very near future I will be in a position to bring that about.
Mr. Grande: You’ve been saying that for a year and a half.
Ms. Bryden: A supplementary: Since the objective of such a service is both day and evening mobility, would the minister care to comment on the suggestion of Mr. Jack Longman, the chairman of the Ontario Advisory Council on the Physically Handicapped, that perhaps the cheapest solution might be to provide every handicapped person with a car with special controls instead of providing public transportation 18 hours a day?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t think that would be a great deal of help to those people who would still be unable to drive. Perhaps the honourable member would like to advise me as to what make the cars should be.
Mr. McClellan: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker; Will the minister give us a commitment now that, when he gets around to making his announcement about the new program -- I assume within a couple of days -- the program will extend to full service; that it will not just involve service to and from work but will also be available to the handicapped for leisure-time activities in the evenings and on weekends?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I won’t make any commitment until I am in a position to announce the program.
TRUCK LICENCE FEES
Mr. Hennessy: Mr. Speaker, may I ask a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications? In view of the fact that the minister has indicated the weight restriction on eligibility for the $10 licence fee for trucks and campers using recreational facilities in northern Ontario will not be removed on monetary grounds, could the minister report to the House how much revenue is derived from the higher fees charged to owners of three-quarter-ton trucks equipped with campers?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure our registration system would identify the number of three-quarter-ton trucks that are equipped with campers as compared to straight three-quarter-ton trucks. I will have to consult with my officials and see whether that information is available.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker; How long is the minister going to delay in getting through this legitimate request from all over northern Ontario? Does he not think any vehicle that is used for personal recreational purposes should be allowed the $10 fee? Why does he not simply bring that in?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker, because I am sure what the honourable member does not know is that a great many vehicles -- maybe even 10-ton vehicles -- might be considered as being used for recreational purposes at some time. I am sure very serious consideration will have to be given to expanding the present policy beyond the present vehicle weight.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Supplementary; Would the minister consider extending the $10 licence fee to eastern Ontario where incomes are often lower and times even more difficult than in much of northern Ontario?
Mr. Mackenzie: Have you just found out? Mr. Foulds: And the gasoline prices are higher.
Mr. Warner: You are standing alone on this one, by yourself.
Mr. Speaker: Do you want an answer?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am tempted to say, “Only if Oakville were included in eastern Ontario,” but I won’t.
Mr. Foulds: That’s your whole attitude towards this very serious question.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I would say that any further changes should be discussed with the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). In fact, the previous changes were a matter of budgetary policy.
Mr. Cassidy: A final supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: No, we have had enough.
Mr. Cassidy: The minister won’t give anything away.
FUNDING OF SOCIAL SERVICES
Mr. Blundy: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Will the minister be making a statement in the very near future regarding his meeting last week with the federal Minister of National Health and Welfare, Monique Begin, particularly in light of a reversion to the funding through the Canada Assistance Plan?
Mr. Breithaupt: Or at least could we hear the tapes?
Hon. Mr. Norton: It had not been my intention to make a formal statement on that particular meeting since, at the request of the federal government and the provincial governments, it was not intended to be a formal federal-provincial conference, but rather the terminology used by the federal government in that case was a working session.
However, I would be quite willing to answer any questions that may relate to it which the honourable member might have. I had not intended to make a formal statement.
Mr. Blundy: There were a number of things the minister said he would be discussing. Could he describe his efforts as fruitful in trying to get fair compensation for the permanently unemployable in this province?
Hon. Mr. Norton: On matters relating to cost-sharing on income maintenance programs, I did make specific proposals at the conference and I was encouraged, especially in so far as work incentives were concerned, to have the federal minister indicate a willingness to work with the provinces immediately towards making changes in the regulations under the Canada Assistance Plan. There were no commitments made on any specific parts of the income maintenance program, but there was an understanding we would work towards changes.
Mr. Speaker: I want to draw your attention to the fact our clock has stopped and we are not going by it. It is now 2:43 and the question period ends at 3:06.
Mr. Conway: The member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) stopped it.
Mr. MacDonald: We trust you, Mr. Speaker.
HEAVY WATER PRODUCTION
Mr. MacDonald: I have a question of the Minister of Energy. Since AECL has stated unequivocally that it has adequate heavy water productive capacity to meet all Canadian domestic needs outside Ontario and all prospective needs for Candu sales throughout the 1980s, and since it was announced a week or so ago that the Canadian government is now going to renegotiate its agreement, opening the prospect of de-mothballing La Prade and building it so that it will have even more heavy water, doesn’t the minister think it might be appropriate for him to reconsider his total rejection of the recommendation of the select committee and proceed to stopping and storing at least half of Bruce D, whose product we have less and less prospect of marketing?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I hope I didn’t give the impression that I was totally rejecting the recommendations of the select committee.
Ms. Nixon: You certainly did.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I think what I said at the time was that there were discussions going on among the Minister of Energy, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and the federal Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, and that Hydro was also reviewing its position. There are further meetings, I believe, with AECL this week and Energy, Mines and Resources next week, at which time we hope to get some information.
I understand Hydro is still studying the implications of cancelling that part of the construction contract that relates to the third section of Bruce D, the one that the committee recommended not be proceeded with. I am told it’s a fairly lengthy procedure to look at the pros and eons of total cancellation on the one hand with a staged cancellation in terms of the money that’s involved.
I expect that in a couple of weeks Hydro will be in a better position to make a recommendation or a decision, which the government may or may not agree with, and there will be further discussions with Hydro when we have a little more information. As the honourable member I’m sure is aware, it’s a very complex matter. As I recall, the cancellation of part of a Hydro project -- and I can’t remember which one, it may have been Darlington -- took about four or five months before we had the figures involved as to the cost.
Mr. MacDonald: Just by way of clarification, since the minister stated emphatically and unequivocally in his speech in Hanover that it was the government’s desire that we complete all of Bruce D, is the minister now indicating, with the consultations in Ottawa and with Hydro reviewing the situation, some prospect that he may be backing off that total completion? Will he be making an announcement in a week or so?
Hon. Mr. Auld: As I say, until all the facts or as many of the facts as are available --
Mr. MacDonald: You didn’t have all the facts but you said you were going to go ahead and build it.
Hon. Mr. Auld: -- and on which one can base a logical decision, until all those facts are known, it’s difficult to make a decision one way or the other.
Ms. MacDonald: You made a decision without the facts.
Hon. Mr. Auld: I believe what I said at Bruce was that it would be undesirable not to complete the project, and looking at the information then available it might not be necessary to.
Mr. MacDonald: Now you’re getting some new information?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Subsequently, the federal government said it was negotiating and that perhaps La Prade would not be stopped in its tracks. Whether it will be completed to the point of being able to manufacture heavy water still hasn’t been established to my knowledge.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Since the atomic energy commission has indicated clearly that it didn’t matter whether La Prade went forward or not, they did not need the heavy water --
Mr. MacDonald: That is a fact the minister ignored.
Mr. Nixon: -- and since the minister referred to the members of the committee, including his own colleagues, as jeremiahs, which in my intensive study of the Old Testament indicated that he thought we were kind of gloom and doom mongers, why would he be changing his mind? Is he not aware that if he had cancelled as was recommended by the committee, we would have saved $100 million but that every day it goes on he loses that saving until it will just peter out and he’ll be left with this multi-million-dollar piece of plumbing standing there and nothing to do but admire it?
Hon. Mr. Auld: First of all, I do not believe we would have had a total saving of $100 million --
Mr. Nixon: You won’t now.
Hon. Mr. Auld: -- if it had been cancelled at the time, because we would then have been left with something which would not even partially function. The recommendation of the select committee, as the honourable member I am sure is aware, would permit, in effect, one half of the effective part of the plant being completed so it could produce heavy water. In fact, it could use some of the enriched water from A and B in its finisher. That is an attractive solution.
On the other hand, there is a large amount of equipment, piping and tubing which is on order and which has to be paid for and has to be stored.
Mr. Foulds: It is all calculated; that was given to you.
Hon. Mr. Auld: There are those who say it would be better to store that standing straight up in position than to store it in some other rented place.
REVENUE CANADA INFORMATION
Mr. Watson: A question for the Attorney General: Last week the Premier (Mr. Davis) indicated he was going to request the Attorney General to look into the fact that automobile dealers that sold cars to people for over $10,000 would report them en masse to Revenue Canada. I am wondering if the Attorney General would in a similar manner also include in those discussions the matter that marketing boards in Ontario have been requested by Revenue Canada to submit en masse the amounts paid to all the producers for each of the products they have sold, since this is of considerable concern to the marketing boards and they consider the amounts they pay out as confidential information. They co-operate on an individual basis but they feel they are not entitled to distribute this information en masse to Revenue Canada.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will be happy to do that, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, recently the leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Cassidy) asked several questions regarding a back study completed for the Workmen’s Compensation Board. I would like to assure the member that the board is not aware of any cases where the benefits to an individual have been altered or eliminated due to the refusal of the patient to undergo back surgery. As well, I would like to inform the member that the board does not have a policy that forces workers to have operations imposed upon them as a condition of continuing to receive benefits. If the member has any cases where this has taken place, I would like to receive them and follow them up.
Regarding the member’s supplementary question about tabling the back study, I was in touch with the board and have been informed that the doctor who undertook the study plans to have this study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. After discussing this with my own legal staff, I believe that in tabling the study at this point, we might deprive him of the right of first publication and for this reason I am unable to table it at this moment.
The member for Downsview (Mr. di Santo) asked a couple of supplementary questions about the board referring workers to psychiatrists. I would like to inform the member that it’s not the board’s practice to constantly refer injured workers to psychiatrists and would remind him that he asked similar questions on the Notice Paper in the spring of this year. I have been advised that statistics have not changed since that date. Involvement of psychiatrists in the overall management of patients occurs in less than two percent of cases handled by the Workmen’s Compensation Board and in many of those cases it resulted from referral from the patient’s own physician.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the minister’s statement, will he undertake on behalf of the Workmen’s Compensation Board to restore the benefit of any worker whose case we bring to the government who had his benefit cut or eliminated for refusal to undertake the kind of back surgery that we referred to in the original question?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The information given to me is that there has never been such a case. If there is such a case and the member can give me information about it, I will undertake Ito follow it up.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: You probably had about three when you asked the original question.
Mr. Cassidy: Will the minister not agree that there is more importance for injured workers in the province in having this study made available now in order to guide future WCB policy than the question of whether or not the thing gets published first in a journal in the United States? Will he not use his personal good offices in order to ensure that that study can be made available to the members of the Legislature immediately and that the journal can be asked to understand the reasons why it’s being tabled here in the first instance?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, this has been a study that has been going on for more than two or three years now, but I would tell the member that I have already asked one of my staff to find out who the author was so that I may speak to him and see if there is such a possibility.
BRENT RAIL SERVICE
Mr. Conway: I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development: Is the minister aware of the fact that the small community called Brent, situated in the northeastern section of Algonquin Provincial Park, is facing almost total isolation this coming winter as the result of changes in the rail service being provided by Canadian National? Is the minister further aware that as a result of this isolation this community will face not only a loss of mail service but indeed very serious difficulty in the face of potential illness? Can the minister indicate whether he is aware of this situation and whether or not he’s prepared to use his good offices with CN and any other agency to alleviate what appears to be a very serious situation developing in that part of this province?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware of that and I am pleased to inform the honourable member that I will do whatever I can to assist in improving the situation.
Mr. Conway: Supplementary: Since the community’s second link with the rest of the province is a long and seasonal Ministry of Natural Resources road, the minister, in his investigations, might indicate whether or not, if the railway is not prepared to reconsider, there might be some arrangement to allow the winter use of this particular MNR link?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: I would be pleased to take that into consideration.
EROSION OF SCARBOROUGH BLUFFS
Mr. Warner: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. I would like to know if he would like to see his house slip suddenly into Lake Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Well, Mr. Speaker, there are days -- I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what it was. The House was going to slide into Lake Ontario?
Mr. Warner: I would like to know how the minister would feel if his own personal house slipped suddenly into Lake Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Norton: That would be the St. Lawrence River that he is on.
Hon. Mr Auld: I don’t think I would feel any differently from any other person in this House. I would be very upset if this happened.
Mr. Warner: As a supplementary: Perhaps the minister can indicate today what day we will see the money needed to prevent the erosion along the Scarborough Bluffs, as several homeowners face the possibility of eventually having their homes slip into Lake Ontario. When will we see the money, which I understand has been promised, to complete the project to stop erosion along the bluffs?
Hon. Mr. Auld: I know the honourable member is aware of the provincial support that has been given to the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority for the first phase, which I believe is called Bluffers Park, which has stopped erosion farther east of the area about which I assume he is talking.
I met with the chairman of Metro Toronto and the chairman of the Metro conservation authority about two weeks ago and they submitted to us several other projects which they wanted to undertake and for which they do not have matching funds from the province for the next year or two. I undertook to see what we could do to assist them.
I also suggested that perhaps the priorities might change, although dealing with priorities is their responsibility. It seems to me that having viewed from the water, from the air and from the land one area where the erosion is very close to the edge of the pavement and there is some concern not only for the houses but also for water and sewage systems, that might well be the first priority.
Mr. Warner: When do we get the money?
LEASE OF GRAIN ELEVATORS
Mr. G. I. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Is the minister aware that the National Harbours Board is inviting proposals for the lease of its grain elevators situated at Port Colborne and Prescott?
Hon. W. Newman: I appreciate the fact that the member did give me advance notice last Friday on this question and I would like to elaborate on the question.
The National Harbours Board has invited interested organizations to lease these two facilities. It has apparently outlined a number of specifications which the tendering organizations must meet in order to qualify. For example, there is an obligation to hire the existing employees. The organizations tendering must agree to serve the same clientele and apparently there is an overriding provision whereby the National Harbours Board could step in and reallocate space in the elevators.
Some preference will be given to Canadian organizations making tenders. It would appear that the board, in the tender specs, will ensure that the facilities will continue to be of service to the agricultural community. In fact, with private enterprise operating these facilities, there could be even better service to the agricultural community.
The National Harbours Board is a federal crown corporation, as the member knows, and it will be some months before the final details are worked out. The member can, if he likes, obtain a copy of the specs from the National Harbours Board, which goes into great detail to make sure the people involved in the area are protected.
Mr. McClellan: Is Cargill going to get it?
Mr. G. I. Miller: Supplementary to the minister: I wonder if it would be in the best interests of the Ontario farming industry for this to be in private enterprise. Does the minister think this facility, which supplies the export market and perhaps a combination of both exports and local imports from the western provinces, should be in the hands of private enterprise? Would this be in the best interests of the farm community? Would the minister investigate to see if it might not be better under the direction of our Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Ontario?
Hon. W. Newman: I thank the member for the compliment, but I would just point out to him that if it is in the private sector there will be enough conditions attached to it to make sure that the fanning community is well served. If the National Harbours Board does make arrangements with a private-sector person to take it over, we will certainly want to have some input into it to make sure that those facilities are as available to the farmer or the producer as they are now -- maybe even more so -- and to make sure that the present employees are protected and that we will have a market for those elevators to serve not only the export market but perhaps also some of our local markets.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Since it is roughly a week since tractor-trailers created havoc on the Queen Elizabeth Way, would the minister tell the House whether he has had an opportunity to meet with the representatives, if there are any, of those people? Can he identify any association that they may have belonged to?
Hon. Mr. Snow: “No,” I believe, would have to be the answer to all three questions, Mr. Speaker. I have not been able to identify any representative; all least not to my knowledge has anyone come forward saying he is representing this organization. I have been told by the Ontario Trucking Association that they are by no means affiliated with them. I have had no request for a meeting and I don’t know with whom I would meet, unless someone comes forward.
Mr. Philip: By way of supplementary: Does the minister recall that three years ago the Ontario Trucking Association, which is representative of a majority of trucking companies, presented to him the view that the left-hand lane should not be open to trucks, and that represents the major view in their industry as well as the view of his ministry?
If he does have an opportunity to meet these people, would the minister at least go on record to tell them that their methods are not appreciated and do not represent either the views of the trucking industry, the views of the union or the views of the public?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have no hesitancy in saying I would go on record in that way. I certainly am very well aware of the views of the Ontario Trucking Association and, in fact, their full support for the regulations as they now are; I believe they were involved some years ago, when those regulations were developed. I am also well aware that the general public would not be in sympathy with the views that were expressed by the demonstrating truckers last week.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. After the meeting which took place in Belleville last week with the Central Ontario Cheesemakers’ Association and the comments that were made by the federal Minister of Agriculture, who put the blame on the provincial ministry as far as quota goes, can the minister tell me what steps his ministry plans to take to see that additional quota is obtained for these people?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I guess if the member reads a copy of the speech I made last Wednesday -- I think it was last Wednesday -- to the Ontario Dairy Council, outlining Ontario’s position as regards industrial or market-share-quota milk, I said that eight years ago, when the program was set up, it was a good program -- and it still is a good program -- but my concern was that consumer tastes and demands have changed in that eight-year interval. I also said the national supply management program should have certain criteria set up relating to consumer demand and consumer utilization.
To boil all that down, what I am saying is that Ontario has less percentage of quota as compared to population than it had eight years ago, when the plan was set up. There should be an adjustment in the MSQ to allow us to produce the products that are in demand here in Ontario, for which we’re not getting enough milk to do now and our plants are running at less than half of capacity.
I talked to the federal minister about it only last week, and many other times previously, about the critical situation that we are faced with. As a matter of fact, I had further meetings on it this morning. Nobody is more concerned about it than I am. The farmers can produce the milk, and it seems too had that we have to say no to new plants’ that want to locate in Ontario because we can’t guarantee them a supply of milk that our farmers are prepared to produce. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Mr. O’Neil: Supplementary: I think it was suggested by the federal minister that it was up to the Ontario minister to raise this matter at a meeting of the agricultural ministers of the different provinces. I wonder if I could ask the minister when he intends to raise that question and ask the ministers of the other provinces for additional quota for the people of the province of Ontario.
Hon. W. Newman: I just said we were at a federal-provincial conference last Monday in Ottawa. I presented a paper to the federal minister. It doesn’t make any sense to me that one province can have a wide-open quota right now; that when we’re crying for quota here in Ontario another province is helping to contribute to the surplus situation in Ottawa.
Mr. O’Neil: What are you doing about it? What’s the answer?
Hon. W. Newman: The simple answer, if the member doesn’t understand, is for Ottawa to get off its butt, re-establish and set up the milk supply and management program on a national basis. That’s all we need.
Mr. Villeneuve: They give it all to Quebec.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILL
Mr. Speaker: The member for Wentworth on a point of order.
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to clear up for the House what will be a problem this week as a result of an action of one of the ministers. The Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry) indicated this afternoon that he intends some time today to introduce a bill, which if not exactly the same is certainly substantially the same as a bill which was standing on the order paper in the name of my colleague, the member for Cambridge (Mr. M. Davidson), and slated for debate this coming Thursday afternoon.
The minister might have served everyone better had he given a little more notice, introduced his bill earlier or waited until after my colleague’s bill. Nevertheless, there are two matters on which I would like to ask your consideration, Mr. Speaker. The first is somewhat difficult, but I believe it’s accurate.
Under the rules of debate it says quite clearly: “In debate a member will be called to order by the Speaker if he anticipates any matter already on the Order Paper for consideration.” I suggest to you that in making his announcement today the minister certainly anticipated a matter already on the Order Paper for discussion this coming Thursday.
Secondly, the minister could quite easily have allowed that debate to continue and then have accepted the principle as put forward. We were prepared and we made it quite clear to the minister, to accept any amendment that would have conformed with the minister’s idea of how the bill ought to he proceeded with.
The other important question is what do we do now on Thursday? It hardly makes sense to go ahead with a debate on Thursday, the end result of which we now know will be that it cannot, will not, or for one reason or another, is not to be accepted by the minister, since he has already indicated he intends to introduce an almost identical bill. There is no provision for us at this stage to substitute another matter; there is no provision in the standing orders to allow us to say we will debate something other than that matter which has been placed before the House for debate.
It would seem to me, in the spirit of minority government, that the gentlemanly thing was for the minister to have said he recognized the merit of my colleague’s bill and was prepared to allow it to go ahead, subject to amendments which the minister believes are necessary. We would like to make that offer formally to the minister on behalf of my colleague. If he is prepared to allow the bill to pass second reading, then any amendments required in order to bring it into conformity with what the minister believes is necessary are acceptable to us. That bill could then go ahead, be passed by this coming weekend and would go into place.
We ask you, Mr. Speaker, to look at the technical aspects of the matter, and we ask the minister to look at the common sense of whether or not that bill my colleague has very carefully drafted and brought before the Legislature, and for which notice was given some long time ago, might not be acceptable to the minister in its present form for second reading and then be subsequently amended to allow it to conform with the minister’s own desires.
Mr. Speaker: Does the House leader have anything to say about this? He is the one person responsible for ordering the business of the House.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I think we’ll await your ruling with respect to the particular order that was quoted by my honourable friend. The Solicitor General did point out in the statement the difference between the bill he was introducing today and the one on the Order Paper. He also indicated the long period of negotiation that had been going on prior to the introduction of the government’s bill. The government, by virtue of the provisional orders, certainly has the opportunity to order its business. Indeed the Solicitor General, in bringing in this bill, pointed out the differences between the bill he was introducing and that on the Order Paper. He paid tribute to the member for Cambridge for the contribution which he had made to a fairly worthwhile discussion.
As the honourable member for Wentworth has pointed out, there is no provision now for altering the private members’ public business on Thursday afternoon. No doubt we will have the opportunity to discuss this matter Thursday afternoon, under the order which has been called, and the House might well consider that debate a sufficient debate and it would not be necessary to have the same amount of time spent on the debate on the second reading of the Solicitor General’s bill when it is called.
Mr. Breaugh: Briefly to this point of order:
It is clear under provisional standing order 41 that it is the subject mailer, not the bill, which causes the problem. It is also clear that unless we see some great deviation in the government’s order of business for this week, Bill 149 sponsored by the member for Cambridge will be debated and decided upon in some manner on Thursday afternoon of this week. That would therefore prevent the government’s bill from being presented to this House for further debate.
Standing order 41 is clear that the subject matter, not the particular bill but the subject matter itself, can only be debated once per session. I would think it logical in this instance for the government to simply support Bill 149 on Thursday afternoon, and then proceed for the first time in its existence to call a private member’s public bill for third reading. That would alleviate the problem for all of us.
If the subject matter of the government’s proposed bill is identical -- and it is in this instance; at least in terms of subject matter if not specifically in terms of detail -- then it is quite obvious the Solicitor General and other members no the government side of the House will be supportive of the principle and subject matter of Bill 149. They should simply support that bill during the course of the debate and allow it to come to a vote for the first time in recent history on Thursday afternoon. Then the government could simply proceed with third reading of the bill. There is no problem at all.
On the other hand, should they decide to put forward a bill of their own this afternoon, the government would not be able to proceed with that bill under standing order 41 because the subject matter will be dealt on Thursday afternoon. Perhaps government members should think a bit more before they try to scoop the member for Cambridge.
Mr. Breithaupt: Just a brief comment, Mr. Speaker: I am wondering if the government House leader would at least take the opportunity to consider whether, on consent, another item could possibly be brought before the House on Thursday if the government does not choose to agree with the comments made by the members for Wentworth and Oshawa. It would appear to be an unnecessary spending of time to proceed with this matter if there was another item which could be dealt with during the private members’ hour. Such an agreement would be a convenience, no doubt, to the next member of the New Democratic Party who would be on the list. This might be a way of resolving the problem to the mutual satisfaction of all concerned.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I take it there would be nothing to preclude the House giving unanimous consent for that approach, if it was agreed by the House that we do that.
Mr. Breaugh: That is certainly contrary to conducting a private members’ hour in this House. On Thursday afternoons the members of this House enjoy the privilege of presenting to the House, as individual members, legislation or resolutions which they see fit. I certainly would stand strongly against any coercion on the part of House leaders to replace, withdraw, substitute -- whatever. It is the private member’s opportunity on Thursday afternoons to present such legislation. It should not be a matter subject to any agreements on the part of the House leaders or anyone else.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, just to speak to the point of order --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The last member did not rise on a point of order. You have already spoken twice to this matter.
Hon. Mr. Welch: I was responding, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Are you getting up on a point of order?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I was responding to a question put to me by the member for Kitchener with respect to the possibility of unanimous consent to change the order of business on Thursday. I was not suggesting anything about a House leaders’ agreement. The member for Oshawa who sits there now and smirks knows very well that all he has to do --
Mr. Breaugh: Order, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Welch: -- is stand in his place and deny unanimous consent and it would not be changed.
Mr. Breaugh: Point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Stop playing games.
Mr. Mackenzie: The games come from the minister’s side of the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I haven’t even seen the bill that’s in question now. When the Solicitor General introduces the bill I’ll take a look at it and I’ll consult with my advisers and see whether or not it’s in order.
Mr. Mackenzie: Cheap games from the government side of the House.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CORONERS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 186, An Act to amend the Coroners Act, 1972.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Foulds: It has to be ruled whether it is in order or not.
Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Am I to understand that you are going to consider the subject matter of the bill just introduced and the one already before us, and if they cover the same subject matter the one just introduced will not be in order for further debate? Is that correct?
Mr. Speaker: That is what I have to consider.
Mr. Deans: Could we not have an agreement to do something different? It would be so easy.
CORPORATIONS INFORMATION AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Drea moved first reading of Bill 187, An Act to amend the Corporations Information Act, 1976.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, this bill eliminates elements within the legislation which have created unnecessary difficulties for the business community. The changes to the act are in line with our intention to reduce and simplify paper work.
The government has received numerous complaints from the business community about the requirement to disclose whether or not a director is also a director of a related corporation. We fell these complaints are justified, for the definition of a related corporation as taken from the Corporation Tax Act and does not properly apply to the Corporations Information Act. It is an extremely complex definition and business is wasting considerable time attempting to comply with this requirement.
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, this requirement conveys very little useful information and the public has demonstrated almost no interest in it. The new act will also make it possible for the government to grant exemption to corporations wishing to use their style name on documents with legal implications.
Mr. Foulds: Why doesn’t the minister try protecting the consumers in the same way?
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 146, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.
Mr. Speaker: Does the minister have an opening statement?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes, Mr. Speaker. When I introduced Bill 146 for first reading on October 23, I made some explanatory comments which I would like to highlight now as we begin to consider the bill once again.
When the government postponed property tax reform in June it was clear that a freeze in assessment values would have to continue while alternative policies were developed. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, without changes in the property tax system to compensate for differentials between current assessment and market value assessment, there would be massive increases in taxes on residences and small businesses. It is to prevent the hardship which would result from these increases that it is necessary to freeze assessments at the current levels for taxation in 1979.
Since the postponement was announced, the Ministry of Revenue has begun to remove the assessment discrepancies within classes of property in a number of municipalities. As I noted in my statement earlier, the application of section 86 will enable the Ministry of Revenue assessors to correct inequities within classes of property without shifting tax burdens from one class to another. The correction of assessment inequities will be of particular benefit in regional municipalities and restructured municipalities which included merged areas absorbed from several municipalities. That is why, for instance, much of our initial efforts are concentrated in the regional municipality of Waterloo and the city of Timmins.
The second element of the government’s program to improve the existing tax base pertains to equalization for the distribution of government grants and the apportionment of shared costs. Thus, when Bill 146 is considered in committee, I intend to move an amendment to section 3 which will permit the ministry to produce new assessment equalization factors for use in 1980. I wish to reiterate that no municipality or school board will suffer a loss of provincial grants simply because a new equalization factor is used on the grant distribution formula.
Mr. Haggerty: I rise to speak on the principle of Bill 146 and the amendments that will follow. The effect of this amendment will be to remove the freeze on assessment equalization factors which has been in place since 1970. We, the official opposition, welcomed the minister’s statement on Tuesday, November 21, relating to the removing of the freeze on resource equalization grants and to apply section 86 of the Assessment Act permitting reassessment in municipalities which request it.
The new proposals put forward for upgrading resource equalization grants designed to reinforce the physical capacity of municipalities with a below average tax base has been an issue for almost nine or 10 years in certain communities throughout Ontario. Hopefully, this procedure will generate more equality and equity in Ontario’s total grant structure. As yet, the minister has not indicated what criteria will be maintained relating to per capita equalized assessment. Will it remain at 60 per cent of the relative assessment deficiency for grant purposes? Can he inform the House through some set example of what criteria will be set?
Perhaps one can not truly understand the question of government for not moving in this direction much sooner. Property tax reform cancellation, the continuous freezing of property assessment and resource equalization grants have continued to compound the problems of municipal financing. The need for sound, equitable uniformity in assessment practice in Ontario is the rational approach to resolve the problem. It has been almost 10 years of frustrations to a number of municipalities in the area of resource equalization grants and apportionment grant sharing programs.
Property tax reform has been studied and debated in the Legislature and across the province of Ontario by experts since the beginning of property tax reform, beginning with the completion of the Smith review on municipal taxation in 1967, the Blair commission report, finally the alternate proposals put forth by the Treasurer in 1978 and then the municipal liaison committee with its final report. Their report was not too pleased with the government’s continuous program of putting tax reform and property market value assessment in mothballs. Usually it has happened in almost every provincial election that it was put into mothballs over the years.
Quoting from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce monthly report, which is quoting from a report of the municipal liaison committee, it goes on to say: “The often promised property tax reform program is an indication that the government is failing to shoulder its responsibilities to both the municipal governments and the taxpayers of Ontario. Although the government admits the existing property tax system places an unfair burden on a large number of residential property owners and tenants throughout Ontario, it has decided not to take any overall action to resolve the problem.”
Their views appear in a report by the municipal liaison committee to the executive council of Ontario. The report further suggests that municipalities have lost all confidence in the province’s willingness to deal with this critical issue. “Municipal representatives participated in a review of the government’s alternative system, believing the government was committed to removing the inequities in existing property tax reform. The statement that no tax reform will occur this year by the government does not make any provisions for reform initiatives or alternative suggestions.” The Association of Municipal Tax Collectors of Ontario has urged the Minister of Revenue to undertake immediate action to have the assessment rolls reflect the market value assessment, provide a provincial grant formula to be revised accordingly to take into account changes made; and its major concern is that in many municipalities the government may extend to use the present property tax system an indefinite length of time.
I commend the minister for bringing in some alternative measures to bring about some equity within certain municipalities as it relates to property tax and assessment.
I was further concerned about the letter I received from the municipality of Niagara concerning the request to members in the Ontario Legislature, particularly those from the Niagara peninsula, to endorse their proposal that we have a free vote on the matter of property tax reform and market value assessment in the Legislature.
When I received their letter I wrote back to them and said I wasn’t prepared to endorse market value assessment until I had some definite, concrete evidence that we would have property tax reform included with ft. I received a letter back from the regional municipality of Niagara and finance department report DF 78-66, market value assessment; it is dated September 19, 1978. They sent a copy of this to the city clerk of the city of London concerning my reply. It said:
“Earlier this year, the regional council passed a resolution calling on the three political parties in Ontario to offer a free vote in the Legislature on the institution of market value assessment for the taxation year 1979 in regional Niagara.
“On September 3, a reply was received from Ray Haggerty, MPP for the riding of Erie, indicating that he was not prepared to endorse such a recommendation at this time without a clearcut purpose on the whole matter of tax reform in Ontario. In his reply, he enclosed copies of two news releases from the Ministry of Revenue on revised assessment for the municipalities of Cambridge and Timmins, under section 86 of the Assessment Ad.
“It is my understanding that section 86 allows some adjustment to property assessment within specific classes of property in a municipality, but does not involve assessing such properties at their market value. For example, if a total taxable assessment of all single family homes in a municipality amounts to $10,000,000 under section 86 of the Assessment Act, the assessors can adjust individual property assessment for single family homes in order to make them more comparable. However, the total value of such assessment shall not exceed the original $10,000,000.
“This procedure is of some use within individual municipalities which have been created from an amalgamation of a number of municipalities using different assessment basis. This is the case in the city of Cambridge which was created on the formation of the regional municipality of Waterloo, and in the case of the city of Timmins where there was a massive amalgamation with the surrounding townships and unorganized areas. In these cases, similar houses in the municipalities before amalgamation were assessed at different levels of market value, and these were never adjusted when the former areas were merged into the new municipalities. Because of this, there are some areas in the city of Cambridge where the same type of house built on both sides of the street will pay $500 property tax on one side of the street, and $1,500 on the other. In these cases, the use of section 86 of the Assessment Act to adjust these inequities is quite reasonable.
“However, section 86 of the Assessment Act does not address itself to the present inequities that may exist among municipalities that contribute to a regional municipality or a school board, nor does it address itself to the inequities in tax burden between classes of property, such as the differences between single family and multi-family residences, and between residential, commercial and industrial properties.
“Finally, section 86 of the Assessment Act will not assist municipalities in providing tax shifts from industrial to residential properties through the assessment appeal mechanism as the number of appeals from commercial and industrial taxpayers increases substantially. These latter problems can only be resolved through market value assessment and property tax reform. While the application of section 86 of the Assessment Act may solve some of the local problems, it cannot be looked upon as a substitute for needed property tax reform. It is suggested that a copy of this report be forwarded to Mr. Haggerty.”
This is from Tom McKay, director of finance for the regional municipality of Niagara.
Many of the tax reform proposals have been based on previous assessments in the Niagara region. I believe going back to 1976 or 1974, the former Treasurer suggested that we use the Niagara peninsula as a base. They made another study in 1978 and this is from the regional municipality of Niagara: Analysis of “Alternative Proposal” of Market Value Assessment in Regional Niagara. This may be a lengthy report but it’s worthwhile putting it on the record because I think every member should understand what has taken place when we talk about property tax reform, section 86 of the Assessment Act and market value assessment.
The report goes on to say: “Introduction:
On January 4, 1978 of the Treasurer of Ontario, the Honourable W. Darcy McKeough, released material on property tax reform under a market value assessment basis. The proposed system varied to some extent from that made by the Blair commission and was dubbed by the Treasurer as his alternative proposal.
“The Treasurer requested the municipal liaison committee establish a task force to analyse the figures released under the alternative proposal system and to report back to the province before March 31, 1978.
Subsequent to his original announcement, the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs released material analysing the tax effect of the alternate system as compared with actual taxation under the present system in 1976. Municipalities were requested to review this material and make comments to the province prior to the end of February.”
This is the text of the regional municipality’s report to the minister.
“Alternative proposal market value figures:
As indicated previously, the province has released for all areas data depicting the effect of the alternative system of market value assessment as compared with the existing system for the year 1976. The material with regard to the regional municipality of Niagara and its area municipalities has been analysed in the following schedules and set out as received from the ministry in schedule nine. Before proceeding with the analysis of the material, certain clarifications are necessary.
“1. The assessment used by TEIGA in analysing the alternate proposal is stated by them to be more up-to-date and accurate than the material used in analysing the Blair commission proposals.” It’s amazing what you can do with computers. “A major change in Niagara between the two sets of figures is an increase of approximately $140 million in market value assessment of the city of St. Catharines. This reduces to a certain extent, the decrease in the St. Catharines share of the regional levy as calculated in our analysis of the Blair commission report.”
It goes on to say: “2. In calculating the figures for regional Niagara, TEIGA in error included the sewage levy which has been apportioned among the area municipalities on the basis of market value assessment rather than flow. This error is not of sufficient magnitude to seriously affect the results.
“3. In carrying out its calculations, the province has used average mill rates for each municipality and ignored the differences between urban and rural services.” We’ll get into that later on in the report. “Once again, the error factor due to this averaging is not sufficient to invalidate the results.
“4. The province has indicated the assessment figures used in calculating taxation from transmission lines has been understated and generally the taxes from this source will be higher than shown in the figures.”
I note that in one of the minister’s amendments, if I’m correct in my interpretation of it, he still wants the assessment frozen on transmission lines such as gas, utilities, and maybe even Bell Canada. I don’t know whether or not he has gone that far in gross receipts.
Reading from An Analysis of Alternative System Data, schedule one, it says: “Schedule one sets out for the region of Niagara the market value taxable assessment as calculated under the alternative proposal system. Totals are given for public and separate school support and for Lincoln and Welland Boards of Education. Individual assessment figures analysing assessment by type of property was not released by the province. The total market value taxable assessment of $5,794,788,285 is about $42 million more than the assessment figures released with the Blair commission report.
“Under the alternative proposal, total assessment would decrease because of the elimination of exempt assessments and tend to increase because of the revised proposal on business assessment. However, as was pointed out earlier, the major change is in St. Catharines where the local market value assessment under the alternative system is approximately $140 million more than the figures released at the time of the Blair commission report.”
It is quite understandable why municipalities have a difficult time following the Treasurer’s different studies and reports. It’s hard to keep up with them. That’s not in the report; that’s my personal comment.
“Schedule two: In schedule two, we have compared the market value assessment under the alternative proposal with the taxable assessment for the year 1976 and for each municipality calculated the number of times the market value assessment has increased over the 1976 taxable assessment. The regional average is an increase of 7.76 times with the highest increase being in the case of Niagara-on-the-Lake at 12.28 times and the lowest in the case of Port Colborne at 5.72 times.
“Due to the fact that the industrial assessment generally will increase at a lower rate than residential and commercial, those municipalities with a fairly high industrial base would tend to experience an overall increase of less than average while those municipalities having a large farm land component will experience a times increase above average. The exception to this is in the case of Niagara Falls where a large increase in Ontario Hydro assessment has offset decreases in the industrial assessment.”
If you look at that schedule two, what they are telling you there is that in market value assessment tax reform there will be a substantial increase on farm or rural property in the Niagara region. I suppose that would apply across the province of Ontario.
I hope the minister has read this report because it’s a good report.
Mr. Nixon: You can count on it.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Not only has he read it, he has studied it.
Mr. Haggerty: I can count on it all right. Maybe his staff have read it.
Mr. Nixon: You can count on that too.
Mr. Haggerty: I can count on that too then.
To continue: “Schedule three compares the actual apportionment of the regional levy in 1976 with the apportionment under a market value base. The largest percentage change is in the case of the city of Niagara Falls where their share of the regional levy will increase 19.5 to 24.7 per cent, an increase of 26.5 per cent. The largest decrease is in the case of the city of Port Colborne where their share of the levy drops from 5.4 to 4.5 per cent for a decrease of 17.22 per cent.
“As explained earlier, the increase for Niagara Falls and the decrease for St. Catharines are not as large as originally predicted due to the increase in the market value assessment in St. Catharines from those figures earlier released. Generally, there is an increase in the share those municipalities having large provincial and/or farm land property and a decrease for those municipalities having heavier concentration of industry.”
I thought the purpose of regional government was to equalize the cost of taxation through the have-not communities to the have communities. I will leave out schedules 4A and 4B because they are not of too much concern.
“Schedule five sets out for each municipality the average single family and multifamily residence tax in 1976, the average tax under the market value proposal, the dollar change and the percentage change. For single family residences, the regional average in 1976 under the present system was $529 whereas under the alternative proposal for market value the average would drop to $393, a decrease of 25.7 per cent.”
That is a substantial decrease in taxes. What that indicates to me is that the property owner perhaps is paying too much in property tax.
“All municipalities would experience a decrease in single-family average taxes, running from a high of almost 32 per cent in Niagara-on-the-Lake to a low of 17 per cent in Grimsby.
“On multi-family residences the regional average under the existing system in 1976 was $341; the average on the alternative proposal would be $174, for a decrease of almost 49 per cent. The decrease for individual municipalities runs from a high of 57.36 per cent in St. Catharines to a low of 18.53 per cent in Wainfleet; however, it should be pointed out that the figures on multi-family residences are unlikely to be representative in those smaller municipalities with a low percentage of this type of dwelling.
“Schedule six ... As can be seen, the average reduction in both single-family and multi-family residential taxes is higher in regional Niagara than the average for all regions and for the province of Ontario as a whole and considerably higher than the reduction experienced in the regional municipality of Durham. Total residential taxes in Niagara are forecast to decrease almost 30 per cent, and this compares closely with the forecast decrease of 33 per cent made last April during the analysis of the Blair commission proposal.
“The total commercial and industrial sector experiences an average decrease of 2.2 per cent in regional Niagara, as compared with a break-even position for all regions and the province as a whole. As indicated, the assessment for industry, and particularly older industry, will experience a lower increase than other property classifications, and this is reflected in the 20 per cent decrease in tax payable by industry in regional Niagara. You will recall that last April we forecast a decrease in industrial taxes of just over 40 per cent. However, the proposal to assess industry for business at 90 per cent rather than 50 per cent has reduced the decrease to the 20 per cent figure
“Tax payable by provincial properties will increase 320 per cent, while the tax on farm land payable by the province will increase 532 per cent. While both of these figures are higher than the provincial average, the increase in taxes on farm land is substantially lower than that experienced by all regions and specifically by regional Durham. This lower increase in taxes from farm land may reflect the lower development pressures in Niagara as compared to those regions closer to Toronto.
“In producing these figures, the province calculated that the total increase in provincial contributions to municipalities through taxation of provincial properties and farm lands would cost approximately $286 million. The province therefore reduced the total grants payable to municipalities by a similar amount. However, as can be seen from the bottom figures on schedule six, overall the total provincial contribution to Niagara by way of taxes and grants will be 3.6 per cent higher under market-value assessment than under the present system. This represents almost $4.7 million. As can be seen in looking at the percentage change from the province, a break-even situation exists, while the average for all regions reflects a decrease of 1.5 per cent in provincial support.”
I suppose in that paragraph we can consider a trade-off some place along the line between provincial grants and tax reform and market-value assessment.
“Schedule seven sets out for each municipality the 1976 actual provincial tax and grant contributions paid to the municipality on behalf of general, municipal and school purposes.” It goes on to say: “Columns three to five indicate the estimated change in grants paid to the municipalities and to the region and school boards. In the case of the region and school boards, the reduction in grants is apportioned back to the area municipalities on the basis of their support under the market-value proposal. Column six indicates the net change in provincial support to each municipality, while column seven indicates the percentage change. In looking at the regional totals, it can be seen that total provincial tax contributions will increase by over $12 million, while grants to municipalities, the region and school boards will decrease by $7.3 million, for a net gain to the region of $4.7 million. All municipalities experience a net gain in provincial support except Welland where the reduction in provincial support is more than offset by the substantial reduction in Welland’s share of regional and school board levies.
“Schedule eight: Although the information released by the province is not sufficient to make any definite judgement as to the reasons for the increased provincial support to Niagara, a major reason is likely that the per capita market value assessment in Niagara under the proposed system is less than the provincial average. Schedule eight calculates the 1976 per capita market value assessment for each municipality in Niagara and for the region as a whole and compares it with a provincial average market value assessment of $18,974. As can be seen, the regional average is $16,091 which constitutes an assessment deficiency of 16 per cent. All municipalities in regional Niagara with the exception of Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake have a per capita market value assessment below the provincial average with Port Colborne’s being the lowest at $12,756 per capita, representing an assessment deficiency of 33 per cent.
“In making these calculations, the province has indicated that it has assumed that a resource equalization grant will be paid at both the regional and area municipality levels, a proposal that is recommended in the grant reform report. It would therefore appear that this is a major reason as to why municipal grants in Niagara did not decrease by the same amount as the increase in the provincial tax payments.
“Since the main theme of the Provincial Municipal Grants Reform Committee Report was to eliminate conditional grants and substantially increase the resource equalization grant, this lack of assessment in regional Niagara would result under such a proposal in increased provincial grants.
“Schedule nine consists of material produced by the province comparing the present system and alternative system as proposed of taxation for the region as a whole and for the individual area municipalities. To reiterate the main changes:
“(a) residential tax payers would pay $17.3 million less;
“(b) commercial and industrial tax payers as a group would pay $880,000 less;
“(c) vacant residential and commercial land would pay $4.5 million more;
“(d) Ontario Hydro would pay $7.6 million more,”
That will certainly assist Niagara Falls.
“(e) the provincial government would pay $12 million more;
“(f) provincial grants would decrease by $7.3 million;
“(g) within the commercial and industrial totals, industrial properties would pay $3.7 million less while small businesses would pay $1.4 million more.”
It seems that every time we come in with tax reform or tax suggestions we always come back and hit the small businessman, not the large industrial corporations or multi-national corporations.
“Conclusion: There’s little doubt that in regional Niagara residential taxpayers will benefit substantially from the introduction of the market value assessment. While a small number of individual residential properties may have present assessments so far out of line that under market value conditions they will experience an increase in taxes, the average decrease of 30 per cent should be more than sufficient to substantially mitigate the effect on those few residential properties where increases may take place. It is also pointed out that under the current legislation each municipality has the authority to introduce a phase-in program to mitigate these types of tax increases even further.
“Based on the substantial benefit that would accrue to our residential taxpayers and the overall increase in provincial support to Niagara under the market value system, I would strongly recommend that the region of Niagara go on record as fully supporting the immediate introduction of a market value assessment under the system proposed by the Treasurer of Ontario in his January 4 announcement.”
Well I might say, Mr. Speaker, that if I go through that report and try to come to some conclusion myself, it’s indicated that almost every property owner would be paying less taxes in the region. I suppose when I look at that, it means taxes are going to be less and there’s less revenue generated for municipal expenditure. I can sense that if one would accept that proposal based upon the alternative proposal the minister suggested in February it means a substantial mill rate increase to continue with their program to provide services within a region or within a municipality. I feel that there would be a substantial increase in the mill rate without some form of tax reform.
I suppose it’s a report done to the best assessment that can be provided, but again, as I mentioned previously, Mr. Speaker, you can shove almost any figure that you want into a computer and have it come out looking the way you want it. I believe that market value assessment has been shoved through the computer about four times and we come out with different figures almost every time, perhaps adding further confusion to market value assessment in the province.
We, on this side of the House, can understand very well why the government is not proceeding with market value assessment. One is the fear the anticipated shift of municipal tax burden from commercial -- industry -- to residential taxpayers without proper grant-tax reform would place municipalities in serious financial difficulties. I think it has been suggested in that study report of the region of Niagara.
It was estimated by the former Treasurer, Darcy McKeough, that property tax reform with grants would cost $400 million to supplement the changes in market value assessment. The proposal as presented to us by the Minister of Revenue will cost approximately $40 million and I suppose under the present circumstances with the reduced revenue from federal and provincial governments we can live within these proposals.
I understand the difficulties facing all levels of the government; the revenues are just not there. They just can’t keep going to the well again and taxing property owners, who carry a much bigger share of it. It’s often said that property tax is not the proper coarse to be taken. It’s a regressive form of taxation. This is what the experts tell us.
The government’s utilizing assessment data relating to the Niagara Peninsula can be misleading. I don’t think all the facts are there. When data applies to one municipality it does not necessarily mean that every municipality is its twin. It may seem to have the same appearance on the surface but internally it’s a different corporate body of different needs. I think we understand that.
One has to compliment the minister on taking the initiative -- a measure to reduce the inequity of property assessment and to correct any anomalies that are present. I can think of the former critic of the Liberal Party, Mr. Ed Good from Waterloo North, who had suggested measures to bring about equity in assessment here in Ontario.
One suggestion was to use the assessment manual for all municipalities. The guidelines should be uniformly applied across Ontario by persons specialized in the field of assessment. I feel that we have that quality of assessors in the province of Ontario.
Rut we were strongly opposed to freezing assessment for a period of 10 years, as I am now. Freezing it did not remove the inequities within a municipality. Section 86 of the Assessment Act could have applied 10 years ago and gradually would have brought about market value assessment through reassessment in municipalities every two or five years.
It has always been a common practice in the former county of Welland that we had reassessment even five years and we did remove much of the inequity throughout certain municipalities. I think that’s one of the reasons why the government used the Niagara region as an example. I am sure they have carried out good assessment practices in the past and they will continue to do so. I believe that if the government 10 years ago had used the term reassessment with the goal of market value assessment we could have met that goal today and we could have bargained for the matter of tax grants -- I shouldn’t say tax grants but grants. I think it was that simple; that we could have done it. But again I can only refer to the former Treasurer. It was through his arrogance -- it was either “Do it my way, or no way at all.” This is the same way he went about establishing regional government in Ontario: “It’s going to be my way, or no way at all.”
I can remember those debates. I don’t like to repeat myself time and time again, but I suggested to the minister then that was one of the key issues to the formation of larger units of government, whether for restructuring of counties or regional government, reassessment should have come first. I am sure there were some inequities as a result of different assessment practices within certain counties. If he had only used that section I am sure we could have brought about market value assessment. Perhaps not up to 100 per cent or 50 per cent, but we could have increased it from the present value of about 33 or 37 per cent of the market value based on the 1961 assessment practices.
We could have gradually moved, year by year, to phase it in, and we would have attained our goal. I think that is the most important thing in assessment, to remove the inequities from one property owner to another. I am sure the minister can meet this under section 86 of the Assessment Act, provided all municipalities move in this direction, but if you leave it for a municipality to say, “Sure, we’re going to apply for this section 86”; it may remove the inequities within that municipality but it may also cause further difficulties relating to apportionment grants in a county structure. It could compound difficulties of sharing in a county school board structure or in a county government structure or in a regional structure.
The minister shakes his head no. Rut there is a question that needs to be answered, and I raise that to the minister in the hope he will give some further consideration in this area.
One of the amendments relates to section 71 of the Assessment Act permitting the lifting of the freeze on equalization factors and the phasing in of new factors. It is in a sense bringing in market value tax reform through the back door; that is what it is doing, in a gradual manner. It could have been brought in 10 years ago if those two sections had been applied instead of freezing them.
I am glad this minister has seen the light. I am sure municipalities would welcome this particular section so that they can remove some of the anomalies in assessment practices.
Mr. Cooke: Why didn’t you guys see the light a year ago when we brought in an amendment?
Mr. Bradley: The party of all virtue over there; you guys are perfect.
Mr. Haggerty: Of course, my colleagues to the left, if I understand their amendment, would bring in market value assessment in 1979. I think that would further compound the problem. Without tax reform all the way, it is going to cause severe difficulties in a municipality. The grants will not be there. The government will really have problems if we accept that amendment. It has got to be a package all the way. There can’t be hallway measures. They can sit on their side of the House and say, “Sure, bring it in.” But where are we going to get the money today? The money just isn’t there, and I think we have to take a reasonable look at it and recognize that the revenues have dropped.
Revenues have certainly dropped in the municipalities. They have dropped federally. Every time the federal government brings in a new policy relating to income tax reduction, or cutbacks in other tax areas such as the sales tax, it certainly has some effect on the provincial government’s revenue-sharing with the federal government
The revenues have dropped. We understand that on this side of the House. It is something that perhaps the party to our left does not understand -- the financial difficulties we are in at the present time. We can’t forever go and hit industry either, because they’re having difficulties too in the area of economic problems and export, the competition is that great.
We understand the difficulties the Minister of Revenue finds himself in today, but I think in the long run this is a step in the right direction.
There are perhaps some questions that need to be answered. I was a little hit alarmed at the statement by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) just this week. I’m sure he left the impression with the municipalities that they’ll receive only about a five per cent grant increase -- maybe not even as high as that in some municipalities.
Talking about transfer grants, this is another area that has caused some difficulties to municipalities that have geared themselves to that five-year forecast for expenditures. All of a sudden the government pulls the rug out from underneath them. They started theft programs, providing the hard services, and then all of a sudden they find the grants are not there.
The same thing applies to the regional municipality of Niagara, when one looks at the grants towards the operating costs of police within the region. We’re having a difficult time there now in making ends meet as it relates to the police costs for the Niagara region. When that grant is cut back it means that to maintain the same quality of protection in a municipality municipal taxes must be increased. I suggest that we should be looking at that particular area so we do not have a serious problem with cutbacks in the grants to municipalities, even to schools and so on.
I was thinking about property tax reform. One of the recommendations of the last committee on school costs as related to the cost of education in the province was on property tax reform -- that the province of Ontario pick up 66 and two thirds per cent of the cost of education. If he accepts that proposal it’s going to cause a difficult problem for the Minister of Revenue in loss of revenue in the province. This again relates to property tax reform. This is one of the reasons why we on this side, particularly the Liberal Party of Ontario, are not ready to accept all these proposals without having proper knowledge of the property tax reform this government wants to present to the general public.
There are areas we need more information on. If we accept the amendment from the NDP and bring in market value assessment in 1979, as I said, boy, it would cause chaos in Ontario.
I should point out to the minister there are some questions we want him to consider. As I said, we believe this is generally a move in the right direction. It should remove inequities in the distribution of provincial grants, in the apportionment of costs between municipalities. It does nothing, of course, to fix the four other types of inequities listed by the former Treasurer in his white paper of January 4, 1978. With respect to inequities in the tax burdens of similar individual properties, the door is open for municipalities to ask for the application of section 86.
Other questions are: How will this change affect individual municipalities with respect to both grants and the sharing of costs? Can we have some examples of how it will work in 1980 and in subsequent years?
The minister talks about the guarantee that the same amounts of grants will be applied to municipalities and that there’d be no change in this area -- no municipalities would get less money than they get now from the grants. Does the guarantee refer to the dollars or the percentage of the province’s total aid to local governments? Does the guarantee apply to the municipalities and school boards with respect to the sharing of costs?
Finally, it is not clear how the bill will achieve the avowed purpose of lifting the freeze on equalization factors and basing them on the 1978 market values. The wording appears to be the same as in the past bills which in fact intended to freeze both property tax assessment and equalization factors. In other words, the legislation is not clear. For instance, it says nothing of the phasing in of the change.
As I said, we will support the bill in principle and we will be speaking in more detail on the amendments as they are put forward by the minister. Other Liberal colleagues of mine will be addressing themselves to the bill this afternoon. We do accept the bill in principle and I commend the minister once again for moving in the area to remove the anomalies that are presently in assessment practices in certain municipalities in Ontario.
I had hoped it would apply to almost every municipality and we would be entering into an area of market value assessment, perhaps if not at 50 per cent of market value, at 40 per cent. It’s a criterion that could be established.
Mr. Charlton: I will start out by promising the minister quite faithfully that I won’t be quite as long as the last speaker and that I won’t read verbatim from any lengthy reports. Probably the only verbatim thing will be some quotes from last year’s Hansard. I find the debate on this bill today rather serious on the one hand and somewhat amusing on the other. We’ve got before us again a bill to postpone the government’s program of reassessment, assessment reform, market value assessment -- whatever we want to call it, whatever we want to label it.
The proposal for reform has been on the agenda for 10 years now. It’s unfortunate, but the government -- and I suppose the opposition parties have to take some of the blame -- and this Legislature have made somewhat of a joke out of assessment reform and market value assessment. We’ve made a joke out of it simply because we haven’t been able to reach a conclusion in terms of how to implement assessment reform and property tax reform, how to deal with the very real problems the property taxpayers in this province feel in their everyday lives, problems that generally speaking are getting worse with each year that passes. Fortunately, the last few weeks have seen some developments which at least give us some hope for some action in the future, some action that will be positive for taxpayers.
In last year’s debate on Bill 91, an identical bill to the one we have before us today, we pointed out to the former Minister of Revenue that in addition to all the assessment problems which existed in 1968, 1969 and 1970 that caused the government to undertake this program in the first place, a number of new and very serious problems were developing in the assessment courts.
We attempted to point out to the minister that on that basis, in addition to the rationale that already existed for finding a more equitable system of assessment, just to postpone the reassessment once again for one year, unless we were going to be prepared to come back this year and in a very positive way discuss legislation to implement assessment reform, last year’s postponement just wasn’t acceptable. Unfortunately, it seems that we’re here again discussing an identical bill.
We understand from the minister that he’s going to move one amendment to the bill, and we applaud that, but it still isn’t an acceptable situation for us after 10 years to still be standing here in the middle of a dilemma that the government doesn’t have the solution to -- that none of us on this side of the House has all of the solutions to -- because we just don’t have the information.
It’s just not acceptable for us to be here postponing property tax reform and assessment reform yet again when we’re really no closer to the solutions that will mean something real for this province and for the property taxpayers in this province and for the municipalities in this province.
Last week, in his statement in this House, the Minister of Revenue talked about the voluntary program which his ministry has embarked upon -- a program under section 86 of the Assessment Act where he’s equalizing property assessments in municipalities that have requested an equalization of assessments within sectors.
He has done a reasonably good job of protecting the residential sector and others from major shifts by making sure that the equalization at percentage of market value only occurs within a sector at a uniform percentage so that there are no shifts between sectors.
This approach to assessment reform is a first step. It will be fairer than the present mess we’ve got, there’s no question about that, hut it doesn’t deal with the real problem of assessment and property tax reform in this province. The minister is well aware of that. I We have talked about it a number of times.
This approach doesn’t deal with the real problems for two or three major reasons.
The first reason obviously is that the minister, in an attempt to save at least part of the government’s hide, has taken the voluntary route to equalization of assessments. He has taken a route where he will equalize the assessments if and when the municipality requests it. I understand why he is doing it; he’s doing it so that at least part of the blame for any tax increases can be borne by the municipal politicians who requested it.
That’s all well and good. But the minister has to remember that in 1970 -- I know he wasn’t the minister then and he wasn’t the one who made the decisions -- this government took over the assessment function for the entire province. This government became the assessor for Ontario.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: A big mistake.
Mr. Charlton: It may have been a mistake, but it’s a fact.
It’s also a fact that this government has the responsibility, not only for providing assessment legislation but also for being the assessor for Ontario and for seeing that all the property in the province is assessed in a fair and equitable manner.
Last year, and a number of times since, we discussed the inequities that exist and the inequities that are growing with each year that passes in the court system, where those who can afford the expertise and can afford to put together a good case are winning assessment appeals, thus winning tax reductions and gradually shifting burdens more and more on to those in the residential sector, the small business sector and other sectors where they don’t have the expertise and the ability to win assessment appeals and who are, in fact, paying an ever-increasing share of the overall tax burden.
I say to the minister that it is all well and good to be discussing postponement again this year. But to stand up in this House and make a statement that by 1980 he hopes he can have almost all of the province equalized through his voluntary program is just not good enough. He is the assessor for this province; he has the responsibility to provide equitable and fair assessment on every property in this province. It’s the minister’s responsibility to see that the equalization being done in 13 municipalities this fall for next year’s taxes is done in every other municipality in this province next year for taxes in 1980.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member knows that can’t be done.
Mr. Charlton: The minister mentioned in discussions we had last week that he’s going to equalize, next year, another 50 municipalities that have applied. I should point out to him that still leaves us with more than 700 municipalities wallowing in the inequities and the mess of current systems.
It is very easy for the minister to say that all those municipalities have to do is apply for it and he will give it to them. What about those taxpayers in those municipalities who haven’t requested it? What about the obvious fact that there are still a lot of people including municipal politicians, people in the minister’s own cabinet, people in both of the opposition parties who just don’t understand what this is all about? The minister has a responsibility to the taxpayers in all those municipalities who haven’t yet and won’t request equalization next year. I say to the minister that he has a responsibility to deal with those municipalities and the problems in those municipalities.
Last week in his statement, the minister announced that he was going to move an amendment to section 3 of the bill. I applaud him for that. I applaud him for the work he along with the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) and Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) have done over the last month, over the last four months I guess, to determine that they had the ability to carry on with that program. I should point out to the House though that four weeks ago I informed the minister and the critic for the Liberal Party that I intended to move the same amendment to section 3. The minister will argue that the wording of his amendment is slightly different. Perhaps legal counsel would say that his wording is better, but the minister will admit that the intent and effect of both amendments is identical.
With that, I would like to move for a moment to the comments made by the member for Erie in his speech. This is the part of the debate I find amusing. I should point out to the House that the member for Erie seems somewhat confused about something. I’m not sure what it is. Twice in his speech he talked about an amendment which this party was moving which would bring in market value in 1979.
We have neither proposed nor moved such an amendment. In fact, the only amendment we proposed and distributed is identical to the amendment that is going to be brought forth by the minister, the amendment which the member for Erie said a number of times he was prepared to support and which he applauded. At the outset of his speech, he said he wished the government had brought forward this amendment much sooner. I would like to point out that not only is our amendment identical in intent and effect to the amendment the minister will be moving, we also moved the same amendment last year. Unfortunately last year, the government was not prepared to deal with that amendment and move forward with it. The Liberal Party wasn’t prepared to support it either and in fact, voted against it.
Mr. Foulds: What a change a year makes.
Mr. Charlton: Last year, the member for Erie said during the debate on the amendment, “If we were to accept this amendment as put forward by the member tonight, it would cause complete chaos in assessment in the other 800-odd municipalities in the province of Ontario.” He went on to say later in the debate, “I feel you are only going to open a can of worms and perhaps cause a serious difficulty to the municipality and to almost every taxpayer in the community.”
Mr. McClellan: Isn’t Hansard wonderful?
Mr. Charlton: This is the same amendment that the member for Erie tonight is saying is the first step forward in dealing with some of the problems in the assessment and property tax field.
I might also point out to the minister that his predecessor, the former Minister of Revenue, in the same debate last year said, “It is a fact that if this amendment were to be incorporated within the bill it would create assessment chaos in Ontario.” Most definitely it would, because it does introduce market value. Equalization must be based on market value and that is according to section 27 of the act, as the member well knows.
Both the critic for the Liberal Party and the minister implied in their contribution to the debate last year --
Mr. Foulds: Lack of contribution.
Mr. Charlton: -- that our amendment could not be moved and could not be accomplished without creating chaos.
Mr. Epp: See you are differing again.
Mr. Charlton: I say to the member for Erie and to the former minister that as a result of our urging the new minister has taken the time, along with his colleagues, to find out that in fact our amendment is feasible and that we will go ahead with it now.
Mr. McClellan: You should do this more often, Lorne.
Mr. Charlton: I should just point out that as a result of things that have been said over the past few weeks -- and we have to attempt to at least take some of the credit for what has gone on; we are the ones who have been pushing this issue for the last year -- it is quite apparent from the bill that was originally introduced a month and a half ago the Minister of Revenue was prepared to go ahead this year and deal with an extension of the total freeze. He was prepared to deal with that bill a month ago, until our amendment was submitted. So we have to take credit for at least putting the spurs to the government and forcing them to find out once and for all what they could accomplish and what they couldn’t.
We are very glad to see this amendment here today so that we can go into the next round in 1980 with some adjustments that will see a far more equal share, a far fairer share, of provincial moneys going to municipalities, especially those that have been hit the hardest over the past 10 years.
It always seems strange to me when I am here debating an assessment bill that, generally speaking, the members of this House know so little about what it is really all about. That bothers me; it bothered me two or three weeks ago -- I can’t exactly recall; I guess it was two and a half weeks ago -- when we debated the private member’s resolution put forth by the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans). The minister found himself having to be absent from the House for that vote because he was embarrassed to have to block that resolution. I understand bow the minister felt, because it was only a private member’s resolution; it wasn’t a private member’s bill. It dealt with the inequities in assessment and some of the things that all of us look for to protect the taxpayers of this province. We merely wanted this House to deal with that in principle so that we could all get on working together.
Mr. Speaker: I would like to remind the honourable member that we have allowed quite a bit of latitude on second reading, but you are actually dealing with something that has already been decided by the House.
Mr. Charlton: You are right, Mr. Speaker, thank you. At any rate, this bill goes on to deal with the same problem --
Mr. Haggerty: You give in very easily.
Mr. Charlton: -- because it is a postponement. At the same time that it postpones reassessment and property tax reform it still doesn’t provide us with the solutions for next year or the year after. It is going to provide us with one small solution, if and when the minister moves his amendment in committee -- and I assume be will, as he has announced that he will -- but it doesn’t provide us with the solutions to the problems that were dis cussed in that resolution -- problems that have been discussed behind the scenes by all of us, that have been discussed in the media for 10 solid years now.
It doesn’t provide us with the solutions for the property taxpayers in this province who have been in the assessment courts every year, and have been told repeatedly that they won’t get an adjustment this year because they are assessed in the same fashion as their neighbours. The courts feel sorry; they understand that their assessment isn’t fair, but it is the way things are. They will get fixed up when we get property tax reform.
That is why I suggested at the outset it wasn’t acceptable for the Minister of Revenue, for the man who has been designated, in effect, as the property tax assessor for the province, merely to postpone and go into a voluntary equalization program hoping municipalities will request that equalization
-- hoping that by 1980 we can get almost all of the province equalized. That is just not good enough.
The amendment to section 3 of this bill on equalization factors between municipalities is the first step. Equalizing the whole province is the second step. The third step will be to get on, in a very serious way, in conjunction with the other members of this House on both sides, to find reasonable solutions to the other questions of property tax reform and the differences between the different sectors, so that at some point in the very near future we can present in this House a complete package of property assessment and property tax reform proposals that can deal realistically with the problems of property taxes, grants and transfer payments from the province, and all of the rest of the things that have to be involved in the whole municipal finance picture.
Mr. Epp: As my colleague the member for Erie indicated earlier, we on this side of the House plan on supporting Bill 146. There are a few points I would like to make.
Obviously this particular partial amending formula to the Assessment Act is somewhat overdue. It’s something that should have been done some years ago. In fact, it’s regrettable that the assessment was ever frozen. I suppose it was one way for the province to get out of a dilemma when it took over assessment in 1970. It didn’t know what to do so it just froze the assessments at that time and it has been looking for an answer for seven years, particularly a major package of tax reform and assessment reform.
It spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, in fact millions of dollars, appointing committees to study the problem. It started back in 1965 or 1966 when the Smith committee was appointed. They came out with a report in 1967. It was the first time a substantial study had been made of property tax reform and market value assessment, dating back to the early 1940s when I think the former Premier Mr. Frost promised to have reform of property taxes. We’re still waiting for it in some substantial form.
Nevertheless we have an amendment before us today to take the freeze off assessments dating back to 1970. While I’m speaking I should probably indicate that we on this side of the House do not regret having supported the government in its efforts to keep the freeze on last year, because at that time -- we have to put that in the proper context -- we were expecting a major package to be brought in by the then Treasurer and Minister of Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs. Mr. McKeough.
On January 4 of last year he appointed a municipal committee to study that. We took him seriously and we thought he was going to bring in a major package. It was indicated that through the first half of the year he would need about $300 million or $400 million, somewhere in that area, to bring in property tax reform. We didn’t know that in California they were going to support Proposition 13, and the next day in the House here the Treasurer announced that property tax reform and market value assessment would be postponed indefinitely. What exact impact that particular referendum in California had is unknown, except that we do know that immediately, the day after that, the announcement was made in the House here. It may be coincidence but it may not be coincidence.
What we have before us is an amendment to take the freeze off assessment. I suppose this is a complementary aspect to the invoking of section 86 which the Minister of Revenue announced, I guess it was in August, in Cambridge when he permitted municipalities to equalize assessment within classes of property.
We know there were some municipalities -- Cambridge, Timmins, Wellesley and Woolwich; in fact six municipalities in the region of Waterloo where I reside -- that have asked to implement section 86. My own municipality, the city of Waterloo, has declined it to date. We also know there are about 50 municipalities that have requested it and some of these may be granted that privilege in the near future.
The advantage to waiting is obvious because there are problems with implementing 86. For instance, the assessment information goes out to my own municipality of Waterloo, which has declined to implement section 86, after this bill receives third reading and royal assent. But municipalities such as Cambridge will have to wait probably until January or February, I am told. So that municipalities that have not applied for 86 and have not received permission, might be able to get some of the information out sooner than those that have applied and been granted permission to invoke section 86.
Taking the freeze off the assessment will be particularly advantageous to such municipalities as Windsor and Sarnia and St. Catharines, and Burlington and a number of other municipalities. This is because back in 1970, as I understand it, their assessments may have been relatively high and as a result the resource equalization grants they were receiving were fairly low or non-existent. During the last seven years or so their assessments may have dropped somewhat relatively, rather than increasing; since the assessment was frozen, those grants haven’t increased. So they suffered to the tune of maybe $13 million in the city of Windsor and lesser amounts for the other municipalities.
This will take the freeze off those assessment factors and give the opportunity to have the assessment equalized within classes in those municipalities as well as others. Then we hope the government is going to come through with a fairly substantial package of dollars to help equalize the amount of grants these municipalities should be receiving, which obviously they haven’t received.
The government has indicated that no municipality will receive less money than it is now receiving in resource equalization grants. But it hasn’t clearly indicated all municipalities will receive more, so we can only assume the amount of grants some municipalities will be receiving will be frozen at the 1978-79 level. The money that ordinarily would have been given to these municipalities could then be given to selected municipalities that have been suffering over the number of years.
We also expect the government won’t be giving the full amount, according to our information. Windsor, for instance, which indicated it is short about $13 million, won’t be getting the $13 million in 1980 if that amount is acceptable to the provincial government.
We applaud the fact the government is taking a very serious step here to try to equalize assessment within classes. The government has the problem of not trying to correct the differences between classes. We hope the minister, who has shown a certain amount of courage and initiative in trying to correct this problem after some former ministers have continually postponed biting the bullet, will go ahead and try to correct some of the other problems that are evident.
Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting the bill and the amendment which is before us. We applaud the minister for taking some action on the matter and hope that he will come forth with some other important legislation to correct the problems that exist between classes of property across the province.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, this seems to be the day for adoption of NDP legislation by the government. Earlier, we had the pituitary gland legislation; and now we have the minister confirming --
Mr. Bradley: You people need a third hand to pat yourself on the back.
Ms. Bryden: -- that he’s going to bring in an amendment which is identical in effect to the amendment announced more than a month ago by my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton). It seems to me that the voters might just as well move us across the floor of the House since the legislative initiatives are all coming from this side of the House right now.
Mr. Epp: Now you are going too far.
Ms. Bryden: However, I would like to welcome the change in policy regarding the updating of the equalization factor. There is no doubt that there were very serious injustices done to a great many municipalities by the failure to update the equalization factor since 1970.
The city of Windsor is one particular case I know about that lost millions of dollars as a result of this failure to update; there are many other municipalities that also suffered because their grants were unduly reduced by this failure to update.
In fact, I think the minister should seriously consider some form of retroactive adjustment to municipalities that lost very substantial sums of money as a result of this failure to update. He says he is going to make some adjustments this year for the ones that are still disadvantaged, but that’s only for one year.
I think that some of the municipalities and their taxpayers deserve compensation from the province for its ineptitude in deciding that the equalization factors did not need to be updated because assessment and property tax reform was just around the corner. We found it has been just around the corner for the last eight years and, as a result, those municipalities have suffered.
The bill before us today is an admission on the government’s part of failure to devise an equitable and acceptable assessment reform system. The reasons for that are many.
I think part of the failure can be traced to the inflexibility of the previous Treasurer, who tried to bring in a uniform system of assessment reform for the whole province. We warned him that it would cause serious shifts in the burden of taxation among categories of taxpayers in many municipalities. We particularly warned him that in Metropolitan Toronto it would cause very serious increases in taxes for people who were affected by inflationary prices on their property caused by speculation.
But year after year the Treasurer refused to bring forward simulations of the effect of his proposals on properties in various municipalities. He kept them secret for years, even though we asked f or them and were able to predict to him what the likely effects would be.
The delay is also due partly to the incompetence of the assessment department, which was taken over by the province in 1970 and which had to make two or three trial runs at reassessment before it came up with a system that appeared acceptable. They have spent millions of dollars on these two or three attempts, and each time they had to postpone it and start over again.
The main reason the government has not proceeded is that it finally recognized that the proposals which it was espousing were going to cause great shifts between categories of taxpayers, mainly from commercial and industrial taxpayers to residential taxpayers.
The correction of the overassessment of apartments was going to benefit land owners only because there was no provision in the proposals for passing on any benefits to tenants. The effects of inflation in cities like Metro Toronto were not going to be offset by the proposals. The effects on people who had special assessment arrangements, such as the 46,000 home owners in Toronto who have the graded exemption assessments that were put in after World War I to assist veterans, were not allowed for in the proposals. As a result, it became clearer arid clearer that the government’s proposals for property assessment reform were seriously flawed. That is why we have had postponements year after year.
We in this party do not oppose assessment reform, but we want equitable assessment reform. We want assessment reform that takes into account the inflation situation in cities like Metro Toronto. We want assessment reform that takes into consideration the burden of the education tax on home owners, particularly on senior citizens. We want property tax reform that takes into account the need to guarantee that tenants will benefit from any benefits that go to apartment owners.
We have put forward in this party eight conditions under which property assessment reform must be considered. Without those eight conditions, any market value assessment reform is not acceptable, but with those conditions we can have a more equitable system. They include a change in the property tax credit system. They include guaranteeing farmers that their property will be assessed at agricultural value and not at market value because of the inflation effect on farms within the urban shadow.
Those eight conditions include a phase-in of assessment reform for those with special assessment, such as the graded assessments that I mentioned in the city of Toronto. They include no general increase in taxes.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Why?
Ms. Bryden: The minister asks why. The graded exemptions have been built into the prices of homes over the years.
Mr. Nixon: Are you really the only NDP member here?
Mr. Ruston: Where are all your colleagues? Ms. Bryden: People who have bought them recently have paid for any benefit already in their prices. Therefore, to increase their taxes substantially on account of the graded exemption would be inequitable. One cannot expect people to suffer a 50 to 60 per cent increase in taxes in one year. One needs some phasing-in for those situations.
The main people who have benefited from the graded exemption are the ones who have held on to their houses from the very beginning. They have had a benefit, I agree. But there are very few cases where that has happened. The houses have changed hands many times.
My point is that we must have a modified form of property tax reform before it will be acceptable to the citizens of Toronto, to the people in this party and generally to the people of Ontario. Until the government is prepared to modify its proposals, I think we can expect to see this kind of a bill every year.
When they produce their proposals they will keep finding out that they are going to have such serious effects on residential taxpayers and on business taxpayers, particularly small businesses, that they will not be acceptable. Therefore, we will go on with patchwork legislation of the sort we have here today.
We will go on using section 86, which is a step in the right direction but is only an interim measure. The main flaw in the application of section 86 is that the minister is leaving it up to the municipalities to decide who shall benefit from the use of section 86. This means that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers in municipalities which do not go along with using section 86 will not get any relief this year as far as inequities within classes of property tax.
One final point is, the main failure of the original proposals was their inflexibility. They showed that you can’t have property tax reform on a province-wide basis with one formula. I think the minister should very seriously consider a flexible property tax system which would allow municipalities to decide what burden shall be carried by each category of taxpayers within that municipality. That would be a desirable addition to his proposals.
Mr. Nixon: I’ll be brief. We’ve been looking forward to the Lorne Maeck afternoon and we may stretch into another afternoon or two. I just wanted to tell him I feel that perhaps he’s a bit different from other Ministers of Revenue in that he’s sewed a considerable time now in the Legislature and that Revenue might, in fact, become a policymaking ministry. In the past, this minister’s predecessors and he himself have deferred to the Treasurer probably more often than was necessary.
In an instance like this I certainly hope he will emerge from the grey netherworld of the Ministry of Revenue and indicate that he’s prepared to recommend policy to the House. I think he’s a man who can do it, and frankly, when I look at his background, I think that his recommendations wouldn’t be too far from my own.
Having said that, however, and probably absolving him from some of the responsibilities from this continuing policy situation, I would remind him that he must surely agree with me when I say this matter of assessment and reassessment has been one of the most embarrassing fiascos for the government ever since they decided in 1970 that they could do it better than the municipalities or the county.
I can recall the announcement being made by the then Minister of Municipal Affairs, Mr. McKeough, that he was not taking it away for all time, that he was going to correct it and balance it and then return it to the municipalities. We don’t hear much of that aspect of the McKeough policy now. Really, the problems that the government, though a variety of ministers and a variety of committees, has had has really made almost all of us, I guess, a laughing stock in the eyes of the municipalities.
The freeze on assessment has meant that the municipalities could do practically nothing, even by recommendation, to change the situation which has prevailed since 1970 and in some areas before, since obviously there was some reason for the action taken by the Treasurer. He felt there were inequities that could not be corrected with assessment being a local responsibility.
I well recall the arguments that took place well before 1970 calling for the kind of uniformity in assessment that could be established by using an assessment manual common to all of the municipalities having assessment responsibilities. That probably would have been the best way out, even in those days. It would not have imposed lock step uniformity, but it would have meant that the local municipalities had the machinery, the engine for the correction of the inequities within their own control.
If the province were going to continue maintaining the kind of review courts or review procedures for citizens who felt they had been inadequately dealt with by local assessment then there would have been this kind of review which I’m sure the citizens would have accepted. I can’t for the life of me feel why there was such a commitment on the part of the then minister to take it over provincially. He somehow had a vision that be, like Baldwin before him, was going to remake municipal government in some new and modern, efficient image so that for another 100 years we would be looking at the McKeough changes.
I have a feeling we may be looking at some of the McKeough and White changes for a good many years, but not with much approval. There’s not very much he did as far as municipal affairs is concerned that would be seen in the view of an impartial observer such as myself, and perhaps you, Mr. Speaker, as being uniformly worthy of approval. Certainly, this has been the most outrageous mess this government has gotten us into for a long time.
There still is no solution. We sent Willis Blair tramping around the countryside and establishing a committee to review Willis’ recommendations and, obviously, have come up with nothing.
I notice the member for York North is in his place --
Mr. Hodgson: Always, always, Bob.
Mr. Nixon: -- and very properly so, because I have a feeling his views on this have not generally coincided with the ministry’s over the years. I would like him some time to get up and express his frank opinion on some of these matters before both of us go on to some other political or religious reward.
Mr. Watson: What makes you think it’s going to be a reward?
Mr. Nixon: I would just like to know what his views are. I’ve always had a very high regard for them.
I suppose it doesn’t help much to say we told you so, but it was our opinion then, as it has been now for a good long time, that real equity in local assessment can be carried out with the kind of uniformity that can be provided by a standard manual requiring a certain degree of professionalism for those people who have the assessment responsibilities locally, and with the kind of review and appeal that can be established without the kind of convoluted centralized system that has been so much a part of Conservative policy.
We intend to support this bill, but we want the minister to realize it simply extends the situation for another year and gives him a chance, probably the last chance, to bring some order out of the mess his predecessors have created.
I don’t want to ever hear him say in this policy connection that he must how to some senior minister whose abilities and responsibilities are perhaps greater than his own. I don’t believe they should be. He ought to simply lay down the law with the Premier (Mr. Davis), as he’s been known to do in the past. In a situation like this, we’re going to have at least some quantum of common sense that can be supported by this House, which is going to recognize the role of the municipalities in the assessment procedure. It really is not a provincial responsibility, other than in the broadest form of supervision. The sooner we get out of it the better.
Mr. B. Newman: I hope I don’t repeat too many of the arguments presented by the various members who have spoken prior to my speaking.
I have an extremely high regard for the minister, having sat on a select committee with him. At that time, I realized his capabilities and I know it would be he who would eventually attempt to resolve the problem of equalized assessment throughout the province.
The minister may not be aware, but the problem Windsor is confronted with was brought to the attention of the government back in 1972 by the mayor of the day, Frank Wansbrough. Year after year, the city tried to point out the inequalities. It was in 1975 when the present mayor, Bert Weeks, made a presentation to the cabinet in the city of London, I think the date was January 15, 1975, and he pointed out Windsor’s assessment was by far more up to date than were many of the other municipalities’. Because of that more recent assessment, Windsor was being taken advantage of and unfairly discriminated against when it came to the resource equalization grant.
However, his pleas fell on deaf ears. I can recall repeating his arguments in the House during one of the debates, either the throne or the budget debate. The city persisted year after year. I, likewise, followed up in making their presentation on the floor of the Legislature, but we couldn’t find a too receptive ear.
With the new minister in there, I can see that possibly there is a solution. However, the solution doesn’t remedy the problems the government has created for the community in not having given them their fair share over the past number of years. It is all right to have two strikes against the individual or against the city, but not three and four. Actually, they were all balls and not strikes.
The minister has punished the city for so long. He has denied them their fair share of the resource equalization grant. I think there is an obligation on his part and on the government’s part to remedy that. He probably realizes that the average property taxpayer has paid more than he would have had to pay had the resource equalization grant been corrected as was pointed out year after year by the city of Windsor.
The city of Windsor was probably lucky in alerting other municipalities in the province, for example, London, St. Catharines and I think also Kitchener. When these other municipalities started to take up the cudgel, it was probably only then that his officials, in studying Windsor’s submissions, realized that Windsor was right when they said that the city was not getting its fair share of the resource equalization grant.
I wish the minister could provide some retroactivity to the community. He realizes that they have been financially disadvantaged as a result of this grant to the tune of approximately $30 million over the past years. I know he might hesitate at this point to say he’ll provide them with the $30 million, but Windsor is willing to listen and to play ball. We’re anxiously awaiting from him some word that he is not lust going to take care of the year 1979 for the community by some type of an adjustment. By the way, I understand they have been denied approximately $13.5 million over the last several years as a result of this grant.
I hope he will take into consideration the position in which he has put the community, how he’s had the average taxpayer pay more than what he should have paid over a fairly large number of years and how that has prevented many an industry from coming into the community in the earlier days because its municipal property taxes would have been higher in the city than it would have been in another municipality.
With the government’s new outlook, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors and many other companies are seeing that the city of Windsor’s resource equalization grant is going to be adjusted or the government is going to attempt to make up some of the difference by way of either a transitional grant or some other method. But let the minister not tell us that the funds the government is providing for the services needed to the Ford Motor Company are a pay-off for the fact that --
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It helps though.
Mr. B. Newman: No, I don’t think he would, lie’s not that type of a fellow. I have a very high regard for him. I notice that our press carried that as a headline approximately one week ago.
We hope the minister will provide us with this additional revenue, or some additional revenue, which we have been denied in the years gone by and that no longer in the future will we not receive our fair share. Just as we talk about the fact that we in Canada and Ontario want our fair share from the auto trade pact through the jobs, the research and development and everything else that may go along with that, we in the city of Windsor want our fair share of that resource equalization grant.
Mr. Bradley: I will be brief, not because I don’t have a good deal to say on this particular issue, but because I have to catch a train in a very short period of time to avoid the snowstorm. Members of the House will be happy to know that I’ll be uncharacteristically brief on this occasion. I notice the applause coming from my left.
Mr. Nixon: The sun is still shining in St. Catharines.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I’ll be listening.
Mr. Bradley: I recognize that the minister has had the opportunity to evaluate this particular problem for some period of time. His predecessors and those who are involved with Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, like the former member for Chatham-Kent, had a good deal of time to look at this particular problem and come up with a solution which would be reasonable, albeit a solution which would please every municipality in every sector in terms of assessment is very difficult to find.
What we would be looking for, however, is a revealing of the total package. We recognize that perhaps it is impossible at this particular time to implement and put before the House the complete package which includes not only some form of modified market value assessment but also those items which would relate to grant reform. It is in that area where municipalities can most benefit from any changes that we at Queen’s Park could make.
I will just make a very brief plea which has been made by other members who represent municipalities that have been in a deficit position as far as the resource equalization grant is concerned. We are happy, of course, in the constituency of St. Catharines to read of the announcement of the Minister of Revenue and to see this bill introduced today that will have the effect of removing the freeze on assessment equalization factors which has been in place since 1970. These factors, of course, have been used by the government, as they describe it, as a yardstick for the distribution of government grants to municipalities.
I think we all recognize, as the minister said the other day -- and I know he recognizes it -- that the grants are not distributed equally among the municipalities and the school boards. In that this bill is designed to remove these inequities, I think it’s a bill that merits the support of all members of this House.
I recognize that perhaps I am not necessarily speaking to the minister who would have the full control over this, but he does have the ear of the other ministers within the cabinet. I would hope that a package might be proposed to municipalities such as Windsor, Sarnia and St. Catharines -- municipalities that have been in the position of St. Catharines, for instance, of receiving approximately $1.2 million less than might otherwise be expected for St. Catharines under an updated form of equalization factors. I would hope that the minister, in conjunction with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs -- and I notice in the minister’s statement he indicated that certain other ministers were working on this -- would use his persuasive powers to ensure that the municipalities that are now being adversely affected by the outdated factors will receive some form of compensation. We on this side of the House recognize, although we may not be very pleased with it, that the government is probably not going to go back a number of years to make up for the deficit position our municipalities have been in.
We know under present financial circumstances in the province, with the large deficit -- and, indeed, with deficits being run in various provinces and at the federal level -- that this is probably going to be impossible and unrealistic, much as we would like it for our municipalities for the reasons that the member for Windsor-Walkerville and others have mentioned. However, we do hope that there will be some form of compensation for this particular year in the form of a transitional grant that can be used by the municipalities for whatever reasons the municipalities see fit.
The government in the past, it seems to me, has sometimes stipulated in regard to transitional grants that these must be applied to the reduction of taxes within a municipality. I am certain that if this money were not provided on an unconditional basis, the municipalities would certainly still be prepared to receive the money with the stipulation that it be used to hold down or reduce the mill rate in the next particular year.
I do make that plea for those municipalities adversely affected. They have waited some time and have been reasonably patient because the former Treasurer indicated that he was prepared to bring in a total package of property tax reform in the province of Ontario complete with changes in the grant system. In this regard, to make a very brief remark, I would hope there would be a cushioning effect. I think we all recognize in this House that there are going to be winners and losers. There has to be that situation. When you are going to equalize, Mr. Speaker, that’s what it means. It means that there are winners and losers. We do hope, however, and I think the minister is touching on this in his gradual approach to the total package, that the impact in one particular year is not going to be such that it is going to drive small businesses out of business, for instance. I know that the minister, having been involved with and having a great concern for small business, wants to avoid the situation as well where if the effect in a small municipality was to have small business hurt by a total package, he would be concerned. This is why I hope one of the things he looks at is that by applying section 86 of the act it is within certain categories; it is not transferring and turning everything topsy-turvy within one year.
Perhaps there is some merit to that approach as well, because we do not want that great adverse impact in one particular year on the various sectors that make up the assessment base of a municipality.
I would be hopeful to see as part of the total package when it does come, the implementation of what the former Treasurer mentioned in his last budget, where there would be a more lucrative program provided to senior citizens in the province, where the amount of money available through the property tax credit system which we have in Ontario -- and which I think is a good system adopted by this Legislature, one which takes into account a person’s ability to pay, and I think that is one of the virtues of it -- can be enriched; I think was the term that the Treasurer used.
So I speak with some enthusiasm for the changes that are being made. We on this side always tend to say that it is high time that the government has done it, and that it is too little too late, and perhaps we could justifiably make this charge in this case. But the minister is, relatively speaking, new to the ministry, and we congratulate him on this side for taking this initiative, for showing the intestinal fortitude to proceed and we also applaud his persuasive powers within the cabinet to convince his colleagues that it is a reasonable step to proceed with the program which is going to be implemented through Bill 146.
The only thing I mention in conclusion is that we hope that his persuasive powers are great enough now to convince the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) to make that little bit of a transitional payment that might be due to our municipalities a little richer than perhaps they have in mind at the present time.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to make a couple of points. I know Bill 146, An Act to amend the Assessment Act, has been covered well, but one of the two points I would like to bring to the attention of the minister is the discrepancy in the tax structure, and I will give an example.
In Port Dover, in my riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, I think there is as much as $1,000 difference between homes. In the downtown area, the old part of town, I think the taxes run in the area of $400, and I would like to point out too that they have water and sewers, while in the new Ryerse subdivision they are paying as high as $1,500 in taxes when they are only getting water supplied, and it is creating a real hardship. Because someone has built a new home and they have come under the latest assessment their taxes are extremely high.
In 1973, when regional government came in it was supposed to be more efficient, more of a responsibility was to assumed at the local level, and consequently there would be less government at the provincial level, and then the grants could be increased. All the way round the picture was painted that it would be much more efficient and the taxes would be less, but that hasn’t been the case. I think the taxes have doubled and sometimes tripled.
We had an election in 1975 and came up with minority government, and this taxation reform had been proposed, as pointed out by our former leader, in 1970-72 and still nothing has happened. I think with minority government we do have an opportunity to debate it, and it should be brought forth. I would just encourage the minister to go in that direction, because I think there are serious discrepancies between property owners and it certainly should be looked at.
I would just like to bring to the attention of the House that last night I had a new grandson, and I would certainly hope that by the time he grows up this could be accomplished.
Mr. Haggerty: There will be no taxes at all.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Maybe we’ll have this all straightened out by the time he grows up.
Mr. Nixon: We’ll have a Liberal government and all his problems will be solved.
Mr. Ruston: That’s right, all his problems will be solved.
Mr. G. I. Miller: And the province of Ontario will be on the right side again.
I just wanted to bring this to the attention of the minister. I do think it is the time to deal with it. Politically it could be dynamite, perhaps, but on the other hand we have been elected to do a job. The House is prepared to debate it. I would certainly encourage the minister to bring this forward so that we can deal with it in the best interests of the people of Ontario. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank all the members for their participation in the debate and for their support in what I am attempting to do as the Minister of Revenue.
Mr. Conway: You’re becoming too popular.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I agree with a lot of the things that have been said today. There is no question that hindsight is easy. It would have been much easier to move in this direction some years ago, I suppose, and probably all the problems we’re facing today would have been solved. But it didn’t work that way and each year it seems we delayed bringing in market value assessment and lifting the freeze on equalization factors. I’m sure the government felt honestly that just around the corner we would be bringing in market value assessment, which would have solved the problems we are dealing with today. I know the ministers prior to me were sincere and the Treasurer was sincere in wanting to bring in market value assessment and property tax reform. But political considerations did not really allow it and that is the reason it’s still not here and that’s the reason we are debating this bill today.
I can only say when the property tax reform package as we know it -- and that’s really what the member for Erie was discussing --
Mr. Haggerty: We’ll never see it.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- that’s what his report from the Niagara region was based on -- when it was shelved it left us with the problems we face now, among others. The first major problem was the inequities within property classes in those areas that bad been regional-tied and restructured, where one or more municipalities with different assessment bases were joined together. We had those inequity problems. The member for Haldimand-Norfolk has just again touched on that problem. Something had to be done in that direction.
Mr. Haggerty: McKeough had to go.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Section 86 was used and offered to the municipalities. Some of the members have talked about the fact that it should have been compulsory rather than through a voluntary program. That’s fine, except that one of the members who made that statement knows very well that if we were to move in a compulsory program under section 86 we would probably have to quadruple our assessment staff in order to move it all in one year. It’s just not technically possible to do it that quickly.
I feel, and my staff feels, and the government feels that those municipalities that are really having trouble within property classes as far as inequities are concerned will come to us, and they have come to us. There are, as the member for Hamilton Mountain indicated, 13 municipalities that we are working with now. There are 50 more applications in. That doesn’t mean that’s the only 50 that are going to come in this year.
Mr. Haggerty: There are 800 missing.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: There are not quite 800 but a lot more applications could come in this year; I’m sure enough volunteers will come in and that we will keep ourselves very busy trying to straighten out the assessment under section 86. If it gets to the point where our staff has nothing to do with its time, we may consider the member for Hamilton Mountain’s viewpoint that it should be something other than voluntary. But I believe the municipalities want to participate in this voluntary way. I think the information I have given in my initial speech on the number of municipalities that have already indicated an interest shows that it’s not really necessary to conscript these municipalities, that they will volunteer. They want equity for their taxpayers the same as we do, and I think this will come.
The member for Erie also mentioned the telephone lines and hydro lines. The amendment to the act we will be dealing with a little bit later deals only with gas pipelines, and transmission lines.
I want to talk a little bit now about the lifting of the freeze on the equalization factors. That was the second major problem left with us when property tax reform was shelved on a temporary basis. I must say to the member for Hamilton Mountain that I, as well as the other three ministers involved, the Minister of Treasury and Economics, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Minister of Education, had our staffs working long, long before the amendment he had proposed. We had our staff working on this particular problem, trying to find out whether it would be feasible to lift the freeze on equalization factors and to find out whether the four ministries could come up with a solution that would be workable. It is one thing to lift the factors, but another thing to deal with the consequences. We are now convinced that we can do this. That is why this amendment is here.
I thank the member for the amendment he proposed and sent over to me. I acknowledge that he did that, but I also have told him and other members long before this amendment came in that these ministries were working together. As a matter of fact, they started working together in June of last year. Intergovernmental Affairs, obviously, wasn’t involved as we didn’t have a separate Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs at that point in time, but the other three ministries started to work in June after the shelving of the property tax reform package.
I indicated to the AMO meeting, at which the mayor of Windsor attended, that we would work toward some solution if at all possible, to find some way of compensating the municipalities which were not getting their fair share of government grants. The only solution we could see to this problem, and finally the eventual decision-making process, was to lift the freeze on equalization factors and work from there.
Some of the members have talked about retroactivity for municipalities which feel they have not had their share of grants in the past years. While I sympathize with them, I have to tell them, at the risk of raising the ire of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, that that particular decision will be made by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affair’s in conjunction with Treasury and Education. It isn’t really a decision that comes from this ministry.
I know the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk would like me to make all of these decisions on my own and I appreciate the confidence he has in me, but there are certain rules and regulations that I must observe as well. That particular aspect will be dealt with by those three ministries. As I indicated in my initial speech a few days ago, these three ministries are now working on some sort of program for 1979. As I also indicated, the amendments I will be making later on of this particular act make the new equalization factors effective in 1980. We have the 1979 period to concern ourselves with as far as grants to municipalities are concerned. That is the area the other three ministries are working on at the present time.
Certainly I will make sure they are aware of the requests made by the members. I would be quite happy to see anything done that can be done for these municipalities because there is no question some of them have suffered over the years. They haven’t got their share of the provincial pie and I do have some sympathy for them.
Mr. B. Newman: Windsor.
Hon. Mr. Welch: You want to do something for St. Catharines too.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member for Beaches-Woodbine made a few remarks I was interested in. She mentioned the eight conditions of reform that her party has brought forward. Without them, she said, property tax reform would not be acceptable.
I would like to inform the member for Beaches-Woodbine that I certainly agree with some of those eight points her party has brought out. There are some I don’t agree with. I have to tell her, some of her own members don’t agree. I don’t think, if I were her, I would call it NDP philosophy at this point, because I think she has a little bit of homework to do in her party, the same as I have in this party before we go too far in property tax reform.
Ms. Bryden: You didn’t give us a chance to vote on the resolution we made.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The other thing I wanted to mention briefly are the 46,000 properties in Metro Toronto which are what we call the graded exemptions. You know I have sympathy, as much as probably anyone else here, for people whose taxes go up if there is a change in policy or a change in assessment. I have to tell members that these 46,000 residences go back to World War I. I would like to know, and I don’t think anyone else can tell me here, but I don’t think there are very many World War I veterans living in those houses any longer. I really don’t understand why Metro council does not move in the direction of correcting that situation. It is a city bylaw and these people, as far as I’m concerned, are not veterans. The bylaw was passed to support veterans for what they had done for our country, but the World War I veterans are few and far between today. Why this same bylaw is carried on by Metro Toronto I really don’t know, but I think it’s something that should he corrected.
Ms. Bryden: A point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Your point of privilege?
Ms. Bryden: Point of privilege, I did not say these exemptions should be continued. I said there should be a phase-in of the tax increase on the people. I conceded there were very few World War I veterans still occupying them.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I misunderstood the member from Beaches-Woodbine; but by the same token, when we talk about phasing in we have to remember that all of the years these people have been getting a tax break someone else has been paying a little more. Are we going to phase them the other way?
I think we should feel sorrier for the people who are paying too much as compared to the ones who are paying too little. Maybe that’s hard-nosed philosophy but a lot of these houses we are talking about in these 46,000 belong to people who can well afford to pay their share of the taxes, so I don’t know whether your sympathy is well founded or not.
Ms. Bryden: It is built into their prices too.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I have more sympathy for the ones who have paid too much ever the years rather than the ones who have paid too little. Mr. Speaker, I think that covers most of the items brought up by the members. We will be in a clause-by-clause debate later; if members have any specific questions I will be happy to answer them. I have one amendment to make to it.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for committee of the whole House.
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 157, An Act to amend The Income Tax Ant.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I have a very short statement, Mr. Speaker. This bill to amend the Income Tax Act serves two purposes. First, it will preserve the uniformity between the federal and Ontario Income Tax Acts. All hut one of the amendments in this bill are required under the terms of the agreement between Canada and Ontario for the collection and administration of Ontario’s personal income tax. These amendments are required in order to facilitate the administration of Ontario’s income tax, including those amendments made necessary by the joint federal-provincial economic stimulation program, which if not made would erode Ontario’s tax base.
Secondly, the bill will serve to simplify the procedures for granting remissions of Ontario income tax to those individuals for whom the federal government has remitted tax where the payment of these taxes would cause hardship or inequity. This amendment is a deregulation measure by which the Minister of Revenue will be empowered to grant income tax remissions. Of course that’s only after the remission has been granted by the federal government.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, we, the official opposition, will be supporting Bill 157, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act. As the minister stated, it parallels the federal and provincial income tax by agreement. The only thing I might question is section 1 which relates to the Northwest Territories. This may cause further problems if they should be classified as provinces, which may add two more premiers to the conferences that are held between the provinces and the federal government. Hopefully, they will shed some new light on Canada’s unity. I think perhaps this has been requested by the federal government.
The other question concerns section 4 which relates to the Minister of Revenue with respect to a remission of federal tax under the Financial Administration Act of Canada, remitting the provincial portion of tax, interest or penalties that have been paid as a percentage of the federal tax that has been remitted by the government of Canada. I suppose this is executing a debt by one of the two government agencies. Just what revenue is going to be generated in this particular area?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Actually --
Mr. Speaker: Has the member for Erie completed his remarks?
Mr. Haggerty: I was just asking the question.
Mr. Speaker: We don’t normally do that on second reading. If you will continue with your remarks, when the minister is winding up he can respond to any specific questions you might have.
Mr. Haggerty: That is the only question I have to raise and I thought perhaps I would raise it now. However, we will support the bill in principle.
Mr. Charlton: I will be brief as well. We are going to support the bill as it is obviously just a housekeeping bill. I have a number of questions that do come into mind, having looked through the bill.
One of them is on the remission section, section 4. It says that the minister will not necessarily have to make the same remission which the federal government is making. I would appreciate if in his closing remarks, or during the committee stage because I hope this bill will go to committee so that some of these questions can be answered, the minister will make clear whether or not the province is going to use a different set of criteria to judge whether a tax should be remitted or not than what the federal government is going to use. Why is it necessary to say that the minister may or may not cause the remission to occur whether or not the federal people have already done it?
That is one of the questions I would like answered.
Mr. Nixon: I want to express concern again at the necessity of these yearly amendments. With a new minister and his capable advisers, surely we could pass a statute that says ours will be identical with the federal statute. If we want to have our own collection and rebate machinery, then probably we should have a whole new approach to the Income Tax Act of the province.
For many years the government of Canada has been our chief administrator and tax collector, that is they have collected the single largest source of revenue for the province. We are arguing precisely what we expect to get this year, but it is something over $2 billion. It is, as I recall, by far the single largest source of tax revenue.
It simply means that people who pay their income tax don’t think of this Legislature or this government as being the taxing authority. They pay it to Ottawa and it is considered a federal tax. The money comes back to us on a quarterly basis or on a monthly basis. Enormous transfers are made to the consolidated revenue fund of this province with no strings attached.
It simply means that the basic control of democracy does not work. The basic control is that the jurisdiction that spends the money and gets all the political credit for the programs and facilities it provides should also have the responsibility for taxing the money so that the people who pay the taxes and receive the service have some means whereby they can balance this. Unfortunately, that basic rule doesn’t work very well.
I am not recommending that we have a collection procedure that is independent of the government of Canada any more than I believe that the municipalities can raise taxes themselves to carry on all their responsibilities. It is up to us on a provincial level to provide through our various grant programs the kind of equality of opportunity and equalization of funding that only a provincial jurisdiction can do. I suppose the same applies to the government of Canada.
Since we, in principle, are committed to this procedure and will be for the foreseeable future, I don’t see why we have to continue with this elaborate process known as the provincial Income Tax Act. Surely a much simpler bill would be possible. It simply indicates that the Parliament of Canada, acting for the good of the nation, also enacts for the good of Ontario in this regard. It might really give the minister an easier row to hoe.
If, on the other hand, the minister says that we want to maintain our independence in this connection with the possibility of establishing our own income tax procedure in the future, that’s a different thing. He may very well say that and then we can criticize him for so doing, so that I’ll look forward to his remarks.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It doesn’t matter what I say.
Mr. Nixon: We’ve been supporting the minister far too much this afternoon. I’m afraid he’s going to judiciously excerpt Hansard and put it in his re-election pamphlets.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak to second reading of Bill 157? If not, the Minister of Revenue.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The first two speakers directed questions regarding section 4, which has to do with remissions by the minister. What happens presently is that it requires an order in council. In other words I have to prepare an order in council, take it to cabinet and have approval of cabinet to do the very same thing that I’m asking to do without going through the cabinet.
Mr. Nixon: Do you have to get Lorne’s initials on that?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: At the present time, yes. MI this amendment would do would be to allow me to do that without asking for an order in council. To give a little more detail, perhaps I could just read this: “The condition under which the minister may grant remissions of Ontario income tax, interest or penalties are: the federal government must have remitted the federal income tax, interest or penalty for reasons of hardship, inequity, et cetera; the individual must have already paid the Ontario tax, interest or penalty. The amendment does not affect remissions of Ontario income tax, interest or penalties to classes of individuals. These will continue to be dealt with under the Ministry of Revenue Act.”
What it really is doing here is, in cases of hardship or inequity it would permit me as the minister or the people who follow me to grant remissions without going through all of the procedures of having an order in council in those particular instances.
The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk always makes some interesting submissions in these debates --
Mr. T. P. Reid: And constructive.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- but I’m trying to remember the last debate we had in here. We were talking about the Corporations Tax Act, in which we have come in line with the federal government. I believe we were criticized for that and told that we should have our own, if the member were to look up in Hansard the last time he spoke. This was another statute, but the same principles, pretty well.
Mr. Nixon: No consistency; consistency is impossible.
An hon. member: He understands both sides of the street.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I would say to the member he has not been too consistent in the last couple of speeches.
Mr. Lawlor: Today one thing, tomorrow the next.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: However, these are very minor amendments. There’s nothing here but housekeeping and in all cases we are dealing with the same income tax as the federal government. When they change their rules we have to change ours. Under our agreement with the feds, we have to make these changes. We don’t have any choice.
Mr. Nixon: It is known as the dog wagging the tail.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: So I would request members to support these particular amendments.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
GASOLINE TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 158, An Act to amend the Gasoline Tax Act, 1973.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Again, I have a very short statement, Mr. Speaker. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Gasoline Tax Act, of course, to reflect the change to metric from imperial measure which will be implemented by the majority of oil companies as of January 1, 1979. All provinces, by agreement, will be taxing fuel by metric measure effective January 1, 1979.
This bill further proposes amendments to allow the government to enter into inter-provincial agreements in order to prevent the double taxation of Ontario residents. Amendments consistent with those already existing in other Ontario revenue statutes for limiting the period for which refund claims would be made and for prescribing how federal payments made in lieu of tax are to be treated are also proposed.
I might add that I don’t want to have everyone up in arms about the metric conversion. It doesn’t necessarily mean this is going to show on the gasoline pumps. The wholesale level will be dealing in metric from flow on, and this is to accommodate them, that is those who actually pay us the tax.
Mr. T. P. Reid: What about those people who haven’t paid the tax?
Mr. Haggerty: We will support the principle of Bill 158, An Act to amend the Gasoline Tax Amendment Act. I might say that Bill 157 and Bill 158 are almost identical bills except for one or two minor changes. The amendments achieve the metrication of the system, wherever references are made to imperial gallons this is converted to litres.
The amendment is not clear as to who will bear the cost of this conversion at the pumps. Will it be the oil companies or will it be the public, or the government or the industry itself, that is the private retail outlets?
The new provisions will convert, as closely as possible, the tax based on imperial gallons to one based on litres. As closely as possible can generally be interpreted to mean to the nearest highest cent. The question is what guarantee will be provided that it will not necessarily mean an upward adjustment in the price of gas at the pumps?
If this does result in an increase in the price of gas, it will be exerting a further damping effect on our already depressed tourist industry.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, we are getting a raise in January anyway.
Mr. Haggerty: Approximately 86 per cent of the tourists in Ontario travel by car. Obviously a further increase in fuel prices will have a disastrous effect upon the vast majority of those who visit our province. Our party’s task force on tourism that travelled around the province this year did not have a single meeting where the price of gas, particularly in service centres, was not already a major complaint. We know that is now a problem. Why cause further difficulties through this amendment?
I suggest to the minister perhaps moving into the metric system now may add further problems to our tourist industry. For a number of the tourists coming in, particularly from the United States, who have not yet moved into the area of metrication or who have not accepted the metrication program as it already exists in Canada, this may add some further difficulties for them.
I come from close to the American border, and I’m sure my colleague, the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio), will bear this out, that we receive a number of complaints about the metric signs now on our highways in Ontario. They do create confusion for the tourists coming into Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: We have a speed limit of 100 over here.
Mr. Haggerty: One hundred is right. Maybe that’s why we see a number of police cruisers -- the Holstein cars -- along the highway.
We will support the bill in principle.
Mr. Charlton: We, too, will support the bill. It is just a bill to get on with some of the things we started in this province in terms of the metrication process.
I do, however, have a few things I’d like to raise with the minister that have been raised with me. It’s been brought to my attention by a couple of my colleagues that they’re already buying gas based on litres. Therefore, in some form or another, they’re probably paying tax based on the litre.
I’m wondering how it is already being done without the legislation in place? It’s always interesting to note that whenever you do a conversion like this the rounding is always up and not down. It may be very minute, but it always helps a little bit in the long run.
At any rate, one thing that disappointed me and the other members of my caucus about having this gasoline tax amendment act in the House is that this is one vehicle whereby the government could deal with some of the problems of northern members. It knows very well about the difference in gasoline costs in this province. We regret very much that it hasn’t seen fit to use this bill as a method of somewhat equalizing the costs of gasoline in this province.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the member for Erie: He inquired about the cost of adjustment at the pumps, I did indicate they may not be changed. It depends on the oil companies themselves; that cost would be borne by the companies and not by the taxpayers. We would not be paying for any adjustment at the pumps.
Mr. Nixon: Oh!
Hon. Mr. Welch: You have to get every comment down.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: He is quite right; the rounding off is in favour of the government.
Mr. Haggerty: Industry.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The gasoline is 19 cents per gallon presently.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s too high.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It will go to 4.2 cents per litre. The rate required if it wasn’t rounded would be 4.179498 cents per litre, which is rather unworkable so we decided that it would be better --
Mr. Nixon: We may oppose the bill now.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- to round it off at 4.2 cents and that would give us a little bit extra revenue.
Mr. Haggerty: How much is a little bit?
Mr. Nixon: Round it off to 4.1 cents.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Approximately $2.9 million.
Mr. Nixon: What?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: That’s what it rounds out to.
Mr. Kerrio: We’ve got you by the litre.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I was interested in the member for Hamilton Mountain bringing the northern Ontario gasoline price aspect Into this debate. While I would like to have control of all these matters, I believe that’s in the sphere of someone other than the Minister of Revenue to decide what kind of gas prices are going to prevail in northern Ontario.
Mr. Charlton: I just brought it up for consideration.
Mr. Peterson: Are you in the cabinet? You weaselled down the price of a licence plate for Parry Sound; why don’t you use your influence more?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The member will never get over that, will he?
Mr. Peterson: I have never seen a crasser case of self-serving in my entire life.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Oh, I’ve heard that story before. But I can tell the member this: --
Mr. Peterson: Lorne Maeck has a $10 licence plate.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- the people in Parry Sound love it.
Mr. Peterson: I’m sure they do. The people in eastern Ontario, western Ontario and southern Ontario would too.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Everything was going fine until that member came in here. Why doesn’t he go back to wherever he came from?
Mr. Peterson: It depends on how much guff you can put up with.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I think, Mr. Speaker, that answers the inquiries.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
MOTOR VEHICLE FUEL TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 159, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Act, 1918.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable minister have a comment?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, my remarks regarding this bill are identical to the one we just dealt with. There is very little difference between the two bills.
Mr. Nixon: Run them through again.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know whether I should rise in support of the bill or not. The last one was a tax increase and I can only presume the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Amendment Act means that the minister will be picking up --
Mr. Grande: You supported it.
Mr. Haggerty: -- an additional $2.9 million, is it? I don’t know, but I was just questioning it because it deals with the metrication of the fuel system from imperial gallons to litres.
The other important thing about the bill is that it contains a section which allows the interprovincial transfer of tax paid on fuel purchased in one jurisdiction and being consumed in another. The intention of this section is to avoid the necessity of elaborate bookkeeping or record keeping by the taxpayer. It is not entirely clear this will be the case. The trucking industry already keeps its sets of books for tax purposes and nothing is mentioned with respect to the United States, yet a considerable amount of Canada-United States travel takes place and we wonder what kind of accommodations are being considered for those two jurisdictions as it relates to the interprovincial transfers. I hone the minister can follow me on that. In the trucking industry if one is moving from New York state into Canada or going from Ontario to New York state, he can fill his tank with gas here and only put his mileage to the border and then ask for a rebate on the provincial tax. I understand this does take place with the trucking industry.
Also the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Amendment Act contains an extensive new section on the garnishment of a debt to collect unpaid taxes under this act. These new subsections parallel those contained in other provincial revenue statutes. The question is just how is the minister going to garnishee a trucking industry from the American side here if they are buying fuel in Ontario?
Mr. Kerrio: Are you going to collect that tax in St. Catharines?
Mr. Haggerty: Those are the two comments I wanted to make. I would like the minister to say just how much extra revenue is going to be generated in this new amendment?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It will be less this time.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It balances out.
Mr. Grande: Vote against this one.
Mr. Charlton: Obviously this bill is along the same lines as the last one. I didn’t quite catch what the minister just yelled across the House hut as I see it the rounding is again up in this case.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Down.
Mr. Charlton: Is the tax not going to be 5.5 cents.
Mr. Grande: Of course it is.
Mr. Charlton: I believe it is 5.5 cents per litre. The minister is saying that the rounding is down and not up. Perhaps he can tell us exactly what the tax difference will be as a result of this change and what the net difference will be to the province.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member wish to speak to the bill? If not, the minister.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I may have mislead the House here; I thought we were down on this one.
Mr. Haggerty: We are up.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am sorry, it’s an $11,000 increase not $11,000 down. That is on a $100 million base, so that is running it very close. There is an increase of $11,000 over the whole period.
Mr. Nixon: What is the overall take on gas tax?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I haven’t got that figure. I can get it for the member, but I haven’t got it here.
Mr. Nixon: Never mind.
Mr. Peterson: The minister should know it off the top of his head. That is why he asked.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I know. He would ask that. I am not sure that I understand the member for Erie’s question regarding the interprovincial fuel. Is that what he is referring to? Perhaps my staff will prepare an answer that I can get for him on that. I didn’t catch his question.
Mr. Haggerty: In the case of the trucking industry moving from Ontario to Manitoba or coming from Manitoba to Ontario or from Quebec into Ontario or from Ontario to New York state or Florida or any of those places; how does the minister propose collecting that tax?
Mr. Foulds: Is this clause-by-clause?
Mr. Haggerty: The minister mentioned a garnishment of the industry or a particular person.
Mr. Foulds: I am not even in my right seat.
Mr. Haggerty: I’m just asking how he is going to bring this about. I understand there might have been a number of persons in the industry from whom he had not collected the tax owing. As somebody has mentioned, there is a certain industry in the St. Catharines area that has owed taxes for a number of years. I don’t know whether that has been collected or whether this section has been put in there to make sure the ministry collects the taxes owing?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I am sure the member is aware that the new Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Act that was brought into effect about a year ago now allows for interprovincial purchase of fuel. It includes the United States. The thing is balanced up once a month or less than that, depending on the size of the firm.
Mr. Foulds: I am sure glad we are in clause-by-clause already; can I say that now, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: That is all dealt with in the new Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Act. We are not having the same problems now that we were having before; but it is still in its infancy and we are still having some problems with it.
The case the member referred to goes back to 1974, I believe. All of that happened long before the bringing in of the new act. is I understand it, we have now collected something like 80 per cent of that tax that we failed to collect. He is referring to a case in 1974. I was looking at that the other day.
For the interest of the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), $537 million is collected on gas and $100 million on diesel fuel; so now he knows.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for third reading.
House in committee of the whole.
ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT ACT
Consideration of Bill 146, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.
On section 1:
Mr. Charlton: We were discussing section 86 of the act on second reading and the equalizations the minister is allowing under section 86 in municipalities that request it. He commented in his closing statement that he felt it would be impossible, without doubling or tripling staff, to apply section 86 of the bill in one year. I would suggest to the minister that that is just a little bit farfetched, talking about doubling or tripling staff.
He is doing equalizations in municipalities that have requested it in a three- and four-month period with existing assessment staff. I suggested to the minister equalizations across the province, based on section 86, for implementation in the 1980 tax year, which gives them a year and three months in all areas except the 13 where he is going to implement it on January 1 of this year.
I would suggest, Mr. Minister, that your comments about doubling and tripling staff are just an exaggeration. If you can do it in these 13 municipalities with existing staff in four months, then in fact you can do it across the entire province in terms of equalizing based on section 86 in a year and four months.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Let me advise you on that. Sure we did it in four months, but we sent in additional staff from other areas of the province to do it. It isn’t being done just by the local people in those areas. The other thing, of course is --
Mr. Foulds: Are you calling into question the capability of your staff?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, I am not at all. I am just saying that we are dealing here with 13 municipalities and if we start talking about 800 to be reassessed, I don’t think it is physically possible to do them all in a year.
I don’t believe that is so.
In Timmins alone 25,000 inspections are being made in order to bring section 86 in. And you as a former assessor know how much work there is involved. So it is not just a case of -- we have moved people from Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and other places into Timmins to assist in that particular program.
Mr. Grande: That’s why he’s telling you it could be done.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: So it is just not the local assessing office that is doing that work.
Mr. Charlton: I am afraid I have to disagree with the minister. I talked, for example, to the assessment staff in Hamilton-Wentworth and asked them. They are expected to have the equalization on Hamilton done very early in the New Year. They have no outside people except perhaps for a couple of task force people from Toronto working in Hamilton. They are doing it on their own.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Hamilton isn’t the only place in Ontario, you know.
Mr. Charlton: I asked them, Mr. Minister, how long it would take them to do the whole region as opposed to just the city of Hamilton, and they said they could have it done by June or July.
I would just like to point out to the minister that if it comes right down to the crunch and the minister is not prepared to equalize right across the province then I am just going to have to go over his head and go to his assessment staff and see that the job gets done anyway.
Mr. Hennessy: Good. I will raise that point. I will raise that one too.
Mr. Foulds: That will teach you. They will do the job in spite of you, Lorne.
Mr. Haggerty: I wanted clarification. Under section 86 of the Assessment Act, in subsection (d), it says “subject to subsection 2, the assessment roll of a municipality ... and I am not quite clear as to the definition of a municipality.
In section 1 of the Assessment Act it says, “‘county’ includes a district,” et cetera. Does this include a regional municipality?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, we’re dealing with municipalities, not regional municipalities. We’re dealing with the municipalities within a region, under section 86. It does not deal with a region in its entirety, but with each municipality separately.
Mr. Haggerty: Has the minister ever considered an amendment to the Assessment Act to bring the Assessment Act up-to-date to include a regional municipality? It does mention county, which in a sense is a form of regional government.
Mr. Foulds: No, no, no, a district.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: No, I don’t see where it’s necessary. You can cover a complete region, county or district now under section 86 by individual municipalities. I don’t see where there is any advantage in including the word “region” or “district” or county”. The other thing, of course, is it’s the municipalities on the lower tier that are responsible for the collection of taxes, not the regional municipalities, so they are the ones you have to deal with.
Section 1 agreed to.
Section 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Maeck moves that section 3 of the bill be deleted and the following substituted therefor:
“Subsection 1 of section 96 of the said act, as re-enacted by the statutes of Ontario 1977, chapter 56, section 3, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“96(1.) Subject to section 97, subsection 6 of section 33 continues to be not in force and remains inoperative until the first day of January 1979.”
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Basically, what this complicated-sounding amendment does is lift the freeze on equalization factors.
Mr. Charlton: As I mentioned during the debate on second reading, although the minister has chosen a different wording than what we used in our amendment last year and the amendment which we submitted to him and to the Liberal Party this year, the intent and the effect of this amendment is identical to that of our amendment. The minister mentioned in his response on second reading, when referring to this amendment, that he and his staff, and the staff and the Ministers of Intergovernmental Affairs, Treasury and Education had been working on this since June. I believe I also gave credit to that effect when I was speaking on second reading.
However, it is significant to note that the bill which the minister introduced in October
-- which the minister was prepared to debate a month ago until we had submitted to him our amendment, and he was unsure of the Liberal Party’s position having contacted them --
Mr. Foulds: That’s understandable.
Mr. Charlton: -- it’s significant to note that the minister was prepared to pass the bill continuing the freeze. I would just like to seriously question the minister and ask whether in fact if we had not submitted our amendment and he had proceeded to pass the bill as it was introduced, as Bill 146 con tinning the freeze on equalization factors --
Mr. Nixon: What freeze?
Mr. Charlton: -- when his staff had come to him last week or the week before and informed him that in fact they had a package which he could go ahead with, would he be back in this House now with another amendment or would he have just left it off until next year; which is more likely.
Mr. Kerrio: Take your choice.
Mr. Charlton: I’m just trying to point out to the House this party played a very significant role. We can’t take all the credit because the government has to bring forward this piece of legislation --
Mr. Kerrio: Go ahead, take all the credit.
Mr. Foulds: He’s just too modest.
Mr. Charlton: -- and the government had to make the preparations for its implementation. The point is it has been our heckling over the last two years on this particular issue, and our amendments over the past two years on this particular issue, that have eventually forced the government to take some action along these lines and to deal with the municipalities such as Windsor and Sarnia and St. Catharines. I just want it made very clear on the record, that although we can’t take all the credit we have played a major role in seeing this accomplished this year.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Might I respond to the member for Hamilton Mountain first?
I would simply say this: The member for Hamilton Mountain and others in the Legislature do know that we had been working on this problem long before the bill was introduced. However, at the point in time when the bill was introduced, the staff was not in a position to advise whether or not it would be feasible to lift the factors. Rather than gamble, I brought the bill in as it was originally before I moved the amendment.
Mr. Nixon: Okay, dispense.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Fair enough.
Mr. Foulds: I have just one brief comment. The member for Hamilton Mountain is far too modest. I think he deserves all the credit for the thrust of the bill and the amendment.
Mr. Haggerty: Give him a hand.
Mr. Nixon: We know he did it all.
Mr. Foulds: The minister was gracious enough to accept the amendment as proposed by my colleague, the member for Hamilton Mountain, when his staff enlightened him as to the realities and the realistic responsibilities of the implementation of that amendment.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Let me just add this last point: The member is quite willing to accept all the bouquets for this, but if the thing blows up in his face, how much responsibility will he accept then?
Mr. Nixon: Well, you are paid extra.
Mr. Hennessy: That’s your fault.
Mr. Foulds: You brought it in.
Mr. Chairman: Are you ready for the question?
Mr. Ruston: The way you always do.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Foulds: You didn’t carry the other sections, which we should to be technically in order.
Mr. Chairman: I haven’t heard any objections.
Sections 4 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman: Shall the bill be reported?
Bill 146, as amended, reported.
On motion by Mr. Welch, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with amendment.
The House recessed at 6:03 p.m.